Aphrodite's Secret

Aphrodite's Secret

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by Julie Kenner
     
 

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Jason Murphy can talk to creatures of the sea. He can also change into a dolphin and, like all Protectors, has a bunch of other superpowers. None of them really help his situation: the love of his life doesn’t trust him anymore. Lane thinks his promises of devotion are…well, fishy. When she needed him most, he was gone. She didn’t know he was

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Overview

Jason Murphy can talk to creatures of the sea. He can also change into a dolphin and, like all Protectors, has a bunch of other superpowers. None of them really help his situation: the love of his life doesn’t trust him anymore. Lane thinks his promises of devotion are…well, fishy. When she needed him most, he was gone. She didn’t know he was secretly fighting crime.

But that’s all over. He’s going to reel her back in with the truth. He’ll reveal everything, as soon as his Outcast father’s evil plans for world domination are overthrown. Beating up the bad guys is important, but honesty is what makes a man a hero.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Kenner's hokey paranormal romance, Protector Jason Murphy, a shape-shifting hunk/dolphin, is bent on destroying Hieronymous, his villainous father. Hieronymous held Jason in a fish bowl for six years, during which time his girlfriend, Lane Kent, gave birth to his exceptionally bright son, Davy. Now Jason wants to win back Lane, who doesn't know of his powers, and raise his "halfling" son. But Hieronymous has other plans. The over-the-top evildoer plans to steal Davy's smarts, thereby becoming the world's wiliest villain. As descendents of the Greek gods, Protectors supposedly possess powers like levitation and super strength, but Jason and his fellow Protectors-by-the-book Boreas and the perpetually confused Zoe-are frustratingly ineffectual. Indeed, Boreas and Zoe spend more time suspecting Jason of villainy (because of his "bad blood") than battling Hieronymous. Kenner (Aphrodite's Passion; Nobody but You) still manages to wring some humor from her outlandish premise, and the attraction between Jason and Lane feels genuine. However, readers may spend much of the book marveling over the protagonists' mental deficiencies. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781428511644
Publisher:
Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date:
07/04/2011
Series:
Aphrodite Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
306
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.30(d)

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Aphrodite's Secret



By Julie Kenner


Dorchester Publishing


Copyright © 2003

Julie Kenner

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-505-52509-7



Chapter One


He was a dead man.

No question about it. Superpowers or not, the moment Jason
told Lane that their son, Davy, was a halfling, she was going
to have Jason's head. And then, when he added the bit about
how Davy needed to leave for boarding school halfway across
the world in five days, she'd take his head, plunk it on a
stake, and mount it in her front yard.

Not exactly the way he'd hoped to reunite with the mother of
his child.

Scowling, he leaned up against the aquarium's glass. Against
the rules, of course, but right then he wasn't in the mood to
follow any rules-the Council's or Sea World's.

Throngs of kids poured through the Shark Encounter, whistling
and pointing at the creatures gliding through the clear water.
Jason watched them, his stomach twisting as he thought about
his own little boy. He needed to go introduce himself to his
son; he needed to make up for years of being away. What he
didn't need was to be cooling his heels on a dud of a mission.

But Zephron himself had assigned Jason to this supposedly
urgent mission at Sea World, and no one crossed the High
Elder. Especially not a Second Class Protector who'd screwed
up big time almost seven years ago and let himself get trapped
like a rat in a cage-or, more accurately, like a fish in an
aquarium. Andcertainly not a Protector with a father who just
happened to be a maniacal Outcast bent on enslaving the mortal
population.

For the most part, Jason's identity as Hieronymous's son was a
secret-Jason's mother had seen to that. But even though the
general membership of the council didn't know, the Inner
Circle was fully aware of Jason's parentage. A little fact
they hadn't hesitated to point out when Jason escaped a year
ago and asked the Council for re-assignment.

He drummed his fingers on the thick glass, irritated. Maybe
other young protectors got a hearty "welcome back" when they
escaped an Outcast's clutches, but not Jason. Even though he'd
flatly turned down Hieronymous's plea to join forces, still
the Inner Circle had given him that look. The one that
suggested the Elders were just waiting for him to chuck it all
and go over to the dark side. He snorted; every time he
thought about his father, Jason had an image of Darth Vader
holding out his hand, imploring. Luke ...

Really, the whole thing was ridiculous.

He wasn't his father. Sure, he'd been a little freaked out
when he first learned the truth about his parentage, and, yes,
the timing had been unfortunate. He'd learned that his father
was Hieronymous on the same day that he'd learned that his
girlfriend Lane was pregnant. He'd freaked; he could admit
that now. He'd feared that his blood really was bad. He'd
feared the stigma that would be placed on his child. And he'd
rushed off in a fit of testosterone and misplaced fatherly
duty to foil the bad guy and reclaim his family tree.

It would have worked beautifully if Hieronymous hadn't
captured him. As it was, he'd not only screwed up the mission,
but he'd left his son fatherless and deeply hurt the woman
he'd loved.

All things considered, not the outcome he'd been hoping for.

To add insult to injury, Hieronymous had somehow discovered
his identity and invited Jason to join his merry band of
Outcasts. Jason hadn't even hesitated. He'd flatly refused,
and he'd been willing to suffer the consequences. But did the
Elders believe him? Nope. They only saw a man who'd spent six
years with Hieronymous. A man who shared Hieronymous's
bloodline. A man who surely wasn't strong enough to have not
been corrupted by the dynamic Outcast.

They'd fidgeted and fussed in their bureaucratic way, none of
them willing to come right out and say that his blood was bad.
Instead, they'd called him a loose cannon. And then they'd
backed up that assessment by pointing to some of Jason's
earlier missions.

"Renegade," they'd said. "Failed to follow procedure." And
they'd tsk-tsk'd and shook their heads while Jason had
silently seethed. Those missions had all been successes. So
what difference did it make if he bent a few rules?

He frowned. Apparently, it made all the difference if your
father was a notorious Outcast who'd held you captive for six
years.

Damn them all, and damn himself for getting caught in the
first place.

With a sigh, he casually scoped out the entire room. Darkish,
but open, with only a few nooks and crannies. He squinted.
With any normal bad guy, he'd assume the room was clean. With
Hieronymous, he couldn't be so sure.

A metal trashcan caught his eye, and he snuck over, then
yanked off the lid even as he leapt backward, ignoring the
curious glances from other patrons.

Well, better safe than sorry. Not only were some Outcasts
capable of shrinking to a quite diminutive size, but
Hieronymous's technical know-how meant that he could easily
have placed a bomb-or any other remote-controlled gizmo-in the
can.

He rummaged through the trash, nodding politely at the tall
brunette who grabbed her son firmly by the shoulders and
steered him out of the way.

Nothing. Well, nothing except some empty cups, a few plastic
bags, and the leftover remains of a Pink Thing.

Hardly a productive exercise, and to top it off, now his hands
were sticky. Great.

He moved back to the aquarium and banged his head against the
glass. This was so not going well.

Bad day? Inside the tank, his buddy Lester glided forward
toward the perimeter. Jason had spent a lot of time at Sea
World and knew the shark well.

You could say that, Jason said, speaking in a low-frequency
mumble inaudible to human ears. Of course, his mouth moved a
bit, but most mortals never noticed. Or, if they did, they
just assumed he was talking to himself and cut a wide berth.

He gave the shark a quick rundown of the Council's edict about
Davy. Plus, I've spent the last eight hours primed to foil my
father's supposedly nefarious plot to wreak havoc here. So
far, though, no plot, no evil deeds, no nothing. Just one big
waste of my time.

Major bummer, the shark said. Having lived the last ten years
in a tank in San Diego, Lester had developed the speech
patterns of a surfer dude. He eased in closer, his snaggle of
teeth practically gleaming as his snout tapped lightly against
the glass. The kids-and a couple of adults-shrieked and
stumbled backward. Oh, man, the shark said. I hate it when
they do that.

Despite his crappy mood, Jason stifled a laugh. They're never
going to believe you're friendly, he said. It's the teeth.

Lester's eyes immediately turned sad, and Jason felt bad for
reminding his friend of the inescapable truth-no one was going
to believe that the sleek, toothy, black-eyed shark just
wanted someone to play with.

Have you seen anything? Jason asked, trying to get his mind
off his kid and back on to his mission.

Lester rocked from side to side. Nothing.

Jason nodded. He'd expected that answer. In fact, he was
beginning to think it was a false lead. So far, the only
nefarious deed he'd noticed was a tough-looking nine-year-old
giving a wedgie to a pasty-faced little boy. Jason had put a
stop to that right away, levitating the bully's shoes so he
tripped over his own feet, then splayed face down in a tide
pool. It might not be saving the world, but it was something.

You really think he's going to strike here?

Jason shrugged. That's what the Council says. Council
intelligence had warned that Hieronymous intended to attack
the Southern California park. Apparently, Hieronymous was
after some sort of talisman, and he believed it could be found
at Sea World.

Zephron swore that Jason's assignment to the case was purely
the luck of the draw, but Jason wasn't so sure. It might be
coincidence, but Jason had a sneaking suspicion that the Inner
Circle was testing him.

Hieronymous, Lester said, the teeth and powerful jaws making
him look like something out of a horror movie. He turned away,
nestling down to hide behind a nearby rock. Scary.

Sissy, Jason said, his voice laced with amusement.

Not at all, Lester said. I'm a pragmatist. Why do you think
I'm here? I get all my meals prepared, humans in wetsuits to
play with, and no one running and screaming if I swim up near
a beach to try to make a friend. His tail twitched. Of course,
if Hieronymous really does show up, I'd probably be better off
in the ocean.

Jason nodded. The shark had a point. I'm going to keep making
rounds, he said, turning to leave. Keep your eyes open.

Back in the park, Jason made a quick pass by the manatee
habitat, wishing he could ask the creatures if they'd seen
anything suspicious. Manatees had excellent reputations as
responsible observers, but Jason's powers were limited to
communicating with fish and cetaceans. Manatees were just too
far removed.

The dolphins, however, were eager to help. He'd expected their
cooperation, of course, since much of his spare time was spent
at Sea World hanging out with the sleek mammals.
Unfortunately, though, their habitat was open, and the crowd
of kids tossing the dolphins dinner tended to distract them
from Jason's purpose. When he finally did manage to
communicate his question, all he learned was that the dolphins
had seen nothing, but had thoroughly enjoyed their somewhat
slimy snack.

Not exactly useful information.

Jason checked his watch. Almost two. In a few minutes, Shamu's
show would begin, but until then, Jason could get a decent
view of the park from the roof of the staff building near the
Orca's pool.

At over thirty-five years old, Corky was the oldest Orca in
the park. He'd readily adopted the Shamu stage name, saying he
loved that it meant he was out there entertaining the children
he so adored. If Jason was lucky, the observant cetacean might
have seen or heard something out of the ordinary. Shamu was as
clever as they came; if there was trouble brewing at Sea
World, Shamu would likely be in the know.

When he arrived at the whale's theater, kids were already
grabbing seats in the stands, eager to watch their favorite
whale do his tricks. It wouldn't do for them to see Jason, so
he reached into his Council-issued utility pack-craftily
designed to look like nothing more than an ordinary day
pack-and pulled out his Propulsion and Invisibility cloak. The
cloak was a new model, not yet standard issue for Protectors,
but one of the advantages of being stuck on Olympus for months
on end was that he got access to some of the upgraded gizmos
and gadgets the Council scientists were working on.

As soon as the cloak closed around him, rendering him
invisible, he pressed off with his heels, letting the cloak's
propulsion properties lift him to the roof. Once there, he
crouched on the edge, his muscles taut and ready, as he pulled
out a pair of binocularss and surveyed the park.

Still no sign of Hieronymous or any of his band of
mischief-making Outcasts.

Absently, he tapped his holo-pager. He knew he shouldn't
summon the High Elder, but this was turning out to be a waste
of time. In theory, he could handle the frustration. After
all, a large part of the superhero gig involved watching and
waiting. But today, the waiting was grating on his nerves. His
personal life was in a shambles, and the last thing he needed
was stress on the job. Save the world? Sure. Waste precious
hours on a false lead? No thank you.

Frustrated, he plucked the pager off his belt, then started
idly fiddling with the dial. He didn't transmit-not yet. He
couldn't quite work up the nerve. He'd dedicated his life to
being the good guy-watching over mortals, rescuing them from
danger. And, if possible, preventing the danger from striking
in the first place.

He hadn't abandoned that philosophy, not at all. If anything,
his long interment and subsequent escape had solidified just
how worthwhile his efforts to foil the Outcasts were.
Hieronymous was a boil on the butt of humanity, dangerous to
both Protectors and mortals, and Jason intended to stop him.
Not only was that one of a Protector's sworn duties, but for
Jason, it was personal. Even more personal now than it had
been seven years ago.

He may have screwed up back then, but this time he wouldn't
fail. He'd best his father and, in doing so, he'd prove
himself to the Inner Circle. And, finally, he'd get his
promotion to Protector First Class.

Even more than that, though, he'd get revenge for the family
Hieronymous had stolen from him. He'd become a father to his
son.

Six years. Hieronymous had stolen six years, and Jason could
never, ever, get them back. But even though he couldn't have
restitution, he damn well intended to extract payment. When
Jason was through, Hieronymous would regret imprisoning him.
Hell, when Jason was through, Hieronymous would regret Jason
had ever been born.

He took a deep breath, tamping down on the familiar anger that
had lurked so long right under the surface, a strong current
pulling him to action. He was free now. He'd done his stint of
debriefing on Olympus, and now he was ready to meet his
family.

Of course, when he finally got permission to leave Olympus one
month ago, Jason had realized he didn't know the first thing
about being a dad. Better to be prepared than foiled. He'd
learned that well enough six years ago. And so he'd postponed
his arrival on Lane's doorstep, and had instead gone out and
purchased every book on the subject-from What to Expect the
First Year (Davy was a little past that, true, but Jason
thought he needed the background information) to the latest
Terry Brazelton. Plus, he'd memorized Goodnight Moon, knew all
the words to every song the Wiggles had ever belted out, and
felt like he was close, personal friends with Bob the Builder.

He hadn't watched an adult-oriented television show or read an
adult-oriented book in four weeks. But, by Zeus, he was ready
to have a conversation with his son. Loving, yet firm.
Nurturing, yet with boundaries. Oh yeah. He had this parenting
thing down.

Then the Council's letter arrived and shot his plan all to
hell. Forget smooth introductions. Forget lazy picnics in the
park. Forget three times around the block with training
wheels. Now he had to just swoop in, drop the bomb, and haul
Davy off to school.

But first, he had to stake out Sea World. Duty over family,
and all that jazz.

With a sigh, he clipped the pager back onto his utility belt.
He'd do his job, wait it out, and when the park closed, he'd
report in that the day had been a bust. After that, he'd head
over to Lane's house and deliver his news-then he'd really see
some action.

Once more, he raised the binoculars to his eyes and glanced
around the park. Far below, a surfer-looking guy in a wetsuit
was climbing into Shamu's retaining pool, getting the whale
ready for his upcoming show. Across the way, a dozen or so
kids were playing in the tide pools. A shrill scream ripped
the air behind him, and Jason started to leap, then realized
it was just the kids on the roller coaster.

All in all, a typical day at the park.

The gate opened below him, and Shamu eased into the pool,
making quick work of the perimeter, then leaping out of the
water, dousing the kids with a huge splash as he landed.

Show off, Jason said.

The whale rolled onto his side, one flipper in the air as he
waved to the giggling, clapping crowd. Just giving the people
what they want, the whale said, non-plussed by the voice
coming out of nowhere. Good to see you again, Jason. Too bad
about the circumstances.

Yup. What's the word around the pool?

Just that you're hot on the trail of Hieronymous, the whale
said, as he leaped from the water.

Jason knew the whale's routine by heart. One of the downsides
of his particular superpower was that he had to spend every
full moon as a dolphin. As a child, his mother had started
taking him to the park. And even during his debriefing, that
tradition continued. Apparently the Council assumed Jason
couldn't get in much trouble at a Sea World slumber party.

Shamu circled the pool twice, then launched himself out and
onto the shallow concrete "beach" for his prize of raw fish
and a pat on the head by a cute brunette in braids. It's not
Broadway, he said. But it's a living.

The kids screamed and applauded, clearly having a great time.
Shamu's sarcasm didn't fool Jason. He knew the huge creature
loved entertaining the kids.

Let me know if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

The whale splashed his tail in assent, then dove back into the
water, ready to start the next round of tricks. Jason took off
from the platform, leaving Shamu's theater and zipping over
the crowd to perch on the top of the Sky Tower to continue his
surveillance of the park.

A shock of coppery-red hair caught his attention, and he
leaned forward, adjusting the binoculars to zoom in tight.
There was something familiar about the woman standing there.
Something-

Zoö Smith.

(Continues...)





Excerpted from Aphrodite's Secret
by Julie Kenner
Copyright © 2003 by Julie Kenner.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

A USA Today Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble and Locus Magazine bestselling author, Julie is a two-time RITA Finalist and a Romantic Times' Reviewer's Choice Award winner. Kenner, who has a background in both screenwriting and law, has published novels with Dorchester, Berkley, Ace, Harlequin and Pocket Books. Kenner writes a wide range of genres including superhero romances, straight contemporary romance, young adult, paranormal mysteries, suspense and urban fantasy. Carpe Demon (Berkley 2005) is currently in development as a feature film with Warner Brothers and 1492 pictures.

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Aphrodite's Secret 4.4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed very much
Jutzie More than 1 year ago
Aphrodite’s Secret by Julie Kenner Protectors/Superheros Series Book 3 (5th Story) Jason Murphy is a Protector with bad timing. When his girlfriend gave him what should have been good news, he decided to take care of some other business before celebrating. Who knew he’d be held captive for six long years. By the time he was allowed back into the real world he had lost almost seven years of his life. He had vengeance on his mind. Lane Kent had been alone for a long time. She did have her foster brother Taylor who watched over her and Davy, her son. And now she had a whole group of friends and secrets. Taylor’s wife Zoe and her brother Hale are Protectors and now she finds out the man who left her so long ago is also one. Even though Jason wants to be part of her life once again she just can’t do it. Being raised in foster homes all her life all she wants for her son is a stable home. And she found just the guy who can give them that. And it’s not Jason Murphy. One of Jason’s unique gifts is talking with those of the fin family. And why not when he is most comfortable in the water himself. I enjoy the way the author brings back the previous characters and their unique personalities into each book, including Elmer the ferret. The fourth book in the series, which is actually the sixth story, is Aphrodite’s Flame. Mordi finally gets his story told. **Sexual content
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good but I kind feel left out because I do not know what the title of the second book is and I like the storyline in this one bettee than the first one (I hate to say that but its true).
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I eagerly awaited this the third book in the Aphrodite series, and it was not a disappointment. We learn more about the Protector world and see the depths that the Hieromonyous will sink to in order to take over the world. There are great humor and action scenes, mostly combined, and the introduction of new characters, gives me hope that the Aphrodite series will be long lived.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jason Murphy could talk to sea creatures, turn himself into a dolphin, and has several other superpowers like all Protectors; but none of them had a father like his. Hieronymous planned to kidnap Jason's son, Davy, and steal the little prodigy's brain power at the stroke of midnight marking the seventh birthday. Jason planned to rescue his son and win the mother, Lane. ............ Problem was that since he disappeared seven years ago right after Lane had informed him of the pregnancy, Jason knew winning her back would NOT be a simple swim in the pool. After all, how could Lane trust Jason when he kept so many secrets from her? ...... ***** Another witty and fun read from one of the Masters! If you have never read a book by Julie Kenner than this one will show you what all the fuss is about. Some well known characters from previous books help out as secondary heros and add to the enjoyment of this Superhero Central fantasy. Wonderful book by a fabulous author! *****