Alexander or Sander Xenos is the hero of my latest novella, Life Reignited. Introduced in Thirteen Nights, where he meets his son, Tai, the hero of that book, Sander is British a scholar, an adventurer, a blogger and a bit of a geek. Never married, he travels the world studying ancient civilizations, hiding the torch he carries for Phoebe, Tai’s mother and a mythical Amazon warrior.
As a global adventurer, he never goes anywhere without a backpack, where we will always find the following items.
1) A Pocket Knife; Like Angus McGyver, he is a man of peace, refuses to carry a weapon, and uses a basic pocket knife to solve most problems. He is brilliant, and can think his way out of most situations.
2,3 & 4) A journal, a quill pen and ink. He writes to help him think, and the process of using a quill and ink adds discipline and design to his thinking.
5) Extra quill tops, because he has a habit of taking them off and using the feathers for other pursuits.
6) A laptop because he is a modern day scholar after all, and writes a blog, Found Worlds, to share his adventures, promote the love of ancient cultures and engage his students.
7) A lighter, matches or a flashlight because he never knows when he’ll end up in dark places.
8) A lexicon he developed of runic texts. Sander is an expert on runes, and over the course of his life, he developed a reference guide to them.
9) A small stuffed Bullwinkle, because he adores old 1950s and 1960s television. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle is one of his favorites.
10) Twine or wire, same reason as number one, because you never know when you need to tie someone up.
Needless to say, some of these props show up in some pretty interesting places in the book. Check it out and see. What should always be in a hero’s backpack?
Sander wished Phoebe didn’t feel so enticing. Her unique orchid scent wove its way through his bloodstream, mucking up his focus. He couldn’t square the gentle, quick-witted, brilliant scholar he loved as Cassie with the sad-eyed, battle-scarred Amazon warrior called Phoebe fitted against him. His body remembered her. No other woman ever came close to her creativity, capabilities and stamina in bed. She taught him what it was like to fully lose himself in a woman, and he’d never been able to replicate it. He finally understood why—it was never a fair fight. A human woman could not match a physically enhanced being. He’d always thought she was the love of his life, but did he even know her? Nothing made sense, except the hard-on straining against his zipper. Her physical impact hadn’t dimmed. At all.
When Phoebe stabilized, she led them back to her room at Neutral Ground. She appeared perfectly fine after a fight that would have killed most humans. At her door, she pressed her thumbprint on a small indent above the handle, then pushed it open.
“How did you open the door?” He peered inside. “And what did you do to merit this suite?” Molded ceiling, velvet coverings, red and gold Persian carpets and antique furniture that reminded him of a bedroom he’d find in Buckingham Palace. He was sure the paintings—Botticelli’s Birth of Aphrodite, Rubens’ Judgment of Paris among others—were the artists’ originals. Phoebe was right. This would be an intellectual candy land if his emotions weren’t tied up into knots.
A distraught laugh whispered out of her. “I ticked off the Elders and a portion of the Greek pantheon resistant to change. Neutral Ground is one of six safe havens worldwide sanctioned by the Council of Pantheons. Anyone who threatens me here is subject to death. Outside, well you saw for yourself. The DNA lock is an added protection, just in case. Thank you for coming to my rescue, by the way. My fighting skills are not what they used to be.” Her cheeks burned red. Was she embarrassed?
“You’re welcome.” In the corner an inlaid mahogany desk piled high with ancient scrolls drew his attention. “Are those what I think they are?” Her eyes followed his gaze and her eyebrows rose in what looked like an aha moment, then an indulgent and very real smile lit up her face. It was the first time tonight he’d seen the vivacity that lived in his memories, and he’d sneaked glimpses of her all evening.
“Yes, they are. Ancient scrolls documenting the history, culture and science of the Greek pantheon. I even have an original of The Republic by Plato, and Sappho’s poetry. You’re welcome to take a look.”
As a classics scholar, he read ancient Greek, Latin, Scandinavian, Teutonic and Celtic languages. This was a treasure trove he couldn’t resist. “Aren’t you afraid of ruining them?”
“They’re protected by pantheon magic. They can’t be destroyed.” She hooked her arm through his and guided him to the corner. After scrutinizing the pile, she picked up a scroll and handed it to him. Her fingers lingered on his hand longer than necessary. Sparks ignited under the touch. This was the woman he remembered—glowing eyes, an impish grin, with ancient knowledge flowing around her as if it were part of her aura. If there were more lines radiating from her eyes and lips, they softened her, made her more the Cassie he had adored, less the unknown Phoebe.
He took the scroll in one hand and pulled his reading glasses out of his jacket pocket with the other. He got the spectacles a year ago and wasn’t used to wearing them but his eagerness for the scrolls overcame any hesitation.
“They suit you,” Phoebe said.
He nodded, too absorbed by the parchment now open on the table. “You remembered The Odyssey was my favorite. This is truly Homer’s original copy?” A shiver ran down his spine. It wasn’t every day a man meets his personal deity.
“Yes, it is.” She moved closer, her hair brushing his ear as she leaned over to look at the text with him. Phoebe’s floral scent, the heat of her body skated along his skin, threw his concentration off, something that never happened. If his mind questioned the emotions he thought he once felt for this woman, his body didn’t. Given his age, he thought he could move past physical needs.
His cock stiffened like that of a hormone-driven teenager in heat. By the way Phoebe squirmed, he’d guess she felt it too. Like in London, when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.
“Take a look at this passage in its original. You can see why it’s commonly misinterpreted.” Phoebe’s arm brushed his, sending electric charges exploding beneath his skin.
“The article you published on this created controversy. I was impressed with the argumentation. Now more so. This passage makes interpretation harder, not easier.”
“You’ve followed my work?” Her face beamed with happiness and a soft pride. “I’m glad. I’ve read everything you’ve published, and follow your blog, Found Worlds. You’re making history and culture popular.”
Her praise shot jolts of warmth into his chest. That smile and her soft breasts brushing his arm unlocked the door to his memories. Unbidden, images of naked, sweat-drenched bodies tumbled out. Yes, he’d followed her work, justifying the way he gobbled up her writing as respect of one professional for another. With her next to him, touching him, he had to admit now it wasn’t true. Through her words, he stayed connected to her. And she, him.
Phoebe lives trapped between two worlds. Born an Amazon warrior, she’s sworn to serve the Greek pantheon. It’s her work as a scholar in the human world that gives her life passion and purpose and eases her heart—which shattered when the pantheon forced her to abandon her human lover.
Alexander Xenos is world renowned classics expert, who has dedicated his life to the study of ancient cultures and promoting peace. His fame and global adventures hide a hole in his heart, ripped out by a beautiful, gentle scholar, who shut him out cold after the most intense love affair he’d ever had.
Thirty years later, Sander meets his long lost love, only to learn she’s an Amazon, the mythical gods are real, and they are about to go to war. And Phoebe, who still sets his blood to boil, is in the thick of it. He’ll have to prevent a conflict between the Greek and Norse pantheons or lose her again—this time permanently.
Available at Ellora’s Cave
About the Author:
Sabrina Garie is on a journey to create the most kick-ass heroine romance fiction has ever known and the hero who can take her. A believer that big, audacious goals spice up life, she relies on coffee, red wine and laughter to make those goals (and her characters) come alive.
When not at the computer, she wrangles vegetables and extra helpings of homework into her star-spangled, fashion-loving progeny, kowtows to a fat cat and reads, a lot. As a child, she wanted to be an astronaut, just to see what’s out there. Now, she just makes it up.