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Authors: Jean Murray

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BOOK: Soul Awakened
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She exited the cell and stuck close to his hip. The long spirals of her hair bobbed with each of her steps. The small female had gotten under his skin in the short time he had known her and her sisters, Lilly and Kit. During a rescue mission, he would never forget the terror in Kendra’s eyes when the Nehebkau’s traitor held a knife to her slender throat. She looked so small and vulnerable. In a protective rage he had snapped the huntress’ arm in half.

No one would harm any of the offspring of the Mother Goddess. Ever so long, as he had living energy in his black soul. But, that was simply his nature, he rationalized. Nothing more.

The scent of flowers tickling his nose drew his gaze down. Yeah, right. Who was he kidding? He had a crush on the small waif of a woman. A child by his age standards, he was five thousand her senior at the meager human age of twenty-two.
Isis
,
she was so off limits it was not even funny. Not to mention, she was the daughter of the Mother Goddess, the mother of all the gods and ruler of the Creation Pantheon. Him? A warrior of the Underworld. Not even a god for all intents and purposes.

He ran a hand over his scalp. Those facts did not mitigate the warmth against his normally numb skin. Her pale, toothpick-like arm wrapped snuggly against his, as he escorted her out of the dungeon. He guessed the reason he enjoyed her company so much was the fact that when she stared at him with her big brown eyes, there was no fear in them, but warmth that heated his insides. His life had little warmth or gentleness.

Bomani walked in an unnatural gate to ensure he was not dragging her by the arm. He never wanted her uncomfortable. As they approached the assent of the steps leading out of the prison, he considered offering to carry her, but she was not an invalid.

Surprisingly, she swiftly moved up the steps with the grace of a gazelle and only a small incremental increase in her breathing and heart rate. A tiny fit body. He quickly shut off his next visions of what lay hidden beneath her oversized clothing, although not quick enough. Thankfully, mastery of his cravings staved off any physical arousal.

Unexpectedly, Kendra drew closer to him. Her small perky breast brushed innocently against his arm. He swallowed the hiss that threatened to escape his throat. She warmed more than his skin this time.

He needed to break this fixation. Hell, she had been through enough. She had lost her father and her world had been turned upside down. Last thing she needed was more complications, like an infatuated warrior who knew better. Embarrassed, an insufficient word to describe how he would feel. She would think him a heathen.
Where was his honor now?
He cursed silently.  

Bomani pulled to a stop ten steps from freedom. He looked at her from the side afraid if he turned he might accidently brush up against her. He would not be able to control what came next. “Do you think you can make it the rest of the way? I will soon follow to show you the library.”

“Sure. Meet at my room?”

Bomani nodded and released her arm. Maybe separating himself would break the spell she cast on him.

She bounced up the rest of the steps and out into the light. She smiled. “Thank you, you know, for keeping me safe.”

Gods, he was going to rot in Duat. “Anytime.” He bowed.

When she turned to leave, he extinguished the torches and leaned against the stone wall. The weight of his fatigue crashed upon his shoulders. Her departure took the last of his strength with her.

Kendra would have to wait a little longer, he realized. He had to honor his fallen warriors. Menthu’s army had been more effective than he wanted to admit. Despite the Underworld legion’s victory at the Battle of Thebes, Bomani had lost numerous brothers in the fight.

He leaned his head against the cold wall, pained at the thought of so many souls destroyed. Even though new warriors would be born from the souls returned to the Underworld waters, the loss of even one brother was a burden he hated to carry.

He hefted his sore body up the steps and slammed the heavy iron door behind him. He stalked the hallway toward Asar’s office, his mood now sullen.

The unmarred skin between the scarifications tingled with heat the minute he rounded the corner. Bright flowing light pierced the dim palace hall. His gaze targeted the Protector god being escorted by a wall of guardians. 

A Creation god in Aaru.
What nerve.

The burning of his skin reminded him of the differences between the Pantheons. One of death. One of life. Balanced, but unable to mix. The Carrigan sisters seemed to be the only exception to that rule. He experienced no pain when he was around Kendra, despite her Creation lineage.

“Bast,” he hissed under his breath. Their Creation cousins had found it beneath them to assist in the battle against Menthu, which only reinforced his distaste of them.

The only way she was here was by Asar’s invitation. No one entered Aaru, the Paradise Isle of the Underworld, without the expressed consent of its Lord. Considering the circumstances he was shocked she was here. Bast had attempted to kidnap Kendra’s sister and Asar’s new wife, Lilly. Bast would have succeeded if Bomani had not shown up at the exact moment.

He frowned, regretting he had sent Kendra on alone. Bast could very easily snatch her away, even with the warriors present. With fists clenched Bomani forged toward the goddess, burning skin or not.

“Well, well. Look who is here,” he spat. Her smile flared his fury.

“Bomani. How nice it is to see you again,” she purred. Her gaze shifted down his torso and stopped. She arched her eyebrows. “Yes, very nice to see you again.” Her green eyes flicked to meet his, an unholy glow of arousal about them. “What have you been up too?” Her gaze shifted down to his bulging pants.

He ground his teeth. The goddess may be beautiful by all standards with her flowing brown hair and piercing green eyes, but like hell would he even entertain the idea of bedding her. It would not be the first time in his existence that a Creation goddess looked for a forbidden romp in the sack. He was not that desperate for a release. “Well in case you missed it, we are at war. Huge battle at Thebes. Oh, that is right, you missed it,” he growled.

She narrowed her eyes. “Do you address your
master
in such a disrespectful manner?”

Master? He stepped forward pushing a blast of cold energy into her. Despite her skin rising up in fine goose bumps, she stared defiantly back. Protector gods were some of the most powerful of their kind. Regardless, he wanted it abundantly clear, he did not give a corpse’s ass who she was.

Based on the smile and delight in her eyes, she had gotten the reaction she wanted. He had been played, which only stoked his already burning anger. “You are in my world, Goddess. Your status has no weight here.”

“Such tension in your voice, Commander. Perhaps, you need some relief from your…current condition.”

The numb touch of fingers grazed his arm. He barely restrained himself from twisting her wrist a good one. He leaned in, his lips a fraction from her ear. “Let us be clear about this. Never. Ever. Going to happen.”

Bast pursed her lips together in an exaggerated pout. “Do not be too sure about that. Conditions can change.” She smiled again. “But, your words are fitting.” She leaned into his ear with her hands pressed to his chest. Her hot breath stung his skin and her lips grazed the edge of his ear. “Because
she
was not made for
you
.”

Bomani thrust his arms up to grab her by the neck and strangle the life out of the
odjit
.

“Commander!”

Hit by a powerful dark energy Bomani staggered backward. He looked up to meet his Lord’s warning glare. Another move on the goddess would land him on his ass.

Asar’s black stare shifted to the goddess. She ran her hands over her white gown, looking quite the victim. “Our meeting is adjourned, Bast. Your invitation has been revoked.”

“Yes, our business is complete.” She raked her gaze over Bomani with that fake smile plastered on her face. “Until we meet again, Commander.” With a flash of white, hot light, she vanished.

“In my office,” Asar barked.

Irritated, Bomani glared at the Guardians. “Get down to the dungeon.”

He hesitated outside the door and inhaled a cleansing breath. Bast’s statement settled like molten metal into his chest and sucked every last bit of warmth from his skin.

She was not made for you.

Bast could only be referring to Kendra that he had no doubt. The question was— did he care? Unable to answer, he blew out the breath and pushed through the ornately carved doors.

As was custom, he stood at attention with his fist over his heart.

His Lord’s tired eyes settled on him. He gestured him forward. “Although I appreciate the sign of respect, we are well past those days you and I. Please sit.” Asar sat in the large gold chair behind the desk that rivaled the size of a stone alter.

Bomani parked his ass into the leather seat. The expansive marble desk spread out before him. He looked at his still clenched fists. “I apologize for my behavior out in the hall.”

Asar chuckled. “Do not fret. I am sure she deserved it.”

“And then some,” Bomani added. “May I ask the meaning of her visit?”

“To notify her that the Mother Goddess has designated her offspring as Principles of the Creation Pantheon.”

No wonder Bast was so surly. Demi-gods leading full bred gods would go over as well as an Underworld god getting caught in the sun. A lot of screaming and cursing. He looked up to catch his Lord’s appraisal of the situation. “Will that require goddess Lilly’s attendance in the human realm?”

“Not until she has control over her powers. She is too vulnerable right now.”

Having been the recipient of Lilly’s potent power, he whole heartedly agreed. His chest and arms still ached from the blast of white energy and already a week had past. Lilly had almost lost her fight with the goddess Kepi because she could not harness her power when she needed it most. More importantly, Asar did not trust their lighter skinned cousins. Creation gods had proven time and time again they were not to be counted on. Not to mention, Kepi’s conspirators could be anywhere. Even in their realm of the Underworld or at least Menthu alluded they had a traitor in their midst.

“They will be targets. Transitioned or not,” Bomani agreed. At least goddess Lilly had powers to defend herself, but Kendra’s and Kit’s gifts were suppressed and would remain so until they were exposed to another god’s seed. His gut burned picturing a god touching Kendra in that manner. Shaking off that nightmare, Bomani shifted in his seat. The small movement reminded him how sore he really was.

Asar leaned his elbows on the desk. “The gates of the Underworld are closed now, so no new revens can be created, but I am concerned it is still infectious. Kit needs to stay in the human realm to cull the reven’s numbers. Kamen can only watch over her at night. I need him here, as many souls still await judgment at the gates. Nehebkau will take post at Kit’s side during the day time.”

“What of goddess Kendra?”

“I will leave you to her tending. She is to remain in Aaru for her own safety. Plus I need her focused on Bakari.”

“She asked to see the archives.”

“Kendra may have unrestricted access.”

“Sire, even the lower level?” The vault held the forbidden texts. Black magic. Some of the most lethal conjuring spells.

“Everything.”

Bomani caught the retort in his throat. It was not his place to disagree, but the last time the vault was opened bad things happened. He wanted Kendra nowhere near potential harm, but these days that might be unavoidable. He nodded. 

“Sire, some of our brothers have succumbed to their injuries from battle. Shall we not return them to the waters?”

“Yes, of course.” Asar scrubbed his brow.

BOOK: Soul Awakened
9.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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