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Today I'm excited to welcome back author Kaitlin Bevis, who, like me, loves writing Greek-mythology-based stories. And she has a new book coming out soon! Love and War, the latest in her Daughters of Zeus series, will be released on Oct. 21, and you can preorder it now. Read all about it here, and check out an excerpt too, and dang is that a gorgeous cover or what?

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After narrowly escaping with her life, Aphrodite wakes up to find herself at the demigods’ base camp—a gorgeous tropical island. Powerless and injured, she has no choice but to glamour herself as a demigoddess in order to find out what’s really going on. Lucky for her, she’s not alone. Ares is with her, also in disguise. But she soon realizes she might be more of a liability than an asset when her panic attacks and nightmares threaten to expose them both.

Ares is as anxious as anyone to shut down the demigods’ plot. But right now, all he can think about is Aphrodite. He almost killed her, for Gods’ sake! And though the timing couldn’t be any worse, he’s falling hard and fast. He’ll do anything to protect her . . . even if it means sacrificing himself.


Still, they find allies in the most unexpected places . . .

More goddess than demigoddess, Medea is married to the rebel leader, Jason. But there’s something odd going on. Jason is acting very strange, and Medea finds herself drawn to a new demigoddess who mysteriously arrived on the island half-dead. She senses there’s more to this visitor than meets the eye. Little does she guess . . .

War is coming, there’s no doubt. But, in her weakened state, does Aphrodite have any hope of surviving it?


Read an excerpt here!



Prologue

PANDORA WAS the box. The myths always got that part wrong. When the mortals stole fire from the God-King’s domain, Zeus molded the perfect woman out of clay and breathed not a soul into her small frame, but something darker: ingredients to break mankind.

“She looks like us,” Ares said in surprise when he set eyes on the first mortal woman. “Mostly.”

At the time, the human body held an entire soul, two heads, four arms, and four legs. They were complete beings, but still they felt unsatisfied. The human drive to always do more, have more, be more, left them hungry. Already, humans had stolen the Fire of Knowledge from the gods. Now they longed for ichor and the secrets of immortality.

“This is the only way?” Artemis asked, glancing at the woman with unease. “Are you certain?”

“I’ve seen every possible outcome of the mortals’ current path,” Apollo replied. “Unchecked, they will destroy us all.”

Resolved, all the gods of Olympus contributed toward Pandora’s creation. Athena taught her wisdom, Hephaestus curiosity, Ares passion, and Artemis strength.

As her lessons progressed, Pandora’s love for the gods grew. But when Zeus asked her to use her gifts to live among traitorous gods and men alike, she resisted.

“You’re asking me to infiltrate, to spy, to destroy,” she protested. “There must be another way. Please, don’t make me do this. Don’t send me to them.”

“You were made for this,” the God King decreed.

Eventually, Pandora’s love for the gods prevailed. She loved Zeus’s children and knew that if men no longer had need of the gods, the gods would soon die for want of worship.

Love makes monsters of us all.

The humans regarded Pandora as a curiosity, as she did not resemble them. Little did they know they were looking upon their future. The humans were kind to Pandora. She grew to love their company, but, sensing their destructive nature, she found she could not entirely dismiss Zeus’s plan to divide mankind by using her to introduce men to sickness, cold, and darkness.

She broke off pieces of the thing that should have been her soul and sowed them among mankind. But all her attempts to cause division within the human soul were met with failure. They were too complete, too perfect in their formation to bend and break. Instead of turning against each other, their resolve against the gods of Olympus grew.

The traitorous gods, on the other hand, were more amenable to distraction. Pandora was too much like the goddesses the brothers had left behind on Olympus to ignore. Epimetheus resisted her charms not at all, Prometheus for little longer. Soon the brothers fell to infighting. Nine months later, the first demigods were born, and chaos swept across the land.

Because of their mother’s lack, the children only held half a soul, yet the humans could not help but love them, for the children were everything they’d ever wished for. One single, golden step between the mortal and divine. First one soul, then another, split in half and remade themselves in the semi-divine children’s image. One head, two legs, two arms, and one-half a soul per human body.

But the division caused the humans to become weaker instead of stronger. Their worst traits were amplified, their best halved. They spread across the globe, intent on consuming more and ever more. By the time they realized their mistake, they could no longer find their other halves.

Her grim mission complete, Pandora returned to her Olympian home, eager to be reunited with her gods.

Zeus did not welcome her back to Olympus.

“Where am I to go?” she demanded, heartbroken.

“Live among men, or throw yourself off this mountain for all I care. You’ve outlived your usefulness.”

And so Pandora left. Ares did not take long to find her.

“Did you know what would become of us?” he asked, already wearied of his new role as God of War.

“When their souls split, your roles expanded to include the dark sides of your gift,” Pandora replied. “Man must always need you if you’ve any hope of surviving. There’s a price to balance.”

Ares shook his head, staring down the mountain as if his gaze could pierce the fog and see the battle and bloodshed below. “This is no kind of balance.”

“It will be.” Pandora drew Ares to her and whispered the last piece of the thing that should have been her soul into his ear. It was a single word, one that had never before been uttered.

“Why me?” he asked, voice hoarse.

“You’ll need hope more than anyone.”


Chapter 1

Aphrodite

“I’M THE BOX,” I whimpered from beneath my carefully crafted glamour. A picture from one of the books Ares had given me about mythology seared into my brain: Pandora desperately holding down the lid of a box.

“You have to help her!” Ares exploded in Adonis’s voice. Persephone had glamoured us both into demigods to infiltrate DAMNED: Demigods Against Major Nymphs, Elementals, and Deities. Not that Nymphs and Elementals were much of a thing anymore. Free to focus solely on deities, this group was responsible for the creation of weapons and poison designed to destroy us.

But thanks to a seven-day cruise from hell that ended with me fighting for my life, I’d die without their help.

Lies upon lies upon lies. The glamour itched at me, begging to be shed. Or maybe that was the blood drying on my skin. Adonis’s blood, my blood, both just a fraction of what was to come if the carefully stacked dominoes of our subterfuge fell.

“Water, Aphrodite?” Adonis’s gold eyes glittered as he held out the bottle laced with poison.

I moaned as the vision dissolved into another, almost as painful.

His arms wrapped around me, his mouth crushing against mine.I could love you.”

“I didn’t mean to,” he whined, passing me another bottle of water.

“I didn’t have a choice,” he whispered as I drank his lies.

Excuse after excuse tumbled off his tongue, and all the while, the feel of him cradling my face, running his fingers through my hair, his whispered breath against my skin played through my body like a song.

My eyes fluttered open, and I flinched when I saw his golden eyes boring into mine, wide with panic. “I trusted you.” I choked on the words.

More than trusted him. I’d practically idolized him, latching onto him as one of the only people who got me, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Adonis was a monster. He’d drugged me in order to take away my powers, to make me weak. And in doing so, he’d signed my death warrant.

I wanted to hate him. But before I could process the full measure of his betrayal, he’d saved my life at the cost of his own. I’d held him as he died, his blood pooling around me on the metal floor. As he’d breathed his last, I’d decided that no, he didn’t get to do this. Adonis didn’t get to hurt me, betray me in the worst way, and then die for me, leaving me with a tangle of emotions and guilt so thick I wouldn’t be able to cope.

So I activated the ichor in his blood and turned him into a god, and in doing so, saved myself. His poison couldn’t attack my powers if they resided in him. And if I’d been motivated to save him for any other reason than just to save myself, I didn’t feel like sorting through those feelings right now.

“I’m so sorry, love,” he whispered.

“I’ve got you, love,” Ares whispered.

Ares. Not Adonis. Ares. Persephone had glamoured Ares to look like Adonis, and me to look like Elise, so I could get medical help and we could infiltrate the demigod’s base. Before I could take my words back, before I could apologize, the boat lurched, sending a wave of pain crashing through me.

“. . . as fast as we can,” a faint voice assured him.

“. . . not fast enough!” Ares’s voice sounded raw with panic. “Can’t you . . .”

“. . . did this to her? What happened?” Another voice demanded.

“Tantalus,” Ares replied, playing a dangerous game. Gods couldn’t lie. He’d have to be careful how he phrased every word. “. . . thought she was a goddess . . . beat her, then . . .”

“They are not people!” Tantalus had shouted when Adonis changed sides. “They are gods. They are wrong! Their very existence. The things they’ve done. Everything about them is wrong. How can you side with them?” He punctuated each syllable with a punch, turning me to pulp as Adonis screamed for him to stop.

“. . . wasn’t breathing.” Ares’s voice went hoarse.

“Hey Donnie, wanna see something cool?” Tantalus looked at me, and I felt his charm overtake me. Drop dead.” My body obeyed his command like a puppet.

“. . . tried CPR, but . . .”

“Come on!” Ares cried, his hands pressing against my chest in a desperate bid to keep my heart beating.

Ares’s voice broke. “I just hurt her worse.”

“It feels like I—” Ares drew in a deep breath. “I break everything I touch.”

“I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t save her.”

“Run,” Ares begged as the charm overtook him. Horror flashed through his eyes as he launched the spear.

“ . . said it wasn’t her,” the unfamiliar voice insisted. “That one of them was glamoured to look like Elise. We thought—”

“Does she look like a god to you?” Ares shouted.

Clever, I thought.

“We’ve got dolphins,” another voice interjected.

Dolphins were Poseidon’s harbingers. The sea god had probably sent them to follow the boat to the demigod’s base. But if the demigods spent any time trying to lose them, I might not make it.

“Dolphins?” Ares let out a string of curses. “We don’t have time to admire the marine life, damn it! She needs a hospital now!”

The first voice replied thoughtfully, undisturbed by Ares’s outburst. “Text her our coordinates, and prepare for the whole boat.”

“Jason,” the second voice objected. “She’ll—”

“We don’t have time to waste.”

Knees brushed against me as someone, Jason presumably, knelt beside Ares. “Take this. Keep pressure on the wound. Don’t take your eyes off her. It’s about to get bumpy.”

“Three . . .” The second voice began counting down. “Two. . . . One.”

For a second, I felt as if I were floating, then the boat must have hit a wave at an odd angle because we slammed into the water so hard, a scream tore itself from my throat. Ares’s fingers dug into my shoulders, holding me down.

“What was that?” Ares yelled, pressing the towel into my side.

“We just hit a rough patch,” the first voice assured him. “Almost there.”

“Hold on,” Ares whispered, his hand slick with my blood as he kept pressure on my side. “Are you still with me? Say something.”

I was in no shape to respond. The stab wound by itself would have been bad enough, not life-threatening perhaps, but enough to warrant the sweet oblivion of unconsciousness. But that wasn’t all my body had endured in the last twenty-four hours.

The boat shuddered as it docked, and I felt myself being lifted, strapped onto some kind of stretcher. Ares’s hand fumbled for mine. “Stay with me,” he begged, and the fragile hope in his voice almost broke me. “Please. Stay with me.”

“I break everything I touch.”

The  stretcher hit a bump, and my tenuous hold on consciousness snapped.

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Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dean Mayes
Oct. 5th, 2016 02:23 pm (UTC)
Wow! This sounds like an exciting and epic story Molly and one to watch for when it releases. Congratulations to you Kate - I hope it is a great success for you.
mollyringle
Oct. 5th, 2016 04:39 pm (UTC)
They are super fun so far - I'm looking forward to reading this one!
KaitlinBevis
Oct. 16th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )