I hope everyone of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday–whether you are enjoying a peaceful day at home alone or gathering with family and friends. A few of you have asked for a teaser from the fifth book, The Gatekeeper’s Secret, so here is a bit from the first chapter:
Chapter One: An Unexpected Invitation
Therese leapt into the sky above Mount Ida in the cold snowy air with Ariadne on her heels. Asterion, the Minotaur, hung back, standing beside Thanatos, waiting. The golden disc shot through the clouds, barely missing Helios descending in his cup, before it slowed and spun back toward them.
The disc swung around outside Therese’s reach. She and Ariadne both grumbled and turned in the sky to see if Asterion had any better luck. Than and Asterion jumped up from the mountain top at the same time, inches apart, both with determined looks on their faces. The tip of Than’s tongue showed between his lips—a habit of his when he was concentrating, which Therese found quite cute. Asterion flew toward the disc with a grunt, but his timing was slightly off, and Than, who’d flown back and to his right, easily caught the disc in one outstretched hand.
“No way!” Therese shouted. She let an arrow fly, aiming close to his ear.
“Watch it!” Than laughed, catching the arrow in one hand, before sending it back to her.
She grabbed it in mock frustration. “Ugh!”
Ariadne rolled her eyes at Therese as the two of them returned to the mountain top. “It’s no fun if he always wins.”
“We’ve got to get him, guys,” the Minotaur said. “We need to work together.”
Than laughed again and shook his head, obviously trying not to gloat. Hip would have already paraded around them twice, but that wasn’t Than’s style. And yet Therese would feel better if Than did gloat rather than shrugging and looking at them apologetically as though they were a bunch of morons.
Speaking of morons, Therese thought, there was Pete again, bugging her with his prayers. Oh, she shouldn’t be so mean. Pete was no moron. He was a kind and good person who had great intentions, and his sister was her best friend. She reminded herself it wasn’t that long ago when she’d imagined spending her life with him. Lately, though, his insistence that he relay a message from his father’s ghost was really getting on her nerves.
No good thing ever came from knowing the future. She’d learned that lesson after going to the Fates. What they told her hadn’t stopped Ares from wanting to imprison her, and it had only made her worry about her future children.
Two, but none immortal.
She fingered the locket at her throat.
Than wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed the back of her neck.
“Your turn,” he said. He spun her around to face him and, seeing her frown, asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, it’s Pete again. He won’t let it go.”
“Yeah, I know. He’s been working on me, too. I’ve had to block him.”
“How do you do that?” she asked.
He touched his finger to the tip of her nose. “Practice, which is what you need with the disc. Now come on.”
Like she had much time for practice. Usually, she was on Stormy’s back flying across the world helping humans and their animal companions. Clifford often went along, and, sometimes, her parents, who lived in the bodies of two immortal red birds, joined her, too. She loved making humans and animals happy and loved spending time with her parents and animal friends, but her duties didn’t leave her vast amounts of time for practicing Frisbee throwing. Asterion complained that she and Than didn’t come play often enough, but the Minotaur was bound to the Labyrinth and had no other duties but to guard it and so couldn’t understand the concept of time management.
“Not all of us can be at many places at once,” she said to Than with a wry smile.
Than handed her the disc. Before she could move into position to throw it, Hermes appeared a few feet away. Ariadne and Asterion stepped closer to see what the messenger god had to say.
Jen sat up on her bed and threw her pillow in frustration at Pete, who leaned in the doorway of her bedroom. He caught the pillow and threw it back.
“She’ll come if you ask her,” he said. “Tell her you need a friend—which wouldn’t be much of a lie. You barely come out of your room anymore except to do chores.”
“And that’s exactly why you should quit annoying me,” Jen said, throwing her pillow at him again.
He threw it back. “Why won’t anyone take me seriously?”
A horrible thought ran through Jen’s mind. “You didn’t tell Mom or Bobby, did you?”
“Do I look stupid or something?” He sighed. “Of course not. I meant the gods. Than and Therese both ignore me. Hip just sends me sick messages in my dreams. I finally decided to go higher up.”
“Zeus. Isn’t he supposed to be the big shot?”
Jen threw her pillow at his face. “You are stupid, Pete! Why would you do such a thing?”
“Why is that so bad? I’m worried about Therese.” He tossed the pillow across the room, where it landed on the floor beneath her window. “Why isn’t anyone else?”
“I doubt Therese will appreciate you involving Zeus in her problems—though I don’t know if he cares, to tell you the truth.” She lay back on her pillow-less bed.
“Just ask her to come for a visit,” he said again.
When Pete left, Jen crossed the room for her pillow and then sank back on her bed. All she wanted to do these days was sleep. While awake, she only thought of her best friend, who wasn’t even human anymore. Or she freaked out over her father’s ghost creeping around their place, telling Pete cryptic messages. But while asleep, she could be with Hip. Even when she couldn’t sleep, all she had to do was to pray for him to come to her, and he would, and she would instantly drift into a wonderful dream.
She nestled into her covers and called to him. “Hip?”
“Hello, sweetheart,” he said in a poor imitation of somebody she recognized but didn’t know the name of—some old, classic, long-dead actor. Hip had a habit of doing that. He seriously needed to update his movie references.
But he was dang cute, no matter what he did.
“Hello,” she said, stifling a yawn. “Miss me?”
“Always.” He sat on her bed.
“When can you come in mortal form so…” she yawned again.
“You always say that.” She closed her eyes and gave in to sleep.