Cam kept close behind Andrasta as they walked through the crowded bar, glaring at a couple of lobisomems who leered at her. Satisfaction kicked up the corner of his mouth when they turned and slunk away. Damn dogs.
But as soon as he looked at Andrasta's back, he felt the grin slide from his face. His heart thudded too hard, an unfamiliar pounding against his ribs. Damn it. It was a sensation he hadn’t recognized when he’d first met her two thousand years ago. He’d been cold and emotionless, as a Celtic god should be. Until he’d seen her.
He tried to keep his eyes on the back of her head and off the curve of her waist and hips, which rolled with an unusual kind of grace despite the bow and quiver of arrows strapped to her back.
She wasn’t dressed well for the sweltering heat of the jungle. Though her leather breastplate left her strong shoulders and arms bare, the raw leather pants that molded to her enticingly curved ass would be stifling. He tried to keep his eyes off that as well. He hadn’t seen her in millennia, and he sure as hell had never seen her in clothes like this.
They reached the rickety door and he followed her out into the sticky heat, sucking in air so humid he nearly drowned. The lonely bar sat in the middle of nowhere, the jungle pressed against its back. A small village inhabited by Mytheans was located a bit deeper in the jungle. Magic hid both from mortal eyes.
Once the door swung closed, the light dropped to almost nothing, the only illumination provided by a sliver of moon hanging over the edge of the jungle canopy. Monkeys and insects screeched in the night, vying to be the loudest in the forest.
Cam was on Andrasta in seconds, gripping her firm biceps and swinging her around to press her against the wall of the bar. She gasped, and he had to stifle his own. Electricity shot up his arms where he touched her, a stronger version of what he’d felt when he’d first looked up and seen her standing across from him.
Damn it. It pissed him the fuck off.
“You have one more chance.” He bit out the words through clenched teeth. “How did you find me?”
He’d been wearing a cloaking charm for the last two thousand years, ever since he’d left Otherworld; it should have kept him hidden from her eyes and those of the other gods. It was a huge problem if the gods could find him. The kind of problem that would end up with him dead.
“I don’t know.” She wriggled against him. She was strong, but her struggles only pushed them together, her curves and muscles straining against him. Something dark within him surged, and he nearly groaned at the contact.
Fuck. He hadn’t felt anything this powerful since he’d spent that time with her two thousand years ago. Hell, he’d forgotten it was possible to feel something so strongly.
“Settle down,” he muttered, trying to ignore the erection hardening against the front of his pants. If she could find him, then the other gods could. And if she didn’t stop her damn struggling, he’d get distracted and he’d run out of time—time he desperately needed to figure out what the hell was going on and then to get out of here.
“Do the other gods know I survived?” he asked.
Though she was cloaked in shadows, he caught glimpses of her full lips and the shine of her honey-colored hair. Focus.
“Yes.” Her green eyes widened and she stilled, seeming to realize he’d grown fully hard against her, his cock pressing achingly into the softness of her stomach.
What was it about her that did this to him? He was thousands of fucking years old, he should be able to control himself. She made the idea laughable. But damn, she smelled good. Like the forest: cedar and pine and green leaves. Strange, and not particularly feminine. But so like her that he couldn’t get enough of it. It threatened to drag his mind back into the past, to when they’d first met. He resisted inhaling too deeply, deciding it was better to breathe through his mouth instead. Better yet, he released her and stepped back, inhaling deeply of the jungle air to try to clear his head.
“Do they know where I am?” Though he could take on a few of the gods at a time, if they all rose up against him, he was fucked. While the rules that kept Otherworld functioning had prohibited them from killing him when he was a fellow god, as a demi-god he was fair game.
“Not yet, but if you don’t help me, I’ll see to it that they do.”
“Threatening me, are you? We’ll see about that. How did you find me?”
“I had a vision of you. Here, with a bow.” She nodded to the bar. “Smaller than the one you once used.”
“Fuck.” He never should have picked up the bow yesterday, but it had been so long since he’d held one that he couldn’t resist. He hadn’t even shot the fucking thing, but his lapse in judgment had been enough. One of the conditions of his cloaking charm was that he stay away from the things that were most closely associated with his time as a god. He’d learned the tip from a witch—not the one who’d given him the charm, gods damn her—and thank fuck he had. Apparently it had been excellent advice, as just picking up a bow had put him on their radar again.
Sloppy. He was getting sloppy after so many years on earth.
“I think I sensed you first because I sent you here,” Ana said
It made sense. Taking someone’s life, sending their soul elsewhere, was a powerful thing. It linked them. But it’d only be a matter of time before the other gods found him. He had to get his cloaking charm renewed before they did.
“Help me find a way out of Otherworld.” Desperation was thick in her voice. “Permanently. I renounce my godship. I need your help.”
She needed him. How the hell was he supposed to ignore that? Their past was fucking complicated, but part of him felt like he owed her. “You can’t renounce your godship.”
“But there has to be a way out. You found one, and I want it too.”
“I can’t do that. I don’t have that power.”
Ana groaned and nearly stomped her foot. She couldn’t take no for an answer, not after so much time spent searching and dreaming of a way to have a real life. If the other gods found them before she could convince Cam to help her regain her humanity, she’d be forced back to Otherworld. Failure meant a fate she’d happily trade for death if she could.
“Someone has that power, and you know who it is. Take me to them,” she demanded.
“Or what?” His voice froze with a deadly cold.
“Or I’ll tell the other gods where you are. I meant it when I said it. I’ve got nothing to lose. If the other gods catch me deserting, I’m worse than dead. If you don’t help me, I’ll tell them where you are. You know I can be back in Otherworld in an instant.” She snapped her fingers. It was the only card she had in her hand, and she had to make him believe her.
He cursed, spurring the monkeys on to greater howls. The jungle had as much energy as the bar, but it didn’t bother her like that of the Mythean energy inside. What did bother her was the man who towered over her, even though he’d stepped back. She wasn’t used to feeling small or helpless. She’d left that behind along with her humanity. But he made her feel that way, and she hated the fact that it caused her blood to sing through her veins and her skin to heat.
“Well?” she prodded.
“Fine.” His voice carried the harshness of boulders scraping against each other as the earth moved. “Druantia created the potion that allowed me to Fall. I sought her out after meeting you, when I realized the gods were plotting against us.”
The name was familiar. She was the most powerful Druid priestess and the one who’d facilitated communication between gods and mortals back when mortals still worshiped Celtic gods.
“She’s your friend, so you think she’ll give me the potion?”
“She’s not my friend. She does a job for me when I need her to, and if you pay her, she’ll do it for you too. She’s difficult and a pain in the ass, but her services can be bought.”
“Excellent. Take me to her and I promise I’ll leave you alone. You can have your life”— she gestured to the bar and he scowled—“back to normal.”
He thought about her offer for a moment and nodded. “I’m not actually helping you. I need a new cloaking charm, and you can tag along, but you’re on your own. I’m not taking care of you along the way.”
She scowled at him. “Please, like I need you to protect me. I killed you, remember?”
“Don’t remind me.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish