Hard as a Rock by Sara Jay

Hard as a Rock by Sara Jay

Hard as a Rock

by Sara Jay

Changeling Press

eBook ISBN: 06419-02063

Basalt has spent centuries wanting Canna all to himself. Though his nightly visits train her to be his perfect lover, will she still want him when she finds out what he does during the day?

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Prologue

3,000 Years Ago…
 
Ares’s wine-soaked lips spat a cruel laugh. “More!” he demanded, sloshing mahogany liquid as he raised his glass.
Thwack! Another scream-inducing lash landed squarely on the lovely fairy who had denied the god’s advances. Helplessly chained in iron restraints, she trembled, tears running down her dirt-streaked cheeks.
The god’s gargoyle lackey prepared to deal another blow. Basalt’s rock-hard face revealed no remorse. His black stony glare, matte and blank, reflected a soulless monster executing his duty — no more, no less. Most visitors deemed him their favorite among Ares’s collection due to his dispassion and obedience.
Thousands of years as a slave had taken what little soul he had. When gods forged and claimed you, learning to appease your masters came quickly. Plenty of scars scoring his leathery wings and long, chiseled flank proved his initial resistance and subsequent taming.
His stoic countenance also displayed none of the turmoil raging inside the body that mirrored his volcanic name. One moment of weakness, however brief, and the wrath of Ares would be his problem, too. Assaulted regularly for merely doing his job, Basalt knew better than to defy his master.
Yet Basalt rarely allowed his flogs to land at full-strength. Conquering the art of controlled torture early in his servitude helped him ensure minimal suffering for his victims. The fact never assuaged his conscience, though it did provide scant, rebellious satisfaction. The same attempt at restraint could certainly not be said of the god’s other monstrous minions.
Basalt cursed himself, his slavery to the war god, his very birth at the hands of Ares who had shaped him from hyaloclastite rock for the purpose of inflicting pain. And for bearing pain as well.
The night remained young. Several of Ares’s friends — mostly half-gods, though other monsters managed a spot on the guest list as well — had yet to taste his stony flesh, his blue-black blood this day. And the god’s parties never ended until every slave lay broken and well-used.
“More!” Ares crowed. Arrogant gods snickered, leaning back in comfort to watch the show Basalt provided.
Clenching frayed leather, Basalt regarded the beaten fairy. His bulky arm felt like lead. Why did punishing her seem so difficult? How did this tiny thing differ from the hundreds of thousands he had gored, even killed, in his lifetime?
Wet green eyes pleaded with him for death. The young fairy’s long hair fell into her face and over her bare breasts. Drugged and already tortured by two other monsters, she barely registered him as another living being. How could she, when he was little more than a demon?
Raising the whip, he studied her face. Resigned to her own fate, she now merely stood to bear his obligatory brutality. She didn’t even flinch as his arm arced above his head.
Hoots for more pain, for the splitting of flesh, bounced off his ears. A minotaur threw a wine bottle, and a shattered piece of glass nicked the fairy’s calf. She twitched but nothing more as she waited for his next strike.
At the sight of the blood dot, something cracked inside Basalt’s igneous interior. His pulse roared in his throat, and he shook with fury.
Lowering the whip, he heard the words pass his lips before realizing they were his own. “Let her go.”
Chuckles suddenly dropped into stunned silence. The boisterous satyrs even ceased their thundered floor hooving. Demi-gods cowered, eyeing Ares in fear.
Though the god remained seated in his throne of bones, his throaty drunken words still rushed Basalt’s brain. “What did you say, slave?”
What, indeed? Basalt slowly closed his eyes, knowing that no matter what he did now he would endure a ruthless, lengthy torment for his insubordination. And for what? For this slight creature he didn’t even know?
Raising his gaze to the starved sprite, he realized that he could no longer inflict pain onto her — or anyone else for that matter. If she could unflinchingly stand there and endure such torment, he could take a stand against it.
Thoughts of her bearing such horror again inflamed his blood. Those frightened emerald eyes sought his, now wide and more alert. Her bloodied mouth formed a stunned “O,” and he concentrated on that, on being her surprise ally. Surely she would die as well, but at least it wouldn’t be alone.
“I said, let her go,” he repeated.
Fierce gusts of hot air rushed his face as the god stretched his hand open wide, fingers spread. Basalt crashed against Ares’s burning palm, the god dangling his mammoth form by his head.
Squeezing Basalt’s skull, Ares’s brambled beard nearly grazed his face as he screamed, “You dare tell me what to do, slave!”
Red eyes glowing with chaos bored into Basalt’s face, and his skull throbbed with agony. “Please — please, Great Master Ares,” Basalt implored in the humblest tone his sepulchral timbre could manage. “I beg of you to have mercy on this young one and give me her sentence instead.”
Doubtful that the god would allow such a request, the gargoyle had to make his case — even if it were in vain.
Ares appeared ready to pull him in half on the spot — indeed, the chimera poised itself to catch his scraps — but a slow, sadistic smile tilted the corners of his hateful lips.
Dropping Basalt with cold indifference, he turned to the fairy. “Do you bear witness to this plea, dear sweet?” he demanded, smirk twitching. “It would appear that my gargoyle, my obedient slave who has provided me with pleasure for over four thousand years, is now ready to relinquish his own life to spare you the honor of sharing my bed.”
The fairy simply stared at Basalt, as if looking away would cost her the freedom she so desperately sought.
“It would seem that he has already bedded you!” Ares thundered. His eerie tranquil smile melted into an enraged twist of god-flesh. “Why else would he give his life for yours?
A whimpering sound squeaked out of the fairy. She shook her head vehemently, the limp lime ringlets around her face clinging to her cheeks.
“Really? Why do I find that so difficult to believe?” Ares pointed to Basalt. “You shall have your deal, hideous son of the mountains. I will free your beloved, providing you with her sentence. She will always remember that it was by your putrid claws at which she suffered such agony!”
Snapping his fingers, Ares casually gestured toward the iron chains in which she had been captive. They were empty.
“Death is too easy a sentence for you, slave,” he growled. “I shall cast you into the mortal world to be used as the slobbering humans see fit. You will remain enslaved as such until your beloved fairy deems you worthy of her forgiveness.”
Basalt jerked away from the god, but it was too late. His mouth frozen in a roar never expressed, arms clenched at his sides and wings partly extended, he appeared the mortal-sculpted gargoyle.
“I changed my mind. She will never remember you. Your curse will last for all eternity,” Ares sneered.
Waving a hand dismissively, he cast Basalt far from his kingdom.

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