Home > Wake the Dead (Godstone Saga #3)

Wake the Dead (Godstone Saga #3)
Author: Jocelynn Drake

 


ONE

 

 

Rayne Laurent

 

 

The battleship glided through the waves as they crested and crashed only to form again in the race across Thia. The sky was an endless blue, promising a smooth trip for at least another day. The scent of salt filled the warm July air while the breeze beat back the worst of the heat.

In the face of such beautiful perfection, Rayne’s mind was repeating the same question:

Is it too late to jump overboard, swim to shore, and hide in the Ordas?

He probably wouldn’t survive the swim.

He definitely wouldn’t survive the Ordas alone.

But those risks were preferable to remaining on the ship. And for once, it wasn’t Caelan and Drayce worrying him with their antics. The king and his best friend were quiet, but then, Drayce was struggling with near-crippling seasickness.

For the past two weeks, Rayne and Caelan had taken turns using their healing gift from Tula, the Goddess of Life, to keep Drayce on his feet.

No, the problems came from Eno Bevyn and Prince Shey Thrudesh-Vo of Caspagir.

While he’d forgiven Eno’s attempt to leave him behind in Stormbreak without consulting him, he couldn’t forget it. He couldn’t forget so many things about Eno and their time together. Weren’t all these feelings swamping him right now futile in the face of the dark path they were on? The potential rise of the Goddess of the Hunt from her prison threatened all of Thia. New Rosanthe was wreaking havoc as well, attacking both Erya and Caspagir in their quest to possess the powers of the gods.

In the middle of his entire world crumbling, he’d decided it was an excellent time to start a new relationship with a man who was his exact opposite in so many ways. Rayne didn’t know what to do with the anger and pain that rose whenever he saw Eno or how to act when they were alone together. Which naturally resulted in him running off to find another person the second there was a chance that it might happen—any person.

Of course, Shey could smell blood in the water and was circling. Since boarding the ship for Sirelis, the prince had been tossing out endless temptations like a trail of candies leading straight to him. Rayne shouldn’t be so tempted. Their brief relationship from their university years was over. Rayne had obligations to the king and Erya—the same obligations that were keeping him and Eno apart. But Shey came with his own complications and obligations because Shey was the crown prince of Caspagir.

If he left Erya, though, all of Rayne’s obligations and focus would boil down to one man—Shey.

“You haven’t been sleeping.”

Rayne flinched before he turned to look at the speaker. Shey had found him again. He’d stepped out onto the upper desk for a breath of fresh air and to get away from the computer. When he wasn’t healing Drayce or dodging Eno and Shey, most of his days had been spent corresponding with General Morgan and other ministers in Stormbreak as they worked to rebuild the city from New Rosanthe’s attack.

The last of the Empire soldiers had been rounded up and imprisoned. Goods were flowing into the city and life was largely back to normal, thank the gods. There were still pockets of dissent about King Caelan, but people were mostly mourning the loss of Queen Amara and the other citizens who died during the occupation.

It was a shame Caelan couldn’t have taken a little time to mourn with his people. No matter how callous it sounded, it was important for his king to move on past the death of his mother. The God of Storms played on Caelan’s emotions too much, and it was dangerous for all of them.

“I’m sleeping,” Rayne replied, trying hard not to sound curt. Judging by the smile that spread across Shey’s lips, he must have failed rather spectacularly. He glanced around to find that they were alone on this part of the deck. While there had been plenty of deckhands here earlier, they seemed to have all wisely vanished the second their prince appeared. It wouldn’t have been surprising if Shey had ordered them away so he could speak to Rayne in private.

Prince Shey Thrudesh-Vo, only son and oldest child of Queen Noemi Thrudesh-Vo of Caspagir, was an attractive man in a rugged, forthright kind of way. The wind ruffled his deep-blue hair, pushing it back so that the scars on the left side of his face were starkly visible in the afternoon sun. But then, Shey had long ago stopped adjusting the positioning of his body so that his scars were less visible when he was with Rayne. The childhood trauma that left him scarred was long forgotten, but the scars were a painful reminder of the prince’s vulnerability. And Shey didn’t do vulnerable.

They were approximately the same height, and Rayne hated to admit how much he enjoyed being able to look directly into Shey’s blue eyes when they spoke.

Dating him…well, that had happened quite by accident, and Rayne cherished every second they’d been able to steal together, but their time had always been tainted with a dark cloud. They had never escaped the tacit understanding that Rayne would return to Erya at the end of his studies, and Shey would go on to be the ruler of Caspagir. But for the one brief crossing during their university years, their lives were headed in opposite directions.

Years later, Rayne stood with Shey on the deck of a Caspagir battleship, and the prince was fighting fate.

“You look exhausted,” Shey continued.

Rayne narrowed his eyes on him, trying to give his most repressive stare, but those glares rarely ever succeeded in swaying the man from his course, no matter how dangerous the waters he swam in.

“I don’t recall you ever being quite this charming. You must have admirers dropping at your feet wherever you go in Sirelis, Your Highness.”

Shey laughed deeply, but the sound was partially carried away by the wind and the waves. He leaned against the railing next to Rayne and bumped their shoulders together. “I believe I managed to charm your pants off a time or two.”

Quite literally, in fact.

Rayne cleared his throat and stared out at the water while mentally ordering his cheeks not to burn. It was only now that they were standing together that he realized he’d forgotten to bow to Shey when the man spoke to him. He rolled his eyes at himself. He’d grown too relaxed around him, treating him as an equal.

Just as he would Caelan, in all honesty.

Who would have thought he’d reach a point in his life where speaking with royalty would be commonplace?

“What can I do for you, Your Majesty?” It was best if he tried to step back behind the strict boundaries of propriety. It was safer there.

“Stuff it, Rayne.”

So much for that attempt.

Rayne glanced over to find Shey resting his hip against the railing, his eyes firmly on Rayne’s face. “I’m worried about you,” he admitted. “You truly do look exhausted. Did you give Drayce another treatment today?”

“Early this morning and only briefly. I’m fine. There’s too much that needs my attention in regard to Erya, the Empire, and even the gods.”

“And it’s not your job alone. I believe I even heard Caelan state that you need to be holding their hands less in Stormbreak for their own good. The King chose General Morgan to watch over Erya because of her experience. Let the woman handle things.”

Rayne huffed. “Yes, but if my experience and knowledge can ease the way for her, shouldn’t I be helping in any way I can for her benefit and for the benefit of all people in Erya?”

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