Jul 23 2013 12:00pm
Styxx: Exclusive Sneak Peek Excerpt
Just when you thought doomsday was over . . .
Centuries ago Acheron saved the human race by imprisoning an ancient evil bent on absolute destruction. Now that evil has been unleashed and it is out for revenge.
As the twin to Acheron, Styxx hasn’t always been on his brother’s side. They’ve spent more centuries going at each other’s throats than protecting their backs. Now Styxx has a chance to prove his loyalty to his brother, but only if he’s willing to trade his life and future for Acheron’s.
The Atlantean goddess of Wrath and Misery, Bethany was born to right wrongs. But it was never a task she relished. Until now.
She owes Acheron a debt that she vows to repay, no matter what it takes. He will join their fellow gods in hell and nothing is going to stop her. But things are never what they seem, and Acheron is no longer the last of his line. Styxx and Acheron must put aside their past and learn to trust each other or more will suffer.
Yet it’s hard to risk your own life for someone who once tried to take yours, even when it's your own twin, and when loyalties are skewed and no one can be trusted, not even yourself, how do you find a way back from the darkness that wants to consume the entire world? One that wants to start by devouring your very soul?
Get a sneak peek of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Styxx (available September 3, 2013) with an excerpt of a specially selected scene. Read an exclusive excerpt to see a scene from Styxx and Acheron's childhood, and then click here for more exclusive Styxx content.
Bethany toyed with the ring on her finger as she waited, yet another day, for a visit she was certain would never come again. Her Hector was dead. She knew it.
If not from their war then from his homecoming slaughter that had all but destroyed Prince Styxx’s Stygian Omada. While her family had laughed and rejoiced over the treachery of the Greek dogs, the news had struck her like a blow.
Hector had to be dead or he’d have come to her by now.
Sick to her stomach and saddened more than she’d ever been, she started to rise then felt a sudden presence near her. “Who goes there?”
For several heartbeats, she heard nothing.
Then a deep, low whisper answered her. “A weary soldier who is fearful that he’s been forgotten or replaced.”
Tears filled her eyes and choked her. “My Hector has not been forgotten and he could never be replaced.”
Only then did he kneel by her side and pull her against him. He was much leaner than he’d been, but also much more ripped. His muscles were even larger and harder than before. She cradled his head in her hands as he rocked her in his arms. While his hair was shorter than it’d been when he left her, he now had a full beard.
“I lived only for the chance that I could come back and hold you again.”
Hot tears flowed down her cheeks. “I hate you for the pain you’ve caused me in your absence. You beast! The fear that you were dead and burned...”
He sucked his breath in sharply as she touched his back. “Hector?”
“I’ve returned, but not in one whole piece.” He pulled away and carefully sat down on the ground by her side.
“What happened? Why did you remove my amulet?”
“Once we reached Greece, I foolishly took it off to toy with it. I had no idea we were about to be attacked by our own allies. But have no fear . . .” He placed her hand over his wrist to show her that it was back in place.
“You were hurt?”
“I certainly didn’t stab my own back. Though, given my superior incompetence, I’m surprised I haven’t found a way to do so.”
She kissed his cheek. “Is it just your back?”
“Sadly, no. I took twenty-and-four stabs to my back, hand, side, and front, and one to my left cheek, just to make sure I was good and humiliated.”
She touched his face.
“Not that cheek, my sweet. That one wouldn’t have bothered me so.” In spite of the seriousness, she laughed. That explained the peculiar way he was sitting, but...“You are not funny. Can I do anything to comfort you?”
He pulled her hand to his lips and inhaled her skin before he nibbled her fingers, then he stretched out on his side . . . with his left cheek up. “You comforted me the moment I saw you here. I swear you’ve grown even more beautiful in my absence.”
She lay down, facing him. “I’m scared to touch you for fear of causing you pain.”
He placed her hand over his heart and held it there so that she could feel the rapid beat through his chiton. “Even if you hurt me, I’ll enjoy it.”
“You’re so masochistic.”
“I am indeed.” Sighing, he laid his head down on his arm, next to her head then moved her hand to his bearded cheek so that she could feel the expressions on his face. “What pains me most is that after all these long, arduous months, I can’t make love to you like I’ve dreamed of doing every single night.”
She moved her hand to toy with his curls that wrapped around her fingers. His hair was shorter than when he’d left, but it was still long enough to tease her. “Has anyone ever told you that your voice is very similar to Prince Styxx’s?”
“And when did you hear his voice, my lady?”
“Several times when he’s been in public. But you’re nothing like him.”
“How are we so different?”
She kissed his nose. “You are sweet and precious. And there isn’t an arrogant bone in all of your body.”
“Perhaps the prince isn’t as bad as you assume.” She arched a brow at that. “You defend him?”
“I’ve suffered and bled for him these many months past. I’d have to be a royal bastard to not defend him now.”
She made a face at him. “Let’s not bicker over my opinion of your worthless prince. You’re the only man I want to think about right now.” She kissed him lightly on the lips. “I’ve missed you so.”
Styxx closed his eyes as she licked and teased his neck. This alone had been worth coming back for.
But even as that thought brought a smile to his lips, fear made his stomach ache. He’d heard the same contempt in her voice when she spoke of the prince as his family had for him. How would she react if she learned who he really was?
Never mind the fact that for almost three years now, he’d lied to her.
She would hate you as much as everyone else. Worse, she’d never forgive him. She’d think that he’d mocked her and, like Ryssa, accuse him of horrible things he’d never thought or done or intended. And if she ever learned of the wretched, degrading bargain Apollo had forced on him . . .
He wanted to vomit as fear and hatred mingled inside his heart.
Why can’t I find someone who can accept all of me? The only one who did was Galen. Only he saw Styxx’s heart and understood his real intentions and actions.
“Why are you so sad? Did I say something wrong?”
“No.” It was both a lie and the truth. He didn’t want her to censor her words around him. Not even when they kicked him in the crotch and left him bleeding. “I’m not quite the boy who left you, Beth. I fear war has changed me.”
“In ways that are hard to define. I spent two years ankle-deep in blood and body parts. I’ve held the hands of old men and young boys as they took their last breaths. I’ve seen boys who were far too young, who weren’t even old enough to shave yet, cut down and taken by illnesses we couldn’t treat. We burned our dead, day and night, until the stench of it is permanently lodged in my throat and nose. There were days when the fighting was so thick that enemy arrows and spears blocked out the sun from us.”
Bethany’s heart clenched at the pain she heard in his voice. She knew each of the battles he spoke of, and the horrors. But this was the first time she’d seen them through the eyes of the men who actually fought them. Men who didn’t know if they’d live through it or lose a part of their body . . .
Never before had she understood the fear of the families left behind and how hard it was to wait for a loved one they might never see again. Tears welled in her eyes as she wished she could take those memories from him. “How did you stand it?”
“I would think of you. Knowing you were here, depending on me to come back...that you would cry if I didn’t...I’m not sure I would have made it through some of the battles had you not been in my heart.” He rubbed her hand against the line of his jaw. “I definitely wouldn’t have ridden home so fast.”
She smiled at his humor then kissed him. “I don’t ever want to be without you again.”
“Hopefully you won’t. I’ve heard that the city-states have joined together for another truce that should last.”
Bethany’s stomach shrank at his words. She knew just how temporary the truce would be. “Promise me, if something happens and we have to go to war again, you won’t fight.”
“I can’t do that, Beth.”
Styxx clenched his teeth as he sought a reason he could give her that wouldn’t reveal his true identity. “How can I stay at home knowing that men who have fought by my side and protected me, men I have bled to protect, are going to die? As hard as it is to live with the memories of war, I would never be able to face myself as a coward.”
She didn’t take his words well, but neither did she speak against them. Leaning forward, Styxx nibbled her lips, reveling in the taste he’d missed more than any other. “I’m tired of speaking and thinking about war. Tell me how you’ve been. Is your uncle still annoying you? Has your mother finally killed your Aunt Epi? How’s your mother? Did your grandfather ever get his sword back from his brother?”
Bethany was stunned by his words. “I can’t believe you remember all of that.”
“There is nothing about you I forget.”
Copyright © 2013 by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
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New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is a regular in the #1 spot. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre in which she writes. With more than 30 million copies of her books in print in more than one hundred countries, her current series include The Dark-Hunters, The League, and Chronicles of Nick. Her Chronicles of Nick series is soon to be a major motion picture. And the Dark-Hunters will soon be gracing both the big and little screens.