Fallen – Excerpt

Flames flickered and danced across the small blade Rai lifted above his head as he chanted a soft incantation. He dipped it in the pool of water next to him. With a quick motion across his wrist, he held his arm up and watched the blood drip into the jewel encrusted cup sitting on the waist-level carved piece of granite. Able fingers plucked the petals from a dark rose near his elbow. Adding the petals, he tossed in the pink salt, sage, and a few drops of sea water, stirred it, and held up the cup.

"Thank you, Tefnut, your blessings are benevolent and generous. You are most kind. I offer unto you this humble prayer for happiness and joy. Allow me to be fruitful in my pursuits and to serve with an open heart." The habitual prayer spilled out. He lifted the cup to his lips and drank deeply. He dropped to his knees, the blood spilling from his lips to paint the altar. "Watch over my beloved until I can seek justice and reclaim my place by his side."

"How pathetic. A strong and powerful warrior prostrating himself to the goddess of spit."

Rai growled low, his chest vibrating with fury. He twisted from the altar to stare at the woman currently lounging behind him. "What do you want? You are not welcome in my home, much less my temple."

"Really? As if you didn't know, Rai." Amuliana stood up, smoothing a hand down her gown in a blatant attempt to draw attention to her curves. She strolled toward him, her hips rolling in an exaggerated motion. "We never did get a chance to finish our…discussion. Sadly, you slipped away before we could reach an understanding."

"There were no more words to break between us. I don't serve you, and I have no interest in availing myself of your rather overused charms. My body is a temple for Tefnut, not a whore who shared her bed with more men than can be counted," he ground out, his horns flaring at the goddess hovering near him.

Rai shook his head. In her usual manner, Amuliana figured she could get what she wanted by using her body. The transparent dress she wore revealed the toned lines of her body, her full breasts, lush hips, all designed to ensnare a willing male. Looking upon her, he felt nothing. Naught but a deep and gnawing hatred for her and everything she stood for.

He ground his teeth together, the urge to rip her apart roaring through his blood, a firestorm of emotion. He clamped down on his instincts, the faint prick of a fang against his cheek revealing how close to the surface his true self actually was.

Amuliana's expression darkened for a moment before she affected a pout. "Oh, but we do have much to discuss. You forget, I can make things very…shall we say, difficult and uncomfortable for you. I would have thought you would have learned how powerful I am in the last few centuries. Or was my lesson not enlightening enough?"

"Indeed, it was a lesson I took to heart. I learned quite well. Only I discovered, for myself, your power holds no sway, my hatred for you has no ending."

Rai stepped back when she reached for him, his horns flaring. He could feel the rage burning in his eyes, feel the heat of his emotions building. The smell of sulfur hung heavy in the air, crackling like electricity with each step she took in his direction. He shivered, his skin crawling, darkening with emotion. Joints cracked and popped, bones lengthened, flesh darkened. He shifted, his true form casting off the mortal coil he wore.

"You have nothing I want," he said.

"But you have something I want. It can be beneficial for us both." Amuliana leaned in closer, her hot breath ghosting over his jaw. She pressed her lips to his skin. "Come, surely you realize I can do more for you than the wretch you were bedding. I can see you rise with your own army, power unknown to any other. You'd be undefeatable on the battlefield." She toyed with the leather thong around his neck.

"You are a fool. You believe I would want such gifts, knowing to have them would mean owing you. I would swear loyalty to Jupiter before I spat upon you." Rai straightened, towering over the goddess. "I hold more power than you could give. Twisted words from a warped whore. Blinded by your own image, you cannot see what is clear to all. The man I bedded was more than you will ever be. He was everything to me. No illusion you can spin will hide the truth of you, and you hold no attraction for me," Rai ground out, his heart tightening painfully at the mention of his long-dead lover. "There is no magic to turn me from the one who called to my heart and my soul."

"Oh please, demon, you needed a real lover. One who can match you in bed. Not some wilting little boy with no power, no place in the world. It is only in my bed you'd know true pleasure." Amuliana waved aside Rai's words as she leaned back against Tefnut's altar, her elbow knocking over the now empty chalice.

"I'd rather be castrated by my own horns than crawl into your bed. I have no words for you, nor would I be so insulted by listening to any words you may spout off. Get out of my house."

"You forget your place, demon." Amuliana's stunning visage shifted, wavering like heatwaves on pavement. Instead of a beautiful woman, a twisted malignant form hovered for several heartbeats, then the mask was back in place with a hint of her magic. "I am a god! You will bow before me and serve, or you will pay."