Home > Hope of Realms (Blood of Zeus #5)

Hope of Realms (Blood of Zeus #5)
Author: Angel Payne








Since the day our fingers first touched, Kara Valari has changed my life in a hundred incredible ways. A million surreal moments.

But never so much as this one.

I’m still in my own apartment, surrounded by all my familiar things—but my world is upended. Catapulted to someplace far different than the hell I traversed to rescue her or the magically cloaked ashram in which we both tried to recover from the ordeal.

My mind battles to grasp an announcement that overshadows either of those experiences. Larger than falling in love with her in the first place, and then the moment I learned, from the king of the gods himself, that I’m his bastard son.

That was all before learning everything about her.

That nearly from the second she was born, she was promised in marriage to another. An incubus who’d help her make more demons for the glory of Hades and the underworld. But because of the extra element in her blood, she was saved by her witch sisters for another destiny.

The path of falling in love with me.

But she and I didn’t need the help.

I’m sure of it, down to the marrow of my bones, as I gaze at her now. Her beauty has never sucked away more of my breath. Her hair shines brighter in the late-afternoon sun streaming through the big windows. Her skin is practically glowing. The edges of her lips, caught by uncertain quirks, have never been more captivating.

Even as they open to stammer out words at her brother. The exact same words screaming through my mind.

“Pregnant? Jaden. Come on. This isn’t a fun way to take revenge for the fantasy pony decals on your Daytona car.”

“You think that’s what I’m doing right now?” the guy volleys, glaring at her through thick swaths of his hair. “About a subject like this?”

Good point. One that has my legs finally giving out, sending my ass down to the cushions of my couch. With one hand, I beckon Kara to join me. As soon as she does, I look back up at Jaden.

In the same sweep, I include Kell, who’s communicating more with her silence than any vocal message. Like Jaden, the woman has extrasensory abilities imbued by her demon DNA. Clearly, Kell’s able to smell something extra about her sister while their brother hears it.

No. Not something extra.

Someone extra.

A new life, growing inside my woman this very second.

The concept feels too huge to fathom. Too miraculous to embrace. It crowds my senses, huge and hot and looming, tempting me to roar aloud from the pressure.

I’ve never been so grateful for the self-containment skills that have been like a sixth sense since childhood. They’ve never been more useful than now, as I return Kell’s and Jaden’s gawks with determined purpose.

“We need the room, you guys. Please. If you want to stick close by, Jesse’s probably home by now. He’s three floors down, basically the same unit location. Look for the door knocker that looks carved by a depressed German viscount.”

“That supposed to make us feel better?” Kell snaps.

“Well, now I’m intrigued,” Jaden adds.

Either way, I’m grateful they’re already headed toward the door. I’m even more glad for the warmth of their sister in my arms.

But like before, that only scrapes the surface of what I’m truly feeling. Glad is reserved for when Jesse and I finish grading term papers. It’s the satisfying conclusion of a good book. The gratitude for sunshine on the beach in the middle of January.

This…is far beyond all that. At least a thousand words past that hill and the twenty behind it.

This is the build-up of all those words behind the massive knot in my throat. It’s impossible to whisper everything I planned into Kara’s ear. At this point, I can’t even pluck one out. Nothing feels right enough. Vast enough. Life is suddenly a panorama of possibilities, made even more beautiful by the vision of sharing them with this amazing female.

The center of my soul.

The bearer of my child.

“Maximus?” Her voice, barely a sough, pushes her breath to the front of my left shoulder.

It sounds shaky and unsure, raising alarms along my senses, but the last thing she needs right now is me acting like king melodrama. There’ll likely be plenty of time for that soon, if I’m remembering things right from witnessing two Alameda colleagues count down to their own new family additions.

Under normal circumstances, I’d laugh at myself for the thought but manage to smooth it into a warm-toned reply along the curve of her nape.

“Yeah, beautiful?”

She barely moves. If anything, her limbs are tensing against my embrace.

“Listen. You have to be honest with me.”

“Have I ever been anything but?”

She gulps hard before stuttering back. “Are you…happy about it?” But then, before I can form half a glower, “I mean, we don’t even know if Jaden and Kell are right!”

I forget about what to say. What I do, tightening my hold with unmistakable force, is more meaningful. I watch the gratitude in her eyes, despite the new element that’s invaded her tone and my nerve endings. What is it? Desperation? Insecurity? Fear?

Again, not the time for melodrama. Get your shit together, man.

I push my energy forward, focusing everything on her. I soothe the back of her head with a steady hand.

“What’s your gut telling you?” And perhaps other anatomical parts—though I obey common sense and keep that to myself.

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t know?” I murmur. “Or don’t want to admit?”

I hate being the cause of her new startle but refuse to be the guy watching her head disappear deeper into the sand.


The better part of another minute goes by. I give her the pause, acknowledging I haven’t exactly asked her for a comment on the weather. I can’t just focus into her soul and figure out what she’s thinking, but she can do that to me, and she has to be basking in nothing but the radiance of my joy and the fullness of my giddiness.

But now, so sharply, the jab of my puzzlement.

As I feel her shoulders tremble from soft sobs.

“Kara.” I cup her upper arms and extend her away by several inches. My neck cracks from bending over so fast to peer into her eyes, now a bright sienna from swelling tears. “Little enchantress. What’s all this?”

She sniffs heavily. “Not all this, Maximus. Just…this. A baby. It’s so singular. And incredible. And…irrevocable.”

Against my strongest will, the edges of my lips twitch. “I’m aware of how that works, sweetheart. I helped with the process. With all my heart and soul, I might add.”

She glowers. It’s adorable. I bite my tongue to discipline the lip quirks, but not fast enough. Kara side-eyes my subtle mirth before batting at my jaw.

“Heart and soul that are like my air and water, Mr. Kane. But we’ve got a bigger picture to figure out right now. Like what this is going to mean to a lot of different…entities.”

“I understand.” Probably more than I want to—though that part also stays buttoned behind my pressed lips as I tuck her close once more.

“I don’t want to tell anyone.” Her words are soft but resolved, now heating my right shoulder. “I don’t think we can. And Kell and Jaden should probably sign nondisclosures.”

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