The Demigod Complex (Brimstone Inc. #1) – Chapter 1 Excerpt
Lyleia Naiad stared at the white envelope sitting on her desk, trying to pluck up the courage to march into her boss’s office and hand it to him.
Suck it up, and just do it.
Just resign. Give her two weeks’ notice and walk away. Not as easy as it sounded. She’d been trying for two weeks to pluck up the courage. The trouble was she didn’t really want to leave. She loved her job. It had given her life a sense of purpose.
But she had to disappear again. She should have known coming out of hiding, even just into the shadows at the edges, was a bad idea.
She had no proof, but last night was the second time in a month that she suspected someone had been in her apartment. Running anytime that instinct kicked in had kept her alive for centuries.
Which meant she had to go. Soon.
“Hey.” Mike Morgan, the lead lawyer for Dioskouri Enterprises, walked into her office.
In the same instant, the intercom on her desk came to life with Castor Dioskouri’s voice.
A barked order she had no problem interpreting as “get your ass in here.”
Lyleia, who went by Leia to everyone but her boss, winced. Holding up a finger to the man standing on the other side of her desk, she pressed the intercom button. “I have Mike Morgan with me. Two minutes?”
She gave Castor another few seconds, then, assuming he was okay with waiting, lifted her gaze to the head lawyer of Dioskouri Enterprises. She held out her hand to accept the paperwork he’d brought. “Thanks, Mike. I’ll get his signature and have this back to you by end of day.”
She stood and smoothed down her gray pencil skirt and white, button-down blouse, and patted her hair into place. Then she disconnected her computer from the docking station.
But Mike didn’t leave. Instead, he casually hitched a hip on her desktop, pushing papers around. Leia held in a sigh as her fingers itched to fix the small upset to her perfectly ordered work area.
“When are you going to go out with me?” Mike asked with what she was sure most women found to be a charming smile. The lawyer, while excellent at his job, was a player with a capital P. Not her style at all. It took a lot more than charm and looks to impress a nymph. Even an ex-water nymph who’d failed to protect her spring.
“Never. When are you going to stop asking?” She gave Mike a gentle push to get off her desk and came around the side to head into Castor’s office.
Mike got up but didn’t make a move to leave. “Just one little date?”
She shook her head, amused despite herself, and pointed at the door. “You’re a great coworker, but that’s all it will ever be. Now shoo.”
Leia crossed her arms, getting annoyed.
“Mike. Did you need something?”
The dark rumble of Castor’s voice sounded behind her, even more irritated than over the intercom. Leia spun on her heel to find him standing in the doorway, glowering like a bear with a thorn in its paw.
“I was dropping off the Metro paperwork for your signature.” Mike strolled to the door. “See you later, Leia.”
She nodded but otherwise didn’t pay attention to his departure. Her entire focus was on the man standing in front of her. Tall, dark, and handsome was a cliché that didn’t begin to cover the pure energy and power radiating from his lean form.
As had happened from her first day working for him, Castor’s presence pulled a visceral response from her. Why the hell can’t I turn off my body around him?
Damn the gods who’d ruined her life. She had despised them, werewolves, and anything to do with gods or their demigod offspring.
Until this one.
Somehow, Castor had snuck under all her defenses.
Not that she’d ever act on her feelings, especially not now. But even if she wasn’t about to disappear again, she couldn’t. The man still grieved his wife. He didn’t speak of her ever, but Leia had heard the rumors. He’d lost her not long into their marriage, which had to be hard…knowing he’d go through an immortal life without his love.
Castor wanted nothing to do with relationships.
How had all those other assistants before her not caught the “loner” vibes the man threw out? No wonder he’d hired Brimstone, Inc., to send him someone like her.
All the more reason to get herself under control.
Just as she had every other day, Leia ruthlessly squashed her feelings, the same way she’d grind a cockroach under her stiletto heel. Even when they were for a six-foot-three, Armani-suit-wearing chiseled tower of temptation with blue eyes and a heart big enough to rescue the world, though he liked to hide it behind a scowl.
Like now. His eyes practically shot bolts of lightning as he glared at Mike’s departing back.
She stepped forward, assuming he’d move out of the way to usher her into his office. Only he didn’t, his glower softening as he turned his gaze on her.
Only now she was very much in his space, inhaling the spice of his aftershave and the fresh-air scent of his skin. The heat radiating from him penetrated both his suit and her clothes. Demigods ran hot—something about all that supernatural power coursing through their veins. When she was a young water nymph, she’d imagined it would be nice to snuggle up to one in a pond, like her own walking hot springs generator.
But that had been before she’d lost her spring.
Instead of getting out of her way, Castor leaned forward, crowding her more. “Does Mike bother you often?”
“Did you know Marsha in acquisitions is pregnant? I assume you’ll want to arrange a shower?”
“That’s not what I asked.”
Distracting him with other topics sometimes worked. Not this time, apparently. She raised her eyebrows coolly. “Mike doesn’t bother me at all.” As opposed to the man blocking her way. She was proud her words hadn’t come out all husky and needy sounding. In control, even if she wasn’t really.
“So, you wanted him to ask you out?” Doubt colored the words.
She stared at his top button, which was undone, as was his tie, exposing the kissable hollow at the base of his neck. Dang. Now she was wondering what licking that spot might taste like.
No, she wasn’t, because she didn’t let herself think things like that about her boss. Her demigod boss. Her billionaire demigod boss who had more money than Midas, more power than he knew what to do with, and whose only requirement for his assistant was that they not bother him with things like unwanted, unreciprocated feelings.
A wish she deeply understood.
Why were they having this conversation again? “I can handle Mike.”
He reached out and tipped her chin up, forcing her to meet his gaze. “So, he needs handling?”
Her skin tingled at his touch. That happened every time he touched her. Because he’s the son of Zeus…and lightning, she ruthlessly reminded herself.
Time to put a stop to this or next she’d be throwing herself into his arms. She rolled her eyes. “You can put away your cape, Superman. I don’t need saving today.”
His jaw tensed, mouth pinching. She recognized that stubborn look. Castor wasn’t going to give this up. The man had a god complex a mile wide—a need to rescue anything he deemed helpless. In the old days, demigods spent most of their time fighting monsters or rescuing princesses or towns. He seemed to have found other ways to channel that drive.
Not for her, though. No thanks.
What she needed was a diversion. “I need to talk to you about something.”
He dropped his hand and stepped back. “What?”
Granted, distracting him with her resignation might not be the smartest of moves. Even if all that intensity had shifted away from the topic of Mike. Still, this had to be done.
“Let’s sit down first,” she said.
Castor frowned, then finally moved out of the way. Oxygen returned to her lungs as he led her inside his office. The view of the Austin skyline from his office never got old. She would miss this city more than most.
But it would be Castor she missed most of all.
Castor sat in a fancy chrome chair behind a modern glass desk and leaned back, the supple leather not even creaking, as he directed his gaze to the woman across the way.
Even this far away from her, Leia’s rainy-day scent, the hallmark of a water nymph, drifted around him. Drawing him in.
He would always associate water with her now. These days the sound of rain, or the flash of sunlight on a lake as he flew his plane overhead, or, hell, even the sound of his shower put him in mind of her. And left him hard and aching every fucking morning.
Damn and blast.
One simple request had led to this.
When he had hired Brimstone, Inc., to find him a new executive assistant, he’d asked the owner/operator, Delilah, for one thing. Someone who wouldn’t ever fall in love—or lust—with him. Something that was damn near impossible for humans and supernaturals alike. Most couldn’t resist the ancient god’s blood coursing through his veins.
Delilah had managed to provide the perfect solution to his dilemma…a nymph. How had he not thought if that himself? After all, he knew the stories…
The gods had “blessed” nymphs to give and receive extraordinary pleasure. Essentially, making the guardians of nature—minor deities in their own right—into the gods’ own personal sex toys. To retaliate, the goddesses, sick of all the bastard children the randy gods kept churning out, had given nymphs a doozy of a gift—the ability to resist any sexual temptation.
Hera, Zeus’s wife herself, and goddess of marriage and birth, was known to have been jealous and resentful of all her husband’s illegitimate offspring. Castor should know, since he was one. The goddess couldn’t stand him and his brother Pollux. No doubt she’d been the one to come up with the idea of the counter blessing. Not so much to help nymphs as to screw the gods, her husband in particular.
Regardless of the hows and whys, Leia could resist his raw, innate sexuality. She could, with ease, ignore the vibes Castor couldn’t help but put out.
More than that, his EA had Not Interested—or, more accurately, he suspected, The Gods Suck—tattooed across her forehead.
Something to do with how she lost her spring. He didn’t have all the details, but whatever happened wasn’t pretty. Now she hated the gods, and by association, their demigod children.
But what he hadn’t counted on was how he would react to Leia.
Respecting her past, and his own edict, he’d kept his distance, keeping things in the strictly professional box. But no one else talked back to him like she did. Or got his blood pumping like she did. Or challenged him to be better, think smarter, like she did.
He had a sinking feeling that he was falling ass over head in love with her. What the fuck was he supposed to do about that?
Especially when the woman had been trying to resign for a month and he was running out of ways to stave off the inevitable.
She had no idea he knew, either. As she’d left his office one evening, a white envelope had fluttered to the floor. Castor had moved around his desk to pick it up and had his hand outstretched for the doorknob to take it into Leia’s adjoining office only to pause at the sight of his name printed in her neat, looping handwriting.
Curious, he’d pulled out the single, typewritten page.
Dear Mr. Dioskouri…
Not since the first week, when he’d corrected her a thousand times, had Leia addressed him so formally.
Then he’d kept reading. I hereby tender my resignation…
After reeling in shock, the thought of losing her hit him with the force of a lightning strike, the emotion so visceral his lungs had hurt with each indrawn breath. A sensation he hadn’t appreciated, given that he’d been walking this earth with as few emotions as possible since losing his wife. That was the moment he’d realized that , respect, and a physical attraction that simmered through him at the oddest moments weren’t fleeting but instead meant he was falling for her hard.
Almost as much of a shock as her letter.
He’d tucked the damn thing into a pile of papers on her desk after she’d left for the day and said nothing.
That had been a month ago, and he’d been scrambling ever since to figure out why in Hades she wanted to leave, and what he could do to make her stay.
Fuck all apparently. Because the woman looked resolved to resign right here, right now.
Leia took her usual leather armchair across the way.
Then she seemed to register his expression and blinked.
There. Satisfaction sparked inside him, electricity sizzling down nerve endings. A flash of something lit her eyes that was beyond professional. Something that heated his blood. She wasn’t disinterested.
At least, he didn’t think she wasn’t. She was so damn hard to read.
The flash was there, then gone in another blink and she raised her eyebrows, giving him that look. The one that said she thought maybe he needed to lie down for a minute.
“What’s the latest on the Morning Star project?” he asked, deliberately trying to make it harder for her to jump into resigning.
“I…” She hesitated, glanced at something in her pile of papers. No doubt that damn envelope.
“I assume you’ve heard from Lance?” he prompted. He could be ruthless when he had to.
Only another beat of hesitation, then she nodded. “He has sent in a new report on the progress. He’s asking for another six months.”
“He can have three,” he said.
She nodded and noted the task.
Castor sat back and fiddled with a pen. “Actually, scratch that. I’ll take care of it and talk to him directly.”
Not even a blink or hesitation. She merely nodded again and adjusted her notes, then glanced up. “Anything else?”
A loaded question if he’d ever heard one.
“I need you to accompany me on a trip.”