Archive for the 'General' Category
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
We get to have fun as writers, creating other worlds and fantastical beings. My new release, Gideon: Heavenly Fall, has been pure joy to write.
Most people know me as a Navy SEAL writer. And I still love those boys, and probably will write them until the cows come home. But I also love paranormal, for the sheer fun of writing about special powers and unearthly situations and body parts.
I have a secondary character in Gideon, who is an inventor. He makes robots, or “bots” as we call them in the book. Pleasure bots, animal bots, and an army of doll warrior bots. I wanted to write him because I have a futuristic book I’m working on that would also have a bot factory.
Here’s a little excerpt from Gideon as the three main characters arrive to meet the clockmaker for the first time:
“This guy have a sense of humor?” Gideon frowned at his Guardian friend.
“I doubt it. He’s not that way.”
“So what’s with the ‘Out Of Time’ sign?”
“I’ve never thought about that. I’ll ask him.” Francis opened his door. “I think I’ll approach with your Guardian, while you wait in the truck, if you don’t mind.”
“As if I have a choice.”
“Your funeral. We have to handle this guy with kid gloves.” Frances squinted and then peered up to the windows above the shop. “He’s kinda weird. Hard to think what goes on in that mind of his. I’m guessing he has a lot of moving parts that look something like this.” Francis pointed to a flock of mechanical birds flying inside the window in loose formation.
“Are those real?” Persephone noticed a cloud of small buzzing insects hovering over the archway of the front door on the outside of the building.
“Yup. Real bots.” Francis grinned at Gideon, rain soaking his right shoulder and running down his front. “They’re as real as the real ones, just made up of different material, that’s all. The guy’s a genius.”
I hope you will stop by and give Gideon some love. We’re working on the audio book starting next week. Join me as I explore some of my Far Side.
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
The beginning of a new year. I sat down after Christmas and thought about all the things I would like to accomplish in 2017. So many things changed for me personally and professionally in 2016 that I couldn’t possibly think how or what I could do to possibly top 2016.
I met so many new people and have done so many things I could’ve never imagined I would do before I retired from the Army. My life had been my family and my Army family, and now I have my Book family.
How lucky can I get?
How possibly can I make 2017 better?
Organize and expand.
What do I mean by that?
Organizing my life and how I plan and produce my stories. Right now and in the past, I have always been what the writers refer to as a pantster. Meaning I just sit at the laptop and write whatever comes out of my little pea brain. To most a scary thought indeed. (insert evil laugh) but it is how I have always done it, but now I am trying to retrain myself to start taking notes and outlining stories.
Expanding my world. When I say I am expanding, I mean I am expanding the world, the one I created in my series Warranted into a series of novellas, as well as, and here is the NEWS—a series of paranormal characters that are separate from Warranted but intertwined as well.
Basically, in 2017, one of my characters will experience some changes, I won’t say now how or when, but it’s gonna happen. (insert evil laugh)
So to start off 2017, my first A Warranted Novella release is called Snowed In.
The story of a Brewery heiress and the Special Forces Sergeant First Class on leave while he is recovering from injuries. They meet in the mountains of Colorado and not in the typical fashion but in the most interesting way and fall for each other because you will only find HEA in my stories.
An Excerpt from Snowed In a Warranted Novella
The Bryant’s of Milwaukee, Wisconsin were famous for their wealth, their brewing skills and the exploits of their oldest son – the infamous Andrew Bryant, Jr. Andrew was the heir apparent to the family business and fought the title every chance he got. Doing anything he could by any means possible to avoid becoming his father he did the opposite of what they wanted. His parents had always planned that Andrew Jr take over just as Andrew Sr had. His parents plan- once Andrew Jr graduated from college, they would retire and enjoy their life knowing the family business would be in their son’s capable hands and would continue for many more generations.
Andrew Jr. had plans of his own, it was just his parents didn’t know them yet. He, like his grandfather, would join the Army and run as far away from the brewery and his family as possible. The problem was leaving his younger sister Annabelle; although, he knew Annabelle would be ok she was a Bryant for God’s sake and a Bryant through and through. Annabelle, a strong-willed and intelligent girl with a mind of her own. It seemed Janice and Andrew Sr. had raised the independent thinkers they had so desperately wanted. But for Andrew Jr leaving Annabelle to face their parents alone was not the easiest decision he would have to make he didn’t know it yet. When the day arrived, he had to be selfish and do what made him happy not what made his parents happy.
They had had a great childhood; everything a kid could want. Enjoying many trips to Colorado but particularly enjoying the trips to the cabin in the mountains for Christmas. It was the only time the siblings would have their parents Janice and Andrew Sr all to themselves no one worked during the holiday.
Andrew Jr. cherished those memories especially as he sat waiting for his friend SSG Jackson Tolliver outside of physical therapy at Womack Army Medical Center. Andrew Jr. and Jackson were stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina they were members of the elite 9th Special Forces. Tolliver had been injured during an ambush in the mountains of Takur Ghar region of Afghanistan. The same attack that two of their buddies had been captured and tortured.
That ambush was always on his mind. Recently, more than usual but with everything that had happened on the post. It was appearing as though they would be re-visiting the ambush. The massive investigation that had been started after a series of thefts on the post, and a massive fire at the warehouse, a warehouse that belonged to the 9th Special Forces. They would meet up with their old unit leader Chief Warrant Officer 3 Raleigh Fitzgerald and his associate SGT Samantha O’Hara for interviews.
Free CreateSpace Book Cover Template.
Warranted Desires, Book 2 of A Warranted Series Releases the End of Feb 2017 (fingers crossed) and it continues the story of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Raleigh Fitzgerald and SGT Samantha O’Hara. Will fate continue to shine on their relationship or will the terrorists they have been on the trail of find them before they find forever?
An excerpt from Warranted Desires Prologue
As the sun peeked through the curtains, Sam stirred and stretched in the large king sized bed, rubbing her eyes, her fists clenched as she scanned the room for Raleigh. Her entire body still ached from the beating she had received by Saheed Al-Balshera, the terrorist that Raleigh had riddled with bullets just a few days before. New Orleans was turning out to be the hotbed of terrorist operations, and they had stumbled smack in the middle of it. One simple investigation for missing equipment transformed into mischief, murder, and mayhem.
They needed to wrap things up here and get back to Fort Bragg. Finish interrogating Jared Thompson, they suspected he still had the information they needed. Thompson was the primary witness in the investigation that brought Sam and Raleigh together- missing equipment, money laundering, assault and murder this simple review had it all covered. There was a big problem, though, Jared and Raleigh had history, a long and involved one. The biggest of which was they were Best Friends about as close and Best as you can get.
Jared was Raleigh’s best friend, had been since childhood, they were buddies in high school, hell they had joined the Army together, served years together in a Special Forces and captured together when their unit got ambushed on a mission in Afghanistan. It was during this captivity that Jared had turned his back on his fellow soldiers and became an operative for Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Jared Thompson and his wife Semeana would face justice at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the military and civilian court system. And Raleigh would be the one to bring that justice to his Best Friend and serve up the rest of the remaining terror suspects in a cute little bow to the Attorney General of the United States. Before they could leave New Orleans, they had to make sure all the suspects from the raid on the port were processed. They would see their day in court and more than likely be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to serve out their sentences then be deported back to their own countries.
But once it was all said and done where would that leave Sam and Raleigh? Would they continue their forbidden relationship or would they chalk it up to a sinfully good time? That was a lingering question. They both had thought about it but hadn’t expressed it out loud or let alone to each other. What would the future hold for them?
Sam reached for the remote and sat up, propping herself onto the multitude of pillows that lay scattered upon the bed and the floor next to her. Flipping through the channels until she came to CNN coverage of the raid. CNN had covered the strike for a few days now; it was big news. The raid had recovered millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, stopped a terrorist organization from implanting any further into the United States and they had solved two murders. Every time coverage came on Raleigh would spout something like All in a day’s work for a stud like me. They would laugh and continue with what they had been doing before he pounded his chest like Tarzan.
I want to thank Delilah for allowing me to take up some of y’all precious time. I would be honored to get to know all of you, and I would be honored and love it if y’all joined my group or added me as a friend whatever makes y’all comfortable. Thank you so very much for your time.
If y’all have any questions, etc., feel welcome to hit me up check out my website, sign up for my newsletter all the links are below. #militarysupportingmilitary #MSM
Monday, January 16th, 2017
How erotic can a historical romance get? Especially with straight-laced Victorians, prudish Puritans or proper Regency society?
When an agent asked if I could turn my Regency-set romance into an erotic romance, it turns out it wasn’t that hard. The fact that the Regency was a period where proper manners and polite society were of paramount importance made the taboo even more naughty.
The granddaddy of kinky wickedness—the “S” in BDSM—lived from 1740 to 1814. The Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat and sexual libertine. One of his affairs involved his wife’s sister. Others involved prostitutes and servants. According to Wikipedia, “[h]e coerced women into performing sodomy, mutual flagellation, and other unorthodox sexual acts, and poisoned several of them with aniseed and cantharides.” His mother-in-law secured an arrest warrant, and de Sade was eventually imprisoned in the Bastille in the 1780’s. During his imprisonment there, he wrote his magnum opus, The 120 Days of Sodom.
My historical romances are mostly set in early 19th century England, and de Sade’s works were not widely published then. According to Wikipedia, the first uncensored English translation of his novel, Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue, was not published until the 1950’s. But de Sade wasn’t the only novelist writing kinky stories.*
John Cleland (1709-1789) was arrested for the 1748 publication of his novel Fanny Hill: or, the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The story, featuring a young innocent woman and her sexual encounters as a prostitute, includes menage, orgies, voyeurism, flagellation and non-consent fantasies.
After reading de Sade and Cleland, I didn’t find the idea of a BDSM club set in a historical so far-fetched. (Actually, nothing I can think of can come close to the stuff de Sade wrote in The 120 Days of Sodom, which was required reading in my political philosophy class in college.) I had a lot of fun researching what was possible, and the prevailing norms of society back then only adds more tension to the erotic elements.
If you’re curious to read an erotic historical romance, you can get a free copy of my book, Punishing Miss Primrose, here. It starts off steamy but gets more wickedly wanton as it progresses.
About Punishing Miss Primrose
The Marquess of Carey intends to provide Miss Primrose a set-down she will never forget after what she did to his brother at the Inn of the Red Chrysanthemum, where members indulge in illicit pleasures. He entices the wicked harlot to spend a sennight at his estate. But when Miss Primrose enflames his passions, will she prove too hot for him to handle?
Get your free copy here!
*’Kinky’ may be far too tame a word to describe de Sade’s writings, which many find extremely disturbing.
Sunday, January 15th, 2017
Greetings, Delilah fans…
Today I’m sharing a sexy excerpt from my brand-new release, the erotic romance Hollywood Honkytonk. It’s a full-length novel starring Jack, a rising Hollywood star, and Riley, a country songwriter on the run from her douchebag ex. Together, Jack and Riley dodge paparazzi and battle their insecurities, finding love and lust in La La Land.
Hollywood Honkytonk is a standalone read and book two in my Kings of California series. These steamy books star the Lamont brothers, three sun-kissed boys from the Golden State. The Beach Boys may have sung about California girls, but let me tell you…California boys? *sigh* Just as dreamy.
To celebrate the release of Hollywood Honkytonk, I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of book one in the series, Deep Down. I’m also giving away a travel sized tube of “Better Than Sex” mascara from Two Faced. Is it really better than sex? I’ll let you decide. You can enter the giveaway below.
Thanks for reading!
Excerpt from Hollywood Honkytonk…
“Tell me something,” she said.
She shut her eyes, feeling like a high schooler. “Have you been thinking about me?”
“I usually prefer the truth. As a rule.”
“Every waking moment. I’m having trouble keeping on task. Spacing out in the middle of interviews.” When she giggled, he feigned offense. “Don’t laugh at me. It’s bad.”
“What have you been thinking about?”
His voice sobered. “You’re a good girl, Riley. You don’t want to know what I’ve been thinking about.”
Riley turned off her bedside lamp and slid down deeper into the covers. “Tell me.”
“Are you serious?”
She’d never had phone sex. “Do you want to know what I’m wearing?”
“I don’t care what you’re wearing,” he said. “You’re naked underneath. That’s all that matters.”
Riley laughed softly. “So tell me.”
He said nothing for a long time. She heard his breathing over the phone, soft and even. “All right, if you really want to know.” His voice got deeper, hardening into dominance. “Do what I tell you. Everything. Understand?”
Her heartbeat sped up. “Yes.”
“Close your eyes. Touch two fingertips to your lips. Rub them back and forth—slowly. Very slowly.”
She did it. The intimate touch forced her to focus. Her fingertips were warm and dry. Her lips were delicate, filled with nerve endings that tingled as she brushed her skin gently, back and forth like he said.
“Those are my fingers,” he said. “I’m touching your mouth. I’m there with you.”
And like magic, in Riley’s brain, Jack appeared in her bed. Stretched out beside her, propped up on one elbow, looking down on her as he touched her lips.
“What are you wearing?” she whispered.
“What’s this obsession with clothing?” A little impatience touched his words. “Nothing. I’m fucking naked. Can you picture that?”
God, could she.
“Focus, sweetheart,” he said. “Are you still touching your lips?”
“Good girl. Open your mouth slowly. Just a little. Press your thumb right in the middle of your lips.”
She did it.
“Now,” he said. “Rub the tip of your tongue against your thumb. Lick it. Make it wet.”
Jack’s voice filled the darkness. Heat suffused her body, gathering between her legs. Her pussy tingled as she licked her thumb. The light salt of her own skin made her mouth water.
“Rub that wetness over your bottom lip for me. Make it smooth and slippery.”
She dragged the wet tip of her thumb over the sensitive flesh.
“Are your eyes still closed?” he asked.
“Yes.” She struggled for breath, turned-on beyond all logic.
“Good,” he whispered. His voice was rough. “That’s my cock. Right there. Sliding along your pretty pink lips. Imagine it. Can you taste me, gorgeous?” Deep under the power of his voice, Riley heard the faint sound of him unbuckling his belt and pulling down his fly. “You make me so fucking hard, sweetheart.”
Her imagination went wild. Jack sitting in the shadows, slouched in an arm chair, shirtsleeves rolled back, his big dick in his hand—the image summoned a fresh rush of heat between Riley’s legs. She moaned. He was thousands of miles away. How did he make her feel this way?
“Now take off your clothes,” he commanded.
Can their love survive the limelight?
With nothing but her dog, her guitar, and her cowboy boots, songwriter Riley Marion arrives in Los Angeles on the run from her abusive ex. A quiet job teaching music sounds perfect, but her low-key lifestyle is threatened when she reunites with a sexy old flame—now an up-and-coming celebrity who’s constantly dogged by paparazzi.
Charming and driven, Jack Lamont is a Hollywood actor on the rise to stardom. Ready to outgrow his playboy reputation, he’s happy to leave the hard partying to his entourage. Romantic entanglements? Jack’s not interested. At least, not until he gets tangled up with the one who got away—a smoking-hot woman whose memory has haunted him for the last ten years.
Available in e-Book & Print
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About the Author
Award-winning author Mia Hopkins writes lush romances starring fun, sexy characters who love to get down and dirty. She’s a sucker for working class heroes, brainy heroines and wisecracking best friends. She lives in the heart of Los Angeles with her roguish husband and waggish dog.
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SPECIAL RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY
Would you like to win a signed print copy of Deep Down and a travel sized tube of “Better Than Sex ” mascara from Two Faced? Enter the Rafflecopter by clicking here.
Friday, January 13th, 2017
Elite Metal and Elite Ghosts are two HUGE labors of love that a group of my favorite people and I put together over the last three years. It’s a shared world of three groups of military men and women brought back from the “dead” to catch a wolf. Red Wolf. Revenge against the baddest of the bad is what drives them, and to take back the lives he stole from each of them.
Elite Elements will be the final book in this epic trilogy. This is the story of the men and women who saved Elite Metal on the snow covered ground in Moscow. These are the men and women from around the world who don’t exist and pulled Elite Ghosts into the shadows with them. These are the soldiers who gave up everything to take down a wolf. And in this book…everything you thought you knew reaches the point of no return.
Elite Elements will be here in February. I. Can’t. Fucking. Wait.
In case you haven’t found Elite Metal and Elite Ghosts yet….let me blow your mind. http://www.jenniferkacey.com/books/elite-metal.html
For decades the US Marines funded a top-secret unit known as Elite Recon. A deadly group of men and women sent to infiltrate dozens of countries completely undetected. Mission objectives so extreme casualties were not only probable, but expected.
The current batch of operatives had returned from hundreds of assignments unscathed…until one mission went horribly wrong. Several men lost their lives and the group disbanded. The remaining leathernecks were scattered in the wind with new identities. They were told to blend in. Be normal. Or face being forever silenced just like their fallen brothers.
Now, two years later, each living member of the group is kidnapped and given a chance to make things right. But this time they’re no longer under the thumb of Uncle Sam. A mysterious private backer who knows about their past has brought them back together. No longer are they forced to turn a blind eye to the lost and forsaken.
Duty is their salvation.
A new life. A new future…Elite Metal.
Amazon Buy Link
Then we have Elite Ghosts… http://www.jenniferkacey.com/books/elite-ghosts.html
For more than two years they’ve been ghosts. Nothing but names on empty tombstones. Men and women forced to fade into the background after being pulled from the rubble. Dead Marines saved from a fate worse than death, but ordered to stand down while their lives disappeared all around them.
Some knew it could happen if a mission exploded. Double crossed by more than just Red Wolf. But now is their time to be reborn from the flames of a Phoenix. No longer imprisoned in the shadows. A half-life between them and their future. To make things right coming back to life is their only option.
Loyalty is their salvation but damage is always more than skin deep.
A new hope. A new family. Elite Ghosts.
Amazon Buy Link
In honor of the above awesomeness I’m going to have a HUGE giveaway! Three print books and lots and lots of other swag and kinky goodies! Plus a mug and tea and a pretty WIP bag to hold it all!
**GIVEAWAY – US ONLY**
Look at all the awesomeness you could win!! So tell me if you’ve ever read any of the Elite Warrior stories!! And if you have – what you’re most looking forward to in Elements!!
I’ll pick a winner on Monday the 16th!! Good Luck!!
About the Author
Jennifer Kacey is a writer, mother, and business owner living with her miniman in Texas. She sings in the shower, plays piano in her dreams, and has to have a different color of nail polish every week. The best advice she’s ever been given? Find the real you and never settle for anything less.
Website – Newsletter – The Decadent Divas– Amazon Page
Facebook – Facebook Author Page – Twitter – Goodreads – Pinterest
Thursday, January 12th, 2017
Hello Delilah readers,
I’m so excited to be joining you here today. I’m Megan Westfield and I know Delilah through a group of female military veterans who write romantic fiction. (Thanks for the opportunity, Delilah!). My very first book, Lessons in Gravity, came out in October and is a new-adult rock-climbing romance set in Yosemite National Park.
Since we’re just a week past the new year, resolutions are still strong on my brain. For me, it seems like the meeting of resolutions always comes down to time: the fact that there is never enough of it. As an author who has a day job and two young children to care for, there’s no way I’d be able to get everything done if not for multitasking, and one of most effective ways I multitask is by doubling up my workouts with other things.
So whether you’re a person has resolved to be more active in 2017, or a person who is amply active wants to eek out more time in the day to focus on other resolutions, here are a few ideas for multitasking your workouts.
- Listen to an audio book.
All of us Delilah blog subscribers all have this in common: we love to read. My suggestion is to play an audio book on your phone, grab a pair of earphones, and head out the door for a walk. Or go ride a stationary bike. Or hit the bouldering wall at the climbing gym. This concept can be combined with many of the suggestions below for triple-tasking credit. J
- Workout on your lunch break.
This has been a habit of mine since my military days when I’d combine my allotted workout time with my lunch break so I could do a long road bike ride or go swimming at the base pool. Some private companies offer a fitness perk similar to this, but if your company isn’t one of these, an hour lunch break is plenty of time for a 30-40 minute cardio workout with a shower afterward. Alternately, if you have a shorter lunch break or don’t have access to a shower, you could do a low-impact workout: one where you don’t get drenched in sweat and therefore don’t need to change clothes beforehand or shower afterward (ex., going for a walk, or doing high-repetition, low-weight strength training).
- Walk your errands
I do not live in what is considered a “walkable” neighborhood, but there is a strip mall about a mile from our house with good sidewalks the whole way. I save time by making the day’s workout be a walk down to the grocery store to grab a few things for the evening’s dinner, or to run a different errand at one of the other stores.
- Take your kids on your workouts
For me, this means using a double jogging stroller, or carrying one kid on my back and pushing the other in a single jogging stroller. Kids love to be outside and joining in on parents’ activities, so not only are you doubling up on the tasks of taking care of children and getting some exercise, the kids are getting a “win” as well. My daughter is just old enough to start riding her strider bike alongside me, so this has been a fun variation for us. And don’t forget that many gyms offer free child care!
- Make your workouts a group activity
This is the same principle as #4, but instead of taking your kids, you arrange to meet up with a friend for a workout rather than of doing something sedentary. The multitasking element is that you’re having fun and maintaining connections while also being active. My best conversations with friends happen during long jogs and walks! Triple up by meeting with a friend for a weekday lunch-walk.
- Walk or jog your errands with kids in tow
This combination of #3 and #4 is a triple-tasking method that I do almost daily. Since my kids are small enough to ride in a stroller, the basket in the bottom comes in handy for holding groceries or other goods, but a backpack works just as well. If you live somewhere that’s truly un-walkable, you can always drive to an area that is, like a nice park that adjoins shopping area.
Let’s get a conversation going so we can share even more ways to gain more time by doubling up daily tasks with workouts. See below!
All eyes are on Josh Knox…
Fearless. Guarded. Cut-to-perfection. Daredevil rock climber. The best in the world.
This time he’s poised to scale Yosemite’s notoriously treacherous Sorcerer Spire, with Walkabout Media & Productions filming every move.
April Stephens’s dream to be a documentary filmmaker rests on her acing her internship with Walkabout, and that means getting the abrasive Josh to give her more than one-word answers in his interviews.
The problem is, with every step forward professionally, she and Josh are also taking a step forward personally, and after watching her stunt pilot father die in a fiery crash, a guy who risks his life for a living is the last person she should be falling for. Especially because in one month her internship will have them dangling three thousand feet in the air from the side of the Sorcerer. She’ll be filming. He’ll be climbing without a rope.
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About the Author
Megan Westfield has dabbled in many hobbies and pastimes over the years, ranging from playing the cello to cake decorating (i.e., icing-eating) to a dozen different outdoor adventure sports. Eventually, she discovered the only way to do it all was though writing—her first and strongest passion. She grew up in Washington state, attended college in Oregon, and lived in Virginia, California, and Rhode Island during her five years as a navy officer. Megan is now a permanent resident of San Diego where she and her husband count family beach time with their two young kids as an adventure sport.
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Post a comment below about how you double up daily tasks with workouts (or write about a fitness barrier you find especially challenging) and I’ll enter you in a drawing for an e-copy of Lessons in Gravity at the end of the week. Triple-tasking suggestions welcomed, too!
Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
January 2017! A new year and new adventures, hopefully good ones, await us. Best of all, for the not so good days, we’ve got books! Reading takes us away from the present moment and immerses us in pleasure. My mission today is to provide a time of reading pleasure for you.
One of my personal favorites in writing and reading romance is a steamy historical. Men wielding swords, their warrior bodies muscled and scarred—whew, what’s not to like? More than the allure of warriors, though, I enjoy being transported to another time and place. Plus there’s the actual glimpse of history—what did our ancestors face in their struggle to survive? How did the relationship between a man and woman differ from what we experience now?
All those ideas and more course through a writer’s thoughts as she creates a historical romance. For myself, reading actual history or other works of historical fiction helps put me in the mood as well as instructs me on details I need to make my story rich and factual. In the story below, for example, I had read Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series, which I highly recommend. This series is popular, so you can usually find it in your local library.
Here’s the opening scene to my story, “The Dane’s Bride.” And here’s a coupon code WQ54S you can use to get the rest of the story FREE at Smashwords. (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/610250)
Aetherlin stared at the man through the leaping flames of the firepit. Hrald, Jarl of Dunholm. Her hands clenched in want of a weapon. Taut muscle quivered in her legs, eager for escape. Breath hitched in her throat.
Fire cast his shadow to the far wall as if he were a denizen of Hell itself, his tall frame looming and pale eyes glittering in the orange-red reflection. He wore fitted leather leggings and an open vest over his muscled chest. Lengths of dark hair brushed his wide shoulders. Gold bands wrapped his biceps and forearms, badges of his prowess in battle and the respect of his tribesmen. His forehead creased in his determined expression, although the quirk of his cruel mouth bespoke lascivious thoughts. About her. And what he would do to her.
In spite of the message of anger and resistance she sent with her glare, he did not relent in his survey of her. His gaze lingered over her red marriage dress with its scrolling needlework and golden thread. Her attending lady had wept as she dressed her in the clothing ordered by her father Aetherwulf, Earldorman of Gloucestershire. These were not garments Aetherlin would have chosen, cut low to reveal the curve of her breasts to present her body as if a fattened goose. But then, she would not have chosen this day, this man. Or perhaps any man at all.
“Loose your hair, maid,” Hrald commanded, his deep voice echoing through the empty hall.
Her body stiffened. Again she thought to refuse, to turn and run. But the great hall had been emptied and the door barred. She had been given to him, to be his chattel just as the hall itself, the trenchers and tables, the servants moving in the adjacent kitchens and storerooms, his pledged warriors and lesser vassals going about their evening tasks in the courtyard, the stables. Who was she, a mere woman, to fight off this hardened warrior?
In a fury, she yanked off the narrow silver band holding the linen scarf and flung them to the floor. Her thick braid took more time as her numb fingers combed through the long wavy strands, separating and spreading them over her shoulders and chest. Golden glints of firelight reflected on the red-blonde hair. Aetherlin could not look at him, but she knew his gaze stayed on her—it burned like coals on her skin.
He said nothing for a time. The fire’s crackle barely matched the noise of her heart thudding in her ears. Did he mean to possess her here, in the public hall?
“Now the dress,” he demanded.
His voice had taken a husky tone. That recognition startled her. She wished it did not matter whether he cared about what she did. Surely he did not want her, but rather embraced the power, lands, and wealth that came with the marriage. Still, his reaction caused her to flush.
Her glance flew to his face. What did he intend, forcing her to undress in the main hall? Anyone could enter, even though he had dismissed them all. Would he shame her? What man treated his bride so coarsely?
A fiend, that’s who, she answered her own question. A filthy, bloodthirsty Dane.
His eyes had narrowed and his body leaned slightly forward so that the spiraling patterns carved into his leather vest picked up more of the fire’s light and seemed to move of their own accord. Likewise, the inked design of dragons rippled over his muscled arms as if alive. His dark hair brushed at his wide shoulders, casting his clean-shaven jaw in shadow.
Why did he not simply rip down her clothes like the ravening beast he was? The sudden thought of such an act caused her heart to leap against her ribs. Her fingers stumbled at the clasps. The heavy woolen dress fell to the floor around her ankles. She stood in the linen shift, waiting, her breath shallow and fast.
“Do you think I wish only to see your undergarments?” he questioned in a hard voice.
“I think you wish to lower me, so that I am the least of all possible things,” she snapped back. “Expose me to your savage acts, like a village girl at the hands of your men.”
Today I sit in the snow-clad wilds of the Ozark Mountains watching the woods with my cats and hound dogs snuggled near the wood stove. I’ve been writing my entire life and can’t express how wonderful it is to share stories with readers like you. Nab more of my exciting romance short stories, novellas, and novels at your favorite bookseller.
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