Out of Olympus #3
Messenger god Hermes’ sandals have been stolen by a mortal, thus robbing all gods of their gift of teleportation. Zeus is furious, but Hermes has more to worry about than his father’s anger. Retrieving the sandals becomes a race against time as others are after the precious artifacts, too.
Hermes knows the identity of the thief: the lovely Greek studies professor, Penelope. Now not only does he have to get to his sandals first, but he has to do so before Penelope steals something else: his heart.
A Taste of Greek is the third book in the humorous and sexy paranormal romance series Out of Olympus following the romantic adventures of four Gods: Triton, Dionysus, Eros, and Hermes.
Once more, Hermes searched the guest room in Triton and Sophia’s bed and breakfast that he’d spent the previous night in, but the result remained the same. His winged sandals had disappeared.
He’d come to visit his best friend Triton, the god of seafarers and sailors who lived in Charleston with his mortal wife Sophia. Ever since not only Triton but also his fellow god Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy, had taken up residence in this charming southern town, he and his friend Eros visited quite often.
Hermes walked out onto the balcony and looked down at the fountain, then perused the balcony. Nothing.
The French doors of the room next to his opened, and Eros stepped out onto the balcony, stretching. “Hey, morning! Isn’t it a great day?”
The love god’s grin was just a little too cheerful, and there were only two reasons why Eros would grin like this: either he’d gotten laid the night before, or he’d pulled a prank on somebody.
Hermes jumped over the low divider that separated the balconies from each other and peeked into Eros’s room. The bed was empty, and there was no sign of a woman.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
He turned back to his fellow god. “Give ‘em back. Now!”
Eros tossed him a confused look. “Huh? Give what back?”
Hermes slammed him against the wall. “Give me back my sandals, you idiot! I’m not in the mood for your stupid jokes this morning.”
“I didn’t take your frilly sandals! So get off me! What would I do with them? Do you see me flying around?” Eros pushed him off and pulled his T-shirt straight. “I would have gone to sleep at my palace on Olympus had I known I’d be accosted this morning.”
Hermes tilted his head. “You really don’t have them?”
“No! Go look someplace else. Why am I always the first to be accused? Last time I checked, the house belonged to Triton. Doesn’t that mean he’s got keys to every room?”
Hermes took a step back. Eros was right. Triton had had every opportunity to sneak into his room and take the sandals.
“That jerk!” he growled and rushed through Eros’s room, yanking open the door to the hallway, when he felt Eros behind him. “Why are you following me?”
Eros grinned unashamedly. “You didn’t think I was gonna miss a fight, did you?”
Hermes rolled his eyes, then continued on his quest and hurried upstairs, taking two steps at a time. He didn’t bother knocking on the door of Triton and Sophia’s private studio, and simply pushed it open.
“Triton,” he bellowed, walking inside.
Triton appeared from the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, water dripping down his shoulders. “What in Hades is going on? Can’t you knock?”
“My sandals. I want them back. Now!”
“I don’t have your bloody sandals. Why would I have your sandals?”
“Very funny,” Hermes shot back. “But the game is over.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve lost your sandals.” The seriousness in Triton’s voice, coupled with his incredulous look turned Hermes’ annoyance into worry. Triton wasn’t that good of an actor. If he didn’t have his sandals, then who did?
“They’re gone!” Hermes ran a shaking hand through his hair. “Fuck!” He looked at both his friends again, when he noticed Sophia enter the studio.
“What’s the ruckus about? Are you guys forgetting that we have guests here? And it’s Sunday, everybody’s still sleeping!” Sophia chastised them.
“Sorry, baby, but it looks like Hermes misplaced his sandals,” Triton said calmly. Then he looked back at him. “Have you tried to teleport?”
Hermes shook his head. Then he tried just that, concentrating on the place he wanted to go: Dio’s apartment in the city. If neither Eros nor Triton had his sandals, then Dio had to have played this prank on him. He hoped he was right.
His body didn’t move. He tried again. “I can’t teleport.”
“Fuck! This can’t be happening!” Eros shouted and knocked his fist against Hermes’ forehead. “You idiot, I’ve got a hot date in Greece tonight!”
Sophia shot Eros an inquisitive look. “What’s that got to do with Hermes’ sandals?”
“Everything!” Eros cried out.
Triton looked at his wife, his face etched with concern. “If Hermes can’t teleport, that means that every god, including Zeus, will have lost his power to teleport. Because the power to teleport lies in Hermes’ sandals, and that power is only active when the sandals are in the possession of a god.”
Hermes swallowed, his stomach turning at the implication. “That means a mortal has them.”
And there was only one mortal who could have taken them. No, not just taken—stolen! His precious sandals.
Zeus would have his hide once he found out.
One week earlier
“But this can’t be happening,” Penny Galloway pleaded.
Her boss Michelle Schafer, the dean of the history department, leaned over the desk and sighed. “I’m sorry, but the budget cuts are more severe than we’d all expected. I have to cut positions and I’m afraid that means that all non-tenured faculty whose contracts are up at the end of the fiscal year will have to look for opportunities elsewhere.”
Opportunities, what opportunities? As if that were that easy. How many positions were there for an assistant professor whose field was Ancient Greek history and mythology? A needle in a haystack was easier to find than a position like hers. She had to find a way to stay here in Charleston, where she took care of her grandmother. If she lost this job she could be out of work for longer than her savings would last.
“Does that mean the tenure spot that’s still open won’t be filled either?” she asked, reaching for a straw. If she could get this coveted position, she’d be safe from the budget cuts.
“No, it’ll be filled, just as planned. But as you know, you’re not the only one who’s competing for tenure.”
As if she didn’t know it. Kenton Lowry, her colleague who’d been an assistant professor for less time than Penny, was trying to impress the tenure committee with his research about ancient Greek weapons.
“But I still have a shot, don’t I?” she asked Michelle, hating the desperate tone in her voice. But it was hard to hide the despair that bubbled up now. If she lost her job, not only her own life would be uprooted, what would be worse was that her grandmother’s life would change too: dependent on Penny, she would have to move wherever Penny found a new job—if she found a new job!—and leave her doctors and physical therapist, as well as the house in which she’d lived for over fifty years. Penny wasn’t sure her beloved Grams would survive it. After the bad fall she’d taken a few months earlier, her health had been slow to improve.
“The tenure committee won’t make their decision for a few months. There’s still time. Of course, you know that unless you’re already working on a new article to be published you’re not going to make the deadline,” Michelle cautioned.
“I’m in the middle of a research project right now. No worries. It’s almost ready for publication,” Penny lied. The last thing she wanted to do was let Michelle, who sat on the tenure committee, know that she didn’t even know what to write about.
“Good, good. I hope it’s something noteworthy. Something new and different that will impress the committee,” Michelle said.
Something new and different in the world of Greek mythology? Who was she kidding? People had been writing on this subject for thousands of years.
“Of course, yes, it is,” Penny hastened to answer.
“I’m rooting for you.” Michelle smiled, but her smile didn’t reach her eyes.
“Thanks, Michelle, I really appreciate it.”
Michelle nodded and walked out of Penny’s office, closing the door behind her.
Penny slumped back into her chair and dropped her head onto her desk, resting her forehead on the cool surface. What would she do now? She hadn’t worked on any important research projects in the last few months, the care for her grandmother having taken up all of her time outside her classes. There’d been no time to find the right subject to sink her teeth into in order to gain tenure. And now, with only a few short weeks until she had to present the tenure committee with a published article—yes, published by a journal, not just ready for publication—how would she accomplish this impossible feat? Everything was riding on it. Her grandmother was counting on her. Her grandmother’s small pension and savings weren’t nearly enough to cover the cost for her living expenses and the therapists and nurse she needed daily. Without Penny’s income to support them, she would have to let the nurse go and cut down on her physical therapy sessions. It would be a major setback for her grandmother’s health and mean that maybe she would never truly recover again.
Penny pushed back the rising tears. No, crying wouldn’t help. She had to clear her head and put all her energy toward obtaining tenure. It was the only way to save her job, her income, and her life with her grandmother.
Pulling in a deep breath, she rose, snatched her handbag and walked out of her office and the building. Fresh air, a strong cup of Vivian’s coffee, and a flaky pastry dripping with chocolate was what she needed right now to wrestle back control of her emotions. Then, invigorated, she would return to her office and find a project that would secure her the tenure spot.
Penny crossed the street, walking behind two men, not close enough to hear their conversation, but close enough to appreciate their well-formed backsides. She let the view seep into her consciousness and distract her for a moment. Long legs moved in tandem—a steady rhythm, a strong and commanding gait. She could almost see the definition of muscles flexing and moving with each long step.
Soft cotton shirts, sea foam green and aqua blue, hugged their backs, stretching across shoulder blades and ending in short sleeves that revealed strong, toned arms. Not bodybuilder arms with bulging biceps, but the kind of muscle definition that gave a woman a quick flutter of longing when she ran her fingers across the silky skin covering them and felt the hardness buried beneath.
Penny sighed. She didn’t know which man was more beautiful. Before she could think on it further, the sky overhead boomed, then opened up and swamped her in a downpour.
“Of course,” she grunted, looking up to the heavens. Because in her life, it didn’t just rain, it poured.
As if in answer to her cry, the pelting rain increased, drenching her and flooding the streets. She started to run down the cobblestone street to Vivian’s Café, briefly wondering where the two hot guys had disappeared to. But the thought was gone as the water rose, making her flight perilous in her high leather pumps. She slipped them off her feet and ran the rest of the way barefoot, the creek that had formed along the curb soaking her slacks well above her ankles.
She burst into Vivian’s and ran straight for the fireplace, the fire’s heat warming the chill in her bones. “This isn’t my day,” she called out to Vivian, her friend and the shop’s owner.
“Wow, look at you,” Vivian said from behind the long pastry-laden counter. She grabbed a towel from under it and hurried toward her.
Penny accepted it gratefully. “You’re a lifesaver,” she said, blotting her wet face, her dripping hair, and her drenched clothes.
She quickly scanned the café and saw two customers she recognized: sea foam green and aqua blue. They were sitting at a table behind her, close to the fire, their smiles wide. Penny’s breath instantly hitched. She’d thought their backsides were something to gape at, but if she stared any longer at their handsome features she’d need resuscitation.
Obviously there was a film crew in town. Both these men were beyond heart-stopping gorgeous in a way only Hollywood could deliver. She didn’t know which one was more stunning: the one with flashing blue eyes and sun-kissed golden hair, or the one with deep melting-chocolate brown eyes and thick wavy hair to match. Her knees weakened and she grabbed the mantle for support.
She gave a half-hearted loopy smile as embarrassment swept through her. She probably looked like a drowned rat, whereas the two gorgeous hunks appeared dry as a bone. How had they managed to escape the downpour?
“You look like you could use a latte,” Vivian said, bustling back to the counter.
Penny tore her gaze from the handsome men and looked over at her friend. “Make it a double.”
It would help her focus, because for certain she had no time to be distracted by a good looking man. She needed to keep her mind on her job and her research.
“Now there’s a tasty morsel I could sink my teeth into,” Hermes said, watching the dripping woman standing by the fireplace with amusement. Her cream-colored blouse and slacks were completely soaked and sticking to her skin in a very provocative manner.
“I do say the woman has impeccable taste in undergarments,” Triton agreed, a wide smile spreading his lips.
“Don’t let Sophia hear that,” Hermes cautioned his friend.
“I’m married, not blind,” Triton responded, but Hermes barely listened, because his eyes already feasted on the woman.
The delicate lace bra barely held her plump breasts, and did little to hide the tight rosy buds pushing against the fabric. Just staring at the fullness of her bosom made his mouth water. The poor woman was freezing and drenched. He should do something to make her more comfortable. Like get her out of those wet clothes and into his bed. He started to rise, when Triton placed a hand on his forearm.
“As we were saying?”
Hermes reluctantly turned back to him. “Saying?”
“About Sophia’s party.”
“Surely this little soirée planning can wait until this evening? That poor woman is in desperate need of warming.”
“It can’t,” Triton said, shaking his head.
“Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?” Hermes complained.
“A woman like her would require more than an afternoon of your attention,” Triton replied. “And you don’t have that kind of time right now. The party is this Saturday, and at the speed we’re working right now, Sophia will turn fifty before this party is on its way.”
“You exaggerate, as always! Just call the servants and have them . . . ”
His words died in his throat as the woman in question seemed to finally realize the delicious view her wet clothes were providing and turned the most becoming shade of pink. She quickly spun around and faced the fire, in turn providing him with a beautiful view of her ass and the thin thong lacing the seam between her cheeks. His admiration for this century’s idea of women’s underwear rose—just as his cock did.
“Hermes,” Triton said, his voice becoming insistent.
Hermes groaned and turned back to him. “You’re right,” he relented.
If he got his hands on that sweet body, he wouldn’t want to stop until he was buried deep within her, and she was screaming for mercy. Yes, he would require more than an afternoon to satisfy himself on each of her delicate curves and hollows.
“I promised I would help throw your adorable wife a surprise party and I will.” With regret, he gazed one last time at the lovely woman by the fire, then turned his attention back to his friend. “Now what were we saying?”
For what seemed like an eternity, Hermes tried to focus on Triton’s ideas—something about finger foods and desserts. If anybody asked him, his friend had become way too domesticated. Sophia was enchanting, but Hermes could never see himself tied down like that, handcuffed to the point of spending an afternoon discussing cheese and chocolate, instead of diving under the covers with creamy skin, lace panties and long, dark ringlets framing high cheekbones.
Hermes looked back at the woman who had planted wanton thoughts in his mind. She still stood in front of the fireplace, warming her palms on a large mug of frothy coffee clutched between her hands. The way she held that cup with such ardor . . . She took a drink from the brim, her eyes meeting his, and darkening slightly. She was attracted to him. Not that he was surprised; most mortal women were, but he realized the magnetic pull between them was strung as tightly as one of Eros’s bows. And he couldn’t wait to pluck it—or rather her.
She set the cup down on the mantle, her sweet tongue peeking out to sweep the foam off her lips. He heard a soft sigh of pleasure leave her mouth, and it sent a bolt of desire straight to his loins, thickening his cock, making him wish he could take her right there on top of one of the wooden tables, in front of that roaring fire.
As if she could read his thoughts, color once again filled her cheeks. In a soft flutter, she raised a hand to her chest. He saw the quickness of her breath by the soft rise and fall of her breasts. Yes, she was a very passionate woman and she was right there, ready for the taking.
“Hermes!” Triton’s voice rose in conjunction with thunder booming overhead. “Your father is calling,” he said with a smirk, slipping into Ancient Greek, their native tongue, which nobody apart from the gods and a few scholars spoke these days.
Hermes rolled his eyes. “Why the old man can’t get with the program and use a cell phone like everyone else, I’ll never know.”
“Because it’s much more fun to summon you the old-fashioned way. Is he still on your case?”
“Like a dog with a bone. Now that you and Dionysus have settled down—and are really cramping my style if I may add—he wants the same for me. As if that will ever happen!”
“How very hypocritical of him,” Triton said dryly.
“You know it!”
“Maybe you should humor him and give it a go?” Triton hedged, a glint of humor in his eyes. “You never know, you might just like monogamy. Falling in love. Living to make the woman of your dreams happy.”
“Another word and I’ll shove it right back down your throat,” Hermes barked. “It’ll be a cold day in Hades before that will ever happen. Mark my words!”
“Hold your ponies there, bad boy. All I’m saying is that I know how you feel. I was the same way, and Dio was the biggest cad of us all—”
“That remains to be seen,” Hermes interjected.
“The point is we both found something—someone—who fulfilled us even more than our bachelor ways. And you can, too.”
Hermes leaned forward, catching Triton’s eye and holding it. “I’d rather be Zeus’s goat.”
Triton burst out laughing, drawing the attention of both women on them. Both were now standing by the fireplace, their heads together and their voices low.
Hermes couldn’t help wondering what the two were talking about and had to admit he hoped it was him. “Are we done here? I’d better go see what the old buzzard wants.”
“Baaaaa. Fine.” Triton stood. “I’ll get Dio’s help with the wine and cake.”
“Ah, before I forget. I saw Michael the other day.”
Triton’s eyebrows snapped together in irritation. “Sophia’s cousin? He knows not to go anywhere near her!”
Hermes held up his hand to calm him. Triton was very touchy when it came to Sophia’s no-good cousin. After all, he’d made several attempts on her life in order to get at her inheritance, a plan that had failed, thanks to Triton.
“And he didn’t. He was nowhere near your house. Turns out he’s working for some company that installs safes in people’s houses.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me! How did he pass the background check?”
Hermes shrugged. “Beats me. But it looks like he’s apprenticing in another profession, since his embezzling scheme didn’t work out so well. Better keep an eye on him just in case he’s up to something.” Hermes rose, snatching his half-finished drink from the table.
Triton stood. “Thanks for the heads-up. And make sure you’re at Sophia’s party on Saturday night at seven.” He motioned to the fireplace behind Hermes’ shoulders, then added, “Bring a date!” as he headed out the door.
Hermes turned to give his friend’s suggestion more thought and collided with the pretty brunette, spilling his iced coffee down the front of her now-dry blouse, and soaking it all over again.
At her cry of distress, he couldn’t stop a smile from spreading over his face. “Oh bummer, sweetheart. Now I’ve done it.”
He snatched a napkin from the table and proceeded to pat her slowly and thoroughly dry, paying particular attention to the wet spots covering her breasts.