Yay! It’s finally here. CALISTOS, the latest novel in my epic Guardians of Hades series is available now in ebook, paperback and audiobook. I’m really excited about sharing Calistos’s story with you all and making you fall wildly in love with him. Happy reading!
If you love dark, alpha Greek gods and strong heroines who bring them to their knees, together with epic action, sizzling passion and high stakes drama, then this series is definitely for you. Plus, each book has a happily forever after and there are no cliff-hangers, because there’s nothing worse than a cliff-hanger!
Calistos (Guardians of Hades Paranormal Romance Series Book 5)
by Felicity Heaton
Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Air, Calistos was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai. Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence.
Tormented by the death of his twin sister, Calistos wants nothing more than to find a way to save her soul, but the pain of continuing without her, the constant feeling that he got her killed, is slowly pulling him down into the darkness and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to the call of the abyss.
Until a battle sets him on a collision course with a kind-hearted and beautiful mortal, one who rouses softer emotions he had sworn he would never risk feeling again, threatening to peel away his mask of playfulness and shatter the barriers around his heart.
Marinda is a woman on a mission—to become a great cellist and repay her father for his faith in her. But her regimented and studious life is thrown into chaos when a handsome man is carted into the ER where she works and takes her hostage, pulling her into a dark and dangerous world… one where she discovers there’s more to her than meets the eye and her entire life has been a lie.
When the enemy makes a play for Marinda and the gates, will Calistos find the strength to let someone into his heart again and look to the future, or will the pain of his past lead him to unleash hell on this world?
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“Clear the way!”
Marinda plastered her back against the cream wall of the busy hospital corridor as two paramedics rushed towards her, pushing a gurney. From the opposite direction, a doctor hurried to them, meeting them just before her.
“What do we have?” The woman looked the patient over and Marinda didn’t miss the flicker of horror in her dark eyes.
Marinda could understand her shock. The unconscious man on the gurney was covered in a black oily substance, had blood pooling beneath him on the pale sheets and staining his long blond hair, and had multiple lacerations across his bare chest.
Together with a bone sticking out of his left arm.
“Adult male. Early thirties. Someone found him on the Pont Sant-Michel. Unconscious.” The male paramedic glanced at the doctor before he went back to attending to the man. “He hasn’t regained consciousness.”
Coupled with the grave look he exchanged with the doctor and the other paramedic, Marinda knew what that meant.
He was bound for the morgue.
They rushed past her and her gaze tracked them, focused on him. How had he even managed to survive such extensive injuries? She had seen people in better conditions lose their lives, and didn’t hold out much hope for him. She hated nights like this, when she saw such horrible things, when she felt hopeless despite how badly she wanted to be able to help these people.
She drifted back along the corridor in the direction she had come, not noticing any of the people or the things happening around her as her feet carried her towards the ER.
Towards the man.
Was it morbid curiosity or something else that had this need awakening inside her? A desire to remain at his side. To watch over him.
She paused at the door of the room they had moved him into and watched as nurses joined the paramedics and another doctor, this one a man, rushed into the room from the doors to the theatre. She only caught snippets of their conversation as she stared at the blond man, her eyes transfixed on his face.
“We have any hope here?” a man muttered. One of the nurses.
“Just get him hooked up,” a woman hissed back at him as she worked to clear some of the black from the patient’s chest. “What is this stuff? Motor oil?”
“It stinks, whatever it is.” Another man moved around the blond on the gurney, blocking Marinda’s view for a moment, and she inched another step closer, compelled to remain within sight of the man.
“Vitals coming in now.” The first male nurse shifted to his right. “What the hell?”
Marinda glanced at the machine as he punched the buttons.
“That can’t be right.” He looked at his colleagues.
Marinda agreed with him. She had worked as a receptionist long enough to know what normal vitals looked like, and this man’s were as normal as they got. The machine had to be wrong. There was no way a man in his condition could have stable, near-perfect blood pressure. He hardly had any blood left in him judging by the crimson now dripping from the gurney to splatter on the tiled floor.
She inched another step closer, bordering on entering the room now as that compulsion grew stronger. Her gaze dropped to his face again, and a feeling struck her.
He felt like home.
The strangeness of that thought had her frowning at him. She wasn’t normally one for such fanciful thoughts, and definitely not about men. Did she know him? It was possible he had lived in the small town where she had grown up, where she had spent her entire life before she had moved away to study at the Conservatoire de Paris.
The entire room erupted into pandemonium, shattering her thoughts and hurling her back into the world.
The blond jacked up off the gurney, growled like an animal as people rushed to restrain him, and she gasped as he kicked one of them. His heavy black boots caught one of the men in the chest and sent him flying across the room.
“Get him under control!” The doctor who had been the first to attend to him barrelled across the room with two large male nurses.
The woman seized the man’s legs, a vain attempt to contain him as he bucked and thrashed. The two nurses grabbed his shoulders and tried to pin him, and the second doctor joined the first, helping her keep the man’s legs under control.
The male paramedic fumbled with some straps, almost had them around the man’s legs when someone injected the blond with something.
His already strange vitals shot off the charts and he exploded from the bed, sending everyone staggering backwards, slamming into machinery and the walls. Marinda gasped and eased back a step as the man swung violently in all directions, the needle dangling from his arm swaying as he twisted and turned, taking in his surroundings.
His vivid blue eyes were wild, so bright they entranced her and she froze in the face of him.
He looked savage as he towered in the centre of the room, his bare chest heaving, the air around him swirling in a way that tousled the dirty strands of his long golden hair.
Like a man out of one of the fairy tales her father had told her as a child, not one made of flesh and blood.
Three of the male nurses attempted to capture him. He shoved the first to reach him, planting a hand against his chest, and the man flew across the room to hit the wall near the doors to the operating theatre. The other two didn’t fare any better. He knocked one out with barely a tap on the head, and swept his broken left arm out to catch the second one across his chest, sending him crashing into the machines.
He moved a step backwards, a tear in his black combat trousers opening to reveal a deep laceration that cut into his thigh muscle. He growled and flashed his teeth as he knocked against a trolley of equipment and turned on it, raising his right hand at the same time. The trolley flipped, scattering the contents across the tiles, and careened into the wall, embedding itself in the pale cream plaster.
No man had that kind of strength.
Was he on drugs? It seemed like a very real possibility as she stared at him, at the wounds that littered him and how crazed he was. He had clearly faced off against the wrong people and had lost.
He shifted his right foot forwards, dragging it through the blood, and then his left, slowly moving towards her.
The sensor leads attached to his body pulled taut and he snarled something in a language she didn’t know.
Everyone in the room suddenly dropped to their knees and clutched their ears.
Thunder pealed outside and the ground shook, threatening to send her to her knees too.
He tore the leads from his chest, leaving circular red marks where they had been, and ripped the needle from his arm. Blood tracked down it, dark against his dirty oil-slicked skin.
Marinda swallowed hard as he lifted his head and their gazes collided.
His eyes were even brighter now, as stormy as the lightning that ravaged the sky and shook the ground with another ear-splitting bang.
They softened as he gazed at her, as he slowly lifted his right arm and stretched a hand out towards her. He pushed his right foot forwards again, his knee buckled and he collapsed, catching his broken arm on the end of the gurney. A pain-filled bellow ripped from his lips and he spoke again, muttered things in that strange language that had the nurses and doctors curling over, holding themselves and crying out in pain too.
The man braced his right hand against the floor, his jaw tensed and he tried to push himself up. He sagged, breathing hard, and instinct had her moving towards him even as the sensible part of her screamed at her to run away. This man was dangerous. She could only watch herself as she closed the gap between them, as she crouched and laid a hand on his shoulder.
He was burning up.
He needed help.
“Step away from him.” A flinty, hard male voice came from behind her and she glanced over her shoulder at the owner of it. A police officer. Two of them occupied the doorway, both of them looking at the man as he struggled to push himself up off the tiles. Someone must have raised the alarm. The man drew a gun and aimed it at the blond. “Stay down.”
The world whirled around her and she froze as she found herself facing the two police officers. The man behind her palmed something in his right hand and she tried to see it out of the corner of her eye. Her pulse spiked, fear flooding her veins for the first time as she made out what it was.
He banded his left arm around her and her spine met his front as he brought the makeshift blade up to her throat. Instinct said to break free. This time, Marinda ignored it. She glanced at the carnage he had wrought, at the nurses who were slowly recovering now he had stopped speaking, several of whom were bleeding badly. She didn’t want to end up like them, and she had the feeling she would if she fought him.
He loosed another inhuman snarl and edged her forwards. He was heavy against her as he held her to him, his weight pressing down on her back, forcing her to support him. She struggled to move towards the door, her legs like jelly beneath her as she eyed the police officers, praying they would get out of his way. Fear crushed her lungs. She felt sure she wouldn’t survive the fight that would break out if they didn’t move.
As she neared them, she threw them both a pleading look. It hit its mark with the younger of the two officers and he moved back a step. The second joined him, easing backwards as the man moved her forwards, using her as a shield.
His grip on her tightened as they hit the corridor, the strength of it surprising her. With the amount of blood he had lost, and was continuing to lose, he should have been weakening, not growing stronger, but she swore he was doing just that. His steps grew surer too, the weight of him against her back lessening with each minute that trickled past as he slowly eased her backwards, keeping her facing the police officers.
He was surprisingly gentle with her as he guided her towards the exit and then out into the cool autumnal night air. He lowered the scalpel from her throat and turned her to face him, a flare of regret in his eyes as they dropped to the point where he had held the blade close to her vein. When his eyes lifted to hers again, she expected him to ask her where her car was.
Instead, he spoke in that unusual language of his and thunder rumbled overhead.
“I don’t understand,” she said in French, unsure he would know what she was saying.
When he clutched her shoulders through her white shirt and shook her, frustration crossing his features, she decided to try English instead.
“I don’t understand. What language is that anyway? Russian? Greek?” It was nothing she had ever encountered on her limited travels. It sounded similar to what her friend Cassandra spoke, although it might have something to do with how frustrated he sounded. Cass rarely spoke Russian outside of the times she was angry about something.
He snarled something else and blue light sparked across her vision, almost blinding her. She dropped her gaze to his right arm and the blue glow emanating from the tattoo of script that ran along the inside of his forearm. Maybe she had fallen asleep during her break and was dreaming all of this, because none of it seemed real.
That feeling compounded when he grabbed her and the light engulfed them.
She shrieked as she tried to break free of him, fighting his hold, and stumbled backwards as he released her. She hit the tarmac.
Or at least she should have hit tarmac.
She looked down at the smooth black ground beneath her that resembled tiles.
And then up at the man as he staggered away from her, muttering things under his breath, heading for an enormous four-poster bed draped with sky-blue linen. He collapsed onto it and rolled onto his back, breathing hard.
Marinda breathed hard with him, the pace of them quickening as she took in her new surroundings, unable to believe her eyes. The pitch-dark walls of the huge room seemed to close in on her as she struggled for air.
She shrieked again when a boom came from behind her and swiftly twisted onto her knees to face that direction.
A beautiful woman with scarlet hair that looked like blood against her pale skin and the delicate layers of her black dress drew to a sudden halt in the doorway, her emerald eyes falling to land on Marinda.
They darted to the man.
Marinda had the ridiculous urge to deny that she had been doing anything to him, that she hadn’t been with him in any fashion—not to harm him or seek pleasure with him.
“What have you done?” the woman whispered, her voice like a summer breeze as she swept towards Marinda.
Marinda lined the words up on her tongue, ready to deny that she had done anything, but then the woman glided straight past her, heading for the man, and she had the feeling the redhead had been speaking to him.
“Oh, you will be in trouble now,” the woman murmured as she gazed down at him, her green eyes overflowing with worry. “But it seems you were already in trouble.”
Marinda tensed when the woman looked back at her.
“What happened to him?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. He was brought into the ER, found unconscious at the Pont Sant-Michel.”
A crinkle formed between the woman’s fine eyebrows. “ER?”
“Emergency room… at the hospital.” She tried to keep her focus on the woman, but her eyes strayed to the man as he laboured for breath, unconscious again. “I work there.”
She lifted the lanyard draped around her neck, pulling it away from her white shirt to show the woman her pass.
The woman shook her head and looked the man over again. When her gaze reached his left arm, she frowned, stooped and gently lifted it. She placed her delicate hand over the bone, closed her eyes and pressed down.
The man roared and bucked up. He violently struggled, wrestling against the woman’s hold, and Marinda waited for him to send the woman flying. Only he didn’t. She weathered his frantic thrashing, kept hold of his arm and remained perfectly still, as if he wasn’t jolting around like a wild animal.
This time, when his lips parted, Marinda understood him.
“Hurts. Fucking hurts,” he snarled and sagged against the blue bedclothes, his fight leaving him again.
“I know.” The woman stroked her hand over his arm and Marinda’s eyes widened.
The bone was no longer poking out of his skin, and the cut left behind wasn’t even bleeding.
She had to be dreaming.
Or having a nightmare.
“He’s badly hurt. He needs medical attention.” Marinda tried to push onto her feet but her legs refused to bear her weight and she crashed back onto her knees.
“You are a doctor? A nurse? A practitioner of medicine?” The woman turned hopeful green eyes on her.
They were about to be filled with disappointment instead.
“I’m a cellist.” She braced her hands against her bare knees beyond the hem of her grey pencil skirt and drew down a slow breath to steady her heart. Panicking wasn’t going to get her anywhere. If she wasn’t dreaming, then she had been magically whisked to another place and was at the mercy of her hosts.
“A cellist?” The woman frowned.
“I play the cello.” She didn’t mean for it to come out apologetic, but it did. Of all the people to grab, he had unfortunately grabbed the one person in the room who was of little use to him. “I just work at the hospital to help pay for my education. I man the reception desk in the ER.”
The scarlet-haired beauty sighed. “You do not know anything about doctoring?”
She started to shake her head and then shrugged. “I did basic training a couple of years ago. Just things like recovery position, bandaging, treating minor wounds.”
“So you can help him.”
This time she did shake her head. “No. Those are not minor wounds. He’s bleeding badly, has broken bones, and—”
“Much of it is not his blood,” the woman said in a deadpan voice that had Marinda lapsing into stunned silence.
If it wasn’t his blood, whose blood was it?
The woman stared deep into her eyes. “I am asking you to help me to help my son.”
Her son? Marinda looked at him where he rested on the bed, finally calm again. He didn’t look a day older than this woman.
“He will heal faster if we both aid him.” The woman gently brushed tangled strands of his dirty hair from his forehead and a sigh slipped from his lips, a contented sound that was so at odds with his terrible condition.
He had to be in a lot of pain. So much that she couldn’t see how he could find a simple touch comforting. Perhaps he was delusional. She had seen patients in so much pain that they had been out of their minds.
“He needs treatment. Surgery. He needs doctors at the very least. Painkillers.” Marinda looked at him, taking stock of the numerous wounds covering his arms and chest, and the gashes in his combats that revealed more cuts.
Strangely, all of the wounds looked shallower now.
As if they were healing rapidly.
“No human medicine.” The woman’s voice gained a hard, cold edge that didn’t suit her.
Those three words ricocheted around Marinda’s head, stirring more questions. No human medicine?
The floor trembled beneath her and she leaned forwards and pressed her palms against it, waiting for the ominous peal of thunder that would follow it just as it had when they had been in the hospital.
It remained eerily quiet.
“He should not have brought you here.” The woman turned away from Marinda and gazed down at the man on the bed. “He will be in trouble with Hades when he comes around. Reckless child.”
Marinda’s eyes widened. “Hades. Like… Clash of the Titans?”
Now she knew she was dreaming.
The woman scowled at her. “Now is not the time for ridiculous questions. My husband is not a Titan, nor is he an Olympian.”
This woman had to be insane. She was talking about being married to the god of the Underworld as if it was perfectly normal and utterly sane.
She touched the man’s right arm and the writing tattooed on it glowed blue. A sigh slipped from her rosy lips.
“Hades will not be pleased,” she whispered, as gentle as the first kiss of morning light, and lifted her hand and stroked his cheek in a way only a mother could. Her touch was light, spoke of love that Marinda could feel across the expanse of air between them—a touch meant to take away all the pain and make everything better.
A touch Marinda had never known.
Disquiet stirred inside her as she watched the interaction, longing to know what that touch felt like mingling with jealousy that this man knew it, that the woman standing over him clearly loved him with all of her heart.
Her thoughts slipped to her father, and an ache bloomed inside her, a need that grew rapidly to fill her. She missed him. She should have stayed with him until the last day of summer break as she normally did, soaking up every moment with him. If she had, she wouldn’t have been in this mess.
Presuming it wasn’t all in her head.
She pinched herself, but didn’t wake.
In fact, it only seemed to make things worse. The woman waved her hand over the bloodstained blue sheets near the man’s legs. Bandages, sutures and other things she couldn’t make out from this distance appeared there. Magic. Marinda pinched herself again.
“Come, child.” The woman held her hand out to Marinda as she glided towards her, her bare feet silent on the cold black stone floor. In her wake, flowers bloomed, entwined with twisted brambles.
Marinda went to pinch herself a third time but the woman took hold of her hand and the warmth of her touch sank straight into Marinda’s bones, reached right down into her soul to soothe some of the fear from it.
“Together we can do this.” She raised her hand and Marinda marvelled as strength flowed through her limbs, as her legs grew steady enough for her to stand.
There was magic in this woman’s touch.
Magic and an endless well of love.
She guided Marinda to the man, and released her to place two rolls of bandages into her hands. “Tend to his wounds while I mend his arm. Do not be afraid of him. He will not hurt you.”
Marinda knew that. She didn’t know how she knew it, but she did. He had been gentle with her in the hospital, had regretted what he had done afterwards, and the weird tongue he had spoken hadn’t pained her as it had everyone else.
She moved to the foot of the bed, crawled onto it and up to his other side, opposite his mother. A bowl of water appeared on the bed beside her, together with a stack of dark towels, and she looked at the woman.
“Help me save my son.”
Marinda nodded, because maybe if she helped him, she could go home and this crazy dream would end.
She soaked a cloth, squeezed it out and went to wipe some of the blood and grime from the man.
She paused and looked at him, that feeling stirring inside her again, and as ridiculous as it seemed, she found it impossible to deny.
He felt like home.
She looked around at the room as that pull towards him filled her again, drawing her closer to him, deeply aware that the woman hadn’t lied and she was in a hellish realm of dark gods and the dead.
And the craziest thought yet pinged into her mind.
It felt like home.
And she didn’t want to leave.