UPLOAD: The winner is…Pansy Petal!
Here’s a story you might not be aware that I wrote. It first appeared with Montlake as a serialized story, issued in eight increments, and then offered as full-length novel. I loved writing this story. I did an enormous amount of research for it, studying Egyptian mythological figures, the Land of the Dead, the history of The God’s Wife… A real thing, by the way. And of course, I had fun setting the bulk of the story in present-day New Orleans. There’s no more perfect setting for the story of a mummy being brought back to life.
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.
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Do you love stories based on history and myths?
An Excerpt from Crescent Moon
One last time, her mind drifted, peacefully content…no shadows or disquiet to disturb her…allowing her to separate the parts of herself, first body from spirit…and then the mournful, dying part of her soul to dwell forever in the pit, while what remained, the part that would be born again, floated upward on golden wings.
Her sprit ba left her mortal shell and spread its wings, flying through the small bright hole in the ceiling, leaving behind her swaddled human form, which lay on a bare wooden bench. One, two, three strong surges of her fluttering wings and she flew toward the sun, free at last and feeling grateful to her husband for his generous gift. Her wings caught an updraft and she held them still, floating on the wind, the glorious waning sun warming her back.
Her spirit flew above white limestone cliffs and past a deep quarry littered with enormous blocks of carved stone. A sudden gust riffled through her feathers, forcing her to fly west, high above a barren valley.
But at last, her ba tired, circling downward, searching for the great river to lead her home. But no familiar white-washed city dwellings, no temple walls lay below. No fields of cotton and wheat.
Confused, she made her way back to the dismal pit. Not wanting to enter, she flitted around the opening, feeling weary and afraid.
Something dark awaited her. Some horror in the shadows.
And then she spotted the man with the dark, watchful gaze standing beneath the opening, his arms outspread to catch her…
Her heart pounded against her chest, the sound intruding on the vision. Khepri’s eyes slammed open.
Freedom was only a dream, a memory. How long had she been sleeping?
Slowly, Khepri grew more aware of her surroundings. Pressure enveloped her from head to toes. Frayed edges of linen strips surrounded her eyes. An ache centered in her head made her want to gasp, but when she tried to draw a deep breath, the constriction around her chest made the movement impossible. She couldn’t feel her fingers or toes. Her body, other than her head and chest, was numb. Something was terribly wrong. Short, panicked breaths huffed in the silence.
She blinked, bright sunlight streaming through a hole in the rock ceiling above, blinding her, making her eyes tear. Unable to turn her head, she peered beneath the fringe of her dark lashes, through the openings left in the fabric, gazing upward. Her sight cleared slowly, but was filtered as though looking through the gauzy curtains that surrounded her bed in her tiny house inside the temple walls. But the haze obstructing her sight wasn’t merely physical. It was a thin curtain pulled over her mind. One placed there, purposely, to confuse.
Her head reeled, not understanding, not recognizing where she lay. The sickly sweet scent of frankincense tickled her nose.
“Precious little warrior, you are awake.”
If she could have drawn a deep breath, she would have spit. Sudden fury trembled through her body. She didn’t understand what was happening, but knew he was the one to blame. She wanted to rage against him, ask how he dared abduct her. She was Amun’s wife, his mortal consort. But the only sound that scratched from her throat was a tiny whimper.
“You have questions,” he crooned from beside her. “We have little time. Pharaoh’s army marches. They will find us soon. We must bury the nameless one, hide him before they can entomb him. No one must ever find his body. He will not sleep in a sarcophagus. No texts will be written to reawaken him, no mask placed over his head so that he may recognize himself in the afterlife. He must not rise.”
Her lashes drifted downward. She remembered the moment the handsome, lying vizier stepped off the plank lowered from the side of the barge.
“Pharaoh is dead,” he’d said, his voice uninflected.
Her heart had grown still. The news was devastating to be sure, but why had he traveled so far from Luxor to tell her?
And then snippets of memories bombarded her mind.
Khepri moaned, spreading her lips and baring her teeth to catch the edges of the strips surrounding her mouth, but they were stiffened and wouldn’t give. Her eyes rounded in fear as she realized how dire was her predicament.
He bent closer, his dark eyes alight with sympathy. But then he moved away. Taking with him his masculine scent, musk she’d once found attractive. The odor mocked her now.
Although she feared him, she wanted to cling to the sight of him, didn’t want to feel so alone, so trapped and helpless. Perhaps she could reason with him. But he was insane. Would no one stop him?
Deep in her throat, she gurgled, nearly choking on the tears that leaked from her eyes and burned the back of her throat. “Please,” she whispered.
From a distance, she heard his footsteps. He drew nearer, holding in one hand a slender reed with one end frayed and trimmed to form a brush and dripping red paint, and in the other a palette, red pigment swirled. He leaned over her and made strokes on the coverings enclosing her chest, down her belly, splitting over her thighs and moving down to her toes.
“What are you doing?” she rasped, as some of the cool liquid seeped through to touch her skin.
“Painting spells, Khepri, Amun’s wife. Introducing you to Anubis, the protector of souls, entreating him to keep you close until you are needed. To hide you from Osiris so your soul will not be judged. Not yet.”
“Until I am needed? I am needed at the temple.”
He tsked and continued to paint, accompanied by the soft chuffing sounds of bristles rasping on resin-hardened fabric.
Her tears quickened, soaking her skin beneath the wrappings and leaking into her hair. “I am The God’s Wife. You have no right.”
He sighed and strode back into view. When he leaned over her, sympathy no longer shone in his eyes. A deep furrow dug between his sharp dark brows. “I need quiet to think,” he said, his words peppering her like hard pellets.
He placed a hand over her nose and mouth, cutting off her air.
Panic made her gurgle, but she was unable to fight. She stared upward at his gleaming eyes until darkness closed over her vision.