Enjoy a first look at a scene from Venus Rising. SPOILER WARNING for anyone who has not yet read Love and War.
“I can do this,” My numb fingers scrabbled to keep hold of the sheer cliff face. The Island of the DAMNED was a shaped like a tall, mutated teardrop, only a jagged curve sloped into the ocean. I’d edged my way around to lower ground. Unfortunately, the cliff still wasn’t low enough for me to climb given the rough shape I was in.
Between waves, I sputtered specifics, locking myself into the promise, forcing the words true. Now there was no choice in the matter. I had to survive.
Poseidon, I thought, drawing my palm against a rock jutting from the face of the island. The sharp edge pierced my spongy palm without resistance. Blood could pass through the weak shield surrounding the island as well as water. Mine was still divine enough to get Poseidon’s attention.
Shivers racked my body, hard enough to threaten my tenuous hold on the cliff face. Exposure, I added to my mental list of ways I could die. When the entire fricken island teleported across gods know how many time zones, it traded sunny, warm, placid water for a dark night, icy chill, and choppy waves.
“She moved the island.” I spat out the sentence with as much disgust as I could muster. “That stupid…” A litany of curse words followed, but not a single one of them made me feel better. Medea had probably killed herself doing this. And for what?
I squinted against the utter blackness, wishing for a moon, stars, or light of any kind.
Some part of me knew my thrashing could attract creatures living in the water, but that fear had to move aside for the more practical need to keep air in my lungs.
Lightning cracked across the sky, cruelly granting my wish for light in a blinding slash. Of course, Persephone was enraged. The meeting, ostensibly to establish peace with the demigods, had gone horribly wrong when Ares had been outed as an imposter. He’d gotten away, but I’d been dragged along when the island teleported.
So now, not only did the demigods have a weapons cache that could end every god in the Pantheon, they had two hostages. Me and the fricken Lord of the Underworld.
Maybe my cover isn’t blown. They didn’t know I was a goddess. Just that Ares was a god.
And I’d been living with him.
And that we’d arrived on the island at the exact same time.
Yeah, they’d be idiots not to at least suspect. And since gods were physically incapable of telling lies, all it would take to confirm their suspicion was a yes or no question.
Assuming I didn’t drown first.
Something slick brushed against my legs. What was that? I twisted in the water, limbs jerking in all directions like a tangled marionette, but the waves might as well have been made of midnight. Between the pitch-black night and the chaos the island’s teleportation churned, I couldn’t make out my own flesh beneath the waves. I lost my grip on the cliff-face and felt a wave of dizziness as my feet kicked into the endless depths.
Probably just a scared fish, I tried to convince myself. My fear of the ocean depths was mostly instinctive, bred into me by design to keep me from visiting Poseidon’s realm. Having his permission to be here should have quelled the fear. But in the dark of the night with gods knew what swimming around me, that old, instinctual fear no longer listened to reason. I was someplace foreign. Other. I didn’t belong here.
“Just keep moving,” I told myself through gritted teeth, kicking toward the cliff face.
A wave slammed into me, shoving me beneath the inky blackness. I pushed to the surface, gasping for air, but just as I inhaled, another wave slammed into me. Then another. Then another.