Diana Blackstone

Romance Author

Heart of an Amazon

In a world controlled by Olympian gods, Deidra and Kern's love was forbidden.

Deidra was an Amazon. As a follower of Hera she was raised to be independent and distrustful of men and yet her mission forced her into their world.

Kern was a son of the earth. As a follower of Demeter he was frustrated with his meaningless role in the endless circle of the harvest and wanted a different life.

As this unlike pair joins forces, they find that much of what they thought they knew about themselves, each other, and the nature of the enemy was nothing more than Olympian lies. The journey not only ignites a passion they cannot ignore, but changes them forever. Will they discover the strength to defy the Olympians and forge their own destiny?

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Chapter One

The early morning sun beat down on golden fields of Elyusia. The domain of Demeter was bursting with color: soft green shoots, bright yellow flowers, tasty purple berries, and of course the golden fields of wheat that fed all of Arcadia. Unlike the other Olympians whose idle worlds involved endless indulgence of their every whim, Demeter was a Goddess of practicality and action. Her daughters used the gift of their Goddess to enhance the growth of the plants, while her sons plowed the seeds and reaped the harvest. Stone circles and villages dotted the Great Plain of Demeter. Her followers a part of the endless cycle of new life, growth, and harvest. The rich mosaic of the Demeter’s Elyusia was perfection save a single erroneous tile– a young and beautiful Amazon cast alone and uncertain in a land far from her home.

Deianeira repeated the slow, rhythmic movements of the training drill once again, trying desperately to focus on the Queen’s mission. Despite controlling the movement of her limbs with perfect precision, Deianeira’s mind raced out of control. Her mission was important, yet impossible. Her orders were… Her orders were impossible.

The Queen of the Amazons wanted her to pretend to be a daughter of Demeter living in one of the villages attacked by the raiders of Hermes. The Queen wanted her to allow the raiders to take her captive in order to infiltrate the enemy stronghold of Metropolis. Her mission was to become some Hermian’s slave girl so she could spy on the enemies of the Amazons.

Slave girl. Captive. They were not words one could apply to an Amazon. This mission was impossible. Nothing in her training had prepared her for such a task or for the strangeness of living in a society filled with both women and men.

The sun sparkled off the whitewashed stone cottages of the village of Pyrthia, so different from her lakeside home in Amazonia. Although the Elyusian dress she had been given to wear allowed for almost as much freedom of movement as her Amazon garb, it had many more layers and a thicker material that always seem to leave her feeling warm. At the moment she was also bored and frustrated.

“You seem restless,” commented the Elyusian who had been watching her from the shadow of one of the cottages. “It’s only been a few days.”

“Are you speaking to me?” Deianeira replied in the imperious tone that had managed to send every other person in this village scrambling away in fear. With this stranger, however, it didn’t work, which both offended and fascinated her.

“Just an observation,” he said. His warm male voice, unknown in her Amazon upbringing, beckoned to her. But they had nothing in common; nothing that they might talk about so she could continue to listen to the pleasant timber of his words. A pity.

“I don’t wish to be disturbed,” she snapped.

“Then you shouldn’t practice in a public square,” he chuckled. The sound of his voice again tantalized her senses, but more importantly Deianeira discovered she appreciated this man’s persistence. With a soft sigh she allowed some of the tension to flow from her mind and her limbs.

“I’m restless,” she found herself saying aloud, although did not turn to face him as she did not want to seem to be encouraging the strange Elyusian to remain. “Exercise relaxes me. I have never enjoyed sitting around and waiting.”

“And what is it that you are waiting for, Lady?” he asked casually – too casually. He was up to something, and she was allowing him to draw her in. There was no purpose to this encounter. Although her mission for the Queen would require Deianeira to converse with many strange men, she doubted this one could provide any useful information. Therefore she did what any intelligent Amazon would do; she ignored him.

As Deianeira began the slow, careful movements of the training drill yet again, she let all negative emotions flow from her body and concentrated only the motion of bone and muscle, the pattern of her heartbeat, and the steady rhythm of her breath. She flowed from one defensive stance to another with a grace attained from hours of repetition, and years of practice.

“Impressive,” the Elyusian commented, breaking her concentration. Despite a flush of irritation, Deianeira pretended not to notice his presence. Unfortunately the bothersome male refused to be ignored. “I suspect waiting is not the Amazon way,” he suggested casually.

Surprise seized her chest and froze her body in midstride. How did this stranger know she was an Amazon? Was he a danger to her mission? Taking a deep breath to quell the turmoil of her raw emotions, she made herself continue the rote movements of the drill. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Deianeira said in what she hoped was an unconcerned tone. “I am Elder Corrin’s niece. I am just visiting Pyrthia.”

“You arrived three days ago in the middle of the night with nothing. I’m the one who prepared your quarters. Elder Corrin had to send me to borrow the dress you’re wearing. ” “Indeed. I don’t see how that makes me an Amazon.”

Although she did not cease the motion of the drill, Deianeira dared a quick glance at her opponent to gage his reaction to her first attempt at deception. The Elyusian caught her look and returned an irritatingly smug smile.

“May I ask you a question?” he purred. She ignored his request and continued the cleansing movements of the drill. “If you’re not an Amazon, where did you learn an Amazon training drill?”

She abruptly ceased her exertions. By the Goddess! The training drill had been a way to help her relax and think. She hadn’t considered the fact that daughters of Demeter would not engage in such physical activity. She had to fight the sharp arrow of alarm that penetrated her heart. Although Deianeira would be the first to admit she was less than perfect, she knew that in this case failure was not an option. The Queen of the Amazons was depending on her.

Nevertheless, this was not going to be simple. She had no idea how to be anything but an Amazon, and yet she was supposed to pretend otherwise. If this Elyusian male could see through her ruse, how was she supposed to successfully deceive the children of the trickster God Hermes? With a bravado that she did not truly feel, she asked, “What difference does it make to you where I am from?”

Although still not facing him, Deianeira knew he had moved closer when he leaned in and whispered, “I want to help you.”

She didn’t know if it was the sudden offer or the soft honey of his voice that caused the strange tremor to shoot through her body.

“Why would I need your help?”

“You mean an Amazon warrior wouldn’t take help from a man?” he asked with a sharp edge to his voice.

She wondered at his acrid tone, but reminded herself this man was of no concern. This odd conversation was pointless and needed to end. “If I was an Amazon warrior, I could be very dangerous, and you would do well to avoid me.”

With that she moved away from him toward the town well to ease her dry throat. She was surprised when she heard his footsteps behind her and realized he was following her. She fought not to grin at his tenacity. He had once again refused to be ignored.

“I’m afraid that I’ve never been good at avoiding things that might be dangerous,” he replied with that honeyed timber that sent goose bumps racing across her skin.

“Is there a reason you are not afraid of me?” she asked, sipping the cool water.

“Should I be afraid of you, Lady?”

Deianeira turned just long enough to scowl at him.

“Lady,” she scoffed.

He merely smiled.

“I will have to keep calling you Lady, since I don’t know your name.”

“My name?”

“It is a simple enough request. You do have a name, don’t you?”

“If you must know, my name is Deianeira.”

“Deianeira. That is an … interesting name.”

His words sounded smug. They suggested he knew something she didn’t and that annoyed her.

“You don’t like my name?”

“No! It’s beautiful, but very… Amazonian.”

Hating to admit it, Deianeira realized that the annoying Elyusian was right. Yet another lapse in judgment that suggested she had no idea how to be a spy. This stranger – a male no less – had recognized an error she had not even realized she made.

She refused to openly admit his speculations were true, but finally accepted that this man might be more useful than she first believed. This strange encounter might in fact help her accomplish her mission.

“What name would you suggest?” she asked softly.

Deianeira found herself more than a little pleased that the Elyusian did not take the opportunity to gloat. “You need an Earthy, Demeter name.”

He contemplated for a moment. Deianeira simply waited.

“How about Honora?” he asked.

“I don’t know?”

“Patrisha.”

“Ughh.”

“Deidra?”

“Deidra,” she spoke the name aloud to see how it felt. “Deidra. I like it.”

“Then Deidra it shall be,” he said with a quick wink that made her laugh.

It was in that moment Deianeira, no Deidra, knew that this stranger was not a threat to her or her mission. Every Amazon instinct told her he was a friend. He might be aggravating, but at least he was proving to be useful.

“Thank you for your help,” Deidra smiled, willing her body to relax. Despite the fact this was a stranger and a man, she decided she might grow to enjoy his company during her time in Pyrthia. In fact she found herself asking a very un-Amazon question she would never have contemplated even a few minutes earlier.

“What is your name?”

He smiled at her question. “Kern,” he replied in that soft baritone that tickled her ears. By the Goddess it was pleasant to listen to his voice.

Since she had allowed herself to be drawn into conversation, she decided she may as well see what information she can gather. “Well, Kern. How long do you think I will have to sit around here waiting for something interesting to happen?”

“You will need great patience, Deidra,” he laughed. “Nothing interesting ever happens in Pyrthia.”

“Surely there has to been some excitement around here? I heard Alexander’s raiders have stolen food and people from Pyrthia.”

“So you are hoping to experience a raid?” he speculated. Although his words suggested surprise, Deidra had the unmistakable impression that he was far from stunned by her interest in the raiders.

“At least it would be exciting. Even now the raiders could be on their way. Pyrthia might be the next village attacked.”

“I don’t know. The raids are so successful, because no one has been able predict them. Alexander and the raiders come in the middle of the night taking everyone by surprise.”

“But Alexander must come here eventually for wheat and ...” Deidra could not bring herself to say “captives.”

“Wheat he takes on a regular basis, but that could be weeks or even months from now.”

“Months,” Deidra sighed. “That is a long time to wait.”

Kern raised an eyebrow, and she finished hurriedly, “for something exciting to happen.”

“What would you do to pass the time if you were home?”

Gazing at Kern’s curious expression, Deidra admitted to herself the pretense was no longer necessary. He knew where she was from and suspected why she was here. At least it gave her someone to talk to in this strange new place.

“I would train with my sisters. I love to swim in the crystal waters of the Lake Hera near my home. I might even go hunting – I have always enjoyed the challenge of track prey by moonlight.”

“Then go hunting, Deidra.”

“And miss the raid?”

“You make it sound like that would be a bad thing!”

“I have to be here for the next raid,” she insisted.

“What are you expecting from this raid?”

“I have heard the raiders sometimes carry off... captives to Metropolis.”

“Even if you are in the village the next time the raiders arrive, it is unlikely they will take anyone captive. More often than not they take only food.”

“Oh,” she said, suddenly realizing that the task the Queen set for her was going to be even more difficult than she first thought. She suspected she knew how to encourage a raider to take her captive, but considering the recent usefulness of this man’s advice, she decided to seek his insight. In a quiet, hesitant voice that didn’t sound like her own she asked, “I assume that if a woman attracts the attention of one of the raiders, he will be more likely to … carry her off?”

Kern looked at her warily. “He will carry her off to be his slave girl in Metropolis. Surely that would be an unpleasant experience for any woman – especially an Amazon.”

His words were mere speculation, yet they felt like a dagger being plunged deep into her chest. Despite her years of training to repel it, unbridled fear tore through her Amazon heart. “I suppose it would,” she managed to whisper through clinched teeth, as she felt the blood drain from her face.

“Deidra?” he asked concerned. He was perceptive - too perceptive.

“It has been an interesting conversation, Kern, but I think you should go,” Deidra said, turning her back to him.

Deidra had managed to not dwell upon the more unpleasant aspects of her upcoming mission, and yet Kern has just confirmed her worst fears. It had brought back the lingering sense of dread that had followed her from Amazonia to Pyrthia – a dread that she could not afford to dwell upon. She knew her reaction was not his fault, but she could not allow him to see her fear. She was an Amazon – fear was not something to be shared; it was something to be conquered.

There was a long silence. Had he gone? Her heart fluttered when she felt his heat at her back as he whispered, “What if I had an idea that could get you into Metropolis without having to become some raider’s slave girl?”

How had he known the words she would not be able to resist? Deidra turned and looked closely at Kern for the first time. He was taller than she was by several inches with well-developed muscles fashioned from long hours spent working in the fields of Demeter. His shoulder length brown hair was dusted with golden flecks that sparkled in the sunlight. His arms and chest strained against his worn green tunic; while his dark leather pants left no doubt that everything about him was large and well formed. He was a magnificent male specimen. So why was it his piercing hazel eyes that drew her gaze and caused her breath to catch in her throat?

Closing her eyes to break the spell, she replied, “I’m listening.”

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