The New Gods – Rebels and Curses Book 1 by Ripley Proserpina

The New Gods
Rebels and Curses Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Ripley Proserpina

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Kiss me or kill me?

All my life, I’ve been fascinated by stories about gods and the mortals they treated like toys.

Now I’m at Oxford University with a newly acquired doctorate, and I’m making a career out of my childhood obsession. There, among medieval buildings and famous libraries, I meet five men who have names right out of Greek mythology.

Achilles. Hector. Paris. Pollux. Orestes.

I’m drawn to them, not only because of their names, but by the passion they try to hide.

And the way our fates seem inexplicably linked.

Turns out, I’ve uncovered an ancient artifact that could do more than just turn the academic world on its head. It’s the key to releasing a pantheon of angry gods who’ve had millennia to plot their revenge. And it’s the reason these legends have emerged from the shadows.

Five men who were once princes, generals, and tragic heroes have vowed to stop at nothing to prevent the world from descending into chaos again. Even if it means ignoring the growing passion between us and wiping me off the face of the earth.

NOTE:
The New Gods is the first book in a reverse harem romance series with dark themes.

The first chapter in this book takes place thousands of years ago and is the basis of this story. Five demigods, brothers if you will, Hector, Paris, Orestes, Achilles, and Pollux merge their powers into an obsidian seal that will lock away the Gods and Goddesses. It would appear as a jug or amphora figures adorning it, should anyone find it. It would be in pieces, scattered across the globe, hopefully gone forever.

Dr. Leonora ‘Leo’ Ophidia, on a dig in Turkey, unearthed a shard of vessel. It depicts the image of Horace and in Cyrillic beneath the image the words ‘For Astyanax, beloved son of Hector, Prince of Troy’. This piece now on display in the British Museum has been carbon dated way prior to established date of the Trojan Wars. Her discovery was the entry to her current position of professor at Oxford.

We first meet Pollux at her first lecture, he was stunned to realize the shard was indeed part of the seal he and his brothers created. He asked only one question and that was if she’d found any other pieces of the vessel. Her confident answer makes him realize she wasn’t going to stop looking for the rest of the pieces. This is far more frightening than she could possibly imagine.

She meets Orestes next as he saves her from being run over. The different traffic patterns from what she’s used to in America nearly gets her run over.

After Pollux has met her, the five of them get together, they rarely all gather since it’s a lot of power in one place and could get noticed. They need to decide what to do about Leo and her quest to find the rest of the shards. Pollux doesn’t like the outcome of that meeting and makes it his mission to protect Leo.

There are two sites Leo is researching as possible places for other pieces. One is the Lighthouse at Alexandria and the other is here in England. She accidentally finds out the site she wants while at the Ashmolean. They have an artifact of the head of Achilles. In fact it’s on the train there that she runs into Achilles as he’s trying to get rid of her.

Pollux and Orestes are also on the train and with Achilles convince Leo to meet with their other two friends before continuing on her journey.

Their conversation is the beginning of a turning point in this story and their relationship.

This is a favorite scene.

His smile died immediately. He leaned forward, elbows propped on his knees and stared at me. “Pollux told us about it. He saw it in the British Museum.”

“You weren’t too far off.” Pollux jumped in. “Like many ancient artifacts, there are people, religions”— he seemed to search for the word and finally settled on—“oaths, that are sworn to it. What you found?” His voice was so deep, it drew me in, and I leaned even closer. He placed his arm on the back of my chair, where he gripped the wood and squeezed. “It was never meant to be found.”

“So you’re like the Freemasons or something?” I racked my brain for groups like the one he’d described— one with a legacy that was passed from one generation to another. There was the Skull and Bones Society, though they were only a couple of hundred years old. The Bilderberg Group, which was political, and again, only a hundred years old or so. The Order of Assassins. But they had dissolved back in the twelve hundreds. Of course, there were tons of religious groups, The Order of St. John, The Sovereign Military Order of Malta…

But I wasn’t aware of any that had to do with the Trojan War. Just because I didn’t know any, though, didn’t mean they didn’t exist.

“I’ll take a secret society over Diana Regan any day.” And that was the truth. My parents might not like me, but my former advisor despised me. The grudge she held seemed way out of proportion with my supposed crime. Focusing on what Pollux had said, I continued with, “So do you have a name?” He shook his head, glanced at Hector as if waiting for him to add something.

Hmm. That was interesting. Hector must occupy some sort of leadership role in this society.

Pollux went on. “There’s no name. But what you’re searching for… it shouldn’t be found.”

I had assumed it was pottery. A vase or an amphora. Maybe even some kind of box.

A seal was different. Seals kept things together, or kept them closed in.

The piece I’d found had told the story of Hector— a very out-of-canon story. Putting together everything that hadn’t yet been said, I asked, “Do you not want me to find it because of the story it tells? Or is it something else?”

A thousand mistakes I could have made ran through my mind. What if the shard wasn’t as old as the radiocarbon dating suggested? What if I’d misread the Greek inscription? What if someone had put it there, like Lady Elliot had suggested? My stomach clenched. Maybe I should call the museum. Retract my articles? Oh, god. I wanted to puke.

My phone was in the pocket of Orestes’ jacket, so I withdrew it. To call who? Dr. St. John? Dr. Merton?

This would make Lord and Lady Elliot pissed— not that they seemed to like me much anyway, but that donation…

I’d fucked up so bad. So, so, so bad.

“Wait. No.” Hector pulled his chair closer, took my phone from my hand, and flipped it over on the table. “It’s not— as far as I know, from everything Pollux told us— your theories aren’t wrong. But the pieces can’t be found. You have to leave it alone. Let it stay lost.”

More and more questions swirled in my head, racing around my brain in a way that made it ache. I rubbed my temples. “Then what do you want from me? It’s not like I have it in hand. It’s one piece, and if what you’re saying is true, and the dating places that piece thousands of years in the past, the likelihood of finding another is…” I wasn’t a math genius so I went with, “low. Very low. Highly unlikely.”

And I hated to say it, but— “I think you might be overreacting.” I shifted to glare at Achilles. “Actually, I know you are.”

Crossing his arms, the huge man smiled. “I apologize.”

“Not accepted.” Though it was about time.

He smirked and just shook his head.

There had to be something wrong with me that I wasn’t running and screaming out of this pub. As a child, I’d had fantasies of adventure and intrigue. I imagined running from gigantic boulders threatening to crush me as a temple sunk into the desert. In those scenarios, I fought bad guys, just like Indiana Jones, and repeated his classic line, “This should be in a museum!” when treasure hunters tried to steal what I found.

But reality was a lot less interesting and a lot more gray. I should be afraid of Achilles, and all of them, but I only had more questions.

“Does it belong to you?” I asked. “The—” I almost said, “shard” but corrected myself, “Seal?”

Hector nodded before he answered, “Yes.”

This complicated things. Not that they weren’t already, but Turkey had already laid claim to the artifact. It was very difficult to prove ownership. England had laws about such things, because it wasn’t so rare for a farmer to plow one of his fields and come upon a Roman village. There were assessments that were required before farmers dug trenches, or things like that. In Turkey, there were similar laws on the books, but private landowners didn’t always follow those regulations.

And then there was of course all the geo-political changes which made tracing land ownership dicey. If they were saying that the seal was found on their land, it could be difficult to prove. “How old is your claim?” I asked.

Achilles had taken a sip of the pint I hadn’t touched. Choking at my question, he covered his mouth with his arm, but he didn’t manage to catch all the drops of beer. He wiped them up with his sleeve.

“Old,” Hector answered. “Ancient.”

“I don’t suppose you have anything in writing?”

It wasn’t my imagination that he smiled. And god, what a change it made to his serious face. White teeth set against his dark beard and a cleft in his chin. He crossed his arms over his chest, just watching me.

“Okay.” Ignoring all the challenges and millions of questions I had, I repeated myself, “Okay. I’ll help you. But you have to understand, if there are more pieces, and they’re here, in England, or anywhere you can’t prove you have a title or provenance, things will be really tricky. Turkey has been attempting to get artifacts for years, but it’s very difficult. Almost impossible, really, without diplomatic intervention.”

Hector nodded as I spoke, but every so often his gaze would flick toward one of the other men. Achilles didn’t take his eyes off me, and I could feel Hector’s brother, Paris, watching. I took the pint from where it sat in front of Achilles and sipped it. It was a dark, like a stout, and much stronger than the light beer I tried at college parties.

“Jesus. This is like a meal.” But my throat was dry, so I took another sip.

“Does this mean you’ll stop looking for other pieces?” Orestes asked.

He’d been quiet since his friends had joined us, and had chosen a seat away from me. After his compassion on the train, I thought he’d stay close. I’d hoped he would. With him and Pollux on either side of me, I could breathe. Or at least not worry that Achilles would try to stop me from breathing.

The man in question stared at me. I didn’t think he’d try anything again.

“Are you going to try to kill me again?” I asked.

Lifting an eyebrow, Achilles shrugged. Shrugged.

Here I was, thinking about the law and titles. But this seal, it was important enough that the man sitting across from me— with his long, messy hair, and stubble, and cold hazel eyes— had tried to end my life.

“I’ll stop.” It was a lie. A straight-up, nose-growing, I’m a real boy, lie.

As the words left my lips, a car went by the pub. The headlights illuminated all of us for a second, and Paris’s face was spotlighted. He was staring at me, dark eyebrows drawn low over bright, blue eyes. And he frowned.

Lie.

Lie. Lie. Lie.

And I’d just been caught.
Ripley Proserpina. The New Gods: Rebels and Curses Book 1 (Kindle Locations 1671-1734).

They convince Leo to stay with them and things start getting more interesting as myth becomes a bit of reality.

So many twists, turn and OMG surprises in this book that I’m truly rooting for that happily ever after. 

I really can’t wait for the next book in this series!

5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!

Ripley Proserpina

Ripley Proserpina spends her days huddled near a fire in the frozen northern wilds of Vermont. She lives with her family, two magnificent cats, and one dog who aspires to cat-hood. She is the author of the Reverse Harem series, The Searchers, Midnight’s Crown, and the young adult/fantasy duet, Wishes and Curses.


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