When Thanatos finally retrieves Calindria, daughter of Hades, from the depths of the Underworld, she’s no longer the innocent girl he once knew. Now they must band together to navigate a perilous realm — and their startling attraction…
Thanatos, god of death, has a mission: scour the unknown realms of the Underworld and retrieve the only daughter of his god-king, Hades. Murdered six centuries ago and her soul captured before it could pass on, she now falls under Thanatos’s domain. Armed with only a description of the location of her prison seen in a vision by her oldest brother, Thanatos has spent four years hunting for her, determined to complete his task and save her.
But when he locates Calindria, she’s not the delicate little girl he remembers—she’s a fierce, bewitching and beautiful warrioress who stirs unwanted feelings in his black heart and she’s on a mission of her own.
Calindria, daughter of Hades, has a mission: escape her prison, hunt down the ones who murdered her twin brother, and then make her family pay for abandoning her. But the Fates have other plans, placing a distractingly gorgeous god of death in her path—a warrior who is determined to convince her that what she believed is the truth is in fact a lie.
In a realm that turns memories against them and where anything can be an illusion, can Calindria and Thanatos learn to trust each other enough to work together to escape the hellish domain, or will the darkest moments of their past prove too powerful to overcome?
THANATOS, the latest standalone novel in the Guardians of Hades series by NY Times bestselling author Felicity Heaton.
About the Book
Thanatos by Felicity Heaton
Series Guardians of Hades | Genre Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher Independent | Publication Date June 8, 2021
Purchase Your Copy Today!
Add It To Your Bookshelf!
KEEP READING TO SEE AN EXCERPT!
A Guardians of Hades Novel
© 2021 Felicity Heaton
The rusty iron cage swung slightly as she moved, the heavy chain above her creaking as it swayed. She pressed her blackened bare feet to the thick bars that curved beneath her and carefully shuffled as she gripped another bar with her left hand, moving to face a different direction.
Her gaze strayed to the bluff of black rock that jutted out high on the wall of the enormous cavern, a ledge that had tantalised her from the moment she had witnessed him standing there what felt like aeons ago now.
Her eldest brother.
Though it had been an eternity since she had seen him, she had recognised him instantly, had felt a soul-deep connection to him that had brought tears to her eyes for the first time in as long as she could remember.
She couldn’t recall his name. Only his face.
Didn’t remember what people called her.
She knew only a burning need to avenge her twin by hunting down the ones who had killed him, a mission of justice she would follow with another once she had completed it. Once they were dead, she would go after her family.
They would pay for abandoning her to the wretches who still held her now.
The oval cage swung again, and she cursed as it turned, spinning her so she was facing away from the bluff. She stared at the other cages that hung from the arching ceiling between great spears of onyx rock.
At the skeletons they contained, some only bones now while others were still rotting.
She remembered the last one who had died, how he had screamed when they had come to torture him, how they had gone too far. She hadn’t yelled at them to stop, had only watched in silent numbness as they had spilled his blood, as he had desperately clung to life, fighting to survive.
He had spoken often of surviving.
A wry smile twisted her lips as she stared at his corpse.
This wasn’t surviving.
She wasn’t even sure she would call it existing, but it was the closest she could come to how it felt. It was all she could do. Exist. She had no control over her life, no freedom, nothing. She had only this small, cramped cage.
And a tiny seed of hope.
That light flickered dimly inside her now, slowly dying, rotting as the male was.
But it had shone brightly when she had seen her eldest brother, had nearly blinded her when their eyes had met, and she foolishly clung to it as the dead male had clung to his thoughts of surviving. Escaping.
She was a fool.
She shuffled to face the bluff again, her heart heavier now. She hadn’t seen her eldest brother there. It had been a lie, a fabrication created by this realm. Wherever this place was, it was steeped in power, taunted her with visions of her past. It stole her memories and used them against her, tearing her down and breaking her whenever she built herself up again.
Those visions tormented her worse than her captors ever could.
She looked down at the uneven ground more than ten feet below her, at the insect-like creatures that scuttled around, feeding, picking at the detritus that turned the air rancid as the scent of it mingled with that of wood smoke coming from the camp where her guards lived. Within that smoke there was a faint note of roasting meat.
Her stomach rumbled and she rubbed it between the small tattered blue top and shorts she had fashioned for herself from a dress she remembered clearly. It had been beautiful. Her favourite.
She’d had a ribbon that matched it, one bought for her by her twin. A ribbon woven on Olympus. She had cherished it.
Strange that she remembered such things when others eluded her. Her name was gone. Her family’s names too. She recalled only their faces and how they had looked at her when they had turned their backs on her. How they had ignored her when she had lunged for them, her arms held in the vice-like grips of her captors, a wild and desperate thing that had screamed for them.
Had screamed until she had been hoarse.
She remembered her twin.
His bright blue eyes. His golden hair. That smile that had always had an edge of mischief about it. How he had loved to tease her, to make out that she was the reckless one out of the two of them.
She had proven she was.
And gods, she regretted it.
His death was her fault.
But she would avenge him.
Voices echoed through the cavern, weaving between the jagged fangs of rock that hung from the ceiling, a distant murmur that blurred together into a stream of sounds and nothing more. She focused and strained, leaned forwards and closed her eyes, trying to make out what the guards were saying.
They didn’t speak very often, mostly went about their business, patrolling the area with their black spears or coming to torment those they held captive, whether it was with that same weapon or with the sight of food or water.
Her stomach growled again, but it wasn’t the thought of food that caused it to rumble. It was the thought of water. It had been too long since she’d had a sip of water. So long that her mouth was dry, throat thick. She cleared her throat and swallowed, tried not to think about water because it was unlikely she would be offered any soon.
The voices fell silent but then a single male spoke, and she caught his words.
“We have orders to move her soon…” His voice trailed off and she strained harder, desperate to hear what he was saying because he had to be talking about her. She was the only one they were holding now, the only one left alive in a sea of caged skeletons. He said something she didn’t catch, and then his voice grew louder again. “…Getting too close.”
Getting too close?
What or who was getting too close?
She put it to the back of her mind and focused on the fact they were speaking of moving her. She felt she had been in this place a long time now, longer than she had been in any other location.
They had moved her several times over the duration of her captivity, always to another cavern, through the warren of tunnels and openings that formed this strange realm. It had been many years, or so she thought, since they had placed her in this cage though.
The voices drifted away again and she sank back against her cage, swayed with it as her thoughts wandered. She closed her eyes and breathed deep, calming her mind to conserve her strength, conjuring images she had used often over the centuries to give her strength.
Reliving memories of better days.
Not those of her family, because they were dead to her now, but those of lush wild landscapes, of the Elysian Fields, of vast nature and wide-open spaces. She found seeing those fields of crimson poppies and sparkling rivers and feeling the warm kiss of sun on her skin soothing. It kept her going.
Because she was resolved to live in such a place once this was all over.
When her mission was done.
She was going to find somewhere beautiful and remote, and make a home for herself there, away from this wretched dark realm.
Her eyebrows pinched as other images flickered over the ones she was calling to mind, black and broken lands filling fractures in them, and then a village. Small. Barely a handful of huts clustered together for safety in a sprawling grim realm like the one she was trapped in.
Followed by a boy.
Golden hair. Eyes like a summer’s sky. Her twin. She tried to recall his name as he lingered, while at the same time wanting him gone because she knew what came next. It crashed over her before she could purge the memory, a rush of images where he went from smiling at her, to screaming something while reaching for her, to staring blankly into eternity.
She bent forwards and buried her face in her knees. Her matted hair fell to cover the sides of her face as she fought the wave of pain that followed those images, as the guilt churned like acid inside her as fiercely now as it had that day when he had died.
It was all her fault.
Darkness seethed inside her, gaining ground as she sank into the past and her regrets, as she cursed herself for recklessly following him and her father, believing she could help her twin.
She breathed through the hurt, the rage, fighting to calm her mind in the same way she always did whenever the past tried to overwhelm and break her. It was difficult, but she managed to force her focus to the future, kept telling herself she couldn’t change the past. She could only change herself so she never made the same mistake again.
And she had changed herself.
She had honed herself into a blade, one forged in this fiery crucible of pain and torment.
A blade she would use to cut down any who stood in her way.
The tendrils of darkness writhed more viciously inside her, tangled around her limbs and made her fingers cold. She pressed them into her bare knees, didn’t flinch when her nails pierced her flesh. Focused on the pain. Sank into that darkness, embracing it. It was a weapon. Her weapon. A living, twisted thing that had kept her company throughout her captivity. Her only friend.
The only thing she trusted in this bleak world.
It spoke to her at times, whispered warnings and urged her to accept it. Acceptance had come readily, because this darkness was her strength. She felt that to the very depth of her soul. This darkness was her power.
She tensed as something struck her cage, jerked her head up and glared at the huge bare-chested warrior who had banged his black spear against it. A consuming desire to flash short fangs at him surged through her, but she denied it. She had to conserve her strength if they were going to move her.
Not because wherever they led her would be far away and she would need it to walk that distance.
But because she intended to escape.
If she threatened the male, he would stab her with the spear—she had learned that long ago. So now she behaved whenever he came to her, merely stared at him in silence most of the times, but this time she couldn’t hold her tongue.
“Water,” she whispered, voice hoarse and scratchy, and swallowed thickly again. She tapped her right index finger against her lower lip. “Water.”
The dark-haired brute merely grinned at her, revealing a missing canine. When he raked his black eyes over her, a shudder wracked her and she barely resisted the urge to ease back in her cage. She wouldn’t show weakness. She wouldn’t show fear. Never.
She silently cursed him. She needed water. It would give her the strength she was going to need to escape once they opened her cage. She wouldn’t have long to manage that feat. They were always quick to attach the metal collar to her neck, one that had two black iron poles fixed to it. Those long poles allowed them to steer her and keep her at a distance, making it impossible for her to attack them.
She couldn’t let them get that collar on her.
So, she would need to be swift to evade it.
“Water.” This time, she bit the word out harder, pressed two fingers to her mouth. “Please?”
She wasn’t above begging if it got her the water, although she despised it. The fiends always found it amusing when she was forced to plead with them. She wasn’t sure why. They seemed to like seeing her humble herself. As expected, his grin widened and he tilted his head back, and she shuddered as he slipped the tip of his spear between the bars and stroked the flat of the black blade down her thigh.
She tried to steel herself, to calm her mind, but the darkness was at the fore and before she could stop herself, she grabbed the spear and yanked it towards her, tugging him with it. He growled, his face twisting, and wrestled with her, was too strong for her to keep hold of the spear.
He pulled it free of her grip and she cried out as the blade cut her palm, slicing deep.
She curled her hand into a fist, gritted her teeth as the cut burned and stung.
His black eyes narrowed on her and he looked as if he was going to stab her as punishment for her actions, but instead, he reached for the pouch hanging from the waist of his black leather pants, uncorked it and held it aloft before her.
The cage rocked as she lunged forwards, stretching both arms between the thick iron bars, reaching for the water.
With a slow, cruel smile he tilted the pouch.
“No.” She stretched harder, pressing her cheek to the bars, fingers clawing at the air as she tried to grab the waterskin before he could go through with it.
She grunted as frustration rolled through her, as she fell just short of being able to touch it, and stilled as he tilted it, pouring the precious liquid all over the ground below her cage. The insects there were quick to rush away from it in a wave.
She stared at the glossy puddle and stilled as it reflected her image. When was the last time she had seen herself? She didn’t remember looking so grown up, or so filthy. The water was quick to soak into the black ground, leaving only a darker patch of dirt behind.
She sagged against the bars of her cage. “Bastard.”
The male chuckled and began to walk away, but stopped as another warrior approached him from the direction of their camp. The two of them had been in charge of taking care of her for as long as she could remember, but neither of them had warmed to her over the years, not even when she had entered adulthood. They had started looking at her differently though, in ways she didn’t like.
The second male looked at her in that way now, his blue eyes glittering with a heat that turned her stomach and made her shrink away from him.
“Get her ready to move,” the dark-haired male said and cast a black look over his bare shoulder at her. “Behave now.”
He slid his onyx gaze to the other male.
“And don’t touch her.”
She had heard him tell this male that same thing several times in several different ways during her captivity, whenever the redhead spoke of wanting her.
He stepped up to her as the dark-haired male walked away from them, coming to a stop right beneath her, his blue gaze trailing over her bare legs in a sickening way, one that had her tucking them closer to her.
“You going to behave for me, pet?” he murmured throatily, too much hunger in his eyes as he looked her over. “Although, I don’t think I would be upset if you fought me. Might get to touch you then. You don’t know how many nights I’ve lain awake thinking of you while I stroke—”
She spat in his face.
He growled, flashing his teeth, and wiped it away with a dirty rag. “Bitch.”
He strode past her, tucking the rag into the waist of his leathers on the same side as his waterskin. He pulled a pair of thick gloves from the other side of his trousers and tugged them on as he stopped beside the heavy wheel that the chain of her cage was attached to and kicked the lever.
The chain unfurled, rattling loudly as it thundered through the two pulleys mounted on the ceiling of the cavern, and she shrieked as her cage crashed into the ground, the impact shaking every bone in her body. Her head smacked against the bars and she breathed hard, fighting a wave of nausea. It passed quickly as she realised she had landed with her head close to where the dark-haired brute had tipped his water.
She scrambled onto her knees and tried to press her head between the bars to suck on the ground, but the door of her cage creaked open and the redhead fisted her hair. She gasped and reached up, grabbed his gloved hand in both of hers and flailed as he pulled her from the cage.
Her heart thundered as he dragged her across the ground, her bare feet bouncing off it as she tried to find some purchase and fight the male.
“Can touch you all I want if he doesn’t know about it.”
“No,” she gasped. “Please. I didn’t—”
He lifted her off the ground by her hair and threw her past him, and she grunted as she slammed into a rock in a shadowy alcove. The male lunged for her. Darkness surged through her, panic making it rise swiftly to the fore, and she growled as she shook off the blow and reacted on instinct. Everything seemed to slow and she felt as if she was watching herself from outside her body, as if something else was in control of her, as she kicked off.
She slammed into the male, her slender weight no match for him. She didn’t even knock him backwards. He made another grab for her and she batted his hand away, bared short fangs as she exploded towards him.
Managed to grab his arms.
She went to headbutt him and stilled as he howled in pain as if she had struck him already. He reared back and easily dislodged her as she tried to figure out what was happening. Her eyes widened as he rubbed at his bare arms, as she looked at them.
Her stomach turned.
His skin was black where she had touched him, flesh flaking as if she had burned him, and onyx threads snaked outwards from those two points, spreading the darkness across his flesh as he desperately battled it.
She blinked hard, shocked to her core, unable to believe what she was seeing.
Her head lifted as he fell and she looked around her at the cavern.
Unable to believe she was free.
As he rolled on the ground, crying out in agony, she hurled herself into action, aware she had only moments before the dark-haired guard came to see what all the noise was about. She grabbed the full waterskin from his waist together with the dirty rag and tried to run, tripping her way across the floor of the enormous cavern. Her muscles burned with each stride, but she forced herself to keep moving, and not look back.
Sickness washed through her as the warrior cried out again, as that bellow of pain suddenly cut off.
She hurried into the darkness, into a tunnel she had often stared at during her captivity, not slowing until she was deep in the twisting labyrinth and sure the other guard wouldn’t find her.
Her eyes fell to her left hand as she slowed to a walk, the sickness brewing again as her mind filled with an image of the male she had touched—a male she had somehow harmed with only that touch. The darkness within her writhed, but it wasn’t restless this time.
It was sated.
Fear trickled through her. Fear of this newfound power. Fear of what lay ahead of her.
But it was nothing compared with the renewed sense of determination that flowed into her as she mused her dark power.
A power she could use to have her revenge.
She lifted her head and stared at the route before her as she tucked the waterskin beneath her arm and wrapped the dirty rag around her injured hand, tying it tightly to stem the flow of blood. Her fear fell away as she followed the narrow tunnel, picking her way around jagged black stalactites and stalagmites that joined the ground to the ceiling in places like dreadful fangs.
Her mission was finally beginning.
She was going to find the male who had killed her twin and avenge him.
And then she was going to find her family.
And when she did, they would die.
Purchase Your Copy Today!
Add It To Your Bookshelf!
More Fabulous Reads for You!