Excerpt for An Unexpected Revelation: Book Two of The Unexpected Trilogy by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Copyright 2017 Rachel Lillyman

Cover Art by Royal Anchor Designs

Formatting by Emily Piland of A Writer For Life

All rights reserved worldwide.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favourite eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This book contains adult themes, including but not limited to sexual contact, violence and some swearing.

ISBN-13: 978-0-6482034-1-4

Dedicated to Beatrice Hayley – a beautiful young woman with the spirit and mind of any great novelist. Without Beatrice's enthusiasm for An Unexpected Bonding and this trilogy, I doubt I would have had the inspiration to continue. Within these pages, you will meet some new characters that Beatrice was so kind to give to me while writing a fan fiction. It was with her permission that I adopted Nyx, Zeus and the rest of the Olympians that you will meet in both this book and book three – An Unexpected Hellhound.

To Rebecca, a kindred soul who helps me polish my words for your enjoyment.

To Mary for her constant encouragement and love for all things “Lilly Rayman”.

To Taylor for wrapping my works in such stunning graphics.

To Emily for her simple kindness at helping me get over the final hurdle.

Finally, to my family, for your unconditional love and support every step of the way.

It was not the first time in her existence she found herself to be running, for what felt like her life. The difference this time, however, was she had no physical fatigue. It was purely mental fatigue. Memories of the last night she found herself fleeing took over until they physically manifested upon her chilled body; the sweat that mingled with the rain on that fateful evening; the aching of her bare feet as she slipped across grassy slopes and down dirt tracks between tall poplar trees. As the nightmarish images of the night she was chased by that beast took over, her vision shifted, and she became once more, a short-sighted human. The dark storm making the night even darker as it hid the moon. Fear pounded in her chest as she ran from the beast. He was a beast that looked like a man yet belonged in the shadows he clung to as he stalked her; a girl who belonged in the light.

The sky lit up with a glare. For a moment, locked in the memories of her human past she thought it was lightning. However, the blaring of a car horn and the roaring of the engine as the vehicle hurtled down the highway in front of her brought her back to reality.

She was no longer a fearful Grecian girl, revering the gods who lived on Olympus. No, now she was the woman she became on that fateful night. With the highway silent once more, she crossed the road. Ducking down into the animal underpass she stopped, and leaning against the dirty concrete, scrubbed at her face with her hands. Her heart, usually so still, pounded with residual memories flooding through her.

Closing her eyes, she fell back into the nightmare; falling roughly into the dirt, gravel tearing at the supple flesh of her knees, her head bouncing off the earth. Sickening nausea blinded her senses as she lay in the puddle of her own blood, flowing from the gash on her forehead. Darkness now surrounded her as she surrendered to her fate, pain dulling her senses.

The difference with her memories now was that she watched herself; as he had watched her.

Her once black hair cascaded around her shoulders, holding onto the tree and leaf litter, which snagged in her locks as she ran through the gardens. She watched the green eyes that were once her own, roll in her sockets as she fought to remain conscious, the agony glazing the loveliness they used to hold. Again, she felt the fear hammer through her body as he descended upon her.

In the present day her hand lifted to her neck, where so long ago he tore her youthful flesh to suck the life from her, consuming her pure essence.

Shaking her head to free herself from the memories she swiped at the stray tear tracking down her pale cheek from her purple eyes. Shaking hands raked through her white hair, ensuring it was only in her memory that debris clung to the pale strands.

She refused to give her allegiance to the monster who changed her during that fateful night, declined to become a Queen by his side, and she continued to refuse her allegiance now. She was then, was now, and always would be, her own woman. Dependent on no-one but herself.

It astounded her the young, and admittedly foolish, girl she once was, held so much faith in the gods. Gods she had used to believe lived on Olympus. She scoffed at her naivete, the gods may have existed, and indeed resided on Olympus, but there was no way she could call them living.

Shaking off the human paranoia her memories caused to resurface, she stepped out from the underpass. Comfortable in the night again. she buried deep within her, what little human feelings remained. Falling into the easy lope that ate away the miles effortlessly, she resumed her cross-country journey, allowing the scents of nearby humans to tease at her nocturnal nature, keeping her humanity and the nightmarish recollections at bay. She could almost believe the beating of human hearts beginning to torment her thirst was actually them calling to her, subconsciously begging for her to come and feast on them.

Instead, she ran on, pushing past the desire, putting as much distance between her and her unnatural brethren as she could.

The gossip around the court of the faerie queen was about the Vampire Council and the Wolf Nation meeting together to discuss peace. Lorelei watched as her best friend dashed through the crowd of faerie, gathered in small groups gossiping over the latest news from the mortal realm. Goewin collapsed in front of Lorelei in a heap of giggles, bringing with her the salty fragrance of the sea. Lorelei smiled at her warmly, the rest of their friends gathered in closer towards Goewin.

"What is the latest? Are they meeting?"

"I can't believe it. Do you think the wolves and vampires will agree to peace? They have fought for centuries?"

"Lorelei, you always know so much. What is the history of the vampires and wolves anyway?"

Lorelei held her hands up in surrender against the barrage of questions that were launched around her. She met Goewin's watery eyes, luminescent with her curiosity. "They agreed to meet, Lorelei. What happened to start the war anyway?"

With a resigned sigh, she swept the sleek fall of coppery hair over her pale shoulder and leant towards her selkie friends, revelling in their riveted attention upon her. "Let me tell you a story. A story that began in the mortal year of 332 BC."

The acrid scent of fear only fuelled her in the chase. A wicked laugh bubbled out from her perfect lips. She heard the dead log break as her prey crashed to the ground. Her pace changed as she silently stalked her meal, the fresh smell of blood from skinned knees only served to entice her further. Fangs pushed through her gums and her venom throbbed within them.

Her head cocked to one side in an eagle-like manner as she approached the young human woman who lay huddled against a dead tree. Her toga was smeared with dirt from her fall, bits of leaf and tree matter clung to the silken tresses of her hair that escaped from its elegant style.

Bast found her eyes caught at the sight of blood as it began to well from the grazing, in sharp contrast with the olive tones of her shapely legs. Dropping to her knees, Bast crawled towards the trembling woman with feline grace. She pursed her lips with a "tut tut tut" planting a kiss lightly against one ankle bone.

"Your first mistake was to run." Another kiss was pressed against a trembling calf. "Your second mistake was that you stopped." Her tongue lay flat across the grazed knee, sweeping upwards with complete disregard for the woman's harsh intake of breath. Bast whimpered at the sweet taste of the fear infused blood.

Her fingers trailed delicately up the shapely leg. A lover’s touch teasing at the frightened woman. Bast felt her lips twitch as she scented the arousal.

"You like that do you?" she whispered against the woman's supple thigh as she brushed her lips against her with a light kiss. "You have no idea as to the pleasure I can give you." Ice cold fingers were pressed against warm dampness as Bast moved up to a rapidly beating heart. She rubbed her nose against the soft flesh of a full breast, fingers penetrating as swiftly as her fangs sank into the heaving globe. Bast groaned in delight at the blood that flooded into her mouth, enjoying the subtle fusion of fear and desire. The startled cries of her prey became breathless moans as Bast allowed her fingers to tease the clenching warmth around them. Her hand flooded with warm wetness as blood continued to flow across her tongue.

"Hang on a minute, Lorelei.” The nasal voice of Goewin's sister interrupted the magic of Lorelei's words. "If you're running for your life, scared to death at the hands of a vampire, why would you, well, you know..."

"Get turned on?" finished Goewin bluntly amidst the giggles of their friends.

Lorelei raised her eyes skyward as she drew in a deep breath. "Vampires have always been sensual creatures. It stems from when Queen Isis first begged for an eternity with her husband, Osiris. And you know what King Auberon is like.” Lorelei risked a sultry glance through her lashes across the great glen to rest upon the impressive form of their king. He, however, was too caught up in watching the scrying pool before him to notice her desirous glance. "Vampires have the ability to influence the desires of those around them." She finished as she turned back to her friends. "Now. Where was I?"

The tremor of fear racing along the mate bond had his wolf snarling uncontrollably. Without a word, he launched from his chamber in an explosion of fur. His beta's wolf was not far behind him.

Anger infused his blood and lengthened his stride as the blond projectile of rippling fur and muscle darted along the forest trail his dearest Roxana had taken only hours earlier.

The moonlight highlighted the manic look in his eye as pleasure seeped into the fear that still trembled along his connection to Roxana.

Rage filled him that anyone would dare touch that which was his.

The wind changed, and the smell of blood assaulted his nose, bringing with it the unmistakable scent of vampire. Almost impossibly his gait quickened as he rushed to reach his mate.

Fear filled his soul as he felt emptiness overtake him, all emotion leaving him as the unmistakable snapping of the bond occurred, like a tight rope held over a flame.

The blond wolf howled in agony as he felt the last tentative connection break, at the same moment he caught sight of her.

"Lorelei?" the whispered voice of Goewin was the one to break the spell this time. "Are you saying the woman the vampire Bast killed was the mate of a wolf?"

Biting back a groan, the Rhine Nymph smiled tightly. "Yes.” She bit the word out through clenched teeth.

"But you said she was human? How can that be?"

"Do you know nothing about wolves?" snapped Lorelei, the undercurrent of a Germanic accent colouring her words in her anger.

Goewin's eyes widened a little, she shook her head. "We never come across them in the oceans, Lorelei. They are a whisper of a fairy tale in the dark depths of the sea."

With a sigh, Lorelei nodded. "Well when the first wolves came to be - Romulus and Remus - they were the only wolves. Besides, of course, Lupa. The fates gave to Romulus and Remus, mates, soul mates. One pure heart to be a partner for life with them. But, of course, there were no other wolves with whom to find a soul mate. So, they were human. They accepted Romulus and Remus for what they were after all, the mate bond was strong. They were claimed by their wolves, and then on the first full moon of winter, these human mates shifted for the first time. In much, the same way as born wolves do when they are fifteen. Roxana had been claimed by her mate but had not yet shifted. She was essentially still human. Now, do you want to hear the rest of my story or not?"

The avid listeners silently nodded in enthusiastic consent, and once more Lorelei began her tale.

The drunken laughter of the pack was brought to an abrupt end when their alpha erupted into his wolf upon leaving the chamber. Instinctively, as beta, he followed suit. The pack bond hummed with the unknown wrong affecting their alpha. The only thing he believed able to affect the alpha so strongly would be his mate being in danger.

The shifting wind brought him the scent of vampire and blood, making his heart squeeze with the fear that the unthinkable could have happened.

Hearing the gut wrenching howl of his alpha made him run cold, pushing himself faster to catch up with him. Nothing could have prepared him for the horrific sight that met him.

Roxana lay sprawled upon the ground. Her clothing was torn from her shoulders and hitched about her waist. Her once beautiful olive skin now pale and bloodied. The scent of arousal hung heavy in the air, and he knew she had been violated. He shifted back to his human form, passing the frozen alpha wolf who stared in disbelief at the mutilated sight of his once beautiful mate. Carefully he repositioned the spread-eagled legs of his alpha female. Pulling her toga down to give her modesty in death.

Tears stung his eyes when he saw the distinctive bites peppered across her thighs and breasts. He did the best he could to cover her with the torn and bloodstained material, before raising a trembling hand to close her lids over sightless eyes. He watched in disbelief at the drop of water that landed on an untouched area of skin, feeling sorrow at the brutally of her death.

He turned to face his alpha. "Should I carry her home? Or would you prefer to take her?"

Silently the blond wolf shifted back to the stocky warrior, tears fell unashamedly down his clean-shaven face. He haltingly moved towards his lost lover, falling to his knees beside her. He pressed a tear-soaked kiss to her ruffled hair as he slipped his arms under her knees and around her shoulders.

It was a long mournful walk, which returned them to the pack home. As they left the tree line and approached the compound, the pack met them. A myriad of wolves standing in ranks of military precision. One after the other they raised their heads a long mournful cry offered to the moon as they honoured their dead alpha female.

A sharp gasp interrupted Lorelei. Biting back a German curse, she fixed an irritated look upon the youngest of the group. "What now?" she snapped.

The little blonde gulped but pressed on with her queries anyway. "If Roxana was an alpha female why was she alone in the forest anyway? Why did she not have guards with her? Especially if there were vampires in the area."

Lorelei cracked her neck before she responded. "They never expected a threat from the vampires. They were friends back then, remember. It was a different time. They never had the same restrictions upon their females the way they do now. Although, I wouldn't be surprised if the very practice of having guards constantly with their alpha females stemmed from this tragic event. May I continue?"

With great care, Roxana was laid down upon her bed. The rage of his wolf gnawed through the shock and grief at the unexpected death of his mate. His face tightened, the fire of vengeance flashing in his blue and brown eyes. He would hunt down and destroy the very creature that dared to violate his precious mate.

Standing, he ran his eyes over the broken body of his beautiful Roxana, his resolve strengthening. With a brief nod to his mother, he stormed from the chamber.

While he planned war, his mother planned a funeral.

Sweeping into the banquet hall, he was proud to find his warriors preparing for battle. Each wolf was honing finely crafted swords, and tipping arrows in molten silver. Every wolf silent in their mutual grief and new hatred towards vampires.

Roxana had been much loved by all.

One by one they lifted their heads and looked at their alpha, steely determination filled their eyes.

His eyes narrowed, and hardness filled them, with one slow movement he nodded his head.

The hall rang with the metallic ring of swords being sheathed before the pounding of the Macedonian army of Alexander III marched out towards the stronghold of Gaza to make war against the vampires.

At the sound of an indrawn breath, Lorelei snapped her hazel eyes towards Goewin. "It is still the same night that she was killed. And yes, it was Alexander the Great."

The other woman coloured a little, inclining her head towards the increasingly frustrated narrator. Once more the magic weaving of her storytelling began.

Bast was in need of her Beloved. The thrill she felt as she fed on desire infused blood left her with a sexual tension only Imothep could sate. It was why she usually fed with him, their feeding always led to a frenzy of lovemaking which only improved with every passing century.

She hadn’t intended to hunt without him this night, in fact, she held every intention of bringing home a whore or two for them to share. Life was so much simpler when she was simply a goddess, adored and worshipped. In those days she just sat upon a throne, and her priests brought to her beautiful young women as offerings to her high power. A smile traced across her face as she remembered the blood-fuelled passion she shared with her husband.

She quickened her step in the hope of catching him in their private chambers. The council were growing more conservative with every passing millennium, there was a time when she could make love to Imothep whenever and wherever she liked. Now unless there was a special occasion to be celebrated they frowned upon public sex.

Bast lost her smile as she recalled Isis’ chastisement of her as she had grown bored during a meeting and taken Imothep into her mouth to amuse herself.

Reaching their quarters, she was happy to find her husband still inside, slipping quietly through the door she stalked him to where he was sitting transcribing a scroll.

Sniffing her fingers, she was pleased to find the woman's scent still on them, with a seductive smirk she placed her hands on Imothep's face, splaying her fingers across his nose. He stiffened under her touch before setting down his writing tool and darting his tongue across her fingers.

Bast shivered in delight, a giggle passed her lips. He growled lowly, and her sex grew damp. "You had fun without me. I am hurt, my Beloved."

He pushed his stool back from the desk he sat at, and she slipped around to sit in his lap. "She was so young and fresh. She was ripe for my touch. You know my nature, husband. How was I to resist?" She nibbled at his ear before circling her glyph on his neck with her tongue. "I will bring you a gift after your meeting and take great pleasure in watching you have your fun.” He shuddered as her hand slipped aside his loin cloth, wrapping around his hardening manhood. "But right now, my love I don’t just want you. I need you."

Imothep growled as he took her mouth with his own, his tongue tasting the lingering hint of blood upon her lips. In a clattering of furniture, she pushed him to the ground, her aggressive nature made known in the roughness of her lovemaking.

"Gross! How do you know what they got up to? Are you a perve up on that rock of yours, Lorelei? Do you like to watch lovers get it on with each other?"

This interruption elicited an angry snarl from Lorelei. "I don't know why I bother to tell you lot anything! How dare you insult me. I was trying to impress upon you the very nature of Bast and her relationship with her own soul mate. It does have a point to the history!"

"Sorry.” The word was spoken quietly from a timid voice. "Please continue."

Isis rolled her eyes as yet again Seth and Anubis began to argue. Chairs went flying as they both stood up ready to start throwing punches. The doors of the chamber burst open, stopping the inevitable fight. "My Queen, my King. The wolves, they are on the war path, they have stormed through all the outlying settlements between their own compound and Gaza. They will be here shortly."

Osiris stood, rage vibrating along every fibre of his being, trembling through the bond he shared with his beloved Isis. "Thank you, Batis. Lock down the fortress and ready the troops. We will hold until we can establish the meaning of this outrageous behaviour."

Batis bowed before his King and Queen, exiting the chamber once more, shouting orders to the human warriors as he went. The sound of men at arms rallying to his call permeated into the hall as the council shared varying looks of outrage and concern.

"What reason does Alexander have for making war upon us?" Sekhmet's voice trembled with outrage.

"I'll tell you why!" snarled Seth, "the greedy little upstart is not happy with his occupation of Syria and Persia. He intends to extend his empire into our own lands as well. I for-see the little bastard won't be happy until he's conquered the world."

"But something must have happened for him to march upon us. He was happy as a guest of Egypt. He dined with us just last week, and there was peace between us. I have not heard any whispers of war before now.” Hathor's face reflected the bewilderment, infusing her words.

"And before anyone interrupts me” snapped Lorelei, “let me clarify. Isis and Osiris are not the ruling monarchs of Egypt. They are the queen and king of the vampires. They are not located in the capital city, but in Gaza, and they have human soldiers who offer protection during the daylight hours. It is with them Alexander wants to make war. It was an unexpected bonus for him that the rest of Egypt fell under his rule after his rampage of retribution."

Bast walked back towards Gaza, her arm entwined with the young whore she had enchanted as a gift for her beloved husband. She was giddy at the thought of how he would find her ready and waiting for him when he returned from the boredom of the council meeting. She had long since refused to attend the boring meetings since she had been denied her fun.

The trembling of the ground under her feet had her stopping and turning. The scent of wolf hung upon the air. Had she forgotten another meeting of wolf and vampire?

Shrugging an elegant shoulder, she turned once more, continuing her progress towards Gaza. The sight of the great gates locked down bewildered her. Maybe it was a military drill. The ways of the human soldier's that protected the Vampire Council during the daylight hours were beyond her comprehension.

Abruptly the whore was pulled from her grasp, Bast spun around, dropping into a defensive crouch, fangs instantly descending as she hissed. The young woman silently stumbled away with the muscled young man who towed her behind him, her enchantment still holding.

Circling around her were several large well-defined men, their scent distinctly wolf. Each wolf held an aggressive look upon their faces, eyes narrowed, and lips curled as low growls rumbled from deep within.

Bast stood straight, silencing her hiss despite the twitch that still pulled at her mouth as she left her fangs out. "What is the meaning of this outrage?"

A stocky blond wolf stepped forward, hatred painting an ugly façade upon his features. Bast found herself captivated by his eyes; one blue, one brown. Watching him carefully as he approached, confidence stamped in his every stride, until he was shoulder to shoulder with her. He leant in towards her, taking in a deep breath as he teased her scent through his nose. His eyes narrowed, and his hand snapped out to grasp her wrist. The tightness of his grip would have punished a lesser being. He dragged her hand up and pushed his nose into the palm of her hand. His eyes widened briefly. Before Bast could react, his hand snapped out and cracked her across the cheek. Bast reeled under the force of his blow, stumbling back away from him before she recovered.

Hissing she made to move against him, but a white-hot bolt of pain lanced through her body as silver sizzled through her system. Bast stood frozen as the arrow severed through her spinal cord.

The wolf stalked towards her, grabbing his hand around her chin, his fingers digging into her fine marble cheek. "You will pay for what you did to my mate! You violated my darling Roxana, and so now I have violated your body with the penetration of silver."

Bast snarled at him. "So, this evening's little moaner was your bitch?"

The blond wolf's eyes flashed as his wolf pushed to the surface. She felt herself being thrown to the ground, pain speared through her centre as the arrow was pushed deeper into her body. For the first time in her immortal life, fear pulsated through her body. The vision of a drooling snarling wolf filled her limited sight as she felt teeth lock down around each wrist and ankle.

She closed her eyes and thought of her dearest Imothep, sending every measure of love she had for him along their bond. She locked down her jaw, biting down on the scream threatening to burst out of her mouth as her immortal body was torn asunder.

"Oh, my word! Lorelei! How did he know it was her? How?" Goewin's hand grasped for Lorelei, she was enraptured with her words and struggled to comprehend the brutality of Alexander's revenge.

"He is a wolf, my friend. He knew the scent of the vampire that lingered on the ground and over his mate's body. Her scent still lingered upon Bast's hand. Stronger for him because it was his mate. All of this happened so swiftly. But the heartache did not end with the death of Bast. Her mate, her beloved, Imothep. He had to deal with the loss of his wife after nearly four thousand years together."

Dread thrummed through him, like the vibrations of a lute string being plucked. He experienced a flood of fear, not felt since the day Bast revealed her true nature to him and turned him into a vampire. Imothep closed his eyes and swallowed hard, his hands fisted upon his thigh as he struggled to control the mortal fear for his life. He tried to centre his being, to follow the vibrations of emotion to their source.

Pure love washed over him, soothing him from the fear. As it did the source of his emotion revealed itself to him.


He felt himself shatter, breaking into a million tiny pieces as the centre of his soul was destroyed. The bond he shared with his beloved Bast was shattered. His neck began to burn with a torturous fire at the location of Bast's glyph, marking him as hers. Collapsing to the ground, he cried out in agony and disbelief, hand clutching at his neck, trying to grasp at the very mark, which symbolised his love as it burnt away from existence. It was as though every possible trace of Bast's life was being wiped out as the vampire he loved more than anything in the world ceased to exist.

As the burnished amber sky faded into the darkness of night, Nyx stirred from inside her cocoon of royal purple sheets. The same dark fabric hung in clusters around the bed and over her cold body like a glorious shroud. The room, furnished with dark ebony wood, carved in the ancient Greek style created a dark but opulent effect. Although Nyx didn't consider herself to be egocentric, she found the numerous paintings adorning the room reflected herself, with their depictions of her life's efforts as they truly were, rather than warped into the Greek myths and legends. Of course, her enjoyment of the art was more a result of appreciating the creativity of the artist's nature than the destruction, which came from being a vampire. Being unable to escape the accountability that comes from bringing about death in one form or another that all vampires fail to escape, Nyx preferred to admire the muses for their exceptional efforts in artistic prowess.

Disentangling herself from the sheets, Nyx crossed to the window, drawing away the heavy blackout curtains that protected her from the daylight while she slept, and threw the windows wide open. The cold night air freshened the room as it rushed in. The full moon already rising above the horizon, highlighted the snow kissed landscape, and although the chill of the night had little effect on her vampiric form, she contemplated dressing rather than wasting time standing in the window like a nude Grecian statue. Soon she was dressed in grey ripped jeans, black heels and a white off the shoulder top. A grey greatcoat completed the ensemble, a minimalist look, which suited her mood. Pulling her white hair into a braided bun, allowing wisps to frame her face, she considered dropping out of the window to escape the mansion early. The sound of footsteps heading down the corridor towards her room, halted her flight.

Resuming her previous stance at the window she didn't flinch as the door was thrown wide. Instead she kept her gaze on the rising moon. As usual, she was not in the mood for idle chatter, wanting to enjoy the night, wandering the streets, finding young and ripe men to tease until she slaked her thirst with the addictive flavour of desire infused blood. It was a sport for her, finding the right target, luring them away from prying eyes and feeding until they fainted. She was never remembered as she would slip them safely into a warm bar or club until they revived. Although the increase in electronic recording devices, made the game harder to accomplish unseen, it was still a far better time than whatever Hermes and Aries, now standing in her doorway had in mind.

With a nonchalance she didn't really feel, Nyx turned to face the messenger and the brute. Aries with his tousled brown hair made her want to shove his eyes down his throat rather than have them rake across her body as they were now. Everyone knew about his ongoing affair with Aphrodite, it was speculated to be the cause of Hephaestus disappearing from Olympus when they relocated to Canada. It was the crumbling of the faith in the gods that made the Olympians transfer to British Columbia to enjoy the longer nights. It was unlikely that Aries was here to harass Nyx, particularly since Hermes was also here, but it was easier to keep a blank expression focused on the messenger than it was the warrior.

“Nyx,” Hermes paused to catch a breath at the back of his nose, an annoying habit of his considering his lack of need to breathe. “Our Lord Zeus desires a word with you. If you would be so kind as to follow me, we shall escort you there.”

Nyx smirked, they couldn't fool her. “I see. Since we both know that I have no need for protection, I can only conclude that Aries’ presence is to ensure I comply with this order.”

“Madam, please.” Hermes’ smirk was chilling. “It is a request, an obligation if you will, that you attend our Lord Zeus as requested.” Despite his small stature next to Aries, Nyx knew well how cunning a man Hermes was. It seemed he traded on his position as 'messenger' to ignore many of the rules and was rarely in the dark on any important matters. Truly, Nyx couldn't care less about the politics of the ruling Olympians, nor their rivalry with their Egyptian counterparts, the Vampire Council. It was well known to all Greek vampires, that Zeus, Hades and Poseidon hated the ruling power of the Vampire Council, particularly since their power centred more upon a diplomatic approach; a power not found amongst the – what was biasedly believed to be ­– more efficient and dominant Olympians.

Deciding to play along with Hermes’ game, Nyx crossed her room at a leisurely pace, bordering on insolence and, stepping past her escorts, proceeded down the hallway. Hermes apparently thought it was his place to lead the way because he dashed in front of her as they proceeded towards the master suite. Anyone would be forgiven for believing they were walking through a mansion in Greece. Hera insisted on having every single alcove, corner and hallway decorated with more than enough urns, plants, and pottery, to stock a Grecian souvenir business. Surprisingly, the three never passed another vampire on route to the master suite, although movement could be heard through the slightly ajar door of Hades’ suite. Nyx assumed that Dionysus was throwing another pool party in the lower levels of the mansion.

When Hermes entered the main suite without knocking, Nyx felt a tremor of concern, that perhaps this was a matter of some importance to be waiting specifically for her. The opulence of the room never failed to dazzle Nyx. Hera had no qualms at showcasing their status to the rest of the Olympians with vast amounts of gold, or the full ceiling painting depicting the glory days of Olympus.

Zeus was sitting behind his desk and, considering Hades was hanging like a shadow to his left, Nyx was surprised to notice Poseidon was missing. You either saw one brother on his own or all three together. Of course, neither brother reflected the perception of what the Greek gods were expected to look like. Togas had long been replaced with smart business suits, although Hades revealed his dark nature with his black Armani suit, and black shirt, Zeus opposed him in cream suit and embroidered waistcoat.

Knowing she needed to tread carefully, Nyx bowed her head in respect towards Zeus. “My Lord Zeus, I am here at your request.” Lifting her head to catch the disgruntled look of Hades at her ignorance of him, she inclined her head towards him, “Hades.” His dark purple eyes, boring into hers, mirrored her own since the night he caught her. She was no longer the raven haired, green-eyed human beauty. Instead she was a cold as ice vampire, hair as white as snow with the purple eyed mutation only ever found in Hades. The wicked sense of delight she read in his eyes prompted a shiver of unease to creep across her skin.

Her attention was brought back to Zeus as he rose from his desk, his immense warrior stature making her feel even smaller. “Nyx. We have been waiting for you. The matter is somewhat delicate, but I have just been assuring Hades, you'll be more than cooperative with us.” He moved around his desk, stopping to lean against the polished walnut surface, a look of nonchalance Nyx knew wasn't reflected internally. “You see, Nyx, we have a problem.”

“My Lord, if there is a problem, I will not hesitate to go out and put an end to it, if that is what you wish.”

Hades’ laughter brought my gaze towards him once more. “Nyx, my sweet, surely you do not think we would hold an audience for you about a matter so trivial, any warrior could deal with it. Our problem, though still one I believe I can handle on my own, is you.”

Despite maintaining a mask of indifference on her face, her eyes almost twitched in shock. “My Lord?” she directed towards Zeus.

When Zeus responded his voice was devoid of all emotion, he might have been discussing business in the boardroom for the lack of warmth in his tone. “Nyx, you're not happy. You go out night after night alone, as has been your way for many years. You do not engage with any of the other gods to find your satisfaction. Nyx, I do not like your isolation from us. I fear the next time you visit me of your own accord you will ask me to end your immortal life. After all, you are one of the few who did not choose the change, to become a goddess of the night.”

Nyx held back a laugh of disbelief. She may not be a sociable vampire by the Greeks’ standards, but she certainly had no desire to end her life, she was not that bored yet. “My Lord, I can assure you, I have far too much to live for–”

“Nyx,” Zeus interrupted, “I have seen many vampires come and go. I have noticed the pattern that you, in your isolation, have not. You do not foresee the path the seclusion you embrace will take you on. Believe me, I know it is only a matter of time before you ask for eternal rest. As your sire, Hades is equally concerned.”

Nyx shot her gaze towards Hades, knowing full well that he held no concern for anyone's welfare, let alone her own. Even now a trace of disgust could be seen in his unnatural eyes.

“Nyx.” Zeus pulled her attention back once more, “you will marry Eros, and he will revive your immortal life, drawing you once more out of your isolation.”

As if an invisible hand had slapped her, Nyx stumbled backwards with the force of his words. “My Lord? Surely you cannot believe I will consent to this? I only wish to wait for and marry my beloved. I cannot in good conscience marry anyone other than my beloved.”

“It is already arranged, Nyx. You will not test my authority. You have had plenty of time to find your beloved, yet you hide away in your quarters or skulk off to town. I will not be swayed on this matter. I have decided this is the best course of action to ensure your protection.”

Forgetting all sense of decorum and to whom she was speaking, Nyx snarled back. “Test your authority? I have bowed to every one of your rulings, living as you dictated. Surely my desire to wait for my beloved is not so hard to accept, nor can be viewed as a usurpation of your authority? Was I mistaken to believe you to be a kind and generous leader? You only mask your calculated actions with words of care. You think I am ignorant to the lengths you and your brothers will go to in order to supplant the Vampire Council? You oppose them in any way you can, even down to forbidding us to feed on anything but the source. You are only afraid that I shall leave and disappear as did Hephaestus, and that would encourage other lower level Olympians to leave. Do you really think I would leave, defect to the Vampire Council? After all these centuries, the Olympians are my family, and I would remain gladly, waiting for my beloved. I will help against any threat made against us by the Vampire Council.”

Nyx's demeanour calmed as she spoke, Zeus smiled briefly at her. “Oh, Nyx. If you want to help me, then you will do as you are told. You will marry Eros, you will be protected by him through your marriage. After all, you should know I cannot allow for the Vampire Council to get their hands on you. A divided allegiance would mean a war over you. You, after all, have a gift.”

Nyx raised her eyebrows in disbelief, surely, he didn't mean her eyes. “You mean my eyes? It is hardly a gift compared with Hades’ own power. I must remain in direct contact with a vampire to control them with suggestion, and you know as well as I, it only works on weaker vampires, and not strong ones such as yourself. Surely you cannot be suggesting that by marrying me off to Eros, you will be protecting yourselves from me falling into the clutches of the Vampire Council. Are you suggesting my beloved would not be a Greek?”

Hades’ laughter only increased Nyx's desire to hit him, his part in this was confusing to her, as she thought perhaps he was seeking revenge against her for rejecting his attentions when he turned her so long ago. “What is wrong with Eros, Nyx? You have never met the man, and yet you have decided he is not sufficient for you? Surely the god of love and attraction, a handsome man who knows just how to handle a woman's pleasure would be a perfect husband for any female. We do you a great honour by giving you to him.”

Zeus saw her sneer of derision. “Hades, enough. She will not bend against my will. She will marry Eros, and that is final. Confine her to the prison until Eros arrives. He looks forward to meeting you, Nyx. Mark my words, I will not allow your power to be used against us.”

In those words, Nyx knew, Zeus was a vampire, mad for a power greater than his own, willing to sacrifice the happiness of her to keep his position in the vampire world. Boiling with rage, she spat out, “I despise you both. I will never use my power for you, just as I will never marry Eros. You cannot control me.”

At that moment Aries burst into the room, Athena by his side, both grabbed for Nyx at once. Despite fighting back and landing a blow or two on each of the warrior vampires, Nyx, no fighter herself was quickly restrained and gagged before being dragged down the empty halls towards the basement cells. Without her bindings being removed she was thrown into the cell and the door locked.

Aries lingered after Athena left, his sneer when he raked his eyes over Nyx, chilling her to the bone. “I shall return to teach you a lesson for hitting me. No sense in letting Eros have all the fun breaking you. Perhaps I will get you to do what Hades couldn't—to respect your station, stop you being so proud.” With one last sickening leer, he walked away down the hall.

Melody sat with her sister and friends. There was a lot of people in the large tent, all laughing and joking as they danced with much enthusiasm to the rhythmic strains of live music being played by the popular country duo, Brooks and Dunn.

The male wolves of the Romulus pack sat with them at the large table tucked away at the back of the entertainment area. The kind and respectful manner in which they treated the young she-wolves did much to set them at ease following the eventful afternoon.

A buzz of excitement quickly swept across the table, beside her, Angel grabbed the shoulder of the wolf she was sitting next to, he turned to her his eyes alight with excitement. "What's happened?" Angel's voice was curious yet cracked a little as the hazel-eyed wolf bestowed on her a breath-taking smile.

"Livia has killed Amulius, and the Council of Alphas have agreed to peace talks with the Vampire Council."

Melody lost interest in what the older wolf was saying, her eyes catching sight of him when he entered the tent. He stopped, his eyes scanning the crowded place. When they locked onto hers, time appeared to stop. Melody heard nothing but the blood pounding through her body while her heart raced. The intensity of his gaze sent chills racing up her spine and she wanted to drown in his liquid blue eyes for an eternity.

Without conscious thought she found herself moving away from the table, ignorant of the calls of her friends as her core gravitated towards him. Pulled towards him like a comet caught in the magnetic power of the sun. Then she was in his arms, trapped in a heaven amongst the many dancing couples gyrating together on the dance floor. The music changed beat, and Melody found herself being spun around as he responded to the music, leading her though the steps of a dance she could not absorb, trapped as she was in his enchanting gaze.

Melody was held captivated by his bright smile, his perfect teeth, pearly white and sparkling in the electric lights set high in the tent, providing illumination for the merry dancers crowding the floor in a press of joyful laughter. His hands were warm, strong and calloused yet they felt heavenly engulfing her hand. The music came to an end and the throng stopped to clap and cheer for the duo on the stage. Melody came to a standstill, yet Rance's hands lingered at her waist and hand. No words were spoken between them, yet it felt to Melody that a million things were being shared.


Another well-dressed man appeared from the crowds, he clapped his hand upon Rance's shoulder, breaking the hypnotic trance between them. Melody pulled her hand from his, yet never strayed from his grasp at her waist. Rance turned to face the other man. "Hello, James. How you doing?"

"I'm well. Enjoying the rodeo to its fullest. Who is your lovely dance partner?" His gaze shifted from the tall man at her side to settle on her.

Melody felt a shiver of fear tremble along her spine as his eyes narrowed. Rance must have sensed her tremor as his hand increased the pressure on her hip in a comforting manner. "This is Melody, she arrived at Thunder Hollow, yesterday. Melody, this is James Hoskins. He is the principle for Eagle Downs Community School."

"Nice to meet you, Melody.” He offered her his hand, she stiffened a little, hesitating to take his hand with her own. It was warm and strong yet felt lifeless compared to the spine-tingling touch of Rance.

"Sir.” She spoke in little more than a whisper, dropping her head in a submissive gesture towards him. She missed the flicker of disapproval on the principle’s face when he observed the closeness of Rance's arm around her.

"Can I talk to you for a moment, Rance?" His voice was friendly, but Melody couldn't help the nervousness that turned her insides to water. Rance shifted and she felt almost bereft as his warmth dissipated. Assuming she was expected to leave, she stepped away from the two men, even though something inside her screamed at her to return to the security of the strong and silent presence of Rance. "I will likely see you at school on Monday morning, Melody.” James Hoskin’s voice reached her ears and she nodded rapidly in response recognising the dismissal in his words, she scooted through the dancers who had resumed dancing once more with the band's latest song.

Rance couldn't drag his eyes away from the retreating figure of the young woman. His mind was telling him his infatuation was wrong, but a stirring within him told him it was so right. The moment he had entered the entertainment tent he was aware of her presence. His eyes found her with startling ease and before he knew it she was in his arms. The rightness of her hand in his, her waist under his palm was unnerving to him.

"Rance!" The sound of his name was followed a sharp elbow to his ribs. He tore his gaze away from where Melody disappeared between the crush of gyrating bodies, to meet the questioning gaze of his childhood friend. "What is wrong with you, man? I said your name five times before you heard me. And even then, I think it was my elbow you heard before my voice."

Rance twisted his face in a wry grimace. What was wrong with him indeed? "Sorry, James. Come on. Let’s get a beer.” The two of them pushed their way through the press of bodies towards the long bar set up against one end of the large tent. Rance exhaled sharply in relief as the bartender approached straight away. "Two beers and a shot of Jack thanks."

He turned once more to see the raised brow of James over the order. "You'd better spill the beans, Rance. What's got your chaps in a twist?"

Rance rolled his eye at James' poor attempt at what he called 'cowboy humour' and gratefully knocked back the shot of Jack, placed before him. The burn of the whiskey as it hit the back of his throat did little to assuage his fascination with a certain little she-wolf.

He passed the second bottle of beer to his friend and gave him a moment’s consideration in his weighty gaze. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Let’s just say this rodeo has been one hell of a ride!" He clinked his bottle with James' before lifting it to his lips, taking a long deep pull of the light draught.

James gave him a confused look before taking a pull of his own beer. "This wouldn't have something to do with the young girl you were just dancing with? Why were you dancing with her anyway?"

"No!" His response was too quick and sharp, and James' brow lifted quickly. Rance cleared his throat. "Liv wasn't expecting the girls from the p... community to turn up so quickly. But they wanted to get away sooner rather than later. All the girls on the enrol list will be at school on Monday, I would imagine. And since I've been helping Liv a bit at Thunder Hollow I met some of the girls this morning. Melody wanted to dance, I was only being friendly and welcoming by dancing with her.” He took another long pull of his beer and hoped that would be the last of the conversation. He wasn't so lucky.

"How old is she, Rance? Fifteen?"

Rance lifted a brow and shot back in a defensive tone. "Seventeen. What's your point?"

"She's one of my students, Rance.” He spoke quietly, but his words were heavy with meaning.

Rance let a resigned breath blow through his nose. "I know. I enrolled her with you remember.” The subject was dropped while both men finished their beers in silence. James lifted a hand to signal to the bartender to bring another round over.

Livvie felt as though a weight had been lifted off her shoulders as she watched each alpha shake hands with every member of the Vampire Council. Despite the tense start, the conversation around the table steered smoothly towards peace. She watched with interest as White of Virginia, the last of the alphas to come to agreement finally consented to shake Osiris' hand. The frozen emotionless mask slipped back into place once more upon the blond wolf’s features. He made his way along the line of vampires, shaking the hand of each one, pausing when he stood in front of Darius at her side. He looked at his hand and Livvie could see the flash of jealousy stirring within his eyes. Lupa paced within her mind at his insulting ignorance of her mate. An almost silent growl rumbled from within her, and as though hearing her disapproval, the alpha lifted his hand, grudgingly placing it in Darius'.

He dropped it as fast as one would a red-hot poker and stepped quickly in front of Livvie. He smiled at her, a strange light twinkling in his eyes. He placed his palm against hers, his fingers wrapping around her hand and, instead of the customary shake, he lifted her hand to his lips bending his head towards it. His lips brushed across the back of her hand, and Livvie felt her stomach twist at the fire burning across her skin. Beside her Darius stiffened, and she felt his vampiric nature stir. Livvie yanked her hand away from his unwanted attentions, and he straightened up, his eyes locking on hers in challenge.

"I hope you will still honour me with a dance, my dear. I really would like to make amends for my inappropriate comments earlier."

The sound of Julio growling under his breath behind her shoulder, drew his eyes away from hers. "Your behaviour now is more inappropriate than any comments you made earlier. You should know better than to try and lay your scent on a mated female."

White straightened, his eyes flicked dismissively towards Darius before landing once more up upon Livvie. "Forgive me. I forget myself."

"I shall forgive you on this occasion. But make no mistakes. If you step out of line once more, I shall teach you the meaning of the word 'respect'."

White's eyes narrowed for a moment before inclining his head in acknowledgement and stepping away. An awkward silence fell upon the bar. Livvie felt Lupa recede once more from the front of her mind, and she turned to Darius, stepping into his welcome embrace. Burying her nose into his chest she inhaled his calming scent. The feel of his hands rubbing teasing patterns on her lower back stirred her passion for him once more.

His fingers snagged into her shirt and he laughed a little, the sound causing shivers to chase down her spine. "I hope you have a change of shirt in Rance's truck, Liv. You can't exactly go to the dance with this shirt on. You will cause no end of questions."

Livvie moved out of his embrace and looked down at her shirt. There were blood stains on the front and the fringe was half hanging off. A wry grin tugged at her mouth as she looked back at Darius, for the first time taking in the ill fit of his jeans. "I could say the same of your own state of dress, my love. But no matter. It is a small thing.” Her smile took on a wicked gleam as she stepped back away from him.

"Ow!" Julio's voice echoed through her ear as the cuban heel of her cowboy boot settled on his bare toe. Laughter erupted around the bar as Livvie jumped away, spinning as she did to look down and see her brother’s bare feet.

"What happened to your boots?" her voice was incredulous.

Isia's laughing voice was full of mirth as she replied. "You should have seen him, Liv! It wasn't exactly the time to laugh then, but he was struggling to pull his jeans off when Brutus launched himself at Julio intent on ripping his throat out. Julio just grabbed the wolf and threw him away from him before he stood, stepped out of his jeans and shifted with his boots still on. Someone's going to find the shredded footwear later and think 'what the hell’?"

Julio reddened a little before he straightened up. "I was trying to stay alive and protect my mate at the time. The bastard wasn't going to wait for me to pull them off. I'm lucky I had time to even strip off my clothes!"

Cato's growling voice turned the attention towards him, "You stripped in front of my mate?"

Julio groaned, and Isia laughed as she slipped into Cato's arms, her fingers soft on his cheek as she pulled his furious glare away from Julio. "Darling! Relax. It's not like I haven't seen a naked man before. Besides, seeing Julio's assets just confirms just how lucky I am that the fates saw fit to make you my mate."

"Hey!" shouted Julio indignantly.

Cato relaxed into Isia's arms and proceeded to kiss her thoroughly.

Julio continued to grumble to any that would listen, "There's nothing wrong with my assets!"

Livvie shook her head as she placed a hand on her brother’s shoulder. "I'll bring you a pair of boots. You look like you have the same size feet as Nate did.” A shudder ran through her as her mind followed the path of Isia's words and the old saying that went hand in hand with men and the size of their feet. Darius laughed as he caught the gist of her thoughts.

"What?" asked Julio as Livvie faded from sight.

Darius ignored the startled exclamations at Livvie's disappearance and instead answered Julio. "Liv, simply didn't want to follow Isia's train of thought about your assets when she thought about your feet being the same size as Nate's!"

Julio coloured yet again. "Yes well. I wouldn't want my own sister considering that either."

Darius laughed again as he heard Justin's voice call out. "Would anybody care to explain what the hell just happened? Where did Livia go?"

"My guess would be back to Thunder Hollow for a change of clothes,” commented Numito. "And as to what just happened, well, that was the faerie in her. You saw the way Queen Mab arrived and left."

"So that's how she was back at Thunder Hollow before you returned from Arizona the other night?" Hathor's voice was full of curiosity as she asked the question plaguing her subconscious since she saw Livvie riding the bulls. The air shifted again and Livvie reappeared wearing clean jeans and a fresh shirt. In one hand she held a pair of worn yet well-kept cowboy boots, which she tossed to Julio, in the other she held a pair of jeans that she passed to Darius with a chaste kiss to his cheek.

He thanked her before disappearing behind the bar to change. Julio also sat with a grumbling thank you as he extracted a pair of rolled socks from the inside of one boot and proceeded to put them on.

Julio couldn't wait to get to the entertainment tent. His wolf was just as eager to reach Quintessa. He was going to take her in his arms, hold her tight and never let her go again. He broke away from the large group of alpha wolves and vampires who were heading towards the dance to celebrate their new peace treaty. Despite the crush of humanity and the overwhelming scent of tobacco, alcohol and sweat, Julio found his mate’s fragrance teasing at his nose when he stepped inside the hot tent. He moved towards her scent, ignoring the grabbing hands of a couple of drunken 'buckle bunnies' begging him to dance with them.

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