Matthew Raleigh knows Hell intimately. He’s been there too many times in the past, and he’ll do anything to avoid going back again. A former SEAL determined to bring hope to the hopeless, Matt formed Project Prometheus, a mercenary organization dedicated to eradicating terror. But his own prejudice against the supernatural could cost Matt the only thing he’s ever wanted — love.
“Immortality” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus, Book 1) –
Matt found himself staring at a vision made to stop a man’s heart.
Manara sat beside a small pool of water, looking like an otherworldly vision of wistful sadness, bathed in desert moonlight as she stared into the water’s mirrored surface. Gone were the fatigues he hadn’t realized he hated until this moment, replaced by something dark and filmy that flowed around her like wisps of smoke on the slight breeze, to catch the light in a fall of stars.
Matt’s breath caught, and his chest squeezed with a primal lust that drove away all memory of death and battle. How could any man remain morbid in this presence of this beauty?
Reality slammed home with the force of a speeding train. He was lusting after a woman forbidden to him – a virgin who wanted nothing to do with him. A woman whose trust he so blatantly misused.
He froze as his courage fled completely under the weight of regret and shame, and he knew he had no right to approach her, or to beg her forgiveness. Especially when he couldn’t yet reconcile who she was with how he felt about her. Instead, he watched her silently, absorbing her beauty, as regret for all he let slip away from him welled up, followed by one violent thought. Damn you, Rachel.
“She is a beautiful woman. The kind men spend lifetimes composing poetry about.”
Matt started, his attention jerked sideways by the sound of a new voice, speaking in Arabic. Mustafa stood beside him, a knowing smile curved on her weathered face. Matt nodded, and swallowed against the regret that stung his throat. “Have you ever made a mistake you knew was wrong?”
Mustafa sighed. “Once, many years ago.”
“I tried to own a woman already owned by the world. She belonged to the wind and, deep inside, I always knew it would carry her away from me. Still, I did terrible things, threatened terrible consequences, in my attempt to keep her.”
Matt nodded slowly, as the guilt of his actions toward Manara closed around his throat. He doubted Mustafa had done anything so terrible, but he would not insult the man by belittling his experience. “What did you do?”
“In the end, you mean? I let her go.” Mustafa glanced Matt’s way. “Celia taught me a valuable lesson about belief, and that my family is not always correct.” He sighed again, a wistful sound that didn’t escape Matt. His curiosity was piqued. What did Mustafa find so alluring about this Celia he mentioned?
“Why wouldn’t she stay?”
Mustafa chuckled. “There are powers at work in this world far greater than any mortal man can control. Celia taught me that my family’s narrow views of the world merely masked their lack of concern for the fate of others. With my eyes open, I could not stay, so I left in search of the truth, and here is where I found my destiny. I have Celia to thank for that. My only regret is that I could not save her from hers.”
Matt’s brow furrowed. He didn’t like where this was headed. “What power?”
“Come,” Mustafa laid a friendly hand on his shoulder. “Let us walk as we talk. The exercise does my old bones well.”
Matt kept easy pace with the older man’s stroll through the camp. They walked in silence for a time, before Mustafa drew a deep breath, and sighed again.
“The desert air holds many secrets, but the earth holds the greatest secrets of all. Treasures that are both amazing and dangerous, in the wrong hands.”
Those words roused disturbing images in Matt’s head, of a blue-white sword, and tablets marked with strange characters unlike any he’d ever seen. He had to clear his throat twice, to ask, “Like what?”
“There are many tales. Tales of Djinn trapped in magical lamps, and mystical races with horses that run like the wind. But the most powerful tale is terrifyingly true, of a secret entrusted to the temple of a dying religion. It is a secret many have coveted, and men have wasted a lifetime in search of, yet have rarely unlocked even a fragment of. It is a dangerous secret to guard. One of my ancestors, according to family legend, stumbled across the secret quite by accident, in a tablet crafted in ancient Babylon.”
Mustafa nodded. “He paid dearly for his knowledge, even after he passed it back to its guardian. Men of Rome came, and killed him for his secret.”
“What was it?”
“A recipe.” Mustafa stopped as he reached the edge of the camp. “A recipe to give immortal life.”
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