There, less than a hundred yards away waited the reason for his heart rate to suddenly increase.
There she was.
Lying near the water’s edge, her sparkling reddish-orange tail rested in the water. His eyes traveled upwards to her flat belly and then to her full, lush breasts. His mouth involuntarily started to water a bit as he stared at the chocolate-tipped mounds. She was breathtaking. With dark, wavy hair spread out around her on the sand, and the sound coming from her rosebud-shaped mouth, Jason seemed lost. Not a song, but a soulful sweet hum came from her lips drawing him in closer. Sad, but beautiful.
Jason inched forward again, and then the sound stopped.
Abruptly she sat up, her ebony hair whipping around as her attention focused on him. Her wide amethyst eyes pinned him in place as if the weight of the world held him there. They were at a standstill, of sorts. Him watching her, marveling at the wonder she was and her watching him as if he were the wonder between them. As if she were seeing him for the first time. Jason took a step towards her, but she moved faster. Crawling back into the water and away from him.
She was trying to get away from him.
Barely a whisper, but if she heard it, she didn’t slow her escape. Using her upper body, she propelled herself into the water, becoming one with the sea. If she left now, he was certain that he’d never see her again.
And that he wasn’t ready for.
Without another thought, Jason ran towards the water and dove in after her. His vision wasn’t the best without his glasses, but it didn’t matter. He had to go after her, or at least try. The waters enveloped him, as he prepared to dive down after her like he, too, was a creature of the sea. She was ahead of him, almost out of his eyesight if not for the shimmering of her tail that, like a beacon, drew him to her. He swam as fast and as hard as he could, but it didn’t matter. She was too fast for him to catch up.
And then an ocean current had him, pulling him out deeper to sea.
There, less than a hundred yards away waited the reason for his heart rate to suddenly increase.
Though she didn’t believe him, Jeff promised Sara he’d read to Trista tonight, taking no more than two hours reviewing surveillance. He worked his schedule to spend the first hour watching the Gatekeeper in real-time as he arrived, and the second hour emailing and speeding through the day’s feed.
The Gatekeeper came into view as Jeff’s doorbell rang. Jeff stepped out of his office and got to the door in time to see Sara peering through the peephole. She scowled at Jeff as she opened it, revealing Steven dressed in a Star Trek t-shirt, leather jacket, steel-toed boots, jeans, and a ridiculous purple bandanna around his neck.
Steven waved. “Hi, Sara.”
“Steven.” She glared at Jeff. “Two hours, Jeff, and not one minute more.”
Steven grinned and made a whip-cracking motion with widening eyes as Sara returned to the living room.
Yeah,” Jeff muttered, “I’m lucky I’m still in the house. Come on in. I’m watching the gatekeeper.”
“Sweet!” Steven followed Jeff back into the office, setting his backpack down and pulling up a stool while Jeff returned to his chair. They huddled around the television. “Man, we haven’t done this in a while.”
Jeff cracked a smile. “Yeah, it’s been months since we’ve had a good ole fashioned sit-down. Aren’t you supposed to be out cruising the wild?”
Steven shrugged while glancing about the office; empty wrappers and gadgets strewn about. “I was in the neighborhood. I’m still on my vacation time though, so I’ll be headed back out for parts unknown.”
Jeff nudged him. “You were feeling guilty.”
Steven tilted his head. “Yeah, maybe a little. But I was serious when I said that I needed some time away from all this s***. The open road is the open road, and I got an urge I need to satisfy.” Steven pumped his fists and rocked his hips.
Jeff laughed while tucking away some unpaid bills on his desk.
“I decided to go south to the Carolinas,” Steven continued. “Through Tennessee and Missouri, then Ohio and back here. Tomorrow I’ll head out north, possibly all the way to Canuck-land. Who knows? I’ll figure it out when I get there.”
“Meanwhile…” Jeff began.
“Meanwhile, you’re fightin’ the good fight,” Steven added in a southern accent while eyeing the television. The Gatekeeper lounged in a brown leather chair, watching the fire as he did every day. A small table stood to his immediate right and another leather chair on the other side. His black leather fedora rested on the middle table.
Forty minutes into the video, a young man approached the Gatekeeper. Jeff leaned forward, snatched a notepad and mini pen from his back pocket, and scribbled notes on the paper.
Steven scrutinized the unfolding scene. “Easy, killer, just watch.”
The young man tried to sit before jerking still. He stood back up.
“I wish we had audio,” Jeff muttered.
“Shhh, just watch.” Steven strained to read their lips. The camera angles shot out both ways from the fireplace, giving them the perfect view. The Gatekeeper and his new friend began a conversation. Then the young man grabbed hold of the fedora and set it on his head, tapping the edge.
“Holy s***,” Jeff said. “That’s the Gatekeeper’s hat. He either knows exactly what he’s doing, or he has a death wish.”
“Mmmhm, we’ll see.”
They knew what would happen after the Gatekeeper verified the Soulstealer’s identity. They had learned about the procedure back when a much stronger Solis America infiltrated the Raptor’s former headquarters in Boston. Still, they could only guess at what words the two exchanged. The Raptors guarded the secret with a foolproof method: memorization.
The young man sat in the chair, back erect, and continued their dialogue. He took the Gatekeeper’s hat off and returned it to the table, tapping it again. The newcomer said something else, prompting the Gatekeeper to snatch his fedora, stand, and stride toward the VIP section.
The young man made no motion to follow, which they knew wasn’t part of the procedure unless the exchange failed. When the Gatekeeper left the room, the young man exited the bar the way he came.
Steven frowned. “That’s different.”
“What just happened?” Jeff asked.
“Looks like a failed attempt.”
“Yeah, but the guy knew what to do.”
“Or he was just a dumb drunk. It’s probably the Raptors messing with us again.”
“How could they know we’re still watching them?”
Steven gave Jeff a long look. “Jeff, they’ve probably been in your house a dozen times this year alone. I’m pretty sure they know.”
Jeff drew back, his voice trembling. “That’s not funny, Steven. I have a little girl in this house.” His eyes darted around the room as paranoia enveloped him.
“C’mon Jeff, they’re the Raptors. They have dossiers on every one of us, down to what kind of ice cream we like. We’ve been playing Spy vs. Spy since we figured out they supported the Soulstealer.”
“Is that your new name for it, the Soulstealer?”
“Catchy, isn’t it? I came up with it on the ride back. Sounds a lot better than ‘Stealer of Souls,’ or ‘Dracula.’ And Satan.”
“Lasses, there’s plenty o’ me to go around.” Kin held his hands up and smiled.
The three succubi sank into each other on a sigh.
“Did you hear that voice?” Pink-hair said with a dreamy smile at her sisters.
The shorter, brunette female swayed towards her. “Did I? When was the last time we had a Scot?”
“Makes me ache just hearing it. Do you think he knows how to put it to good use? I could probably feed off him just talking to me!” The older of the three, a pretty button-nosed blonde, edged her hand towards him.
Kin grinned down at them, aware they were saying whatever it took to lure him under their spell and make him part with his coin, but enjoying it nonetheless. “I’m here on business, but perhaps I could be enticed to take a small break from my hunt… if you would be so inclined to help me.”
“Be so inclined?” Pink-hair swayed towards him now, hunger lighting her eyes. “Darling, I’ll do whatever you want if it will get you into my bed for the night.”
“Our bed,” Brunette snapped.
“Yes, our bed.” Blonde licked her lips.
All three of them sidled closer, crowding him as they gazed adoringly at him, as if he had just fallen out of Heaven or a dream. Their scents swirled around him, fogging his head a little, and he focused his mind, on his guard against them because he had no intention of parting with his coin or indulging these succubi in any way.
Mostly because he would probably end up parting with his life.
As strong as he was, he wasn’t sure he could handle three succubi feeding on him.
He drew down a breath as he tried to decide how to ask them about Hella and the fog in his head grew thicker as an intoxicating scent filled his lungs.
Like a blend of fresh rain on heather moorland faintly spiced with cinnamon.
Kin breathed deeper, unable to get enough of the scent, and his muscles clamped down on his bones as his blood heated. His wolf side lunged to the fore and his fangs lengthened, his claws emerging as hunger rolled through him, fiercer than he had ever felt it before.
It was a trick.
A power the succubi were wielding to pull him under their spell and into their bed.
Only when he bent his head to sniff their necks and scent them, it wasn’t any of them who smelled so enticing.
He groaned as his cock stiffened in response to the scent as it grew stronger and seemed to invade every cell in his body and hijack it. His head clouded more rapidly, thoughts blurring and fading to the background as instinct stole control. He desperately scanned the crowd on the promenade, seeking the source of the scent.
And froze when his gaze landed on a stunning, blue-haired lass with emerald eyes.
A chill skated down his spine and his shaft went hard as stone.
It was her.
She was the source of the scent.
She was his fated one.
He felt it in his bones. His soul. This female had been made for him, was meant for only him, and she would be his. He shoved the succubi aside, unaware of them now, the world narrowing down to the beautiful lass fate had created for him.
MacKinnon drifted towards her, powerless to resist her pull. The need to be close to her was strong and she hadn’t even noticed him yet. How desperate would he be to be near to her, pressed against her and holding her in his arms when she did see him? The urge to gather her to him was already overwhelming, his awareness of the world coming back as instinct growled that his female was parading down a busy street in a black dress that highlighted her figure.
Drawing the eyes of other males.
She stiffened, her body locking up tight.
Was she aware of him?
He tracked the path of her gaze as she tossed a look over her shoulder.
To a group of bare-chested nymphs.
Her panic hit him like a shockwave, rocking him back on his heels, and he growled and kicked off as the dozen blond males made their move, launching towards her. He wasn’t sure what his female had done to deserve the wrath of a witch or a pack of nymphs, and he didn’t care. Every fibre of his being howled at him to protect her and he would do just that. He charted an intercept course, shoving men and women aside, not caring where they landed as he locked his gaze on the two nymphs leading the charge.
He sensed the female move.
Felt her fear.
Instinct demanded he go to her, had him twisting on his heel and barrelling into two shifter males. The black-haired men went down hard and he leaped over them, ignoring their yells, his gaze wild as he sought the witch.
A larger nymph had her in his clutches and was holding her tightly despite her attempts to break free.
Kin snarled and gnashed his fangs when her fear cranked up a notch and he spotted the reason why.
The bastard had cuffed her.
The bright silver band of metal around her delicate wrist glinted in the sunlight as she desperately struggled.
Kin grabbed a female and pushed her out of his way, into a group of males, his heart hammering as the other nymphs reached Hella.
Her green eyes shone with terror as she looked up at the male who held her, one who towered as tall as Kin and probably weighed as much in muscle. Not that it was going to stop Kin from tearing the male a new one and teaching him the error of his ways.
No one touched his fated female.
Kin cocked his fist as he lunged towards the bastard, aiming at the back of his head, determined to knock his teeth out from behind.
He threw the punch as soon as he was close enough.
And hit nothing but air as the fiend teleported.
Taking his wee witch with him.
Goddess of the sea
Head of the Zephyr Maritime Administration.
Sirens and Leviathans is the second book in the Reign of Goddesses series.
C.D. Britt began her writing journey when her husband told her she needed to use her excessive imagination to write stories as opposed to creating a daily narrative for him. Ever since she penned her first words, life has been a lot more peaceful for him.
She currently resides in Texas where she has yet to adapt to the heat. Her husband thrives in it, so unfortunately they will not be relocating to colder climates anytime soon.
Their two young children would honestly complain either way.
When she is not in her writing cave (hiding from the sun), she enjoys ignoring the world as much as her children will allow with a good book, music, and vast amounts of coffee (until it’s time for wine).
C.D. Britt is the author of Shadows and Vines and the upcoming book, Sirens and Leviathans.
Both books are part of the Reign of Goddesses series.
How did she get herself into that position? In the home of a man that hated her, a man she struggled to stay away from. He had always been clear about his feelings, yet she felt pulled by an invisible magnetism every time she saw him.
Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, she thought to herself before she looked up at the mirror, the dark bags beneath her eyes heavy. The cut on her lip looked as well as it could, only slightly bruised with little to no swelling.
Frederick wanted her to be the perfect subordinate, not questioning his decisions as he used her for his dubious spellcasting. If she stayed she was confident she would become a shell of herself. But if she ran she risked worse.
Kyra let out a settled breath, lifting her skirt to check the cut though her black opaque tights. The fabric stuck to both the old and new blood, the tights intact apart from the ladder across her knee. The cut beneath looked nasty, wider than she remembered.
“Take off your skirt.”
Kyra jumped, having not heard Xander re-enter the bathroom. He wore a pair of jeans, the button undone to show the deep V of his hips.
No underwear, she thought. Great.
“You’re bleeding, so take off your skirt,” Xander repeated, opening the medical tin. When she remained exactly where she was he growled. “You want to do this the easy way, or the hard way?”
“Excuse me?” she snapped.
Xander leaned forward. “You can either willingly take off your skirt, or I’ll rip it off. Your choice, Princess.”
Kyra glowered, but exhaustion beat heavily against her. “You’re an arsehole.”
“So I’ve been told,” he drawled. “But at least I don’t pretend to be anyone I’m not.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“It means stop arguing and take the fucking skirt off so I can treat your leg.”