“I protect what is mine,” he says through clenched teeth. On the front of his chest and stomach, I see the open flesh wounds closing.
“I could have…” I pause, unsure of my words. I couldn’t have dealt with the lashings, but I hold my ground in this argument. “I could have handled it.” Now I feel even more obliged to the god.
Sitting up more straight, Pan parts his lips. I suddenly feel nauseated. “Calista, are you crying for me?” His voice isn’t laced with pain; instead, he sounds darkly humorous. Which only confirms that Pan is feeling more like himself—not a good thing.
I do not know what to say to him because I’m upset for many reasons. It could be because I thought he was severely hurt and wouldn’t recover so quickly. If I had known that Pan’s nymphs had a vial on hand, maybe I wouldn’t be as upset and as guilty as I am. Nevertheless, I do feel horrible, and it won’t go away. I’m also upset because my ring is gone and I think he may have something to do with it.
After confirming that his body is, in fact, regaining back his strength; Pan extends a hand and wipes at the dampness on my cheek. Warmth spreads from the bare contact, and my nerves fray with alarm.
“Gods do not shed tears, Calista.”
“I know,” I murmur, addled and still feeling my damn lip trembling. More tears uncontrollably slip through my lashes and I turn away, embarrassed.
This is ridiculous. Why am I crying?
Why do I feel embarrassed?
I have nothing to hide, to that extent.
This is… this whole thing is foolish.
These mixed-up feelings are trying to destroy me.
Pan leans down against me and whispers against my cheek, “Tears of a goddess.” His deep, riveting whisper is tantalizing. Qualm tickles under my skin with his admiration. “Forgive me, but I’m finding your tears utterly captivating.”
“My tears?” I ask, uncertain I heard him correctly. But when his tongue darts out and licks my cheek, I know my ears weren’t deceiving me. I tense. “Do you want to bottle them up?” I ask on an accelerated beat.
My heart nearly jumps out of my chest, when I thought I heard Endymion chuckling amongst nature’s orchestra.
I turn back to face Pan, our faces inches apart. With a slow nod of his head, he says, “I don’t like to share.” I can taste his breath on my lips, and his tone dripping with an ominous warning hadn’t gone unnoticed.