Entwined (Eternal Guardians Series #2)by Elisabeth Naughton
Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are
ZANDER - The most feared of all the Eternal Guardians. It's rumored he can't be killed, and he always fights like he has nothing to lose. But as a descendant of the famed hero Achilles, he's got to have a vulnerability... somewhere.
Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are needed to protect both their own realm and the humans'. Zander can't afford to think about what might have been with the bewitching physician he once regarded as his soul mate. But with eternity stretching before him, he also can't fathom spending his life without the one woman who makes him feel most alive. Perhaps he's found his weakness, after all...
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By Elisabeth Naughton
Dorchester PublishingCopyright © 2010 Elisabeth Naughton
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIf he could die, this would be the perfect place to take the plunge.
Zander stood on the edge of the cliff, transfixed by the massive canyon below. A thin layer of day-old snow crunched beneath his boots as he shifted his weight on the rocks and wondered ... What if?
The temperature was in the teens, the wind howling past his face, numbing what little he could feel of his skin. As an Argonaut, born of the guardian class descended from the greatest heroes in all of ancient Greece, he was stronger than mere humans. Stronger still than the Argoleans and the newly discovered half-breed race he now protected. Stronger, even, than his warrior kin.
No, hypothermia wouldn't kill him, dammit. Frostbite was nothing but a minor annoyance. And shit, since he was him, he could take a bullet to the chest and still his frickin' heart would go on beating. But this-he stared down into the abyss some six hundred yards below, which opened and darkened until all he saw was a river of deep green shrouded in a layer of thin mist-this might just do the job. A little voice in the back of his head whispered, Just do it.
He wasn't stupid. He spent more time with humans than any of the other guardians from his world and knew taking this leap would be nothing more than a major-ass Nike commercial gone wrong. But still ... it was damn tempting. There was always the possibility he could hit that one vulnerable spot on the way down that would kill him instantly and end his immortality once and for all.
His brother in battle, Titus, stepped up next to him before he could make up his mind and peered down into the canyon below. "Fucking nasty way to go. But you're right. It wouldn't kill you. And I'm not in the mood to pick up your broken-ass pieces and nurse you back to health today."
Zander glared at the younger Argonaut-the way-younger one, who, wouldn't you just know it, could take that fall and die ... the lucky bastard. "Stop reading my mind. You know it drives me bat-shit crazy."
Titus smirked. Reached up to rub his hand over his mouth. In the waning light of early evening, the markings on his forearms and hands that all the Argonauts shared stood out against his light skin. It wasn't a full-out grin, but then Titus never truly smiled. "You're already bat-shit crazy, old man. And do you think I like knowing what goes on in that twisted brain of yours? 'Cause let me tell you. It's definitely not high on my thrill-ride list." He waved his big hands. "You're projecting your crap all over the place. Trust me. I'm trying not to listen."
Zander's scowl deepened, and he stepped back from the ledge, frustrated he hadn't taken the plunge before Titus started bitching, even more irritated because he knew that little free fall wouldn't snuff him out like he wanted. He was in a foul mood and it was only getting worse the longer they went without running into any daemons.
It didn't help that he and Titus had been patrolling this particular mountain range for the last frickin' week looking for stragglers and that they'd come up empty so far. He didn't want to go back to Argolea; he didn't want to head to the colony or look for any more half-breeds hiding out in the woods. He was itching for a fight in a dark and dangerous way, which was only making him moodier than Hades. And if he didn't get one soon, bad things were going to happen. For everyone.
"Let's go," Titus said, stepping back and rubbing his hands together to ease the chill. "There's no one hanging out here, and if there was a settlement down below, we'd have spotted it. We'll head north, cut toward Mount Hood and see what we can find."
Though he didn't want to, Zander nodded. The closest half-breed colony was hidden deep in the Willamette National Forest to the south, unknown to the humans who lived around it. Consensus among the Argonauts was that there were other half-breeds, or Misos, those with both human and Argolean parentage, in hiding from the daemons who hunted them. Thanks to the colony's leader, Nick, a man who was both a half-breed himself and something else that none of the Argonauts could quite pin down, they now knew of three other colonies spread out over the globe. One was in Africa, one in the frozen wasteland of northern Russia, and another in the jungles of South America.
"Hey," Titus said with that smirk again as they started walking toward a trail that led back into the trees. "It could be worse. You could have drawn shit patrol in Siberia like Cerek and Phineus."
The mention of his two guardian brothers didn't lighten Zander's mood. "At least then I would have been away from you and your constant mind-probing."
Titus chuckled. "You need to change your outlook, Z. Immortality? It's a gift. Shit, I'd give my left arm to have that power instead of reading mi-"
Zander turned on his guardian kin so fast, Titus sucked in a breath. "It's not a gift. It's a fucking curse."
Titus glanced down at Zander's meaty hand pressed tight against his jacket. A dark warning flashed over Titus's features. He didn't like to be touched. Not anywhere. Not even by a brother. "You need to step back. Right now."
Zander's eyes met Titus's. The guardians were roughly the same size, both six and a half feet, two hundred and fifty pounds of pure muscle, but that's where the similarities ended. Titus's wavy dark hair was tied with a leather strap at the base of his neck. Ice crystals clung to his thin mustache and dark soul patch. Sure, he looked human to the average passerby, but he wasn't. And his hazel eyes sparked of knowledge and danger. The kind that were a fiery combination for anyone who crossed him.
Zander slowly dropped his hand. But he didn't back away. In a fight, he'd win, even against a hothead like Titus. He could take a beating like no other and still go on ticking. But he could be hurt. And it'd take a while to heal. As much as he wanted a good knock-down, drag-out bloodletting today, he didn't want it with Titus.
He did, however, want the brother to get it. Especially if he had to keep prowling this fucking earth for shit only knew how long with the mortal bastard. He clenched his jaw. "Watching everyone you care about die is not a blessing, Titus. I served with your father. I served with all the Argonauts' fathers. I was around when Eurandros was king and Leonidas wasn't even an itch in his pants. And now King Leonidas is dying of old age, but not me. I'm still just as strong and healthy as ever."
The rage Zander kept buried deep inside built by the second. "You might not want to die now, Guardian, but one day you will. One day you'll be ready to go to the Elysian Fields or wherever the fuck it is the rest of you get to go when your days are done. But not me. No, I'll still be here. Doing the same damn thing I've done for the last eight hundred twenty-nine years. Watching you all die and wishing like Hades I could go with you."
He stalked off into the trees before he did something he knew he'd regret, knowing, okay, he sounded like a major pussy having one gigantic pity party. But he was sick of it. Sick of holding up his head and acting like he was all rosy and chipper at the way fate had bashed in his brain. There'd been a time-a long time-when he'd thought like Titus. When he'd actually believed the fact he hadn't yet found his vulnerability, or Achilles' heel, like his father and grandfather and every other male from his line had, was a gift. But that was before. Before he'd realized he was going to be stuck here for all eternity while everything that truly mattered was taken away from him. Before ten years ago. Before he'd figured out Hera's curse was real.
"Zander. Wait up."
He ignored Titus and kept going. Head down to block the wind. Temper and self-loathing warming his blood. Yeah, he was in the mood for a major-ass pounding. And if he didn't get away from Titus quick, he wasn't gonna care that the Argonaut was friend, not foe.
He made it thirty yards into the trees before the miserably cold temperature went bone-jarring frigid.
He came to a standstill. His head darted up. Ahead and to the right, six daemons stalked through the trees, obviously on patrol themselves. Searching for half-breeds to decimate.
A slow smile spread across his face-the first he'd felt in days. All were easily seven feet tall, with horns and fangs, catlike faces, dog-shaped ears and the bodies of men. Really big-ass, don't-mess-with-me ugly men you might meet in a dark alley on the wrong side of town after hours, looking for nothing but trouble. His smile only widened.
"Just who I was looking for. You freaks want to come out and play or stand there and look stupid like your bitch of a leader, Atalanta? 'Cause you know, you do it so well. In fact, I see the family resemblance. You there, in front." He pointed toward the ugliest one, with something vile dripping from its fangs. "You're like, what? Her brother? No, I know." He snapped his fingers. "Her son."
The one in front, the one clearly in charge, looked at Zander and growled, "Argonaut," then sniffed the air and added, "Two." The other five daemons spread out in a U formation, surrounding Zander, then crouched, ready to strike.
And yep, that was indeed steam coming out of the leader's ears. Hot damn. This was gonna be a good one. Six against one. Maybe he could get his ass kicked once and for all. And maybe he could take a few daemons out with him in the process.
Titus jogged up behind him just as Zander reached for his parazonium-the ancient Greek dagger all Argonauts carried-from the scabbard hidden at his back. "Aw, hell. You just had to go and antagonize them, didn't you?"
"Sure as shit, I did."
Titus reached for his own dagger. "Okay, smart guy. Which ones do you want?"
"All of them."
"Just stay back until I need you," he growled. "I can't die, remember? You can."
He took a step into the melee and ignored Titus's protest, but knew the Argonaut would listen and let him have the first go. If only for a few moments. Hopefully, that's all it would take to end this for good.
"Come on, motherfuckers. Show me what you've got."
With a roar, the daemons bared their fangs and charged.
This was one family squabble Callia definitely didn't want to be a part of.
"This is ridiculous. Isadora, tell him no!" Casey Simopolous turned in exasperation toward her half-sister, the future queen of Argolea.
From the far side of the extravagant bedroom suite, Callia chanced a sideways glance toward Isadora. The princess stood with her blonde head down, studying something between her pale pink slippers. Her hands were clenched behind her back, the gossamer pink dress all but swallowing her fragile frame. The perfect picture of submission. Not once had she flinched since her father, the dying King Leonidas, had issued his dire announcement.
This was their soon-to-be queen. This waiflike gynaíka who would rule over their land, command the Argonauts and lead them in this dangerous time of war. Atalanta was roaming the human realm, looking for a way to destroy the half-breeds and cross into Argolea to exact her ultimate revenge for being cast out of the Argonauts. Now more than ever it was imperative they have a leader with resolve.
But that clearly wasn't Isadora. Callia had suspected that for a while. And she couldn't help wondering if maybe Leonidas's decree was best for everyone after all.
"Isadora, you cannot let him do this to you," Casey said louder, stepping toward her sister. "This is archaic!"
"Enough!" the king rasped, attempting to sit up higher in the pillows of his gigantic four-poster bed.
Ignoring the buzzing in her head that had been going on for the last ten minutes, Callia set down her instruments and eased over to help him shift up in the bed.
The king frowned, irritated he needed any kind of help, but he didn't fight Callia. Today his mind was clear and he was making use of it while he could. "Isadora will marry by the next full moon. And that is final."
Casey's jaw twitched. "It's not right and you know it."
The king's head swiveled toward his dark-haired daughter-the one who would never be queen, simply because her mother had been human, even though Casey was the stronger and wiser choice and they all knew it-and he squinted to see clearer. Callia knew he saw nothing more than dark fuzzy shapes. "Isadora's binding to a guardian of my choosing will ensure the Council cannot overrule her authority. You already commandeered my first choice, Acacia. You do not have a say in whom I choose to replace him."
A heavy silence settled over the room. One Callia felt all the way to her bones. She knew all too well about domineering, controlling patéres. And she knew when they laid down the law, there was very little for a gynaíka to do but obey. Silently, she cursed their patriarchal society that gave females the opportunity to be anything they wanted so long as the male in guardianship over them approved.
Isadora still did not lift her head or look to either her father or sister. And though Callia and Isadora had never been close, a part of Callia went out to the princess. A part she didn't want to acknowledge or dredge up.
Ready to be done with the family drama, Callia gathered the rest of her things and snapped her bag closed. As personal healer to the king, she'd spent a fair share of her time here lately, making him comfortable, seeing to his maladies during his last few months, but she didn't relish it a bit. Especially not when she had a headache like this one. And every time she came to the castle there was the chance she'd run into an Argonaut. Which was a rendezvous she avoided at all costs. "I'll be back to check on you tomorrow morning."
His gnarled hand snaked out and snagged her arm before she got a step away. Even at 684 years and with his body finally giving out from old age, he was still strong. Stronger than most. "I'll need you to stay."
Anxiety pricked Callia's skin. "That's not necessary, Your Highness. And I have work at the clinic I really have to get back to."
"The new moon is but a week away. After I make the announcement to the Argonauts, I'll need you to verify my choice is in peak physical shape. I need to know he can sire an heir immediately. You'll use my office for the exam."
Callia darted a look at Isadora, who, if possible, hung her head even lower. How great it must feel to be seen as nothing but a breeding machine.
But, oh, good gods. Callia had worse things to worry about right now. The king wanted her to perform a physical exam. On the Argonaut of his choosing. Today. She could think of a thousand other tortures she'd prefer to this one. "Um. I'm sure another time would be-"
"It is not a request." He released her hand and barked, "Althea!"
His maidservant scurried into the room with a bow. "Yes, Your Majesty."
"Get me Demetrius. He's with the Executive Guard at the portal, training the newest recruits. I want him and the rest of the Argonauts assembled here within the hour."
Althea's eyes widened with the same anxiety suddenly spiking Callia's chest. "All of them, Your Majesty?" He waved off her question with a weak flick of his wrist. "Go. Now."
"Um, Your Highness," Callia started as Althea rushed from the room. "I really think-"
"Isadora," he said, ignoring Callia's urgent protest. "Show Callia to my study and see she has everything she needs for her examination. I want you both back here when the Argonauts arrive."
Isadora didn't bother to argue. She turned silently for the door, her slippers making not even a whisper of sound across the stone floor. Callia sighed in defeat as she watched the princess leave. She had no choice but to follow.
"Acacia." The king's attention swung to his other daughter. "Find that husband of yours. Have him call back his guardians from whatever patrols they're on. I don't want to hear excuses. I want them here. All of them. Is that clear?"
Arms crossed over her chest, Casey frowned and stepped close to his bed. Dressed in a sleeveless white blouse and crisp black slacks, she didn't cower in front of the king like Isadora. And she had no qualms about putting him in his place. "Oh, I'll find Theron and tell him exactly what you're up to, don't you worry about that." She tipped her head when she reached his bedside. "This is going to backfire on you. You know that, don't you?
Excerpted from Entwined by Elisabeth Naughton Copyright © 2010 by Elisabeth Naughton. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
AudioFile Earphones Award winner Elizabeth Wiley is a seasoned actor, dialect coach, theater professor, and dedicated narrator. She brings over twenty-five years of award-winning acting and voice experience to the studio to create memorable, compelling storytelling.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I've never been a romance reader, but I am a sucker for Greek mythology. When BN offered MARKED (the first book in this series) as a Free Friday ebook, I was intrigued by the references to Heracles and the Underworld in the description. I figured I had nothing to lose. Well, I have discovered a new author and series that have me hooked. MARKED was a good book, but ENTWINED was even better. Zander and Callia's story is beautiful. The emotions are palpable and the steam rises off the pages. Elisabeth Naughton definitely knows how to write about passion. The cliffhanger is great and I can't wait to read Isadora's story in the third book. I hope Elisabeth has many more books intended for this series...I need my Argonaut fix!
I really enjoyed this book. Not happy I have to wait so long for the next one to come out. Really good books.
There are spoilers from the first in the series, Marked, in this review. Entwined, the second in the Eternal Guardians series, focuses on Zander and the king’s healer, Callia. Turns out they have a history together that few knew about. After Isadora is dumped, not that she seemed to mind, by Theron so that he could marry his soul mate, and Isadora’s half-sister, Casey, the king is determined to marry her off to one of the Argonauts. His choice is the biggest and scariest (and that’s saying something) guardian, Demetrius, who promptly and not too nicely refuses. Zander, the guardian who’s rumored to be immortal, has met and lost his soul mate and, at over 800 years old, feeling like he has nothing to live for, shocks everyone by volunteering to be bound to Isadora. Atalanta, meanwhile, is training her son, Max, to become a cold killer, trying to make him forget his humanity so that he'll fight by her side in her quest for domination, revenge against the guardians and for being made mortal. She’s been sending daemons to the mortal realm to destroy the Misos, and the guardians have been trying to protect them. Because of this, Zander and Callia are forced together several times and clash over their shared past. I’m not going to go into what happened between Zander and Callia, that would be giving too much away, but I liked both characters and the fact that, unlike Theron and Casey in Marked, these two knew each other and had a lot of history between them, but weren’t together because of misunderstandings and lies. Theron and Casey are in it a little bit, and Isadora and Orpheus both have bigger roles. I still can’t decide if he’s an evil, self-serving jerk, but Orpheus certainly makes things more interesting and I can’t wait to see where his character is going. Isadora, who, when I first started reading Marked I thought would be a wimpy annoying character, has turned into one that I like and really want to stop getting dumped and the short end of the stick. Seems like that might (hopefully) happen in the next book, Tempted, which I can't wait to read. I also like how Naughton gives us a little more insight into each of the Argonauts, making me look forward to reading more about each of them.
Kept me up reading all three books night after night.
I picked up the first book in this series when it was a free book on Friday and I am glad I did because this book, the second in the series, was totally engrossing. It's not very often that a book pulls on my heart and actually brings tears to my eyes. I loved the ending and so will you! Start this series from the beginning...it is great!
As you continue to read the next one in the series they keep getting better than the last one, just finished Entwined and now moving onto Tempted, it's 3:24 am can't sleep might as well keep reading, looking forward to reading Enraptured when it comes out April 3rd
Great read, hard to put down and you'll find yourself eager to turn that page to see what happends next, well worth the money.
Elisabeth Naughton is a relatively new author with a total of 2 books out right now. Based on this book and the prequel to it, I will definitely read anything else that she puts out. Great read!
I was suprised to find this second book in the series was just as good as the first. I loved it,simply loved it. i can't wait to get my hands on the next one. I need a when on the third book coming out.
Zander’s in the spotlight this go-round as he struggles with what it means to be immortal and perfecting his “a**-hole-y-ness”. Ms. Naughton took a huge risk is having the hero treat the heroine so badly and bring him back full circle to be the hero Callia deserves and a guardian worthy of this nascent series. Ten years ago Zander & Callia had an affair that resulted in hurt feelings all around and a 10year cleansing for her. During all this time they could barely stand to be in the same room believing the other to be unfaithful and untrustworthy. Neither entertained the possibility of the political intrigue or their own parts in a play directed by someone else leading them to their present circumstances. These obstacles and more contribute to how well Zander & Callia characters were drawn and how layered their story actually turned out to be. This book made me more anxious for the book that will feature Isadore because she is certainly more than a peripheral player in this series.
This is a great book for rainy days, snowy days, long airline travel, the beach, etc. The story had lots of twists and turns from beginning to end. Thus far, I've read three books in this series and this one is my favorite, mainly because it kept me guessing even until the end of the story. I still find myself wondering and am inticipating reading the next book!
Couldnt put it down, now onto the third!
Love the series can't wait for the next to come out! All the characters are different! Some ypu love and orgers you just love to hate!
CAN'T WAIT TILL THE NEXT BOOK!!!
I read her 1st book & couldn't put it down! This was pretty good, too. I enjoyed finding out more about the long lost son & what will happen next with Isadora.
This book is was the most difficult for me to get through. I had to put in down several times and had to force myself to SKIM through parts of Zander and Callia's emotions to get through the story. I rarely skim books but this one had to be done!!! Zander and Callia's relationship was very frustrating to read because Callia was not a likable character. I could not stand how Callia was so distant and resentful towards Zander. It was really annoying that everything between them could have been solved by communication. I've revisited all the books in this series except this one and I don't expect to read this one ever again. The only reason I gave this story even 2 stars is because the story itself was interesting and worth the read to continue in the series.
A 24 chapter free story and the second in the series of an eternal Argonaut of Achilles line who finds his long life empty, and the healer he once loved in a paranormal tale of alternate existences, heroes, evil, daemons, and romance. Adult language and adult sex scenes. This book shows as being over 600 pages long, but the additional pages are due to Nook scanning error in counting pages. An excerpt of next in series is also provided.
So freaking good!
This is the second book in the Eternal Guardians series. I loved it! Zander is an interesting character. I really liked him, but he has a serious issue with self-pity at first, which I found a bit off putting for a hero. He is one of the oldest of the Argonaughts and, as he is from Achilles bloodline, believes himself to be immortal. Nevertheless, as the story progresses, he pulls his head out of his you-know-what and is actually a great person to know, who realises that everyone has their weakness and his happens to be his soul mate. Callia is a wonderful character. She is the King's physician and has the power to heal. I really liked this strong willed woman. She has had to endure a lot over the last ten years, but her spirit has not been broken. But when Zander volunteers to marry Isadora, her world comes crashing down around her ears. This story is another roller coaster ride, full of action, adventure and danger. Adalanta is busy preparing her demons for war with the Argonaughts, and has a secret weapon in her arsenal, though he's not very willing. This secret weapon is a young boy by the name of Max, who is ten years old. I really liked Max. He is a very resourceful young man, who has had to endure years of abuse and cruelty at the hands of Adalanta, and has had to do some terrible things to survive. His courage and determination to escape his "Mataras" to find his real mother had me cheering him on. Callia also finds out a secret about herself which, although it surprised her, didn't really surprise me. But it made me look at the King in a slightly different light! As the story progressed, I fell in love with all of the Argonaught warriors, and the story in general. This is a fast paced, action packed adventure from beginning to end. As I said in my review for Marked, "This story is mostly a typical paranormal romance, with lots of action and danger mixed in. However, there are several twists and turns that keep one guessing at what is really going on.", but after listening to this story I realised that there is a bigger story arc within each storyline, and I am looking forward to finding out what that story arc will reveal. One thing I will say about this story (and series) is the world building is excellent. The characters are well developed and extremely lifelike. I have always been intrigued with Greek gods and their offspring such as Hercules, whose exploits became legend (or are they myth?) over time. So reading about his descendants, who were with Jason on his voyage for the Golden Fleece, excites me. I am also a huge sucker for paranormal romances in general, so I am looking forward to continuing with this series and I will (hopefully) get to read/listen to Tempted as soon as I can. Elisabeth Naughton has written an exciting paranormal romance series. I love her fast paced writing style and the flow is wonderful. I will be continuing to read this series, but I do have one of her romantic suspense novels sitting on my Kindle, which I hope to now read in the near future too! Due to scenes of a sexual nature that are on the explicit side, I do not recommend this book for younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book if you love erotic paranormal romances. - Lynn Worton
I have just started book 4 in this series. It started out good with volume 1 and just gets better as it goes along! Highly recommend this series!
A real page turner and you can't put this book down.
Naughton does it again. Great story with great characters. This story keeps getting better and better as it goes along. I like that as these books progress you still get to read about characters in previous book. Great chemistry between zander and callia. Very hot. Will definitelybe readin next book in this series.