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P. C. Cast is an award-winning fantasy and paranormal romance author. She was a teacher for many years but now concentrates on writing and public speaking full-time. Her daughter, Kristin Cast, has won awards for her poetry and journalism as well as co-writing the bestselling House of Night series.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
AWAKENED (Chapter 1)
A disquieting sense of irritation awakened Neferet. Before she had truly departed that amorphous place between dreams and reality, she reached out with her long, elegant fingers and felt for Kalona. The arm she touched was muscular. His skin was smooth and strong and pleasing beneath her fingertips. All it took was that small, feather-like caress. He stirred and turned eagerly to her.
“My Goddess?” His voice was husky with sleep and the beginnings of renewed desire.
He annoyed her.
They all annoyed her because they were not him.
“Leave me ... Kronos.” She had to pause, and search her memory to remember his ridiculous, overly ambitious name.
“Goddess, have I done something to displease you?”
Neferet glanced up at him. The young Son of Erebus Warrior was reclining on the bed beside her, his handsome face open, his expression willing, his aquamarine eyes just as striking in the dimness of her candlelit bedroom as they had been earlier that day when she’d watched him training in the castle courtyard. He’d stirred her desires then, and with one inviting look from her, he’d willingly come to her and futilely, though enthusiastically, attempted to prove that he was god in more than namesake alone.
The problem was that Neferet had been bedded by an immortal, thus she knew all too intimately just how much of an imposter this Kronos truly was.
“Breathe,” Neferet said, meeting his blue eyes with a bored glance.
“Breathe, Goddess?” His brow, decorated by a tattoo pattern that was supposed to represent ball and mace weaponry, but to Neferet appeared more like frilly Fourth of July fireworks, furrowed in confusion.
“You asked what you’d done to displease me and I told you: you’re breathing. And in much too close a proximity to me. That displeases me. It’s time you depart my bed.” Neferet sighed and flicked her fingers at him in dismissal. “Go. Now.”
She almost laughed aloud at his undisguised look of hurt and shock.
Had the youth really believed he could replace her divine Consort? The impertinence of the thought fueled her anger.
In the corners of Neferet’s bedchamber, shadows within shadows quivered in anticipation. Though she didn’t acknowledge them, she felt their stirrings. It pleased her.
“Kronos, you were distracting, and for a brief time you gave me a measure of pleasure.” Neferet touched him again, this time not so gently, and her fingernails left twin raised welts down his thick forearm. The young warrior didn’t flinch or pull away. Instead he trembled beneath her touch and his breathing deepened. Neferet smiled. She’d known this one needed pain to feel desire the instant his eyes had met hers.
“I would give you more pleasure, if you allowed it,” he said.
Neferet smiled. Her tongue flicked out slowly, licking her lips as she watched him watch her. “Perhaps in the future. Perhaps. For now what I require of you is to leave me and, of course, to continue to worship me.”
“Would that I could show you how much I long to worship you again.” The last word was spoken as a verbal caress, and—mistakenly—Kronos reached for her.
As if it was his right to touch her.
As if her wishes were subservient to his needs and desires.
One small echo from Neferet’s distant past—a time she thought she’d buried with her humanity—seeped from the entombed memories. She felt her father’s touch and even smelled the reek of his rancid, alcohol-soaked breath as her childhood invaded the present.
Neferet’s response was instantaneous. As easily as breathing, she lifted her hand from the warrior’s arm and held it, palm outward, at the closest of the shadows lurking at the edges of her chamber.
Darkness responded to her touch even more quickly than had Kronos. She felt its deadly chill and reveled in the sensation, especially as it banished the rising memories. With a nonchalant motion, she scattered the Darkness at Kronos, saying, “If it is pain you so desire, then taste my cold fire.”
The Darkness Neferet hurled at Kronos penetrated his young, smooth skin eagerly, slicing ribbons of scarlet through the forearm she had so recently caressed.
He moaned, though this time more in fear than passion.
“Now do as I command. Leave me. And remember, young warrior, a goddess chooses when and where and how she is touched. Do not overstep yourself again.”
Gripping his bleeding arm, Kronos bowed low to Neferet. “Yes, my Goddess.”
“Which goddess? Be specific, Warrior! I have no desire to be called by ambiguous titles.”
His response was instantaneous. “Nyx Incarnate. That is your title, my Goddess.”
Her narrowed look softened. Neferet’s face relaxed into its mask of beauty and warmth. “Very good, Kronos. Very good. See how easy it is to please me?”
Caught in her emerald gaze, Kronos nodded once, then fisting his right hand over his heart he said, “Yes, my Goddess, my Nyx,” and backed reverently from her chamber.
Neferet smiled again. It was unimportant that she was not actually Nyx Incarnate. The truth was Neferet wasn’t interested in being cast in the role of an incarnate goddess. “That implies I am lesser than a goddess,” she spoke to the shadows gathered around her. What was important was power—and if the title Nyx Incarnate aided her in the acquisition of power, especially with the Sons of Erebus Warriors, then that was the title by which she would be called. “But I aspire to more—much more than standing in the shadow of a goddess.”
Soon she would be ready to take her next step, and Neferet knew some of the Sons of Erebus would be manipulated into standing beside her. Oh, not enough of them to actually sway a battle with their physical force, but enough of them to fragment the Warriors’ morale by setting brother against brother. Men, she thought disdainfully, so easily fooled by the masks of beauty and title, and so easily used to my advantage.
The thought pleased her but wasn’t distracting enough to keep Neferet from restlessly leaving her bed. She wrapped a sheer silk robe around herself and moved from her chamber out into the hallway. Before she’d given conscious thought to her actions she was heading to the stairwell that would take her to the bowels of the castle.
Shadows within shadows drifted after Neferet, dark magnets drawn by her increasing agitation. She knew they moved with her. She knew they were dangerous and that they fed on her unease, her anger, her restless mind. But, oddly, she found a measure of comfort in their presence.
She paused only once in her downward descent. Why am I going to him again? Why am I allowing him to invade my thoughts tonight? Neferet shook her head as if to dislodge the silent words and spoke into the narrow, empty stairwell, addressing the Darkness that hovered attentively around her. “I go because it is what I wish to do. Kalona is my Consort. He was wounded serving me. It is only natural that I think of him.”
With a self-satisfied smile Neferet continued down the winding stairwell, easily repressing the truth: that Kalona had been wounded because she had entrapped him, and the service he performed for her was a forced one.
She reached the dungeon, carved centuries ago from the rocky earth that made up the Isle of Capri at the bottommost level of the castle, and moved silently down the torch-lit hallway. The Son of Erebus Warrior standing watch outside the barred room couldn’t hide his jolt of surprise. Neferet’s smile widened. His shocked look, tinged with fear, told her that she was getting better and better at appearing to materialize from nothing but shadows and night. That lightened her mood, but not enough to add the softness of a smile to temper the cruel edge of command in her voice.
“Leave. I wish to be alone with my Consort.”
The Son of Erebus hesitated only a moment, but that slight pause was enough for Neferet to make a mental note about being sure in the next few days that this particular Warrior would be called back to Venice. Perhaps because of an emergency regarding someone close to him ...
“Priestess, I leave you to your privacy. But know that I am within the sound of your voice and will respond to your call should you need me.” Without meeting her eyes, the Warrior fisted his hand over his heart and bowed—though too slightly to suit her.
Neferet watched him retreat down the narrow hallway.
“Yes,” she whispered to the shadows. “I can feel that something quite unfortunate is going to happen to his mate.”
Smoothing the sheer silk of her wrap, she turned to the closed wooden door. Neferet drew a deep breath of the damp dungeon air. She swept the thick fall of her auburn hair back from her face, baring her beauty as if girding herself for battle.
Neferet waved her hand at the door and it opened for her. She stepped into the room.
Kalona lay directly on the earthen floor. She’d wanted to make a bed for him, but discretion had dictated her actions. It really wasn’t that she was keeping him imprisoned. She was simply being wise. He had to complete his mission for her—that was what was best for him. If his body regained too much of its immortal strength, it would be a distraction for Kalona, an unfortunate distraction. Especially as he’d sworn to act as her sword in the Otherworld and to rid them of the inconvenience Zoey Redbird had created for them in this time, this reality.
Neferet approached his body. Her Consort lay flat on his back, naked, with only his onyx wings as a veil-like covering. She sank gracefully to her kne...
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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. My soul s been shattered and my boyfriend s been killed. Don t I deserve a break? Just a little one? Zoey is alive and stronger than ever, being cared for by her new Guardian, and finally finding some peace far from the ongoing battle against Neferet. But in her brief moment of happiness, it s easy to forget that the House of Night needs her, as do her friends. In Zoey s absence, Stevie Rae has found her feelings for the Raven Mocker Rephaim are stronger than she ever could have expected, even while he still admits loyalty to their sworn enemy. Then a terrible murder threatens to destroy their group and tear their world apart - and that death will not be the last. Seller Inventory # AA29780349001197
Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Digital original. Language: English. Brand new Book. 'My soul's been shattered and my boyfriend's been killed. Don't I deserve a break? Just a little one?' Zoey is alive and stronger than ever, being cared for by her new Guardian, and finally finding some peace far from the ongoing battle against Neferet. But in her brief moment of happiness, it's easy to forget that the House of Night needs her, as do her friends. In Zoey's absence, Stevie Rae has found her feelings for the Raven Mocker Rephaim are stronger than she ever could have expected, even while he still admits loyalty to their sworn enemy. Then a terrible murder threatens to destroy their group and tear their world apart - and that death will not be the last. Seller Inventory # AA29780349001197
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