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One more time, I’ll be giving away a Tradepaper copy of THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR to some lucky blogger. To enter into the drawing all you have to do is leave a comment and check back tomorrow to see if you have won. You must check back (my post announcing the winner will usually be under the post of the person blogging on Wednesday) in order to claim your prize and you must contact me personally. There are some exceptions. It is limited to the United States and it is void where prohibited.
And so, because I’m hoping to tempt you into reading this book, I’m posting an excerpt. So please come on in and leave a comment. Hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt.
THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR
By Karen Kay
Tradepaper Release Date April 7, 2015, Samhain Publishing
“You should not be here,” he said at last, even while he reached up to smooth back a wayward lock of her soft, pale hair.
“I know. I’m sorry if I disturbed you.”
“You did not disturb me. Though there be danger in your being here, I think it was meant to be.”
“Meant to be…here?”
“I cannot explain.”
She nodded, as though she understood perfectly. She glanced down, only to gasp. Her gaze flew to his, and he saw surprise as well as embarrassment there. At last, she understood that her gown hid none of her womanly secrets from him. Suddenly timid, she crossed her arms in front of her.
It made him grin. “It is too late for that, I fear.”
Color filled her cheeks, and he marveled again at the comeliness of her. “You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. I have thought so from the first moment you came to me, though it seems long ago.”
“Long ago?” Her glance danced off his. “I have come to you before?”
“Aa, it is true. But again, I cannot explain.”
She turned away then, and crouching, slid down into the water until it hid her body from his gaze. “I must return to my bath—to where I left my clothes…and I must dress at once. I’m sorry if I interrupted you.”
He nodded. “You did not interrupt me. As I said, you are a part of this. But come, you are right. I will accompany you.”
“No.” She spun around in the water, toward him. “No, I…I know my way, and it isn’t far. You see, I heard you singing, and I was…drawn to it.” She frowned, shaking her head. “I don’t know why. But…here I am.”
“Haa’he. Here you are.” He reached out again to touch a lock of her hair, the feel of those silky tresses erotic against his fingertips. “Morning sunshine,” he said after a time. “You are like a ray of morning sunshine. Pale and golden, and shimmering with life.”
“Really?” She gave him a shaky smile. “I… Thank you, but I really mustn’t be here with you, not like this. It is unbefitting a lady.”
“Haa’he, that it is. Go.” He raised his chin, nodding her on in the direction of her private pool. “But you should know, I think, that your state of dress is only ‘unbefitting’ if the lady be unmarried.”
“Unmarried?” She frowned. “But we are not married.”
“Yet.” He smiled. “You should add the word ‘yet’ when you say that.”
She exhaled loudly, narrowing her brows. “Why do you say this?”
“Because it is true. We are not married yet.”
“And we will probably never be.” Her frown deepened, and she turned away from him without another word.
He smiled as he watched her float away.
Just as she was putting distance between them, she stopped suddenly, turned around, and said, “Are you, by chance, asking me to marry you?”
He didn’t answer right away. Instead, he followed her into the water and grabbed one of her hands, where he outstretched it and placed it against his own, palm to palm, fingers entwined. “Do you see how your hand fits closely to mine?”
Eyes wide, she nodded.
“So it could be with us. Just as our fingers match perfectly, one to the other, there is a part of you that is a part of me. Maybe that is why you were drawn here.” He glanced down at her.
“I…I…don’t understand. I thought that you didn’t like me very much. I mean, I know I can be bossy, and I understand that this annoys you. Besides, it has not escaped my notice that you avoid my touch, and that each time I am close to you, you back away from me. Tell me, if not for the lessons, you would avoid me completely, would you not?”
“Avoid you? Not like you?” He paused, then shook his head. “I have been attracted to you from the moment I first saw you. In truth, that has presented me with a problem.”
“You…are attracted to me?”
“Even from the beginning?”
Another incline of his head was his answer.
Her lips quivered, and he could see that she tried to speak. All she managed, however, was to bite down on her bottom lip. A few moments later, she said, “I thought that you…that I… I mean, you tease me horribly and…”
He lowered his face toward her, his lips mere inches away from her own. “I tease you because I like you.”
She opened her mouth, but whatever else she might have said was lost to his mastery.
The mere touch of his lips against hers sent waves of pleasure over him, and when he met with no resistance from her, Swift Hawk deepened the kiss. One arm came around her waist, one hand caressed her cheek. She moaned, or was that him?
As though he had asked for too much from her, too soon, she stepped back, out of his embrace.
“I must go.” She took another step back, away from him. “Truly, I must go.”
He bobbed his head in acknowledgment. “Yes, that is best. Go. Now, while I can still let you.”
She didn’t leave right away. Instead, she turned those pale blue eyes on him, and for a moment, the passion he witnessed there tore at his control. But as quickly as he glimpsed that passion, it was gone. Alas, when he glanced at her again, her eyes held only an apology.
“I am truly sorry I disturbed you. I… You… I…” She seemed unable to finish the sentence, and without another word, she spun away from him. Spreading out her hands in front of her, she swam away.
Swift Hawk breathed out deeply, observing her until she rounded a corner and was out of sight.
This meeting between them had been a good thing, he decided, a very good thing, indeed. At least now she knew his intentions toward her, as did he.
Erratic waves darting toward him were the first indication of trouble, for there was no sound of struggle. What was wrong? Had she met someone on her return? Was she unable to yell for help?
Fearing the worst, Swift Hawk rounded the corner where she had disappeared. There was his angel, struggling.
Frantically, she tore at her clothes, until she caught sight of him. She gasped, “There is something beneath my chemise. It swam up to my chest, and whatever it is, it is wrapped around me. I am afraid to scream, for I do not want to draw attention. But I cannot get whatever it is off.”
Swift Hawk nodded, even as he cautioned himself to remain as calm as possible. “Do not move. If it is a snake, you will fare better if you remain still.”
“A snake!” she whispered, her words barely audible. “I can hardly breathe.”
“If you are talking, you are fine. But remain as still as you can. I will help you, but you must promise me that you will not move, no matter what I do.” Even as he said it, he was unsheathing his knife and placing it in his mouth. “Promise me.”
Having come in as close to her as he dared, he sprang at her all at once. Taking hold of her dress, he pulled it up over her head in a quick motion, raising her arms at the same time.
And there it was, a snake, coiled around her waist, its head hidden amongst its own body.
Seeing it, Angelia moaned, making tiny high-pitched sounds that Swift Hawk knew bordered on a scream, though she had the presence of mind to keep silent. She did, however, gasp out, “Kill it. Now. Please.”
What Swift Hawk did was far from an act of violence. Grabbing the snake by its head, he pulled it away from her body in a fast, jerky motion, and flung the beast out into the swirling mass of the river. Watching it as it swam away from them, he took the knife from his mouth and replaced it in his sheath. At last, he turned his attention to her.
Clearly stunned, yet on her feet and still alive, Angelia remained in one place, panting. That she was naked, and that he could see her form entirely from the waist up seemed to escape her notice, allowing him to gape at her.
Her beauty took his breath, and he felt like a man starved, for his mind cleared of all else but thoughts of her, of what he could do with her, of all they could be to one another…
THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, by Karen Kay