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This is an EROTIC/VAMPIRE historical..... it's set in Ancient Pompeii, mostly, and moves into modern time..... it contains a great deal of sexual content, and historical accuracy about the decadence of the Romans of that era. It was fascinating to write, and as you can see, the cover is a stunner..... I hope your curiosity will be piqued, and you'll consider adding this one to your collection - the reviews are amazing... and I think you'll find it a satisfying read!!!
WHOM GODS HAVE FAVOURED
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Pompeii lies complacent and decadent in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the populace thriving on their depravity and their hunger for blood and Games. Within the elite aristocracy, games of another type are being played, deadly secrets are a threat to more than status, and conspiracy is a way of life for those who are unhappy.
Lucius has long been exalted as a warrior without peer. Adored and covetted by men and women alike, he is blind to the plots that are thickening around him. While total control is his on the bloody fields of war, on the battlefield of the heart, as he is about to discover, even the strongest man can be deceived by his ignorance.
Watching over it all is the majesty of Vesuvius, sputtering smoke, promising retribution. In the midst of the looming destruction, an ancient evil emerges, and will claim not only a celebrated general of Rome, but the slave girl he has slowly grown to love and cherish. A girl who will follow him into hell itself?
Xina felt the heat of her new master’s scrutiny as she served his guests and tried to keep out of their groping clutches without obvious offense given to any present. She hated these arrogant and decadent Romans, with their overabundant riches and complete lack of compassion. That she herself had been born Roman made no real difference to her convictions. She detested the manner in which the nobility of Pompeii dismissed life, and humanity. Their glorious general was a shining example of everything she abhorred most.
Her look slid to him. He was an exceptionally attractive man; she was forced to concede with reluctance. He stood well above most of the men gathered in the room; his fair head held proud, blue eyes sharp with intelligence. He had earned his reputation as a cold-blooded killer, a warrior of superior skill. She saw no warmth in him, despite the fire in his azure eyes. When she would have returned to the kitchens, his voice beckoned her to his side.
“More wine for my guests, Xina.” His smile was oddly polite.
“She is a beauty, General,” the magistrate commented as he watched Xina walk away to refill the wine pitcher.
“Yes,” Lucius agreed. His look followed every movement she made. “One of Boudica’s cast-offs.”
“The woman’s a fool to let one like that escape her. I would guess the girl could quickly become a favorite.”
“Apparently she attempted to slit the throat of the last man who tried to take her without the correct price,” Lucius said with a laugh.
The magistrate chuckled. “And you expect to have better luck, General, is that it?” he asked, his eyes envious.
Lucius shared the man’s laughter, and noticed Nydia had not missed a single word of the exchange.
* * *
“What is it you want of me, Master Lucius?”
Xina stood inside the large, airy chamber and tried not to look at the imposing man who lounged on a silk-covered couch. The room was softly lit by torches arranged to create the illusion of warmth and seclusion. The banquet had lasted well into the night, and she was almost asleep on her feet. The general appeared no worse for the considerable amount of wine he had consumed so far this night.
“What do you think I want, girl?” His tone was one of sardonic amusement.
She shuddered and nodded. There was no need to respond. He had bought the right to do with her as he pleased. To refuse him would mean her death. To strike him, if she possessed a weapon to do so, would also mean death. Resigned, she unknotted the belt that held her gown and allowed the soft white garment to slide from her shoulders and puddle at her feet. She unlaced the sandals, stepped out of them also, and walked to his couch. She stood naked before him but made no further movement.
“Why did you almost kill Maccius, Xina?”
“He did not own me, Master,” she answered. “And I was not a whore to be sold, despite Boudica’s assumptions.”
“Yet, I do own you, little one,” he murmured. “Do you wish to kill me?”
“I wish to go on living.”
“You’re quite lovely, Xina,” he purred, as one long-fingered hand brushed the length of her leg and the backs of his knuckles smoothed over the silken skin of her belly before moving downward again.
His face clouded with anger at the childish voice, and he sat up on the couch.
Chloe entered the room and her gaze raked over Xina, who stood impassive and detached at his side.
“What is it, Chloe?” he snapped. The child’s stare was filled with intense loathing, and it surprised him to see such an expression in a face so young.
“You promised you would come to see me before you retired.”
“Go!” He gritted the single word to his slave from between clenched teeth, and rose quickly. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Xina gather her garments and slip out of the chamber in silence.
“Did you plan to rape her?” Chloe asked.
“Rape her?” he repeated, surprised again at the age in the child. What could a girl of ten years know of rape? “She’s a slave, Chloe. My slave. I will do whatever I wish with her.”
“Of course, Father,” she answered.
* * *
She whirled at the soft sound of her friend’s voice. The old slave Gaius had been waiting for her to return to the kitchen, and she saw the worry that aged his gentle features. He was one of the only men she had ever met who’d showed her true kindness despite the brief time they’d known each other.
“I’m fine, Gaius,” she assured him.
“You were not delayed long.” His eyes did not meet hers.
“Chloe arrived, and he sent me away,” she said with an ironic smile. “I wonder what she would say if she knew how welcome I found her interruption.”
“Be very careful what you say in this house, Xina,” Gaius warned quietly. “There are many who would happily tell the general your words.”
She shuddered, the response involuntary. Angered, Lucius would be a lethal force to face. She had no real desire to die at his hand.
“I promise to exercise more care in the future, dear Gaius,” she said and went to hug the old man.
Gaius held her tightly and led her to the servant’s chambers. He relinquished his hold with reluctance when they reached the crowded rooms, and she kissed his cheek before slipping away from him.
* * *
Xina tried to stay hidden within the general’s vast household during the days that followed his banquet. She saw the child, Chloe, watching her often. The girl’s mother was withdrawn, and Xina knew the other woman was seething much of the time. The son, Darius, who was spoken of in hushed tones, had yet to appear. Nydia gave all the outward appearances of a dutiful and faithful wife, but her eyes darkened with hatred more often than not when Lucius was near.
Lucius had not called Xina to his chambers since her first night in the house.
“Wake up, Xina!” Gaius hissed as he passed her in the kitchen. “If Tiberius catches you daydreaming, you’ll live to regret it.”
“He wouldn’t risk offending the great general by handling what does not belong to him,” she snapped, her voice low but dripping with derision and anger.
“You belong to the household, Xina,” Gaius warned. “If the general chooses you to warm his bed, you’ll be accorded your right to arrogance. Until then, Tiberius is one of many who may take from you.”
“The last man who made such a foolhardy mistake is probably still bleeding,” Xina said with a smile. “But, I will heed your warning, dear friend,” she added kindly. Gaius was the oldest of the general’s slaves, and he was a constant source of wisdom and gentle strength. Lucius had handed her over to the old man as soon as he’d brought her into the house.
“The general wants you, Xina,” a young voice informed her in a whisper.
Xina felt her heart begin to pound. She peered at Drusilla, another of the house slaves with whom she’d formed a casual friendship. The girl trembled with fright at being spoken to by Lucius. She was reduced to such fits of quivering each and every time he spoke directly to her, and Xina felt irritated beyond measure as she realized a small portion of the girl’s fright was indeed infectious.
With a heavy sigh, she left the kitchen.
* * *
Lucius was just stepping from the bath when Xina entered his chambers and stood with her back to the door. He cleared the room with a gesture, then beckoned her forward. Her look was focused on the floor. He touched her chin and forced her to meet his gaze.
“Your brother has returned in triumph. Pompeii’s champion remains undefeated,” he told her. “He will fight in the arena at today’s games.”
“And he will win, Master,” she replied.
Lucius handed her a large bath sheet and smiled as he waited for her to put the soft material to his wet skin.
Xina tried to still the shaking that assailed her, but knew she hadn’t been successful when his smile deepened to a grin. Determined, she began to wipe away the droplets of water that clung to the general’s fair skin. His nakedness had been no shock to her; she’d seen many men this way. But Lucius was different from most men she’d met, and his long limbs were well muscled and lean. His hips were narrow; his contoured chest dusted with light brown fur, and strength was obvious in the solidness of his shoulders and arms. She catalogued, unconsciously, every detail of his form as she worked in silence. When she walked behind him and touched the broad expanse of his back, she had to pull away from the almost overwhelming desire to caress, not merely rub, the supple curve of his muscles.
As if Lucius felt the shift of her mood and her unwanted discovery of pleasure, he took the sheet from her hands and tossed it aside.
“On your knees, girl,” he whispered. The order sounded more a persuasive request than a demand.
“Please…” She knelt before him, her eyes never leaving his. “Do not…”
He ignored her protest, and strong hands touched each side of her face, then guided her mouth to the smooth, rigid length of his cock. When she resisted, the pressure of his fingers increased to create sharp pain. A gasp escaped her and she closed her eyes as she tried to obey his commands.
“Well, Father,” a new voice drawled. “I see you’re being entertained.”
Lucius laughed, but refused to allow Xina to pull away from her erotic task. It had been too long since he’d subjugated innocence, and her inexperience was as arousing as it was amusing.
“Darius.” The general gave him a cold smile.
He paused to really look at his son for the first time in months, and he marveled at the boy’s resemblance to him. His son was fair and patrician in appearance like he was, handsome, tall, and strong in a lean, lethal manner. Even the blue of his own eyes was repeated in his son’s brilliant sky-hued gaze. They also had the same sense of commanding presence and power, which was perhaps the most disconcerting revelation.
“Your mother’s been waiting for you.”
The young man shrugged. “When she’s not waiting for me, she’s waiting for you. It’s what she does.” His imperious gaze fell to the girl kneeling before his father, her mouth sucking while Lucius stroked her hair. “This one’s new, isn’t she?”
Lucius’ breath caught, and his head fell back as his body shuddered. When he looked at his son again, he still felt mildly dazed from his recent pleasure.
“This is Xina,” he informed Darius. “And she is not to be bothered by you, or your friends. Do you understand?”
Darius laughed at the command and dismissed the order with a wave of his hand. “Fuck her to your heart’s content, Father. I have a far more intriguing partner to amuse me.”
Lucius might have shared his son’s laughter, but for an instant he caught a light in the young man’s eyes that was almost terrifying. Just as the spark registered, it vanished, and he wondered, as he stared into the impassive face of his son, if it had been nothing more than a trick of light.
In the distance, Vesuvius grumbled and burped smoke into the air. Lucius stared at the puff of grayish cloud through the open window of his chambers, and ice kissed the back of his neck, then dissipated.
“I’ll tell Mother you’ll be ready in a moment,” Darius said with a disdainful glance at the slave girl who was still on her knees, crying softly.
* * *
Lucius accepted the rich, jewel-encrusted belt Xina held out for him, and, out of the corner of her eyes, she saw him smile when she refused to look at him. He fitted the belt to his waist, straightened his robes, then touched Xina’s cheek.
“We’ll continue this later. After the games.”
Xina nodded; she didn’t trust her voice to function.
He laughed as he strode from the room.
Within moments, Xina crumpled to the floor and retched.
Gaius found her after the general and his family had left for the arena. He helped her clean her mess and tried to offer what comfort he could.
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BUY AT SMASHWORDS BEFORE APRIL 8TH USING THIS CODE NN36X AND RECEIVE A 50% DISCOUNT.
(Available in Kindle, ePub, and more)