Death and the Dryad
At Death’s Gates 2
For ages uncounted, Master Death has assisted souls in transition. But what happens when love gets in the way?
Under the moon of the changing year Zoa plants a precious seed, hoping to grow a special tree, her new home. Until other celebrations intrude and change everything. Forever.
For millennia Tükenis has guided souls through his gates and little surprises him. Until an unexpected arrival is discovered in a long unused waiting area.
What’s Death to do when a dryad appears at his gate without her soul? She can’t move on, nor go back. Will Death find a place for her–at his side?
“You see how already she forgets, gatherer?”
The deep voice rumbled through her. Zoa shook her head. She wasn’t forgetting. She wouldn’t forget. She simply didn’t belong here.
Her eyes flew open. No. She did not belong in this stone room. She’d planted the seed. Now she needed to complete her ritual and watch the tiny life grow into her new home.
Turning toward the voice, she spoke. “Let me go.” Low and vibrant, her words crossed the room. “My planting is not complete. I…”
Her breath caught at the base of her throat and the words died on her tongue. No pretender, no silly godling stood in an arched entry she’d not noticed before. Truly, he was a god. He walked toward her and grace defined his movements. Tall as her kind who cherished and cared for the giant Sequoya, she had to lift her gaze to see his face and eyes as gray as a summer storm.
Pressed at first to a flat and serious line, his lips gentled to a smile when he stood before her. “I am Tukenis.”
At the soft modulated tones, she could breathe again. Yet, did she desire air in his presence? A mere breath meant nothing with the rush of pure desire flooding her. She had to touch him and lifted her hand.
Their palms met. Awareness, sharp and prickling, danced over her skin like dry leaves in the wind. Concern for her seed and the renewal of her tree faded until all she knew was this man.
Prepared for an angry, confused soul in transition, Tükenis blocked the woman’s uplifted hand. A blaze of need, a fire of wanting scorched his palm then swept along his veins. He closed his fingers around her hand. Such a tiny hand.
Giving himself a mental shake did little to return his focus to the soul in need before him. He frowned and shoved away a stray disturbing thought. He didn’t want to guide this woman’s soul in its transition. He wanted to keep her here. Not as a gatherer or apprentice. Selfishly. For himself.