Unchained – Elisabeth Naughton

“Find me. I’m waiting. I’m waiting only for you…” The words echoed in Prometheus’s head as he wandered the empty halls of the ancient castle high in the Aegis Mountains. He heard them in his waking hours now, not just when he was asleep. Heard them tickle the hairs on his nape, heard them whisper like a lover in his ear, heard them call like fire to his blood until he twitched with the need to find her and claim her as his own. Her. The female with the flame-red hair and eyes like glittering emeralds he’d conjured with his mind. The female who was now more real to him than, well, him. Damn, but he’d fantasized about her so often over the last few months he wanted her more than he wanted his precious isolation. But the voice wasn’t real because she wasn’t real. Not even a Titan, a god with the power to match that of any ruling Olympian’s powers, could make her real. The only person in the cosmos who could summon life was the Creator, and the Creator had screwed Prometheus over so long ago, Prometheus knew there was no chance in this world or the next that he’d ever be blessed with a living version of his endless fantasy. Life didn’t work that way. Correction, his life didn’t work that way. His life was a series of bad choices and never-ending repercussions.

Which was exactly the reason he was determined to stay right here in this dank castle and not follow the sultry voice that made him so hard he could barely walk. He waved a hand, using his telekinetic powers to light a torch along the wall in the cold, dark hallway as he moved. Maybe he was going mad. Maybe all these years of isolation were finally catching up with him. After the Argonauts—warrior descendants of the strongest heroes in all of Ancient Greece—had freed him from Zeus’s chains, Prometheus had craved nothing but solitude. To do what he wanted, when he wanted—or to do absolutely nothing at all. But now, more than twentyfive years later, he was starting to wonder if his self-imposed seclusion in this ancient castle was at the root of all his problems. He was hallucinating, for shit’s sake. Not just visions, but voices now, too. A sane person didn’t do that.

A sane person—mortal or immortal—recognized when he was standing on quicksand and got the fuck out. “Find me. I’m waiting, Titos. I’m waiting for you…” She always called him Titos in his hallucinations. A nickname that translated to fire. One that now brought him around to stare down the dark and empty hallway even though he knew she wasn’t real. Nothing moved. No sound met his ears. The castle was as silent as it had been since the day he’d arrived. But his spine tingled with apprehension, and his god-sense, something he rarely relied on because no one knew where he was, shot a warning blare straight through his ears.

The witches in the valley at the base of Mt. Parnithia had told him this castle in the Argolean realm had once belonged to an evil sorcerer who’d chosen darkness over light. That sorcerer’s quest for power had cost him his life, and he now resided in the lowest levels of Tartarus, tortured endlessly by Hades much as Prometheus had been tortured by Zeus. His energy still lingered, though. A vile and murky energy Prometheus felt vibrating in his bones. As a divine being, Prometheus wasn’t worried that energy would claim him—he was too strong for that—but he couldn’t help but wonder if the sorcerer’s dark energy was somehow affecting him. Could it be the source of the voice? “Titos… I’m waiting…” “Who’s there?” he called. Silence met his ears. His pulse ticked up as he scanned the darkened corridor, the only light coming from the torch behind him. Still nothing moved.

Even the wind outside the castle walls had died down as if it too were afraid to utter a sound. His imagination. It had to be. A hallucination or whatever the fuck he wanted to call it. Frowning, he turned away only to catch a flash of white out of the corner of his eye. He whipped back. Some kind of gauzy fabric disappeared into the library, followed by the sound of laughter. Sexy, feminine laughter. Prometheus’s stomach tightened as he rushed to the threshold of the room, grasped the doorframe, and peered inside. Shelves lined with books covered all four walls.

A cold, dark fireplace sat across the distance. An empty couch, two side chairs, and a small coffee table lingered in the middle of the library. Nothing moved inside the room. No fabric rustled. No laughter sounded in the cool air. His stomach dropped when he realized he was hallucinating again, and he lowered his head into his hand and rubbed his aching temple. What had he said to himself earlier? A sane person recognized when he was standing on quicksand and got the fuck out? Maybe it was time he did that. Maybe it was time he moved on from Argolea and refocused on what he should have been doing these last twentyfive years. Namely, finding a way to screw Zeus over for everything the asshat god had done to him. “I can help you.

” Prometheus’s head jerked up at the sound of the sultry feminine voice he’d heard so many times in his dreams. Only this time when he looked the room wasn’t empty. This time a gorgeous female with hair as wild as fire and eyes like chipped emeralds peered back at him from the couch. “I can help you exact revenge on Zeus,” she whispered, sitting forward so her breasts heaved in the low-cut white gown. “All you have to do is help me first.” * * * * “Help you how?” The Titan took one step into the library and stopped. “Who are you? And how did you get here?” This was where she needed to be careful. Circe slowly pushed to her feet and brushed the thick curls over her shoulder. If he suspected too much, all her efforts would be for naught. She had to play this cool, had to stick to the plan, had to wait for just the right moment to strike.

“My name is Keia.” Not entirely a lie, she figured. For thousands of years, humans had called her a goddess pharmakeia, which was just a fancy nickname for witch or sorceress. She was simply borrowing from that label. “But I am not here. I am only an apparition.” “I don’t believe you.” Prometheus stalked forward. He reached out to grab her but his wide palm and long fingers passed through nothing but air. His hazel eyes widened as he looked from his hand back to her.

“What the hell?” He was only a few inches taller than her nearly seven feet, but he was bigger everywhere. A wall of solid steel that stood between her and eternity. Power radiated from his broad shoulders and chiseled muscles. A power that made her heart beat faster and her blood warm in a way it hadn’t done in ages. His dark hair was cut short, his jaw strong and square and covered by three days worth of stubble that made him look both dangerous and sexy. He was thousands of years old—like her—but he didn’t look a day over thirty. And when his eyes narrowed and his luscious lips thinned, she had an overwhelming urge to dive into his mouth to find out if he tasted as good as he looked. “How did you find me?” he said. “What do you want with me?” Circe blinked, his voice pulling her back to the moment. She’d not been sexually attracted to anyone in so long, she’d forgotten what that rush of excitement felt like.

Then again, she’d not had the chance to be attracted to anyone. Zeus kept her locked up tight and had for way too long. Focus. Sexy as hell you can use to your advantage. She lifted a foot-long length of heavy chain. “Look familiar?” His face paled as he looked at the chain Zeus had used to bind him to that rock. The rock where he’d been tortured daily by a giant eagle that had torn into his side and consumed his liver day after day. “Where did you get that?” “Find me and I’ll tell you.” His confused gaze lifted to her face. “Find you?” “You’re a Titan.

You have powers others don’t. Find me and I can help you make Zeus pay for everything he’s done.” He glanced over her from head to toe, a careful sweep of his green-brown eyes that was filled with both skepticism and interest. “Who are you?” She could tell him she was a witch, but instinct made her hold her tongue. Prometheus was wary of all otherworldly beings. Many had known about his torture over the years, but none had dared rescue him from Zeus’s clutches. None but the Argonauts. “I’m no one of importance. Just a maiden who helped another and is now trapped because of it. Much as you were trapped for helping mankind.

” Prometheus had given fire to humans. That was the big sin Zeus had punished him for. On a grand scale, she could see how his punishment made sense. Fire had led to the industrialization of man and the advancement of society. Zeus would have preferred man continue to worship and rely on the gods. Circe, on the other hand, had only helped free another of Zeus’s prisoners, one who’d already fulfilled his required destiny for the king of the gods. But Zeus was determined to torment her forever for that crime. She’d learned one very valuable lesson then. If you crossed Zeus you were fucked whether your offense was a major or minor violation. She had to get out of here.

She’d go mad if she had to spend eternity in this prison. Urgency pushed her forward. “Please help me.” “I can’t. I don’t know how.” He looked over her again. “You’re nothing but air.” “I—” Footsteps echoed close. Her pulse shot up. Zeus was back.

Waving her hand, she broke the feed as she swiveled toward the sound. Prometheus’s frantic “Wait,” faded in the air as she faced the king of the gods. Zeus strolled into her cave high on Mount Olympus and stared up the three stone steps where she stood next to the copper cauldron she used to conjure her magic. The flames in the bowl slowly shrank and eventually died out. His black as night eyes narrowed. He was taller than most gods, over seven feet, and nothing but muscle. And though she supposed some probably found his dark looks attractive, Circe realized he paled in comparison to Prometheus. “Well?” Zeus asked, hands on his hips and a perturbed expression across his angular face. “These things take time, my king.” She lowered her head in a reverent bow but gritted her teeth because just doing so made her want to scream.

“I grow tired of your lack of progress. I want the water element, and I want it now.” Of course he did. Ever since he’d stolen the Orb of Kronós—the magical disk that housed the four basic elements and had the power to unleash the Titans from Tartarus—from the Argonauts, he’d been pressuring her to figure out where Prometheus had hidden the last element. The god who possessed the Orb with all four elements intact could lord ultimate power over every living being. Forget controlling simply the heavens. With the water element, Zeus would finally control every realm and each being in them. Circe was determined not to let that happen. Though Zeus was allowing her to contact Prometheus with her powers so she could find the element for him, she was really planning to convince Prometheus to break her free from this hell. Because it was hell.

Being trapped in this mountain, even though she was allowed to use her magic, was as much a prison as any other. She was tired of doing what Zeus wanted. Tired of being his yes-witch. Tired of living half a life tucked away from the world. “My magic cannot be rushed,” she said, careful not to give her plans away. “We’ve discussed this before. You must be patient.” Zeus’s jaw clenched down hard. “Do whatever you have to do to get me that element. But you’d better get it quickly because I’m a god of only so much patience.

If I don’t see results soon, witch, things are going to change.” Circe lifted her chin as he turned to leave. He couldn’t threaten her. Because of him, she was the strongest witch who’d ever lived, and he knew that. Oh, she’d get results, but they’d be for her, not him. When his footsteps faded in the tunnel that led out of her cave, she turned back to her cauldron and bit her lip. She couldn’t go on visiting Prometheus as an apparition. He was already fascinated by her. She needed to step up her game. A wry smile pulled at her lips as an idea formulated.

One that would take him from fascination to obsession and set the wheels of change in full motion.

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