(Greek Myth Fantasy Series)
Ruled by the evil vices her great-grandmother Pandora unleashed, Vara the Conqueror is haunted by the furies in her head. Now lust, greed, anger, jealousy and gluttony rule her soul. But when a soothsayer named Nikolai steps into her life, she is worried about the deceiver he foresees.
Nikolai, demi-god and son of Hera is sent to collect the vices of Vara as a defiant act against Zeus. But Vara cannot know of his plan, and neither does she seem to want to give up any vice. Nikolai needs to find a way to unlock the goodness trapped deep inside her, or he will not be able to save her and all mankind.
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Excerpt from The Pandora Curse:
The king of Corinth was Vara’s prisoner now, banned to the dungeon until she decided if she needed him to further her success. Either way, she held the rights to the throne of Corinth. Now that she was a powerful queen, the Furies would leave her alone. Life would be better. “Queen,” she repeated, testing them, challenging them to invade her thoughts. All was silent in her head. She nodded, feeling success.
“Queen of the Underworld sounds admirable compared to queen of discord and deceit,” came a deep masculine voice from behind her.
She pulled on the reins and guided her horse around to find a man standing calmly in the midst of the chaotic courtyard. Tall and handsome, his long taupe hair fell loose around his shoulders. He wore a full length purple cape fringed with peacock feathers over a black tunic with flowing sleeves. Under the tunic he sported dark hose upon his legs. Her gaze latched onto something glittering in the sunlight dangling from a leather cord around his neck. A crystal orb. Excitement coursed through her. She wanted it.
“Are you insulting Vara the Conqueror?” she asked in challenge. “I could have you flayed and quartered for such an insolent tongue.” Her eyes remained on the crystal.
She motioned to two of her guards to seize him, but when they saw him, they stepped away.
“Queen Vara,” said one, “I don’t think you realize who this man is.”
“I don’t care who he is, I want him locked away.”
“But, he is very powerful,” stated the other. “I advise you not to try to harm him.”
“I don’t take advice from soldiers,” she retorted, then brought her attention back to the stranger.
He didn’t look regal nor powerful. But he did hold an air of mystery about him. Something in his gaze, his stance, his lack of fear and his calm confidence gained her interest. She lowered herself from her horse, never taking her eyes off him. With a nod, she dismissed her soldiers and returned her attention to the newcomer.
“My men may be frightened, but I fear no one. Not even the most powerful of kings.”
“I am not a king,” he told her. “And though you speak bravely, I see something conflicting within your eyes. I think you do fear someone. And I’d wager that person is yourself.”
Vara’s heart jumped in her chest at his proclamation, and with warrior reflexes, she drew the sword from the scabbard on her back and held it to his throat.
His eyes remained fastened upon her face, and he didn’t even flinch.
“Beg my forgiveness,” she demanded, “or I’ll be forced to slit your throat.”
“Forced?” A slow grin spread across his face. “You may act with force, but even the hatred in your heart would not let you kill me before you know who I am.”
Her hand trembled, and though slightly, she knew he had not missed her reaction. Who was this man? How could he know so much about her when she’d made sure to keep her personal life well guarded from all? The man intrigued her.
“I told you, I don’t care who you are,” she said, continuing the talk of a warrior. She would not let him see any signs of weakness. “If I want you dead, you’ll be dead in a matter of seconds.”
“Want,” he repeated, echoing her word. “I wonder if you really know what you want. Matter of fact, I’d be willing to say, you want everything, yet nothing suffices the greed that fills your heart.”
Vara’s throat tightened, and it was all she could do not to close her eyes, willing his words away so they would not stab at her heart. He spoke as if he could see clear through to her soul. The secrets, the pain, the passion. As if her eyes were windows to the past, present, and future all at once, and he could look right through them.