SWEPT AWAY: CHAPTER 1
Greece, Third Century BC, 2293 Years Before the Krinar Invasion
Her heart pounding, Delia watched the naked god emerge from the sea. Water droplets glistened on his bronzed skin, and his powerful muscles flexed as he strode out of the surf, impervious to the violent waves crashing onto the shore. It was as if the storm meant nothing to him—as if the sea itself was his domain.
Was he Poseidon? Delia had never believed the gods were flesh and blood, like in the stories, but she knew the stranger couldn’t be a mortal man. The storm was raging, the wind howling outside her rocky shelter, yet the strongest waves couldn’t seem to budge him from his path. Ignoring the battering of the deadly surf, he walked out onto the dry strip of beach below her cliff and stopped, raising his hand to push back the black hair plastered wetly to his forehead.
As he did so, he tilted his head back, and Delia saw his face. Her breath caught in her throat, and whatever doubts she had about his origins disappeared.
The stranger was inhumanly beautiful. Even with the clouds darkening the morning sky, she could see the flawless symmetry of his features. His jaw was strong, his lips sensuously curved, and his cheekbones high and noble. It was as if an artist’s steady hand had molded his face, leaving no room for nature to add its imperfections.
With piercing dark eyes, straight black eyebrows, and a warrior’s broad-shouldered build, the stranger made the most handsome men in Delia’s village look like lepers.
A crack of thunder startled her, making her jump in her small, cramped cave. The man outside, however, remained calm, turning to look at the angry sea with what seemed to be interest rather than worry. Delia followed his gaze and saw something silvery shimmering far out in the water.
A ship? Several ships, perhaps? The object was certainly big enough—maybe even too big, given how visible it was from far away. Is that where the god-like man came from? That mysterious silvery something?
Thunder boomed again, and with a flash of lightning, the skies opened, sheets of rain coming down with savage force. Delia shrank deeper into her narrow cave, but it was too small to shelter her completely, and cold drops pelted her skin. Below her, the sea churned harder, the waves growing taller with each moment, and she fought the urge to scream at the stranger, to warn him to get to higher ground. She could see the swells rising in the distance; the waves would be taller than two men when they reached the shore, and the narrow strip of land where the man was standing would be completely swallowed up by the sea.
In fact, she realized with growing dread, her tiny cave at the top of the cliff might not be safe either. When she’d taken shelter here an hour ago, she hadn’t counted on the storm becoming so violent. If the waves approaching the shore turned out to be as tall as she feared, they could reach the top of the cliff. She’d never witnessed the sea rising that high, but the old fishermen had told stories about surging waters, and she couldn’t take the risk that they were true.
Coming to a decision, Delia scrambled out of the cave onto the rocky ledge below. Instantly, the rain soaked her dress, and a gust of wind nearly pushed her off the ledge.
Gasping, she managed to turn around. Bracing herself against the wind, she began to climb, determined to get away from the fury of the sea. She knew the stranger was somewhere below her, but she didn’t dare look down. The rain was blinding. Even with lightning flashing every few seconds, she couldn’t see farther than an arm’s length in front of her, and her bare feet kept slipping on the wet rocks, her soaked dress tangling around her legs as she climbed with growing desperation.
Just a little more, she told herself. Another reach, another push, and she’d be at the top, on flat ground. With lightning striking everywhere, it was far from safe—Delia had hidden in the cave for a reason—but it was a smaller risk than drowning at this point. Squinting against the rain, she reached for the top outcropping, but instead of cold rock, her fingers encountered something warm—something that curled around her palm with unbelievable strength.
A man’s hand.
Gasping, Delia opened her eyes wider, and through the blur of stinging rain, saw the stranger from the beach looking down at her.
The god had somehow made it up the cliff and was holding her hand.