Authors: Addison Fox
WAVE OF MEMORIES
The Sons of the Zodiac
New American Library
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First E-Book Printing, April 2012
Copyright © Frances Karkosak, 2012
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ALSO BY ADDISON FOX
The Sons of the Zodiac Series
Alaskan Nights Novels
Baby It’s Cold Outside
I wish for two things.
That you’ll be there to greet me again someday.
And that wherever you’ve gone, I hope they have lots and lots of bacon.
Quick and capricious, my Aquarius warriors will fiercely protect their beliefs. Full of ideas, an Aquarian will hone his mind as sharply as his body.
His ready intellect will outmaneuver any opponent and only after they misjudge his power will his enemies fall to his willful dominance.
Altruistic and kind, my Aquarius will never turn away someone in need. Although he pays a price for his ready service, he will persevere until justice is served.
He is a dreamer and an idealist. The woman who can win his affection will find a lover beyond measure; a forever romance.
—The Diaries of Themis, Goddess of Justice
207 BC—Megalopolis, Seat of the Achaean League
Megaera closed the heavy door behind her, effectively muting the harsh shouts from the room within. The revered Greek hero, Philopoemen, commander of the Achaean League’s cavalry, had laid down his sword and waged a bitter battle of words the last two days, to no avail.
His foe, Quintus, still opposed Philopoemen’s proposed approach to controlling the Spartan rebellion brewing across the region and had added the voice of his son, Tyrus.
The little fucker.
Meg shook her head as the voices on the other side of the door rose again, the angry harsh tones audible, even through the thick wood at her back.
Although Philopoemen spoke with reason, logic on his side, his opponent would have none of it, the man’s hunger for vengeance a living, breathing entity in the room. But it was Tyrus, Meg thought with no small measure of revulsion, who had turned a tense conversation ugly. Barely seventeen, the young pup was as bloodthirsty as he was eloquent. He clearly whispered words of strategy in his father’s ear, his golden tongue clever and quick.
“I’ve never seen a woman in my father’s chambers.”
Meg pulled her attention off the raging battle behind the closed door, surprised to find a small, curious-looking boy standing at her side. She hadn’t even heard him approach. “Your father?”
“Aye. My father is Philopoemen the Great.”
Meg couldn’t stop the smile at his proud words and stance, his small shoulders thrust back while his even smaller chest pushed forward under his tunic. “And you are?”
“Aidan.” His brow creased as he stared up at her. “Why are you here?”
“I’m taking part in the discussions your father is holding.”
“But you’re a woman.”
“I am, and a highly capable one at that.” Before he could press her further, she added, “I’ve knowledge of the Spartan warriors your father seeks to do battle with. He’s taken me into his confidence.”
The boy considered her words for a moment, before shrugging his shoulders. “You must be as wise as you are beautiful.”
Flattered warmth filtered through her at his innocent words. “I am wise.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Megaera.” She left off any further details, instead offering him a smile along with her hand. “But you may call me Meg.”
“Father takes pride in surrounding himself with those who are capable and clever.” Aidan’s handshake was firm for one so young. “You must have impressed him, Meg.”
“Your father is well able to recognize an ally.”
“Even if you are a girl.” Aidan scuffed his sandal on the floor. “Someday I will sit in his chamber and advise him on strategy.”
Something in the boy’s earnest words tugged at her, his fierce demeanor and firm chin belying his youth. “Someday will come sooner than you think.”
“Not soon enough,” was his muttered reply.
Reluctantly intrigued, she found herself motioning to a nearby wooden bench. “You wish to be older, Aidan?”
He’d followed and took the seat next to her. “Of course. I wish to be rid of my teachers and be free to speak with the words of the philosophers upon my lips. All the knowledge I need is in the pages of my books anyway.”
The small twitch hit her lips again but she fought the smile, for some reason unwilling to let the boy think she wasn’t taking him seriously. “But without those teachers, you will never learn the tools needed to speak with wisdom.”
“I know enough.”
Her hands dropped to her lap as she turned to focus fully upon him. “You do, do you?”
“Aye, I do.” Aidan leaped from the bench and rose to his full height, his hands balled into fists at his side. “I know that Tyrus plots against the Achaean League, even as he pretends loyalty. And I know his father is weak and old, his sole power his posturing about all the battles he’s fought. He shames the room into listening to him, throwing his years of service into their faces.”
Whatever amusement Meg had felt vanished at the evidence of the boy’s knowledge. “How do you know all this? You’re only a boy.”
“I can see the truth.” He rubbed at his neck as if the weight of his speech hung there, shackling him. “I
“And you’ve spoken to your father of this?”
“He thinks I’m rash and blinded by misplaced vengeance. That I seek revenge against Tyrus for his years of bullying.”
“Surely he can’t bother much with you. You’re but a child and Tyrus is well on his way to manhood.”
“He hates me. And I’m ten years old.” That stoic pride filled his voice once more, his blue gaze alight with barely banked fire. “I’m old enough to feel the sting of his words and his fists.”
Meg struggled to reconcile the large, brawny figure seated at the roundtable and the small, almost fragile-looking boy beside her. Tyrus was more depraved and disillusioned than even she had realized if he saw one small child as a threat.
Even as she thought it, Aidan’s words slid through her mind once more.
I feel it
She’d heard the stories, of course. Knew there were mortals whose natural gifts were touched by the gods.
Could this boy be one of them?
His father was one held in great favor by the Pantheon. It was the very reason she was lending her time and talents—albeit without full disclosure of who she was—to Philopoemen as he sought to battle the Spartans. The hubris of the Spartan soldiers—and their belief they had the status of gods—would not be tolerated.
With startling clarity, Meg saw the conflict come to life before her eyes, like a carefully woven spider’s web. Thin threads connected in her mind’s eye, Aidan to Tyrus and back again. In her vision, she saw their battle clearly.
Saw the strands of eternity that bound them together.
It was the small hand tugging on hers that finally pulled her from the vision. Bright blue eyes gazed up at her, full of knowledge and . . . something else.
An odd sense of inevitability—and the heavy bands of fate—wrapped themselves around her chest as she stared down at the small boy.
He’d fight Tyrus.
They both would.
And Aidan would be lost to the world in the process.
New York City—Present Day
The hushed giggle was the first thing Aidan Cage heard as he came out of a teleport and landed inside the brownstone that was the closest thing to a home he knew.
. They were banging in the library? Was no place safe any longer?
With a cautious glance toward the far bookshelf his fears were confirmed. Fortunately, the interrupted liaison had just been getting good because only a shoe and a discarded man’s T-shirt lay on the floor.
“Quinn!” A lithe redhead twisted out from underneath his warrior brother’s arm as her cornflower blue eyes widened in surprise.
“What, baby?” Quinn Tanner’s deep voice slurred with unmistakable arousal.
Tamping down on an unexpected stab of jealousy, Aidan drawled. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t the happy couple.”
The Taurus warrior let out a loud sigh before turning his attention in the same direction as his new wife’s. “I should have known. You always did have shitty timing.”
“I’ll remember that the next time you need me to bail your ass out of a battle.” Aidan crossed the room, his words falling on deaf ears as Quinn dragged him into a hearty embrace.
“It’s damn good to see you, man.”
Aidan added a hard slap on the bull’s back before pulling away. “Would you put some clothes on?”
The redhead caught up quickly, the surprise in her eyes morphing into a warm welcome. “We haven’t met yet. I’m Montana.”
He couldn’t hold back a smile at her earnest tone. “Let me guess. I’m the only one you haven’t met yet?”
“Actually, not even close. You’re all rather hard to pin down. But I have heard your name.”
Intrigued despite himself, Aidan tossed Quinn a wicked grin. “Surely you haven’t been regaling your new bride with details on how she should have picked one of us instead of your sorry hide?”
“It wasn’t me,” Quinn shrugged as he dragged his T-shirt back on. “Where did you hear about Aidan, anyway?”
Aidan was oddly amused the question was spoken without a hint of frustration. Their Taurus had been a fierce guard of their secrets and the fact he spoke of them so casually meant only one thing. He wasn’t only in love, but he had it
“From Callie, actually. Just the other day.”
“Callie?” The premonition flashed hard and without warning, slamming into Aidan’s solar plexus with the speed of an oncoming train. “What’s she been saying?”
“I’m not sure, exactly. But for about a week now, she’s been cooking up a storm and muttering under her breath about jealous fairies and retribution.”
Quinn’s dark gaze found his before he turned toward his wife. “Did you ask her why? And are you sure she didn’t say Furies?”
“Furies?” Montana shook her head before nodding slowly. “Maybe. The really weird part was that the few times I asked her if everything was okay, she brushed it off and said it was nothing.”
As Montana’s words sunk in, Aidan knew two things with absolute certainty.
Callie hadn’t been muttering about fairies at all.
And his past had just come back to kick his ass once more.
* * *
“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”
Callie stood in the middle of the kitchen with her hands on her hips, her dark eyes blazing like an avenging goddess.
Which she sort of was.
“Don’t you take that tone of voice with me. You disappear for months on end and expect us to keep up with you?”
“I have a cell. Three e-mail addresses. And,” Aidan dragged up his sleeve to expose his left forearm, “a fucking tattoo that can track me like a homing device wherever I go. You could have gotten a hold of me.”
The woman didn’t even have the courtesy to look contrite. “You want to be a part of this household, you can damn well start acting like it.”
“You know. I had a mother once. You sound an awful lot like her.”
The barb had its desired effect.
Callie threw up her hands before marching across the kitchen to a large pot simmering on the stove. If he wasn’t mistaken, the distinct notes of “stupid asshole” escaped her lips.
Heading in the opposite direction, Aidan helped himself to a longneck in the fridge. He had the top off and the bottle to his lips in one practiced move. Despite the tension that gripped the kitchen like a session of Congress, he couldn’t stop the short-lived sigh of satisfaction as the cold brew slid down his throat.
At least that was one sensation that never disappointed.
Grabbing a chair at the large table that dominated the center of the room, he refocused his attention on their avenging housekeeper-slash-den-mother-slash-conscience.
“It’s really Meg?”
Her shoulders stiffened and she didn’t turn around, but her agreement was immediate and absolute. “Yes.”
“Why’d she call you?”
“Who else did she have to go to? It’s not like you’d help her.”
Guilt settled low in his belly, warring with the happy satisfaction from the beer. “I’d have listened to her.”
Callie did turn around at that, one raised eyebrow her only reply.
Damn, but she really could pull the mother act on him. She might look like a twenty-five-year-old version of an even saucier-than-usual Salma Hayek, but she could bring all of the warriors to their knees with one good glare.
“I’m not the one who walked away. So yeah, I would have heard her out.”
“Well that’s good to hear.”
“Because she’ll be here for dinner. You can hear her out then.”
The sly smile that covered Callie’s face was unmistakable as she turned back toward the stove. As Aidan picked up his beer, he wasn’t sure if he should be pissed or thank the heavens she was actually on his side.
* * *
Meg smoothed out her blouse as she stood on the front stoop of the brownstone. The house looked innocuous enough, matched in size and stone façade to all the other homes that lined the same street.
What went on inside, she knew, was anything but straightforward.
Nor did its inhabitants lead normal, ordinary—or mortal––lives like everyone else on their tree-lined block.
Why was she here?
Her hands ran down the simple lines of the top once more as she fought the rising tide of nerves doing the mambo in her stomach.
He’s not going to help you. And could you really blame him?
She gave one more useless pat to the material over her hips and rang the doorbell before she could chicken out.
Or wear a hole through her clothes.
She’d never meant to call Callie for help. In fact, she’d actively resisted, convinced she could handle this situation just like every other one in her long, long life.
But everything had just gone off the rails.
So here she was, knocking at the door of the very last house on the earthly plane she should be standing before. Asking for help from the very last being in the universe she should even lay eyes on. And praying his memory might be a whole hell of a lot poorer than hers was.
And then the door opened and the barely-controlled tingles that had flooded her body intermittently since coming up with this plan ran the gauntlet up her spine with gleeful fury.
He looked the same as always, the scrawny package of ten-year-old boy long forgotten in the large, muscled shape of his very adult body.
Broad shoulders, slender hips, long, long legs. As she glanced down, it was his hands that stopped her, as they always did. Always
, she quickly corrected herself. Long-fingered and strong, his hands were masculine, yet elegant.
The hands of a scholar, even as she knew them capable of the fiercest violence.
“You’re looking well, Meg. As always.”
“As are you.”
“Everyone’s in the back.” With that, he gestured her forward, the conversation apparently at an end.
She nodded and stepped toward him, not surprised to see him tap several commands on a security keypad on the wall before gesturing her forward.
The large foyer housed about an acre of silver and black marble on the floor and a large wooden staircase that wove up the side wall. Two corridors spread off the main entrance and she could see a doorway to an impressive library. Without warning, a memory lanced through her.
The two of them, wrapped up in each other, in a different library in a different time. A different place.
A place they called home together.
Aidan started off down the other hallway, oblivious to her memories. Unaware of how they burned within her, even after all this time. He gestured her before him toward a large door at the end of the hall. The smells of dinner greeted them as he pushed the swinging door inward and a swift panic engulfed her.
Why had she come here?
The question evaporated from her mind as Callie moved forward, reaching for her hands and pulling her close in a warm embrace.
“You doing okay?”
“Good,” Meg answered automatically, hugging the other woman tightly. “I’m good.”
Callie stepped back but didn’t let go of her hands. “You’re going to stay that way, too.”
Meg wanted to believe her. She wanted to believe she’d come to the right place for help, but the sight of Aidan standing across the room—so aloof, so distant—had her doubting the wisdom of Callie’s words.
Or the warriors’ ability to protect her.
* * *
Aidan reached for his beer and tamped down on the urge to look at her.
Callie’s cooking was superb as usual and she’d really outdone herself with a roast, some sort of potato dish that melted in your mouth and a massive chocolate cake for dessert.
He’d tasted none of it.
Nothing could replace the ashy taste that filled him, coating his senses with a bitter regret. And, Aidan wasn’t all that surprised to note, despite that regret and all that had come before, he still wanted Meg with a desperation that tightened his chest and left him practically gasping for air.
He’d asked himself the question so many times through the centuries he’d lost count.
There was no answer to the question. Nothing that could explain this fierce need for someone he was clearly not meant to have. Aidan took another sip of his beer—now in a nice pilsner glass as Callie wouldn’t allow bottles at her table—and keyed back in on the conversation.
“You say Tyrus has revealed himself?” Montana’s quick assessment of the situation was refreshing, her acceptance of who and what they were absolute. “But how? From what you’ve just outlined, he was a boy centuries ago. And he’s not one of the warriors, correct?”
“No,” Meg confirmed, her long fall of rich brown hair framing her face like a lover’s caress. “He’s not a warrior, but he’s been turned immortal by someone. Earmarked by another god for their use. I knew it the moment he began stalking me that it was him.”
“Sort of,” Meg acknowledged. “Although I suspect he’s more like a pawn. A pawn with immortality and an attitude to match.”
“Who’d give that piece of shit immortality?” Aidan heard the growl in his voice before he smarted inwardly at the pain the name Tyrus could cause even after all this time.
“Aidan’s right,” Quinn added. “It’s not to anyone’s benefit to start turning humans at whim. Especially one who was so crafty at violence in life. Tyrus and his father and their aide to Sparta nearly turned the tides of battle. Even the members of the Pantheon can’t be so stupid as to think giving him immortality is a good idea.”
“Is he Enyo’s?” Aidan thought that might fit, the Goddess of War was always more than happy to impress a “few good men” into her service. Add in his expertise in battle and they’d be a near perfect match.
Meg shrugged but those light brown eyes focused in on him for the first time since they’d sat down. “It’s hard to tell. From what I’ve been able to piece together from the little he’s revealed to me in our game of cat and mouse, he was turned around the same time you were. Almost like a retaliation against Themis.”
Her last words were whispered and Aidan felt the sharp lance of guilt and need and residual anger that was never far from the surface rise up and grab him by the throat.
He’d earned his turning, damn it. He’d worked hard and had never given Themis any doubts that he belonged in her service.
“That was more than two thousand years ago.” Aidan shook his head, still unable to make sense of how Meg’s past actions tied to what was currently happening to her. “It has to be something else. Some other reason.”
“Meg and her sisters have grown powerful in the last several centuries,” Callie interrupted in a solemn voice. “As the human population has grown, so has their power.”
“The same could be said for all of us, Callie,” Quinn argued. “As protectors of humanity, we’re sure a hell of a lot busier than we once were. And no one could have called the Middle Ages easy.”