As Knox sprinted across the frozen tundra, he summoned a thick cover of shadows. In seconds, total blackness shrouded him, hiding him—and Vale—from the view of others.
“Can’t see,” she said, her teeth chattering. “So dark.”
“You don’t need to see.” The urge to return to the prison and pick off survivors bombarded him, but his desire to save the little Terran proved stronger.
One minute had ticked into another, more and more of her strength drained, until she stopped fighting entirely. She even lost her grip on her bag.
Earlier she’d mentioned medicine. He doubled back, grabbed the pack and hefted it over his shoulder, but she offered no thanks. The feisty mortal had grown quiet, as well.
At this rate, she would freeze to death before he reached his bunker.
Rifters? He glanced at his right hand. Good to go.
Rifters were made of a crystal-metal hybrid and resembled open-ended thimbles. They fit over the first, second and third fingers, and stretched from the nail bed to the middle knuckle. When you clinked them together, they vibrated. When they vibrated, you could wave them through the air to cut a doorway to somewhere else on Terra. You had only to imagine where you wanted to go. Somewhere you’d been before, or seen in pictures.
On his left hand was a bejeweled ring that acted as a type of projector; underneath it, injected in his knuckle, was a rice-size device, the key to communicating with his home-realm.
Every combatant had a transmitter and a set of Rifters.
Though Knox wasn’t as far from combat as desired, he pictured the bunker. Picking a spot with his gaze—about a hundred yards ahead—he clinked the Rifters together, and waved the vibrating pieces through the air. In the spot he’d selected, two layers of air seemed to peel away from each other, as if they’d ruptured, an entrance to the underground paradise appearing.
To prevent anyone who might be nearby from gazing inside the home, he also beckoned shadows to rise from the ice and shield the doorway. If combatants couldn’t picture his safe house, they couldn’t open a rift of their own in order to enter.
No matter how many centuries had passed since his last visit, he had no doubts the bunker would be intact. It was a masterpiece of technology earned from one of his previous All War victories, able to update automatically, self-clean, self-sustain and produce what he needed, when he needed it.
The bunker was his “weapon choice.” He’d known he could steal swords, daggers and guns from other warriors. Could—and had. Minutes after arriving on Terra, he’d beheaded Legend of Honoria and claimed possession of the brass knuckle daggers. Minutes after that, he’d removed the heart of Jagger of Leiddiad and
claimed a revolver. Holster the gun, and it would mystically reload.
He ran faster, faster still. The rift would remain open for sixty seconds. No more, no less. Almost there…
Knox entered the bunker…everything was intact, as expected, even clean and well lit. Most of the weapons he’d won were stashed away, hidden by shadows. To the right, a small table with different maps, just as he’d left it. To the left, a waterfall cascaded into a large, stone-rimmed tub that resembled a natural cenote. Just ahead, a soft bed positioned underneath a canopy of fruit trees.
If the other warriors ever discovered the plethora of riches here, he would become everyone’s favorite target. Well, more of a favorite target.
Knox tossed Vale and the bag onto the bed and spun, facing the rift, ready to kill anyone who dared to follow him through. Five seconds. Ten. Vale muttered incoherently about coffee beans, potatoes and eggs. He needed to tend to her, and soon, but didn’t allow himself to face her. Fifteen seconds. Twenty.
The rift wove back together at last.
Knox sheathed his daggers and rushed to the bed to look over his guest. Her lips were tinted blue, her cheeks chapped and too pink, the rest of her too pale. Once vibrant gold and green irises had dulled and were now glazed with pain. Worse, her movements had become uncoordinated.
When mortals were exposed to cold for too long, their bodies sacrificed their extremities to care for their internal organs. Vale was at that stage, no longer able to shiver.
“Tired,” she might have whispered.
“Stay awake—that’s an order.”
“We need to warm you up slowly.” Too quickly, and her heart would burst from strain created by uninhibited blood flow.
But how? The bunker had no fireplace.
“Warm…yessss,” she breathed.
The bath—it was controlled by a computer system, just like everything else in the bunker. With simple vocal commands, he could heat the water to his specifications.
Very well. “Vale, to warm you properly I will need to remove your clothing. All right?”
“Yes, anything—just want to be warm.”
With strong, sure motions, he removed her jacket, thermals and tights, leaving her in a bra and panties. His jaw slackened. Her body. All feminine curves, ripe sensuality and wicked temptation.
Desire delivered a hard one-two punch to his gut—desire he couldn’t control or override. He rubbed a hand over his mouth.
Ignore her appeal. Persevere. Do not stare.
She was curvier than he’d expected, with plump breasts, a trim waist and delightfully rounded hips. On the flat plane of her stomach and thigh were multiple tattoos of flowers. Some petals appeared raised—to cover scars? Yes, oh, yes.
Someone had hurt her.
He tensed, ready to strike at the offender in the most horrific ways. Or offenders, plural? He would kill them all, ripping out their—
Ignore the rage!
Knox slid his arms underneath Vale’s exquisite frame, and lifted her against his chest. Light as air. Though she hadn’t succumbed to sleep, her limbs remained lax, her head lolling back and forth.
For a moment he missed her indomitable spirit. Which was foolish. Her indomitable spirit would cause nothing but problems.
Knox carried her to the tub, plucking a piece of fruit along the way. He kicked off his boots before stepping into the cool water, shirtless, though still wearing pants. For the girl’s sake—mostly. He submerged her, only her face remaining above the surface.
“Gauge the female’s core temperature, heat gradually to prevent complications from hypothermia,” he commanded.
As they soaked, the grit and grime from battle washed from his skin, and the antiseptic qualities of the self-cleaning water disinfected any lingering wounds, speeding up the healing process.
He ate the fruit, his stomach grateful for nourishment after being empty for so long.
In the ensuing fifteen…thirty…forty-five minutes, the water warmed to an Iviland summer. Hot, but not stifling.
Soon, she would awake. What would he do with her then?
Gods of War
Gena Showalter, the New York Times bestselling author who brought
you the Lords of the Underworld, introduces a scorching new
paranormal romance series…Gods of War
Knox of Iviland, the most ruthless warrior in All War history, has spent his life fighting others to the death, winning new realms for his king. Now the stakes are higher than ever. If he prevails in the battle for Earth, his slave bands will be removed. Victory is his sole focus…until he meets her.
On an arctic getaway with her foster sister, street tough but vulnerable Vale London is shocked to stumble upon a cave filled with ancient gods waging epic combat. When she is inadvertently drawn into their war, she is forced to team up with an unlikely ally—the sexy god who makes her burn with desire.
Though Vale is his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can triumph, and he will have to choose: live for freedom, or die for love.
About Gena Showalter
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, the Angels of the Dark, the Lords of the Underworld, and the Otherworld Assassins series. In addition to being a National Reader’s Choice and RITA nominee, her romance novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazine, and have been translated in multiple languages. She lives in Oklahoma with her family and menagerie of dogs, and truly believes love conquers all.