Hello! It`s time for Tuesday Tales again. This week I`ll be sharing an excerpt from my new adult WIP (Work In Progress) Love of the Hunter, an M/M mythological romance.
In today`s excerpt we meet Apollo`s sister as the siblings spend some time together. This passage is a bit long, but I didn`t want to break it up and lose any of the interaction between the twins.
This week our word prompt is ‘Smooth’. Since this is a rough draft there may be some mistakes. I do apologize for any boo-boo you may find.
Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thanks for stopping in!
With Helios gone I run back to the stables to gather my archery equipment. As predicted, the quiver is filled with freshly crafted golden arrows.
“My thanks, Father and Uncle,” I say before jogging leisurely from the palace grounds. I spend the morning simply running. I enjoy it. As I run I arrange words in my head. They ebb and flow like the river I run alongside of. I love words, how they feel on my tongue, how they string together to make others laugh or sigh or weep. Words are powerful. Sometimes I feel they are more powerful than any weapon Hephaestus can make. Jogging along slowly I never see the silver shaft that rips through my chiton. I feel the fletching dance over my sweaty abdomen and hear the blade driving into and through a tree, but my eyes, godly as they are, never see my sister`s arrow.
I stop and fold my arms over my chest in feigned anger. “So you try to shoot your twin in the stomach? Imagine what mother would say if you had missed,” I call out. Artemis steps from behind a scraggly copse of shaggy-barked trees, a wry smile on her face.
“Mother would scold me but I never miss, so your point, my brother, is moot,” she announces primly then runs at me. I catch her and swing her in circles. She is like a colt, all long bare legs and skinny arms, much like me, but she is filling out as well. Her small breasts flatten against my chest. I hug her tightly. She clings to me, her head lolling back as sweet, lyrical laughter rolls from her. Caught up in the tinkling rhapsody of her laugh I stumble backwards. A short shriek escapes her then we plummet into the Okeanos. I hold tightly to her as we drift downstream. Artemis begins to wiggle to free herself from the bear hug I have her in. She grows angered. I smile at her underwater then I release her. She rises to the surface quickly. I bob up afterwards.
“Asinine oaf!” she spits, splashing from the bubbly waterway. I swim to the bank. The wet rocks are smooth and cool under my bare soles as I exit the river. “You have doused my quiver!” Artemis snarls, shaking the silver cylinder at me. I shrug my shoulders. That angers her even more. She throws her apple wood bow down to the sandy shore. I lay my golden bow beside hers then drop down into a crouch, intent on plucking a small crab from the tiny round rocks. “Why must you always be such a fool?”
“You sound like Helios,” I say, pinching the crab between my forefinger and thumb. Its blue shell is pretty as I turn it to catch the new rays of the sun.
“I did not mean to,” my sister replies softly. I glance up at her. She is frozen as if she had looked into Medusa`s eyes, her hands twisting water from her thick golden ponytail. I slough her words off. There are no secrets between her and me. I stand and show her the tiny crab. She smiles at me then turns to peel her wet clothes from her body.
I watch the short chiton slide over her head then flutter down her arms. Her back is smooth, sweet, pale, and muscled. Her waist dips in, her girlish hips beginning to round. She would have good hips for bearing children but she is a virgin and shall forever remain so. I tire of holding the crab so I release him then follow my sister`s lead. Soon we are both naked, stretched out in the hot sun with our robes and quivers drying in a steady wind. We talk about everything and nothing. We grow drowsy and sleep, her head pillowed on my bicep. Upon waking she sits up. I roll to my side to look up at her. I enjoy seeing the sun in her hair.
“I brought sustenance,” Artemis announces, crawling over the sand to find a leather pouch. She opens it, peeks inside then scowls at me. “Our ambrosia is wet.”
“It will still be as sweet,” I say, getting to my feet to join her. I take the honeyed comb from her fingers. The first bite slides over my tongue, caressing my mouth. I swallow then hand it to Artemis. We sit down; legs folded like water flowers and eat.
“It has been days since I had any ambrotos,” I confess. My sister scowls, hands the food of the gods back to me then sucks the dripping golden elixir from her fingers.
“It is no wonder you are not thriving,” she scolds. I laugh and tell her she sounds like mother. “Perhaps you should listen to her. You must not allow Helios to starve you! You are Phoebus Apollo! Son of Zeus!”
“Calm yourself, my sister,” I chuckle, chewing and swallowing rapidly. Each bite fills me with life. “I can manage with the food I hunt.”
“Eating the bounty of the wood is not the same as well you know!” she gets to her small feet and walks to the river to wash her long fingers. “Meat and bread and fruit are fine for humans, but we are gods. We require ambrosia and nectar. I shall inform father that Helios is starving you!”
“You shall do no such thing!” I bark, suddenly filled with anger at her. I push to my feet and stalk to her, grabbing her bicep to jerk her upward. “I will not sup with that bastard! I will not enter his domain and grovel in front of him for my days ration! I am no slave, Artemis, I am Apollo!”
I shake her. She is intimidated. I release her arm quickly when I see her reaction to my aggressive display.
“You have my apologies,” I ground out. She nods while rubbing her upper arm where I had squeezed it. Perhaps I was growing in mass and muscle after all? “It is just that I refuse to beg him, my sister. I will suffer and learn at his side. Then, when our father announces I am ready, I will strike Helios down and take that which he clings to with such vigor.”
“Apollo,” she whispers. I glance from the river to her. She is so lovely, so natural and beautiful. “Please, my dearest only brother, do not let hatred and violence overtake your gentle soul. Would you be as Ares is? Always lusting for war and women, a barbarian god lost to his blood-lusts?”
“I would be a man, aye!” I argue. Her face falls. “You cannot understand, Artemis, for you are a female! There is no shame in our father`s eyes when he looks upon you,” I hiss, stalking over to jerk my chiton from the drying rock. When I turn to face her, she is standing defiantly, assessing me with wary eyes, her budding breasts unfettered and sun-kissed. I blanch. Have my words and actions changed things between us?
“When you speak with such anger it frightens me, Apollo,” she confesses. I stare at her, my bow and quiver in my hands. I stand there like a dullard, not like a prince of Olympus. “You are changing, Apollo, and I am not sure it is for the better. Why can you not try to be as Father wishes? He worries so for you, my brother. He only wants you happy, and to dandle grandchildren upon his knee. Why can you not drop this infatuation with-”
I spin around, heat flowing up into my face. “Do not speak his name as if he were but a mere dalliance! What father wants is for me to live as he wishes, love whom he bids, and procreate upon demand! If you truly love me, you will understand who I am and not besiege me to be that which I am not!”
Artemis blinks at me, her cheeks tinting pink with humiliation. She skitters over to the rock. I turn to give her privacy, my throat closed so tightly I fear no breath would pass through it. Never have she and I spoken so to each other. Always we were of the same mind and soul. We grew in the same womb, suckled the same breasts, slept in the same cradle. Now, suddenly, we are as strangers to each other.
“I must return to Selene,” I hear her say as I stare at the clouds moving rapidly overhead. “We must ready the stags.”
“Artemis?” I call. She does not answer.
I glance over my shoulder and she is gone.
Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey
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