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My candidate for this week and for my ninth post comes from the Styxx by Sherriyln Kenyon
This scene is between Acheron and Urian. It leads Acheron to a rude awakening concerning Styxx, his brother. Urian’s sarcastic mouthy arguments against Acheron seeking out Styxx is exactly what Acheron needed to hear in order to open his eyes to the truth.
Sorry this scene is a bit longer then my previous posts. But I couldn’t bring myself to shorten it.
“Where the hell’s my brother?”
Urian paused his game to stare blankly at Acheron. “You need to modulate that unwarranted ire, buddy. I’m not your ‘ho and you ain’t my pimp.”
A tic started in Acheron’s jaw. “Sorry.” But his tone contradicted his apology. “Do you happen to know where Styxx is?”
Urian took a swig of his beer. “Am I your brother’s keeper?”
“You gave Tory his e-mail. I assume that means you’re keeping tabs on him.”
Urian clicked back into play and had to bite his tongue to stop his causticity from saying something that would cause Ash to blast him through a wall. “Your point?”
“I’ve been to his condo three times this month and he’s not there. As far as I can tell he hasn’t been there for quite some time.”
Nice powers of observation, Atlantean god. It only took you what? Three and a half years to realize your brother had moved out?
For that alone, he wanted to punch Ash.
Refraining from that particular level of stupid, Urian cleared his throat. “Maybe we should put his face on a milk carton, see if anyone has information on his location.” He frowned. “Do they still have milk cartons? Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen one in a while.”
“I’m serious, Urian.”
“I can hear that,” he said, taking his anger out on his online opponent as opposed to his boss.”I mean, damn, how dare my eleven-thousand-year-old brother not be right where I put him three and a half years ago after he did me a huge favor and saved my life and that of my wife. Rank filthy bastard. Inconsiderate dog! Maybe we should take him out back and beat the shit out of him for worrying you so.”
“What is your problem?”
Time to kiss the wall.
Urian signed off and removed his headset. Picking up his beer, he faced Acheron. “You know I’d die for you. I put my ass on the line for you all the time without fail or hesitation. Hell, sometimes I’m even grateful you saved my life. But you’re not perfect, Ash. None of us are, and when it comes to your brother, you’re a fucking prick.”
Rage mottled Acheron’s cheeks as his eyes darkened. “You don’t know my brother like I do.”
“Really?” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “When was the last time you sat down and had an actual conversation with Styxx? Oh wait…” Urian feigned a laugh as he slapped his thigh. “I know this.” He sobered and those blue eyes pierced Ash with contempt. “You were seven years old at the time. So that’s what? You’re the same age as my dad…so that would make you older than shit and shit’s great-grandfather…it would have been only about eleven thousand five hundred and fifty-three years ago, give or take a few hours…Yeah, you’re right, that makes you one hell of an expert on everything to do with Styxx. Why did I even question it? Stupid me.”
Ash’s cheeks mottled with even more color. “Don’t you dare judge me on something you know nothing about.”
“Why not? You judge Styxx all the time on things you know nothing about.”
“I’m warning you, Urian.”
“And I’m suicidal, boss. Fear factor really doesn’t play in with a man who doesn’t give a shit about life. But…you know your brother, you say? Fine, expert, then answer me one basic, easy question about him.”
Urian paused for effort. “What was the name of his wife? You know, the one you didn’t even know he had? He had a five-year committed relationship with her before he died, while you lived in the same house with him and gained all your expertise where he was concerned…and you know him so well. She’s the only woman he was ever loved. Not knowing her name is like claiming to know me and not knowing Phoebe’s. For that matter, it’s not like he didn’t carve her name and that of his son into his arm eleven thousand five hundred and thirty-six years ago.”
Glaring his rage, Urian set his beer aside. “How do you know? You still haven’t answered the easiest questions on the planet about him…if you know nothing else about your brother, you should know his wife’s name.”
Acheron glanced away.
Urian shook his head. When he spoke, his tone was low and chiding. “All those powers you hold and you can’t answer it. It was Bethany, just so you know. They were going to name their son Galen, after his mentor who died in his arms when he was a kid. A mentor who game his life to save Styxx’s when someone other than you tried to assassinate him while he was buying his wife’s wedding ring. Now let me tell you about the man I know…”
Ash ground his teeth as he struggled not to hit Urian for his blatant stupidity. “I don’t want to hear it. And for your information, I’m not the only one who hated him. You have no idea how many people wanted him dead in his human lifetime.” How many times I was beaten and grudge-fucked by men who despised every breath he took. Ash flinched at the memories that still burned raw. Because Styxx was the prince, they couldn’t touch him. But Acheron was a worthless whore and they paid top dollar to pretend he was their prince so that they could abuse him in Styxx’s stead.
That kind of hatred had a basis in something.
Not to mention Ryssa. She was a kind, beautiful, and gentle soul and she’d hated Styxx with every part of her being. “Did Styxx ever tell you that he had no friends…because no one could stand the arrogant bastard?”
“Arrogant? My God, Ash, you are so blind where he’s concerned. Have you ever once spoken to him?”
“I’m out of here,” Ash growled.
Urian stepped forward to pin him with a merciless glare. “You leave, and I’ll have Tory hold you down to hear what I have to say. Things you need to know.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Try me…Because tonight when you lie down in your bed and your wife snuggles up to you and you smile with happiness, I want you to take a minute and imagine in the morning when you wake up in that same bed and reach for her warmth, it’s gone. Forever. That you’ll never know another minute of having her limbs tangled with yours. Never wake up and feel her body pressed against you. Then imagine going into Bas’s room and finding it empty, too. All the plans you had for him, gone forever. Then, I want you to take a minute and imagine the kind of love and decency it took for Styxx to go with me into Kalosis and embrace the woman who murdered them. For you, Acheron. The brother who hates his guts.”
Urian paused to let those words sink in. “Now I admit I’m not as big a man as you are, Ash. But I can tell you right now, I wouldn’t piss on my father to save the world, never mind hug him to keep my brother from sharing the pain I have every time I think of Pheobe…which is every other heartbeat. I’m a vindictive son of a bitch. Because after the fit you pitched where you blasted him through the wall just moments before we went down to Kalosis, I would have gutted your mother for what she took from me. And here’s another thing you don’t know. She whispered something to him before he hugged her, and I have no idea what she said, but knowing your mother as I do, it wasn’t kind. Kindness just isn’t something the goddess of destruction is known for.”
Snorting, Urian crossed his arms over his chest. “And then, after he went down there to save your wife, to keep you from spending the rest of eternity in hell, he took a blade for you from my father. I was there, Acheron. I saw it. No lies. Truth. Yeah, you healed him, and then you turned around and put the man who had just saved your life, and your wife’s, completely out of your mind. You turned your fucking back on him. I was the one who took him home that night and you never once asked about him again until today.”
Urian sarcastically bit his lip. “Oh and by the way, you forgot to pull the poison out of him when you healed his wound. For two months he lay in a coma, burning with fever and delirium, and I had to get Savitar to come in and help him because when I asked you, you told me he was doing it for attention. So while I love you like a brother, I consider Styxx my family, too, and unlike you, Styxx has no one else in this world. Poor bastard got stuck with me alone. Can you imagine that nightmare?”
Drawing a ragged breath, Urian curled his lip in disgust. “He left that apartment a couple of days after Savitar brought him out of his coma, over three years ago. He saved your life and Tory’s, and it took you three and a half years to realize he’d left.” He applauded sarcastically. “Good job, brother. Good job.”
Ashe wanted to hold on to his hatred for Styxx. He needed it. But right now…
“And you know what I’ve always found fascinating, Ash? You never once asked me how I met your brother.”
Ash looked away as shame filled him.
“It was in Katateros, just so you know. I went out for a walk on the beach and heard something in the temple down the hill from yours. I found him inside, alone in the dark, with scraps to eat, and when I asked him if there was anything I could bring him, do you know what your arrogant bastard brother asked me for?”
Ash shook his head.
“Fresh water. That’s all Mr. Selfish wanted. He was having a hard time desalinating the river seawater to drink. Now I know you don’t like to eat, but the next time you’re home, I want you to take Tory and walk around your island and have her point out the edible foods she finds. There aren’t many.”
“I assumed one of you was taking food for him.”
“You’ve assumed a lot of things about him that aren’t true. Such as telling me that he was in the Elysian Fields for eleven thousand years. He wasn’t. Artemis put him on a Vanishing Isle completely alone. No one to talk to, and again with no supplies whatsoever. Not even a hammer.”
“That’s not what she told me.”
“Because Auntie Artemis never lies. Ever. About anything…such as having an eleven-thousand-year relationship with you that resulted in the birth of a daughter my age. Artemis is the fountain of absolute truth, especially where you’re concerned. Her kind, benevolent care for all those centuries was why Styxx didn’t complain when you dropped him in Katateros. It was how he knew how to survive there with nothing. But the real question is why did he leave?”
“I assumed he got bored.”
“There you go again with the assumptions.” Urian dropped his gaze down to the tattoo on Ash’s body where his Charonte daughter slept. “Our precious little Simi demon attacked him unprovoked and…well, she did kill him. But he didn’t stay dead, obviously. Now before you call him a liar for that, too, I want you to know he never told me that story. I overheard it from Simi when she was bragging to her sister about ripping apart the bad copy of you who tried to hurt her akri. In fact, Styxx never says a word against you. Ever.”
“He told you I stabbed him.”
“Yeah, one night when he was really tore up and drunk and I was asking him about some of the scars on his body. As many and as bad as mot of them are, the huge jagged one in the center of his chest directly over his heart tends to stand out.”
Ash frowned at his words. “What scars?”
“Dear gods, Ash…have you never looked at your brother? They’re all over him. Even his face.”
No, he’d never seen scars on Styxx. But as Urian pointed out, he never really looked at him.
Only through him.
“Where is he?”
Urian narrowed his gaze. “Why?” So you can hurt him again? Forget it. He’s gone someplace safe so that you won’t have to worry about him darkening your doorstep ever again.”
“Yeah, he’s so altruistic with his billion-dollar bank account.”
“If you’re talking about the money you set up for him when you dumped him off without a second thought? He transferred that back to your account before he left New York. That, too, has been closed for three years.”
Sick of this game, Ash glared at him. “You know, I can find him without you.”
“You hurt him, Acheron, and I swear to the gods I loathe that I will beat you down for it. For once in your lives, can you not think of him and just leave him alone. It’s all he wants. You’ve already forgotten him for three years. What’s another three hundred?”
Those words were harsh. But harsher still was the truth behind them.
Ash swallowed. “I want to talk to my brother.”
Urian sighed. “Fine. He’s in the Sahara. Literally. Living like a bedouin. I had dinner with him a month ago and haven’t heard anything since. That’s all I know.”
Inclining his head, Ash left Urian and went to locate Styxx.