EXCERPT: Hunted by Elisabeth Naughton
Erebus – Dark in every sense of the word, a skilled and lethal warrior, and sinfully sexy by design.
Since the dawn of modern man, Erebus was Hades’ secret weapon in the war between the immortal realms. Until Hades lost the minor god in a bet to his older brother Zeus. For the last hundred years, Erebus has trained Zeus’s Siren warriors in warfare and the sexual arts. But he’s never stopped longing for freedom. For a life filled with choice. And lately, he also longs for one Siren who entranced him during their steamy seduction sessions. A nymph he quickly became obsessed with and who was ripped from his grasp when her seduction training was complete. One he’s just learned Zeus has marked for death because she failed the last Siren test.
Before Erebus can intercede on the nymph’s behalf, she escapes Olympus and flees into the human realm. In a fit of rage, Zeus commands Erebus to hunt her down and kill her. Erebus sees his opportunity to finally go after what he wants, but he’s torn. Freedom means nothing if the Siren at the center of his fantasies doesn’t truly crave him back. Because defying the gods will unleash the fury of Olympus, and if he chooses her over his duty, whether she joins him in exile or not, the hunter will become the hunted.
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A flash of blonde hair to his left caught his attention as he ran through the dark forest. His target—Trainee #429745—was close, but then he knew that already. His god powers were strongest in darkness, and his hearing, smell, even sight were amplified when night disadvantaged other hunters. He could hear her labored breaths echoing in his ears, could smell the lemony scent of her skin in his nostrils, but seeing the flash of long blonde hair had surprised him.
He hadn’t looked at her picture before he’d left Olympus for this hunt. He’d memorized her trainee number, read through her file and made mental notes of her trainers’ mostly average comments about her hand-to-hand combat and warfare skills. Had questioned the stupid guards she’d overpowered at the gates of Olympus when she’d fled, and who were now suffering their own just fates. And he’d located the portal she’d used outside the gates to cross into this forest in the human realm. But he’d purposefully not looked at her image.
Putting a face to a number gave his prey a human quality he didn’t need to concern himself with. His orders from Zeus were clear: “She failed her last Siren test and ran. Hunt her down and bring her back to me.” It was not Erebus’s place to question Zeus’s command. The King of the Gods could have ordered Erebus to kill the trainee—which he’d done in the past and would do again when called upon because it was his duty—but Zeus hadn’t. That made Erebus’s job this time a helluva lot easier, and for that he was thankful.
But that flash of blonde...
He’d seen it somewhere before. Or hair like it. Not a white blonde. Not a honey blonde. Not even a multicolored blonde like many of the Sirens sported on Olympus. This hair had been a golden blonde so bright it had looked like a gilded waterfall in the darkness of the forest when she’d whipped past him through the trees.
What she looked like had no impact on his current assignment. Clearing his mind, he shifted direction and picked up his speed, heading toward the flash of blonde he’d seen. Her labored breaths grew louder. Her scent stronger. Ahead, that golden blonde flashed again, whipping behind her as she turned to look into the dark forest at her back then angled forward again and ran faster.
Meet The Author: Elisabeth Naughton
Elisabeth Naughton is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. From Elisabeth: “I was never one of those people who knew they wanted to be an author at the age of six. I didn’t have imaginary friends. I didn’t write stories in my journal or entertain my relatives by firelight after Thanksgiving dinner. For the most part, I was just a normal, everyday kid. I liked to read, but I wasn’t exceptional at it. And when my teachers complimented me on my writing abilities, I brushed them off. I did, however, always have a penchant for the unique and absurd. And as my mother told me all throughout my childhood, I should have been an actress—I was a drama queen before my time.
“Years ago, my husband bought me Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With The Wind. If you ever saw the book, you know it’s a long one. I sat and read that thing from cover to cover, and dreamed of one day being a writer. But I didn’t actually try my hand at writing until years later when I quit my teaching job to stay home with my kids. And my husband? After that week of reading where I neglected him and everything else until I finished Scarlett, he vowed never to buy me another book again. Little did he know I’d one day end up sitting at a keyboard all day drafting my own stories.
“My writing journey has not been easy. I didn’t just sit down one day, decide I was going to write a book and voila! sell my very first attempt. As most authors will probably agree, the path to publication is filled with hours of work, pulling all-nighters I thought I’d given up in college, sacrifices, rejections, but a love I discovered along the way I just can’t live without. Instead of a big, thick book to read by lamplight (I do read much smaller ones when I get the chance), I’ve traded in my reading obsession for a laptop. And I’ve never been happier.
“I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful family and fabulous husband who put up with my writing—and obsessive personality—even when life is chaotic. More than once my kids have been late to swimming or baseball because I needed just five more minutes to finish a scene. Their support and encouragement mean the world to me. I also have amazing friends and a support network I couldn’t survive without. So to all of you out there who have encouraged me along the way, sent me emails and fan letters, phone calls and congratulations, I just want to say, thank you. You make this whole writing gig that much more enjoyable. I truly wouldn’t be here without you.”