“The world is not going to end,” I insisted slowly, taking in the desperation on Brennan’s stricken face. “Why would you think so? I was wrong when I said it would, Brennan. We can prevent my visions. We can do anything we set our minds to.”
Brennan turned to me, his expression slightly calmer than it had been a scant moment ago. I reached out to grab his hand, but he backed away, causing my heart to race. He stepped out of the tent and I trailed behind him quickly.
“What is it?” I whispered. “What did you see, Brennan?”
His eyes were pain-filled and stark when he answered. “I saw flames and floods and a lot of blood. There was so much blood. I saw the same things that you did, Empusa. And if we both see it, I think it is likely to happen.”
“It won’t!” I cried, gritting my teeth and throwing myself at him. Clutching at him, I gripped his shoulders, trying to make him touch me. Yet he still shirked away from my fingers, like I had a sickness. It was alarming.
“Why are you moving away from me?” I asked helplessly, trying to ignore the cold pit growing in my belly. “I didn’t cause your visions, Brennan. I wish nothing more than to protect you from any ugliness in the world.”
“I know,” he admitted softly. “But I also know that this isn’t going to work.”
His voice was like gravel, painfully scraping the surface of my heart with every husky syllable. “I can’t be with you,” he repeated.
He was so casual, so perfunctory, as though we were simply talking about a Cubs game or the weather. I stared at him, at his flecked hazel eyes that gleamed in the sunlight and my chest literally constricted at the thought of even one day without him.
“Yes, you can. You’re perfect for me,” I answered uncertainly, reaching for him, trying to pull him close. If he could just feel my heart pressed against his, I knew that he might bend, if only just enough to listen. But he would have none of it and backed away, leaning against the rocks behind us. He knew the danger within my touch.
“Brennan,” I tried again, stepping forward. The way that the sun bathed him in backlit glory was breath-taking and I had to re-focus. It was difficult not to concentrate on his handsome, rugged face and the way his mouth moved as he spoke.
“Em,” he continued, as if I’d never even spoken. “I’m not…I’m not strong enough for this yet. I won’t be able to control my abilities. I just saw it. I can’t jeopardize the entire mortal world simply because I can’t master my power. And Circes… she said that you would risk everything for me. I can’t allow that, Empusa. I can’t be the one who extinguishes your light. That won’t be me.”
He pushed away from the rocks and strode down the ledge with his distinctive lope. He paused just once on the edge, before he bounded, landing gracefully on his feet far below me. He didn’t look back, he simply walked away from me. I stood still, frozen by his words, astounded by their meaning. Until I realized that if I didn’t do something right now I would never see him again.
I lunged from the ledge, landing roughly in the packed sand below before I raced along behind him. Even employing supernatural speed, I didn’t catch up with him for a mile. He had mastered speed himself, it seemed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of black and I knew that my mother was close, watching us, but it didn’t sway me.
I pushed Brennan against a nearby red stone rock mound, shoving him hard and he stumbled, staring at me in shock as his back collided with the stone. He had never seen me lose my temper. No one had. I always had to be so careful, so controlled.
“You think it’s only up to you?” I shouted. The wind whipped my hair around my face and I ignored it as I stared directly into the mesmerizing eyes of the only man I had ever loved.
“I have a say in this, too,” I insisted. “You think you can just throw everything away with a handful of cliches? Newsflash: The old it’s not you, it’s me line isn’t effective. If you don’t want to be with me, just be man enough to tell me why. Don’t tell me that it is because of the visions. We can overcome them. I know it. If there is something else, tell me right now.”
My face was barely an inch from his. I was close enough to feel his heart beat through his shirt, to feel the heat from his skin pulse through and bleed into my own skin. I was close enough to inhale his very breath. I knew what my nearness would do to him, but I didn’t care. I closed my eyes and leaned into him… instantly absorbing what he felt; the jagged pain, the overwhelming uncertainty, but mostly, his unbridled need for me. It filled him up and spilled into me.
“Tell me,” I murmured against his lips.
He groaned and pulled me against him, his large hands flattening against my back as he smashed me to his chest and ravaged my lips with his own. He kissed me like the world was ending. And I knew, with every breath in me, that if he left, my world would end.
His body was rock hard and he smelled like the sun. I inhaled him as I grasped his hair and pulled him closer to me, as close as I could possibly get. Even in the heat of this moment, though, I had to keep a corner of my consciousness carefully focused, making sure I didn’t absorb too much of his strength. But I still allowed myself to taste it, to enjoy it.
He was delicious. Everything about him.
His tongue rammed into my mouth, swirling with mine and he tasted like honey as his very life flowed into me, wispy and transparent, but pulsing hard. He was so vital.
It made me wild and I couldn’t control myself. I ripped at his shirt, breaking the buttons as I frantically pushed it off of his shoulders. I knew it was expensive, but I didn’t care. My only thought was consuming all of him, every bit and I needed him inside of me to do that. It was the only way. My focus faltered and then was obliterated. Nothing else mattered now but my need for him.
I began seeing things in blurs of color, tasting the scents in the air and feeling the textures beneath my hands as everything else faded away. His breathing was ragged, his heart beat stuttering and racing as we fumbled with clothing. Our skin was hot and sticky as we pressed together. I felt his heart beat join with mine, synching perfectly, as the process began. My fingers pulsed and my vision unfocused. It was happening. I would only need a moment longer.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the beautiful field of pink flowers explode into flame, too close to withstand my energy as it flared into an uncontrollable storm. They burned impotently against the sandy horizon as our very own fire burned within us. A loud boom exploded somewhere nearby and I saw chunks of earth scatter, falling around us from the sky. I had no idea where it had come from and I didn’t care at this point.
Brennan yanked at the button on his pants and I reached to help him, desperate to continue, to finish, but somehow sanity returned to me as I thought of that very word.
If we completed this act, if I made love to this man- the man that I loved with every ounce of my being, it would finish him. He could die because we hadn’t learned to master our power.
He reached for me, but I held out my hand.
“Don’t,” I rasped uncomfortably. “Give me a minute.”
SOUL KISSED Synopsis:
Question: When your mother is a powerful witch and your father is a soul-sucking vampire, what does that make you?
With all the beauty and charm of a Siren, but cursed as a blood-sucking succubus, Empusa longs for love and a normal life. Neither of these can ever be hers, because the only thing she brings to anyone she loves is death.
Em lingers in the mortal world, hiding from her father and existing in a lonely life. Until she meets Brennan. With golden hair and a radiant smile, he captures her heart and awakens it from slumber.
But Brennan is more than he seems. And in a relationship where life itself hangs in the balance, is love ever really enough?
Soul Kissed is book one in the Moonstone Saga. It is followed by Soul Bound (available now) and Princess of the Night (Coming soon).
SOUL BOUND Synopsis:
The gods are playing games again and this time it’s going to get ugly.
Empusa is the daughter of the goddess of witchcraft and the moon. As a child of the moon, she has all of the ethereal lunar powers that come with it. She is beautiful, vulnerable and strong. But since she is cursed by her father to drink souls and mortal blood, her powers will come back to haunt her…
Brennan is the son of Apollo, the god of the sun. As a child of the sun, he is handsome, golden, brave and strong. He’s just learning to harness his own immortal powers, only there isn’t much time…
In this second book of the Moonstone Saga, there’s an ugly, twisted storm brewing on Olympus and Brennan and Em are in the center of it. Their powers are conflicting, polar opposites. If they can’t learn to handle their abilities without killing each other, they will kill everyone in the mortal world, as well. Time is ticking and the gods are watching. Who will rise, who will fall and who will be left standing?
ABOUT COURTNEY COLE:
Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.
Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.