I'm really excited to introduce to you today an author with an elegant name (I just love her name!) and an intriguing Science Fiction/Fantasy novel. She's sharing an ENTIRE chapter with you!
Pantheon must become Emperor of Pantera. To complete his requirements, he must take a wife. Women on Pantera are scarce. To find this wife he must give up his power and search the earth. Only a mortal worthy of his seed can survive beneath his passions.
Shyra, leaves for work but never arrives. Unfortunately, she’s Pantheon’s next victim. He’s brute-like and lacking in compassion. Will she meet her demise like the others or will Pantheon’s seed reveal the true empress?
Shyra's car stalled only a few miles from home. No doubt, she was going to be late for work. She glanced at the digital clock in the dash. Already nine-fifteen. Cringing, she reached for her phone and placed a call to Phyllis and her annoying ringtone, the one Shyra absolutely hated.
Finally, Phyllis answered. "Hey, girl."
"Phyllis. Please tell me you're already at the office?"
"Sure, what's up?"
"Listen. You're not going to believe this. I'm stranded on Highway 6. I'm not too far from home. I just don't understand why this thing won't crank."
Phyllis was not usually an early bird, but today her voice sounded strong and clear. "You want me to tell Golden you're going to be late?"
"Would you, sweetie?" Shyra felt as if she might cry.
"Sure, anything for the VP of Radiant Star Cosmetics."
"Thanks, sweetie. Take my PowerPoint to the meeting with you. If I don't make it in time, my proposal for the new line will speak for itself."
"No problem, girl. I know you've got your stuff together."
Shyra shut off her phone and observed her surroundings. Nothing. This was a desolate stretch of highway she absolutely hated, sparse traffic and no gas station or stores. From her house, maybe a shortcut to work, yet sparsely travelled.
She looked to her left and her eyes grew wide. What the . . . ? Lush trees, flowers, and green foliage surrounded a small pond, despite the fact it was still winter. How was the phenomenon possible?
This spectacular sight took her quite by surprise. In awe, she reached up and slowly lowered her shades. If she didn't know any better, she'd swear the area smelled of paradise.
Speeding through this stretch of highway, she'd never noticed this pond before. The water shimmered lazily; the tail of a small fish hurled water just above the surface. Tossing her phone onto the seat, she realized she'd been so busy, she'd missed God's precious handiwork. Working at Radiant Star Cosmetics was difficult, and the hours were long. Time was fleeting, and she hardly took a moment for herself.
She pushed her spirals from her eyes and turned the key once again. Puffing a sigh, she ground her teeth in frustration. "Will you please start? Come on—come on! What on earth is wrong with this car?"
Folding her arms, she groaned. "This is just great!" Two years on her new job as VP, and still, she was "in training." After beating her coworker, Gene, out of the prestigious position, this was just the setback she didn't need.
Mr. Golden, the president, had little faith in her management skills. His daily thrill was bashing what he deemed, "the weaker sex," and he greedily relished every opportunity. All Shyra needed now was another blow to her ego. Her gut couldn't be wrong. Gene was sabotaging her records, and she knew it.
After licking her wounds, Shyra decided to get out and check under the hood. Dressed for her presentation, she'd sacrifice her two-piece, houndstooth suit for the cause. Her dad had taught her a little about automobiles, claiming any knowledge of cars was a good thing.
Shyra reached down and yanked the hood latch; it popped in response. Leaning against the door, she pulled the handle and gave a shove. There were no cars moving along the highway and no one in sight. As she moved swiftly, her stilettos clicked across the pavement. Though she loved their pleated ankle bow, the shoes were not comfortable. After slipping her fingers beneath the hood, she triggered the latch, and finally raised the hood.
Lowering her shades, Shyra gasped. Technology hell—she knew it. All the components gathered into one neat piece. Everything encased in a hard plastic covering. What is this computerized mess? Because her car was a newer model, she didn't recognize many of the components.
A strong wind tousled her hair, while she cast her shaded eyes toward the sky. With a mocking cry, a lone bird soared high above her. "What are you looking at?" She smarted angrily back.
Bringing her hands down, she slammed the hood with a curse, only to turn and stumble over a man who suddenly appeared beside her. A scream erupted from her lips. After whipping off her shades, she clutched her wildly racing heart. In response, the man stepped back but said nothing.
"Damn it! What's wrong with you? You can't just walk up on a woman like that!"
He was a hulking man, darkly tanned, seemingly quiet but pitiless. Staring awkwardly into his deep-set eyes, Shyra tried desperately to calm herself.
A healed scar gashed his left brow—thick, straight brows that framed eyes almost black as coal. He was amazingly large. After running her gaze over his frame, she decided the word strange did not do him justice. The long lines of his sideburns led to his thin lips. His square jaw set prominent.
Loosely curled ringlets framed his tawny and masculine face. Shoulder-length tresses appearing baby fine blew gently in the morning breeze. A leather band spanned his head, holding his blond mane in place.
He wore buckskin pants tucked inside buckskin leather boots. The boots were burnished tan with rounded toes and flat soles, and several large buckles strapped them on from calf to sole.
Having a modern twist, his double-breasted buckskin jacket set at his waist and buckled midway to his chest. A delicately lined flap lay open, exposing the hairs on his upper body. "Iŝ Ÿőǜŗ ſƏħĳčŀ ŝŧąĳĳəď?" he asked.
"Excuse me?" Shyra stretched and leaned forward. Perhaps fear had impaired her hearing. She placed her fingers to her ears and wiggled them slightly. His accent she'd never heard before. "I'm sorry. I didn't quite get that."
Never breaking his stare, the man narrowed his eyes. "I asked, is your vehicle stalled?"
"Yes," she sighed. "Yes it is." She looked down the highway. No sign of another vehicle. "Where did you come from? Were you walking?" She saw no motorcycle, though he appeared dressed to ride one.
The man turned toward the pond. "I was there, woman."
Placing her shades in her hair, she drew her brows into a frown. "There was no one there a minute ago. Were you behind a tree?"
He blinked his dark eyes slowly. "I have no need of cloaking."
Unsure of his meaning, she gave a brittle smile, then placed a blown spiral behind her ear. "Cloaking?"
"O-kay." Shyra slapped her palms together, then rubbed them briskly. By comparison to anyone she knew, this guy was weird.
Though his baritone voice rang deep, his words were halting and uncertain. When he spoke, his words echoed in his chest, then resonated outward, as if his lips and voice were off sync, each word, stilted.
Even so, his curious accent brought splendid sensations to the pit of her stomach, but she knew better than to trust him. His mannerisms were unnatural and medieval in nature. Surely, her new medication had horrific side effects. Next time, she'd take it with breakfast.
His physical appearance was grand, alluring, and indeed, intriguing. "So, do you have a car?"
He folded his arms. "I have a mode of transportation."
Shyra looked behind her and then to her left. "Do you work someplace around here?"
"Do you live around here?"
His reply carried a lifeless tone. "It would appear so."
Like pulling teeth—this conversation was going nowhere. "Where?" She raised her hand to shield her eyes. "I don't see any houses."
Pointing toward the brush across the highway, he replied, "Beyond the water, woman."
"Across that pond?" she asked, rife with aggravation.
"Well." Shyra glimpsed his hands. While they appeared strong, they seemed soft and clean. "Can you help me get my car started?"
"I have limited knowledge of such things."
A car zoomed past. The swift breeze tugged at her clothing and scattered her hair. Heavy exhaust fumes inhibited her next precious breath. Coughing erratically, she finally managed, "I can't just stand here. I'd better call the garage."
Shyra walked around to the driver's side, opened her car's door, slid onto the seat, and reached for her purse. When she picked up her cell, she dropped it at once. "Ouch!"
She turned toward the stranger, who stood just outside her car door, giving her a quizzical look.
"It's hot," she explained. "That's never happened before. I don't know why it heated up like that."
He continued to stare.
"Do you have a cell phone?" she asked.
"I don't have need of such things."
"Are you lost in time or something? You don't work in this area, and you don't have a cell phone. Do you have a land line?"
"Yes," he said, with arms still folded. "I have a land line."
"Finally. May I use your phone?" Shyra got out of the car. Before she approached him, however, he drew his brows tightly and glowered.
"Woman. You antagonize me."
Taken aback, she moved from his personal space. "Look." She put out her hands to calm him. "I don't mean to piss you off, okay." She shook her head. "I just need to get to work."
Unexpectedly, the man closed the door to her car. She heard the locks click into place. Horror gripped her soul. "My keys! What have you done? My purse, my phone! What am I going to do?"
The man's scowl deepened. "Woman! If you wish my help, you must trust me."
Staggering with realization, Shyra addressed him sharply. "Why the hell should I trust you? You've just shut me off from the world! No one comes down this stretch of highway."
"This path is inhabited by me."
"You're asking me to trust you, but I don't even know who you are."
"I am Pantheon."
"Pantheon." Shyra shook her head in denial. "No one is named Pantheon."
"If you find fault with my title, woman, we must resolve this burden."
The guy was a certified nut. No telling what he was capable of doing. Shyra recoiled quickly and pasted on a smile. "Actually, Pantheon is a great name. I kinda like the sound of it."
"Walk forth, you bothersome imp."
"Bothersome. I didn't ask you to help me. I only wanted to use your phone. If that's such a problem, then you can just step—!"
Pantheon lightly shoved Shyra's shoulder. She stumbled, almost tripping in her heels. "Stop! I'm walking, okay?"
After searching the desolate highway, she cast her gaze upward. How could she trust this guy? If she refused to leave, perhaps someone would come along and rescue her.
"Woman, you may stay here and bake in the solar rays if that is your wish. I am in no mood to negotiate your wellbeing."
Hearing his reasoning, she shot back with a vengeance. "Of course, I'm putting up a fight. It's not common to just follow a stranger down a fox hole."
"Fox hole? I see no hole for such animal."
This time, Shyra grimaced. "Are you for real?"
Now walking in front of her, he turned to address her statement. "For real?" He repeated. "I am fashioned in my father's image, and he was fashioned from his father. Deny we are very real."
"What the—? It's just that you don't care about anything," she said, stepping gingerly behind him. "You don't even care to know my name."
"Your name is of no concern to me."
"My name is Shyra Thompson. Can you fix your lips to say that?"
"My lips are also my concern."
Shrugging, she felt her eyes widen. The nerve of this guy. Where is he from? His speech pattern is totally mind-boggling . . . almost medieval-sounding. What the hell is that?
Shyra was not quite sure about his strange mannerisms. Then, her thoughts fell on Mr. Golden. She swore she could hear his screams when he discovered she wasn't in the meeting. As she walked along, she visualized Phyllis presenting her PowerPoint, and trying to appease the hothead. She cringed at the chaos of it all.