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They were heroes who weighed the fate of the world against their love and chose me.
The gods are a shadow, shrouding my fate in darkness. With one snap of her fingers, Athena turned my life upside down, and now I have to decide…
Whatever choice I make, I won’t be alone.
Pollux, Achilles, Hector, Paris, and Orestes have fought the gods before. Because of these five heroes, the Greek gods are trapped, and humans are free from their interference.
But the creatures who view us as toys aren’t giving up easily. They want out, and they want their power back.
My curse stands between them and freedom, and now I’m caught in the crosshairs of a war that began long ago.
Lines will be crossed and fates sealed.
And I will use everything I am, and everything that made me, to protect the men I love.
The Shadow Gods is the conclusion of the RH duet, Rebels and Curses.
If you haven’t read the first book in this duet, STOP, go back and read it. This book starts where that one ended.
When we left Leo, she was defending her work at Oxford and her nemesis turned out to be Athena. Leo is stunned at the knowledge she was Medusa. Well, I suppose is Medusa is more accurate. Hector is with her and as they approach the cottage, they were staying in reminds her they have to leave England.
Hector, Paris, Achilles, Pollux, and Orestes, now have to figure out Athena’s plans and derail them so Leo is safe from the wrath of the Gods. The plan is to go to Greece, but they can’t fly, the chance that Poseidon will undermine their efforts is too high. They plan on dropping a piece of the seal between England and France then destroy the rest.
Funny how fate will change your plans at the drop of a hat, or in this case a very scary event during the ferry crossing.
This is a favorite scene.
The ferry went from one extreme to another. Nose-diving to jutting up at the blackness and tiny pricks of light from the stars. This was no gentle rocking, but a jarring up and down.
“Stay in here.” Hector slid the door open, and another wave drenched us. The scent of the ocean mixed with diesel. Slamming the door shut, Hector ran to help Achilles and Pollux. Together, they grabbed onto other passengers who, in their panic, had left their cars.
Unclipping my belt, I moved to get out. Hector saw me and yelled, “Get back in!”
Paris grabbed me around the waist, tossing my back into my seat before leaping out of the van.
“I can help.” I said, but he didn’t hear me.
Orestes had, though, and frowned. “You’re mortal, Leo. We won’t be able to concentrate if you’re out there.”
I couldn’t argue with his reasoning, even if I didn’t like it. Holding back a growl of frustration, I nodded. He was out the door in seconds. The ship dipped again, and I flew forward, tumbling into the boxes and bags. I barely managed not to slam my head on the window.
It was chaos.
My stomach lifted, like I was on the precipice of a rollercoaster. Around me, the world went into slow motion. From the corner of my eye, the boxes and bags lifted into the air, held aloft like gravity had ceased to exist, before we crashed into water. Something sharp cut my hands. I’d fallen through the plastic top of the container holding the shard of the seal. Blood welled from tiny cuts and two gouges on the palms of my hands where I caught myself. For a second, I didn’t feel the pain, and then it was hot and impossible to ignore.
The lights of the ferry flickered, went out, and the engines silenced.
The quiet was all-encompassing but lasted only one second, maybe two. In the distance came a groan, not human or animal. Something was pressing into the metal hull of the ship, forcing it to bend.
There were more screams now as panic replaced confusion.
Sudden storms weren’t unheard of, but this couldn’t be natural. Climbing out of the debris, getting my blood everywhere, I tried to find my balance and make sense of what was happening.
Like Orestes had said, I was only mortal. There was nothing I could do to shield the guys or the innocent people who had the bad luck of taking the same ferry as me.
Another dip, this one less severe than the previous ones. Reaching out blindly, I accidentally clasped the shard in my hand, digging the edge into the wound. How can I protect them?
I wished I had power like the gods and could surround the boat, keeping the evil out until we made it to safety.
As the thought went through my head, the abrupt dip of the ferry stopped. The lights blared to life, and the engines powered up.
I held my breath, waiting for it all to disappear and for the next wave to pull us under. The water on the windows sluiced away so I could see what was happening. Hector regarded me from outside the van. His hair was dripping wet, and he was soaked to the bone. Not giving him the chance to stop me, I opened the door and climbed out.
The other guys were helping frightened passengers back into their cars. It was a miracle none of the cars were tossed overboard, and the worst thing that had happened were a few scratches and dents on their vehicles. The ship’s crew moved frantically in and out of the “crew only” sections of the ship or among the passengers. Now that the immediate danger had passed, I ignored everyone else and hurried to the man closest to me.
“Are you okay?” I asked Hector. There was a tear in his sweater and the collar of his shirt was ripped, but I didn’t see any bruises or blood. Reaching for him, I ran my hands over his arms. “Is anything broken?”
“I’m fine,” he replied at the same time I realized I was bleeding all over him.
“Oh, shit.” Pulling my hands from him, I squeezed them into fists. “Shit. I’m sorry.” I spun toward the car to find something to staunch the bleeding, but he beat me there.
Hands on my shoulders, he spun me toward the edge of the van and made me sit. Then he found a T-shirt and tore it into strips. Examining my hands, he sucked in a breath. “You might need stitches.”
The wounds throbbed in time with my heartbeat, but the pain wasn’t too bad. Truthfully, I’d forgotten all about them in my concern for him and the others.
Over his shoulder, Paris got into one of the cars, backing it up, and straightened it out. Orestes held the arm of one woman while pressing a cloth to her head. He spoke to her calmly, his golden eyes focused on her.
“Are people badly hurt?” I asked.
“Nothing that won’t heal. No one drowned.”
“Was that a rogue wave or something?” I asked, my tone hopeful. They had seen more than I had, so maybe . . .
Which meant it was probably god-created. “Something meant to scare us, then?”
Hector didn’t answer. Instead, all his focus went to my hands. On the fourth wrap, I pulled away from him. “Hector.”
His entire body stilled. He canted his head to one side, then peered at me. “Do you feel that?” he asked.
Jerking my chin up, I examined the ferry and the surrounding darkness. I didn’t feel anything beside the gentle motion of the ferry as it sliced through the ocean.
What was he noticing that I wasn’t?
“No wind. No rain. No water.”
What? I turned toward the prow of the ship, standing to get a better idea of what he was saying. “No wind?”
He touched one of my curls, then brushed my bangs from my forehead.
I got it. We were moving at quite a clip. I could hear the engine and slap of the propellers in the water, but there was no sensation of forward momentum. My hair didn’t whip around my head. I moved away from him a little, because maybe his wide shoulders and muscular body were protecting me from the worst of it.
“We’re moving?” I glanced back at him, and he nodded.
“We appear to be.”
I sidestepped toward the rail of the ship, but he stopped me. “Please don’t go too close.”
“I wanted to look at the water. To see if I could tell.”
Footsteps pounded against the metal stairs. Pollux leapt down them, taking them two and three at a time. “You’re okay?” he called, dodging Orestes and Paris, who were still helping people but watching us. He cut a quick look to my hands and was at my side faster than he should have been.
Or, at least, faster than he should have been in public.
“Fine,” I replied, more freaked out about what Hector had told me than a couple of cuts on my hands that barely hurt anymore.
All around us, people were talking about what happened, making it easy for us to speak without being overheard.
“I didn’t sense anything before the first wave,” Pollux said. “Did you?”
Hector shook his head.
It wasn’t long before Paris and Orestes joined us, but I still didn’t see Achilles. I craned my neck, searching while I listened to the four men try to make sense of everything.
“We would have felt something, but it wasn’t natural. Just like this isn’t. It’s like we’re floating in a bubble . . .” Pollux said.
“We’re floating?” I made a move to see over the edge of the ship, but like Hector, Pollux stopped me.
“We’re floating on the water,” he said, “and we’re definitely moving, but nothing is touching us.”
“We’re moving at about twenty-five knots.” Achilles’s voice came from behind me and I screeched.
Pollux, who had the unfortunate luck of standing next to me, winced.
“Sorry.” The huge man chuckled. How Achilles could laugh after everything made no sense to me, but he wore a smile. Despite being soaked to the bone, he didn’t seem a bit chilled. “Quite a ride, wasn’t it?”
“It was,” Hector replied, but his jaw was working back and forth. “And some of us can be injured.” He glared at Achilles and then my hands.
“Leo.” The big man shouldered Pollux aside to grasp my wrists. Hector had wrapped them so many times, I looked like I was wearing boxing gloves. “Can I look?”
“It needs stitches,” I answered in warning but nodded. The wrapping was too bulky, anyway. Achilles began unraveling the bandage until he reached the cotton pressed against my skin. Blood had soaked into it. Gross. I wrinkled my nose. This was going to hurt when he pulled it away. Despite feeling much better, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see—
“There’s nothing here.” Achilles pressed his thumb against my palms. Instinctively, I jerked my hands back, but he held them in place. “Look.”
I stared. “Maybe I wasn’t . . .” I trailed off, but Hector picked it up.
“You were. I saw it. It was deep in the muscle. This doesn’t make sense.”
My hands were bloodstained, but all the tiny cuts and the double gash from gripping the seal was gone. And not just healed. There wasn’t a scab. Not a scar. Nothing.
It was like it never happened.
Ripley Proserpina. The ShadowGods (Kindle Locations 444-518).
There is a lot of fact-finding and suspense as the five of them travel. They make more than one detour and there are many revelations along the way.
A page-turning read with love, mythology, sizzle, and surprises all leading to the perfect conclusion.
5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!
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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.