"Hemera," the shock of his voice had made the knife dropped from her hand. She staggered to stand as he approached her with a fire in his eyes.

"Leave me," she said sorrowfully.

But the hand on Hemera's cheek made her shake, not from fear, never from fear with him. She wanted to throw her arms around him, but she bit back her emotions.

"It is my father's wish to have me marry Theron," she said.

"But that is not your wish." He said in almost a murmur.

She shook her head, the soft waves of her hair catching the faintest rays of sunlight. "If I do not marry him" a shiver ran down her spine, "I will be taken to be an oracle for the ephors."

"Hemera," her name came off his lips with a compassion that made her want all the things she could not have.

She closed her eyes tightly, "I couldn't lay in my bed, to let him have my body…" she trailed off until a tear escaped her.

"You never consummated the marriage…" relief swept over him.

"I couldn't," her voice wavered. "I ran… like Atlanta, I told you once that I wouldn't be distracted, I wouldn't be caught." A small smile playing on her lips.

His grin made her want to melt, "It seems your wrong little one, for it seems like I have caught you."

Her eyes widened, as the hand the cupped her cheek traced her bottom lip.

Her breath taken away as his lips captured hers. Surprisingly soft, almost savoring and tender. Slow and seeking, Hemera almost forgot to breathe at first, her lashes fluttering shut.

With a heavy intake of breath she broke the kiss, her eyes mischievous. "So Spartan," she spoke, her heart beating wildly. "You say you have caught me, but let's see if you can do the same in a fair race."

She broke off into a sprint, her legs moving as fast as she could, her heart free. Yet knowing her heart would be free even with him.

It was a challenge he could not deny as he raced after her, desire for this woman so fierce that he swore he could move mountains with it.

They raced through the country side, the dawn sweeping beautiful rays of rose and violet.

"Hemera," Stelios called. But she only turned her head slightly as she continued to race.

He let her run ahead of him, toying with her just for the moment. He called her name once more and he heard the laugh escape from her lips

Stelios saw the submission as she turned around, allowing him to catch her. His strong arms circling her waist, pulling her down to the earth with him.

Their eyes locked for only a moment, "No apples or trinkets to catch your eye?"

"Only you, it's always been you," Hemera breathed.

"You've always been mine, ever since I saw you face a wolf with just a stick. Marry me, be my wife."

"Yes" her voice filled with joy yet edged with fright for how much her heart swelled for him. To love a Spartan took a strong woman, but to imagine a life without him was impossible, "Yes!"

His lips capturing hers, this time the kiss was rough and fierce. The need to devour every inch of her, to taste and touch.

She felt heady and giddy, his strength and maleness surrounding her, consuming her as his tongue languidly stroked and teased hers. Somehow her arms had found their way around his waist, drawing him tightly to her as she kissed him the way he had shown her.

Fear and excitement clawed at her belly. Fingers slid down to cup her breasts, teasingly making their way down until they came to her thighs. Touching her through the soft linen, making her heart race.

He dragged her peplos from her body, the sun casting beautiful rays against her skin, the sight of her held his breath in his throat.

She arched into him as his fingers moved, stoking the sensitized flesh between her thighs. Her breasts rose and fell as she struggled to breathe, to think.

A moan escaped her when fingers teased the line of her lips. Her hands found his shoulders as her legs were eased apart. Nothing could have prepared her for the touch of flesh against flesh at the juncture of her thighs. Her head dropped back as she gasped in pain, her lashes lowered against the rising glow of the sun as Stelios trailed kisses over her face. Capturing the next of her cries as he began to move.

She kissed him with everything she had and soon the pain gave way, the heavy beat of his heart racing hers. It felt incredible to be held in his arms, to have him pulsing within her. Stelios lifted her so that she sat astride him, matching his eagerness as their tongues tangled. Her body felt complete without ever having lacked.

Hemera felt something building inside her, the need for more as she opened to his surging thrusts. Her whimpering moans turned to gasping cries, moisture trembling on her lashes as she struggled with the overpowering sensations tore through her. It was too much, too intense.

Both spent she collapsed against his chest, unable, unwilling to move. His heart thundered against her ear, his chest glistening with sweat. Arms wrapped about her tightly, holding her close. Lips pressed against her forehead, her hair. Welcoming the daylight.