One in a continuing series of occasional posts talking about a personal favorite scene from each of my books. It may not be my most favorite scene, since that would probably involve spoilers, but I thought it might be fun.
Taking my books in order of release PRIESTESS OF THE NILE was my first ever published work in January 2012. Carina Press had issued a call for ancient world romance in 2011 and me being me, I had to put a paranormal spin on it. I’d always been fascinated with ancient Egypt and I had the realization that Sobek the Crocodile God was a shifter and therefore could appear as a human…and fall in love.
I was told later that at the time Carina only acquired about 3% of the unsolicited manuscripts they received so I was definitely lucky! and I took Sobek as my informal patron ever since.
Merys is the last priestess of an abandoned templed to Sobek on the Nile in 1550 BCE and she has a beautiful voice, which attracts him. In the beginning she doesn’t know who he is – he calls himself Bek – so one of my favorite scenes in the book is the one where she learns his identity in dramatic fashion.
Merys stood carefully in one spot. She pushed her hair out of her eyes roughly and sighed in frustration, checking her neck one more time, not quite accepting the loss of her necklace. The slithering sensation against her skin as the old leather thong parted and the amulet fell had been so startling, she hadn’t grabbed for it in time. Peering uselessly into the murk of the Nile, Merys blinked back tears. The only possession of my great-grandmother’s I had left, the symbol of my being a priestess—gone. I’ll wait for the silt to settle and then hopefully I can find it. Taking a moment to enjoy the soaring flight of a flock of white ibis against the blue sky, she stood straighter, easing her muscles. I envy them their freedom.
The sky tilted and vertigo assailed her as her feet were violently yanked out from under her. A crocodile closed its mighty jaws around her ankle, ripping a desperate scream from her throat. The bone-crushing force sent a sheet of hot pain up her leg and through her body until adrenaline pulsed in her system.
The beast dragged her under the surface of the Nile, pulling her toward the center of the river. Cold water rushed over her face, into her open mouth. Merys gagged, tried to hold her breath, beating on the animal’s closed jaws with her fists, then trying to jab at the nearest eye. Her stomach heaved, nausea and weakness from the intensity of the pain in her leg spreading outward from her gut.
The crocodile rolled her over and over, tossing her like Tyema’s puppy with a rag doll. Black spots danced before her eyes and she scrunched them tightly closed against the dizziness. What do I do to get away before I drown? I have to breathe. My chest is going to explode. I’ve got to have air. Just as her lungs were bursting, something huge flashed by her in the water and struck the crocodile with enough force to shove it sideways a few feet against the current. The predator opened its jaws to deal with the threat and Merys floated free.
A tiny hope of survival bloomed within her. A spurt of energy sizzled through her nerves, giving her new strength. Kicking as hard as she could with the injured leg, heart pounding, Merys clawed her way to the surface. The water in her vicinity churned bright red. Something solid rose from the murky depths. Merys screamed and flailed, too weak to swim. A hard surface lay under her, lifting her completely out of the water, supporting her as if she were stretched out on a board or a raft. Thank the gods for helping me. Nausea and dizziness overwhelmed her and the world faded from her view.
When Merys regained consciousness, she was held safe in Bek’s muscular arms, nestled against his broad chest. Too exhausted to question the miracle of his presence she curled closer to him in relief while he strode across the beach toward her favorite spot under the palm trees. Tenderly he laid her in the softest spot, then bent to examine her leg.
Blood gushed from a long series of deep, serrated slashes, staining her dress as well as his hands and kilt. The crocodile’s teeth had shredded her lower leg from ankle to knee. The bone showed through. The pain was excruciating.
Merys leaned to the side and vomited river water that burned her throat while Bek held her hair out of the way. As she wiped her mouth, exhausted, he pushed her gently to a reclining position. Chanting something, he proceeded to run his hands over her legs. The pain spiked, then receded.
What is he doing? Some kind of healing, but how? Green light shone from his hands, radiating from his palms in a cold, numbing rush. The light brought blessed relief, mending her skin and bones in front of her eyes. Thank the gods.
When he finished, Bek sat on his haunches, resting his hands on his thighs, and scrutinized her. His face was lined, his eyes shadowed. He was dripping wet.
Another time I would have appreciated this view. But right now I need to understand what happened. “You saved me? How? How could you defeat a crocodile? And what did you do to my leg?” Wriggling her toes, Merys touched her shin hesitantly with the tips of her fingers. I’m safe in his arms. Her pulse slowed. The weakness ebbed away as she relaxed.
Bek gathered her in for a hug and she breathed deeply of his clean masculine scent. Crooning her name over and over, he buried his face in her hair. Then he pulled back, framing her face with both of his broad hands, and met her eyes. “I thought I’d lost you.”
She put a trembling hand on his cheek. “Who are you, Bek?”
“Sobek.” He cleared his throat as he stroked her back with one hand. She realized her soaked dress must be clinging to her as tightly as his wet tunic was plastered to his body. She leaned into the shelter of his mighty arms. Bek rested his lips next to her ear and whispered, “I am Sobek.”
New strength pumped through her, making her heart pound and sending a hot pulse along her nerves. “The Crocodile God?” I’ve been sitting and talking to the Great One all this time, treating him like a human man? I fell in love with him. How could I have been so blind? So stupid? “The Crocodile God himself?”
PRIESTESS OF THE NILE
RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 Stars
Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile god is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.
Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.
Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. And when he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?
HQN does retain the rights to the audiobook. This was also the original cover, which I absolutely fell in love with, by Frauke of Croco Designs but they also retained the rights to the art so I had to get a new cover from Fiona Jayde, who does all my scifi romance covers.