Wednesday, 27 April 2016

On Offer Until the End of the Week



I may not have mentioned that right now I'm in the middle of writing the second book in this series. If Love had Wings is the story of Daniel, the Archangel who is Matt's Agent, and Roni, Ginny's best friend.

I promise there are more fireworks ahead in this book and more history between these two than you can imagine. Here's a little snippet to give you a hint of what's to come.





Bright neon lights cut through the darkness. The man she’d avoided stood right by the doorway, arms crossed over his broad chest as though he was waiting for someone. He turned his fierce gaze on her. Waiting for her.
He’d disposed of his suit jacket, tugged his pink tie loose and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt to expose his muscled forearms. An ethereal glow bounced from his white cotton shirt and in the violet incandescence, a halo shimmered over his blond head.
The breath caught in her throat as memories pushed into her mind and stabbed another sharp pain into her head.
He tilted his head to one side, a flicker of a smile danced on his lips. “Roni. Hi. I thought you might have escaped me before we had a chance to talk.”

Escape? Who was he?

If you haven't already bought Banshee Seduction, now's your chance. Until the end of the week, my publisher has reduced the price.

Buy Links



Monday, 18 April 2016

WOULD YOU BELIEVE? A NOMINATION FOR THE RONE AWARDS




To my absolute delight, I found out the other day that Banshee Seduction has been nominated for a RONE Award. Such thrilling news.

Voting for the next round starts today and lasts a week, so I'd really appreciate every single vote I get for this, my paranormal dragon shape-shifter story.

http://www.indtale.com/2016-rone-awards-week-one

If you haven't read it and you'd like to, here's a little taster.

Blurb

Sweet, shy librarian Ginny has a problem. Whenever passion strikes, so do the weeping, wailing voices in her head. Being half banshee, she’s already run screaming from the underworld and her female relatives, believing love will find a way with patience and faith on planet Earth.
The trouble is, humans just aren’t man enough, and every time Ginny shows interest in a male, she makes him bleed. It’s going to take more than just a simple human being to get past Ginny’s defenses.
Matthew, “The Dane,” fullback for the New York Chameleons, knows the moment he meets the little fireball that she’s his mate. For two hundred years he and his dragon have waited for a female capable of setting their world on fire. Problem is, he doesn’t seem to be able to stop her from going up in flames long enough to prove he’s more than man enough for her screaming banshee.
Will Matt ever be able to convince Ginny she’s his mate? And will Ginny get Matt alone long enough to let him appreciate her pyrotechnics?

Excerpt

“There are no such things as dragons.” She spoke into the silence, and the voices simpered sarcastically in her head.

“Nor banshees.”

“No such thing as vampires.”

“Archangels aren’t real.”

If it was all they could contribute, they could just… “Shut up.”

Quiet, sneaky laughter filled her mind in response to her vicious snarl and annoyed the hell out of her.

Resolved, she stood, walked to the curtains and whipped them open, coming face-to-face with the giant dragon through the windowpane. His sea-green eyes, filled with soft appeal, stared straight into hers.

Her hand was on the door before she even consciously thought about it; she clicked the lock and opened the door wide. The dragon lurched, and she skipped back. Squashed Ginny was not on the menu—she hoped. The dragon coughed, and a small ball of fire skimmed over her, heating her flesh as though it had stroked her. Barbecued Ginny might be another matter.

“Ginny.” Voice rusty and coarse, the dragon slavered as its mouth opened, and she was treated to another view of its white, pointy teeth when it tried again. “Ginny. It’s me—Matthew.”

He folded his wings in, took a step forward, and stumbled. No idea what possessed her, she rushed toward him, held up her hand, and placed it on his scaled chest, just to have it skim off again. She looked at her palm. Clear fluid coated it. She leaned in, took a sniff, and the scent of baby oil filled her nostrils.

“Matt?”

“Yeah.”

“What happened?”

The dragon form shrugged, hung his head in pitiful shame, and coaxed a small gurgle of laughter from her. If she was dreaming, she might as well have fun. His head came back up; his sea-green gaze pinned her.

“I think someone spiked my drink.”

Sympathy unfurled, and she wiped the baby oil onto her pajama top before raising her hand to stroke his face.

His deep voice grumbled. “I don’t feel so good.”

She took a rapid step back. “You don’t look too good, either. You’re a bit green around the gills.”

He snorted. A tiny flame puffed out of his nostrils. “I’m supposed to be green…and purple.”

She leaned in for a closer look. “You seem more green than purple to me.”

He opened his wings wide, making her move back, shuffled, folded them in, and settled again, a tremor running through his body.

“Ginny, can I stay here?”

“I…”

“Please.”

How could she resist the appeal in his wide green eyes and the flutter of his exceptionally long black eyelashes? She stepped back and opened the door as far as she could to allow him in. If it was a sugar high causing the monster mirage, then that was okay. Also, a dream was acceptable.

Tempted to dash forward and wrap her arms around him, she watched him duck low and stagger precariously as he crossed over her living room. Dreams shouldn’t be this vivid. 

Perhaps she’d had a brain hemorrhage.

Well, who was she to argue with any one of those three scenarios? She had an enormous, beautiful dragon in her apartment, and if she was in a sugar-induced coma, she was going to make the most of it.

“Can I use your bed?” His deep voice boomed in her small lounge.

She flicked her hand in the direction of her bedroom and didn’t know whether to move out of the way or run to help as he swayed, a definite green hue rising up his neck. Figment of her imagination or not, there was no way she was allowing it to turn into a nightmare. She slapped a hand on her waist and shot out a hip, tilting her head to
one side, and just so there was no mistake, she wagged a finger at him like she was telling teenagers to be quiet in the library.

“If you hurl in my apartment, you can clean it up yourself.”

“Okay.”

As pathetic and remorseful as he sounded, she wondered if she’d treated the monster too harshly. Sympathy blossomed in her chest. She heaved a sigh and gestured for him to continue.

He weaved his way through the opposite doorway, forced to dip his head low again. She stood motionless while she wondered whether to go after him. A loud whump followed by a resounding crunch decided her as she rushed through to check the damage.


Aghast, she stared at the eleven-foot dragon who’d face-planted her bed, making three of the four legs collapse, and leaving it to sprawl at a drunken angle. The pretty pink daisies adorning her duvet cover looked strangely in keeping with his vibrant green as though the mystical creature had fallen from a book into a field of flowers.


To Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble

Friday, 8 April 2016

Then Came You - New Release from Marianne Rice


Title: THEN CAME YOU
Author: Marianne Rice
Series: The Wilde Sisters, Book #2
Thyme Wilde doesn’t make long-term decisions—until she falls in love with one… 

Easily bored and quickly distracted, Thyme enjoys her freedom, so being a temp at her sister’s company is the perfect job. But when she takes a position as a nanny, she instantly falls in love with the five-year-old princess named Maddie—and just two months later, Maddie’s parents are killed in a plane crash, leaving Thyme in an unfamiliar role of responsibility. 

Multi-millionaire architect Grayson Montgomery lives in the lap of luxury—but at a cost… 

Being the sole heir of his family’s fashion empire and his father’s architectural firm, Grayson has never lacked for anything. But in return, he must stay subservient to the matriarch of his family—his grandmother—and date the heiress of their largest business partner. The only freedom Grayson has is his architectural designs, which are his true passion. 

One day changes Grayson’s future forever… 

A lawyer summons Grayson to Maine for the reading of the will of a woman he once knew. He doesn’t expect to be named the father of a five-year-old orphan. Then he meets his newly-discovered daughter—and her incredibly sexy nanny. 

While acting as Maddie’s loyal nanny, Thyme develops feelings for her new employer that are more than professional. And after several passionate nights with Grayson, it’s clear the feeling is mutual. 

When it’s made evident Grayson sees her as a convenient placeholder, Thyme must push aside her desires and put Maddie above herself—even if it means sacrificing her heart to do it.


|| PURCHASE ||



|||||| THE WILDE SISTERS ||||||
SWEET ON YOU, Book 1


|| ABOUT THE AUTHOR ||

Marianne Rice writes contemporary romances set in small New England towns. Her heroes are big and strong, yet value family and humor, while her heroines are smart, sexy, sometimes a little bit sassy, and are often battling a strong internal conflict. Together, they deal with real life issues and always, always, find everlasting love. When she’s not writing, Marianne spends her time buying shoes, eating chocolate, chauffeuring her herd of children to their varying sporting events, and when there’s time, cuddling with her husband, a drink in one hand, a romance book in the other.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Round Trip Fare by Barb Taub

Round Trip Fare, the newest book in Barb Taub's Null City series, is now available on Amazon for preorder.

**Although a sequel to Book 1 (One Way Fare), this is the stand alone story of twins Carey and Connor Parker.

 


Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-1563x2500


Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders— and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably. Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the powers of her warrior gift and fight a war she can’t win, in a world where she never learned how to lose. 

And then there is… him. 

For the past two months, a dark stranger has persistently edged his way onto the mental game board behind her eyelids. Well, whatever trouble he's selling, Carey Parker is not buying. Her to-do list is already long enough: find her brother and sister, rescue her roommate, save Null City, and castrate her ex-boyfriend. Preferably with a dull-edged garden tool. A rusty one. She just has a few details to work out first. Her parents have been killed, her brother and sister targeted, and the newest leader of the angels trying to destroy Null City might be the one person she loves most in the world. And her sexy new partner’s gift lets him predict deaths. Hers.

   
  • TITLE: Round Trip Fare
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy (okay and there is humor, romance, a sentient train, a great dog, and bunch of other stuff—but Amazon only gives you a couple of words to pick genre, so...)
  • Series: Null City [NOTE: prequel One Way Fare is now available FREE from Barnes & Noble and Kobo, and the kindle version directly from Barb) but this book works as standalone.
  • Release date: 7 April, 2016

Contact & Buy Links

Blog | Facebook | Twitter: @barbtaub | Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

Barb pix 300 dpi

Barb Taub:

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she's lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them traveling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

EXCERPT:
Was it wrong that shooting people was so much easier than finishing up the humanities requirements for her criminal justice degree? Carey Parker sipped her coffee and—not for the first time—wondered about herself. But the Agency said this would be an easy one. A quick pickup and she wouldn’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably.
There were two distinct advantages to her corner table at the rear of the self-consciously artistic coffee shop on the edge of Seattle’s eclectic Fremont district. Nobody could see her screen, and—infinitely more important—she had sole possession of the outlet currently charging both iPad and phone. She checked her iPad’s video screen to make sure the blonde teen she was tracking still had no idea she was being studied. Well, okay—studied along with the research materials for Carey’s overdue Humanities 201 essay. “Discuss the relationship of capitalism and patriarchal post constructivist theory. Provide data and cite literature supporting your thesis.” She squinted at the assignment, minimized to parallel the video window, and cringed.
Enlarging the video, Carey automatically evaluated her target. The teenager was a few inches under Carey’s own five-five. But where Carey’s cargo pants and hoodie hid a leanly muscled frame and a surprising number of weapons, the other girl’s designer Goth outfit made the most of her soft curves. Plus that pink streak in the younger girl’s hair was a little too shiny, her dark eyeliner a bit too creamy, while her wannabe goth leather jacket, fitted black T-shirt, and long dark skirt screamed Nordstrom personal shopper and Daddy’s credit card.
A lifetime of training—three years at the Academy, four more in the field—and they send me after Goth-Barbie. Carey sighed. Is it even worth it? But a flash memory—her guardian Harry’s blood-drenched golden hair, the almost-forgotten faces of her murdered parents, her missing brother and sister—stopped her. If she had a prayer of finding Gaby and Connor, she couldn’t afford to give up the all-important info access the Agency jobs provided. And then there was…him. For the past two months, the dark stranger had persistently edged his way onto the mental game board behind her eyelids where her harmonia gift visualized connections only she could view. Whatever trouble Mr. Six-Feet-Plus of arrogance is selling, I’m sure not buying.
“Excuse me. Do you need both outlets?”
Carey looked up to see the blonde standing in front of her, expectantly holding up her power cord. “Yes.” She returned her focus to the iPad screen, ignoring the muttered “bitch” as the girl went over to try her smile on the men two tables over. Her reversed video window showed the younger girl breathlessly thanking the man who leaped to free up an outlet for her. As she leaned over their table, the men’s eyes lit with appreciation for the way she maximized scoop-neck T-shirt, youth, and the best technology the foundations industry had to offer. Guess there’s all kinds of ways to say thank you.
Shrugging, Carey returned to her own essay assignment. Her business partner, Marley, was pushing her to finish the degree that would let them bill the Agency at a higher rate. But at twenty-four Carey felt a generation older than her fellow students. With her erratic hours, she had to take classes offering online options whenever possible, so she was currently sentenced to Humanities 201: Postmodernist Applications for Economic Themes in Literature.
“What took you so long? I’ve been waiting here for ages.”
At the sex-kitten whine, Carey’s eyes flicked back to the little video window to see the other girl pouting up at a new arrival. But her complaints didn’t stop her from giving the young man—a boy, really, although Marley’s data sheet said he was nineteen—a thorough tonsil cleaning. Pulling away, he threw himself into a dramatic slouch across the next chair, giving Carey her first good look at him. He was thin, but more like an adolescent whose slender arms and legs had yet to develop a man’s solid outlines. His pale fallen-angel face sulked behind long hair too carefully slashed and tossed over one eye to be accidental. He looked, Carey thought, beautiful and brooding and more than a little stupid. Score!
Pretending to check her phone, Carey took a quick picture of the boy and texted it along with the address of the coffee shop. It had only been a few days since he’d left home and stopped showing up at his classes or part-time job. Too little time for the police to be concerned, but long enough for his frantic parents to agree to her search fee. Setting the phone aside, she adjusted her video window to give him a critical once-over. But he didn’t seem any more pale or unhealthy than would be explained by devotion to the laptop he was even now pulling out and opening.
“Get me a coffee?” He didn’t look up from his laptop as he spoke. The girl pouted again but bounced off. Returning with a cup for each of them, she leaned forward to lay a gentle hand on his arm. “Is your poem cycle done yet?” The boy shook his head impatiently, fingers tapping at his laptop’s keyboard. She smiled. “Don’t worry. Now that I’m here, it will go so much better.” He blinked, and shivered. She breathed in and smiled again. His typing increased, his face intent on the screen.
Carey flipped the cover down on her iPad, rewound its power cable as well as the one for her phone, and stored them in their specially padded—okay, armored—case. The Apple people had been incredibly nice about that last bullet incident, but she could just hear Marley explaining, again, how their little company couldn’t afford to keep buying her new iPads. Setting the case into the backpack hanging behind her corner chair, Carey leaned both elbows on the table, peering over the brim of her raised coffee cup. Excellent coffee, she decided. Wonder if they roast it themselves?
Finally the two men, the only other customers in the secluded rear room, stood up and left. She took a final look around at the coffee shop’s rear seating area—one door, no windows or other access—and left to talk to the barista in the front room of the coffee shop. Twenty dollars later, Carey taped a handwritten sign—“Rear room reserved for private meeting”—to the outside of the door. Stepping back inside the room, empty now except for the younger couple, she closed the door behind her and stopped in front of the boy.
“Your mother is worried about you, Will.” His automatic sneer came a fraction too late to cover his stunned expression. Before he could speak, she turned to the girl. “It’s time to go, Leigh Ann.”
“The name is Leannán.”
Carey laughed. “Well, Leannán Sí…” She pronounced each Gaelic syllable with exaggerated care, L’ann-AN Shee. “Since you refuse to honor the Accords Agreement, the Council feels it’s time for you to go to Null City. Let’s go. I have a class this afternoon, and I don’t want to be late again.”
The boy started to stand, trying to look tough, but only managing to achieve the ferocity of a puppy protecting his favorite chew toy. “We don’t have to go anywhere with you. Get your stuff, Leigh Ann. We’re outta here.”
“Actually.” Carey’s voice was quiet. “You’re half right.” Her hand shot out and pressed his stomach. “You don’t need to go with me.” His breath whooshed out, and all three looked down at the tiny needle as she pulled her hand back. A moment later, his legs buckled, and Carey guided his falling body back down to his chair. He slumped there, head hanging awkwardly.
Leigh Ann stared from Will to Carey, eyes round. “Is he…?”
“He’s fine.” Carey turned to the girl and pointed to her corner table. “Sit. And don’t even think about talking.”
Carey checked the boy’s pulse and nodded to herself in relief. As a young witch, her friend Claire’s sleep spells wore off pretty quickly because she had to boil down the spelled water to make it take effect so fast. He’d probably just wake up with a hell of a headache. She arranged his head on his arms as if he was taking a quick nap in front of his laptop. In an afterthought, she picked up his fedora from the floor and pulled it onto his head, hiding his face.
Returning to the scowling girl at her table, she took a small book of forms from her backpack and started filling out the top page.
“You can’t just—” Leigh Ann sputtered.
Without looking up Carey showed her the hand. “What did I tell you not to do?” The girl fidgeted for another minute as Carey frowned at the form in front of her. Finally she looked up. “How old are you again?”
“Nineteen. And I don’t…”
Carey shook a warning finger without looking up. “I hate these Accords forms. You have to make sure you fill in every last blank or those badgers in accounting will hold up your check.” She made a final note, put the notebook away, and pulled out her phone to check the time. “They should be here by now. Must be that damn bridge traffic.”
“Who?”
Carey jerked her head toward the next table. “Sleeping Beauty’s parents. I’ve found it best to collect my fee on the spot. People’s memories tend to…fade…otherwise.”
“Wait.” Leigh Ann sounded indignant. “You were hired to find Will?”
“Nah, he was just a bonus. One of his friends told the Agency that he’d disappeared with a Leannán Sí. I used him to find you because I have an authorized ARC warrant for you.”
“ARC?”
“Accords Recovery and Capture.” When the girl still looked confused, Carey sighed. “Amateurs. I’m an Accords Warden licensed for paranormal recoveries, and I’m serving an ARC warrant in your name. That reminds me.” She rooted through the pocket of her backpack for the laminated card and set her phone camera to video. Centering the camera view screen on Leigh Ann’s face, she pushed record, and began to read the card. “By the authority of Accords Agency warrant number 110309A57, I charge you, Leigh Ann—” Pausing, she looked over to the form she’d filled out before returning to the card. “—Leigh Ann Shay, a practicing Leannán Sí, to accompany me to the Council Headquarters. If you request a hearing, you are entitled to representation. Otherwise, you are sentenced to five years of Null City residency without an amnesty day. This recovery and your rights are specified in Amendment 3, sections 7-18 of the Accords Agreement of 1998. The current time is 15:57 on March 7, 2011. Carey Parker, Accords Adjunct Warden License 07823 class 3, submitting authorized Accords Recovery and Capture statement.” She turned off the camera and played back the recording. Satisfied, she uploaded it to Agency servers, put her phone and the card back into her backpack, and faced the girl.
Leigh Ann looked uncertain. “Null City?”
Carey looked at her curiously. “You don’t know about the City?”
“Yeah, and I know about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too. Come on. You really believe there’s a city you get to on a magic train, and after a day there you become a normal human?”
“Since my family founded it, yeah. I kinda do believe it.” She leaned back in her chair to consider the teenager in front of her. “You could have killed that boy, Leigh Ann. What could be worth his death?”
The girl widened soft blue eyes at her. “I’m a Leannán Sí. He’s a writer, and I would have given him an intense, brilliantly inspired life of creating masterpieces. So what if it would have been a short one? It’s got to be better to go as a blazing star than stay as a…” Her voice trailed off as a snore filtered from beneath the fedora.
“Did you give him a choice? Did you say to him, ‘Will, I’ll be your muse and give you lots of coffee-shop kissing although the actual sex won’t be that great, and there’s the whole die young thing… But you won’t mind because it will all be for your Art’?”
Leigh Ann frowned. “The sex wouldn’t have been that bad.”
Carey snorted. “And actually, that masterpiece he was producing?” She reached over to snag Will’s computer and pulled it around to face Leigh Ann. “First thing I did was put a keystroke tracker onto his laptop. And believe me, reading that drivel was almost as bad as my humanities essay. He copied most of it from last month’s Poetry!Slam online. Here’s what he was actually writing.” She selected Recent Documents on the laptop and opened the top file listed.
The younger girl’s eyes widened. “Fanfiction?” She peered at the screen and looked like she might be sick. “One Direction fanfiction?”
“Nothing wrong with fanfiction.” Carey raised an eyebrow. “We’ve all done it. But Will’s was…” She shuddered. “Really, really bad.” She looked curiously at the younger girl and waved at the snoring boy. “Why did you do it?”
Leigh Ann looked down at her clasped hands. “My parents were killed just before the war ended. When Haven and Gifts signed the Accords in 1995, I was sent to live with my father’s cousins. They had a little apple orchard up on the Olympic Peninsula, and there wasn’t much money. Everyone had to work pretty hard all the time, just to get food to eat and a few clothes. But I knew there was something different inside me. Something that would inspire beauty and genius and glorious creativity.”
Carey stared at her. “Well, that’s an entire pickup truck full of prime-quality manure.”
“Was it the farm?” Leigh Ann frowned. “The orphan bit?

 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Once Book One, by M.S. Kaye

Her first and also her once.

Jonathan and Rebecca’s paths cross at exactly the right moment, when each most needs to hear what the other has to say.
But Jonathan is three days from entering the priesthood, and Rebecca leaves him to his peace. But he is unable to find peace.
Without each other’s comfort and strength, they must each struggle to forge a new path, with only memories of the one day that changed everything.
But are they able to forget and let go?
Will be released July 2, 2016 from Inkspell Publishing.
Add to your to-read on Goodreads:  GOODREADS

Author Bio



M.S. Kaye has several published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at www.BooksByMSK.com.
To receive news on upcoming releases, sign up for email updates on her website.
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Once & Again, book two

Will be released September 4, 2016 from Inkspell Publishing.
She was once his secret desire…will she be again?
Father Aiden, an ex-marine and new priest, falls in love with Maylynn, but he struggles to stay away from her. He’s successful for many years, though he can’t keep her out of his dreams.
Then one day she shows up for a pre-marital counselling session with her fiancé, Davis. Aiden soon realizes Davis isn’t who he says he is, but what does that mean for Maylynn, and for himself?

Once & Forever, book three
Will be released December 2016 from Inkspell Publishing.
Eden, a nun, is constantly struggling against her dark past of living on the streets, and her attraction to Trace, an ex-convict farm worker. After a twelve-year separation, Eden is finally reunited with her brother, Thomas, but why hadn’t she reached out to him in all those years? As Eden and Trace grow closer, confessing their pasts to each other, will they be able to resist getting too close?



Excerpt from Once


“What’s the answer?”
He paused. “A switchblade.”
With my fingertips, I reached out and traced the scar across his cheek. “Did you win?”
He removed my hand and closed his eyes. “Yes.”
I slid his Book back to him. “This says we can find forgiveness.”
His eyes still closed, his jaw clenched. He bowed his head. “It also says ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
I took his hand in both of mine, petted his rough skin, and then brought it to my lips. He had a talent for guiding invisibly, but I didn’t know how to do that.
He watched me again. His eyes were intense, like the black of the night sky, and his forehead was furrowed, as if his emotions were scattered, as if he was shocked at my reaction, as if he had been sure his answer would drive me away. But I knew him. Already, I knew him.
“You’re still a good person,” I said.
His jaw clenched. “I’ve been trying to believe that.”
“I have faith in you.”
He continued to watch me. His forehead never smoothed, as if he was fighting for strength, but his eyes softened. He slid around the booth, closer to me.
I didn’t move, not sure what to do, what was right, what he wanted.
He leaned closer.
I only watched him.
He touched his lips to my cheek, the faintest pressure. I struggled to sit still, to keep my hands in my lap, not to grab hold of him. And then his lips were gone, such brief contact that I couldn’t be sure if he had actually kissed my cheek or if I wanted his contact so much that I’d imagined it.
He spoke in my ear. “You must be some kind of final test.”
My heart pounded into my ribs, against the point of the blade. “Are you going to pass?”
His lips brushed against my jaw. “I don’t know.”
He trailed to my neck, his mouth softly pressing. My hand curled into his hair, the other on his shoulder, holding, clutching. His mouth found mine, barely touching. His warmth invaded my head.
“God give me strength,” he murmured.
The door slid open, and the compartment filled with laughter.
He closed his eyes. Then he slid away from me.



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