“How. Dare. You.”
Loukas scowled down at Alekos, who was standing at the base of the olive tree he was sitting in, reading one of his father’s scrolls he’d smuggled out of the Athenian palace.
He wasn’t in the mood for this.
“Why’d you do this?” Alekos snapped, cold fury and sadness in his eyes. “I told you to stay away from Maia!”
“Oh, that’s why you’re here,” Loukas muttered, rolling his scroll back up and shoving it jerkily into the waistcord of his chiton. “What’s your problem?”
“What’s my problem?” Alekos blurted, laughing bitterly. “What’s my problem with you, the prince Athens, kissing the girl that your best friend who’s only a simple commoner is about to marry?”
Loukas gritted his teeth.
He didn’t want to tell Alekos why he’d kissed Maia, the slender young woman with curly brown hair and beautiful blue eyes whom his friend was marrying.
So he decided to be defensive.
“You’re right,” he snapped, wanting to take back his words as soon as they left his mouth. “I’m the prince of Athens, and you’re just a commoner. That means I can do whatever in Hades I want.”
Alekos growled furiously.
“Get out of that tree,” he hissed, tears welling in his eyes. “So I can kill you.”
Loukas slid out of the tree.
Alekos drew his sword and rushed him head-on, and Loukas drew his own blade to meet him.
And they fought, blades clashing, punches thrown, insults exchanged.
Finally, since they’d trained to fight together since they were young and were very equally matched, they ended up in a bleeding heap of limbs on the hillside under the olive tree, trying to catch their breath.
“Get off!” Alekos spat through a bloody nose, attempting a punch that Loukas blocked and shoved away.
He gritted his teeth against the stinging pain of the shallow cut on his ribs.
“Wonderful show, boys.”
Loukas yelped in alarm, and Alekos toppled backwards.
In the olive tree where he’d been sitting earlier, Loukas saw a woman. She was so beautiful she was otherworldly, with long, curly brown hair cascading down her shoulders and pale green eyes that shone like the sun. The chiton wrapped around her body barely concealed her tanned skin and her curvy, voluptuous form, definitely that of a princess who could afford not to exercise or work.
And she was more gorgeous than any woman Loukas had seen in his life.
He felt his mouth fall open in shock.
“Wh—who—“ he started to stammer, but the beautiful woman in the olive tree just laughed waving a hand.
“Oh, you two,” she murmured, gazing down at them fondly. “I am Aphrodite, and I’ve been watching you boys for quite some time. Needless to say, I’m rather disappointed in both of you.”
“Oh, because he kissed my fiancée?” Alekos snapped, standing abruptly.
Loukas was still too transfixed by Aphrodite’s beauty that he didn’t respond. It wasn’t hard to believe that this woman was the goddess of love.
Aphrodite shook her head.
“At this rate, you won’t realize what you’re meant to be before you die after a long, unfulfilled life,” she sighed sadly, pouting. “Alekos, can you not see why Loukas kissed your betrothed?”
“Uh… he’s being an asshole because he likes her?” Alekos stammered, fear mingling on his face alongside his anger.
He’d heard of people facing the wrath of the gods before, and Aphrodite was notoriously… difficult at times.
This wouldn’t end well.
“Since you two are too blind to see it yourselves just yet,” she sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose, “I am giving you time to consider it. Much more time. From this day onward, until you sort this out, you will be immortal.”
“What—“ Loukas started to protest.
Suddenly he jerked awake, gasping for breath, and he realized he was leaning against the olive tree.
Alekos was lying next to him.
Then the other man sat bolt-upright, green eyes wide with shock.
“What the Hades just happened?” He blurted, looking a bit rattled as he jumped back to his feet.
Personally, he had no idea. Maybe Aphrodite had been some sort of exhaustion-induced hallucination.
Maybe they weren’t really immortal now.
“I gotta get home,” Alekos blurted, frantically jamming his sword back into its sheath. “We’ll fight later.”
He hurried off, leaving Loukas sitting there under the olive tree.