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Dana's one time friend, Ellie, sends her an ancient scroll from Egypt. Not knowing there would be consequences for doing so, she opens the scroll. Having an Egyptian god come to pass judgment was the last thing she expected. That it's Mahes, the one Egyptian god she is obsessed with, makes it that much more unbelievable.
Mahes, the protector of maat, is sent to pass judgment on the mortal woman who has broken universal order by opening the Book of Thoth. He soon finds himself in a difficult position as his attraction for Dana grows.
With the help of his brother god Nefertem, Mahes and Dana set out to return the book before Dana is tempted to read from it and in doing so condemns herself to death.
Plunking herself down onto her chair, Dana James stared at the cylindrical tube sitting on her desk. The courier had delivered it a few minutes earlier. Even though she was curious to see what was inside it, it was the sender who piqued her interest more. The point of origin stated on the courier’s slip read that it had been sent to her by one Ellie Marstan. The sender’s address was somewhere in Egypt.
Dana scowled at the cylinder wondering why Ellie would have sent her a package. They hadn’t exactly been on speaking terms for the last couple of years, but Dana had known Ellie was in Egypt on a dig. Working in the Egyptian antiquities department at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, Dana liked to keep herself up-to-date on any digs being done in that country.
Breaking the seal around the top of the cylinder, Dana gingerly pulled out what was packaged inside. Pulling away the layers of bubble wrap, she was surprised to find a papyrus scroll in the center. The papyrus was in excellent condition showing no signs of age. She was drawing a blank as to why Ellie would have sent her, in particular, the scroll. Dana knew it couldn’t have been from the dig Ellie was working on. The Egyptian government would never allow anything excavated to be sent out of the country.
With her fingertips, she gently ran them across the papyrus. A tingling sensation shot along her fingers and Dana pulled her hand away. That was weird. To see if it would happen again, she lightly touched the scroll with her index finger. Nothing. Thinking she must have imagined it, Dana gently took hold of the edge of the scroll and slowly unrolled it.
As she scanned the hieroglyphs that filled the length of the scroll, an intense wave of foreboding rose up inside her. She yanked her hand back and the scroll rolled up. Dana had no idea what was written on the scroll, since she hadn’t had enough time to read the hieroglyphs, but she couldn’t help feeling she had done something wrong by opening it.
As she sat back in her chair, Dana tried to still her racing heart. She knew she was being ridiculous, but she couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness that still gripped her. Staring at the scroll sitting innocuously on her desk, she sensed there was something more to it, something powerful about it.
With care, she replaced the scroll back in the bubble wrap and returned it to the cylinder it had arrived in. Retrieving her purse from her desk drawer, she picked up the cylinder. She had no intention of leaving the scroll at work. Ellie had sent it to her for some reason and she felt that leaving it lying around for her co-workers to see didn’t seem like a good idea. The cylinder under her arm, Dana locked her office door. It had been a long day and she was looking forward to a quiet night at home.
* * * *
Mahes arched a brow at the woman who stood before him. “You know if you wanted to speak to me all you had to do was call and I would’ve come to you of my own violation. It really wasn’t necessary for you to summon me and flash me to your temple, Ma’at.”
The goddess Ma’at was beauty personified. Everything about her was perfect. Her long black hair fell in waves down her back. Rich brown eyes rimmed in kohl stared back at him. Even though she was slight in build, Mahes knew her looks were deceiving. Ma’at was one of the most powerful goddess of the Egyptian pantheon. It was her duty to keep the universe in order, to not allow chaos to have free reign. She also was charged with weighing the souls of the dead who came to the underworld. Her feather determined whether a soul would be allowed to go on to the afterlife, or have his heart eaten by a demon for not having followed maat during life.
A small smile played on her lips. “I do like to keep you on your toes, Mahes.”
“Now that you have me here, spill it.”
“I think you have been spending too much time among mortals. You are beginning to sound like one now.”
Mahes shrugged. “Thanks. With my brother living with his mate in the mortal world, I’ve come to enjoy my time there, which was where I was heading when you so rudely summoned me.”
His brother, Nefertem, at one time had been unable to walk among mortals unless summoned to judge them. But that was all in the past now. Nefertem now lived with his mate and baby daughter in Memphis, Tennessee. Mahes was supposed to be at his brother’s house right now, watching the game on television while drinking large quantities of beer.
“I’m afraid you will not be going to see your brother this day, Mahes. I have need of you.”
Mahes let the gently banter drop and grew serious. “You didn’t summon me on a whim, did you?”
“No.” Ma’at moved closer to him. “Maat has been broken. Universal order has been upset and it must be corrected.”
“What has happened?”
“The Book of Thoth has been found and opened. You know that book is never to be read by a mortal. It contains knowledge only the gods are to have access to. The spells inside the book are too powerful to be used by a mere mortal. Whoever reads from the book must be punished in order to set things right.”
“So you are sending me to punish this mortal who opened the book?”
“It is what you do, Mahes. I realize the mortals no longer worship us as they did in the past, but maat must be kept in balance. The one who has the book has not read from it. Knowing your closeness with the mortals, I will allow you to decide what the punishment will be as long as the book remains unread, but there are some stipulations you must follow. The Book of Thoth must be returned to the place from where it had been taken. If this mortal does read from the book, the punishment will be death.”
“I’ll do what needs to be done.”
“I knew you would not shirk your duty.”
Mahes knew he really had no choice in the matter. Ma’at would not allow him to say no. When she reached out and placed the palm of her hand on his cheek, he closed his eyes as a jolt of energy surged through him. He felt most of his powers drain away leaving him as mortal as the one he was to judge. Opening his eyes he found Ma’at smiling up at him. He was about to ask who the mortal was when a picture of a woman appeared in his head. A split second later he found himself standing in the middle of a street with a car heading straight for him, and no time to move out of the way. Mahes swore as he jumped to throw himself onto the hood of the car before it hit him head on.
Dana felt as if her heart was now permanently lodged in her throat. She couldn’t believe she had actually hit someone, but the proof was there, lying on the hood of her car. She had no idea where he had come from. One minute the street was clear and the next he was standing in front of her car. When the man moaned, Dana put the car in park and quickly got out to see how badly he was hurt.
Dana was grateful the street they were on was a quiet one and not in the downtown core. When the man tried to get up, she quickly pushed him back down. “I think you should stay still until we’re sure you aren’t badly injured.”
He turned his head to look at her and Dana forgot to breathe. He was gorgeous. Male model gorgeous. With her hand still pressed to his shoulder, her eyes skimmed over his face. It was all planes and angles. His lips were firm and she couldn’t stop herself from wondering what they would taste like. Licking her suddenly dry lips, she looked higher and encountered deep amber eyes that matched the color of expensive Scotch. Along with his exceptional eyes, he had longish black hair and tanned skin, which only added to his good looks. The corners of his eyes crinkled up as a smile oozing with sex appeal spread across his lips.
Tearing her eyes away from his face, Dana tried to bring her raging body back under control. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you. Where are you hurt?”
“I can’t tell. Maybe you should check for me.” His voice was deep and his words were accented as if English wasn’t his first language.
Dana stifled a gasp as he took her hands and placed them on the middle of his chest. She had been a lifeguard at the local pool when she was a teenager, so she knew a little bit of first aid. That being the case, she knew he had to be checked for any major injuries before being moved. The only way for her to do that was to run her hands over his body, feeling for any broken bones.
The thought of running her hands over his well muscled body thrilled her more than it should have. She was supposed to be seeing how badly he was hurt instead of admiring how well the tight white t-shirt and blue jeans he wore showed off his hard body. Giving herself a mental shake, she got down to the business at hand.
Gently, so as not to hurt him, Dana ran her hands down each of his arms. His skin felt warm beneath her fingertips. Finding no broken bones, she moved to his legs. She skimmed her hand down one leg and then back up the other. Unable to stop herself, she found her eyes pulled to the crotch of his jeans. There was no mistaking what the bulge in his jeans was. He seemed to be just as large in that area as the rest of him.
Looking back up at his face, Dana’s heart began to pound. Arousal slammed into her, causing her body to liquefy. The way he was staring at her said he knew she had been checking him out, and he liked it. Her pussy started to throb, wanting to have the full, hard length of his cock deep inside. Flustered, Dana took a step back trying not to read too much into the way his eyes followed her movements.
Clearing her throat, she said, “You appear to be okay. No broken bones.”
“Good to know.”
When he slowly sat up, Dana noticed the stain of blood on his side, marring the pristine whiteness of his t-shirt. With a cry of exclamation, she moved closer and lifted his shirt to examine the cut across the lower part of his ribs. It wasn’t deep, but it needed to be cleaned up. “It doesn’t look like it will need stitches, but you’ll need to have it taken care of.” Knowing what she was about to suggest was foolish to the extreme, she pushed on anyway. “I only live a couple blocks from here. If you come back to my place, I can take care of that for you. It’s the least I can do.”
Dana silently watched as he seemed to consider her offer. She knew she would be taking her chances by inviting a total strange over to her house, but her gut was telling her to not let him go, and not because she found him extremely attractive. It was something much deeper than that. Something inside was telling her that she had been meant to meet up with this man. It was her ‘gift’, as her mother had liked to call it. Dana had always been able to sense things others around her couldn’t. She didn’t know if it was just good instincts or if it really was a ‘gift’ as her mother had said.
The man nodded his head. “I think I’ll take you up on your offer. I’m starting to feel as if I was hit by a car.”
He slowly slid off the hood of her car. Quickly, Dana came around to the passenger side and opened the door for him. He was a lot taller than he looked lying down. He had to be at least six foot four. He towered over her five feet four inches. Seeing how stiffly he was moving, she stepped to his side to help him into the car. He leaned against her, pressing his body against her side. With her bottom lip between her teeth, Dana quickly got him inside the car and closed the door. Back at the driver’s side, she took a deep breath in to slow her rapidly beating heart. She was acting like a lovesick teenager with her first crush. The feel of him leaning against her had sent her body into overdrive. Without looking down, she knew her nipples had hardened into tight little buds.
Slipping the car into drive, Dana concentrated on the road as she drove the short distance to her place. She could feel his eyes watching her. To distract herself she asked, “What’s your name? I’m Dana, by the way.”
“My name is Mahes.”
Dana turned to take a quick look at him. She now recognized Mahes’ accent. “You’re Egyptian?"
“That is correct.”
“How do you feel about your parents naming you after an ancient Egyptian god?”
“What do you mean?”
“Mahes was an Egyptian god. He was the son of Ptah and Sekhmet, who were part of the Memphis triad of gods, along with their other son, Nefertem.”
“You seem to know a lot about the ancient gods of Egypt.”
“I should, I majored in Egyptian art and archaeology at the University of Memphis. I did my dissertation paper on Mahes. He’s not as well known as the other gods, but he was no simple god. He was known as The Lord of the Massacre. He was a feline deity, so the priests bred lions at his temple in Leontopolis.”
Dana let her words trail off and mentally kicked herself. She had done it again. She had a bad habit of talking too much whenever the subject of ancient Egypt, and most especially anything to do with Mahes, was brought up. She got so wrapped up in the subject, it sounded like she was conducting a lecture. Usually when this happened around men who weren’t in the same line of work as herself, their eyes glazed over in boredom. She lost count of the number of first dates who’d never called her for a second because of that very reason.
Taking a quick glance over at Mahes, she was surprised to see her speech had the opposite effect on him. She found his eyes riveted to her, staring at her with interest. Having reached her condo apartment, Dana parked her car in the underground parking garage and went around to Mahes’ side. He was already out of the car and stood waiting for her. Wrapping her arm around his waist, Dana let him lean on her as she headed for the security door inside the garage.
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