Authors: Ednah Walters
Tags: #YA paranormal romance
(A Runes Book)
Copyright © Ednah Walters 2013
Published by Firetrail Publishing
Reproducing this book without permission
from the author or the publisher is
an infringement of its copyright.
This book is a work of fiction.
The names of characters, places,
and incidents are products of the
author’s imagination and are
not to be construed as real.
Any resemblance to persons, living
or dead, actual events, locale or
organizations is entirely coincidental.
P.O. Box 3444 Logan,
Copyright © 2013 Ednah Walters
All rights reserved.
Edited by Kelly Bradley Hashway
Cover Design by Cora Graphics.
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be
used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without permission,
except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical articles and reviews.
ALSO BY EDNAH WALTERS:
The Runes Series
Runes (book one)
Immortals (book two)
Grimnirs (A Runes book)
The Guardian Legacy Series:
Betrayed (book one)
Hunted (book two)
The Fitzgerald Family series
(Writing as E. B. Walters)
Slow Burn (book 1)
Mine Until Dawn (book 2)
Kiss Me Crazy (book 3)
Dangerous Love (book 4)
Forever Hers (book 5)
Surrender to Temptation (book 6)
This book is dedicated to my parents,
Walter and Jane Margaret.
Thank you for instilling in me
the confidence to go after my dreams.
May you rest in peace.
To my editor, Kelly Bradley Hashway,
thank you for weeding out the unnecessary words.
I am so lucky to have found you.
To my beta-readers and dear friends, Catie Vargas,
Jeannette Whitus, Katrina Whittaker, and Jeanette A. Conkling,
you ladies are amazing. To my person/virtual assistant,
Julia Hendrix, you are amazing in ways I can’t describe.
I am so lucky to have found you after all this time.
Thank you for making my life just a little easier.
To my critique partners, Dawn Brown, Teresa Bellew,
Katherine Warwick/Jennifer Laurens, and Merc,
thank you for being there when my muse takes a vacation.
We are more than writing partners.
To my husband and my wonderful children,
thank you for your unwavering love and support.
You inspire me in so many ways. Love you, guys.
Last, but not least, to my wonderful fans
who have embraced this series
thank you for your support, show of love,
and spreading the word about it.
You guys rock!!!!
Portland Art Museum
: A tribe of Norse gods
: Home of the Aesir gods
: The father and ruler of all gods and men.
He is an Aesir god. Half of the dead soldiers/warriors/athletes
go to live in his hall Valhalla.
: Another tribe of Norse gods
Vanaheim: Home of the Vanir gods
: The poetry-loving goddess of love and fertility.
She is a Vanir goddess. The other half of the dead
warriors/soldiers/athletes go to her hall in Falkvang
: Odin’s wife, the patron of marriage and motherhood
: deities who control destinies of men and gods
: A powerful seeress
: A group of seeresses
: Humans who stop aging and self-heal
because of the magical runes etched on their skin
: Immortals who collect fallen warriors/soldiers/fighters/athletes
and take them to Valhalla and Falkvang
: The rainbow bridge that connects Asgard to Earth
: The end of the world war between the gods and the evil giants
: Magical knife or dagger used to etch runes
: Plural of artavus
: A type of artavus
: Reapers for Hel
: The Goddess Hel in charge of the dead
: Home of Goddess Hel, dead criminals, those dead from illness and old age
: The island in Hel for criminals
I couldn’t move if I tried. I was stuffed and exhausted. Being the guest of honor wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. A week had passed since I arrived in Asgard, and the gods were still celebrating. I was flattered, but enough was enough. They used every excuse to keep the party going.
Day and night, the younger gods jousted and competed in every imaginable game. When not gaming, Immortals entertained us with dances, served endless supplies of food, and kept the drinks flowing. Since we were in
my grandfather’s home, or hall as they called it,
the older gods and their servants watched the games then went back to their own halls every night, only to return the next day. Their children didn’t seem to get tired or have duties. They partied, disappeared with different women every night, slept, got up, and partied some more.
Someone slapped my back hard. “Hey, Uncle Eirik.”
“Enough with that uncle crap,” I mumbled and glared at Viggo, son of Forseti—God of Justice. He’d been my shadow since I arrived in Asgard. His father and I were half-brothers, and he got a kick out of calling me uncle, even though we were around the same age.
Viggo laughed, sat, and slapped my shoulder again. It stung. He was a few inches shorter than I, but built like a bulldog.
“I told you to call me Eirik,” I added.
“Hey, I’m just giving you the same respect I give my other uncles.”
Except they were older and more powerful. Viggo didn’t slap their backs or force women on them. “Yeah, I’ve noticed.”
He grinned and ran his fingers through his hair, which was perfectly mussed as though he’d just woken up. He probably had. Last night, he’d disappeared with an Immortal after introducing me to her friend.
“So, did you hook up with Lei or what?” he asked.
“Why not? She thought you were… beautiful. Heck, almost all the women want a piece of you. Maybe you’re into guys.” He hadn’t bothered to lower his voice, and several young gods turned to look at us.
Heat crawled up my face. “I’m all about chicks, dude. My quarters are down the hall from Alfadir,” I said, using Odin’s preferred name in Asgard. It meant “all father” since he was the oldest and leader of the gods. “I’m not comfortable making out with a girl while that close to him.”
I glanced at the table, where Odin calmly watched the hall’s occupants and the entertainers with his one good eye. His wife, or Grandmother Frigga, sat on his right, and Goddess Freya sat on his left.
“He won’t mind,” Viggo said. “He knows that making love is our favorite pastime.”
“I’m going to need more than a week to get into the game.” I missed Kayville, my friends, even my parents. No matter what everyone said, Earth would always be my home.
“You’re still pining for the Mortal you left behind.”
“Her name is Cora,” I said slowly, trying not to snap. I didn’t like the way he dismissed humans.
“Do you want to see her?”
“Sure, but I was told I can’t use Bifrost without permission from Heimdall, and he’s always busy.”
“I don’t mean visit.” Viggo’s eyes went the table where the twelve higher gods were busy having a heated discussion. “From Alfadir’s high seat in the throne hall, we can see all the realms,” Viggo said. “Since he’s here, he won’t know.”
Tempting idea. “That’s okay. I’ll see her when I go home.”
“Asgard is your home now, my friend. Follow me if you want to see her.” He got up, and I knew he was headed to the throne hall.
I glanced around then jumped up and followed him. No one would think it odd that we were leaving together. Viggo had been my tour guide since I got here. When I glanced at the high table, Odin’s good eye was on me. He stroked his long beard and nodded. I had no idea what that meant so I nodded back and hurried out of the hall, where Viggo waited with a smirk.
“I knew you’d not resist,” he said. He led the way down a broad hallway.
“What if the ravens are back?” I asked. Odin’s ravens were smart and observant and never missed a thing.
“They’re busy gathering information for Alfadir and won’t be back until nightfall,” Viggo said confidently.
The hallway was endless and curving. Through a doorway, I spied Valkyries serving soldiers. We passed minor gods’ halls, the names on their doors written in the runic alphabet. The major gods and goddesses had their larger halls in different parts of Asgard. We finally approached the massive entrance to the throne room, and Viggo’s cockiness drained away. He slowed down.
“What is it?” I asked.
He nodded at the door. “You go first. It will recognize your essence and open.”
“I told you I’m not special.”
He rested his hand on my shoulder and smirked. “You are the one, Eirik, whether you like it or not. I heard my parents discuss you. Why do you think Alfadir keeps you close to him and is always watching you?”
“Because I’m new here.” And Loki was my maternal grandfather, so I could easily be an evil trickster like him. On top of that, I had evil runes on my body, courtesy of my mother. All the gods had a reason to be wary of me. Just because they’d welcomed me didn’t mean they were happy to have me here.
Viggo slapped me on the back. Again. “No, my friend. You are the one the
said would inherit Alfadir’s throne after Ragnarok.”
“I’m not buying it,” I said.
“Then prove it. Walk to the door. If it doesn’t recognize your essence and open, I’ll tell all my friends the old geezers got it wrong and you are just like the rest of us—like me, a minor god.”
I wasn’t like Viggo. He hadn’t been raised on Earth among humans, or Mortals as they called them. He hadn’t been lied to for seventeen years about who he really was, only to discover he wasn’t even human. He didn’t have to deal with the fact that his mother was the Goddess Hel, ruler of the Underworld, or that his grandfather was the famous Master of Magic, Loki. But the most important of all, he didn’t know what it meant to be in love with one person. To think of no one else but her. To fantasize about being with her. Viggo, like most of the Asgardians, had many women—Immortals, Valkyries, and even other goddesses—vying for his attention. He slept with a different woman every night, while all I wanted was one girl.
I didn’t buy into this future leader of the gods crap Viggo kept yapping about, but I wanted to see Cora. “Okay, let’s see if you are right.”
I stepped forward, and the door to the throne hall flew open.
“I told you,” Viggo said.
“You told him what?” a voice boomed from behind us.
We froze, looked at each other, and turned. Odin stood behind us, his hand on his spear, his wolves at his heel.
“Alfadir,” Viggo mumbled, his chin dropping to his chest.
“What mischief are you up to now, young Viggo?” Odin bellowed.
“Nothing, Alfadir,” Viggo said again, his voice barely above a whisper.
Odin focused on me, his eye blazing like the sun. Of all the gods, I found him the most interesting. He was the oldest and the wisest of the gods, the seeker of knowledge. He willingly gave up an eye to acquire great wisdom and hanged himself for nine days on the World Tree to gain knowledge of runes. Every action he took was to learn new concepts and ideas, which he passed on to humans.
“Eirik?” he asked, his voice softening.
“We were going to check out your throne,” I said.
I glanced at Viggo, but his eyes were on the floor. Most young Asgardians were in total awe of Odin. Once again, Odin’s eye focused on me.
“I want to see my friends back home.”
He glanced at the golden throne then back to me and Viggo. “Okay. You have my permission.”
Viggo and I exchanged a look.
“Really?” I asked.
Creases folded the corners of his eyes as he grimaced or smiled—I couldn’t tell. “Your grandmother told me you would miss your friends and would want to go back before you start your training.”
I frowned. “How could she have known?”
“She gets premonitions. Come along.” He walked ahead of us, a hulking figure in a blue and green robe, winged helmet on his head, white hair flowing down his shoulders, and a beard reaching his chest.
I kicked Viggo. He snapped out of his terror and followed us. The throne room was long, and the silver ceiling reflected the spotless marble floor and the golden pillars around the room.
“Does she know
I’ll go back?” I asked.
“You can never go back, Eirik,” my grandfather said firmly. “If you do, you will be lost to us again.” He climbed the steps and sat on the golden throne. Runic writing covered the back and arms of the chair, and a fur blanket cushioned the seat. He indicated the step under his feet. “Sit.”
We sat and waited. Nothing happened. I glanced at Viggo. He shrugged. A quick glance behind us and we saw why. Alfadir had dozed off. Was he supposed to push a button or wave his spear to get things going?
“Is he asleep?” Viggo whispered.
“I don’t know.” I studied my grandfather’s face. His good eye was closed. I stood and waved a hand over his face. He didn’t move. Now what?
“I knew it was too good to be true,” Viggo whispered. “No one has ever seen the realms through the eyes of the ravens. Not even my father, who is just and fair.”
“I don’t care about the other realms. I just want to see Earth.” I turned to sit down and froze. The hall disappeared, along with the throne and Odin. I appeared to hover in the air, except my feet were on something solid.
“Holy crap,” Viggo whispered.
Holy crap? Hearing a modern phrase from the mouth of a god sounded weird. Viggo appeared to be seated in the air at my feet. I slid down and sat beside him. Okay, so the steps were there, just invisible. Cool. I looked down and grinned. I could see land as though I was a bird, but we were too far up in the air to see clearly.
Where was Kayville?
The land rushed toward us as though we’d zoomed in.
“Whoa. Did you do that?” Viggo asked.
I didn’t care how it had happened. I could see familiar landmarks. My high school. The Hub. Jump Zone. “That’s Kayville, my hometown,” I said, grinning.
“It’s a village,” Viggo said.
“Shut up.” I elbowed him. Where was Cora’s farm?
We zoomed in on Cora’s farm. Her Elantra was parked outside, and there was movement in her room.
“Is this her house?”
“Yes. She lives on a farm with her parents.”
“Looks like they have visitors,” Viggo said.
A familiar SUV pulled up beside the Elantra, which meant Raine was coming to visit Cora. Raine was my childhood friend and the girl I thought was
before Cora. It took me a long time to get my act together and see she was just a friend, an honorary sister. The vehicle stopped, and a dark-haired guy got out. Torin. He was Raine’s boyfriend.
“I know him,” Viggo said. “He’s a Valkyrie.”
Torin walked around and opened the door for Raine. He lifted her down, wrapped his arm around her waist, and said something. They both laughed. Damn it! I needed sound. As though my thoughts switched it on, Raine’s laughter, mixed with Torin’s deep chuckle, reached me.
Viggo leaned forward. “Who is she?”
“My best friend and someone you shouldn’t be looking at like that.” Torin and Raine started for Cora’s front door.
“She’s beautiful for a Mortal,” Viggo said. “When you use Bifrost to visit, I’m coming with you. Maybe she and I—”
“She is Torin’s,
she’s not a Mortal.”
“A Valkyrie? I’ve never seen her before.”
“She’s much more,” I answered absentmindedly, my focus on the door.
Come on, Cora. Open the door.
I wanted to make sure she was okay. That was it. I could see movement at her window.
“I’m a god,” Viggo bragged. “No one is more desirable or powerful than a god.”
I laughed. “She is more powerful, dude. She’s a
“No freaking way.
are extinct. The remaining ones are old and useless.”
“She’s the last of her kind. Grandmother told me.” The door opened, but instead of Cora, her father stood in the doorway. The conversation between him and Raine was brief. Cora wasn’t home. She’d gone to the store with her mother—yet someone was in her room.
Ignoring Viggo, who was still complaining about the
, I focused on Cora’s bedroom window. I needed to see inside. The next second, it was as though her roof became transparent.
Cora wasn’t in her room. A man was. He was dressed in a black hooded duster, so I couldn’t see his face. “Is that a—”
“Grimnir,” Viggo said. “You know what that means?”
Cora was about to die. I wasn’t letting that happen or letting her soul be taken by my mother’s soul reaper.