Eternal Guardians, Novella Eight
Daphne darted a look between Zeus and Athena, sure she had to have heard them wrong. “What you need from me?”
Athena shot a frustrated look at Zeus, but the king of the gods didn’t bother to glance the goddess’s way. “We’re in need of a Siren with your talents to complete a mission for us. Are you interested?”
Daphne had no idea what kind of mission they were talking about, but something in her gut said never to say no to the king of the gods. “Yes, of course.”
“She’s too naïve,” Athena mumbled.
“That’s exactly why we’re going to use her.” Zeus’s eyes flashed. “You’ve heard of the rogue Argonaut loose in the human realm? The one they call Ari?”
Daphne’s mind skipped over snippets of gossip she’d heard from her Siren sisters. “We all have. He’s a monster.”
“Yes, he is.” Zeus’s jaw clenched. “A very dangerous monster that needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, our conventional attempts at dealing with him have not worked. Which is where you come in. We want to send you in undercover to terminate him for the Order.”
Daphne stared at the god for several seconds, sure she had to have heard him
wrong. “Me? But I-I’m not even a Siren yet. I haven’t taken my final vows. I’m—”
“You are a nymph. A voluptuous, alluring nymph, like your mother. Aristokles has but one weakness: sexy, vulnerable nymphs. You will pretend to be in jeopardy, let him take you back to his lair, and when he least expects it, kill him.”
Daphne’s heart beat hard, and her hands grew sweaty. This was a suicide mission. She’d heard horror stories about the crazed Argonaut and what he liked to do to Sirens. “But…my king…he tortures and kills Sirens. I’ll not make it past—”
“You are not a full Siren yet,” Athena cut in. “You have not been inducted, you do not bear the marking, and because of your nymph heritage, your body was never altered. He will not sense that you are a Siren, because you are not one…yet.”
“If you succeed in this mission, however,” Zeus added, “you will be inducted immediately upon your return. Regardless of your marksmanship scores.”
Daphne’s pulse roared in her head. This was her chance to belong. To finally be one of them. Her stomach swirled with excitement and apprehension. “Wh-what would I need to do?”
“Kill him, of course,” Zeus answered. “But before you do that, I need confirmation of something. I suspect the Argonaut has a very special marking on his body. Not the Argonaut markings on his forearms. This is something else. Before he’s terminated, I need you to search his entire body and either prove or disprove the appearance of the marking.”
“What kind of marking?” Daphne asked.
Zeus glanced toward Athena. A silent look passed between the two gods before Zeus refocused on Daphne. “We’re not sure. But the marking disappears at the time of death, so you cannot kill him and then look for it. You must find it while he is alive.”
So all she had to do was get close enough to the mass-murdering psycho to check every inch of his skin for some unknown marking. Yeah. That sounded easy.
“I-I’m not sure how I would do that,” Daphne said hesitantly.
“This is where your nymph background comes in handy.” Zeus lifted his brows in a “duh, it’s easy” move. “Use your seduction skills. Charm him. Get him to drop his guard. Earn his trust so he least suspects your mission.”
A whir echoed in Daphne’s ears. “You don’t mean—”
“Yes, you’ll have to screw him,” Athena said. “Probably several times.” An irritated expression crossed the goddess’s face. “You sailed through seduction training, Daphne. This shouldn’t be that difficult for you.”
Unease rippled through Daphne. She’d only been twenty when she’d been plucked from her foster home and brought to Olympus to train with the Sirens. Barely old enough to come into her sexuality, and the males she’d fooled around with as a teenager didn’t count. Yes, she’d made it through seduction training easily, but only because she’d had an amazing instructor, a minor god who hadn’t forced her. One who’d taken plenty of time to teach her about her own body and the powers of sex. That didn’t mean she had any real experience seducing males—she’d been here for seven years, for crying out loud. And she had zero experience with savages like the psycho Argonaut Aristokles.
“We need an answer,” Zeus said. “Either you are with us—”
“Or you are without us,” Athena finished.
Daphne’s gaze slid from one god to the other. She knew what they were saying. Either she did this and became a full-fledged Siren, or she didn’t and was banished from the Order forever.
“Well?” Zeus asked.
Sickness rolled through her stomach. Her small village in Thrace was gone. Her parents long dead. She had no family left, no home, nothing to turn to if she lost the Sirens. Which meant she had to make this work.
Swallowing back the fear, Daphne nodded and prayed she made it through this alive. “I’ll do it.”