Seth O’Keefe has broken the laws of his god. He never thought he would sacrifice his own future to protect a Daughter of Isis. But when the Sons of Set discovered Natti is the Secret Keeper, he had no choice. Now, Seth and Natti are on the run from his father, who wants nothing more than to see Seth dead. With no allies, Seth turns to the Daughters of Isis for help, hoping they would protect Natti. But when they meet the Daughters, he discovers a secret that puts both their lives in more danger. Low on options, Seth sees only one possibility for survival. He must help Natti solve an ancient puzzle and find the secret name of Ra.
Natara “Natti” Stone is having a hard time swallowing the truth. She can’t believe what she has learned in the past twenty-four hours: Seth is a Son of Set blessed with charm; she is a Daughter of Isis blessed with a sliver of Ma ‘at; the locket her grandmother gave her holds an ancient Egyptian secret linking to Osiris and Isis. That along with being tortured and brutalized by the Sons of Set, she can hardly hold herself together. Thank God for Seth’s touch! That warm, tingling sensation that drowns it all out. Yet her heart struggles to stay focused. She must quickly embrace her destiny before the secret name of Ra falls into the wrong hands.
Natti awoke and sat bolt upright in the bed, gasping for breath. Her heart raced and a headache flared right between her temples. The nightmare seemed incredibly real, Sean’s eyes and the dagger ingrained in her mind’s eye. Looking around the little hotel room, she pulled the sheets closer to her chest. She felt cold and alone in the queen-size bed, which only heightened her lingering fears. Everything appeared ominous in the dark; the shadows seemed to slither along the walls. These hauntings were eating her alive from the inside out.
Her pulse pounding wildly, she glanced at the second bed. Seth’s chest rose and fell under the blankets. He looked so peaceful, and though the idea seemed wrong, she knew she would feel much safer curled up in Seth’s arms, like back in the hospital when her friend, Wanda, had been drugged. She pictured herself resting her head on his chest, his warmth easing her back to sleep.
She knew she shouldn’t for a number of reasons, the top being he had the reputation of sleeping with half the girls at Setemple High School. And if it was true he had a power as mind-bending as a drug, then those girls, most likely, weren’t doing it of their own free will. The thought sickened her, yet it didn’t deter her need for his comfort. Was she becoming addicted, just like he had said? The Ma ‘at feather or whatever “blessing” she had was supposed to protect her, but if it was, she couldn’t tell.
If I even have a “blessing” at all.
She pulled her knees up to her chest, wishing Seth had brought Anubis, the stuffed jackal he had given her at the Pharaoh’s Festival. It had become her most precious keepsake and a source of comfort when she felt lost and confused. She also wished Seth hadn’t surrendered the locket, which she never finished translating. At least that would have occupied her mind for a while as she tried to piece the family secret together. Except she already knew what the secret was, supposedly: the location of the secret name of Ra. And now it was in the hands of the cult Seth keeps referring to as the “Sons of Set” or the “Sons.”
The darkness seemed to continue to press in on Natti, making her restless. Wrestling with her conscience, she slipped out of her bed, lifted Seth’s covers, and crawled in. She was quiet and careful, trying not to wake him. Finally able to place her head on his pillow, she snuggled up next to him.
Her body jerked when his arm draped over her. “You have no idea how often I’ve dreamed of this moment,” Seth whispered in a drowsy voice.
He moved closer, slipping one arm under to support her head and shifting the other around her waist. His hand slid under her “Keep Calm and Carry On” nightshirt to massage her spine, his nimble fingers rotating in small circles over her skin. Natti snorted softly, secretly loving his touch and hating herself for it. The feel of his flesh was smooth as silk and every lean muscle flexed steadily while he moved his hand up behind her neck. Her body warmed, completely aware of every place their skin made contact. Thank the lord for her nightshirt and the Calvin Klein pajama bottoms Seth slept in. There was hardly any space between them, and yet, he managed to pull her even closer.
“So to what do I owe the pleasure?” Seth asked.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Natti breathed, her galloping heart drummed in her ears.
“Hmm.” A smile pulled at Seth’s perfect lips. “So you crawled in looking for some company?”
“Well, I would have stayed in my own bed, but you forgot to pack Anubis.”
A laugh rumbled in Seth’s throat. “What is it with girls and stuffed animals?”
“Oy, you gave him to me,” Natti shot back while slapping her hand against his chest. “And he’s been providing comfort when I need it ever since. But since you left him behind, you’ll just have to take his place.”
“I guess I can live with that.” Seth stroked the back of her neck, sending goose bumps over her skin.
The room was quiet. With no sight and no sound, Natti was only left with her heightened sense of touch and smell. She memorized Seth’s embrace; every little shift of his muscles and every little movement of his fingertips. The gentle heat that took her breath away slowly radiated through her system. She felt closer to Seth right now than she had ever felt with anyone in her life. Yet she hardly knew him. She knew who he was and even what he was, just nothing really about him. What music did he like? What kind of films did he watch? What was his favorite past time? Well, actually, she already had a sense what his answer would be to that last question just by knowing his reputation. Still, she wanted to know more. Rattling her brain for a conversation starter, she asked the simplest question she could think of.
“What’s your favorite color?”
He groaned in response and crinkled his brow. “Is that what it would have taken to get you into bed with me? Knowing my favorite color? We could have fixed that long ago.”
“No,” Natti hissed. “This is just a conversation. You know, something normal people do.”
“I know what a conversation is.” Seth’s perfect grin glistened in the dark. “There’s just other things I’d rather be doing in the middle of the night, like sleeping or . . .”
Natti’s cheeks burned when his hand moved south. “Bloody hell, Seth!” She pushed his hand back to the small of her back. “I’m talking about things like your favorite class subject, when your birthday is—”
“What’s my favorite color?” Seth mocked with a hidden smile, his exhaustion weighing in his voice.
“What about you? What’s your favorite color then?”
Taken aback by his abrupt turnaround, Natti sputtered her answer. “Red.”
“Hmm.” Seth fell silent, his eyelids drooping a bit. Natti shifted, thinking he had dozed off. She closed her eyes, his warmth gently pulling her into sleep.
“History. March fifteenth. Black,” Seth finally responded.
“Wait—What?” Natti jerked, now fully awake again.
“The answers to your questions.” Seth’s eyes opened, taking her in while they laid together in the dark. His hand skimmed her hair, pulling a lock toward him. “My favorite subject is history. My birthday is March fifteenth. And my favorite color is black, like the color of your hair.”
A smile pulled at Natti’s lips. “Is black even a color?”
“Hey, don’t knock it.” He paused, looking deep into her eyes. “I’ll admit, though, lately I’ve also become enamored with a unique shade of purple.”
Natti swallowed a lump forming in her throat. Seth leaned his forehead to hers, their noses touching. Even in the dark, his gaze captured her, drawing her full attention.
“You know how tempting it is to kiss you right now?” he said, an intense, fiery tingling sensation growing strong throughout her body.
Natti could barely speak as she melted into the sheets. She really wanted to kiss him. He was too tempting with his heat, his eyes, and the feel of his body conforming to hers.
A sudden flashback to the halls of Setemple High caused her to hold back and bite her lower lip. It had been her first kiss with Seth. The very thought of it still coursed fire through her veins. It had only been a distraction. A method he used to pickpocket her grandmother’s letter before abandoning her and leaving her in the hands of his friend, Ky.
“Don’t push it,” Natti mumbled. “Not after you used the last one to pinch from me.”
His eyes searched hers, his voice deep with pain. “You really don’t remember then.”
Natti tried to think of what he was referring to. “Remember what?”
Seth attempted a charming grin, but it faltered. “Never mind. It wasn’t important.”
He lightened his touch, withdrawing a bit. The sensations that were running rapid finally eased. She watched Seth’s expression fill with disappointment, making her wonder what she had forgotten that had been clearly special to him.
She slipped her hand along his well-formed abs and over his chest. She could feel him shiver. Goose bumps appeared over his skin. Her own body also reacted to the touch, her skin prickling with little sparks. She froze when he caught her gaze, desire shining in his eyes like a beacon in the night. Reality struck, and it struck hard. She wanted him too.
“Maybe I made a mistake.” Natti’s body quivered, and she moved back. What had she been thinking, crawling into a guy’s bed? In a freaking hotel no less! What kind of impression does that give? “I shouldn’t have come over here. I’m sorry.”
Seth strengthened his grip, his voice tight with emotion. “No. It’s fine. Stay.”
A strange calm replaced her abrupt urge to run. She looked at Seth, feeling the tingle of magic under her skin. She was scared. She stupidly crawled right into his element, and she knew in her heart she was too weak to resist any advance. His fingers reached up and stroked her cheek. With the warm breeze from his touch, her excitement and fear were whisked away, leaving her to feel only a bliss that affected her very being. She lowered her body back into Seth’s arms. Her muscles relaxed into his embrace. She gave into the power, unsure if she was staying of her own free will or if he was controlling her actions. Either way, it was too late. She had stepped into his web, just like the oracle at the Pharaoh Festival had warned. But maybe if she kept him talking, nothing ominous would come of it.
Natti’s voice came out flustered when she finally spoke. “We used to talk about you. My mates and I, that is. Back in school.”
Seth perked up. “Really? What about?”
“Oh.” Natti tried to be sly with her words while thinking about Jen, Kevin, and Wanda. She missed them all very much. Even more than some of her friends back in London. “Different things.”
Seth raised a brow and smiled. “Like how devilishly handsome and extremely charming I am?”
“Actually, we couldn’t decide if you were a vampire, a werewolf, or a fae.”
“Say what?” Seth jerked. “What plebs have you been talking to?”
Natti rolled her eyes. “Well, you can’t really blame us. With your looks and how you charm most of the teachers and students, Jen figured you had to be paranormal.”
“And what did you think? Did you think I was a vampire or a werewolf?”
“No. I only thought you were a spoiled rotten rich kid whose only charm was his father’s money.” A malicious grin spread on her lips. “And I still stand by it.”
Seth crinkled his nose, smiled, and shoved her back slightly. Natti burst into laughter; her first real laugh since the day of the fire. Her body released all its tension in one fell swoop. The high was addicting, her adrenalin soaring to new heights. Finally, as her body became weary and calmed, she could still hear Seth laughing beside her. A laugh that was as soothing as Big Ben chiming out the time, giving her a sense of home. Natti basked in the sound until Seth abruptly faded from sight and Sean’s cold eyes flashed before her. She gasped and pushed away as the icy cold emptiness burned her insides.
“Natti.” She felt Seth pull at her waist. “Natti, stop!”
During her high school years, Kelsey Ketch could always be found tucked away in a little corner of the hall or classroom, writing her fantasy worlds and creating illustrations and maps. Today is no different, except now she’s writing in the break room at her office building or at the tables of the Barnes and Noble Café in Cary, North Carolina. She is also an avid reader, a part-time book blogger at Ketch’s Book Nook,
and lives with her two orange tabbies and awesome and humorous flat-mate.
For more information, please visit her site at kelseyketch.com.