"My name is Tessa. Salvatorus sent me here to seek
protection. He told me youâ€™d provide."
"Huh." The manâ€™s mouth twisted in a smirk. "Now, I know
thatâ€™s not right because Salvatorus should know better than
to send your kind to me."
"Special circumstances. Please, I need you."
Some emotion crossed his hard face, something she didnâ€™t
understand, so she pushed on.
"My name is Thesan, but I go by Tessa now." She paused,
waiting to see if her name struck any chord at all with
him, but his expression never changed.
She sighed. So much for being a formerly beloved
goddess. That and five bucks would get her a Starbucks
mocha latte these days.
"Your nameâ€™s supposed to ring a bell?" He crossed his
arms over that deliciously perfect chest.
She shook her head. "Itâ€™s okay. Itâ€™s been several
thousand years since anyone worshipped me on a regular
basis. Of course you wouldnâ€™t know my name."
His gaze narrowed. "Worshipped you?"
She stood a little taller and pointed her nose into the
air. "Thesan, Goddess of the Dawn, at your service."
"Yeah, right," he grunted. "Goddess, my ass. The deities
donâ€™t live down here with the common people, babe. And the
only Goddess of the Dawn I know is Aurora, and you ainâ€™t
She held her smile though she had to grit her teeth to
do it. "No, I am not Aurora, for which you should be
grateful. Sheâ€™sâ€¦" a worthless, ugly cowâ€¦ "not worth talking
about. And most of the Etruscan pantheon still lives in
this time and place."
His gaze never faltered. "And thatâ€™s what you are?
She nodded, unsure if her affiliation would help or
hinder her cause.
He grunted again, but in response to what she couldnâ€™t
tell. "That still doesnâ€™t explain why you need me for
protection. Arenâ€™t you deities supposed to be all powerful
and shit like that?"
Absently, she rubbed at a raw spot on her wrist from the
ropes and saw his gaze arrow in on it. "Not really. I was
never all powerful, but I very much enjoyed what I did."
And then that bubble-headed, Barbie-doll bitch Aurora
took my job andâ€”
Okay, deep breath. No need to hash all that out again.
Itâ€™d been centuries. She should be over it. Really.
"When the Roman pantheon usurped our roles, some of us
becameâ€¦ obsolete." She truly hated that word. "Thereâ€™s only
one sun, after all, and, wellâ€¦" She forced a
smile. "Anyway, I retained my midwifery duties, but over
the years, some of us have become mostlyâ€¦ forgotten." And
that really sucked. "Some of us still serve the magical
races of the Etruscans, the Enu and the Fata. But mostly,"
she shrugged, hating the hollow feeling her chest, "we
Was that pity she saw in his eyes? Damn him, thatâ€™s not
what she wanted. Her back straightened, but he spoke before
she could say anything else.
"That still doesnâ€™t explain why you need me."
No, it didnâ€™t, and she could only hope that when she
told him, he didnâ€™t kick her out on her butt.
He held up one hand. "God of the Underworld, right?"
She nodded. "We call it AitĂˇs, but yes. Heâ€™s one of the
gods who has retained his position through the millennia,
and heâ€™s not very happy about it. Heâ€™s been stuck in AitĂˇs,
trapped there, really, and heâ€™s decided he wants to be
released from his service."
"And what does that have to do with you? And me?"
"He plans to consume deities and absorb their powers,
which will make him more powerful." She shuddered just
thinking about it. "I believe heâ€™s trying to break free of
AitĂˇs and is tracking Etruscan goddesses through their
dreams. I believe heâ€™s already taken one and has decided
His expression remained unchanged. "I can see why you
might have a problem with this, but why should I care?"
"If Charun is released from AitĂˇs, the dead will follow
him out, and then everyone on earth will have a problem."
His eyebrows lifted. "So? Iâ€™m not the police, lady. Iâ€™m
not a god. I donâ€™t have an infinite lifespan, and I donâ€™t
like to do dirty work for deities. They tend to fuck you
over. Iâ€™m just a guyâ€”"
"No, I know thatâ€™s not true. I know what you are, Caligo
of the Cimmerians."