Read Soul Bound Online

Authors: Courtney Cole

Tags: #Fiction, #Fairy Tales; Folk Tales; Legends & Mythology

Soul Bound (6 page)

BOOK: Soul Bound
13.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I swallowed hard, the taste of Kenna’s death still in my mouth and lingering on my heart. 

“Of course I can see it, Circes.  Of course I know that it isn’t the safest thing for me and perhaps not even the smartest.  I just killed someone to protect him.  And I would do it again.  Feeling so strongly for someone makes me vulnerable.  I know that. But what else can I do?  It is what I feel and there is no changing that.  He and I are soul mates.  We’re connected in ways that we don’t even fully understand.  All I know is that I will stand behind him until the end of time or the end of our lives, whichever comes first. It’s the only thing I can do.”

 “That is exactly what I thought you would say,” she said slowly as she rose from her seat and turned to me, taking my arm.  “I would expect nothing less from you.  Take me to a bed, child.”

She shuffled toward the village and I held her frail arm.  Peeking backward over my shoulder, I glanced toward the treetops.  The raven that she had released was nowhere in sight. 

“When will we find out what our next challenge is?” I asked the old woman anxiously. 

“When Zeus feels like revealing it,” she shrugged.  “All in good time, child.  All in good time.”


* * *


Brennan lay facing me in the dark, his expression serious.   He was oh-so-handsome.  Reaching out, I traced the contours of his face with my fingers and he leaned into my hand.  I could feel his stubble on my fingers.  He needed to shave.

“Are you alright?” he murmured into the darkness.  “I’m sorry that happened, Empusa.  Really.”

“Surprisingly, I’m fine,” I answered.  “Is that bad?  I don’t feel remorse at all.  She tried to kill you so I killed her first.  I didn’t even think about it. It had to be done.”

“It’s a normal instinct to protect those that you love,” Brennan replied.  “It doesn’t make you bad.  It makes you normal.  I would’ve done the same thing for you, trust me.”

I nodded and nestled into his strong chest.  He wrapped his arms around me and I felt safe for the first time today.  I breathed slowly and deeply, inhaling his masculine scent and enjoying the solitude.  We were alone for the first time all day.

“Do you find it strange that my father is competing to keep my abilities ‘safe’ and to keep us apart when he hasn’t even met me?” Brennan asked thoughtfully. “You told me that he was a decent person and that he was a lot like me.  It sure doesn’t seem like it at this point.”

“I know,” I sighed. “I can’t tell you what his true motives are right now.  That’s one thing about the Olympians.  They are always driven by ulterior motives.  It is best to always be on your guard.”

“I’m gathering that,” he answered.  “What do you think is truly going to happen, Em?  Do you think we will fail?”

“That is not an option,” I told him firmly.  “If we fail, all is lost.  We’ll be separated forever. That isn’t something that I want to think about.”

“Me either,” he replied.  “I’ll do anything to prevent that.”

“Agreed,” I answered.  “We should sleep.  It’s hard to say what we will face tomorrow. We’ll need to be prepared.”

Brennan tightened his arms around me as I rested my face against his bare chest.  Our little hut was quiet and dark, the only light coming from the fireplace in the corner.  The soothing crackle sounds coming from it combined with Brennan’s warmth, quickly soothed me into sleep.

But my sleep wasn’t soothing.

The second I drifted off, my mother filled my thoughts, standing in the middle of my dream.  She was as beautiful as always, her long blonde hair pale and soft, her lips full and red.  But she was smeared in blood. 

“Why are you bloody?” I asked her in surprise.  “The game only just begun and we achieved our first challenge.”

She nodded grimly, her lips pressed together in a firm line.  “Yes, you did.  However, Zeus wanted a practice run… mainly for their amusement.  We fought over a mortal.”

“Did you win?” I was almost afraid to ask.

“Yes,” she sighed.  “And Zeus set him free.  He won’t contribute to our tally for the end score.”

“It’s alright,” I reassured her.  “That’s better than Mormo receiving a point.”

“I suppose,” she acknowledged.  “Empusa, this is very, very serious. I want you to realize that.  Zeus realizes that he already committed to reversing your curse.  But Apollo made such good points that he couldn’t ignore them.”

“Can we win the rest of the challenges?” I asked.

She studied me, her ice blue eyes solemn.  “You are my daughter,” she said proudly. “You can do anything you set your mind to.  You are brilliant and strong.  But I do not know what the challenges will be.  You’ll need all of your wits to overcome them, I’m sure.”

“Well, I will be ever on my toes,” I answered wryly. 

“I’m serious, daughter,” she snapped.  I took another look at her.  She looked bone-weary and she was covered in the dirt of the arena.

“I’m sorry, mother,” I said quietly.  “I know this is hard on you. And I take this very seriously.  I do.  When was the last time you slept?”

“I’ll sleep when this is over,” she answered tiredly, pushing her hair from her eyes.  I had to admit, it was the first time in a very, very long time that she didn’t look absolutely perfect.  “You are what is important to me now, Em.  I wish I could help you more, but my hands are tied.  It is not something I’m accustomed to.  Zeus is going to give you challenges and you will have to overcome them yourself- without my help.  It’s maddening.”

I wrapped my arms around her slender shoulders and laid my head against her arm.  “Mother, you will help me. Everything you’ve ever taught me will be of help.  And you’ve taught me so much.  Please don’t worry.  I will keep your wisdom close to my heart and I will come through this.  I promise that.”

A single tear slipped from my mother’s eye and down her smooth cheek, causing a rivulet in the dirt that smudged her skin.  “You do have my strength,” she admitted, brushing impatiently at her tears.  “I have faith that you will win. I just don’t want you to lose focus, daughter.  Think of your own well-being first, please. I beg of you.  Think of anyone else second.”

I drew in a sharp breath.

“You mean Brennan,” I said slowly.   “You want me to think of myself before Brennan.”

She nodded. “You have to, Empusa.  The only person that one can ever truly count on is their self.  You must have learned that by now.”

I backed away from her slightly.

“Mother, what you haven’t learned yet is that I can count on Brennan.  He’s a part of me.  Just as Mormo is of you.  Surely you understand.”

“What I understand is that Mormo would kill me in a moment if he had to,” she answered.  Before she could continue, I cut her off.

“Brennan is not Mormo,” I said firmly.  “That is something that should be apparent to everyone.  He is kind and good and he loves me like no other.”

“I know,” my mother answered softly.  “But he has no experience with the gods, with his father.  It is something that takes practice to withstand unscathed.  He doesn’t have that practice yet.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I dismissed her concern.  “I will always be the most important thing to him.  And he is the same to me.”

“Very well,” mother answered.  “I can see that I will not change your mind on this.  Just assure me that you will pay attention.  I am not certain, but Zeus may very well send you surprise challenges.  He may not announce them ahead of time.  Be on your guard.”

“I’m always on my guard,” I murmured.  “My father taught me that lesson long ago.”

She nodded.  “I know,” she answered softly.  Leaning forward, she kissed me lightly on the cheek and hugged me hard. She smelled like lavender and dust.   “I love you, Empusa.  Remember that.”

“I love you, too,” I told her.  And she was gone.  I stood alone in my dream and the dark shadows swirled from the edges of my consciousness and I drifted back into sleep. 



Chapter Six


I woke to someone staring at me.

Brennan was propped up on one elbow, running one finger slowly along my exposed thigh.  Glancing around, I found that it was still dark outside and the fire in our hut had died down into embers. There was a chilly feel of dew forming in the air.  It must be near dawn.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Brennan answered my unspoken question. “I’m sorry that I disturbed you, though.”

“You touching me is never a disturbance,” I assured him.  Grasping his moving hand, I clutched it to my heart.  His fingers were warm and strong.  “You can touch me whenever you’d like.”

“Is that an open invitation?” he asked, one golden eyebrow raised.  I gulped at his suggestive tone. 

“Perhaps,” I whispered, snuggling closer.  Brennan’s body was warm and hard, his muscles perfectly formed, his jaw chiseled, his eyes a liquid topaz.  I had never in my life seen a more breathtaking man, mortal or god.

“Thank you,” he murmured into my ear.  I had forgotten he could read my thoughts and I felt my cheeks get hot as I blushed. 

“It’s true.  You’re beautiful,” I whispered, swallowing my embarrassment.

I felt him grin against my neck.  “And so are you,” he said as he ran his nose along my skin, inhaling.  “And you smell nice.”

“Thank you,” I answered, taking a sharp breath as he ran his palms along my hips, pulling me even closer.  His body was so hard next to mine that I gasped.  He covered my mouth with his and kissed me in a way I’d never been kissed before. 

My heart raced and I clutched at his back, feeling the strong muscles beneath my fingers contract as he moved.   I slipped my foot along his calf as I returned his kiss, licking his lower lip lightly.  He groaned and plunged his tongue into my mouth and I arched against him.

“Sweet heavens,” I gasped, trying to breathe.  Electricity sparked in the air, crackling around us. It caused my hair to stand on end.

“I want you,” Brennan said softly, nipping at my lip lightly.  “You’re all I think about, Em.  Every minute, every day.”

“I know,” I answered.  “We’re going to have to focus, though, Brennan.  We have to concentrate on the matters at hand.”

the matter at hand,” he growled lightly against my mouth. “You’re in my hands right now, Em.  We’ll think about the rest later.”

“Alright,” I panted, trying to catch my breath as Brennan ran his hands everywhere on my body.  Everywhere he touched felt like it ignited into flames and it was growing more and more difficult to catch my breath and focus.  Colors from around the room swirled together in the corners of my eyes and Brennan’s aura appeared to me, bright golds and yellows outlining his body as bright as the sun. I blinked hard and struggled to focus. 

I could feel the essence of his soul pulsing in his chest along with his heart.  It was pounding hard and I could hear each individual beat.  I unconsciously moved toward him, an automatic response to his aura.  I struggled to move backward but the urge to be near him, to inhale him, was very, very strong.

“I can’t do this,” I gasped, pushing at him.  “I can’t.  I’m going to kill you by accident.”

He grasped my face in his hands and pulled me back to him.

“Yes, you can, Em.  We have to master this.  You can do it.  You won’t hurt me.”

His breath was on my lips, a mere inches from mine.  I felt an obscene amount of desire to simply take a breath and inhale his soul… the soul of the man that I love.  It was an unconscious need.  I fought hard against it, but it was still there, loud and clear. 

“Easy for you to say,” I muttered as I swept my hands against his flat abdomen and sucked in my breath again. “You don’t have to try not to kill

Brennan rolled me over abruptly, pinning me to the bed beneath us and hovering above me.  The dim light from the dawn outside gave him an ethereal feel, as though he was an angel…or a god. 

“True,” he acknowledged.  “But I have to try and not be killed.  I think that’s equally as daunting.”

He lowered his head and kissed the side of my neck, his lips feather soft.  I shivered as a chill ran up my back from the light touch.  He smiled in response. 

“I don’t think that’s a great plan, as far as staying alive,” I mentioned as I leaned up to meet his kiss.  “You should be moving away from me.”

“Yet I’m not,” he pointed out. 

“I know,” I groaned and sucked on his bottom lip.  He moaned in response, triggering a surge of need in me that I didn’t expect and couldn’t control.  I arched up to meet him and a sudden flash of light caught my attention.  I froze and an acrid scent swept into my nose.  And then a crackling sound filled my ears.

“Fire!” I gasped, pushing out from under Brennan.

We both lunged to our feet and found that the roof to our hut was smoldering and then before we could even move, it burst into a roaring flame.  I couldn’t help but screech and point as Brennan threw open the door and raced outside.  I could hear screaming from outdoors, but didn’t know who it was coming from. 

Smoke was quickly filling the small hut, so I joined Brennan outside, coughing as I stumbled out the door. 

Brennan was staring at the fire, an expression of extreme concentration on his face. Within a few seconds, the fire fizzled and died.   He turned to look at me triumphantly. 

“I did it!” he crowed.  “I channeled enough power to put the fire out.”

I couldn’t help but smile at his proud expression.  It was a big step for him.  He was learning to harness his power. 

“Good job,” I commended him weakly.  “You’re doing great.”

He took in my expression and crossed to me immediately, grasping my elbow.

“Em, this wasn’t your fault.  We’ll figure it out, I promise,” he said solemnly.  “We just need practice.  We’ll get the hang of it.”

Behind him, Circes emerged from her hut, her cloudy eyes knowing.  She sniffed the air, sightlessly glanced in our direction and then shook her head.  Without a word, she retreated back into her hut with her long black cloak trailing on the dirt behind her.

I glanced at Brennan.  “Ignore her.  You’re right.  We just need practice.  We’ll get it.”

He nodded wordlessly. 

BOOK: Soul Bound
13.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Accountant's Story by Roberto Escobar
The River's Gift by Mercedes Lackey
Bringing Home Danny by M.A. Blisher
Adonis and Aphroditus by Crystal Dawn
The Killing Code by Craig Hurren
Black Orchid Blues by Persia Walker
The Promise He Made Her by Tara Taylor Quinn
The Change (Unbounded) by Branton, Teyla