I look around the shop. Halcyone looks completely exhausted, and Taurus is asleep on the table, with his bull standing next to his head.
You’re not tired? You’ve already mastered more than they will for the next month.
I shake my head. “If anything, I feel better, stronger.”
So you are as strong as I thought you were.
I smile. “So I’m sure your real name isn’t Aries. Am I allowed to know what it is?”
And smart, too. My real name is Ares.
“Like mine, but spelled differently.” I turn and look out the window, knowing that after today, nothing will ever be the same for me again. “So is this bonding going to affect me in any way other than what it already has?”
I do not know, my first bond did not last long enough for us to completely understand one another.
“But it lasted for a full year. That wasn’t long enough?”
A year is like a month when you are never going to die.
“Am I going to be immortal, too?”
Hard to say, Aries. Katrina is still alive and has not aged as much as she should, so mayhap you are now.
“How old is Katrina really?”
Not old when you are immortal, but you can say she is five hundred-seven years.
“One last question. I’m going to be engaged soon. Will I be able to tell Jay about this?”
Ares’ eyes turn sad and I know the answer. Just like with my art, this is one area of my life that Jay will never be able to understand or be a part of.
A few hours later, Katrina sends me away with a smile and her blessing. I’ll never be able to look at her the same way now that I know how old she really is.
The magic shop isn’t too far from my house, meaning that Jay won’t be home for another hour or so, giving me time to paint. I grab my brushes out of the jar on the windowsill and wash out the remainders of the last paint project as I hear footsteps behind me.
“You’re home early, Jay,” I say as I dry my hands off on a small towel and turn around. The man standing behind me isn’t Jay. He’s tall and long, with runes and symbols tattooed all over his muscular arms and torso.
“Who are you?”
He smiles, his dark eyes glittering with amusement. “I’m surprised you don’t remember me, Aries. After all, I’ve been a regular in your dreams for quite some time now.”
A flashback from a dream shows him standing next to a gold and black wolf, Lupine.
“You’re Lupis,” I say as I slowly reach behind me for a knife.
Lupis nods, his smile being replaced with a smirk. “Come now, none of that,” he says as he moves his hand and the knife in mine flies toward him and clatters to the floor at his feet.
“What do you want?”
Lupis slowly takes a few steps closer, the dim lighting making his black hair seem to glow. “Because you’re like me, Aries. You want power, control. You’re stronger than Halcyone and Taurus, you know that.”
He’s caught my curiosity.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
Lupis laughs, the sound carrying the echoes of a wolf howl. “You’re more like me than you know, Aries. That’s why I’ve chosen you to rule the energy star with me.” His dark eyes bore into mine. “You want the power I can give you, Aries, we both know that.” His voice drops to a whisper as he steps even closer. “Imagine the feel of it, all the power when the two strongest points join together.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, my voice slightly trembling.
Lupis leans closer, his warm breath washing over my ear. “You’re the key for us to have all the power in the world and more.” He presses his lips against mine, and I see everything he’s talking about. I also taste the power I can have if I join him.
Lupis pulls back and whispers in my ear, “Think about it, Aries.”
He vanishes, leaving me alone in the kitchen. I sink down to the floor, my knees weak from the desire of the power that Lupis showed me.
I’m still sitting like this on the floor when Jay comes home three hours later.
“Aries? What’s wrong?”
I ignore him and get to my feet. “I need to get some air.”