"Morning, Kitty Kat."

Kat groaned.

"Wakey-wakey, sexy captains and bakey."

"Ugh. What is wrong with you?" she moaned, turning into her pillow and refusing to let the matchmaker from hell ruin her morning already. There was a steady drumbeat at her right temple that sounded like something out of Jumanji and she was pretty sure the rest of her face had fallen off. Her body was achy and stiff and her mouth felt like she'd been driving with the window and her mouth open at the same time.


"Aw, why so cranky, my little southern cupcake? Drink a little too much wine last night? Do anything naughty and entirely inappropriate with a certain Captain of the Guard perhaps?"

"No." At least she didn't think so. The wine explained the pulsing in her left temple, but it didn't really explain her overall grouchiness.

Why did she feel so blah?

Maybe it was the restless night she'd had. It hadn't started off half bad – at first her dreams had been sexy if a little odd, but they'd changed, morphing into something darker, almost sinister.

Kat hadn't had a nightmare in forever. Her daily routine was boring but it also ensured a good night's rest. She was up before dawn, arriving at the bakery by 5:00 am, baking until the morning rush between 7 and 9 am. She usually baked some more for the afternoon, helped through the evening rush before making her way home and catching up on whatever was on her DVR. She'd write on her laptop in bed until ten (eleven if she was feeling really inspired), then rolled over to sleep and do it all over again the next day.

Most of her sleep was deep and untroubled – but not last night.

"Bad dreams?" Des asked, reading her mind.

Kat mumbled something into her pillow.

"Yes, I can read your mind. Duh," he said, rolling his eyes. Humans were nothing if not predictable. 

Most of the time anyway. 

Kat lifted her head up, "Really?" she asked, opening her eyes slowly.


She groaned as the light of a thousand suns seemed to burn through her highly sensitive eyeballs.

How many suns did this place actually have? Surely more than one, right?

Des shifted on the bed as he shrugged though the movement was mostly lost on Kat, "Sort of. It's not that hard since all you humans think way too loud anyway. " He got a good look at the bags under her eyes, her smeared makeup, and the not-so-attractive line of drool down the side of her face. "Damn, Kat. You look awful," he said bluntly.

Kat was tempted to throw her pillow at his head but it would've required way too much energy. Of course he looked resplendent in a midnight blue tunic and black riding pants that showed off his wide shoulders and narrow hips. His face practically glowed with health.

Or a good night's lay.

He made her want to vomit.

She pressed her lips together making them white as her thought was nearly brought to ugly life. 

The demigod frowned, "Seriously, you're a hot mess, Southern Comfort. What happened last night?"

"Nothing," she mumbled and eased back down gently. Maybe her nausea would pass if she stayed down. 

Des looked at her like he didn't buy it but let her continue without interruption.

"I mean we had dinner, you ran off with a maid and Lori and Eric took me to the gardens." Her mind brought up the image of seeing Aiden there on the garden path like he was some carved statue. He was tall and muscular and everything about him seemed chiseled out of some kind of marble. He looked like such a part of the scene a thousand mutant butterflies had taken off in her belly.

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