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All's Fair

All's Fair in Love and War. It better be.

When a grudge match between the gods of love and war catches the next generation in their battle, sparks will fly. But they won't be sparks of anger.

Five millennia ago, Davon -- Horseman of War, son of Ares -- insulted Eros, God of Love and Lust. Young and headstrong, Eros decided to teach Davon a lesson about his own nature. Until the young horseman can embrace the god of love with affection, he will be impotent. Such a loss for his lovers.

While Davon cannot stomach the idea of embracing Eros with anything but his hands around the other man's scrawny throat, Love will eventually find a mate and produce heirs that Davon might have a chance of liking, despite their parentage. After all, it is Love's nature to do so.

When two strange men who don't show up on film save Khrystal from a mugger, her life takes a turn toward the strange. Considering the fact that her mother is a psychic who is completely besotted with her husband, a man that left them two decades earlier, saying Khrystal's life has become weirder is saying a lot.

A Phaze Books Release

Contains sexual language and explicit sexual situations intended for the enjoyment of adult readers.

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Brenna Lyons

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 95 published works, office administrator, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother...and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups. In her first nine years published in novel-length, she's won 3 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 15 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007. Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fiction, mainly science fiction, fantasy and horror, straight genre, romance and erotic crosses, poetry, articles, and essays. She teaches everything from marketing to choosing an indie publisher, and she's been called "one of the most deviant erotic minds in publishing today" by Fallen Angels. Find out more about Brenna at Youtube

Brenna loves talking to readers and can be reached via her site at www.brennalyons.comAwards for Mundania/Phaze Books...


Finalist PEARL 2003 (Schente Night)
Finalist Dream Realm Award 2003 (Last Chance for Love)
Finalist CAPA 2004 (Written in the Stars)
Honorable Mention PEARL 2004 (Night Warriors)
Finalist PEARL 2004 (Konig Cursebreakers)
Finalist EPPIE 2004 (Fion's Daughter)
Finalist EPPIE 2006 (Rites of Mating)
Finalist EPPIE 2006 (All I Want for Christmas)
Runner-Up Love Romance's Cafe and More Best SF/F Book of the year 2008 (Last Chance for Love)
Finalist EPPIE 2008 (Phaze in Verse)
Finalist EPPIE 2009 (Coming Together: Under Fire)
Winner EPIC's eBook Awards 2010 (Time Currents)
Joyfully Reviewed's Best Books of 2010 (Written in the Stars)
Finalist EPIC's eBook Awards 2010 (Matchmaker's Misery)
Finalist EPIC's eBook Awards 2011 (The Master's Lover)
Finalist EPIC's eBook Awards 2011 (Bride Ball)

Coming Soon...
Contains sexual language and explicit sexual situations intended for the enjoyment of adult readers.

Excerpt

Prologue

Sumer, circa 3000 B.C.

Davon marched toward Eros, his fury going from a simmer to a boil at the sight of the god of love’s mocking smile. “Undo this,” he demanded.

“Undo what, Horseman of War?”

“As if you don’t know what I’m talking about? Undo whatever damned spell you’ve cast over me. Undo it now.” Lachesis’s laughter when his cock had failed him still rung in his ears. Davon was not a demigod to be toyed with, even if the toying was being carried out by a god.

The god in question’s expression was all false sympathy. “Now you know as well as I do that a spell, once spoken, cannot be undone until the conditions are met.”

“What are the conditions?” Whatever they were, Davon would meet the challenge quickly and get back to his usual amusements. It wasn’t as if Eros could pose a test he was unequal to.

Eros took a swig of his Egyptian brew and smiled sweetly. “A test of your claim, Horseman.”

“What claim? Stop playing games with me, lover boy.”

“You claim love has no place in the life of a warrior. I intend to test that.”

“I have to fall in love to be able to have sex again?” He was joking. Eros had to be joking. His father was proof enough that War had no place in his life for love, and Davon was certainly his father’s son.

Eros made a noise that spoke of uncertainty or correction to be given. “You have to come to love someone other than yourself. Specifically, me.”

Davon recoiled, the most literal meaning of that causing his mind to rebel.

“Not like that, War,” the god of love snapped at him. “I have no interest in what is beneath your leathers, and I hope to Zeus and Hades that you have no interest in what lies beneath my Egyptian cotton.”

“Then what is this test?”

“Until you can set aside your fury and pride and embrace me in an honest show of affection, the curse remains.”

Never.

As if Eros read his mind, he made a clucking sound of censure. “It may take you a long time to admit you are wrong, I know. What a pity for your stable of lovers.”

“I could always kill you,” Davon suggested smoothly.

The laughter that answered him was dark and confident. “Without an heir to my powers poised to accept them? We both know what the other gods would do to you for it, and you’re not even a god, Horseman.”

But I will be. Soon.

Eros rose, sliding from the stool like a woman. “Oh…Horseman? Your hopes of using my bloodline to best the curse would be in vain. I have no children. I cannot produce children without my true mate. Surely, you know that about gods of love.”

He hadn’t. Davon cursed the Moirae for their interference yet again. Why couldn’t all the gods have the same rules? The only two that seemed constant were the sacred ban on killing a god without heir and the legacy of promise or curse. In short, if a god or goddess made a promise or was part of a curse, it would pass with the power to each successor of that god until the promise or curse was concluded.

“It may be some time before I find my mate and produce children capable of replacing me.”

“At which point, I can safely kill you,” Davon reminded him. I look forward to that day.

“Not until my child takes his or her godhood from me. It’s the way of my kind.” With that, Eros sauntered away; no doubt smug in the fact that Davon couldn’t take revenge for what the god had done to him.

He will meet his mate eventually. How long can that take?

A niggling unease told him that he should have listened to the prophetess at Troy and stayed the hell away from Olympus. If Davon hadn’t gone there and heard Eros boasting, none of this would have happened.

 

Chapter One

February 9th, 2011

Pittsburgh, PA

“You’re sure she’s the right one?” Davon asked.

Aret didn’t look up from the skin mag in his lap. “She’s the one.”

A wry smile pulled his lips up. “Finally.” It had taken Eros five millennia to fuck up, but the bastard had just handed Davon what he needed. As if keeping his distance from her would trick me. The old man was one sorry strategist if he’d thought that would work. After all, if there was one thing integral to war, it was information gathering, and as the current bearer of the red sword, no one surpassed Davon at the art of war.

Five millennia. Fury boiled and burned in his gut. Rendered fucking impotent by a pansy god of love for five millennia. His lip curled, and Davon pushed a hand through his hair.

“A few more days, brother,” Aret drawled. “Less than a week.” Aret didn’t need to see Davon to know he was brutally angry. His magic would be all too evident to any demigod or god within miles, and as his older brother, Aret was as much a demigod as Davon had been before he’d bested his father and taken the old man’s godhood from him.

“Too fucking long.” Five millennia without feeling a woman around my cock!

“Way too long,” his brother agreed.

Davon glared at him. As the horseman of death, Aret had always been far too calm and collected for Davon’s tastes. “You’re not the one with the dead cock, brother.”

Aret laughed a harsh laugh. “Patience, brother. You always were the hotheaded one, War.”

Davon growled and stalked out of the penthouse they were currently sharing. The night air was crisp, and the balcony was far above much of the light pollution, so the stars were bright and clear. Davon closed his eyes and savored the embrace of the night.

His hand crept to the photograph in his pocket, and he traced the top edge with his forefinger. Davon didn’t have to look at it. Already, he’d memorized her face.

“Khrystal.” She was more beautiful than Aphrodite. “And all mine.” Before Eros’s blasted feast day, she’d be impaled on his cock, breaking the curse Eros had saddled him with all those centuries ago.

Davon may not be able to embrace Eros in affection, but the pretty face of the god’s daughter said he’d be able to embrace her. More than embrace her. As a young goddess of lust and love, I intend to test her prowess at her arts.

 

****

 

A shiver of delight worked down Khrystal’s back. What in the world was that?

Her mother looked up from the stove and smiled. “He’s coming. You can feel him coming for you.”

“Oh, Mom! Please, don’t start.”

Her mother was the sweetest woman on Earth, but she was also a bit of a kook. Cassandra Cupid. Khrystal was sure her mother had changed her name to that, so she had no qualms about changing her own surname to Carver.

It sure beats Cupid. Khrystal had taken years of shit for the name. Yes, children were evil little bastards sometimes.

Cassandra made a decent living as a psychic in a small storefront on Liberty Avenue. Her specialty was predictions of love, and she’d been predicting Khrystal’s “soulmate” since her birth.

Now she’s predicting that we’re going to meet. Khrystal sighed. While she wouldn’t mind meeting a man that interested her, she refused to put stock in her mother’s predictions, no matter how good she was at her job.

Cassandra shook her head and chuckled lightly. “Your father said this day would come.”

It’s not like I’ve seen him often enough to know what he looks like, let alone what he says.

“Now you’re just being peevish,” her mother chided.

“And that’s downright spooky,” she countered. But Khrystal still wondered why her mother—so hopelessly in love with her absent husband after all these years—had not a single picture of the man in the house.

It did no good to ask, of course. Every time Khrystal asked questions about the mysterious Aris Cupid, her mother said she would understand in good time.

“Well, you will.” Cassandra’s gaze went unfocused. “Very soon, I think. Yes, it’s all coming together now.”

Life with a psychic was decidedly weird. “And on that note, I think I need to get going. Work in the morning, you know.”

“Precisely right.”

Khrystal had expected her mother to argue, as Cassandra usually did when she announced she had to leave. Cassandra was horribly impractical when it came to things like work and sleep. The reversal unnerved her, and Khrystal considered staying the night and calling off work.

That’s ridiculous. Khrystal forced a smile to her face. “See you in a couple of days, Mom.”

“Sooner, I think. Enjoy yourself, dear. Oh, and don’t be so rude.”

Khrystal stopped short, her winter jacket halfway up her right arm. “What? I wasn’t rude to you.” Or did Cassandra mean Khrystal would be rude to her in the future? I’ve told her before that it does no good to offer correction before I’ve done something. If I’ve paid the time, I feel I’ve earned the right to commit the crime.

She sighed. “Not to me, but you really should be nicer to him.”

“To who?” Past? Present? Future? Dealing with a psychic decidedly sucked ass.

“You’ll see. Just remember what I said.”

Future. “Do I ever?” Her mother was very much like the Cassandra of mythology in that respect. When she issued a warning, people tended not to heed her words.

“I’ve thought the same myself,” her mother replied.

Especially about me.

“Indeed. Now get going, if you’re going to go.”

That sounds like a warning. “Absolutely.”

 

****

 

The sense of violence came with an atypical wrenching sensation, and Davon shot to his feet. Something was wrong. Something that requires the attention of War.

Aret appeared at his side. “I’m with you on this one.”

“You feel it too?” Death and War feeling the need to act together was typically a bad sign for someone. With all the violence and death in the world, few required the personal attention of a god, let alone two gods.

With a grunt of agreement, Aret’s face went hard. Someone was going to feel the touch of death tonight.

Davon pushed away his innate fear of his older brother, focused on the call, and sent himself to it. Aret followed in his wake.

The street was dimly lit and nearly deserted. Tendrils of steamy breath curled before his face, though the elements didn’t touch him otherwise.

He’d been so certain he would see a riot or gang fight in progress, it took a moment for the scene to come into focus. It was a simple mugging, hardly worth the attention of War, even if it was a man mugging a woman.

His lip curled in disgust. A warrior fights an equal.

“You have my wallet. Just go.”

The woman’s voice stopped Davon cold. He didn’t need to see her face to know why he’d been summoned here.

“Khrystal,” he breathed. Though he was a man of action, Davon found himself motionless in wonder. Her voice warmed him, invited him.

Her attacker raised a blade, and Davon transported himself between them. There was no time to waste materializing his sword; he hit the human hard in the chest, sending him staggering into Aret’s deadly embrace, backpedaling in an attempt to find his balance.

His brother offered a snap of his head, and Davon turned back to Khrystal.

She’d fallen to the pavement, most likely in fear or shock. Her wide-eyed gaze panned up his body. “Where did you come from?”

He tipped his head to the empty street behind her. “The alley.”

“But—”

“Are you all right?” he asked urgently. The fact that his urgency was no act was enough to shake him.

She’s my only chance to break this curse. I can’t lose her before I break the curse.

Liar. Being close to her made him feel things Davon couldn’t remember feeling before.

I’m out of practice. I’ve been impotent so long that—

Liar! All these years, he’d felt lust and been unable to act on it. This wasn’t lust.

Well, it is. His cock was hard and heavy. But it is more. What the “more” was eluded him.

Khrystal pushed to her feet, swaying, clearly rubber-legged. Davon wrapped his hands around her waist and drew her toward his aching body.

Some sane corner of his mind urged him not to close the distance completely. She’d just been attacked by one man. Feeling his hard-on through her clothes might just win Davon a knee-to-balls close encounter.

She gasped, and her head tipped back. Her deep blue eyes went wide, and her breath painted hot trails on his chin and lips.

A stream of blood worked its way down her face, and he sought out the injury that caused it. Khrystal shivered. A moan escaped her lips, but she didn’t stop him.

It was a small cut, but like all head wounds, it bled heavily. As a god of war, healing wasn’t his strong suit, but he put his meager skills to the task and slowed the flow of blood.

“Are you well?” he asked.

Her eyes blinked, then focused on him. “Who are you?” she demanded.

Davon opened his mouth to answer. Too slowly.

Khrystal looked around his shoulder, a strangled sound of horror escaping her. “What did you do to him?”

Death did his job. But how could he explain that to a goddess of love? Hers was a gentler life than his own was. There was little doubt she’d been sheltered from the harsher realities of existence. Her father was certainly clueless about the darker side of men’s souls.

“Let me go. Let me go!”

At a loss to calm her, Davon released her.

She stumbled back two steps, turned, and ran, her tennis shoes slapping hard against the pavement.

Aret appeared beside him and clapped a hand on Davon’s shoulder. “She’ll be fine. At least you know you affect her.”

She affects me. That was the important part. Wasn’t it? He was hard and aching for the first time in five thousand years.

Other pertinent facts filtered into Davon’s mind, and he groaned. “I didn’t learn where she lives. I still only know where to find her mother. In this blasted city, she may not visit her mother again in time.”

He still had no clue why the information he’d gleaned on Olympus and Earth had both indicated he had to end this by Eros’s feast day, but he wasn’t taking chances that it was useless rumor. If there was some celestial timing or hidden agenda that threatened to keep him forever impotent, Davon was going to beat it.

Aret’s dark laughter brought Davon’s head around. His planned attack ended at the sight of the red woven wallet in his brother’s hand.

“How convenient that we have the wallet the deceased stole from her. It is a treasure trove. Her driver’s license, her business card, and maybe even a…compromising picture of the lady in question.”

Davon snatched it from Aret’s hand with curses in half a dozen languages.

“Just joking, little brother.” He put up his hands in mock surrender. “No pictures. You will have to discover those wonders for yourself.”

“I’ll make you eat that joke, Aret,” he warned.

“Careful, brother. Someone might think you care for the little demigoddess.”

Unbelievably, Davon’s cheeks heated in what could only be a blush. “Me? What are the odds?” He was a god of war. Love had no place in his life.

His own father was proof enough of that, having children with a small number of the women that had shared his bed over the years, fucking many more senseless, and leaving them all to whatever the Moirae had in store for them. Not that he was all that attentive to the lucky few that carried his seed, either. Overall, gods of war were selfish bastards. Live it, own it, and move on with life.

His brother’s voice went hard in rebuke. “As I recall, saying something similar to Eros got you into this mess, in the first place.”

There was no way to deny that, so Davon turned away, focusing all his anger and frustration on the pitiful human that had threatened, stolen from, and injured Khrystal. The man was white as chalk, disheveled, and had clearly died in pain.

“What did you do to him?” The more painful, the better.

“Massive coronary. It was excruciating.” His voice was no more invested than if Aret had been reading off the daily weather report from the newspaper.

“Good.”

“What did you do to him?”

Remembering Khrystal’s words, Davon’s blood went cold in his veins. “She saw you.” Seeing Death was a bad omen.

Aret shrugged, seemingly unconcerned. “She’s a demigoddess.”

“With locked powers,” Davon reminded him.

“Do you know what unlocks her powers?”

“Not really, but it’s usually tied to our essences.” Davon’s powers had unlocked when he’d found himself engaged in mortal combat for the first time. Aret’s had unlocked when he’d been killed, which had ironically saved his life. “With Khrystal, it’s probably sex.”

Aret smiled a vicious little smile. “She’s a goddess of love, brother. Not just a goddess of sex or lust.”

Davon swallowed hard. “What are you saying?” Surely, Aret wasn’t insinuating that Davon had to make Khrystal fall in love with him. Not in less than five days. Eros had specifically said that wasn’t a requirement of breaking the curse.

“I’m saying that, whatever Eros has planned, you can bet it’s not going to be as easy on you as you’ve been anticipating.”

“After five millennia of torturing me, I think I know that.”

One dark brow went up in challenge. “Then why do you still believe all you have to do is fuck someone of his bloodline to break the curse? Wasn’t that what you two argued about, in the first place? That there was a difference between sex and love? And affection was the one Eros wanted you to acknowledge?”

That question was hard to answer. Impossible to.

In the distance, sirens screamed.

By the assembled gods of Olympus, my dear cousins’ voices have never sounded so harsh and unappealing to a man’s ears.

“Time to go, little brother,” Aret announced. In the blink of an eye, he was gone.

Davon took one last look at the man on the ground. Maybe he’d ask his Uncle Hades to give him a few rounds of torture with the black soul.

Before the lights from the police cars raked the street, the corpse was alone.