Phobos: Cupid’s Captive Series, Book Two
Chapter One: August in Texas
“I don’t know what Artemis was thinking, sending us here with flannel shirts,” Deimos complained inside the delipidated shack they would call home for the next six months. “It’s too damn hot.”
Phobos had already stripped his off, preferring to go without a shirt altogether than to spend one more miserable second wearing what felt like a wet blanket. “Preach, brother.”
Cupid dug through the bag Artemis had given each of them. “Thank the gods, there’s a clean t-shirt in here.” He whipped off the flannel and pulled on the white t-shirt, grinning with relief.
Deimos followed suit. “Amen, brother. This is much better.”
Phobos noticed Ellie standing in the corner, enjoying the show.
He crossed the room and glared down at her. “What are you looking at?”
Her eyes roamed across his bare chest before she met his gaze. “I’m going to the well to wash my bedding. Would you like me to wash yours, too?”
“I don’t want you anywhere near my bedding,” Phobos said.
He could tell by her expression that his words had stung. Good.
She stepped back and turned to his brothers. “Deimos? Cupid? Can I wash your bedding?”
“Thanks, Ellie,” Cupid said. “That’s very kind of you.”
"Deimos?" she asked.
“I’m good,” Deimos said without looking at her.
Phobos groaned when Cupid followed Ellie to their room, offering to help her. He wondered who would take the top bunk and who the bottom. Phobos had already called dibs on the bottom bunk in the five-by-seven-foot “bedroom” he shared with Deimos. To Phobos, “closet” seemed like a better word. Even the closet in his London flat was bigger.
He supposed being stuck with Ellie and his brothers in the Texas heat in a falling-down shack without indoor plumbing or electricity was better than being condemned to the Titan Pit.
But not by much.
Phobos was startled by a knock at the door, because he was accustomed to sensing people—both gods and mortals—before they announced themselves. His lack of powers was unnerving. This was going to be an agonizingly long six months.
They’d left the door ajar, because of the heat, and the person knocking there was fully visible. It was a young woman. She had long brown hair pulled back from her face with a clip. Her brown eyes were round and lined with dark, thick lashes. Her brows were thick, which Phobos found sexy. She was smiling up at him. Maybe things weren’t going to be so bad here, after all.
“Hi,” she said. “I’m Jaquelyn. My parents told me to bring you these.”
“Come in,” Phobos said.
She was wearing denim cut-offs and a t-shirt with the letters YOLO printed on it. By his estimation, she looked to be about seventeen.
Jaquelyn set the basket she was carrying down on the rickety old table in the middle of the room. “I have some canteens for each of you. It’s important to stay hydrated. I’ve also got a box of laundry detergent, bars of soap, two bottles of shampoo, and four clean towels. There’s a stream about a hundred yards toward the back of the property, just past the barn, where you can bathe. And I guess you saw the well on your way over.”
“We did, thank you,” Phobos said.
Deimos offered Jaquelyn his hand. “I’m Deimos. It’s nice to meet you, Jaquelyn.”
She shook it. “Likewise.”
Phobos offered his. “Phobos.”
Slender but calloused, her hand had been used for manual labor, Phobos thought before letting go of it.
Cupid entered with a bundle of bedding in his arms, followed by Ellie.
“Hi,” Cupid said. “Are you Mr. Garcia’s daughter?”
“Yes,” she said. “My name’s Jaquelyn.”
“I’m Cupid, and this is Ellie.”
“Hello,” Ellie said.
“Hi.” Jaquelyn gave her a smile. “I’ve seen you before, on television. Aren’t you a pitcher for the Seminoles?”
Ellie blushed. “I was. A lot has happened since then.”
"It’s only been two months since you won the world series,” Jaquelyn pointed out.
“Do you play?” Ellie asked.
“I wish. My parents need me to help around here. Before my older sister died, I did, but not anymore.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Ellie said.
Jaquelyn averted her eyes. “Well, it was nice meeting you all. I’m sorry we don’t have a nicer place for you to stay in.”
Phobos noticed her glance at his bare chest. He’d been hoping she would. He’d begun to believe she was more interested in Ellie than in him or his brothers, but that glance, and her awkward smile when she knew she was caught, had told him otherwise.
“Thank you,” Phobos said. “I suppose we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”
“Yep. See you.”
Phobos watched her walk away, past the well, and back to the main house. Cupid followed with his bundle of bedding. Ellie found the laundry detergent and followed Cupid to the well. Phobos was surprised when Ellie didn’t look back at him. As much as he despised her, he’d taken a sick kind of pleasure in watching her long for him. Had she given up already?
“I saw the way you were looking at Jaquelyn,” Deimos said, bringing Phobos from his thoughts.
“Just try not to make things worse.”
“Worse?” Phobos scoffed. “How could they possibly get worse? I’d say a pretty girl makes things better.”
“Like it did with Ellie?” Deimos snapped.
“That was different. Cupid’s without his powers and can’t interfere.”
“You could still break her heart.”
“Ellie’s? Why should I care? Do you?”
Phobos dug through the bag from Artemis and found a white t-shirt. He didn’t want to hurt the mortal, but he needed something to lift him from this misery. The hate he felt for Ellie was overwhelming. Every time he looked at her, he wanted to slap her, crush her, hurt her. He knew it was the arrow of hate that was driving his hatred, but it was powerful and all-consuming, no matter how much he tried to reason with himself.
Even when he focused on the memories that he’d made with her—of kissing her mouth and throat in Selene’s cave, of touching her breasts in Cupid’s swimming pool, of kneading her between the legs on Circe’s island—they only further fueled his hatred. The only thing that made him feel better was knowing that she ached for him and couldn’t have him.