Update: The winner of the free ebook is Yolaine Clark!
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This is our last Snippet Saturday. I’ve enjoyed being a part of this Saturday tradition. Be sure to click on the links at the bottom of this blog to find the other snippeteers.
I’ve chosen a snippet from my most recent releaser, Crescent Moon—a book I loved writing, and maybe you can see why! Enjoy!
If you post a comment today, you’ll be entered to win
a free download of any of my downloadable backlist books!
From ancient Egypt to present-day New Orleans, a woman of exceptional strength is called to protect against an unspeakable evil…and to experience an unforgettable seduction.
Khepri still isn’t used to being The God’s Wife. The daughter of a common farmer, she’s more comfortable being friends with servants than employing a whole team of them. Being the wife of Amun affords her luxuries she only dreamed of, but her dreams are not always a haven…they are also filled with demons. Lately she’s had doubts about the role she’s been thrust into. She’s had yearnings for another sort of life, one where she’s loved intimately, rather than only adored from afar.
When a powerful man lures her away from her temple, she’s thrilled at the chance for an adventure. Her adventure quickly becomes a nightmare when the handsome vizier mummifies her alive. Pure of heart and body, she’s the warrior he foresees will battle a demonic pharaoh if ever he awakens. Khepri’s sure he’s insane, until she awakens in a distant future. Alone and needing a guide in this strange and garish new world, she turns to the troubled man who set her free…
When New Orleans police detective Justin Henry Boucher is called to the Garden Museum to investigate stolen Egyptian artifacts, it’s not exactly the adrenaline rush he used to get working a homicide. But with a reprimand on his record and a sorrow he can’t shake, he will take what he can get – as long as he can keep his badge. What he doesn’t count on is having to keep his cool when he finds one of the priceless artifacts—a golden-skinned goddess wrapped in fabric like a mummy, left to die and needing his help. She’s a mystery he’s determined to unravel. She might also be the cure for his lonely heart.
After she’d soaked in a warm bath, Khepri couldn’t fight the weight of her fatigue. As she’d feared, the moment her eyes closed, her world tilted again.
With no time to cry out, no time to worry whether she’d ever see Justin again, Khepri felt as though she was being pulled by her feet, tumbling through an undulating tunnel, until she stopped so suddenly her head jerked back. Once her mind stopped whirling, she glanced around to find out where she’d landed this time.
Torchlight shimmered against gilt-painted walls. The dais beneath her was encrusted with a jeweled mosaic of a radiant sun resting in the bottom of a shallow barge as it floated across the sky. Her stomach lurched. Her heart thudded dully against her chest. She knew this place.
A hand reached down to pat her hair, and she noted quickly that she was seated on the floor, her legs folded and to the side. She wore no clothing beyond a slave’s crudely woven, white kilt, her breasts bared. Her hand was curled around the back of a man’s calf, and she knew that if she looked upward, whose face she’d see.
But she wasn’t ready to confront him. Not with the commotion surrounding them. Her companion sat on a throne-like chair, in a row of such chairs. All gleaming with more gilt paint and tiny, intricate inlaid mosaics, jewels sparkling. Before them stretched a long hall filled with frightening, half-human creatures lined up to watch a procession of humans as they were dragged in chains up the carpeted steps to where Anubis stood beside the Scale of Truth, the plates of his scale glinting gold where not covered in fresh blood.
Khepri’s stomach lurched. Her fingers tightened on her master’s calf. She didn’t want to be here. Didn’t want to watch.
The first of the humans, an elderly man, ambled forward, his left leg dragging beneath the weight of his chain. His deeply lined skin stretched across the starkly jutting bones of his face. Fear shone in his dark eyes, but he remained silent, following obediently as his captor dropped his chain and knelt before Anubis. “Sire, I bring another for judgment.”
Anubis stepped forward, giving a low growling yip. He was tall and muscular, his chest gleaming with sweat. A jackal’s alert eyes stared down at the old man. “What have you to say in defense of your life?”
The man shook his head. “I am not pure. I have sinned, but I have tried to live a good life. I have never killed, never stolen.” His voice wavered with age and with terror, but he lifted his face rather than hide it. “I regret deeply that I have not lived an exemplary life, done no great deeds of kindness. But I worked to feed my family. I beg for mercy.”
Khepri moaned. Mercy was never given; it was earned. She pressed her face against the muscled calf, but couldn’t look away from the half-beast who held the man’s fate in his clawed hands.
Anubis’s tall ears pricked toward the sound she made a moment before his snout swung her way, his eyes seeming to glint with laughter at her squeamishness. When he swung back, he flattened his clawed hand against the elderly man’s chest.
The man cried out; his knees wobbled.
Light gleamed around the edges of Anubis’s claws and the whole of it sank inside the man’s chest. A moment later, the god drew out a beating heart, gushing blood. He placed it on the scale, watching as the plate slowly sank beneath its weight, and then he dropped a feather onto the clean plate.
The scale hummed, making a musical sound as it raised on one side then the other, until at last one plate sank low.
Her breath expelled slowly as she wilted with relief.
A chair away, Thoth rose, his beak-like nose twitching. He waved his arm in a dramatic fashion for he loved fanfare. “The Feather of Truth speaks of your sincerity. Your heart is pure. Treat him kindly,” he said to the creature who had brought him into the hall. To the man, he gave a smile. “Isis shall bathe you and provide you clean clothing. Then you shall be led to the Fields of Peace where you shall reside until you are called again someday.”
The man glanced toward the tray, but it had disappeared. He touched his chest, but the wound had closed. Smiling his thanks, he paused as his captor struck his irons and freed him, and then led him away from the hall.
A woman was brought next. Young, with lustrous dark hair and sloe eyes. She didn’t wait for Anubis to ask for her plea. She threw back her head, pasted on a serene smile, and said, “Sire, I am pure. I’ve never killed, never stolen.”
Her glance fell away for a moment, and Khepri’s chest squeezed. No, no, no. Do not lie here!
“I have given to the poor, provided gold to charities. I deserve a place in Horus’s Fields of Peace.”
Anubis laughed softly. A sound that lifted the fine hairs on the back Khepri’s neck. The gods didn’t like prideful humans. Did the woman think her beauty would sway them?
Anubis lifted his clawed hand and gently clasped the woman’s left breast.
Her breath hitched, her eyelids lowered then lifted, invitation written clearly in her parted lips.
Without warning, Anubis thrust his fist inside her chest, baring his teeth as she screamed. He flung her heart onto the scale. “How do you think you will fare?”
The woman shook her head, her hands clutching her chest, trying to stem the flow of blood gushing from the wound. “Mercy… Please, show me mercy.”
He dropped the feather. The scales sang, the plates lowering then lifting until the heart sank.
The woman cried out and reached out, trying to knock her heart from the tray. “Mercy, sire!”
Her tone wasn’t that of a remorseful supplicant—not that remorse would have changed the verdict. Rage hoarsened her voice and stripped away her beauty.
Heavy footsteps plodded from a side door.
Khepri whimpered, as much out of pity for the disagreeable woman’s fate as out of fear of the monster that approached.
Every gruesome creature known to Nile dwellers was encompassed in one horrid body—her upper torso was that of a lion and from her midriff back, a hippopotamus; her head was that of a crocodile. She approached in full animal form, her gate uneven on long graceful forelegs and squatty, thick hind legs, her mouth gaping to show every long, serrated tooth.
The woman rushed to the end of her chain, trying to head back to the entrance of the hall, but the chain caught her, causing her to pitch forward on her knees. She rolled to her back, her gaze never leaving Ammit, as the Devourer of Hearts sniffed at the tray, and then tipped it into her mouth, swallowing the still-beating heart whole. With a quick flip of her body, she turned and sauntered slowly toward the woman, stepping onto the woman’s legs, Ammit’s large body so heavy the snap of fracturing bones was audible throughout the silent hall.
The woman’s screams never relented. But Khepri had enough. She knew Ammit would shred her with her teeth and then pick up her mutilated but still sensate body to take away to the Lake of Fire, where she would be pitched to suffer damnation for an eternity. Khepri buried her face against her protector’s thigh, smearing scalding tears against his warm skin.
“There, there,” came his kindly whisper. “Do not let her see your fear, my dear…”
Khepri’s eyes slammed open, and she bolted upright. Her gaze sought out shapes in the darkness, but not until a lamp was lit did she breathe easier. She was back in Justin’s bed.
“That must o’ been some nightmare,” came his soothing murmur.
The moment his hand rubbed up her arm, she turned toward him, climbing over his body, her thighs parting over her hips as she lowered her torso to rest heavily against him.
She couldn’t get close enough, warm enough. She shivered head to foot.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” he whispered, his large hands smoothing over her back.
Her heart beats still stuttered and skittered. She shook her head, remembering the Hall of Two Truths and the awful judgments. Although she could only call to mind the one incident, she’d had the feeling, inside the dream, that she had been there many times before.
She’d been seated on the ground at the feet of her husband, his slave, and yet, he’d treated her tenderly…perhaps, for the benefit of anyone who watched? And yet, she’d sensed his concern, his affection in the fingers that had petted her hair, in the firm admonition there at the end, as he’d warned her about Ammit. Do not let her see your fear.
Why hadn’t she looked at his face?
The body beneath her stirred. Even as she shook, desire unfurled, heating her sex, opening her fingers to trail in the silky hair cloaking his chest.
“Wanna talk about it?” he asked, his voice a soft rumble.
She shook her head, liking the way this hair abraded her cheek. She turned her head to nuzzle her nose against a small, flat nipple, something he seemed to enjoy, because his cock pulsed against her.
“That’s okay,” he said, his tone deepening, nearly purring. “You’re awake. Thought my dick would petrify it’s been stiff so long.”
She snickered, her tension easing at his crude words. The only time he ever spoke crudely to her was when he was aroused. She appreciated his directness, because she felt the same way, unable to clothe her words in anything other than raw need. “Please. Come inside me,” she whispered, and then teased his nipple with the edges of her teeth.
He rolled them both, coming over her, his weight sinking her into his soft mattress. There was comfort in having his greater weight blanketing her, narrowing her perceptions to focus on him—his weight, his hot breath, the crush of his chest against her breasts, the slide of his thick phallus as he repositioned himself between her legs.
Already, she was damp and needful of penetration, for when he stroked deep, she imagined they were one person, one pleasure binding them together.
“I’d tell you not to be afraid, that I’m right here to keep any bad away from you, but I won’t lie, Khepri. I don’t know what’s comin’.”
Her eyes filled. “Neither do I. I can’t see the future, and I only know pieces of the past.” She trailed a finger along the edge of his hard jaw. “Still, I’m glad Amun gave you to me.”
When he rose on his arms, she feared he’d move down her body to prepare her, but what she wanted was more immediate. “No, Justin. Please. Now. Come inside.”
His mouth curved. “Guess it’d be impolite to leave a lady waitin’.” Locking with her gaze, he flexed his hips, found her center in a single nudge, and pushed slowly into her. Once he was all the way inside, he paused. “That what you wanted?”
She recognized the teasing quality of his tone and shook her head. Instead of describing in words what she wanted, she squeezed around him, concentrating hard to begin at the mouth of her vagina, then tensing other muscles as she gave him a caress that caused his breath to expel slowly and his eyelids to dip.
“Dayum, cher.” He lowered himself onto her chest, and then thrust an arm beneath her, cradling her body close. His hands cupped her face, thumbs rubbing her lips.
She licked the callused pads, liking his salty flavor. “Give me what I need. After…” She licked a pad that pressed against her lower lip. “I’ll give you what you want.”
His growl made her smile, but he began moving, his hips moving in powerful swells as he drove into her again and again.
This was what she needed. Pleasure warming her frozen body. A fierce embrace from a very human man. “Justin, Juste.” Only his name. She couldn’t manage to say more. His thickness speared her, crowding into her in lush, wet surges, eased by her body’s own ratcheting excitement.
He leaned down to kiss her, his mouth nibbling until she opened, and then his tongue surged inside, taking her breath along with her thoughts.
Her fingers dug into the ladder of muscle framing his spine and she curved her hips, changing the angle to receive more of his length and to allow his coarse pubic hairs to rake her pleasure knot. Her breaths came in shallow pants, sweat coated her chest and belly. Friction burned inside her where his cock churned hotly.
He broke the kiss. “Not gonna last much longer.”
She nodded, running her fingers down to the firm curve of his buttocks, urging him closer, deeper, tilting higher, her abdomen trembling with exertion. “Yes.” Her cry was broken. Her head dug into the pillow. She stiffened beneath his body as he pounded harder, stroke after stroke, buffeting her, pushing her up the bed until she had to brace a hand against the wooden headboard.
He raised on his hands and gave her several deep, lunging thrusts before his face screwed up with pleasure. His expression, the last fierce thrust, sent her hurtling over the edge into a pleasure she realized she’d only had fleeting, dull glimpses of in the past.
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