It’s that time again! Excerpt Monday! This month I’m sharing an excerpt from Sacrifice, my upcoming release from Liquid Silver Books.
When an unnatural eclipse hangs in the sky, portending doom, Ryllana is chosen to be sacrificed to ensure her land and her people’s survival. She expects her fate will bring a swift, violent death at the claws of Teppal’s beast. But though the beast comes to claim her, he does not devour her. Instead, he carries her away to his castle.
There, she waits for him to return and demand the sacrifice required of her. In the meantime, she finds a companion in the beast’s human servant, Draig, who surprises Ryllana with his tenderness and compassion. Despite herself, she begins to fall for him — but the beast still waits, and the secrets Draig is keeping might destroy everything she loves.
The eclipse rose in my window and passed out of sight at midday, so I had no means of tracking the time beyond the number of candles that I burned through. It might have been minutes, or days, when my door crashed open. I jumped, my heart in my throat, and a smile bloomed across my face to see Draig in the doorway. I pushed my books aside and started toward him, but cried out in dismay not halfway across the room, for his tabard dripped with blood and he clung unsteadily to the jamb. His face was ashen, his head drooping forward, as though he hadn’t the strength to hold it upright.
I ran to him and helped him to the bed. He held on to me, stumbling across the rug. I eased him onto the bed, then took his face in my hands and turned it to me. His expression was slack, his eyes half-closed. “Draig!” I cried. “What happened?”
He opened his eyes. It looked as though it took a great effort. “Ryllana,” he breathed, and smiled as though it was a wonderful surprise to see me. Then he grimaced and groaned with pain. “I’m hurt.”
“You don’t say.” I pulled frantically at his tabard. “Draig, help me! I must see where you’re injured.”
He rose up onto his elbow and I began to strip his tabard off, but his strength only lasted a moment before he collapsed back onto the bed. His ragged breathing made fear twist through my stomach.
“A kiss, lady,” he whispered, a thread of sound. “For strength.”
I stared down at him. “Don’t be absurd. Now is not the time.” I gripped his tabard at the throat and tore it open down the front. Draig blinked at me, but didn’t protest. It took another moment to unlace his shirt, and then I had his chest bared.
Four parallel gouges cut across his chest, each as long as my forearm and bleeding freely. I clasped my hands over my mouth, horrified. “Oh, Draig…” I sought out his gaze. “This is bad.”
He nodded, and I saw recognition in his eyes. He knew. He knew, and had come to me. I crouched on the bed and tore strips of fabric from the hem of my robe, trying not to cry. I could clean him and bandage him, but little more. I had meager sewing skills, and no needle or thread in any case. I helped him sit and wound the makeshift bandages around his back, then took his hand in mine and bent over it, pressing a fierce kiss to his palm.
He pulled from my grasp and raised his hand to my cheek. “A kiss, lady,” he whispered again.
I shook my head wildly and dashed tears from my cheeks. “Fool,” I whispered down at him. “How can you think of stealing kisses now?”
“So be it, then.” He gave me a crooked smile. “Will you refuse the last request of a dying fool?”
I covered my face in my hands, protests rising unbidden to my lips. But they were an empty comfort. We both knew the truth. He might die, and there might be nothing I could do to prevent it.
I knelt at his side in the mattress and put my hands to his cheeks. I looked gravely down at him, his face grey and pale, then bent and pressed my mouth to his.
I meant it to be only that, a momentary brush. But when I tried to draw away, he curled his hand around the back of my neck and held me to him with startling strength.
His lips coaxed mine, urging them to part so he could take the kiss deeper. I pressed them together and shook my head. When he persisted, I broke away. “Don’t tax yourself,” I commanded unsteadily. “You’ve better things to save your strength for.”
“Better things than kissing?” He eased back onto the bed with a lopsided smile. “I can only think of a very few.”
“Living?” I demanded.
His smile softened, warmed. “What’s the use of that when pretty women refuse to kiss you?”
Make sure to check out the rest of this month’s great excerpts!
Joining us this week:
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Nika Dixon, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Kaige, Historic Romance (PG-13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG13)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG13)
Rebecca Savage, romantic suspense (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Michelle Arroyo, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Jax Cassidy, Contemporary Romance (R)
Maya Doyle, Paranormal Romance (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal (R)
Ali Katz, Historical Erotic Romance (R)
Inez Kelley, Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal Romance (R)
Elise Logan, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Paranormal Romance (R)
Alina Morgan, Urban Fantasy (R)
Vivienne Westlake, Erotic Historical (R)