Authors: Amy Sumida
A Taste for Blood
Copyright © 2013 Amy Sumida
All rights reserved.
For Shauna Smith, I wish you'd never left us but I hope your Heaven is full of gorgeous gods and fat kitties.
All of the gods and goddesses in my books are based on actual myths, their attributes woven and altered in what I feel are appropriate ways, but there are some characters who are based on real people and I'd like to acknowledge them here.
Sommer Castor is just as wonderful as her character, a loving mother to three boys, Sam, Kai, and Ryu. Ryu Castor is just as courageous and witty as his character in the book and though Sam didn't get a huge role, he's blessed with an irreverent sense of humor that I hope I can showcase soon. Krystal Holm really is as sassy as she is in the book and she actually does do that eyebrow thing. Thank you all for your inspiration.
I also want to thank both Sommer and Krystal for their help with editing.
More Books by Amy Sumida
The Godhunter Series(in order)
Of Gods and Wolves
Marked by Death
Next in the Series:
Green Tea and Black Death
(A Taste for Blood)
Next in the Series:
The Tainted Web
These books can be read together or separately
Harvest of the Gods & A Fey Harvest
The Magic of Fabric
Feeding the Lwas: A Vodou Cookbook
A Thaisce: A-hash-keh
Damhnait: Dav-net (no, it's not “damn it”)
Dearmad gac aon rud: DER-mud gah in root
Estsanatlehi(Mrs E): Es-tan-AHT-lu-hee
Leanan-Sidhe: Lah-nan Shee
Tsohanoai(Mr. T): So-ha-noe-ayee
Just when you think you're safe, I'll find you. I'll steal you from your Heaven and bring you to my Hell.” Rain sang his words to me like an inverted version of his name, sending them up instead of down. “And in my darkness I'll make you see me..... hear me..... feel me,” he looked up at me, where I was standing at the railing on the second floor of Moonshine, and stared hard. The slow, tribal beat of the music seemed to resonate in my chest as I swayed unconsciously with it, his voice hypnotic in my ears. “Till Heaven and Hell are one... till we are one. Till we are one.”
The crowd on the first floor of Moonshine was full of panting, screaming women, reaching toward the stage as if both Heaven and Hell were indeed within reach and they didn't care which one they touched, as long as it had one of the
in it. I smirked over at my friends who were leaning against the rail beside me and they smirked back. The
were damn good for business.
They were also a damn good distraction for me. I'd actually seen Heaven recently, a couple of them, but I'd literally gone through Hell to get there and I could use a good vacation. At least things had finally calmed down and a vacation was looking like a viable option for once. It's not like I didn't have a lot of destination choices either. I lived in Hawaii, so I didn't have to travel far to see paradise but if I decided to, one of my many god friends could simply trace me through the Aether and over to any place my heart desired.
Yet, there I was, on the VIP level of the club I owned in part with my werewolf boyfriend, aka the Froekn Prince, aka Trevor. I automatically sought out his dark curls(finally growing back out from when he'd shaved his head recently), searching through the mass of bodies below. He wasn't too tough to spot, as tall and built as he was, and I found him easily, over by the bar talking to his younger brother, UnnúlfR.
Trevor looked up at me like he could feel my stare, which he probably could, what with our connection through the Froekn Binding. Well, he was bound to me, not vice versa. I did hold a part of his soul though, and the little she-wolf growled low in delight to feel his attention on us.
I gave him a quick wink and let him get back to work, tonight wasn't his night to be with me. When I made my way home later, it would be with Kirill, my second lover and my only Ganza.
As the Lion Goddess of the Intare, I got a few magical perks. First of all, I was bound to almost eighty gorgeous werelions as their goddess. I'd also inherited a sweet piece of Safari-esque property in the God Realm. Last but not least, I had to take multiple lovers or I'd go crazy and try to screw anything that walked. Yeah that last bit doesn't sound so great and I used to look on it as a curse rather than a perk, but I've since changed my mind.
Kirill helped ease me through the change. Well, him, Odin, and now, Azrael. Yeah, I have four lovers, don't hate. It's a dirty job but someone's gotta enjoy it, I mean do it, and it might as well be me. So I'd be enjoying Kirill later and Trevor would be staying at Moonshine to give us some alone time. He's been really great about it all ever since Azrael and I rescued him from Hel. Yes, Hel with one L, as in Trevor's Aunty Hel who rules Niflheim, which is a type of hell - two L's, but not in the torturous Christian sense of the word. More like they don't get to party in Valhalla and instead have to live in a gray city in the middle of an icy wasteland kind of hell.
Although there was this lone hall made out of snakes, where men had to spend eternity dodging dripping venom, and there was a hell hound named Garm, oh and a dragon named Nidhogg. Okay maybe it was kind of hellish. Who knew there were so many types of hells?
Kirill and I would be together later though, I glanced over at him and smiled. He was at his usual spot, at the top of the stairs for the VIP floor, watching the entire club and me all at the same time. It was kind of his job as my Ganza, so I let him do it. Plus, it was a girls night out.
I had two god friends and two of my human friends out with me in an attempt to blend both of my worlds together and so far, so good. Sommer and Krystal(the humans) were getting along well with Persephone and Samantha(goddess and werewolf respectively). The alcohol probably helped with that but I was hopeful that I'd soon be able to mix and match my friends like color coordinated clothing.
finished their set and started to make their way through the crowd. This was much easier said than done since making their way included collecting phone numbers and other fan-based paraphernalia from insistent female hands... and some male ones too. I was turning back to our little stone table and “hill” couches that blended perfectly into Moonshine's forest atmosphere, when I noticed that Rain and the boys of
were making their way to the stairs that led right up to us.
“What's up?” Krystal raised one brow and lowered the other at the same time, quite an interesting look and more difficult to accomplish than you would think. I've tried it in the mirror.
The band's on their way up,” I looked over to Kirill and he shrugged. He wouldn't stop them, the boys posed no threat to me, they were just minor irritations. Or at least one of them was.
Hmm,” Krystal's gaze shifted over to the spot I was now staring at. “A bunch of gorgeous, talented men are coming our way. Oh no! What ever shall we do?”
Shut up, jackass,” I smirked at her. “Rain can be a little annoying.”
I think I can handle annoying,” she looked me over pointedly.
I'm going to cut you off,” I pointed to her spiked lemonade.
Wicked, wicked woman,” she hissed and stepped back, just as the band cleared the top step and started over to us.
Hey, horses,” Persephone waved them over, “come join us.”
I sighed and sat back against my grassy seat heavily. Rain came over and squished in between me and Krystal with a delighted expression, much to Krystal's disappointment. She hated men with long hair and I think she'd hoped one of the other guys, all with different versions of short hair, would have sat next to her. Too bad, she could be a good friend and help keep Rain's attention as well as his weirdo predictions away from me.
“Rouva,” Rain smiled over at me. Great, he was using my Froekn title, what did that mean? “You look all recovered.”
Yes, I'm great, thanks,” I grimaced at him. “Rain, this is my friend Krystal and over here, is Sommer. Ladies, this is Rainieri, Ilario, Adriano, and Constantin.”
Everyone did the happy little
nice to meet you
dance and then we settled back. I started to relax, Rain was being charming, to Krystal not me, and hadn't said one prophetic word yet. The other three horses, and yes, they were all horse shifters, began conversations with the rest of my friends, proving to be as entertaining offstage as they were on. I felt my frown ease and I took a relieved sip of my drink.
Thought I was coming up here to bring doom and gloom?” Rain whispered over to me, his shoulder-length straight hair hanging between us for a second before he swept it back.
Maybe,” I slid my gaze suspiciously to him. “I need a break from the doom. Gloom I may be able to handle but definitely no doom.”
Alright,” he laughed, “no doom. Really, me and the guys just thought it was about time we got to know you better. If for no other reason than for a heads up on what kind of fall-out we may have to deal with in the future.”
Yeah,” he shrugged. “A lot of your issues wind up walking through those doors,” he gestured down to the entrance on the first floor. “And whether you make them take a binding oath before letting them in or not, some of those issues can cause serious damage.”
Point taken,” I sighed. “I'm hoping the issues will take a holiday and give me a breather.”
Yeah, well,” he made a face at me. “Gods aren't good at taking holidays. They generally like to do their worst damage on special occasions. Makes it more dramatic, the better to be retold later as a folk tale.” His face went even darker. “Then again, everyday is an opportunity to inflict some kind of suffering.”
I followed his gaze and my stomach clenched. Thor had just walked in with a beautiful, long-legged goddess on his arm. I was done mourning my relationship with Thor, his mood swings and childish behavior had finally caused me to draw a line with him and I'd been pretty sure that line included Moonshine on my side of it. Evidently, I hadn't been clear enough when I told him to stay away from me. The fact that my legs were more of the shapely variety and could never be referred to as “long”, didn't help either.
“Son of a sea serpent,” I swore, gaining the attention of everyone else in our group. I expected some questions about my alliterative cussing. What I didn't expect was someone upping the ante.
Damn donkey-dating dun mare,” Constantin growled and jumped to his feet. Ilario and Adriano jumped up too and instantly grabbed his arms.
Please don't do this here,” Rain put his face in Constantin's. “It was probably his idea. You know Thor is trying to get to Vervain. This has nothing to do with you.”
It has everything to do with me,” Constantin was straining against the hands holding him. “She's trying to torture me. Why does she have to be so damn mean?”
You know she's not,” Rain sighed. “Just take a breath, my brother, and think. This isn't the place to start trouble, you'd just be playing into Thor's hands because you know Vervain would have to jump in and stop the fight.”
Constantin's eyes started to lose their fire and he sagged back against Ilario, who caught him and helped him back into a seat. I looked from horse to horse, struggling to find an explanation while I closed my unhinged jaw. What the hell?
“What the hell was that?” I repeated my inner confusion.
That,” Adriano smirked as he jerked his head in the direction of Thor's date, “is Epona, our goddess, and Constantin's ex-wife.”
What?” I totally forgot Thor in light of the new information. Ex-wife trumps ex-lover every time.
Which part don't you understand?” Adriano looked genuinely curious.
The part where my ex is dating Constantin's ex,” okay, so maybe I hadn't forgotten about Thor completely.
Sounds like you pretty much got it,” Ilario patted Constantin's knee. “He was married to Epona for over two centuries.”
Then she put me out to pasture like a worn out stud,” Constantin was developing a twitch beneath his left eye.
Well,” I said brightly, “at least you're not bitter.” I got a thick silence for my efforts at levity. “Too soon?”
We all worked for her,” Ilario shot a glance at Constantin, “as spies and soldiers. We did horrible things in the name of her politics and causes but we never complained. She'd taken us from simple men and turned us into something extraordinary. We were, and are, ever grateful to her but her relationship with Constantin was different. They romanced each other for close to a thousand years before they got married.”
And then she just decided we were through,” Constantin added, his short, dark curls flicking about his head like they were separate entities. “That evil, heartless, long-toothed, broodmare, swished her tail at the first stallion to come by.”
Okay,” Sommer held up a hand, “can we stop with all the horse references? It's making me a little uneasy.”
Hey,” I snapped my fingers in front of Constantin's face when he started to stare hard at Sommer. “Why don't we order a round of shots, some more drinks, and get nice and loud as we ignore them both and ruin whatever plan either of them have to disrupt our night?”
That sounds excellent,” Ilario looked at me gratefully. “What do you say, brother?”
I say, make mine a Frangelico.”
You got it,” I waved down our waitress with an air of desperation. This was one confrontation I just didn't want to have. Part of me really wanted to throw Thor out on his tookis but that would mean I'd have to sink to his level, have to admit he was pissing me off, and have to go talk to him. Three things I didn't want to do. So I was going to be the bigger person and hide up in my VIP lounge as I tried my best to get drunk. See, I can be a grown-up.
This is more difficult than you may think when you're a goddess. The getting drunk part not the behaving like an adult. Oh yeah, I'm technically a goddess now, ever since I had a drink from the Grayel. I heal fast, real fast, and unfortunately that includes any damage done to brain cells through imbibing alcohol. It takes a lot to get me drunk now. However, I've discovered that if I drink fast enough, I could get a good buzz. Since I wasn't paying for my drinks anyway, drinking fast seemed like a good idea to me.
It seemed like much less of a good idea twenty minutes later, when I'd consumed more than half a bottle of tequila and was blinking at a couple of blurry shapes near the top of the stairs, both of them being blocked adamantly by Kirill. I blinked a few times and refocused, bringing Thor and his date into view. Then I groaned. Why couldn't he just stay downstairs with his little horsie floozy? No, he had to trot her ass up to my VIP floor and try to give us all a good look at her thin thighs.