Title: Magic of the Nile (The Gods of Egypt)
Author: Veronica Scott
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Egypt, 1550 BCE: She's a priestess, he's a proud warrior … is love enough to bridge their differences?
When the high priestess of an Egyptian temple falls in love with a captain of the royal guard, their bond is tested by the intrigue and peril of their duties to the gods and Pharaoh.
Tyema serves Sobek the Crocodile God as High Priestess of his Nile river temple. But despite her beauty, grace, and the power she wields, the shy priestess lives as a recluse in the remote temple grounds. For though Sobek rescued her from a childhood of abuse and neglect, and healed her crippled foot, her dark past haunts her still.
When Sahure, a dashing captain of Pharaoh's guard, arrives to ask her help for Pharaoh, Tyema's wounded heart blossoms. The captain is captivated as by her well … until Pharaoh orders him to the dangerous frontier, far from Tyema. He rides away, bound by duty and honor, leaving Tyema with even more secrets to bear.
Heart-broken, Tyema returns to her lonely life … until the Crocodile God reveals other plans for his priestess. For Pharaoh's life is threatened with black magic, and only one who wields the power of a god can unmask the sorcerer. Tyema must brave court life, and somehow withstand the pressures of swirling gossip, intrigue and danger. And she must hurry, before ancient evils overcome all her efforts.
But when Sahure returns, is he there to help or to hinder? Will love lead them to common ground, and a future together … or will their differences tear them apart forever?
Tyema reentered her cabin, taking the fussy baby to nurse. She preferred sitting in their private, screened-off area at the bow, but now the ship was tied to a dock in the busy harbor, other boats moored close by, she felt there were far too many eyes watching. Nursing little Seknehure until he slept, she sat and watched him frown as he snored. So like his father, with a strong face and stubborn jaw. Leaning against the bulkhead, she supposed this might be one of her last peaceful moments while in the capital. I wish I could put the crocodile ashore in his crate, order the anchor raised and sail home now. So many trials ahead and always the task Sobek needs accomplished haunts my dreams. Who am I to go up against black magic? But she’d told the Great One she’d search out the troublemaker for him and now here she was in Thebes. No use to think of fleeing.
A knock at the door interrupted her peaceful reverie and her scribe poked his head into the cabin, eyes wide with excitement. “You’re needed on deck, my lady. Pharaoh has sent an escort to guide us to the palace.”
“We’re to stay at the palace?” Rearranging her dress, she rose, handing the baby to her niece Renebti, who’d slipped into the tiny cabin around the scribe as soon as he’d opened the door.
“So it seems.” The scribe stood aside for her to walk up the stairs to the deck in front of him. “I think you might know the officer in charge.”
And that was all the warning Tyema received before she was face to face with Sahure for the first time in over a year. Heart pounding in her chest, breath catching, she stopped in mid step.
“My lady.” Sahure bowed but his eyes never left her face. His own was set in stern lines, giving nothing away about how he felt at seeing her again.
“You—you’re back from the Southern Oasis,” she stammered, feeling the warmth rise in her cheeks as she blushed. She was sure he could probably hear her heart beating, the way seeing him again was affecting her. He seems the same, maybe a bit more careworn in appearance, around the eyes. What’s he going to think about the baby? What will he say to me? What do I say to him? Her thoughts were all over the place, like the gulls swooping over the harbor. Words suitable to utter refused to come to mind. She had to clench her hand on the railing to keep from touching him.
“And you’ve come to Thebes, the place you said you’d never visit,” he answered. His eyes flicked to Renebti, standing on the bottom stair behind the scribe and holding the baby. Glancing at Tyema, he raised his eyebrows, lips compressed in a thin line.
Clearing her throat painfully, she rushed into speech. “I can explain—”
“No explanation to me is required. At the moment.” His tone left it abundantly clear there would have to be discussion in the near future. “We should make haste to the palace. Pharaoh has decreed the crocodile will be housed in a suitable, fenced pond at his private zoo until the procession and ceremonies occur. A suite of rooms at the palace has been set aside for your party.” He stepped aside to allow her to step onto the deck.
“Very kind of him, I’m sure.” Tyema gestured at the large cedar crate sitting near the ship’s stern. Thumping noises could be heard as the crocodile took exception to being enclosed after ten days of relative freedom. The crate shifted on the deck as the creature vented his displeasure from inside. “The animal is in there. We boxed him in as soon as we reached our mooring.”
Apparently uninterested in the state of the crocodile, Sahure sounded bored. “If the logistics for the animal are organized, we can leave when you’re ready.”
“Oh, I’m ready now,” she assured him.
He stared at her, his gaze traveling from her head to her toes. Brow furrowed, he glanced across the crowded harbor for a moment before taking one step to grab her by the elbow and pull her aside from her retinue. His voice was low and stern. “You can’t seriously be planning to proceed through the streets of Thebes like this?”
“Like what?” Tyema was bewildered.
“In your plain travel dress? Did you bring no other priestesses? No musicians or dancers?”
Growing more bewildered by the moment, Tyema shook her head. “I left my staff to continue the required rituals of worship at our temple. And why should I need the musicians and dancers? You know we have only a small troop. I assumed the temple here would supply performers for the procession.”
He bit his lip, closing his eyes for a brief moment before glaring at her, jaw clenched. “Tell me you at least brought ceremonial robes, wig and crown?”
“Well of course, they’ll be needed for the dedication of the new crocodile to his service here.” Irritated, she yanked her elbow from his loose clasp. “What is the matter?”
“Tyema, this is Thebes.” Sahure gestured at the bustling city beyond the waterfront. “You can’t just walk around in your everyday dress, like an ordinary person. We’re not among villagers who’ve known you your entire life. You’re here as a High Priestess of Sobek in the Ibis Nome. All eyes are going to be on you as we proceed from the harbor to the palace. It’s common knowledge the high priest of Sobek here has his nose out of joint because Pharaoh insisted you had to supply the new bull crocodile for the temple, and lead the ceremonies. You owe it to Pharaoh to present yourself in the best possible light, and believe me when I say wearing a patched dress and a pair of sandals with a mended strap don’t make the case.”
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A timeless tale of a man, a woman and their baby, and what a warrior must do with the help of the gods to keep his family safe from the threat of black magic.
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Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven-time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!
She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”
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