Persuasion

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Persuasion (Curse of the Gods Book 2)


Willa Knight: Dweller? Bad-ass? Notorious pet to five magical beings?

In Blesswood, there are rules, and someone is trying to teach her how to follow them. The only problem is Willa. Which shouldn’t be anything new, since she has been a problem since birth—something her pseudo-sister Emmy would agree on.

So it definitely shouldn’t be new … but it is. 

Because things are starting to happen that have never happened before. 

Things are starting to get …chaotic.

This is a full novel, 90,000 words. Book 2 of 5 in the Curse of the Gods Series

One

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my eighteen life-cycles, it’s that the most special moments—the most magical pockets of our existence—are always going to be the parts of us that the rest of the world won’t understand. Take my friendship with the Abcurses, for example. No one really understood that. They didn’t understand why the Abcurses didn’t kill me on my first sun-cycle at Blesswood, and why they have continued to not kill me, every sun-cycle since then. Part of me didn’t understand it either, but it wasn’t something I questioned any longer.


I just accepted my unusual good luck in finding them, and let the rest fade away. Before coming to Blesswood I’d only ever had Emmy. My pseudo-sister who was actually closer to me than blood, even though she spent most of her time lecturing me with the scowl of a haggard old grandma, telling me that I was prematurely aging her. With Emmy and the Abcurses, I had found my place. My family. “I need you to concentrate, Willa-toy.” I glanced up, meeting Yael’s moss-green eyes. The colour seemed lighter than usual. Softer. But that was definitely a trick of the early-morning fog that was slowly seeping out of the courtyard. The Persuasion-gifted god was never soft. He was snarly, competitive, confusing, and he probably tortured soft things like me as a fun morning activity. Not that I was soft.


I had it on really good authority that I was pretty damn resilient. That is, if the healer back in the seventh ring could be considered good authority despite his lack of apparent healing skills and healing knowledge. Only the best for the seventh ring. We were seated on a stone bench, our legs turned toward each other. Yael was leaning back, his broad chest drawing my eye as his arms stretched out behind him, hands gripping the sides of the bench. I was leaning toward him, shifting inch by inch—trying to put our bodies into contact without him noticing. A moon-cycle ago, the only god of Chaos in existence had ventured into Minatsol and attempted to attack the Abcurses. I had gotten in the way. I wasn’t good at many things, but I was excellent at getting in the way. Especially if it was ‘in the way’ of something dangerous. Like a freaking curse that would split my soul into six pieces, leaving me only a tiny little morsel while delivering the other five slices to the five sacred beings who had been standing closest to me.


The Abcurses. So now Yael had a piece of me inside him, and I wanted—no, I needed—to be in constant contact with it. With him. With them. It didn’t matter which one of them, I just needed the reassurance of touch. I needed it to calm the pain inside my heart, to dull the panic that occasionally clawed at my throat. “You’re still not concentrating,” Yael murmured, his eyes tracking over my face. “I am,” I lied, finally managing to press my knee up against his. He spread his knees slightly, and I was able to slide further forward on the seat, my legs slipping up against the insides of his. He constricted his legs around mine after a moment, forcing me to stop moving. “Try again,” he said. “Block me out of your mind.”


I growled a little, frustration making me agitated, but I obediently closed my eyes, focussing on the phrase that he had told me to repeat, while simultaneously trying to block him from it. Yael is Number One. Yael is Number One. I could almost hear his smirk. Which meant that I wasn’t blocking him properly. I furrowed my brow, projecting a different phrase at him. Yael is an egotistical shweed! The pressure eased from the outsides of my legs, and I felt his hands on my knees, pulling them up and over his thighs, sliding me almost to his lap. “Eyes shut,” he ordered, as my eyelids began to flicker.


I screwed them closed a little tighter, tensing my spine. I fought back a lot with the Abcurses, but that didn’t necessarily mean that it was a wise thing to do. I just couldn’t help it. I didn’t like being pushed around, and I’d always thought that I’d go down fighting when my time to die finally arrived. I’d probably be fighting a pillar or a stone floor as I fell on my face, but it still counted. I felt a tug on my hair. He had the braid in his hand, pulling it over my shoulder and applying pressure, drawing my face forward. I could feel his breath on my neck, and my brain started to short-circuit. “What’s a shweed, Willa-toy?” He spoke so quietly, so gently, so persuasively, I almost thought that he was whispering something completely different. Something that might encourage me to take my clothes off and rub up all over him. Wow. I had no idea his voice could do that. He needed to maybe never ever do that again, because I did enough embarrassing things as it was. I didn’t need to add ‘accidental rubbing’ to that really long list. “It’s a cross between a shit-head and a weed,” I told him, quietly applauding my even voice.


“Is that a dweller word?” He was still using the voice. Still tugging on my hair. Still getting his revenge on me for calling him a shweed. My breath shuddered out from between my lips, my voice croaking. “It’s a Willa word.” He chuckled, drawing back and giving me a much-needed reprieve. My braid fell back to my chest as my breath huffed out of me in a forceful gush of air. “Try again.” This time, his voice was normal. Cold, even. Bastard.


“Are you even trying?” he asked. “No. I wanted you to hear that.” His hands settled back on my knees. “Concentrate.” This time, he was using his Persuasion gift in earnest, bending my will until I was almost desperate to obey him. I retreated back inside my head, my frown becoming fierce as I tried to do what he was telling me to do. I attempted to construct a mental barrier around my mind. Nothing. I attempted to drown him out of my head with nonsensical, internal screaming. Nothing. I attempted to force his mind out of mine, but it wasn’t in mine. I seemed to be projecting my thoughts, somehow. “It must be trying to reach the other parts of your soul,” Yael finally concluded, withdrawing his power from me. As soon as my will returned, I jumped up off the bench, spinning on him in a fury. “Stop doing that!”



“Stop doing what?” he asked innocently, standing beside me. “Oh look, we’re late for breakfast.” He started striding off, leaving me to hurry after him, because dammit, I needed to be near him. “I’m going to ask One to help me out tomorrow instead of you,” I threatened, as we passed into the halls of the academy, heading toward the dining hall. “Oh?” He turned to look at me over his shoulder, his eyes flashing briefly in challenge. I had the urge to take back what I had just said, but I shoved it away, tilting my chin up at Yael in badass acknowledgement.


Or it would have been a badass acknowledgement … if I hadn’t been so preoccupied that I didn’t see the dweller turning the corner of the corridor that met up with ours, pushing a trolley before him. I smacked into the trolley first, even though he had pulled it to a stop so that I would have enough space to skirt around it. It was filled with breakfast trays and pots of coffee, evidently for some lazy-ass sols who wanted their food brought to them in their rooms every morning. One of the pots wobbled, tipping over and pouring a stream of scalding coffee right onto the front of my shirt. I screamed, jumping back and pulling the material away from my skin. I was hopping all over the place, muttering swear words beneath my breath and trying to blow cool air down my top to ease the burn. My skin was an angry red, but it hadn’t actually injured me in any serious way, and it definitely wasn’t the first time I’d been assaulted by a stream of too-hot liquid, so I was able to recover in time to see Yael advancing angrily on the dweller.


One of the downsides to ‘belonging’ to the Abcurse pack was that they took even the smallest of threats way too seriously. And it wasn’t just the threats to their family that they reacted to, but also the threats to me, because I was one of them now. Or at least I would be one of them until my soul stopped trespassing on their soul-land, or their heart-land, or wherever the sneaky pieces of me were currently residing. Not the time.

I reined in my thoughts as Yael pushed a muscled forearm up beneath the dweller’s chin, roughly cutting off his air-supply. It didn’t surprise me to see him overreacting. We were all the same way: a little too impulsive, a little too reactive, a little too rough around the edges. It was why I let them stick around. Because it was definitely me that was allowing them to stick around, and not the alternative. Yael was muttering something to the poor guy, too low for me to hear, but I could tell that the dweller was about to pee himself. I didn’t really blame him, although I hoped he wouldn’t, because that was gross. “Four!” I marched over to them, attempting to pull him away. “It’s fine. It was an accident.”

Surprisingly, he released the guy—who grabbed his cart and pushed it down the hallway at a sprint. He was definitely going to run into someone else, the way he was going, but apparently getting away from Yael was a priority. Yael swept his eyes over me, looking a little sheepish. I thought that he was feeling remorse for having overreacted, but that was so far-fetched that I started looking for other reasons instead. I followed his eyes down my shirt. My nipples were saluting the world, even through my bra. The soggy material of my shirt had moulded to my body. I rolled my eyes, pulling it away from my skin again. “Nothing you haven’t already seen, Four,” I reminded him. He turned, continuing his way down the hallway, and I fell into step beside him. “One.” He sniffed disdainfully. “Four.” “One. And I haven’t seen your tits before, Rocks.” “Sure you have. You don’t remember—” “I didn’t look,” he interrupted. “Can we talk about something else?”


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Author

Jane Washington