By Brenna Lyons
When a strange man washes up on the shores of her beloved Naxos, Ariadne longs to be his. Dionysis has no clue who Ari is or how she came to Naxos, but he won't rest until he knows - and until she is his. Can a former princess with no faith in gods learn to love again?
The birds were loud that morning. Ariadne opened one eye a slit, viewing the lush vegetation of Naxos. Did the blasted birds have to celebrate the day so early? Apparently so.
She rolled over with a sigh and pushed the woven blanket off. It was a warm, sunny day with a brisk breeze--a good day to hang the blanket to air and wash the meager clothing she had created for herself in the last year.
Naxos was a beautiful place, a fitting exile for a princess, she supposed. Ariadne laughed at the pampered life she'd once had. A daughter of Minos! A princess of Crete! "Ha," she barked at the clear, blue sky, startling a family of birds into hasty flight.
"A princess!" Of course, that had always been her problem. Ariadne was simply a princess, not the princess. She had never been the princess.
When Theseus had come to her father's kingdom, Ariadne had not known he was the prince of Athens. She saw a wealthy man, a beautiful and fearless man, a man unlike any she was like to have on Crete.
With her sister Phaedra around, no man was interested in Ariadne. If only the pampered toy had married, perhaps one of her lovesick throng might have glanced Ariadne's way. Phaedra, however, would not deign to simply choose a husband. She was like to taunt the men endlessly, raising the stakes of her affections until some fool set the stars at her feet in homage. By then, Ariadne would be an old woman.
When beautiful Theseus boldly offered himself as a sacrifice to the Minotaur's labyrinth, Ariadne saw her chance. She sent for Daedelus and bribed him for a way to allow Theseus to escape the deadly maze. That her actions were treason affected her not. Anything was worth escaping Crete and having a life away from Phaedra.
Hiding herself in the rough cloak of a commoner, Ariadne approached the prisoners with food. The guards looked through her, as they usually did with commoners who came to care for the offerings to the Minotaur. She found her golden man in private rooms and offered him a simple trade, the secret of the labyrinth for his promise to take her back to Athens as his wife.
"Who are you that you have such knowledge?" he asked her in hushed tones.
"I am the younger daughter of Minos. Do you accept my bargain?"
His eyes glittered in the near-darkness of the room. "You have my vow. Hide yourself away on my ship and do not show your face until we are away. We set sail immediately after I best the trap. What is the secret?