Half human, half god, Dagan Krayl is the Underworld's most powerful soul reaper. When one of his brothers is murdered, Dagan must use every ounce of his power to hunt down those responsible for his brutal death. But he must move swiftly--and carefully--if he's to have any chance of resurrecting his brother.
Yet that resurrection could wreak havoc on the mortal world. As an Otherkin, Roxy Tam has sworn to protect the human race, and it's her mission to stop Dagan. But when she sees him face-to-face, she realizes that she has seen him once before--a meeting that changed her life forever.
Neither Dagan nor Roxy expect to join forces for the sake of mankind. Or to have their loyalties tested as they struggle against the potent desire that threatens to consume them both....
Save me from that god who steals souls,
Who laps up corruption, who lives on what is
Who is in charge of darkness, who lives in gloom,
Of whom those who are among the languid ones
Who is he? He is Seth.
He is Sutekh.
--The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Chapter 17
Chicago, Illinois, eleven years ago
In the far corner of a room in the basement of an abandoned factory, a woman huddled on a filthy mattress. Her wrists and ankles were bound by yellow nylon rope. Her head was bowed, dark, glossy ringlets falling forward to obscure her face. The harsh glare of the naked overhead bulb accented the curved line of her back.
Terror had a way of making mortals scream.
Dagan Krayl wondered why this one wasn't.
He shifted to get a better view through the half-inch crack in the door. Small, bare room. Concrete floor. Particleboard walls. No windows.
There were stains on the mattress. Old stains, reddish-brown, dark and stiff. Someone's blood.
But whoever had left her here would be back. So she had reason enough to be terrified. Reason enough to scream. Human females cried. And, at times, human males. But not this female.
Both her silence and her odd movements piqued Dagan's curiosity.
Her head bobbed like a buoy in choppy water. Up. Down. He could hear the distinct rasp of each breath, more scrape than sob, accompanied by a muted grinding.
What the hell was she doing? From this position, he couldn't tell.
She paused, shifted a bit to one side and rolled her shoulder up against her cheek to push back the long, corkscrew strands of her hair. Then she dipped her head and went back to her task. The grinding resumed, and he realized that she was gnawing at the rope with her teeth, making a play for freedom.
A flicker of interest ignited. It appeared that despite the desperation of her circumstances her spirit was tattered but not crushed.
A fighting spirit.
Something to be admired.
He blinked, startled by the thought. She was none of his concern. He was here to harvest and kill.
But not her.
The prey he sought had a tarnished soul, one smeared with the worst sort of slime, the accumulated malfeasance and malady of a lifetime. Nothing less would satisfy dear old Dad. Sutekh, the Lord of Chaos. He dined only on malevolence and vice. Evil was the delicacy he craved.
As a soul reaper, Dagan was tasked with providing it. He was not just any soul reaper, but Sutekh's eldest son. The old man had a small army of soul reapers to harvest for him, but he had only four sons, and he had exacting expectations of his progeny.
He glanced over his shoulder down the narrow, dark corridor. He'd already checked the massive empty space upstairs. Only the underground bowels of the abandoned factory remained unexplored. His prey was here somewhere, and he ought to continue the hunt, not stand here watching the woman.
But something kept him from leaving her and prowling off in search of a darksoul. He knew what it felt like to struggle and strive, to ache for freedom. Be careful what you wish for--wasn't that a common mortal adage? Freedom wasn't always delicious.
Reaching into the back pocket of his faded, torn jeans, he took out a lollipop. The clear plastic wrapper crinkled as he pulled it off. He popped the sucker in his mouth and waited--flavor exploded. Coconut... pineapple. PiÂ¤a colada. Not his favorite. He'd remember that next time.
He folded the cellophane in half, then quarters and shoved it...