Hunger Goddesses of Delphi Book 4
Gemma Brocato Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance
Lia Thanos, Muse of Comedy, has joked her way through hundreds of lifetimes. But the past few months have been no laughing matter. She and her sisters have been locked in a battle to save Olympus from a hostile takeover. Now, the god challenging them has upped his game and personally selected the mortal man destined to help Lia win.
Botanist Ben Jordan has his hands full; running a farmer’s market, helping his hearing-impaired sister, and trying to figure out why crops around the world are failing. If the trend can’t be reversed, humans will starve and chaos will destroy the world. The only good news is the long-time famine he’s faced in his love life came to an end when he met Lia.
Despite the fact that Ben finds it hard to believe immortal gods exist, he accepts the challenge to help Lia, a woman he yearns to spend the rest of his life with. But Pierus and his daughter, Hunger, will stop at nothing to keep the two apart.
“Will you please tell me what’s going on?” Ben’s earlier calm evaporated as Mnemosyne chanted in a language he didn’t understand.
“I will. I know we only just met, but Pierus has deemed you my partner in this challenge. It’s going to require you to suspend disbelief and trust me.”
“A lady just materialized out of thin air and I haven’t even once considered myself crazy.”
“There is that. Will you come with me?” Lia moved toward a door to the left of the stage.
With one last look at his statue-like friends, Ben followed.
Lia’s hips swung side-to-side as she preceded him down a hallway lit by florescent lights. Even as fucked up as reality seemed at the moment, he still noticed the seductive sway. Barely curbing the urge to increase his speed so he could grab her ass, he shook his head.
Maybe he was certifiable.
She opened a door on the right side of the corridor and slipped inside.
He followed, closed the door, and then leaned against it. “I’m waiting.”
“You already know my name is Thalia. What you don’t know is that I’m immortal. I’m the Muse of Comedy and Agriculture. And mortals—the entire human race—are under siege. You just don’t know it yet.”
“Bullshit!” he scoffed.
“Wish I could say it was. That it’s just a huge prank that is part of the comedy club’s regularly scheduled entertainment.” She took up a position behind her desk, resting her palms on the dark wood. “But this is deadly serious. My sisters are Muses as well and we are in a supernatural fight for the safety of all mortal kind.”
As she sat in the chair behind her, the look on her face was earnest, brows raised, eyes wide. She believed her own psychosis. He searched his memory for anything he might have read about how to deal with delusional behavior. He had nothing other than recollected warnings about not encouraging that kind of behavior, and maintaining a distance in case of possible violent outbursts.
He took a step toward the desk, and then another, shaking his head as he did. This was no way to establish distance between them. He took another step and closed the gap, until the only thing between them was a block of wood. Not a very good barrier, considering the way she’d leaped over the bar when Paul had been going schizoid.
“I suppose next you’ll tell me Zeus is real and is your dad.”
She nodded solemnly. “And Gaia is my mother. Although she isn’t a god. She’s a primordial deity.”
He didn’t bother to restrain his snort. He had to be dreaming.
“I’m happy to pinch you if you think it would help. But I get to pick where I pinch.” Lia dropped her gaze to his ass, then lifted her eyes and offered with a bright smile. She gestured to a straight-backed chair.
Ben sat down hard enough to bite his tongue. Thanks to the pain he experienced, he knew he wasn’t dreaming. “Okay, I’m willing to go on a little faith here. Maybe you should start at the top.”
“In my first or second incarnation, a deity named Pierus challenged Zeus, claiming his nine daughters were superior to the Muses. While my sisters and I inspire the world to good things, Pierus and his offspring represent all the bad juju out in the world. His bitches come with names like Greed, Strife, Doom, Disease…you get the idea. It appears my challenge might be with Hunger.” She stood to pace behind her desk. “Zeus got pissed at Pierus, and transformed his children into magpies for all eternity. But the evil bastard still manages to rise up every thousand years or so to challenge us.”
Thousands of years? “How old are you?”
“Twenty-four.” She moved around the desk and leaned her hip on the edge. “In this lifetime. If you counted up the entire number of years I’ve been alive, my age is closer to six-thousand and twenty-four. No wait. Is it eight-thousand? I’ve sucked at math in every lifetime.”
Okay, that little fact freaked him the fuck out. Unable to deal with it, he filed the detail for exploration later. “Tell me more about this challenge.”
“Okay, but you have to know, until recently, no mortals in this millennia ever knew of our existence. Only three other men even have a clue at this point. You’re kind of a rare breed.”
She propped a hand on her hip, pulling her T-shirt taut over her breasts. Ben dropped his gaze to the luscious display and swallowed hard to move past the need to cup his palms around them.
Lia cleared her throat. “Um, just for now, eyes up. But this attraction you feel might be part of the challenge.”
“Don’t you feel it?”
“The connection? Yeah. When you touched my wrist, I had a premonition that we are meant to be together.”
“You too? I saw us in a darkened room with…I don’t know, maybe crows flying around us.”
She tipped her head to the side and pressed a finger to her lips. “That’s new. I’ve never shared foresight with anyone before. One more nail in your coffin.” She winked at him, followed the motion with a chuckle.
Her quiet laugh swirled through him, twisting like an auger along his body. Everything from his waist down drew tight, went hard. However, his brain heard coffin. “I’m not going to die thanks to this challenge, am I?”
“You won’t. Not if we beat Pierus. Unfortunately, we have to play to win.” Lia hopped up on the desk, swinging her legs. She held up her hand, closed her eyes and lifted her face. Almost like she was speaking to someone in her mind.
Ben studied her casual posture, her easy confidence. For a six-or-eight-thousand and something year-old, she was dead sexy. Oh, Lord. What was he thinking? Or better, which head was he thinking with? Even if his attraction to her was a result of his unknowing involvement in this challenge, he didn’t mind giving in to it.
Gemma's favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a 'round tuit,' and a slip of paper from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she'd write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss, even the rejections addressed to 'Dear Author' were gratifying.
After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy.
Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue a career as a romance author.