Born to protect women's hearts, her own beats longingly for a mortal. Oops...
Ondina, one thousand years a goddess, doesn't think much of mortal men. Probably because her sole purpose in life is to protect the hearts of women who don't want to fall in love. And now one of those blasted men--Jack--has shattered her sacred chalice, trapping her in a mortal body.
Jackson Nichols, on the partner track at his law firm, is the first to admit he always follows his head. Never his heart. Dina is infuriating, messy, condescending, sexy, beautiful and...well, just about everything that doesn't fit into his meticulously planned life.
Neither expects to find many redeeming qualities in the other. But when push comes to love, which will Dina choose? Her newly human heart...or one thousand years of duty?
Warning: Recent studies show that consuming beverages while reading this story can cause damage to computer monitors, clothing, and sometimes nearby walls. Reader agrees to hold both Samhain Publishing Ltd. and Gwen Hayes harmless in case of accidental spewing caused by laughter.
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January 27, 2009
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Excerpt from Oh Goddess by Gwen Hayes
Ondina slammed the door with a satisfying bang. She hoped it hit the idiot behind her in the face. She strode to the kitchen, intent on making herself a pot of coffee strong enough to keep this weak human body of hers awake all night. No longer would she rely on these lowly life forms to figure out how to get her home. She would research the Internet and save herself.
She thrust the glass pot under the running water. It was more than she could bear. How did people live with all these emotions constantly warring within? Anger simmered under her skin--that she could handle. In fact, it was pleasing. Much better than humiliation. Braceface. She shuddered. Better to be furious than to try to fight the scalding behind her eyeballs. She would not cry. She refused.
She started at the deep timbre in his voice, whacking the carafe against the stainless steel sink. Damn it! Shards of glass. Again with the shards of glass.
"Dina, you're bleeding." Jack rushed across the room, grabbing the roll of paper towels.
She looked down at her hand, staring at the deep red drops quizzically. Her few days as a human had been such a rush of adventures. In a thousand years, she had seen so much--but experiencing was different from observing. She had sung, laughed, eaten, bathed...but it never occurred to her she might bleed.
Her vision tunneled to a pinpoint, and she heard a rush in her ears as her legs gave out from beneath her. Then, as she fell into the descent, she heard Jack's rich baritone and felt his mass supporting her back into a standing position.
"Whoa...stay with me, Goddess." She leaned into his frame and let her head relax into his chest. For the second time tonight, her perfidious human form delighted in the masculine firmness so unlike her soft curves. She blinked her eyes several times as she took deep breaths.
"Are you back?"
"What happened to me?"
He turned her so that she faced him, and then plucked her up and deposited her onto the counter top. "You fainted."
"I most certainly did not...oh..." She caught sight of her finger again, smeared with blood now, with more coming out. Oh goodness, she felt swoonish again.
"Relax, Dina." He cupped her chin and held her gaze with is own. "It is a little cut, I promise. Breathe with me."
She let herself match his deep, steady breaths, alarmed by how reassuring his blue eyes had become. He wet a towel under the water in the sink next to them without breaking eye contact. The room was quiet but for their in unison breathing. She couldn't let go of his mesmerizing gaze, even to inspect the throbbing digit that leaked her lifeblood.
He broke the eye contact when took her hand tenderly in his, gently wiped away smears and inspected the cut. A sudden crazed thought ran through her head. What if this was it? Surely, she could not have managed to wreck her human body in only three days? Would there be a funeral? Who would come? Would they serve cake?
She felt her pulse race. There was so much more she wished to experience. She hadn't even been shoe shopping yet. Rachel had promised her it was heavenly. Five minutes ago, she had been set on leaving her humanity behind and getting back to her realm--now the thought of losing this life panicked her.
She clawed at his arm. "Am I to die from this?"
"No, Dina." He exhaled loudly, not in exasperation, as usual. "It's done bleeding now...see?" He held her hand in front of her while his other hand fingered an errant curl from her face. "You're going to be fine, I promise."
Somehow, she didn't think it was so. Her heart felt strange and weak, and suddenly she felt that she couldn't get enough air. She looked into his eyes for reassurance and unexpectedly felt as if she were being pitched from a cliff. Whatever was happening was not fine. Not fine at all.
His voice vibrated through her, and she swore it bounced off of every nerve in her body. His eyes darkened, and he leaned ever so much closer to her. Her breath hitched in her throat, and his hand in her hair became firmer.
"My stomach," she whispered.
He pulled back his head and wrinkled his brow.
She nodded solemnly.
"Are you going be sick again? Like the night you ate too many tacos?"
She shook her head. "No. I don't believe so. It feels..." She searched for right words to describe it. "Like hunger, only faster."
He leaned in closer, obviously satisfied that she wasn't going to be sick all over him again. "Like butterflies maybe?"
She nodded emphatically. "Yes, exactly. Like fluttery."
She became very aware of how very close he was. His arms were on either side of her hips, caging her into his frame. The fluttery feelings increased, and she noticed his breathing sharpened too.
"You are starting to look wolfish." Her own voice surprised her with a husky quality she hadn't remembered having before.
He grinned at her. Not at all reassuringly. "Am I?"
She tried to swallow the lump in her throat when he picked up her hand again. "Maybe I should check your pulse."
She didn't have to be told it was erratic. She could feel it beating madly in his hand. He captured her eyes with his again as he brought the inside of her wrist to his lips.
She gasped as sparks flew wildly from her wrist throughout the rest of her body.
He raised his eyebrows. "Liked that, did you?"
Dina wanted to look away. She had a feeling that if she could just look away, her heart would stop skipping and she would breathe normally again.
But she couldn't look away.
He was the same infuriating mortal he was an hour ago, yet he was completely different. His blue eyes no longer reassured her, they unnerved her completely. She swore she saw fire and smoke in them.
"Are you all right, Goddess?"
Was he mocking her?
"I need to...I need..." She fidgeted.
He cupped her chin again. "What do you need?"
She twitched. "I don't know," she answered helplessly.
He raised an eyebrow. Okay, so maybe she sort of knew. A millennium of observation and nearly a week of romantic comedy accorded plenty of perspective. So far, lust was warmer than she thought possible, and yet, somehow, it felt murky and sharp at the same time.
And it frightened her to her teeth.
His hands sifted into her hair as he rested his forehead to hers, and they both closed their eyes. Perhaps it would pass.
She would not pin her hopes on it, though.
"Dina." His ragged voice stole her breath, and her eyes flew open to greet his powerful gaze.
"Oh," she eked out.
Centuries ceased to exist as everything she consisted of seemed contingent on this one moment. She had been born to protect the heart of a woman, yet her own beat treacherously with longing for a mortal. This mortal. It was inconceivable.
"You are going to kiss me, aren't you?" she asked.
"Unless you tell me not to."
She brought her hands to his wrists, his coarse hair crinkled under her fingers.
Though he still held her head in his hands, the decision remained hers. Her gaze traveled to his lips. Would one taste mellow the edges of her hunger, or increase her appetite? Did she want to know?
"Please." She hated the desperate whimper that came from her own mouth.
"Please what?" His body was so rigid with tension. She had never seen him so close to losing his control, and she should know, since she relished trying.
"I want to kiss you more than I want to breathe," she stated simply.
She kept her eyes open, wide open, when he closed his. Tenderly, he pressed his lips to her pursed mouth. She puckered her lips tensely. He smiled, wryly. "Relax, Ondina."
She drew in a deep breath and let her eyelids shutter. His fingers moved lightly through her hair while he again coaxed her lips with his own. Softly, as if his urgency was no longer a concern, he entreated her mouth, pressing and gliding gracefully until her jaw relaxed, and she let out a small, contented sigh.
Yielding, she slanted slightly and skimmed his lips hesitantly. Her grip on his wrists tightened in unison with the coil in her belly. A sharp intake from Jack emboldened her further, and when he beseeched her mouth open, she gladly complied. His tongue slipped inside, and she surprised them both by moaning.
Oh my. This was certainly better than the movies.