Genre = Paranormal Women's Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Coming October 2021
LENGTH: TBD words, TBD pages
ExMuse Me is a paranormal women’s fiction novel and is a women’s action and adventure tale from USA Today Bestselling Author Donna McDonald.
Coming Soon! Book 4 of Nine Heirs and a Spare. Don’t miss the next action-packed adventure in this paranormal women’s fiction and humorous fantasy series.
AUTHOR NOTE: This story is both paranormal (think Pegasi and Dragons) and women’s fiction (think issues of aging). Many fantasy and romantic elements are also included. This is the third book in the Nine Heirs and a Spare series which has its roots in Greek mythology. You can count on the good guys (or rather good women) winning some of their battles, but that’s the only promise I can make. As with all my work, there will be some good laughs along the way.
Brain fog from a night spent not sleeping well made me think I was imagining the golden warrior blocking the hallway to the kitchen.
“Why are you here? Go away,” the warrior ordered.
I blinked a few times, but nothing made the warrior disappear. Athena, dressed in her solid gold breastplate and brandishing her golden sword, continued to stare at me.
“I live here, Athena. Get out of my way before I actually give you the butt-kicking you’re begging for. I’m hungry this morning and I’m going to the kitchen to cook breakfast. You do not want to get between me and food.”
Athena leaned back into a fight stance and glared. “If you attempt to harm Zeus or even look at him wrong, I will strike you down with no regrets,” she yelled.
“Says the nearly powerless woman who’d still be a freaking cage if I hadn’t freed her stranded butt,” I yelled back.
“Good morning, ladies. Isn’t it a little early in the day for a life and death fight with weapons?”
Cale, the grinning shirtless wonder, asked his question while leaning in the doorway of his bedroom looking all sexy and fresh. I turned to look at him and nearly sighed. Instead, I rolled my eyes. “Mnemosyne must have brought Daddy Shags-A-Lot home with her last night. I thought I felt the house shaking, but after catching them once, I knew better than to check.”
“Too bad it wasn’t us shaking the house. Sorry I fell asleep on you last night.”
I lifted my shoulders and let them drop. I could have snuck into his room and his bed, but I hadn’t. Cale didn’t remember much about me and it still didn’t seem right to take what wasn’t technically mine anymore. Perhaps my long-term relationship with the chaste Sisters of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome had blessed me with sex guilt. I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t going away either.
Cale had earned his right to sleep alone after he’d rescued Indar. I was actually amazed that he hadn’t needed my help. “The Underworld messes with everyone. Want some breakfast?”
“Yes, I’m starving,” Cale said. “Let me toss on some clothes and I’ll come help.”
I pointed to Athena. “Before you go ruining my scenery this morning, can you do anything about her before I have to do something I might regret later?”
Cale laughed. “She’s not a real problem. Your twin’s just hangry.”
I snickered. “True. She probably is hangry. I know she worked out this morning long before my eyes decided to open. She never fails to do it. Every. Single. Day. I’d been grumpy too if I forced myself to do that.”
“I am not that word you said,” Athena denied. “But I could eat.”
My eye roll and head shake must have communicated my disgust. “Move then,” I ordered as I charged forward.
Athena gasped at my lack of fear and flattened herself against the wall, which meant I pushed her pointy boobs sideways as I went by.
I may have also used my arm to slam her even flatter against the wall because… well, just because.
Part of me secretly hoped our mock fight woke up Mother and Zeus as well. I was anxious to see what the memory dust had done to the man I detested.
In the kitchen, a knock on the patio door had me glaring at the closed curtains blocking out the light. Expecting it to be some of the Muses coming to visit, I slid the curtains open to glare at whoever was on the other side of the glass.
Apollo and Pythia stood on the patio. I wrestled the door open after several tries of the lock that still needed replacing. Six years it had needed fixing, but it wasn’t like I hadn’t been busy.
I motioned them in, but grunted out, “No talking to me or being cheerful until I get coffee made.”
Apollo chuckled as he wordlessly followed me to the kitchen. Pythia sighed heavily as she followed behind us. My mischievous brother leaned against the counter, grinning at me as I made the magical caffeinated brew I desperately needed this morning.
Visiting the Underworld had left me feeling emotionally drained. Then Cale fell asleep in his own bed after he showered and I suspected it was mostly to avoid me.
I stared at the ceiling for hours contemplating all the problems having power back had brought to me. While not even close to the amount of power I was used to wielding, I currently had way more power than Cale was used to sensing in me.
He said he wasn’t intimidated, but I no longer believed him. If I hadn’t intimidated him, he would have crawled into bed with me last evening.
I sighed as I set several cups on the counter. I sighed again as I traipsed to the refrigerator to for milk and to the pantry for sugar. Unless it came from a coffee shop, I normally didn’t take anything in my coffee, but Mother Mnemosyne had drilled being a good hostess into all ten females she’d raised. Like it or not, I was a Muse in small, annoying ways that randomly showed up in my life.
I resented cooking my own breakfast this morning, but sadly for me, yesterday’s epic battle with Hades was also apparently yesterday’s news, and something not worth talking about today.
The Roman soldiers would pamper me for weeks after I’d helped them win a major battle. Yet here I was standing in my own kitchen making coffee for a houseful of people who shouldn’t even be here.
Gaia only knew that I hadn’t invited any of them. Mother hadn’t either. She and I shared morning catatonia and routinely avoided each other. We would never willingly expose others to our slow return to functionality unless it was an avoidable circumstance like a lover sleeping over. Since my lover slept in his own bed last night instead of mine, I was not in the best of moods.
Undeterred by regrets of any sort, Cale good morning-ed his way through the crowd now gathered in the small room. Athena’s armor made her take up as much space as two people and it was all I could do not to snarl at her for it.
All we needed now was for Mother and Zeus to join us in the kitchen. Wouldn’t that be worse than Underworld’s pit of despair? Cale and I would likely think so.
As I watched, Cale slid his body in front of Apollo’s to cheat the coffee pot out to pour a cup. Normally, I would have yelled at him for cheating the pot. Today, I was curious to see how long it would take for Cale to push enough of Apollo’s buttons for him to go nova on Cale’s Dragon butt.
Instead of drinking the coffee and gloating, though, Cale pushed the cup into my hand and pointed to the table. “Go sit down and drink this before you kill someone this morning. You’re vibrating.”
“It’s her fault,” I mumbled, pointing to Athena before doing as ordered.
Athena blew out a breath. “I’m just doing my job. I am not over-reacting.”
“Yes. You are,” I asked, giving her a pointed glare. “Technically, this is my Mother’s house. I’m not going to kill my mother’s lover in her own house. I also am not going to harm someone who doesn’t know exactly who I am. So let me drink my coffee in peace, Athena. In case you forgot, I won a freaking war yesterday and saved your ungrateful butt.”
“Knock. Knock,” Mellie said, coming through the patio door. “I brought emergency pastries as ordered.”
“Thanks, Mellie,” Cale said, taking the box from her. “You’re my hero.”
From my seat, I watched as Mellie stood on her toes to kiss Cale’s cheek. Thunder rumbled overhead outside. “Oooh… a storm’s coming. I don’t want to get wet. See you all later,” Mellie said before running off.
“Shame on you,” Cale said with a grin, putting a chocolate-covered donut on a napkin in front of me. “And you’re not cooking today. I’m cooking.” His suddenly phone went off. “See? Breakfast is at the gate. Let me jog out and get it.”
I rolled my eyes as Cale ran off.
“Excuse me. Can someone show me where the extra towels are? I thought I’d grab a quick shower.”
My cup nearly slipped from my hands as I stared at a shirtless, studly-looking Zeus in nothing but a pair of sweatpants standing on the threshold of the room. Not only was his politeness a shock, but the fact that he even decided to ask was one too.
Zeus was the type of man who got into the shower and then screamed for someone to bring him a towel until Mother went running to do it.
Or he might strut bare-butt through the house while dripping all over. I personally didn’t want to see him naked at all, but having something to blackmail him with later was appealing. When you couldn’t kill an enemy, the next best thing was to control them.
“Good morning. Before you run off to shower, I have a question. What’s the last thing you remember about your life?”
Zeus chuckled as he paused to think before answering. “Mnemosyne should have warned me there would be a quiz this morning. Let’s see. I think the last thing I remember is forgetting to pack my things before we came back to Mnemosyne’s place. Are all of you her roommates?”
I smiled as I sipped my coffee. “No. I’m her daughter. The rest of these people are just unwanted guests. Except for Cale—the Dragon is my guest.”
“Dragon?” Zeus said, wrinkling up his face.
“Don’t worry. He’s a very helpful Dragon,” I said to Zeus.
Athena snorted. “You’re not related to Mnemosyne at all.”
My twin squealed and jumped to the side when Mnemosyne poked her in the back.
“Atlanta most certainly is my daughter,” Mother said in her most indignant tone, shoving her way through the crowd.
Suddenly, my morning looked up. I finally had someone else willing to help me torment Athena back for her daily dose of snark.
I bounded from the table to beat Mother to the coffee pot. I poured her a cup and fixed it just the way she liked it. I handed it to her with a smile. “Sorry, Mother. I didn’t invite these people. There were all here when I got up.”
“Well, I didn’t invite them either,” she said. Taking a sip, she set it down and put her arms around me for a hug. “Thank you for not killing Hades yesterday. Persephone got in touch and said things went well.”
“Thanks to her, and I honestly mean that. Persephone was the one who convinced Hades to give up fighting. You need to give her another chance, Mother.”
“No. I’m not making any more dust for either of them. They’ve caused enough trouble.”
I led Mother to the chair I vacated and sat her down. “No, I don’t want you to make more dust either. I’m just saying don’t hate Persephone or hold her responsible for something Uncle Hades did. I’m not even mad at him anymore. He swore an oath to Gaia not to interfere with me and the prophecy.”
Apollo walked to my mother and picked up her hand to kiss her knuckles. “Hello, Mnemosyne. It’s been a long time. Sorry to barge in on you like this.”
“I like Apollo, Mother. He gets to stay too,” I told her and got a snicker from him.
“Dearest Apollo,” Mother said with a smile. “You’re more handsome than I remember. Aging agrees with you, just like it does your father.”
Apollo smiled widely and held out a hand to Pythia sitting quietly in a chair and saying nothing to anyone. She wanted to be here in the middle of this chaos even less than I did. It was yet another reason to really like that woman.
“And this is Priestess Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi.”
Mother turned to smile at her. “Hello, dear. I knew your father. He was quite the male. We dated briefly several years after your mother died. I was so sorry to hear he’d been killed by those rabid mortals in Central America.”
“Thank you for your condolences, Mnemosyne. Father had a very full life. He served Gaia well,” Pythia said.
“Indeed, he did,” Mnemosyne said as she sipped her coffee.
I could see Pythia scrutinizing a woman who’d dated her father and who’d also had a nearly naked Zeus wandering out of her bedroom and around her house.
Speaking of Zeus…
I looked back at the doorway and smiled at him. He was still waiting and seemed immensely relieved I’d finally noticed him again. “I’m so sorry. We never did help you find a towel.”
I turned to my livid twin who didn’t want me saying two words to the man who’d kept her and abandoned me. “Athena, since Zeus is officially your charge, go help him find a towel. They’re stored in the usual place. He can shower in the master bathroom off Mother’s bedroom. He’s going to be her guest for as long as he likes.”
I got a glare for giving her an order, but Athena in full armor ushered our birth father away to find a towel. He really didn’t seem to know any of us—not even his precious firstborn daughter.
Apollo had given his father a small glance, but I didn’t see much pity in it. Of course, he’d been trying to the help the man, or at least I was pretty sure he was trying to help. Apollo and I seemed to be thinking the same thing which is we liked Zeus better without his memories.
Or at least that’s what I wanted to be thinking about the situation. Honestly? I was equal parts thrilled and worried. Someone had to run the pantheon while I finished the other four tasks of the prophecy. Apollo didn’t want the job. With only limited power, Athena couldn’t do the job.
Mnemosyne sighed. “I didn’t sleep well. Athena was outside the bedroom all night clanking around in her stupid armor.”
I chuckled at what Mother wasn’t saying. “So no nookie then? I’d feel sorry for you, but I didn’t get any either.”
“Atlanta…” Apollo exclaimed with a chuckle, while I burst out laughing.
“No,” Mnemosyne said with an eye twinkle. “The only reason Zeus is with me at all is that he’s attracted to me. He has no memories of us.”
“Wow,” I said, sipping my coffee. “Welcome to my world.”
“Yes. Now I see what you’ve been dealing with. I regret not being more sympathetic.”
I waved off her apology. “It’s all good. Any luck with finding an antidote?”
When Mnemosyne shook her head, I turned to Apollo. “Any luck finding his stash of Ambrosia?”
Apollo grunted. “I think Ares stole it but his mini-me children aren’t saying anything.”
I lifted my coffee cup in the air. “Eros owes me a favor. Want me to try to persuade him to give it up?”
“Not just yet. I’ve put out a call to the demigods still residing in the God Realm. I promised a bag of gold to whoever finds some. I’d rather not risk Ares and his progeny tampering with it on purpose.”
I nodded. “Where were you planning to get your bag of gold?”
Apollo chuckled. “Don’t fret, sister. You can keep paying your nuns their hush money.”
He poured himself a cup of coffee before turning to grin at me. “I’m keeping my oath of secrecy, but no one said I couldn’t tease you.”
“Nuns? What nuns?” Mnemosyne asked.
I sighed and mumbled into my cup. “Sisters of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.”
“Oh. Those sisters. Are you seriously still paying them?” Mnemosyne asked.
“Until I get everything moved—yes,” I said, defending myself. “Let’s talk about something else.”
“Breakfast!” Cale said, carrying three giants bags of food into the kitchen. “Hearty breakfast burritos, honey sopaipillas, and cinnamon sprinkled churros.”
I walked to Cale and took the bags from him one by one. I handed them off to Apollo who put them on the counter.
“You’re the best champion a goddess ever had,” I said, and threw myself into his arms for a morning kiss that promised far more than he’d expected for just bringing me food. “This is not even your boon,” I whispered when I caught my breath.
“Are our days always crazy like this?” he asked with a laugh.
I sighed and put my forehead against his. “Only lately,” I said and stole myself another kiss. “The trick is not to get out of bed. I keep forgetting that.”
I smiled as Cale’s laughter-fueled hug vibrated both of us.