Though he was one of the immortals, Taranis had always felt a kinship with the fragile humans. His brethren ridiculed his decision to walk among them openly. The mortals themselves often feared him and the powers he could not always hold at bay. Yet Taranis could not stay away from the people. He longed to be one of them—to share their simple joys and even their sorrows. Most of all, he yearned to know the fulfillment of love. He would have cast aside his ability to rock the earth and endure any amount of human suffering in exchange for one fleeting moment in the arms of the woman he’d loved for millennia. It was a heart he had, as of yet, failed to capture—and capture it he must if his desire to be human were ever to be approved. The other gods agreed to grant his wish for mortality only when a human woman heard him speak his words of love and returned that affection of her own free will. It was an ultimatum that would have been simple for any of his heavenly brothers, but for Taranis it was a deadly game. He detested the other gods all the more for their heartlessness and childish folly.
Most would think it would be no challenge for a god to sway a mortal’s heart. It was true Taranis had a handsome face and a stunning physique that made village women and nobility alike swoon long before he ever opened his mouth. It was when he finally moved his lips that their illusions were shattered. After all, he was the God of Thunder and had a voice that matched his title.
Taranis sighed while he watched Calista slip from the water. Even then he didn’t get a clear view because she was hidden behind the brambles as she replaced her petticoats and girdles. For centuries he had waited for this one woman to return to him, for no other was her equal. He would not choose lightly when his mortal partner would be his soul mate for all time, connecting again in each life when they were reborn. He knew there was only one soul whose fire matched his own, and though he was certain she had been reborn many times, only twice had he found her. In her first incarnation she was an Amazon, and in the next she chose the role of a virgin priestess—both times she was lured away by his sister goddesses to prevent their joining. He’d still attempted to win her love, but he had failed the challenge laid out by the other gods and was forced to remain immortal. This time Taranis truly believed things would be different.
Calista always had a warrior spirit, but she’d grown stronger in her most recent incarnation. She ran with the boys and bested them at swordplay, but showed no interest in their advances. She had refused the hand of more than one lovesick admirer, claiming to choose her freedom over the docile life of wife and mother. He adored her feisty, fighting spirit. However, Taranis believed there was more to her adamant rejections than even she was aware of. Deep in his soul, he knew Calista was still searching for her true mate. Taranis was certain this time he would not fail. She was waiting for him, and once they were together, he would never begrudge her the freedom she craved. He wanted only to share in it. He simply couldn’t believe such a spirited woman would wind up like the others. This time Taranis was certain Calista would be able to bear the weight of his love.
Taranis waited until Calista was fully clothed, though he knew she was not overly concerned with modesty. Perhaps it was more his own nerves that held him back, but he knew he could not wait forever to reveal himself. Just as she bent down to pluck a wildflower, he stepped into the clearing. He did not bother to hide his true self. To her mortal eyes his skin shone with the golden aura of the gods, but beneath that, he hoped she saw the gentleness in his emerald eyes.
“Bless me heart!” Though there was not a glimmer of fear in her dark eyes, Calista fell to her knees, as awed by his magnificent beauty as he was by hers. “Is it Cernunnos himself come to take me? Or Dagda? Tell me your will, my lord. I will do what I can to honor you. I am not afraid.”
“I am Taranis, God of Thunder,” he announced.
GiveawayEnter to win one of three copies of "Thunderstruck" by Laura DeLuca.
a Rafflecopter giveaway