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Authors: Tamara Gill

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BOOK: Banished
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“Don’t cry.” Cian
pulled her against him and the smell of aftershave tickled her nose.

“Do you
understand what my father’s decree will mean, Cian?”

“Aye, I do lass.”
He sighed. “Sometimes I’d wished to return to my mortal self. I’ve lost you so
many times, and each time it became harder and harder to let you go. I cannot
do it again, Chloe. No matter how much I love you.”

Chloe sat back
and frowned. “What are you saying? That you want to die? That no matter what
happens between us, that this will be the final life we’ll have together?”

“Yes.”

Chloe sat
shocked to her core. Never had she thought Cian would speak in such a way. She
had no illusions the many lives he’d led. Looking for her and making her fall
in love with him was hard and becoming more so with every year. But a love such
as theirs that refused to die no matter the obstacle could not be over. “I
refuse to believe that.”

Cian paced over
to a trunk and pulled out a pair of jeans. He tugged them on, struggling with
the zipper when his penis had other ideas on what to do. Chloe bit back a smile
when she noted the worry lines about his eyes and his shaking hands.

This was not a
time for laughter.

“I can’t lose
you again, Chloe. And if that means I die, well at least it means I die happy.
I’ve lived for a very long time, lass. If my dying keeps you safe and back into
the fold of your family then I’ll die happy.”

Panic tore
through her chest. He meant it? “No. I don’t want to live with them. I want to
live with you.”

Cian ran a hand
through his hair and tousled it. “It seems you cannot have both.”

“Yes I can,” she
repeated wishing to stomp her foot like an errant child.

“No you cannot!”

Chloe turned at
the commanding tone of her father. He stood beside a window in the room, his
rage evident by the unworldly flame which flickered in his gaze.

“You should
listen to your human druid, Daughter. For in this instance he actually speaks
the truth.”

Cian pulled her
behind him and Chloe watched her father pace before them, his silk robes
billowing about his sandaled feet. “Why can you not find it in your heart to
let me be, Father? Have we not suffered enough under your decree?”

Zeus looked
nonplused. “Perhaps, but it amuses me to do so. Now, say your goodbyes. At
least I’m allowing you one this time.”

Chloe gasped and
clutched at Cian’s jeans’ band. Bile rose in her throat at the thought of
losing this life with her wonderful highlander. How could Zeus be so cruel?
Just when she’d found Cian again he was to be ripped from her. Forever. “No.”

“No.” Zeus’s
tone chilled Chloe’s blood. “No, Daughter?”

Cian turned and
kissed her. Hard. Chloe threw her arms about his neck and clutched him tight. With
every glide of his tongue, with every caress of his hands he showed her how
much he adored and loved her. Never had she felt such passion and sorrow mixed
altogether within an embrace and her lungs seized in her chest. The thought
that this would be the last time she would kiss him tormented her. How could
she lose him now? This could not be the end.

Pain tore
through her chest and pierced her heart. She couldn’t live without him. It was
impossible. “I love you Cian McKay and I will see you again. I promise.”

He smiled and
she stifled a sob. “For a thousand years you’re all I ever wanted and loved,
goddess Chloe. Do not despair if you cannot hold true to your promise. I
wouldn’t want that kind of sorrow to fill the rest of your days.”

Chloe let the
tears stream down her face. “It’s not fair. I’ve only just found you again.”

“I know.” Cian
pulled her against him and she reveled in the sound of his beating heart; a
heart that would soon cease to beat at all. “Life is often not.”

“Please Father,”
she begged. “I’ll leave with you and marry any god you wish me to but please
let him live.” Chloe felt Cian stiffen at her words but she kept her attention
fixed on Zeus. Surprisingly for a moment her father thought on her proposition
before he laughed and she knew her pleading had fallen on deaf ears. Or better
yet, an unforgiving temperament.

“You have proven
before not to be trusted. I need you in court where you’ll marry at my decree.
You are a god, Chloe. Not a mortal deemed for this life. Today I will right my
mistake and make you one of us once more and your druid will return to his mortal
self. That is my decree.”

Chloe met Cian’s
gray gaze and although the color was not warm, only love shone from the window
to his soul. “I’ll move heaven and earth to have you back.” Chloe kissed him
again. “I love you.”

“As I you,” Cian
said wiping away her tears.

“I grow bored,”
Zeus said thumping his thunderbolt against the wooden floorboards.

“Druid
of immortal vice

Take
thy gift of mortal life

No
longer caught in an undying light

Through
all the ages I take your life.”

Cian pushed her
away as he fell to the floor. Chloe kneeled before him and watched as pain
seemed to create havoc with his body. She took his hand and cursed Zeus to
Hades. How could anyone be so unforgiving? So cruel?

Chloe kept her
visage devoid of reaction but inside her body screamed its horror as Cian grew
old before her eyes. No longer was her highlander young and in his prime,
instead a man as old as a millennium sat before her, his body slowly turning to
ash. She sat there, unable to move as the life she longed for disintegrated
before her eyes.

Chloe stared at
what was left of Cian and her anger and the need for revenge coiled like a
snake inside her stomach. Zeus may have won this day but he would not win their
war. If it took her a thousand years, she would get her highlander back.

“Come,” Zeus
said holding out his hand. “Our work here is done.”

She stood. “I
will never forgive you for this,” she said. “I was willing to do as you bid but
to not grant me my one wish to keep Cian alive you’ve left me no choice.”

“And what choice
is that.” Zeus laughed and thunder rumbled across the sky.

“You will see.” Chloe
shimmered into the clothes of a goddess and accepted who and what she was. “Soon,”
she said and thought of the one deity who could help her. Only problem was, he was
more untrustworthy than her father was and he was a titan.

And her father’s
greatest enemy.

Chapter Ten

“A beer please,”
Chloe said, as she sat down on a stool in a downtown New York bar. The man
beside her visibly stilled but kept staring at the mirrored wall across from
them that was covered with shelving and alcohol. Chloe took a sip of her beer
and smiled at him in the mirror.

“Lelantos,
you’re a hard Titan to find.”

He glared but
didn’t reply. Chloe rallied her nerve and turned to face him. His lovely suit
spoke of power and wealth, as did his finely chiseled aristocratic jaw and
relaxed air. But it was his eyes that gave him away; old as time itself, they
stared back at her without a sliver of welcome.

Chloe couldn’t
blame him. The titans had, after all, been overthrown by her own father, Zeus.
But it would seem Lelantos had escaped captivity at Tartarus. She knew why he
wasn’t there. For the same reason she was here talking to him. He had the power
to go unseen.

“I need your
help,” she said. Lelantos sipped his whisky and continued to ignore her. Chloe
squashed her temper and knew it wouldn’t be wise for her to argue with the only
deity who could help her. “I need you to make me go unseen.”

At that Lelantos
turned toward her before looking about the room, a frown across his brow.

“I’m alone, if
that is your concern. I’m also not leaving until you agree to help me.”

“You walk around
New York dressed like a god and then you state you wish to go unseen.”

Lelantos laughed
and Chloe noted a group of women tittered over him at a table behind them. “You
are a contradiction.”

“Perhaps, but I
still need your help,” she said, not willing to let Lelantos get the better of
her with his wit.

“Why should I
help the daughter of Zeus? You should know better.”

He was right.
Lelantos had no reason to help her. Zeus and he were immortal enemies but
perhaps this was the only card she had to play. Their hatred for one another
could work in her and Cian’s favor. “Then do not help me for me but because of
the hatred you hold for my father. He intends for me to marry an immortal of
his choosing and to live on Mt Olympus for all time. I’ve disobeyed him and
have earned his mistrust and wrath. He has killed the man I love.” She cleared
her throat as saying such words cut past her larynx like a knife. “I need to
find the Gorgons to use their blood and then I need you to make me unseen by
the gods after that. Forever.”

He threw back
his head and laughed and power radiated from him like an inferno. Were he not
in mortal form, his presence would scare even the most powerful god. Chloe
swallowed her own fear over the titan. She had heard of them as a child, told
of their cruelty and strength. It was like making a deal with the devil
himself. “Please,” she begged.

“Well,” he said,
throwing back the last of his drink, “since you asked so kindly, of course.”

“Really?” Chloe
sat back and wondered if it really would be this easy. But something about the
cynical twist of his lips said otherwise.

“No. Now fuck
off.”

Chloe allowed
all her power to flow throughout her veins. She pulled forth the strength of
the gods and let Lelantos see in her eyes just who he was dealing with; someone
just as powerful and nearly as old as he was. There would be no ‘no’ in their
conversation today. “You will or you’ll find yourself back in Tartarus before
you can gather air for your next response.”

Lelantos drew
breath and Chloe clasped his throat and thought of the Titan’s childhood home
and now prison for all the Titans since the war with Zeus. She read surprise in
his eyes as they landed on top of a mountain, the chilling wind whipping at
their clothes. Had she not been so friggin’ angry she may have enjoyed the
view. But not now. Lelantos had something she wanted and he would give it to
her.

“I see your
temper runs as fast and hot as your father’s. Not a very attractive trait for a
female.”

Chloe ignored
his barb and stepped back. “Out of your hatred for my father, I need you to
help me. I’ll do anything, but I must have your assurance that you’ll make Cian
and myself unknown to the gods when I have him back.”

He studied her
and Chloe wondered how many women fell at the Titan’s handsome feet daily. For
all his human glamour he was impossible to be thought of as ordinary and
normal. No. Normal would ever be word she would associate with him.

“Just say I do
help you, Chloe, are you sure you’re willing to do
anything
I wish.”

Doubt crept up Chloe’s
spine but she squashed it like a bug. If doing anything kept Cian alive and she
with him than that was a small price to pay. “Anything,” she promised holding
out her hand.

Lelantos smiled
and pulled her hard against his chest. “Then so be it, goddess. I’ll hold you
to that promise. Now,” he said, sliding a finger down her jaw, “let’s go play
with the Gorgons. They’re always a lot of fun.”

Chloe ignored
his sarcasm and brought forth in her mind the image of an island off the coast
of Italy and the cave in which the Gorgons slept. It was the last known
location she had of them and she hoped with all her heart they were still
there. Lying in wait to be needed again.

By the gods.

Chapter Eleven

The cave was chillingly
silent apart from the sound of dripping water somewhere in the dark. It smelled
of damp earth and death; two scents that were neither appealing nor comforting.
Chloe kept silent and followed Lelantos into the depths of the earth and
wondered where these Gorgons were hiding.

Waiting ...

“Have you ever
encountered a Gorgon, Lelantos?” Chloe stopped as a hissing noise sounded to
her left.

“No. Now shut
up.”

Chloe glared
into his back and hoped he would follow his own decree so she wouldn’t have to
hurt him. He was certainly living up to his heritage of being a Titan. Never
had she met such an obstinate, pigheaded immortal in all her life.

Before Chloe
could react, a shadow whipped past her picking her up and throwing her across
the cave. She hit the stone wall with punishing force. Pain tore through her
back as she landed hard on the cave’s dirt floor. It took her a moment to
gather her wits before she sat up and spat out the mouthful of crap she’d
gotten in her mouth.

Lelantos came
and stood before her and held out his sword toward the darkness.

“What is a Titan
doing helping a daughter of Zeus? We should slay you along with her.”

BOOK: Banished
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