Hey All!

My next novel, Olympian Confessions: Hera will be out very soon! I’m posting the first chapter as a sneak peek for my lovely readers to enjoy 🙂 Thank you everyone for your support, it is truly appreciated <3

Synopsis: Some might view Olympus as the glittering palace of the Gods, but Hera sees it for what it truly is: a prison. After being tricked into a marriage she didn’t want, with a God she didn’t love, Hera is now the Queen of Olympus. In order to protect those she loves, she must find a way to become a shield between others and the volatile fury of her new husband.

Zeus is the King of Olympus and he wants Hera to be his in all ways. He is a God that takes great pleasure in exerting his power over others and while he succeeded in securing her hand in marriage, Hera’s love and obedience prove frustratingly elusive. Zeus intends to make every effort to correct this. Hera must learn to navigate the escalating danger as Zeus does his best to drive away her allies and bring her to heel. If Hera is strong enough to truly fight back, she has the chance to change the fate of Olympus forever.

 

Olympian Confessions: Hera

PART 1: PRISONER OF HEAVEN

CHAPTER 1 -HERA

“Be my bride, Hera.” His arms snake around my waist. The soft gray of his eyes has a magnetic quality, but I have seen them turn as quickly as a storm and I want no part of it.

“Never.” I shove at him and dance out of reach. I’m afraid that one day he will not take my rejection so peacefully. I have managed to evade such an arrangement so far, but he is persistent. He frightens me.

Zeus, the God of Thunder, stalks towards me, lithe muscles poised. I brace myself for him to strike me. I have seen what he is capable of, watched him tear Titans apart and spread their blood across his face like war paint. I tuck my fear behind a stoic face and spine of iron. We are alone in the vast courtyard on Olympus, surrounded by nothing beyond the ornate marble pillars and the wide blue sky. I come here only when he wants to see me, to prevent him from coming to find me on his own. He makes no move to touch me, though fury turns in his eyes. I watch his features arrange into a charming smile, showing off a talent he has for hiding his true nature from those who don’t know him as well as I do. “Find your bride elsewhere, I will never consent to being yours.”

Energy crackles around him. The acrid scent of electricity burns my nose and his smile falters for a brief moment. The emptiness of this place fills me. Zeus crafted himself an elaborate palace on Olympus laden with gold and marble that blinds the eyes with each reflective wink of sunlight. There are dozens of rooms, more than enough rooms for all of our siblings to live here. I have never been sure why he thought to craft such a palace when none of us have ever expressed a desire to live so close to him.

“One day you will.” His words press thickly upon me. The power in them makes it difficult to breathe. I can feel it trying to reach through my mental barriers, to invade my thoughts so he can gain control. He’s not strong enough to do so and my mind remains my own. He picks up an auburn curl and tucks it over my shoulder as he slides his fingers over the curve of my neck. Goosebumps break out over my skin. Zeus is the God of Thunder and Lightning as well as Lord of the Sky. He wields his power with a frightening expertise. In a single thought he can excite the nerves with the gentle brush of electricity and a moment later he can pour so much power into the body that it could tear someone apart from within. He smirks at me. He makes a striking picture with his ebony curls, neatly groomed black beard and gray eyes set against deep gold skin. “One day you will take me in your arms, Hera. On that day you will be mine.”   

Fear trips through me, but it’s a laugh that escapes my lips. The complete ridiculousness of his statement drowns me in mirth and anxiety. “Should I ever do so, and I never will, I would be your bride.”

He grabs me sharply and gives me a good shake, rattling my teeth. “Swear it. Swear those words on Styx.” I try to shrink away, but he holds fast. Making such an oath would be true folly, though I have no intentions of ever touching him willingly so how dangerous could it be? The River Styx guards the boundary between this world and the Underworld. It is the oath-binder, the strange magic it possesses forcing whoever swears upon it to fulfill the oath or perish. “Swear it and I will swear as well, to never lay hands on you until you have consented to take me in your arms.”

Unease ripples in my belly, but I cling to the sense of safety in those words. I could be safe forever if I agree, free of him. I swallow down my discomfort and make the oath, confident that it will protect me. The power of the sacred river binds me, weaving the strands of the oath into the depths of my being.

He makes his own oath and then his lips curve into a smirk. ‘Oh, Gaia, what have I agreed to?’ The oath seemed so simple, but it occurs to me he never would have asked it of me if he had not found a way around it somehow. Stupid, I should have just run and not looked back. He does not reach towards me, does not move to touch me at all. His lightning energy vibrates over my skin, but then he vanishes, leaving me shivering under the open sky.

I retreat from Olympus, away from the desolate home of my would-be husband. I slip through the aether, the energy that covers the entire world. Immortals treat the aether much like a portal system, diving in at one spot and appearing wherever they please on the other side. I use it to head home, the one place I feel safe.

I was raised by three nymphs; Prosymna, Euboia and Akraia. My sister, Hestia, is stoking the flames of our hearth when I arrive. Her sweet lips curve into a smile as she abandons her post to embrace me. She smells of ash and flame, but also of sweet peas and new leaves. Her flame red hair is bound back in a sleek tail with a few strands escaping to frame a round face and amber eyes. I kiss Hestia’s cheek and try to return her smile, but my lip wobbles.

Our mothers join us in the cave that provides our shelter; mahogany-haired Prosymna, blue-eyed Akraia and dark-skinned Euboia. They have been the bastion of safety and sanity for me since the moment I came into this world.

“Has the Thunderer been after you again?” Prosymna asks. I nod, Prosymna knows me too well. There is not much in the world that scares me anymore. I have lived through horrific battles and while those memories haunt me, their sources have long since been extinguished. Only Zeus is still a threat to me. We take care not to say his name, instead referring to him as the Thunderer or some other epithet so he isn’t able to tune into our conversations. Directly saying the name of a god can draw their attention and we would rather avoid his notice.

Euboia pushes me towards the river that flows adjacent to our cave. If you live with my mothers long enough you come to realize that their solution for any stressful situation is a bath. They remain convinced that the cleansing power of water is a quick fix for most any problem. I slip into the crisp liquid and settle my bottom on one of the rocks we’d shoved in ages ago to provide a seat. I suppose I do feel a little better. Akraia sits with a basket of vegetables, preparing them with an expert hand for our dinner. Neither Hestia or I need to eat. Though we do technically get hungry, we certainly won’t die from malnutrition like our mothers eventually would.

Prosymna combs my hair tenderly, teasing out the many snarls and tangles from the auburn locks. “What does he want?”

“Marriage.” The word tastes bitter on my tongue and I sink a little further into the water.

“Perhaps you should.” We all look at Akraia as though she’s grown a second head. Seemingly oblivious, she continues on. “You would be the Queen of the New Age of the Gods. Surely that must count for something. The Age of the Titans is past, you would rule the Age of Olympus.” I love her, but her words fill me with distaste.

“How can you say that?” I hiss. “He is horrible.”

“My dear,” Prosymna murmurs soothingly, “she may be right. That god-child is impetuous and he means to have you. We cannot protect you from him if he comes for you.” Betrayal cracks my heart. At first, they had simply cautioned me away from Zeus, but their advice shifted a little each time he asked me to be his wife. They are right, however much I wish they weren’t. They would never be able to stand up to him if he came for me. I might survive such an encounter, but nymphs are not immortal and I could never live with myself if I was the reason my family lost their lives. I vow then that if it comes down to it, I will find the strength to lead myself to a life of misery to protect them. I love them too much to allow them to suffer on my behalf.

“I could stand against him.” Hestia’s words are hopeful, but ultimately my options are running out.

I shake my head. “We have all lived through too much battle, I would not have you fight for me, not when I know how you deplore it.” My sister might be a magnificent warrior and amply gifted with the power of fire, but she hates violence of all sorts and would rather tend her flames in peace. “Besides, he has sworn to never lay a hand on me.” I curl into myself and ignore the curious looks being shot at me. I stare at the wavering image of myself through the water. What makes me more desirable to the Thunderer than any other immortal female? We share the same features, the same sun-kissed skin, wide hips and strong legs, as many of the others. I don’t understand why he wants me.

“You trust his word?” Euboia rests a hand on my shoulder. She’s the darkest of the sisters; black curls, skin brown as the soil from which she once sprung, a beauty like the Earth herself.

“I must, he swore on Styx.” I am just as bound as Zeus by the oaths we swore. To break an oath sworn on Styx is to destroy the innermost part of yourself. It is the closest an immortal can come to true death.

Euboia stares at me, incredulous. “How did you manage that?” I relay the words we each spoke and the circumstances.

My mothers look to one another and Prosymna chews her lip. “Sweet Hera, whether you wed and bed him or not, I doubt you will ever be free of him.” 

“What is she to do then?” Hestia asks them. “Our brother is not known for taking no as an answer. There have been rumors about him and his treatment of some of the Titan women.”

Akraia nods. “He has taken others without their permission, forced them to his bed. He has not done this with Hera. It is obvious that he desires you, but the question remains, why does he not just take you as he does the others?”

That’s all for now! Thanks for stopping by!

-Erin