After spending more than a hundred and fifty years in Limbo, to suddenly find himself in a modern world with technology that baffled him, and women who wore pants, was a huge shock. Discovering that men were allowed to love each other, to even marry and have children, was an even bigger shock, though welcome.
Gideon gazed at the murky, choppy river. He leaned on the rough walking stick he’d fashioned from a branch by using sharp rocks. No matter how dirty the water, he was, as always, so tempted to jump in to wash off the years of dirt caked on his body. It was too dangerous. Giant water snakes lurked beneath the surface, ready to strike. Not that they could kill him. He chuckled sarcastically. Death would be a welcome relief from his miserable existence. But the monsters inflicted excruciating pain. He knew because he’d tried to bathe once after he’d first arrived.
Arrived? He grimaced at the thought. It was more like after he’d been dumped here. Banished for all eternity. All because he’d lusted after a good-looking young man whose father just happened to be a sorcerer. How many years had it been? Gideon had lost count. There was no time in this dim place, no daylight, no night, no sun and no moon. Just a gray, miserable existence. Monstrosities of trees surrounded him, all bare of leaves. There was nothing green on the murky ground, no shrubbery, not a blade of grass. Unclimbable cliffs surrounded the whole area.
Fierce storms often struck with no warning, tornado-like winds that lifted him off the ground and tossed him around like a ball. Slashing dirty rain just like the river’s waters, laced with gritty sand, tore at his skin. He’d tried many times to end it all, attempted to cut his wrists with a sharp rock, severed the artery in his neck, but the wounds healed instantly. There was no relief, ever.
He was alone. Besides strange creatures that lived among the trees, the worms, and small vermin that he fed on, there were no other lifeforms. It was as if the sorcerer had created a hell just for Gideon.
He sat on a large boulder, ignoring the sharp edges that bit into his thighs and buttocks, his thoughts wandering back to where it had all begun, trying to picture the young man who had caused his downfall. Well, he had not exactly caused it. Gideon’s own thoughts and sexual cravings had condemned him.
The name remained engraved in his memory, but the image of Charles had faded. Gideon remembered blond hair, a face almost too pretty for a man, but the details of the face were gone, wiped clean from his mind. He’d met him at a debutante ball, a fabulous affair where his parents had hoped he would find his future bride. Yes, as if. He knew his family was not the only pack. There were other wolf shifters, but he had no idea where and neither did his family. They kept to themselves, steering clear of the wars that often happened between packs. He’d gone to the ball to please his father and mother and had dutifully danced with some of the hopeful young women. Some of them were quite beautiful. Not that he would have found a Lycan mate there, so he had no idea why his parents had wanted him to go. They disapproved of mating with a human.
He had scented no shifters at the ball. But then he had spotted Charles and had felt an instant attraction. There had been something different about the young man, something he could not pinpoint, but he had ignored the uneasy feeling and had befriended Charles. He had immediately sensed a connection, the desire to be more than just friends, but after meeting Charles’ parents, he realized they were not aware of their son’s preferences and that Gideon was treading on thin ice. He had even been unsure if Charles himself realized the attraction between them. Besides friendship, he had not shown it.
Nothing had happened between them beyond a hug, an arm around shoulders, or a clap on the back. It had been too early for anything else. But Charles’ father had picked up Gideon’s sexual thoughts and cravings, also knew he was a shifter, and immediately acted accordingly.
He would never forget the man’s ire as he had summoned Gideon to his study. When the sorcerer had raised his hands and chanted the curse to send him to Limbo, Gideon had no time to react, no time to call out his wolf. It had happened too fast. One second he had stood rooted to the floor, too shocked to take action, and in the next second, he had found himself in Limbo.