When I first sat down to write WHAT A GODDESS WANTS, I had a really good idea of what Tessa was like.
She was the Etruscan Goddess of the Sun. She was bright, sweet. Sunny. As part of her duties, she was also a goddess of childbirth, so add nurturing to her list of attributes. She had to be blonde, her hair bright, her eyes the blue of a clear sky. Perfect.
Now, what about her hero? Didn’t such a sweetheart deserve a loving, easy-going man?
What would be the fun in that? Romance is built on conflict and Caligo the Cimmerian thrives on conflict.
Born in the mist and shadow of Cimmeria, which lies between the planes of existence, Cal is a half-breed. His father is full-blooded Cimmerian but his mother...isn’t. His father actually kidnapped her from the sun plane to live with him in Cimmeria. So I guess you could say his life started in conflict.
Luckily for Cal, his parents fell in love but Cal didn’t exactly have an easy time growing up. The Cimmerians aren’t all that warm and fuzzy. In fact, Cimmerians are pretty damn hard. They don’t feel pain or heat or cold. Over the centuries, they’ve become known as bad-ass warriors with no hearts, the men you pay to get you out of a tight spot.
When Tessa needs a man to save her, a friend sends her to Cal.
And from their first meeting, Cal and Tessa’s relationship is full of sharp tongues and even sharper wit.
“I tell you to do something, you do it. No questions asked.”
Tessa kept her eyes trained on Cal as he drove his Jeep Wrangler down a dirt road in the woods. Actually, “road” was too kind to describe what was little more than a deer trail. The Wrangler barely fit between the trees, and branches whipped by at terrorizing speed. Her fingers had cramped from holding the roll bar so tightly.
She watched was watching him because she couldn’t bear to look out the front window. She didn’t want to see the tree they were surely going to hit if he didn’t slow down.
So she focused on her savior. She was so grateful to him for saving her life back there that she was willing to put up with anything he told her.
But if he didn’t slow down, she might just have to curl up in a ball on the floor and cry like a baby.
“Tess, hey. You listening to me?”
“Yes. Yes, I am.” She had to yell over the whistle of the wind. “I do whatever you tell me to.”
Cal must have heard something in her voice he didn’t like because he turned, for a brief and terrifying second, to look at her.
Great Goddess Uni, please don’t let us die.
“You look a little green around the gills, babe. You sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Please, just keep your eyes on the… path.”
He laughed, his expression transforming with the accompanying smile, and her breath caught.
Damn, the man was quite gorgeous. And that was saying something coming from a goddess who’d had her pick of beautiful men and gods over the millennia.
But Caligo wasn’t her typical pretty boy. He was young, yes, but he was rougher around the edges than any other man she’d ever wanted.
His broken nose only added to his charm. Same for his mouth. His bottom lip was a straight slash, yet his upper curved into a bow. And his eyes… that gray should be cold, but she went hot all over when he slid his gaze her way.
Which it did again, making her heart pound—and not in fear.
“Babe, I’ve got this path memorized like the back of my hand. I know every rut, every turn, every tree along the way. We’re not gonna crash.”
Surprisingly, his words eased her fear. A bit. “How can you be so sure?”
“Because I haven’t yet.”
“There’s always a first time,” she muttered under her breath.
Obviously, he heard her because he laughed again, shook his head, and pressed a little harder on the gas pedal.
They drove in silence for a few minutes, while she continued to study him. His hair was military short on the sides and longer on the top, where it hung down into bangs, the color a deep black but, shot through with strands of pure silver. He couldn’t be more than twenty-five so she had to wonder why he was going gray already. Probably the high-stress life he led—
They bumped over something, the tires leaving the road for a few terrifying moments, and Tessa closed her eyes. But not before watching Caligo wrench the steering wheel to the right. She froze, certain they were about to head over a cliff.
Then relief allowed her to draw in a deep breath as she realized they’d turned onto a paved road.
Thank you, Great Mother Goddess.
“So where are we going?” She finally dared to open her eyes and look at her surroundings. This The road didn’t look familiar, but then she wasn’t overly familiar with this part of Berks County.
“To see Salvatorus, find out if he’s learned anything else. He must’ve had a reason for sending you to me specifically. I want to know what it is.”
“Other than the fact that you’re Cimmerian?”
“Yeah, other than that.”
“What else could it be?”
He slid a glance her way. “Haven’t gotten that far.”
He must have seen her the fear surge though her. “Relax, Godd ess. I’ve done this a few times. I’m good at thinking on my feet.”
“Please, call me Tessa.”
“What’s with the name, anyway? I thought you said it was Thesan.”
She snorted. “Says the man named Darkness.”
Cal shrugged, though he’d always wondered if his dad had been trying too hard when he’d slapped that name on him. “I never got a choice, Your Highness. Cimmerian males are named by their fathers when we come of age, usually around thirteen or so.”
“What do they call you before then?”
HalfbloodHalf-blood. Inferior. Unworthy. “‘Son of’ whatever your father’s name is.”
“And you were ‘Son of…’”
In his peripheral vision, he saw her mouth drop open. “Your dad’s name is Cruelty?”
She shook her head. “Wow, you’re a happy people, aren’t you?”
“Coming This coming from the Goddess goddess of a pantheon that demanded ritual sacrifice.”
Her cute little nose wrinkled. “We did not demand it. I personally preferred my offerings alive, twenty years old and very much male, thank you very much. Besides, that was a long time ago. We’ve evolved since then.”
Where to find Stephanie