Lady Tiya is bound to the service of the goddess Nephthys, who plans to sacrifice Tiya's body to protect Egypt from an ancient terror. She embarks to meet her grim fate alone but for the hardened warrior Khenet, who is fated to die at her side. Tiya's dreams of love and family now seem impossible, and Khenet, who is the last of his line, knows his culture will die with him. Struggling with the high cost of Nephthys's demands, both resolve to remain loyal.
Neither expects the passion that flowers when Tiya's quiet courage and ethereal beauty meet Khenet's firm strength and resolve. On a boat down the Nile, their two lonely souls find in each other a reason to live. But time is short and trust elusive.
Without the willing sacrifice of Tiya and Khenet, a great evil will return to Egypt. How could the gods demand their deaths when they've only just begun to live?
Book two of The Gods of Egypt
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Khenet waited in Pharaoh's private chambers eyeing the gilded chairs pulled up to Pharaoh's ebony table, but no one, not even him, dared to sit without the ruler's express permission.
A dull ache had settled in his head and Khenet blamed the oppressive weather cursing the city. Unseasonal thunderstorms rumbling all night long had made sleep impossible. And I had that damn dream again. Rubbing his forehead, he sighed. Talk about bad omens. The palace summons had come to the barracks that morning before he'd even had time for breakfast. His stomach growled and he stiffened his spine. Whatever Pharaoh Nat-re-akhte needed him for, he swas ready. Too much leisure between battles wore on his nerves.
The door flew open and Pharaoh strode into the room, approaching Khenet. The ruler's face was more careworn than it had been a year ago, and a few gray strands prematurely peppered his short black hair, but the unusual green eyes were bright and sparkling as always. "My brother, it's been too long since we spent time together." They clasped arms, leaning in for a quick hug.
"Not since we harried those Hyksos raiders from the neighboring province," Khenet said, stepping back, eyeing the physical changes in Pharaoh's appearance. The cares of ruling Egypt are starting to weigh on him, clearly.
Pharaoh picked a handful of dates from a golden platter and sank into his favorite lion-footed ebony chair. Propping his bare feet on an ivory stool, he gestured at the ample spread of food on the table. "Will you have anything? Wine or beer, perhaps?"
Reaching for a meat roll, Khenet shook his head. "Early for beer, my lord."
Pharaoh poured himself a goblet full and, perhaps sensing Khenet's disapproval said, "Trust me, it's necessary today. Sit."
Khenet glanced at the closed door across from him. Unusual informality, given that he sent for me. This is no casual chat.
"We won't be disturbeddon't worry. But we also don't have much time." Having made the declaration, Pharaoh fell silent. He sipped at the beer and frowned, as if the taste failed to please him.
One did not speak unless spoken to in the presence of the Living God, but everything else had been unusual today. Khenet and his pharaoh did not stand on much ceremony when they were alone. Time to find out what's going on. "Your family is well?"
"Fine. The queen and my boy are healthy, praise the gods." Pharaoh set the goblet down with a thump, splashing beer on the table, and leaned forward, green eyes narrowed. "I need a personal favor. A dangerous, complicated task lies before me and only the right man can carry it out."
Action at last. Khenet straightened. "My brother has but to name the thing, and I'll undertake it."
Pharaoh held up one hand to forestall him. "Not so fast, brother. I'm seeking a volunteer, not giving orders today. The fact that I've started my quest with you doesn't mean you're required to accept. I had the Chief Scribe summon two other candidates, should you choose to pass on the assignment, but I won't lieyou're my first choice." The monarch waited until Khenet nodded, then leaned forward over the table, lowering his voice. "What we speak of must not go beyond these walls. The Great Ones are involved."