Share a moment from Mythical Madness Book II:
Providence (releasing May 22nd)
Kai looked up to see Sheridan and Edmond standing close, their hands together. He growled low in his chest as jealously and fury warred within him. So that was her plan, then. Play with him, enslave him to her whims, and keep Dantes on the side. He shook off Dee's hand as the old sailor tried to get his attention.
"Not right now, Dee."
He stopped in mid stride as the old man's voice whipped at him sharply. "You better think before you act, son."
Kai turned to Dee, raising an eyebrow. It wasn't like him to snap and snarl at the crew, but it was even more odd to hear Dee snap back.
"I don’t know what you mean."
Dee's face was worried as he took Kai's shoulder in his gnarled hand. "We often think before we act, Kai, and it haunts us. Don't let a moment's anger addle your brain."
Kai shrugged off the hand, the hollow weight in his stomach growing. He could not stand idly by and let Sheridan plot with his mothers, and play him for a fool.
"I have done plenty of thinking, Dee."
"I can see that you're angry about something, Kai. If it's the goddess, you'd best talk it out with her before we reach Asgaard. You need to have your mind on the mission and not on the woman."
Kai bent to look into the old man's eyes. "My mind is not on the woman, Dee. Now turn the sails toward the wind and carry us on to Asgaard."
Kai turned and stomped away, never seeing Dee's worried frown as he left.
Kai stayed away from Sheridan and Dantes, keeping the rum handy and his eyes on the horizon. He caught her worried frown pointed in his direction more than once, but he turned his back and kept working next to the men. He'd hoped to be able to woo her, to fake a smile and a gentle word, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Yes, he wanted her to pay for plotting with his mothers, but he wasn't a good enough actor to pull it off. Every time he looked at her, saw her smiling at the others or talking with Dantes, the rage boiled up so fast and so furious that he couldn't hide it. It was eating away at his resolve, making it harder and harder to concentrate. Every time she passed within breathing distance he smelled the jasmine and lilac, and the feel of her silky skin would come rushing back to him. He cursed under his breath as the line he was holding slipped from his grip and the man next to him nearly lost his footing. Kai mouthed an apology to the sailor and tried to get himself under control.
The day wore on as the ship made good time toward the northernmost part of the mythical realms. The air between the kingdoms was heavy with rain as they made way toward the area Dantes had circled on the map. From this point, once Asgard became visible, they should be able to use the All Key to enter the kingdom. Kai looked up from his work as the first drop of rain hit his bare shoulders and lighting lit up the sky. He'd buried himself in physical labor all day, until now his body and his mind were both nearing exhaustion. He looked up at the darkening clouds as thunder shook the ship.
"Better tie off the sails and batten the hatches." he said to the man next to him. "It looks like a storm is brewing."
The sailors began moving quickly, tying down anything that could be lost overboard in the storm. Kai lifted the tail of his shirt that he'd tied around his waist and wiped off his forehead. He glanced down as Sheridan hurried up.
"The crew is saying we're in for a terrible storm." She looked up at him with wide eyes.
"Aye. Don't worry. We've been through storms before." He took the flagon of water from her and gulped it back. He wiped his mouth. "You'd best return to your cabin, though."
She stepped closer, her hand going to his chest. "I want to stay with you."
He pushed her hand away as another rumble of thunder rolled past. The ship rocked as the wind began to pick up and the clouds rushed by them in a frenzy.
"I'll be on the deck with the crew."
"Kai, please. I'm afraid."
He laughed, and tried to force down the prick of guilt he felt at her hurt look. "You'll be fine, goddess. Dantes can take care of you, I'm sure."
"Damnit, Kai, I don't want Edmond. I want you."
He faltered for only a second, almost believing her before the memory of her plan wormed its way back into his brain. She had promised his mother that he would be eating from the palm of her hand.
"Go back to your cabin, goddess. The weather is worsening and I don't have time for games."
She caught his arm as he turned to go, and he turned back so fast and so furiously that she nearly fell as he rounded on her.
"What's going on, Kai? What have I done?" She trembled as the wind and rain began to pound the ship, and them, mercilessly. The thunder shook the ship and she stumbled into him. He righted her, and pushed her away before he could become tempted to hold her closer.
"Go back, goddess."
The wind buffeted the ship and lighting hit the mast, the crack of the wood nearly deafening. She hurried after Kai as he tried to help the crew hold the sails in place.
"Captain!" He didn't turn as she stood behind them. "Talk to me!"
He ignored her as the ship rocked and the storm began to worsen. He saw the bank of heavy black clouds ahead and knew that they had no time to change course before the worst of the storm was upon them.
"Everyone below decks!" he shouted, waving the sailors away from the dangerously swaying sails. If the wind gained any more strength the sails might come down, and anyone in the way would be crushed by their weight.
He turned, cursing as he bumped into Sheridan, still standing directly behind him.
"I told you to go below decks!" he yelled over the cacophony of the storm. He dodged her, hurrying to the wheel. He tried to hold them steady as the angry clouds got closer and the rain intensified. He could barely see his hand in front of his face as it pounded down around them. Sheridan struggled up the steps, the wind nearly knocking her over as she tried to get to him. She pushed the wet hair from her face and grabbed onto his arm.
"You have to come downstairs with me!"
He shook her off, and kept his hands on the wheel. The weight of the ship was agony on his arms as he widened his stance and tried to hold the wheel steady. He tried to ignore the sight of her, shivering and bedraggled next to him as the lightning lit up the deck.
"Go inside, Sheridan." It came out more gently than he'd planned, but she shook her head, a stubborn frown on her face.
"Not without you."
"Damnit, goddess. My mothers will protect me. The magic will protect me. Go inside."
"No!" She crossed her arms, her lips frosty blue with cold. "Not without you."
"I'm not going to die, Sheridan. You can try to tempt me with your wiles and have me eating out of the palm of your hand some other time. Go inside!"
Her eyes widened as he used the words she'd said to his mother. He turned back to the wheel, cursing as the clouds began to envelope them and they flew directly into the heart of the storm.
"Where did you hear that?" Her hands were icy on his forearm. He could feel them trembling as she shook his arm. "Where!"
"From your very own lips, goddess." He didn't look down at her, but he heard her gasp of surprise even over the pounding of the rain and the wind. "I won't be tamed, and I won't be toyed with. Now go downstairs."
"Kai, please, you don't understand."
He looked down at her then, some part of him still affected by the soft note of sorrow in her voice. "I understand perfectly, goddess. My mothers hoped you could make me give up the ship. I'm just glad I happened upon your plot before I did something stupid."
"Like falling in love with me?"
He couldn't look at her, wouldn't. He groaned as the wheel pushed against his arms. He held it, but only barely. Lightning struck the deck, a smoldering black ring left on the cypress.
"We can't discuss this here, Sheridan. Go downstairs before you get hurt."
"What does it matter, Kai?"
He turned to her, but she was already walking away. He blinked as she turned back, taking advantage of his position to put her hands on the side of his face and put her lips to his. He was nearly stung by the bite of frost on her lips as she kissed him, almost making him loose control of the ship. She backed away, and stood shivering in the driving rain. Thunder shook the ship and lightning flashed, and in its glow he saw her face illuminated for a second.
"I was trying to save your life, you oaf. Your mothers have seen your death in Asgaard, and only a woman you love can save your life."
"I don't understand." He felt his mind reeling, and that most terrible of blights arising in his chest. Hope. "You want me to love you?"
"If you love me, truly, then you will live."
"That's not how love works, goddess." He staggered as the ship listed and she stumbled back a few steps. "You can't force someone to love you. You can't trick them."
"I don't want to trick you, Kai." Sheridan swayed with the ship. She shook her head, the water cascading over her. "I just wanted you to live. I was willing to do anything to see you survive. I had hoped that I could get you to return my feelings before we arrived in Asgaard."
"Return?" Kai nearly lost control of the wheel as her words rocked him. "That implies you love me already."
She laughed, the wind whipping the wet tendrils of her hair around her. "Gods help me, Captain, but I really do. I wanted to protect you because I love you."
"The magic will protect me, goddess." Kai grimaced as the rain became impossibly heavier and the wind listed the ship again. The framed groaned and he worried it might break apart from the sheer pressure of the storm in the air. He could feel it pushing down on him.
"I hope you're right." She started to turn away, and he saw the lightning. He screamed for her, his mind going blank as it struck him. It hit his chest squarely, and he saw that it wasn't a simple lightning bolt, but a hand, made of lightning. It reached from the darkest cloud overhead and wrapped its fingers around him. He let go of the wheel, not caring as the ship began to tailspin in the wind. He reached for Sheridan, trying to hold his footing on the slippery wood of the deck, but as he leaped for her he was lifted into the air by the fulmination. It illuminated her face, and she was reaching for him as he was pulled away from her. She stumbled at the railing as the lighting lifted him high. He almost grasped her hand, but it slipped away as he was pulled upward.
"Kai!" She stood on the railing, her hand outstretched. He saw his own face mirrored in her eyes, and he was terrified. In an instant, as he was pulled away from her, he knew it himself. He loved her too. It was as plain as the rain on his face.
She watched in horror as he was lost in the fog as the hand made of lightning pulled him into the cloud. He was gone in an instant, only her scream echoing over the wind.