Home > The Gods We Obey

The Gods We Obey
Author: Auryn Hadley

 


TRIGGER WARNING

 

 

POSSIBLE TRIGGERS: Discussions of rape and assault, domestic violence, minor bullying, suicide, harassment, consensual pain and battery. Minor violence.

 

The Path of Temptation series features a strong woman and the men who love her. Graphic language, adult situations, and potentially triggering violence that are suitable for a mature audience are included.

 

This is a love story, but sometimes love comes with a price.

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

To stories that refuse to end. We have a love/hate thing going on. I get it. But can you please let me sleep without dreaming of you?

 

 

Or maybe find a way for my fingers to work faster?

 

 

But, at least this obsessive problem I have results in some wild stories. Hang on, everyone. This might be a bumpy ride.

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

NARIANA

 

 

The torment humming in my lace was a gift from Zeal. Most wouldn't call pain a blessing, but right now it was. It meant I could feel Talin, so he hadn't pulled away. He didn't feel like he was trying to cut me from his life. Still, he'd locked himself in his room, and that scared me more than anything else.

So the moment I was out of my formal clothes, I told Ela where I'd be, then headed across the hall. The doors to our guardians' rooms were closed, but I could almost feel the draw to the one we'd started calling the "soft room." It had previously been Talin's space, before he'd moved into the suite with myself and my partner. It made sense that this would be where he'd go when he needed privacy.

And I needed to know he was ok.

So, timidly, I tapped at the wood of the door. On the other side, I could hear nothing. There was no ranting, no sobbing, and not even the sound of movement, so I tried again, and this time was harder. Before I even lowered my hand, the latch clicked and the door drifted open.

No, Talin didn't wait on the other side, but I decided to take it as permission, so I leaned in to check on him. "Talin?"

I was just in time to see him drop onto his bed, curling up on his side with his back to me. He also didn't respond, but his shoulders shook, heaving as if he was silently sobbing. That was more than I could take, so fuck permission. I stepped in, secured the door behind me, and then kept going until I was on the bed behind him, curled up against his back.

"I love you," I breathed.

And his body relaxed. Talin reached up to wipe at his face, took another breath that trembled as it left his body, and struggled to clear his throat. Unable to get words out, he just nodded, making it clear he'd heard me. That made me hug him even tighter, pressing my cheek to his wide, strong shoulder as if I could somehow will my support through his skin. His hand moved up to cover mine, holding me there.

"I don't know how to do this," he finally managed to get out, but his voice was harsh, sounding almost like a croak.

"Talk to me?" I begged. "Talin, the last time someone couldn't handle his emotions and locked himself in his room, he never came out. Please talk to me?"

That was enough to make him roll to face me. His eyes were red. His nose matched, proving this cry had been the ugly kind. Still, he immediately hugged me, pulling my smaller body up against his chest. I heard him swallow three times before he could get any words out.

"I said always." His hand moved to cradle the back of my head. "Always, Nari. That means I'm not leaving you. I'm not going to cut you out. I'm not trying to get away from you..." His voice cracked and he had to breathe to fight back tears. "I just can't do this in public. I don't know how I'm supposed to!"

"To what?" I asked, trying to find something on his face that would help me understand his real problem.

"We killed my brother. My god helped. He deserved it, but we didn't mean to kill him!" He clenched his eyes closed and swallowed. "And it was Yamina's day. I didn't want to lose control and shame her. I didn't want to make this her problem when so much just landed on her shoulders, and she's just a kid!"

"Shh," I breathed, rubbing his back where my arms held him. "It's ok. We'll figure it out, and you're allowed to mourn him."

"But I don't!" He leaned back to see me better. "Did you know that when I saw him laid out in his room, I couldn't stop thinking that this meant I'd won? Our entire life had been one big dominance fight. He was the baron. I was the priest. He was pushed to be impressive. I was coddled, so I'd know I had a family. That's why we fought, both of us trying to prove we were worthy, and he lost. I won, but it wasn't a fight I ever wanted. I just fucking wanted my brother to respect me!"

His words had grown a little too loud, but I wasn't about to shush him. If he needed to rage, then I would listen. I would always be by his side. That was why we were bound, and Zeal said that we shared our pain. That was why my lace ached so badly, which made me wonder just how much more Talin's heart was hurting. If he needed to get it out, then I would stand at his side, listen, scream with him, or do anything else he needed.

"I hate him," Talin said after a pause that was a little too long. "I think I always have. I was told that I had to love him because he was my brother, but all he did was torture those around him until the end. But does his change of heart mean enough that I should forgive him?"

"Do you want to forgive him?" I asked.

He managed a shrug. "I don't know. Nari, I don't know how I feel. I'm ashamed, angry, sad, and just... everything! I can't do this!"

"You're doing it," I promised. "You also don't have to hide it." I moved my hand to his cheek, waiting until his eyes found mine. "Always, Talin. I mean that as much as you do, and I will never leave your side. I don't care if you embarrass me. I mean, Ela does it all the time, and we still love him, right?"

That earned me a weak huff meant to be a laugh. "Yeah," he admitted.

So I just nodded, pressing my point. "And Anver never tries to be tough and stoic. He just lays it all out there, showing his vulnerability and letting people decide if that's too much for them, right?"

"I never thought about it like that," he mumbled.

"But that's what he's doing," I insisted. "And Wraythe? Because he's so big, everyone thinks he's this stoic monolith, but we know better. He's quiet because he doesn't know what to say, so we say it for him. He also isn't ashamed of what he likes. He cuddles with you guys! Shit, he's the first to say he loves us - even you and Anver. They just feel what they feel, and they do it their own way."

"But how am I supposed to do it? How do I handle this?" He gestured at his chest. "What will people think if I'm sobbing like a baby? What if I lose it and scream, scaring you? How can I tell Zeal what I feel if I have to be calm and polite?"

I gripped him harder, hugging him as tightly as I could. "Be loud, Talin. Cry until your nose runs. Act like a child. I'm not leaving. I'm not scared of you. I might be scared for you, but that is not the same, and it's my job as your desire. Your brother just killed himself. Your family was upended. Nothing about this is easy, so fuck it up. Be embarrassing, loud, or anything else, and I will defend your right to do it, because you have a heart so big that it can't hold all of this. It shouldn't have to."

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