by Stephannie Beman
Series: Children of Khaos, Gods of Love
Genre: Fantasy Romance, Erotic Romance
Length: Short Story
She came to Tartarus to find the great war lord Hades, prisoner of the Titan King Coronus, what she found was more than she bargained for. Imprisoned and injured, the mortal son of Zeus and Hera, lies dying in a prison cell, praying for end to come. Hephaestus finds hope in the angel who stumbled into his cell. Together they might survive long enough to escape Tartarus.
An Angel is Tartarus is a short story prequel to Loving the Goddess of Love from the Children of Khaos Series. In 2013, the short story was added to the end of the novel.
An Angel in Tartarus Excerpt by Stephannie Beman
Prison of the Gods, Tartarus
She wasn’t sure what had first had drawn her to Tartarus. It was a dark and horrible place, filled with the screams of the damned. It was a place of cruelty and pain. It was Coronus’ playground and not for the likes of her. Except here she was, creeping through the shadows, listening for the steps of the guards, and hoping not to get caught or see anything more evil than she had already witness.
She could blame her rash decision to go see the famed Hades in his prison cell on curiosity, although stupidity was a more apt description of what she was doing. If caught by Coronus’ brutish guards, the punishment would have her begging to be returned to the boredom of her mother’s bay. Yet the thought of returning to the Elysian Fields and the safe haven of Persephone’s rule held no appeal. She was being drawn forward, ever forward.
The scrap of feet and laughter of the guards echoed loudly through the hall, sending her heart skittering wildly. This was so stupid! She should leave before she got caught!
Expend her precious store of magic, she manipulated the molecular structure of her body, and slithered through the porous stone like water, reemerging in the prison on the other side. The boisterous voices of the guards neared her hiding place, muffled by the stone wall, and she prayed that this wasn’t their final destination as they paused before the cell. She bit her bottom lip and waited.
Were they looking for her? Could they track her use of magic? She hoped not. She didn’t want to spend an eternity as Coronus’ pet after what happened to the last woman to displeased him. She shivered at the fate of the unknown woman. She was now residing in a cell in Tartarus, servicing every guard that came to her, unable to protest their treatment of her. It was disgusting. And it wasn’t unheard of. Coronus wasn’t a pleasant god.
“Who’s there?” a man’s voice rasped beside her.
She bit back the yelp, her back slamming against the wall. Her heart thundered in her ears, threatening to beat its way out of her chest. She’d thought herself alone in the darkness.
“I know someone’s here. Who are you?”
Biting her tongue against the urge to answer him, she reached, testing the edges of the man’s intentions. She felt his harmlessness, his inability to hurt another, his hope that she was real and not other apparition here to manipulate him. He wasn’t a danger to her. Not just because it wasn’t in his nature to harm living creatures, but because he was hurt, bad.
She knelt on the ground beside him, compassion overriding her good sense. She would spare the time to comfort him, but she would give him no name. “A lost soul.”
Amusement streaked though his emotions, tainting his voice when he spoke. “Aren’t we all in this condemned place?”
“Some more than others.”
He chuckled. “What are you here for?”
“I’m not a prisoner of Tartarus.”
“You’re visiting this cursed place?” he asked, his voice incredulous.
She shrugged. How could she explain to this mortal man? She was babe when Coronus took the throne from his father, but she knew well Coronus’ first act as king. He’d called for the annihilation of her father’s people, whoever they were. Her mother had told her tale of her escape. Pregnant and carrying the child of a forbidden people, she’d stumbled into Hades’ camp, half-dead and injured. The daemon-god Hades had accepted her mother into the camp, hiding her there until the birth of Dione’s child.
She would never forgive Coronus for taking her father from her, especially at a time when she needed him most. She would not forgive him stealing her mother’s only protector and sending him to Tartarus. And she would never forgive him for the cruelty he visited upon her mother’s people now.
Which is what made this whole expedition into Tartarus so foolish? If caught, who knew what her punishment would be? But for the life of her she couldn’t turn back. She’d come to see Hades, thinking he was what drew her in this place, yet he wasn’t. As foolish as it might sound, she’d found what she was searching for in this injured man.
“I was looking for someone.”
“Did you find them?”
“Yes.” She said no more than that. She was not willing to voice what her heart was telling her. Not only was this prisoner the reason she was here, but he had something she needed above all else, something that she would risk all to acquire.
She started at the loud laughter of the guards outside his prison cell. “I have to go now. They can’t find me here.”
He reached out, his hand touching her bare thigh. A million little prickles of lightning scampered under his hand. Instant heat flooded outward from his palm, engulfing her body, pooling warmly in her belly. Her entire body was afire, but not in a bad way. For the first time she felt safe, needed, she felt desire for a mortal man, a prisoner of Tartarus.
“Good luck, lost soul.” His hand tightened, squeezing her thigh gently, and released her. “Go before they catch you here.”
She leaned over him, kissing his dirty cheek, her lips tingling. “I will be back,” she whispered, wincing at the husky, breathless quality to her voice. She sounded no better than her mother and aunts after a man.
She would return though. Nothing, not even the fear of punishment could keep her from this man. She would return because she had found in this hell what she been searching a lifetime for. The battered and broken body of this man held something more precious than all the power in the world. He held a pure immortal soul within a mortal body.
Originally Published June 20, 2012
Copyright Stephannie Beman
This short story is not in Print at this time except at the end of Loving the Goddess of Love. If anyone would like to request it in print, please contact me and let me know.
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