Damian's Oracle (Chapter Five, page 1 of 8)

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The clang of steel and sound of jeering drew Sofia from her sleep to her window. The distant sky showed signs of growing lighter. She checked the clock on the nightstand then the notepad listing the time of the flight she'd booked the afternoon before after exploring the mansion. To her relief, she still had a few hours to sneak out and make it to the airport.

Several of the beefy men living in the house were in the grassy, well-lit courtyard, sparring with swords, knives, and other weaponry that looked like it came straight out of the Middle Ages.

Her gaze swept over them, stopping to rest on Damian. D wore judo pants low enough on his hips that she blushed as her gaze followed the trail of hair that disappeared into his pants. His tapered waist and hips and washboard abs were on display, along with the wide chest and thick back. She watched him move, his swordplay as graceful and fluid as it was lethal. A sheen of sweat coated his body, and his white-blond hair was back in a braid.

Even from a distance he drew her, and it was not just the chiseled body of a god. She could see him sitting on a golden throne or commanding legions of soldiers.

In fact, she did see him in those positions, and in many more. The visions were less invasive than those from others, like background music at a department store. She closed her eyes, watching the disjointed, fuzzy home videos playing in her mind. She saw a time before the emergence of human civilization, when his people ruled, a time when he was a prince among kings who grew up in the shadow of a war she couldn't see. Then there was the Schism and an era of disaster and grief, where his world collided with-then severed from-the human one, centuries where he was forced into the underground world as a prostitute, a beggar, a thief.

As silence fell over the courtyard, she opened her eyes. The men were dispersing, and her heart leapt when she saw Damian's gaze riveted to her window. His look was intense, much different than the warmth he'd displayed earlier that afternoon.

By the look on Damian's face, he wasn't happy. She wondered if he knew what she saw. She snatched her jacket and pulled it on as she raced down the stairwell and down the hall to the front door. She jerked it open only to have it pushed shut by an olive hand planted above her head. She cringed at the thick forearm brushing her ear.

"I'm sorry," she said immediately.

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