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Opening scene from Dominus: God of Yule
by J. Rose Allister 
Book 1 of the Sons of Herne series


A Decision by the Fates

Dominus was unaware of the three beings who were watching him cross over the veil. They bobbed and weaved before the looking glass, their feet hidden behind robes as they floated above the ground. The fabric swathing the trio had been fashioned from the mists of time-one robe in emerald, another in amethyst, and the third in black. The mists flowed out from their pale heads as well, like manes of hair floating on a sea, reacting to the nods of their heads as they saw the god of Yule preparing for a sabbat joining.
“The son of Herne goes to her,” said the tallest, Morta, in a hoarse whisper. They often spoke in tandem, but now they separated. A decision was at hand, one that would turn the tides on an era.
“See how he lingers in the woods?” Decuna said, pointing a gnarled finger. “He has already pulled the ribbon to ring the bells of Yule, yet he tarries.”
Large black eyes blinked, and Morta nodded. “He draws out the moment. He knows that his actions have been a folly.”
“Have they indeed?” Nona asked, her deeper tone the one that resonated most when their voices echoed in unison.
“The time is now,” Decuna said. “The Thousand Seasons will be ushered in when his sun bearer brings forth the Yule light. We must decide whether the fate of the gods will rest in their own hands for another millennium, or whether to use this turn of events to alter their fortunes.”
“Are not the matters of life and death enough for us without meddling with love?” Morta said, floating higher. “Let us leave well enough alone.”
“Well enough?” Nona shook her head. “How is the fate of Herne’s sons well enough? The forest god failed to heed our counsel, and look at what has come of it.”
“They lack nothing,” Morta said. “The eight sons he appointed to the sabbats have immortal power and a greater purpose.”
“But not the one thing they secretly crave,” Decuna said, waving a tendril of mist out of the way from her large eye while she peered into the glass. “That which would serve the balance of worlds much greater than Herne’s narrow view.”
“He is still soured by bitter loss,” Morta said. “More than he would ever admit, he regrets the loss of his youngest son’s mother. He will move on in time.”
“Is not a thousand years enough to mourn the passing of she who bore Archipellus?” Nona asked. “How long must his sons be deprived of a woman’s comfort because their father is a hard-headed fool? They are kept separate from their own hearts, sanctioned only to join to women for sabbat rituals that last but a single night. Their cocks are not allowed to engage their emotions, only their call to duty.”
“Herne has been allowed overlong to settle in his ways,” Decuna said. “Perhaps the only thing that will help him now—any of them—is a nudge of Fate.” She grinned, a hag’s fecund smile that displayed sharp, and in some cases missing, teeth. “Dominus has already paved the way by taking a personal interest in the light bearer.”
Morta’s head swiveled unnaturally toward her sister deity. “And in that I sense a hand that was not his own. One with jagged nails and a twisted purpose.”
Decuna’s shrug sent a wisp of her gown sailing off into the nether that surrounded them. “Merely to see to it the usual attendants were too busy seeing to other matters to assist him in nurturing the Yule mother.”
“So he would have to do it himself.” Nona gazed around Morta, who bobbed between the others, to get a clear view of Decuna. “A clever sleight of hand you did not share with your sisters.”
“I saw no point. If we chose not to intervene, this small adjustment to the state of things would not matter. If we did, however, I had given our will a little head start.”
“Which you would not have done had you not gazed into our futures as well,” Morta said. “You already knew the outcome of our decision. We long ago vowed never to use the glass to see our own future, but only the fate of others.”
“And so we shall.” Decuna turned back to see Dominus walking through the snowy woods toward the cottage, his breath puffing out in front of him.
“So be it,” Nona said. “Let Herne get the message that he can no longer blanket the realm with the sour cloak of a woman’s ancient betrayal. Let that message flow out of the Yuletide, bringing the light of a woman’s love to each of his sons.”
“And may that message ring loud and clear by the end of the Thousand Seasons,” Morta added. “That when it concludes, and all his sons have embraced lovers, that we will be coming for him next.”


 Dominus: God of Yule

The crisp bite of frost in the air was sharp enough to sting even the nostrils of an immortal, but it was the scent of anticipation that Dominus inhaled most as he strode through the woods. He needn’t have bothered approaching this way, on foot through the wild forest. He could simply appear inside her cottage, where it was no doubt warm and welcoming. Still, he preferred to walk the wintry landscape at this time of year, when hearing the crunch of snow beneath his boots and breathing the heady scent of pine sparked a most pleasant ache between his legs. The crackle of ice breaking off a nearby branch was a call to duty, the brush of chilled wind a push toward his destiny. The nipples on his bare chest hardened, but not solely from the cold bite across his skin. Most humans marked the change in their yearly calendars on a different day, but Dominus was well aware that this night, the night of the Winter Solstice, would be when he truly brought forth a new year. He and the woman he had been carefully preparing for this moment.
Dominus tied the leather cord of the veil pendant around his neck as he approached the edge of the woods, and there he paused, regarding the cottage close by. He flexed his long fingers, working the stiffness from the chilled digits even as another place on his body hardened. His doeskin leathers constricted the cock lengthening against his thigh, so ready for him to coax the female into bringing forth her light.
He raised his forearm near his face, the bracelet that had been carefully wound with red ribbon in and among and between the carved leather leaning against the nearest pine tree while he observed the cottage for signs of activity. He had rung the bells already, pulling out the ribbon and holding the circle aloft before his crossing to declare the hour of the sabbat. He had silenced the silver bells before phasing to this realm, lest the sabbat bells be heard by mortals near the forest. The hour grew late on the eve of Yule, but many humans celebrated the season with festivities long into December eves. Some, including those who kept the old ways, marked the return of the sun by staying awake all through the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, holding vigil until the break of dawn proclaimed in the physical world what Dominus would have achieved in the metaphysical. Another season of light, brought forth by a meshing of souls—one from each realm. And to spin the wheel of another year, Dominus could not simply choose any soul he wished from the earth realm. She must be one impregnated with the light of a Beltane fire.
His father, the god Herne, had appointed eight of his sons to be overseers of the pagan sabbats, gods who were tasked with the sacred duty of keeping the realms united, but separate in the waxing and waning of the veil dividing the worlds. Through solstice and equinox, through seasons all, each son performed their specific role to keep the wheel of the year turning. And in an unprecedented quirk of fate, the female Dominus would claim this night had been the same virgin his brother, Jorandil, had united with the previous Beltane in the act required to seal the thinning veil.
It was no requirement that the earth woman need mate with a god on May Day in order to conceive the light that would restore the balance come Yule time. It was more a matter of chance, and a rarity at that. The right combination of timing, along with a blend of solar and lunar energies, was required, much like the act of human procreation. Precious few women would succeed in capturing the sun’s Beltane energy during sexual revelry, and it was his job to identify and claim such a one. She would become the Yule mother, bringing forth the sun on the longest night of the year.
He lowered his arm. What was not his job was to nurture that female throughout her time of confinement, nourishing and sprouting that light through summer and fall until it was ripe and ready for his plucking. But this year, that was exactly what he’d done. The Counsel of Sabbats had sent off the usual attendants on other missions this year, leaving Dominus no choice but to interact on his own with the woman he would ordinarily be destined to know for only one night. So he had visited her cottage every week, lending his own energy when her spirits sagged, giving gentle nudges of mystical encouragement to use the proper herbs, intent, and intake of meat, harvest fruits, and ale to keep her body pure and stoke the energy within. And week by week, he’d seen the results of his attentions. Her cheeks flushed to a healthy glow, her skin, hair, and eyes gave off a joyous shimmer, and her spirit had buoyed into one of joyful anticipation. Along with it, she had blossomed into the temptress of his desire, and now, his body heated whenever he pictured her.
The god of Yule, playing lady’s maid to a woman. He could just hear his father’s bellow of laughter, tossing back his antlered head, if he found out about that. As it was, Herne had been buried in planning a series of hunts to commemorate the start of The Thousand Seasons. Thank the heavens for small mercies.
Dominus thought of his last visit to her, how he had stood at her bedside, asking for her final consent to the ritual. After her agreement, right on the cusp of sleep, he whispered ancient secrets while her hair spilled across her pillow and her round curves beckoned. His male need flared into a sharp ache at her beauty, and how he longed to plunge his fingers through that silken hair, run his tongue over every sultry dip and swell on her body. He never touched her—he could not. He had stayed overlong on that final visit, for he knew the time had come. A time he both longed for and resented, when his visits to her, unwanted though they had begun, would be at an end. A lump in his stomach punctuated the thought.
A figure passed by the sheer curtain drawn halfway across the front window, and his pulse quickened.
He heard the name dance through his thoughts, and try though he might, he could not wave it away. He typically preferred not to know the names of the women whose light he released. There was little point in it, for he would not see nor know anything of the females once his mission was complete. For their part, the women would know nothing of him, either. The majority of humans were blissfully unaware that their world sat tightly against a realm of immortals and magic, nor did they care to know just how much their gods were still at work to this day, walking the woods, tending to fields and lusty lasses, and generally keeping the balance of their worlds at peace. And so, the gods who could not pass for human hid their presence.
Laughter rose to his ears, and he drew back instinctively behind the cover of trees. Humans would not see him while he wore the veil charm, rare few, anyway, but best not to chance it. The door to the cottage opened, and several people spilled out, happy and carefree and followed by a waft of alcohol that was apparent to his keen, supernatural senses. Then there she was, Lorayna, standing in the doorway with a wide smile that tightened Dominus’s chest. She wore a pure white sweater, oversized and yet clinging to her ripe figure, and while she chatted to her departing guests. She tucked a silken strand of dark brown hair behind one ear, revealing blue and silver bells that tinkled on her earrings. They jingled when she nodded and laughed. Her lips, painted pink and glossy, caught his eye, and he found himself staring at how they puckered and released with every syllable she spoke and the way her long, well-manicured nails had been painted to match. His cock throbbed in earnest, already impatient with the guests who were lingering far too long at the threshold for his tastes. He was eager for their time together, yearning to see his months of attention to her physical and emotional well-being come to fruition.
One of the males leaned close to kiss Lorayna on the lips, and a swell of unpleasant heat rose in Dominus’s stomach. She was not his to own, of course, and he had no cause for jealousy. His own brother had been with her back on Beltane, after all, and she would no doubt sleep with other men in the future. Perhaps many others. But she had kept herself pure since May Day, because she knew deep down that she was fated for no other until Dominus helped her birth the light that his supernatural eyes saw shining inside her even now. The sun’s energy pulsed from within, a bright, glowing force like a singular joy that was at the apex of its power. He alone would bring back that light, coaxing it from her in an explosion of climax. She would feel exquisite pleasure as she returned that energy to the universe, followed by a temporary sense of loss he likened to what a woman might experience when her womb emptied after birthing a child she carried. Lorayna would recover quickly, however, unaware of her crucial role in the wheel’s turn of the coming year. And come next Beltane, he would begin his search for the new mother of the sun.
The overly attentive male turned to a man beside him and laid a suggestive kiss on him, complete with a sweep of the tongue while squeezing his ass. Dominus relaxed his fists. So, the male had other inclinations. Good.
“Try not to be a stranger,” the other male said with a flourish. “You are far too radiant to keep hidden away, locked up in a cottage in front of a computer.”
“Make a New Year’s resolution to come out into the world more than once a month,” said his partner. “Promise.”
“It’s not New Year’s yet,” she said.
“Before you know it.”
“I just can’t believe it’s already over,” Dominus heard Lorayna saying to the two men who were now holding hands. “I’ve felt such a strong holiday spirit this Yule.”
“Christmas is still a few days away,” the other man said. “It’s not quite over yet.”
Those perfect nails raked strands of her hair smooth, and she glanced over the man’s shoulder until she was looking straight at Dominus. “Of course. It just feels different tonight, is all.”
Tingles raced through Dominus while he held her gaze, though he knew she did not truly see him. At most, perhaps, she was aware of what was by now a familiar presence. As her dark eyes penetrated him, however, he began to wonder. He reached up to finger the pendant lying on his chest, reassuring himself that it was indeed still there. The leather cord was firmly tied, and the crystal vibrated slightly. The crystal, forged in his realm directly from the power of the veil between worlds, was what hid him from the humans who would otherwise wonder about the strange-looking man in their midst. Several of his brothers bore the same pendant so they could not only phase freely between worlds while remaining secret from those his father believed would not easily accept their presence. That was the fate of most of the brothers who had inherited rather inhuman characteristics.
She waved farewell, and as she watched her friends depart, Dominus saw a troubled look cross her brow. The smile he hadn’t realized was on his lips fell. She turned and went into the cottage, closing the door behind her.
The time was now, he knew. She was as ripe and ready as she would ever be, and the universe needed the sun’s light in order to renew itself for the season of longer, brighter days. His feet stayed still, however, unable to move for several prolonged moments. He envisioned their act as he had done so many times over the past months, picturing the moment of her release the way he had seen it for a thousand Yules before. He held great regard for those women the universe chose to become the mothers of midwinter, bearers of the sun. But he forgot their faces soon after he left them to return to his own realm. It would no doubt be the same with Lorayna, even though he had spent months preparing her.


About Dominus: God of Yule:

Loving Lorayna could cost a god his sacred power...

It is the time of Yule, and Dominus, god of the sabbat, should never have had to spend half the year nurturing the latest light bearer himself. When circumstances had deprived him of the usual attendants, however, he’d done what was necessary to prepare the woman selected for the sabbat ritual. Now, months of visiting Loryana, present in whispers but without ever revealing himself, has sparked a yearning inside of him that he cannot shake.

Lorayna has felt herself drawn to the pagan path, guided to prepare for the coming of Yule by a presence around her that she has been unable to resist. When she discovers her “holiday spirit” is in fact a mouthwateringly handsome god, she is ready to give him whatever kind of ritual he chooses. To her disappointment, his intention is to honor her purity while helping her “release” the pent-up energy by herself.

Giving up her light is not as easy as surrendering to his will, however. Dominus is forced to break the rules and give into his urges before the Yule power consumes her from within. The ripples of their passion will alter many sabbat unions to come—and Dominus must defy his father, Herne, to follow his desires and prove to Lorayna that she was not merely another light bearer.