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Published by: Claire Davon
Release Date: 12/20/20
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Medusa awakens in an unfamiliar cave, catches a glimpse of her reflection in a pool—and screams. Her thick hide, claws, snake-hair, even her ability to turn anyone into a garden statue with a look, all gone. The heart-stopping beauty that caused her and her sisters’ downfall is restored.
Confused, uncertain, vulnerable in her weak human body, she sets out across an unfamiliar countryside, where she meets a stranger from whom she can’t tear her once-deadly gaze.
The first time Olivier lays eyes on Medusa, awareness hits him low and hard. Her penetrating gaze ignites desires deep in his psyche, and an awareness that brought him across an ocean to await the answer to his great-grandfather’s cryptic message: Now is the time.
A secret in Olivier’s bloodline could help Medusa fulfill a prophecy to cause the downfall of the gods. But as they race to discover its final missing pieces, the truth becomes clear. They could be pawns in a hidden struggle for power. One wrong move, and their future could be lost like stones in the sea.
As she ran back to the fountain, the sounds of the altercation faded behind her. She rounded a corner to the fountain, and its thick press of tourists came into view. Medusa searched for Olivier’s large form and spotted him above the fountain, searching the crowd. She dashed toward him, calling his name. Olivier whirled and staggered, his face widening in what appeared to be a combination of shock and relief. She threw her arms around him and he grasped her close, his body trembling.
“I couldn’t tell which way you went. I searched, but you were out of sight. What happened? How did you get away?”
He ran his hands over her body as he asked questions, as though to reassure himself that she was okay. She let him touch her, belated fear surging through her veins.
“It was the Tritons. They came out of the museum over there.” Medusa pointed toward the street she had come from. “I don’t know how they knew we were in trouble, but the gods are mysterious. Perhaps they saw it through the fountain. It is over. We are safe—for now.” She touched the welt on his forehead. “Olivier, you’re hurt.”
He jerked his chin in the direction she had indicated. “It’s nothing. Let’s go.”
They rushed back toward the fracas, Olivier’s hand firmly in hers. But when they got to the spot where the Tritons had sent her on her way, there was nothing but broken tree branches and gawking pedestrians. Olivier focused on the nearest person, a teenager with a cell phone who was recording the area.
“What happened?” Olivier asked, his body studiously at ease. “We heard the fight, but now there’s nothing. Did we miss something good?”
The younger man continued to use his phone to scan the site as he spoke. “It was some Roman reenactment or role-playing. The guys were weird, like some kind of mermen. They came out of nowhere and then disappeared as quickly, like a flash mob. They’re gone now—went that way.” He pointed away from where her would-be kidnappers had been taking Medusa.
The kid wandered off, his attention fading. Medusa wondered why he wouldn’t just examine the beauty in front of him instead of through his phone.
“Should we follow them?”
The thrill of seeing the Trevi fountain dissipated in the face of the attack. It had been far too easy for the men to take her.
“No.” She shook her head. “It would do no good. The only reason anybody would kidnap me is the foretelling. They are getting bolder if they would strike at me in this crowd. Events are coming to a conclusion.”
“It’s no surprise. They don’t know which gods you’re supposed to kill. It could be anyone. I’m surprised more aren’t seeking you out. We got lucky that it’s just a handful so far. We could chase them down. I’ll protect you.”
Like you protected me just now? It would be cruel and unkind to speak the words, and he was good to her.
“It’s not necessary. They have already vanished into Rome. What we need to discover is what was not revealed in the oracle’s divination that make the gods believe I have a chance of accomplishing this thing. Without that, we are at a disadvantage.”
He nodded and she let out a breath. The remembered feel of the weapon on her back made her shudder. It could have ended her life if the man had fired it. Her monster form could protect her better than this human one could.
“You’re right. We’ve got to take our chances with the Fates. There might be a loophole that will help this make sense. That’s the way your tales work. Like Achilles, right? His mom did everything she could to protect him, but he still died in the end. These things have a way of coming true.”
She took his hand, forcing herself to lose the pique of earlier. “You are right. That is another reason they are frightened. Like Achilles and those like him, once a seer has spoken, it is difficult to alter the course. Yet I have no ability to defend myself against a deity as I once did.”
She waited for the remorse over losing her savage form, but it didn’t come. The pleasure she gained in touching Olivier made the loss of her abilities tolerable.
If someone had told her a week ago that she would have feelings for the gargoyle, Medusa would have dismissed the idea. Olivier was more than a man who admired her, he was someone she respected. This was not going at all like she planned. A man that she didn’t care about she could use, but one that she was falling for was vulnerable.
She shouldn’t indulge this weakness. She had a prophecy to fulfill. Vengeance lay within her grasp. Having an attachment to the gargoyle would only hamper her. In order to do what needed to be done she had to be ruthless, and not be impeded by affairs of the heart.
If the gods knew of her vulnerability, it would be one more weapon to use against her. She had to protect Olivier from the truth by remaining silent.
Even if her soul longed for something different.