Cleopatra's Men [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Eve Langlais
eBook Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: Cleopatra's paid her dues in Hell for her mistakes, but Satan thinks she's too dangerous to keep around so he's kicked her out into the modern world for a second chance. Ambushed by a pest from her past, she's rescued by a seriously hot vamp. She vowed to not allow men to use her anymore, a pledge forgotten with Michael's first kiss. And when Julius, her first love, shows up bitter and angry, she can't help but want him too. Once she has them both--the choice to keep them is all to easy.
eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2011
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16 Reader Ratings:
Cleopatra ran, the silken material of her robe tangling between her legs. Her sandaled feet slapped against the paving stones as she desperately tried to recall the layout of the lower passages in the palace. Even below ground the sound of screams and the clash of swords reached her as Octavian's army invaded her refuge in Alexandria. I can't believe he still hates me for the love his uncle Julius bore me. Rational or not, he was determined to drag her down. Panting, she stopped to orient herself and heard the sound of feet pounding as they raced to catch her. I need to hide.
Self-preservation made her move even though her muscles protested the vigorous exercise. She slipped into a room whose door lay ajar and looked around for a place to hide but the room was barren with only cobwebs and dust adorning it.
It was too late anyway. Feet scuffed on the floor behind her and she whirled to face her pursuer--and most likely death. Cleopatra almost sighed in relief when she saw Marc Antony, a relief that was short-lived, for the smile on his face when he saw her sent a chill down her spine. That and the fact he stalked toward her swinging his gleaming short sword.
Maybe it's simply one of his sick games. It would be like him to try and frighten me even in the midst of this calamity.
"What are we going to do, Marc?" she asked, licking her lips, unable to look away from the hypnotic sway of the blade.
"We are doing nothing." He stopped right in front of her, the fabric of his toga brushing the silk of her robe.
Trepidation made her want to shake, but as Queen of Egypt, she couldn't give in to her baser instincts. Live or die, almost a family motto, it had governed all of her choices thus far in life. The weak, also known as the opposition and, more sadly, her siblings, had never grasped that simple life lesson. She had, and the bloody consequences came back to haunt her now and then.
"Nothing? But Octavian draws near. Now is not the time to give up. There is still time to escape. I have a place, a hidden place where we will be safe." In truth, she would prefer to flee alone. Marc had long ago lost his appeal--not that he'd offered much to begin with--or ever given her a choice, for that matter. In her quest to survive, she'd given up her body and pretended love, for no one would ever replace Julius in her heart. Not to mention, Marc's brutal ways were shocking even to one such as her. She sported many a bruise both now and in the past that attested to his easily roused anger.
"Flee like a coward? No. I tire of running. And I have no interest in hiding." He spat the words. "I am Marc Antony, decorated Roman general and husband to Octavia. You remember my wife, don't you?"
"You mean the one you divorced so you could marry me. I don't think Octavian will forgive what you did to his sister." Part of the reason Octavian was now attacking--other than Cleopatra dallying with his married uncle--was because of the dishonor done to his family by Marc Antony.
Marc grinned jovially, which contrasted with the cold expression on his face. "Octavian will not dare harm me, not when I shall offer him a prize he cannot refuse."
"Wh-what prize do you speak of?" Cleopatra couldn't help the shiver of fear at the crazed gleam in his eyes, a look she'd seen countless times before. It never boded well and usually resulted in puddles of blood.
"I shall give him the biggest prize in all of Egypt--your head. He will forgive me much when I hand him on a silver platter his victory over the Whore Queen."
Cleopatra wanted to scream and tell him it was because of him and Julius that people called her whore. Bedding her and boasting of it publicly while never mentioning her lack of choice in the matter--at least she'd loved Julius. Marc she'd borne, for had she not, he would have killed her. For one liberating moment, she thought to tell Marc when he grunted and heaved over her body, she thought of another, one who fulfilled her sexual needs. However, given his current state of mind, that probably wasn't a good idea.
She waited too long to speak. Marc bared his teeth at her and raised his sword.
Dread stroked its way down her spine and raised goose bumps on her flesh. "Wait," she cried, her mind scrambling for a way to escape. "I thought you loved me."
Her words stopped the sword's killing descent. "Love?" He sneered. "I loved the power I wielded through you. I loved having a queen submissive to my whims and as a receptacle for my seed and cock. But now that your power is gone, there are prettier girls, younger girls. You will serve me better dead."
"But--" She searched in vain for something, anything to delay the bite of his steel. "A boon. One last boon before I die."
"What is it you would ask for?" he asked impatiently.
"A kiss. Please, Marc, kiss me one last time that I might go into the next life with at least the memory of warmth to carry me." She almost gagged on the words. But she knew Marc wouldn't resist. It was one of his greatest failings, other than his stupidity and brutality. He could never say no to a willing woman.
A beefy arm snaked around her waist and he drew her up roughly to kiss her, his unshaven jaw scraping across her tender skin, his tongue pushing between her teeth. Cleopatra held her breath and pretended enjoyment. She snaked her arms around his torso and mimed enthusiasm in his sloppy embrace. As she moaned in fake pleasure, she smoothly pulled the dagger from the belt at his waist.
She stabbed him swiftly in the back even as she bit down on his tongue to break the kiss. With a bellow he staggered back, his hands frantically pawing at his back and the knife he couldn't reach. Blood dribbled down his chin from her bite as he sagged to his knees, his jaw slack and his eyes wide in disbelief.
"Bitch. I shall make you pay for your betrayal."
Cleopatra wiped her lips and smiled at him coldly. "Good luck with that. You're dying and will never hurt me or anyone else ever again. Enjoy your stay in Hell."
"I'll be seeing you soon, whore." As Marc spoke his last words, blood bubbled up and frothed from his mouth. He fell forward with a hard thump just as Octavian's soldiers poured into the room. They surrounded her and gripped her arms tight.
Struggle against these types of numbers was useless, so Cleopatra didn't bother and held her head imperially high. Octavian had finally caught her, but if he thought to use her like so many men before him, he was sadly mistaken.
I'm done with being used by men who think they can rule me because of the swords between their legs. I'll kill myself first before it happens again.
After almost a year of imprisonment, she did, going to her death by the poison of an asp smuggled in by her supporters. Her final thought as she lost consciousness: I'll take my chances in Hell.
The portal to Hades opened onto an alley and a figure flew out, an unusual yet evident expulsion. The being managed a tidy tumble and flip, allowing her to land lightly on her feet.
Seconds later the portal closed and the hooded figure, who'd whirled quickly, cursed. "Fuck. I can't believe I got kicked out of Hell."
Slender fingers pulled back the hood, and Cleo shook her hair, a wild golden mane that contrasted nicely with her tanned skin. She'd ditched her ebony tresses a long time ago, loving this new age of perms and peroxide.
Cleo shook a fist at the portal. "I'll be back, Lucifer. I earned my spot in Hell and you know it."
Silence answered her and she sighed. It figured that the one male in the whole world, or should she say, the known planes of existence who wasn't affected by her charms would be the Lord of Darkness himself. Not only that, but he kept blaming her for the riots her presence in Hades caused. Was it her fault that the sight of her enflamed her followers and the lusts of damned males and demons alike? Alive, she'd boasted she was the living incarnation of the goddess Isis. In death, while she didn't quite become a goddess in truth, she wasn't like the other damned souls in Hell.
Of course the first two thousand years of her descent into Hell hadn't exactly allowed her to enjoy that unexpected aspect, what with her punishment for her sins and all. In a surprising twist for both her and Satan, while she'd done many vile things, some of her most violent acts had fallen under the "necessary good" category as deeds required by her as ruler of Egypt to keep her people safe. Who would have believed killing her brother before he could kill her would fall under the category of self-defense? Then, in a surprise her adversaries in Hell still screamed about, some of the nastiest crimes attributed to her were disproved by Lucifer. The looks of incredulity when they realized she hadn't killed her sister on hallowed temple ground had made her stick her tongue out at the vast audience that had attended her trial.
She didn't emerge completely unscathed. After all, she had done some vicious things. After spending a few hundred years receiving the lashes she'd earned--she'd learned not to scream with pain after the first decade--she served the rest of her time with grace, scrubbing the many latrines of Hell. Satan assigned her the debasing task as a way of teaching her that she was no better than anyone else. Ha. She knew better. And so did those who served alongside her. Her supporters rallied around her and offered to do her chores for her as she watched and supervised. Even funnier, Satan couldn't punish her for shirking her duties, not when he discovered she didn't compel them to take over her punishment, but that they had offered and even begged to help her.
Eventually, her years of repayment to humanity for her sins came to an end and she found herself free after a fashion. While once human, she also was more than the simple souls in Hell. Not a demon, but not quite a goddess. She knew her state of existence baffled Lucifer especially since, like a damned soul, she was bound to the confines of the nine circles of Hell because she couldn't create a portal out--although she did finagle trips to the surface by calling in favors with her demon friends. But as had always been the case in her life--and now death--things happened around her. And that was when the problems began. Her supporters, who were also fanatics, petitioned for her to reign at Satan's side as his queen, even though Satan was opposed.
Actually, so was she, for that matter.
But the movement to have her reign over them snowballed, so Lucifer did the only thing he could. He kicked her out.
Reminiscing would have to wait, for the soft thud of footsteps had her reaching for daggers that weren't in their sheaths.
"Fuck and double fuck." She'd lacked time to pack before being bum-rushed out of Hell and given a second chance at life. Or unlife, depending on how she looked at it. Looking down at her feet, she cursed again for she wasn't even wearing her stilettos. No, she'd gone for comfort with a pair of chunky heels. Well, it wouldn't be the first time the odds were stacked against her, and she refused to remember how poorly those times had sometimes gone.
Pivoting, she smiled and tilted a hip. "Hello boys. Looking for me?"
From the darkness emerged a familiar face, braced on either side by pure hulking demonic muscle. Great. Marc Antony had found her again and this time he'd brought friends.
"If it isn't the Whore Queen," he sneered. "I've been looking for you."
"And Lucifer's looking for you. He's not happy you've escaped again." She actually had no idea what Lucifer thought. She just liked seeing the color leach from Marc's face. He looked like shit. His punishment in Hell had left its mark and from what she'd heard, he wasn't even close to being done. Marc was such a bad, bad boy when he was alive. She didn't blame him for escaping his punishment when he got a chance, but for some stupid reason, every time, the bastard came sniffing for her blood. A dumb move, given that harassing her in Hell made it easier for his jailers to find him.
"I'm too smart for those idiots in Hell. But don't worry about me. I'm so glad I found you. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time."
"Jeez, are you still bent about the whole 'I killed you first' thing? Have you forgotten that I only did what you planned to do?"
"Whore, because of you I've spent centuries being tortured."
"Oh and my time in Hell was such a walk in the park? It was over two thousand years ago. Give it a rest already. You suffered, I suffered, we all suffered."
"And yet here you are free while I am still being punished when everything was your fault. You bespelled me with your body and forced me to do your evil bidding."
Cleo rolled her eyes. "Oh please. Don't tell me you believe your own lies now. You and I both know you did a lot of bad shit. Don't try and blame me. I freely admit to the things I've done, like killing you, for instance. You know what's funny, though, is your death counted as a good deed instead of bad." She just couldn't resist taunting him.
Marc's face turned an interesting shade of purple and spittle flew when he yelled, "Kill the Whore Queen!"
Cleo shook her head and tsk-tsked him as if he were a naughty child. Marc really needed to learn some new curse words. His insults were so old--like BC old.
The muscled gray demons--a breed she'd not encountered before in her time in the pit--came at her from two sides. While they carried no visible weapons, their long claws projected from their stubby fingers and she knew from experience how sharp they were, and depending on the caste, poisonous. Instead of waiting for them to reach her, she ran at the one on the left. It braced itself and held out its arms to grab her. At the last moment, she dropped to the ground and slipped under the demon in a slide that would have made a baseball coach drool. She popped up behind the demon and landed two hard kicks on the backs of its legs, making them buckle.
She laced her hands together and swung like them like a club at the back of the beast's head, further throwing it off balance and into the path of the other demon coming at her.
A sound from behind had her ducking just as Marc swung his sword. He almost decapitated me. Having died once, she wasn't sure what would happen if she were killed a second time. Nor did she want to find out. With the odds against her and still weaponless, Cleo dashed toward the alley entrance and, hopefully, human witnesses. While Marc might be crazy, even he wouldn't dare break the prime rules: don't let the mortals see us doing supernatural shit and keep the demons out of sight. An unknown power, not of Heaven or Hell, took care of those who intentionally defied the unwritten law. A law she was now banking on.
A third demon appeared from the shadows a few feet in from the alley exit and blocked her way.
"Damn it." This was not shaping up to be a good day.
Marc chuckled nastily from behind her and she whirled halfway, trying to keep everyone in sight at once while retreating to put her back to the wall.
"There's no escape, my treacherous queen. Now kneel before me. Maybe I'll let you suck my cock for old times' sake before I take your head."
"I'd rather screw a zombie with a decaying dick." Her insult hit the mark, and though she didn't think it was possible, it enraged Marc even further. Perfect. Angry men tended to make mistakes. Growling in rage, Marc Antony, flanked by his demons, advanced on her and if she'd had money to lay a bet, she wouldn't have wagered on herself. The situation seemed rather bleak.
But then something unexpected happened. From the night sky dropped a dark figure, landing between her and her enemies. All she could see was his back, which was wide and stretched the linen of the black dress shirt he wore. She couldn't tell his hair color in the dark, but it was long and brushed his shoulders. And his ass in his tight jeans was absolutely scrumptious.
When he spoke, his voice held a touch of an accent and she grinned at his words. "Four brutes against one delicate flower? How unsportsmanlike."
"This doesn't concern you so leave before we kill you too." Marc spoke cockily, not sensing the danger that Cleo could smell coming in waves off the stranger.
"Do you threaten me?" Cleo could hear the laughter in her rescuer's voice. "This is my city and you are trespassing. You are the one who needs to leave else you accept the consequences."
"Big talk for one man," said Marc, clearly feeling brave with his demonic backup.
"Ah, but I am not a man, and your time is up."
The stranger didn't run so much as he flew toward Marc and his demons. Cleo knew this was her chance to escape, but she found herself mesmerized by his Samaritan act--and the fact that her rescuer moved like a superhero.
With a blurring speed which reinforced his nonhuman aspect, he punched, kicked, and even at times bit the demons who attacked him. Cleo almost jumped in to help when the beast guarding the alley entrance came bull-rushing into the fray, but without slowing down, the stranger pivoted and somehow ended up behind the gray minion, his arm wrapped around its neck in a choke hold. Superior strength bent the demon's head back, exposing its neck. The man, who she realized belatedly was a vamp, sank his fangs in. Marc Antony, who'd stood back while the fight went on, didn't stay to see if he was dessert. He called a portal and dived back into the cesspool he'd crawled from to find her.
None of his demons followed. Incapacitated, they lay groaning and bleeding on the ground, downed in an act of violence that made Cleo kind of hot. It's been a while since I've seen that kind of prowess in a man. Not since Julius Caesar, her first--and only-- love so long ago had she found herself so attracted to a man. Or in this case, a vampire.
Done with his feeding, her superhero pulled a black handkerchief from his pocket and meticulously wiped his face clean of blood. Then with a savage ruthlessness, he dispatched all the demons, stomping his booted foot onto their chests and crushing their rib cages and hearts. With each demon death, a vaporous black cloud arose as the body disintegrated. When none of the fighters remained, he finally turned to face her. Cleo swallowed. So far he'd proven friend, but as she knew all too well, oftentimes her enemies would fight among each other for the pleasure of acquiring her, or at least attempting to.
Since her death, Cleo allowed no man, beast, or other being to claim her. If she felt the urge, she took care of it and never with the same male twice. But in this case, she might have to revise her stance, for vampire or not, she found herself inexplicably drawn to him. And he's the type I'll bet who takes and doesn't ask. Normally that would raise her hackles but other than Lucifer, the Lord of Hades himself, she'd never encountered someone with the strength this stranger displayed so casually. That excited her on several levels, which pissed her off, for she had no desire to be used again.
Now regretting her decision not to run when she'd had the chance, Cleo stood her ground as the vamp once again glided across the refuse-strewn alley until he stood before her. Even in the gloom, his eyes shone the brilliant blue of summer skies on a cloudless day. He wasn't as pale as she would have expected for one of his ilk, but neither was his skin dark. His facial features were pronounced with high cheekbones, a square chin, and a strong nose. His full lips curved into a mocking smile as she stared at him, her usual eloquence vanishing as she found herself mesmerized by him. Not a magical beguilement of the type vamps were known for, but a bodily trance as her body--and sexual needs, dormant for a while--woke and with a gush of heat and moisture to her sex, declared I want him.
He spoke first, his voice velvety and tinged with a hint of humor. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, thank you for your timely arrival." She couldn't begrudge him thanks, for without him, things would have turned out quite differently--painfully so.
White teeth gleamed in a smile that should have been bottled and sold as a female aphrodisiac. Just ask her ever-dampening panties. Even the sight of his sharp canines didn't detract from his attractiveness.
"I am called Michael. And you are?"
"Cleo." She never used her full name, for obvious reasons. The nickname Whore Queen had stuck through the ages, never mind the fact she'd never had a choice in the relationships, real or not, that had given her that historic misnomer.
"Might I inquire as to why those denizens of Hell would want to kill a lovely creature like yourself?"
Cleo, with a shrug, settled on a half-truth. "Their employer was quite displeased with the manner in which I ended our relationship."
"And how did you end it?"
"I killed him and dispatched him to Hell," she said with a smile that had sent multitudes running, but which made Michael chuckle.
"A lady after my own heart. Might I escort you home and ensure your safety?"
Cleo bit her tongue on her usual retort of I can take care of myself. Something about Michael, vampire and rescuer of damsels in distress, drew her. Why not indulge her curiosity? It wasn't like she had anywhere to go. Even more intriguing, she had no empire for him to lust after, nor did he know her actual identity, which meant his interest was solely based on her. How novel.
"Alas, I've just arrived in town and have yet to secure accommodations. Perhaps you could recommend a hotel of quality?" And hope that her bank account in the mortal world still held funds she could draw on.
"I know the perfect place. Come, I shall take you there."
Michael stepped closer and Cleo's nose tickled with his scent, a pleasurable mix of men's cologne and power. For those who claimed there was no such smell, she begged to differ. It was rare but unmistakable. She'd only scented it twice before, faintly with Julius Caesar and overwhelmingly so with Lucifer. But she had little time to ponder the interesting fact that Michael's scent almost rivaled that of the Lord of Darkness, for instead of guiding her on foot, he wrapped muscular arms around her and a moment later they were airborne.
Holy fuck, we're flying!