Taste of the Forbidden Contest
Word Count: 10,818
Pairing: Edward & Bella
Summary: For centuries, the Gods of Greece have involved themselves intimately with the mortals who worship them. Sometimes these relationships are borne of desire, while others are the product of revenge. It is expressly forbidden for the Gods to fall in love with their mortal conquests, and they've all succeeded . . . until now.
Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Any similarities to the original characters or themes from the books or media franchise are used here for entertainment purposes only. The Olympians belong to themselves, because nobody owns a God . . . however, the amalgamation of the two—GodWard, as I've come to call him through this process—well, he's ALLLLLL mine, but I'll let you look at him all you want. Also, all original content, ideas, and intellectual property of Olympus are mine.
Keep in mind this story is for fun, and I took a few creative liberties (not many, mind you) and used names that may or may not have been popular in the undisclosed year that this story takes place. Just go with it, m'kay? I promise it'll be totally worth it :-P
The Greeks believe that the Gods are to be worshipped for every good thing that happens in their lives, and they renounce them for every bad. They call on them in their time of need, and turn their backs on them—waging wars—when things do not turn out to their liking. What the Greeks fail to realize is that it is not just them who need the Gods to get through the day, but the Gods who require the mortals—their love, to be specific. With every day that goes by, more and more people stop believing, and it is rumoured that it makes the Gods weak.
Makes us weak.
Yes, I am one of the many Immortals that live atop Mount Olympus. From there, we are able to manipulate the mortal world to our liking, and we are privy to every intricate detail of their lives; we hear everything they say, see everything they do . . .
It is not uncommon for us to wander amongst them from time to time, but, by Zeus's orders, it is expressly forbidden that we find ourselves involved with any human directly or meddle in affairs that have nothing to do with us. It has been known to happen from time to time—Zeus himself has meddled with and bedded his fair share—and even though the consequences have been dire in most of these situations, that will not stop it from happening again.
What I never imagined was that it would happen to me, the God of music, healing, plague, prophecies, poetry, and archery. The God associated with light, truth, and the sun. Yes, I am Apollo, twin brother to Artemis, elder brother to Hermes, and son of Zeus and Leto.
But down on Earth, I take on the persona of just another mortal—a foreign commoner who will answer to the name of "Edward." It is not often that I choose to walk amongst the mortals, but Olympus always feels a little small whenever Aphrodite returns from her husband, Hephaestus, and finds her way back into the arms of her lover, Ares.
The relationship that Ares and Aphrodite share is intense, and there is not a single God amongst us that relishes being around when they are together.
The golden rays of the burning sun gleam off her blonde hair as she returns home, the blood-red rose perched above her ear standing out in stark contrast against the pale hue of her complexion. After shooing her cherub-cheeked son off, she goes in search of Ares, but she will not have to search for long before he finds her and drags her off to one of the far corners of the mountain.
Though, it still is not far enough.
But down on Earth . . . well, I find it is a little more peaceful.
I make my way through the streets of Argos, listening to the mortals praise me for the glorious day they have been graced with. Their love and admiration for me feeds my soul, and I revel in the way it makes me feel stronger—invincible.
I have traded the golden armour I wear back on Olympus for hand-spun fabrics and animal hide, and my hair is free of its laurel wreath, making it appear as though it has a mind all its own. The only personal object I have kept on me is my golden bow and quiver of arrows, but to the mortals it appears to be nothing more than something fashioned out of wood and strung with animal gut. It is because of these subtle changes that I am able to go unnoticed as I round a corner and head into the market, seeking out more of the mortals adoration.
The aisles of the market are narrow, meaning that the commoners bump into me more times than not, and I have to remain aware enough to make sure I move as one of them so they do not feel as though they have run straight into a brick wall. Eventually, I reach a break in the crowd, and I try to keep my distance so I can just observe . . .
And observe, I do.
A flash of red catches my eye, and I stop where I stand to watch the woman in the daring-coloured gown reach into a basket and grab a ripe apple. Her long fingers curl around the crisp, red piece of fruit as she brings it to her nose and inhales deeply. The way her pouty pink lips turn up into a smile as she opens her big dark eyes and nods to the woman selling the fresh fruit intrigues me further, and I watch as the stunning woman in red selects several apples and slips them into the smaller basket she carries before dropping a couple of coins into the merchant's hand and thanking her.
I use my power to influence her to walk my way, but she turns the other way as if completely immune to my compulsion. I am forced to watch her walk away, noticing the way her skirts flow freely around her feet and how the top of it fits her body perfectly. The line of her dress runs asymmetrically from the top of one shoulder and disappears beneath her other arm. If I were any one of these mortal men, I would likely mistake her for one of the Goddesses.
As she makes her way through the market, a gentle breeze picks up, blowing her long, dark brown hair back over her shoulders to flow behind her. With it, I pick up a hint of jasmine, and I try once more to bend her will. It does not work, which only frustrates me further, but I find myself following before I lose sight of her. Keeping my distance, I watch as she stops at another booth, looking over the lengths of fine fabrics and conversing with the merchant. She hangs her basket from one of her arms, freeing her hands to roam freely over the colourful silks and cottons before more coins exchange hands, and then she gathers up her latest purchase and moves on.
For some reason, I find myself unable to leave her be, and I am deeply fascinated by her—by this mortal. While several of the other Gods have been intrigued by humans for various reasons, this is not something that happens to me often. In fact, there is something about this girl that is far beyond any other I have come into contact with over the years. It is not just her appearance that appeals to me, but there is also this inner beauty that she projects through her confidence as she moves through the market, buying, selling, and trading goods.
It does not surprise me to find that she is well liked by everyone she comes into contact with; even the people she merely passes wish her a good day, to which she smiles and wishes the same upon them. One look into her eyes, and I can see that her soul is pure—untainted by the envy, greed, and gluttonous ways of so many others of her kind. I think it is this purity that entices me.
When she stops at yet another vendor, I decide I want to be a little closer to her—no, not want . . . need—so I stop at the next booth over and pretend to peruse the merchandise. Even though my eyes should be on the animal pelts I am handling, they are focused on the golden, sun-kissed skin of the mysterious woman's un-covered shoulder as she stretches her arm across the table. My gaze travels along the length of it, noticing the way the sunlight dances on of her skin, and when I reach her hand, I find it encased within that of the merchant she has been speaking with. I find it strangely upsetting when I watch him press his lips to the flesh of what I suddenly consider to be a God-worthy hand.
Unaware of what I am doing, I find myself clenching my hands around the pelt I hold, upsetting the man who makes his living selling them. "Pay attention, boy!" he scolds, drawing the attention of a few others—including the woman in red.
Her expressive brown eyes lock with mine, and something powerful stirs deep in my gut. She offers me a sweet smile, her cheeks turning a shade of pink when she notices the twisted animal hide in my hands.
The pelt is suddenly yanked from my hand, and anger flares inside of me at having been treated and spoken to with such little respect. I am just about to tell this mortal to mind himself, when I remember the human form I have taken.
Instead of punishing him for his insolence, I reach into the pouch hanging at my hip and retrieve more than enough money to pay for the pelt I have destroyed. "I apologize, sir. It was not my intent to ruin such fine craftsmanship." I am successful at covering the ire in my voice, and the man looks down at the coins in his hand with wide, bewildered eyes.
He accepts my apology, stuffing the coins into his satchel before rushing off to help somebody else. Figuring it wise, I step away to make room for his new customer, and when I turn around, I collide with the woman in red.
"Oh!" she exclaims, struggling to right her basket before she drops it and the apples nestled within it. She manages to keep the fruit from falling into the dirt, but she loses the battle to hold onto the yards of fabric she has purchased. Before they can hit the ground, I catch them and hold them out to her. When her gaze locks with mine, her pink cheeks brighten in hue as if she is embarrassed. "I . . . th-thank you."
"No need. The fault was mine," I am quick to offer as she struggles to grab onto her fabric, and when her fingers brush my arm, I notice they are trembling. "Allow me to assist you with these."
"Oh, no," she politely declines, still struggling to balance her belongings. "I cannot impose."
"It would be my pleasure." She freezes and looks up at me, seeming somewhat uncertain. "Think of it as my way of apologizing for my clumsiness."
She takes a moment to consider this before finally conceding. "All right. Thank you . . . um ...?"
I stare at her for a minute, feeling somewhat confused until I realize she is waiting for my name. Laughing, I shake my head. "Apparently I have to apologize for more than my carelessness. My name is Edward. And you are?"
Her lips curve up into a bright smile, her brown eyes sparkling. "Isabella."
"Isabella?" I repeat, revelling in the sensation of how her name rolls off my tongue before stating the obvious. "That is Italian."
"It is," she says with a light laugh, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth with a sly smile. "My father hails from Rome." Then she looks up at me with a raised brow. "Edward is not of Greek origin either, now is it?"
It is true; I perhaps hadn't given much thought to the ancestry of the mortal name I had chosen. To be fair, I honestly did not think that I would be speaking with anyone, let alone introducing myself formally.
"Are you not from here?" she inquires further as we exit the market together.
With a laugh, I look down at her. "Not exactly," I tell her truthfully.
"Where are you from, then?"
I am quick to answer, but keep my response quite vague. "North of here."
"And what brings you to Argos?" she asks.
"I needed a change of scenery," I explain. "It was beginning to feel a little crowded back . . . home. And you?"
She hesitates for a moment. "The same, I suppose. My mother was born here, but remained in Rome after meeting my father. I suppose she was feeling a bit nostalgic for home."
"So this is your first time to the city?"
"Since I was a young girl, yes," Isabella replies. "We came here once when I was a child to visit my ailing grandmother." Looking up toward the sky, Isabella smiles, and it is difficult to refrain from doing the same. "It has changed."
"In a good way, I hope."
Laughing lightly, Isabella nods. "Oh, yes. Of course."
It surprises me as we continue on our journey just how easy it is to talk to this mortal woman. I have conversed briefly with humans before, but never have I taken such an active interest in their lives. I cannot explain it, but there seems to be something about Isabella that calls to me—much stronger than the pull we Gods have over any mere mortal. It should alarm me, but in her presence, I cannot seem to find it in myself to be concerned.
Suddenly, Isabella stops and turns to face me. "I live just up the road," she informs me, looking down at the fabric beneath my arm. "I can handle it from here."
I offer her a kind smile. "I really do not mind," I assure her, nodding us forward.
"Perhaps not," she counters, "but my highly protective father might have something to say about a strange man escorting his daughter home."
"And he would rather know you walked all this way alone?"
Instead of arguing with me further, she smiles and takes the fabric from me. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Edward. Thank you for walking with me."
"The pleasure was mine, Isabella." I stand in the middle of the road, watching her slowly walk away from me, and I find that the more distance that comes between us, the more uncomfortable I feel. "Wait!" I suddenly call out, forcing her to stop in her tracks and turn to me; she is smiling widely, almost as though she were waiting for a reason to stop.
"When will I see you again?" I ask, taking a couple of steps forward, relieved when the pain in my gut lessens. Afraid that my behaviour might be more than a little inappropriate, I am quick to elaborate. "What I mean to say is, I enjoyed getting to know you . . . and with you having just moved here, perhaps you would do me the extraordinary honour of allowing me to show you around."
Isabella pauses to consider my offer before smiling again. "What are you doing tomorrow?"
/\^/\ ~O~ /\^/\
I return to Olympus, dressed once more in my gold armour and laurel wreath, looking and feeling like my old self again . . . apart from the way my mind remains flooded with thoughts and images of Isabella, whom I had left only moments ago. We had secured plans to meet at the market in the morning, and I will admit that my offer to show her around was completely impulsive, as I still have yet to figure out what we are going to do or even talk about. But I will be with her, and for now, that is all that really matters.
Even after the sun sets, I sit outside and look down on the city, still unable to do little else other than think of Isabella and the sound of her voice. While I know it is wrong, I look in on her frequently through the night, finding it interesting to watch her interact with her parents.
Isabella and her mother prepare dinner together, talking about her trip to the market earlier that day. Their conversation piques my curiosity, and I wonder if Isabella is thinking about me the way I am about her. I listen intently to see if she will mention me, but my mortal name never comes up. It is a little disheartening, if I am being completely honest.
After dinner, the family gathers before the fire in their quaint little home, and Isabella and her mother both begin looking over the fabric acquired earlier. Isabella's father sits in a chair across from the women, reading, while they discuss the best use for each fabric before they set to work measuring, cutting, and sewing.
The room is silent for a while as everyone becomes absorbed in their task. Even though I am not in the room with them, but perched high above in the heavens, I am able to see with perfect clarity when Isabella's eyes move between her work and her parents; she seems somewhat apprehensive.
"Oh, shoot," she says, drawing the attention of her mother and father. "I forgot to stop and purchase leather to mend your shoes, Father. I shall head back to the market first thing in the morning." Her voice wavers slightly, but she is not being completely dishonest as we did plan to meet at the market. The faint tremble seems to go unnoticed by her parents, however, which bodes well for our reunion.
Her father laughs lightly. "No need to fret, Bella, dear," he assures her, setting his book down. "In fact, perhaps your mother and I will accompany you."
Isabella inhales sharply, trying to keep the sound as quiet as possible. There is no way that either of us could have expected this turn of events, and I begin wondering how we are going to be able to work around it.
"Are you afraid I will forget again?" she inquires with a playful grin. "I assure you I will not. Perhaps you and Mother could spend the day together and take a walk around town. The Gods graced us with a beautiful today; perhaps we will be just as lucky tomorrow."
I will personally make certain that tomorrow is just as warm and clear as it was today if it means our plans remain in place.
Her mother is quick to agree that Isabella's suggestion is a good one. Isabella's shoulders relax, and she retrains her eyes on the fabric in her hand, but she does not move for several moments until she decides to retire to her room for the night.
Even though I realize precisely how improper it is to keep looking in on her, I am unable to busy my mind with the affairs of the other Gods long enough to allow her to get herself ready for bed. While I thought she was beautiful in the sunlight, nothing could have prepared me for the sight of her glorious body bathed in the silver light of the full moon. She removes the red dress, and my eyes are transfixed on her soft, womanly curves as she pulls on a white gown to sleep in. She pulls the fine white fabric over her head, covering her naked body inch-by-glorious-inch, and I find myself struggling to remain on Olympus, when every inch of my body is screaming at me to appear before her and have her for my own.
It is no easier as she slumbers, but I cannot help but wonder what it would be like to lay next to her, to feel her soft skin against mine, or to hear the steady pulse of her heart. These are not thoughts that are familiar to me, and I am a little uncertain as to why I am thinking them; she is nothing more than a mortal woman, after all.
"No, she is not," I quietly scold myself, running my fingers through my hair roughly. "If she were, she would not hold your interest this way."
I want nothing more than to claim her—to make this human girl mine for all eternity—but it is forbidden. We must not fall in love with them, because such a relationship cannot exist between our worlds, but I fear that is exactly what is happening to me. I thought it to be infatuation at first, but as I watch her, I realize that it is indeed more. If any one of the other Gods were to find out, I fear what may happen to me . . . or even to her.
And even still, I cannot look away.
Suspicion is high as I prepare to exit Olympus shortly after dawn, and—almost as though it is some sort of younger brother pre-requisite—Hermes follows me out of the palace, asking me countless questions about where I am off to.
"Argos," I tell him shortly.
"Whatever for?" he asks with a laugh. "It is not like you to leave the mountain twice in as many days."
"Perhaps not," I concur. "I suppose I am just due for a change in routine."
"Who is she?" His question stops me dead in my tracks, and when I turn to him, his smile is stretched wide across his face. "I knew it."
"She is a potential friend," I try to explain, keeping my voice low lest Zeus or the other elder Gods hear me.
"Words Zeus himself has spoken," Hermes reminds me, leaning against the stone column at the top of the stairs, his arms folded across his armoured chest.
I leap back up the stairs, looking down into my younger brother's dark eyes. "You will not breathe a word of this to anyone. Not to Zeus or Leto, nor to any of the others . . . not even Artemis must know. Do you understand?"
"If she is just a friend, then what is the harm?"
"Please, brother," I plead quietly. "Can you promise me that you will not breathe a word of this to anyone?"
Hermes looks up at me sincerely. "Of course," he assures me. "You have me at my word."
Satisfied, I place my hand on his shoulder and offer him a smile. "Thank you. I shall return this evening, should anyone ask."
I am not naive enough to think that the other Gods will not catch wind of my afternoon liaison with this mortal girl, but I figure I have some time before that is to happen.
I do not feel up to the walk through the city, so I appear on the mortal plane outside the market, just out of sight from everyone. I have changed my appearance once again for the sake of fitting in, and I take the first step toward my destination. When I arrive several feet from the entrance, I catch sight of Isabella. She appears even more radiant than the day before, dressed in a white gown that is trimmed with gold accents. Once again, her dress lies across her upper body, leaving one arm completely exposed, and her hair is pulled off to the opposite side, making her neck look incredibly long.
It would be blasphemous for any mortal to ever say this, but her beauty rivals even Aphrodite's. She is exquisite . . .
"Thank you for meeting me today," I tell her once she reaches me. "It would be a lie if I told you that I had trouble thinking of little else last night."
"Really?" she inquires, seeming somewhat sceptical and blushing. She takes a moment before casting her eyes down to her feet, her long lashes casting a shadow over her tinted cheeks. "You . . . you were thinking of me last night?"
"I suppose that sounds a bit forward," I admit sheepishly.
Isabella shrugs, glancing up at me through her lashes. "Perhaps a bit."
I find talking to her even easier today than it was yesterday; there is just something about her that sets me at ease, and I truly enjoy her company. Before yesterday, I never would have thought twice about avoiding human conversation, and now . . .
We continue to walk further from the market, but still within sight of others of her kind for her comfort—even though she has given me no indication that she is in any way uneasy. She tells me a little of her home back in Rome, and it sounds lovely. There is no mention of any suitors from her past, and while I am more than a little curious, I know it is beyond inappropriate to ask about such things—not to mention, what business is it of mine?
After I learn a little about her life before Greece, she begins to ask about mine. This serves to be a difficult conversation to have, because I have never had to be dishonest about my past when speaking with a mortal. What is worse is that I do not want to be dishonest with her; I want to be able to tell her everything, but I know that if I do, she won't believe me and might think me crazy.
I try to tell her about my life as honestly as possible without giving away too many details, and she seems more than intrigued.
"So you have a brother? And a twin sister? What is that like?"
Smiling wide, I try to describe what it is like having Artemis as a sister. "It is . . . trying at times. Her moods are quite unpredictable most days."
Isabella giggles. "Even though I only just met you yesterday, Edward, why do I get the feeling that you are quite the opposite?" I chuckle in response to her question, because it is true: Artemis and I are like . . . well, we are like night and day.
"You think me predictable?" I inquire with a smirk.
She merely shrugs. "You seem the careful type, yes. And from what I can tell, you don't strike me as the kind of person who is easily angered."
I am blown away by her astute assessment; it is not every day that a mortal has a God figured out.
"And what of your brother? What is he like?" she asks in an attempt to keep the conversation going when I fail to respond.
Smiling fondly, I think of my younger brother. "He can be quite mischievous, and he overhears more than he probably should . . . but he is the most loyal soul one will ever meet."
The entire time I talk about my siblings, Isabella watches me raptly. Her deep brown eyes are bright, and she looks at me with a quiet reverence . . . but underlying that, I can see the slightest hint of desire. "I have always wondered what it would be like to have a brother or sister," she confesses.
Suddenly, she stops and looks around. "Where are we?" she asks, her eyes wide as she spins in a circle to take in our surroundings.
Upon closer observation, I realize that I have taken her to a hidden paradise just outside the city. Tall sprays of grass and wildflowers fill the open space, and trees outline most of the perimeter, almost closing us off from the outside world. The warm sun shines down through the tall trees, casting a glow upon the floor of the meadow, and the particles of dust and pollen that are caught up in its rays look almost magical.
"It is positively breathtaking," she says with a wistful sigh as she drops to her knees and begins tugging at the wildflowers, inhaling their sweet scent.
Unable to help myself, I sit next to her and relax in the long grass, watching as she arranges a colourful bouquet. When she realizes I'm watching her, she stops, tying the flowers around the stems with a thick blade of grass and setting them off to the side. "For my mother," she explains, shifting to face me.
"Beautiful," I whisper.
Judging by the way her cheeks brighten and her gaze falls to her fidgeting hands, she realizes that it was not the flowers I was referring to. I move a little closer and reach for her face before I can even think about what it is I am doing. The backs of my fingers gently trail along her cheek, pushing a wisp of hair back, and coax her eyes back to mine. "I am sorry, I did not mean to—"
"Please," she desperately pleads, her eyes dancing between mine and shimmering happily. "You have no need to apologize. It was a lovely thing to say."
"No," I counter. "It was highly inappropriate. I should not have implied that—"
"That I was beautiful?" she concludes for me, her voice soft and airy. "Yes, because that is an awful thing to say." Her tone taunts me, making me smile nervously, and I rake my fingers through my hair, feeling more flustered than I have ever felt—and all at the playful words of this beautiful woman at my side.
We continue to bask in the sunlight, and Isabella asks me about my childhood. I lie back in the grass and look up at the blue sky, watching as the clouds move through it lazily. I think about her question for a moment, wondering how to explain something that I can't recall ever really existing. Being born a God is not exactly like being born a human; having been around since the dawn of Man, remembering every intricate detail of my earlier years is near impossible.
"My childhood was no different than anyone else's, I suppose. I had two parents who raised me to be the man I am today, and to teach me about what this life is all about." I hate not being able to be completely open with her, especially when she has been more than honest, but I really have no choice but to omit certain things and stretch the truth a little. "I also had siblings to not only test my patience, but who I learned to confide in and trust."
As the sun travels across the sky, Isabella and I find ourselves lying back in the tall grass, laughing and staring up at the clouds. She points out one cloud in particular that forces her up onto her elbows, and I find myself curious, mirroring her position.
"That one there looks like Jupiter." I regard her with quiet confusion, and she laughs lightly, shaking her head. "Sorry, I meant Zeus." She drops back down and moves closer to me until her head nearly rests against my shoulder, and she points up at the sky. "See that there? It looks like he is rising from the clouds with his arm pulled back, ready to toss a lightning bolt."
I see what she is describing immediately, but I must admit I am not focused on the heavens at all right now; Isabella's head is grazing my shoulder, her soft hair tickling the skin of my arm, and the scent of jasmine intoxicates me. "Yes, I see it." My voice croaks as my head falls to the side to look at her, and I am pleasantly surprised to see she is already looking at me, seemingly awestruck. "Do you know much about the Gods?" The question passes my lips before I know what is happening, and she smiles.
"Of the Roman ones, sure," she replies, and I smile, because technically we are one and the same; the only difference is that Romans know most of us by other names.
Suddenly, an idea comes to me, and I am dead-set on teaching Isabella about my world without telling her that it is, in fact, my world. Surely that is allowed. "I want to take you somewhere," I announce, sitting up and looking down at her.
Isabella sits up, looking at me with curious eyes. "It's getting kind of late for another walk."
"Tomorrow morning, then," I bargain excitedly. "Meet me on the coast."
"T-the coast?" She is nervous, and I can understand why, but she really needn't be.
I place my hand along her jaw, letting my thumb move soothingly over her cheek, and my eyes lock on hers, drawing her in. "Do you trust me?"
Slowly, she nods, pressing her face into my touch. "With my life."
/\^/\ ~O~ /\^/\
Avoiding the others when I return to Olympus is successful for the most part. Hermes is naturally curious and asks countless questions. Because I can trust him at his word to not tell anyone, I confide in him. He listens to me recant the details of my afternoon raptly, never once berating me for being foolish—even though we both know I am playing with fire.
After he leaves me for the night, I look in on Isabella. Like the night before, she spends time with her parents before retiring to her room. I don't think I'll ever get used to the soft beauty of her flesh, and I yearn to hold her intimately in my arms even more than before.
My feelings for her are more certain today than they were yesterday, and while I know they're wrong and I should keep my distance from her, I cannot. I rationalize with myself that as long as I do not act on these feelings, that nothing bad will happen, and it is this thought that takes me to the coastline the next morning.
When I arrive, I find Isabella already there. I take a moment before announcing my presence, admiring her from afar as she lifts the skirts of another white gown and dips her toes in the waves lapping at the rocks beneath her. Her long brown hair has been left loose and blows in the wind, exposing the line of her back beneath the fabric of her dress.
I don't even get the chance to let her know I've arrived before her body stops moving as if sensing something. Slowly, her head turns, and a smile breaks out across her face before she abandons the cool waters for me. My heart beats more rapidly with every step she takes, and I begin toward her, also.
"I was beginning to think you might never show, Edward." The way she says my mortal name makes me yearn to hear how my given name might sound on her lips.
I smile in response, reaching for her hand and impulsively bringing it to my lips. "My apologies, Isabella." The minute my lips brush her soft skin, a low hum moves through me, and when Isabella inhales sharply, I know she has felt it too.
Neither one of us acknowledges it, but the look in her eyes tells me more than words could: her feelings for me are growing just as quickly as mine for her.
"Where is it you plan to take me?" she inquires, pulling us both out of our silence.
Excitedly, I squeeze the hand I still hold and pull her with me as I make my way for the water. There, a boat waits to take us to the island of Paxos. "The Mount of Idols."
Isabella freezes in her tracks and yanks her hand from mine. "We cannot. I have heard tales of men who have never returned from such a journey. The path is said to be paved with evil things trying to protect the temple of the Gods."
"Only myths," I try to assure her, even though I know that they are not. What I do know is that such creatures will sense my presence and will not attempt to stop me from reaching the temple. "Trust me."
"I do," she tells me confidently. "It is the monsters I do not trust."
"Even if they do exist," I whisper, pulling her a little closer to me without thought, "I will not let anything happen to you. You have me at my word."
When she concedes, I lead the way to the small boat that we will use to sail to the island. Typically, as Gods, we can materialize anywhere we wish to be. It is quicker and much simpler than travelling by cart, boat, or foot. Normally, this is what I would do, but my time with Isabella cannot be rushed. I enjoy every second spent with her, and I couldn't imagine speeding it along, just to make it to our destination any faster.
As we sail the small, two-man boat toward Paxos, I watch Isabella. She sits across from me with perfect posture and her hands in her lap. Her hair drifts behind her on the breeze, and the salt water sprays us both, keeping us cool beneath the heat of the sun. The width of her smile and the excited gleam in her eyes indicates that this might be her first time on the water, and I bask in her elation.
We arrive at the island, and I secure the boat ashore before helping Isabella out. It catches me off guard when her foot slips off the edge of the boat, and I find myself using more speed than any mortal would be capable of to ensure she does not fall into the wet sand. My arms encircle her slender waist, my hands laying flat against her back, and she reaches out in panic, letting her arms wrap around my neck to brace herself.
Our eyes lock, and I am unsure how much time passes before I let her slide down my body until her toes touch the sand beneath us. I expect her to loosen her grip around me, but instead, her hands slide down with the rest of her, resting against my chest, and once she's secure on the soft ground, her fingers gently curl into the fabric of my chiton*.
Unfamiliar warmth travels through me like wildfire, tingling and humming, and I tighten my hold on her, finally experiencing what it feels like to hold her in my arms. Something takes over, and before I can think about what I am doing, my face moves down toward hers. Exhaling a soft sigh, her full pink lips part slightly, and she tugs on the fabric of my tunic, trying to draw me closer. She wants this to happen as much as I do, and it is this alone that brings me to my senses, forcing me to release her and take a step back.
Her cheeks fill with colour as she, too, steps away, and she averts her gaze to our fresh footprints in the wet sand. "Thank you for keeping me from falling. I tend to be terribly uncoordinated."
"It was no trouble," I reply, my voice sounding a little more hoarse than usual. "Come. We should head for the temple before the day gets away from us."
Lifting her skirts, she falls into step with me as we leave the beach and head for the path that will lead us to our destination. It is a long walk, and Isabella stumbles a few times, which leads me to take her by the hand for the rest of the journey. Not that I am complaining, mind you.
As we make our way through the brush, Isabella startles at every noise, jumping toward me and gripping onto my arm tightly. Even though I do my best to reassure her that there is nothing to worry about, I place my other hand over hers, and allow her to remain tucked against me. For her own peace of mind, of course.
The sounds she is hearing are partly due to the various species of wildlife, but also the creatures she is so afraid of. They don't make themselves known, because they can sense my presence just as much as I can theirs. It would be foolish of them to go up against the son of Zeus; they know this undoubtedly.
We spend a better part of the morning climbing to the temple, but when we arrive, the look on Isabella's face makes the mortal trek more than worth it.
"This is unbelievable," she says with a soft sigh, breaking away from me and heading for the steps that will lead us inside. "I honestly thought this to be a place of myth."
Laughing, I follow her. "You thought I planned to bring you to a place that may or may not exist?"
She blushes, looking back over her shoulder coyly. "I figured, perhaps, you were not entirely sure, and just wanted to impress me."
"So you thought this was purely luck?"
Instead of speaking, Isabella only shrugs and takes her first step into the temple.
Once inside, Isabella stops and inhales a sharp breath. Before us stands stone statues of eleven of the Gods, all spread about the large temple and bathed in the sunlight that shines in from above us. There are only eleven within the walls of the temple because a colossus of Zeus stands outside, overlooking the ocean from the cliff.
"Go ahead," I tell her softly, trying to coax her further inside.
She shakes her head. "We cannot. This feels . . . wrong somehow."
Smiling, I place my hand on her lower back and take the first step over the threshold. "I assure you it is fine. It is why this place is here."
Her eyes find mine, and I can see that her veil of unease has finally lifted as she takes a step to follow me. We walk between the stone replicas, moving slowly as Isabella stares up at them in awe. She's not the only one impressed, however. While I've been here several times over the years, this is the first time I really see. As I look upon these stone carvings, I realize just how true to us they really are, having been forged by men who claimed to have met us at one point or another in their lives hundreds of years ago. We pass by Hermes, and I can't help but admire how they've caught the mischief in his eyes—even in stone—and I can see in Artemis' idol that they've caught her strength and persistence.
Or, perhaps, it is because I know each of them that I can see these traits in their statues.
I am so caught up in noticing these subtle features that I do not realize that Isabella has stopped again and is staring rather intently at one of the statues . . . the one that is here to represent me.
Panic races through me, and I try to come up with something to draw her attention away from the statue of my likeness, but before I can say anything, Isabella speaks up. "Did you know that Apollo is one of only a few Gods whose name remains the same in regards to the Roman and Greek ideologies?"
I exhale a relieved breath and move to stand next to her, gazing upon her soft features as she admires the statue. "I did," I reply with a smile.
"I know that favouring one God over another is silly because they each stand for something entirely different . . ." She pauses for a moment, biting her bottom lip before lowering her voice. "But Apollo has always been my preference."
Hearing this surprises me. I'm both honoured and stunned into momentary silence, and when I find my voice, I ask, "Why?" It is after the question leaves my mouth that I feel ridiculous having asked it, because . . . does it really matter? She chose me . . . in a sense.
Isabella laughs softly. "Well, this might sound trite, but I love the sun. I imagine any God associated with the sun can only be warm and compassionate. He strikes me as one of the kinder Gods." She's still looking at the statue, ironically bathed in sunlight. "I must sound foolish," she confesses with another laugh. "I am sure my theories are far-fetched, and what one mortal girl thinks is likely of no concern . . . not when there are so many others out there praising and worshipping him."
Without thinking, I reach out and take her hand, drawing her focus to me entirely. Her brown eyes lock on mine, and I am instantly lost in them. Slowly, I raise my hand and brush her jaw with the backs of my fingers, causing her eyes to flutter. "I assure you, he cares what one mortal girl thinks of him."
We stand there for a minute, at the foot of the stone statue, and stare at one another. Isabella brings her hand up to hold mine in place, and I am unaware of exactly when it happened, but the look of longing in her eyes is gone, having been replaced with curiosity and something else . . . awareness, perhaps?
Her head shifts slightly, and she removes her hand from mine, but instead of dropping it to her side, she brings it up and brushes my hair from my forehead, pushing it back slightly. She tilts her head as her hand moves down the side of my face and smiles. "So peculiar," she begins softly, letting her fingers linger on my skin a moment longer. "You look somewhat like him."
My voice fails me several times before I am finally able to croak out, "I do?"
"Well, the statue, at least," she amends, her big brown eyes dancing between mine inquisitively. "Though, you are both warm and compassionate . . . so perhaps you resemble my perception of him, as well."
Isabella's hand lowers to my chest, letting it come to rest right above my pounding heart, and, as they did earlier on the shore, her fingers curl into my tunic. The sensation of her nails dragging the coarse fabric over my skin forces the most primal of instincts to overpower me, and without another thought, my arms grip her waist firmly, and I pull her to me. Before I can press my lips to hers, Isabella pulls on my chiton and steps up onto the tips of her toes. I'm lost in the warmth of her stare as her nose brushes mine, and before either one of us can think up a reason that this is a bad idea, our lips are pressed firmly together.
I groan—a low and guttural sound—and she sighs, her lips parting ever-so-slightly. I take advantage of this by sweeping my tongue over her lower lip. The warmth of her own tongue meeting mine shocks and excites me, and soon they move over one another as our passion escalates. She releases my tunic, slides her hands up my chest, wrapping her arms around my neck, and weaves her fingers into my hair. Adrenaline courses through my veins, and my body warms more and more as though it is on fire, making the surface of my skin tingle with desire.
All because of a woman . . . a mortal.
Thunder booms overhead, startling Isabella, but alerting me to something far more concerning: Zeus knows.
I stop kissing her, pulling back and looking outside to see storm clouds beginning to darken the sky. Her hands slowly slide back down to my chest, and she jumps when a crack of lightning lights up the sky. The sound of the thunder crashing right along with it signifies that the storm is right above us, and my stomach lurches.
When the next flash fills the temple, I pull out of our embrace. Isabella refuses to relinquish her hold on my tunic, her fingers curling into it again, and when I meet her eyes, I see that they are still so full of desire. As my eyes travel further south, I notice her usually pink lips are swollen and red, and that her chest heaves with laboured breaths.
When she moves to pull me back to her for another kiss, I shake my head, pull my hands away quickly, and put some distance between us. "I should get you back to Argos," I tell her, my voice low and rough. "I fear the storm could make sailing difficult if we do not get ahead of it."
Isabella's face falls, her expression sad and defeated as she walks around me and toward the exit. "Of course."
I realize how insensitive I must seem to her, but I cannot risk Zeus' wrath. Even though I have yet to do anything truly wrong, I have involved myself with a mortal—fallen in love with her—and I will be ordered to give her up or face the consequences. The thought of never seeing her again, of never holding her in my arms again, makes me feel positively wretched, but I cannot risk what Zeus might do—not only to me, but to her, as well.
While I know Isabella may feel as strongly for me as I do for her in this moment, I am fully aware that with enough time apart, she will forget all about me, which will allow her to live a normal life—something I would never be able to provide her with.
The trek back to the boat is quiet, and Isabella seems less concerned about the creatures that lurk all around us, seemingly lost in thought as we make our way down the path. She stumbles a few times, but before I can assist her, she rights herself and assures me that she is "fine."
For some reason, something tells me that this is not the last time a woman will utter these words throughout history.
Sitting across from me with her arms wrapped firmly around her upper body, I can see that Isabella seems less enthused about the sail from the island back to Argos. The sky is still dark, but the thunder and lightning have slowed, which can only mean Zeus has accomplished what he had set out to do. I wonder if I should say something—anything—to try to explain myself. The more I think about it, the more I realize that anything I might say in an attempt to make things better will likely only make things worse. She is a bright young woman, and I know that she would figure out the truth.
Back on Argos, I assist Isabella off the boat and escort her back to town. Slowly, the skies begin to clear, and the rumble of thunder fades in the distance; Zeus has been appeased . . . for the moment, anyway.
"I am deeply sorry," I tell her softly as we approach the street that leads to her house. "I should not have . . . What I did . . ." I stammer, unable to find the right words. "It was beyond inappropriate."
While she's been nothing but silent the entire trip, Isabella is quick to disagree as she comes to a complete stop on the side of the road. "No, the fault was mine and mine alone." I watch her pink cheeks deepen in hue. "I should never have kissed you like that." She pauses briefly, almost hesitant to continue. "But, I would be lying if I said I have not imagined this happening from the moment I first saw you . . . and for some strange reason, I do not think I could ever lie to you."
The look in her eyes resembles hope, and it is not hard to see that she is optimistic that my hesitation will dissipate. Even though I want for nothing more than to make her mine, I cannot bring myself to approach her again, because I know that if I do, I will throw all reason behind me. Consequences be damned.
Instead, I nod to my left. "You had better head for home. We've been gone most of the day, and your father is sure to be concerned."
Her expression falls once more, and it tears me up inside, but she nods in agreement and starts toward her home. She makes it all of ten steps before she turns back to me. "Wh-when will I see you again?"
I inhale deeply, every part of my body fighting against what I am about to say. "I do not know."
/\^/\ ~O~ /\^/\
I am hesitant to return to Olympus, but I know I cannot escape the inevitable; if I were to not return, Zeus would come to me.
When I arrive, it is surprisingly quiet, and no one is to be seen as I cross the threshold. It is disconcerting, making it all the more obvious to me that they all must know; I was foolish to think I would be able to keep this from them at all. I suppose I was hoping they would all be too involved in their own lives to really pay attention to mine. Honestly, up until now, I never did anything worth noticing.
I take advantage of the silence and go to my usual hideaway. It is wrong, and I know I should leave her be, but I cannot help myself; I look in on Isabella. It breaks my heart when I do not see her with her parents as has been her routine the past two nights, but instead find her secluded in her room while the sun sets . . . weeping on her bed until she falls asleep.
Over the next hour, I watch and listen as Isabella mumbles in her sleep, but it isn't until she breathes my mortal name that I fully pay attention. The sound of my name on her lips is accompanied with a heart-wrenching whimper, and I am desperate to go to her—just to watch over her.
"I believe you need to explain yourself, my son," a heavy voice booms behind me.
Slowly, I turn around to face Zeus. His blue eyes are icy and demanding as they bore into mine, and his arms are crossed firmly in front of him. "I did not intend for this to happen, Father," I tell him honestly.
"Regardless of your intentions, Apollo, it did." He shakes his head, and the disappointment that thickens the air suffocates me. "Do you have any idea what could have happened had I not intervened?"
Even though I know that arguing with him will not help me in any way, the fact that he is chastising me for something he, himself, is guilty of is almost laughable. Something comes over me in that moment, and I cannot hold back from telling him that I know exactly what could have happened.
"Perseus, Alexandros, Herakles, Argos, Helene . . ." With every name I throw at him, I take a step forward. "Who are you to tell any of us who we can and cannot consort with? You, of all the Gods, have broken your own law time and time again, creating demigods all throughout Greece . . . and all to settle our own personal vendettas or sate your lust."
"You will watch your tone, Apollo," he warns, refusing to back down.
I know I should heed his words, but I cannot. Perhaps I am being insolent, but I fail to see why any of us Immortals should be held to a standard that he himself cannot uphold. "I apologize, Father, but you have no right to chastise me when nothing happened."
"You will stay away from the girl," Zeus continues, ignoring me. "The Fates have seen her future."
"The Fates' sight is subjective," I remind him, enraged that he has gone to such lengths to control me. "They can only see what has been decided."
Looking smug, Zeus smirks. "So it is done." He is not asking; he is telling me as such. "I am glad to hear we will not have to have this talk again, my son. I bid you goodnight."
After he leaves, I let my rage loose, throwing a ceramic urn across the room and watching as it shatters against the far wall. My blood is boiling beneath my skin, and I have no doubt that the others can hear my fury. Not wanting to be told by anyone else how careless I had been, I close my eyes and take a deep breath, imagining the one thing that I know will calm me . . .
When I open my eyes again, I am surprised to find myself looking over her sleeping form from inside her bedroom. It was not my intention to appear here, and I know that I should go back to the mountain, but now that I am here, surrounded in the sweet combined smell of jasmine and Isabella, I cannot bring myself to leave.
I remain back by the window, watching as her chest rises and falls with even breaths. The silver light of the moon shines in from the other window next to her bed, bathing her in a silver glow and making her shift appear somewhat sheer. Through it, I cannot only make out the shape and swell of her breasts, but can faintly see the darker peaks as they strain against the fabric. It arouses me, but I do not act on it; I am content just to watch her.
I find my own breathing pattern falls into sync with hers, and every so often, I will take a step closer, feeling the deep need to be near her. Eventually, I stand at the foot of her bed and marvel over her beauty. She looks so peaceful with her dark hair splayed over the white pillow, her plump lips parted slightly as whispers of air escape with every breath. She's exquisite, and I wonder how something so magnificent can be deemed so wrong . . .
So focused on her serenity, I am unsure when the pattern of her breathing shifts, but suddenly, her eyes open and she sits up, her eyes scanning the room until they find me. I prepare to flee, but she stops me by reaching out and wrapping a slender hand around my wrist.
"Edward," she whispers, but her eyebrows furrow as they move up my body, taking in my appearance . . . my Godly appearance. When her eyes meet mine, she tilts her head, looking distressed. "Is this a dream? Are you really here?"
When I don't answer, she adjusts her gown, briefly exposing the creamy skin of her legs, and she rises to her knees until she is nearly face-to-face with me. As her gaze moves over my face, her hand comes to rest on my cheek before travelling up and removing my laurel wreath. "It has to be a dream," she breathes softly, setting the gold wreath on the bedside table. "This cannot be real."
My hands ensnare her waist, pulling her closer until her body is flush with mine. Her breath shudders, and her eyes sparkle with excitement. "It's as real as you want it to be, my love."
Without another word, Isabella's fingers weave into my hair and she claims my lips in a passionate, open-mouthed kiss. Flames erupt in my veins again, but this time they are not borne of anger, but are those of desire . . . of love.
Isabella's tongue sweeps over mine as her hands move down to my shoulders and begin tugging at the golden clasps holding my white chiton together. She succeeds in her mission, letting the fabric fall around my waist as her hands explore the bare skin. Anxious to get her undressed, to see her naked body and feel the warmth of it against mine, I grudgingly stop kissing her and loop my thumbs into the gathered fabric of her feather-light gown. My eyes wander over the soft curve of her shoulders, over her collarbone, and down her chest as I pull the top down. When I reach her waist, I don't stop; I slip my hands beneath the fabric to lay flat against her hips and work the shift down her smooth thighs.
Resting her hands on my shoulders as leverage, she lifts her legs one at a time to work out of the gown until she kneels before me on her bed completely naked. "Beautiful," I whisper, my voice low and raspy, and I run my hands over her hips and backside, and then up her body until I am holding her breasts in my hands. When my thumbs move over the sensitive peaks, she whimpers quietly.
When her heavily-hooded eyes find mine, imploring, she works her arms back between us to push my chiton the rest of the way down until it falls around my feet. I kick it away from my ankles, ridding my feet of my sandals, as well, and now it is her turn to let her eyes roam freely over my body, and when they find my arousal, she gasps.
She is nervous—this much is obvious in the slight tremble moving through her body when her hands reach out and run over the smooth planes of my chest and back up into my hair.
"Isabella," I whisper, leaning in and kissing her jaw, and then her neck. "We don't—"
Coaxing my face back to hers, she leans in, her lips ghosting over mine and our noses brushing. "I want you," she pleads, our eyes locking again. "So much . . . Kiss me."
I find it impossible to avert my eyes from hers as I lean in to comply. She whimpers when I take her plump lower lip between my teeth and nip it gently, and then parts her lips and deepens our kiss. Eagerly, she crawls closer to the edge of the bed, pinning my arousal between us and flat against her belly. The soft sounds of her moans against my mouth excite me further, and I lower us to her bed, easing myself between her legs.
Warmth surrounds me as my hips begin to move back and forth, my length gliding through her own slick arousal. Breathing heavily, Isabella throws her head back and moans—albeit a little too loud—and I quickly recover her lips with my own to stifle the sounds lest anyone should hear us.
"Quiet, my love," I murmur against her soft lips, and she nods, hitching her left leg up around my hip until the tip of my shaft breaches her warm, wet sex. I move slowly so as not to hurt her, and her fingernails bite into the flesh of my back and shoulders. Once I have sheathed myself in her entirely, I lift my face and brush her hair away from her face, looking deep into her eyes for a sign that she might be uncomfortable.
"Are you okay?"
Instead of being met with pain or discomfort, Isabella smiles up at me, raising her head from her pillow and kissing me softly. "Yes," she assures me quietly. "Please, do not stop."
I gently begin to move my hips, and before I know it, Isabella is meeting every one of my movements with one of her own. The sensation of being inside of her is unlike anything I've ever experienced, and every thrust of my hips propels me closer and closer to the precipice of my release.
"Yes," Isabella pants beneath me, her heels digging into my backside and pulling me closer. "Oh, please."
The muscles in my body begin to tense simultaneously as I move above her faster and faster. A tingle moves through my body, deep beneath my skin, making my fingers curl into the bed sheets as the tightening coil inside me springs free. Isabella's brow furrows, and she presses her lips harder to mine in an effort to drown her cries of ecstasy in our kiss. Not long after she falls over the edge of release, I follow suit, my hips jerking several times before stilling, and the hum beneath my skin slowly ebbing like a wave retreating from the shore.
I roll off of her, keeping her left leg draped over me and holding her shuddering body close, and we lay in the silence of the night, our laboured breaths filling the quaint room. The tips of my fingers move up and down her back, lulling her into a deeper contentment, and when she sighs and pulls herself even closer to me, I sense that she is almost asleep again.
Smiling, I press my lips to her forehead. There is not much that could ruin this moment . . . not until I remember that I will have to leave her before the sun is to rise. However, I decide not to dwell on this, right now, and lie wrapped up in her embrace while she sleeps deeply and the hours pass.
With only minutes before sunrise, I work my way free from her and get dressed. Before I leave, though, I lean forward and kiss her forehead one last time. "I hate myself for leaving you like this, my love," I whisper, not wanting to wake her. "I will always watch over you, and perhaps someday we will meet again."
I pull her blankets up over her, and she moans in her sleep, rolling over onto her side. "Mmm . . . I love you," she mumbles, and my heart swells with glee as I back toward the window.
Committing the sight of Isabella sleeping after our one night together to memory, I close my eyes, and when I open them again, I am back on Olympus.
/\^/\ ~THE BEGNNING~ /\^/\
AN2: So, there it is. Forbidden love between Gods and mortals. What did you all think? Please review and let me know! There's a god chance I could continue this . . . we shall see after the contest ;) Don't forget to check out all of the other entries and vote for your favourites!
*Chiton – tunic made of handmade, homespun fabrics worn by the Greeks. It was often made of a lighter fabric (linen) than the peplos* (also a tunic made of handmade, homespun fabrics, usually wool).