*This is the second excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Gods Defense. I’ll be running them all month, leading up to the release date. These excerpts are in order, but I’m not showing the beginning of the book scene after scene. These are clips and parts have been left out so if you’re thinking something doesn’t make sense or I skipped something, it’s because I have :)*
I turned and my stomach dropped.
How many times could I think, ‘Oh shit’ before it became redundant?
Henry Hepner jogged up the courthouse steps, panting. His thousand dollar suit hid the extra weight around his middle well, but it couldn’t do anything about what shape he was actually in. He was pushing fifty, with a bald spot in the middle of his dark brown hair, a little goatee to make up for what he was missing up top, and brown eyes that were always soft and sweet.
Even when he was making deals with naive young things to sell their souls.
Devil’s advocate had never been literal before the gods woke up.
“Hello Henry. Here to sign up souls, or is this a social visit?”
“Cute.” He smiled, all white teeth and twinkling eyes. Used car salesmen had smiles like that. But the worst they’d do to you was take your money. “I want to talk to you.”
“Your case.” Really? “It’s a little, nothing assault case.” I squinted. Where was that rat I was smelling?
“My client doesn’t want this defense becoming common.”
“Why does Hades care?”
Henry paused. “People blaming the gods for every little indiscretion could put the gods in a very bad light if others start to believe it. They’re already struggling with reconciling… their ways with the law.”
“Their ways, huh? Nice way of saying enslaving.”
“Come on, Cassandra, they’re not enslaving people. They’re building a following.
Everyone follows of their own free will. And they can leave whenever they want. Just like any other religion.”
“Don’t spin me.” My hands dug into my briefcase’s handle so hard I was surprised the steel didn’t melt into my skin, and I loosened my grip with a deep breath. “If they don’t take something from their followers, why can I see lines of energy going into their temples? Hell, why don’t they tell people what goes on in their temples? Why don’t their people talk about it?”
“They aren’t the first businesses, or religions for that matter, who have non-disclosure agreements.”
“They don’t answer questions. Like where the hell were they ‘sleeping’”–I put up air quotes, nice trick carrying a briefcase–“for thousands of years. Or why!” His smile stayed in place but his eyes went sad. “Has working as a prosecutor made you this hostile?”
“I’m not hostile.”
“You have been to me ever since…” His eyes narrowed.
“Yeah, ever since you left the school and started working for the gods. Dammit, Henry, you used to stand for something. You were the one who said ethics were the cornerstone of law. And now look at you. I’d say you sold out, but law school professors already make bank.”
His face froze. “Everyone has a price, Cassandra.”
“No, they don’t. That’s just what people say when someone waves enough money in front of their nose. How much was your soul worth, Henry?”
His smile inched up a few notches. “My client wants you to plead this out.” Nice change of subject. Can you say hit a nerve? “He wants this before others start getting ideas about accusing the gods without basis.”
My hairs stood on end. There was… something. I focused on him.
My peripheral vision fuzzed away, people on the stairs becoming blotches of moving colors. Henry’s head came into sharp focus, red light bleeding out of it. Black streaks ran through it like poison in the veins.
Two years ago, if you saw colors around someone’s head, it meant they were standing in front of a neon sign… or you were just nuts. Now, to me, they meant emotions, thoughts, possible actions. It took me months after the Awakening to figure out what I was seeing.
I clucked my tongue. “Not nice to lie to a psychic, Henry.”
His smile warmed, the streaks disappearing. “Finally admitting what you are?”
“What? I have no problems with being a psychic.”
He spread his hands. “But you refuse to acknowledge your patron god.”
I jabbed my finger up at his face. “When the gods woke up, they brought magic back. They didn’t give me my powers, they just stopped withholding them. I don’t owe him anything.”
“I never said you did. I said he’s your patron.” He held up his hands with that same easy smile. He probably had that smile when wandering around his boss’s new underworld. “I was sent to deliver two messages. First, plead this case out. Second, your god wants to talk to you.”
I fingered the tiny cross resting just above my collar. “He’s not my god. God didn’t stop existing just because beings with magic who call themselves gods woke up. He’s still up there. Watching over us.”
“And yet He hasn’t come down, even though there are false gods among us now. Makes you wonder if He’s really there.” Henry held up his hands. “Sorry, we’re getting off topic. The gods are playing within the rules the government set out, not forcing anyone to worship or heed them. That doesn’t mean they can’t do a hell of a lot more than they show the public. You don’t talk to Apollo soon, he’s going to stop playing nice.”
My face froze. I’m not scary usually, at five foot one, I’m far from it, but Henry quickly looked away.
“Don’t threaten me, Henry.”
“I’m not. I’m still your friend even if you aren’t mine. I’m trying to protect you. Don’t shoot the messenger.” At least his smarmy smile faded. “You have the message. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you in Olympus soon. Always a pleasure, Cassandra.” He turned on a heel and walked to the street where his limo waited, blocking the lane.
*If you liked this, don’t forget to check out The Gods Defense next month, and check out my already published works on Amazon.*