It's that day, people.
Healer's Touch goes on sale today!
Now before you all go rushing off to purchase the wonder that is my second book, please read yon excerpt. The set up: Inella, Viera's partner in seduction, needs a job, and she needs it like, NOW! The only dude hiring is Karal, the local Kurgan apothecary who, for reasons which escape him but are glaringly obvious to everyone else, can't seem to keep an assistant for more than a few weeks at a time.
But as Viera will discover, Karal knows things about Aru, mysterious things that ought to make her think twice about her seduction plans.
Winners of my pick-up line contest are announced waaaayyyy down at the bottom of the post!
*Mom, you've got the green light to read on!
“No fucking way.”
Beside Inella, Viera let out a long-suffering sigh. “Karal—”
“By god, I could eat this one for lunch and leave the table hungry,” the huge Kurgan growled, his voice like two rocks sliding against one another. Inella felt all the blood drain from her face at the sight of him leaning back against the counter. Even slouching, his head nearly touched the ceiling beams. Muscled arms folded across his broad tunic-clad chest, he stood and smirked, his gaze raking Inella in disdain.
“Karal—” Viera said again.
“She’s a twig,” the Kurgan went on. “A strong wind would knock her flat.”
“You get a lot of wind in here?” Viera asked with a half-smile. “Perhaps you ought to close your mouth once in a while.”
Karal’s glare narrowed on Viera. From the corner of her eye, Inella saw the other woman smile sweetly. Clearly Viera had gone mad. When faced with an angry bear, one ought not pick up a stick and commence poking it.
Inella shuddered and hugged herself. All morning, her imagination had conjured visions of what the Kurgan might be like, images of a face bordering on demonic, with a cruel, hard mouth, teeth meant to rend flesh and eyes that glowed like coals. Several times she had bit her tongue in the middle of asking Viera to call the whole business off. She’d had to tell herself to calm down, that Viera would never put her in the path of a monster, that the Kurgae’in were no longer the enemy of the Andun at all. But now that she was here and confronted by the reality, this entire proposition seemed insane. How could Viera have imagined Inella would be able to work with this brute? Even with his gaze on the other woman, Inella felt herself shrivel under the weight of his presence, as if the room were too small to contain him.
Karal’s withering glare seemed to be having the opposite effect on Viera. She drew herself up until it almost seemed she was looking down her nose at the much taller man. “You said someone who can read. Inella can read. She’s uneducated, but clever enough. And she’s willing to work with you. You ought to be down on your knees kissing my feet in gratitude.”
Karal’s face split into a wide grin and he looked Viera up and down, his expression completely different now. He chuckled softly. The sound raised gooseflesh all along Inella’s spine. “You know me, Viera. If I get down on my knees for you, it won’t be your feet I kiss.”
A choking noise escaped Inella and she slapped a hand to her mouth. Viera had done…that…with a Kurgan?
Viera stepped gracefully around a stack of crates that teetered in the middle of the floor until she was standing only inches from the Kurgan. She walked two fingers up his chest, making a moue and batting her lashes. “Look at this place, Karal. It’s a mess. You need the help and you know it. Give her a chance, Karal? For me?”
With a growl he snatched her hand and pulled it to his face. His nostrils next to the translucent skin of her wrist, he inhaled deeply. As Inella watched, his eyes darkened. Softened. Good god, she thought. Are they going to do it right here? At the notion a shiver ran through her, not altogether unpleasant.
“Mmm,” the Kurgan murmured. “You don’t come around at night of late, Viera.”
Viera cleared her throat delicately, a flush creeping up her cheeks as Karal straightened, pulling her even closer. “Aru keeps me busy…”
Karal’s carnal grin slipped a notch. “Busy at what?”
Viera smiled pertly. “Are you jealous now?”
“Should a man be jealous because the sun shines on others and not just on him?” Karal said quietly.
“So poetic,” Viera teased, bringing his hand to her mouth and licking his knuckles. Inella’s stomach tightened watching, and she felt a tingling between her legs that signaled a release of wetness, a sensation that was becoming more and more familiar. But Karal wasn’t in the mood for flirting anymore.
“Have you bedded him, Viera?” he asked, all trace of his smile gone.
She frowned, retrieving her hand from his grasp and taking a step back. “Not precisely. Why?”
“I would advise you to tread with care around the Omahru-azhi.”
Viera was scowling now, and Inella stepped forward to stand at her shoulder, silent support. “What are you talking about?”
Karal shrugged. “The walking dead are an odd people. They have odd ways. It would grieve me if you were hurt.”
Viera’s throat worked as she swallowed. “Aru would never hurt me.”
“The snake does not bite out of a desire to cause pain,” Karal said cryptically. “It bites because it has no choice if it wants to survive.”
Inella slid her hand into Viera’s and squeezed it tight. But Viera’s discomfiture was swiftly transforming into irritation. “You think I need to be afraid of him? Is that what you’re saying?”
“You need fear him no more than you would any other man,” Karal said stolidly, folding his arms across his chest once more. “But it is always wise to learn the nature of the beast before you assume him tamed and bring him into your house.”
Viera’s pout turned more playful. “What if I’m not looking for something tame?”
He laughed and the dark mood suddenly shattered. “Then you’re liable to get bitten.”
Oh, dear, something awful is bound to happen, I just know it. Will Viera discover the truth about Aru? Will Karal hire Inella? Will Aru finally succumb to Viera's demands?
Um, yeah, there's a pretty good chance, but you won't know for sure unless you read the book!
And now, because I can't reasonably put it off any longer, the winners of my pick-up line contest are:
3rd place: Seeley for "I can haz kok now?" (Although the "hard" thing was also good, despite what I might have said elsewhere *ahem*)
2nd place: Michelle for "Can I help you with your pants?" (Has nothing to do with anything, but still brilliant!)
1st place: Trisha for "Celabisee...Not so grate, akshully." (OMG. Stunning. I am in awe.)
As you may have noticed, I have a special affection for the literary gold that is lolspeak. Winners please contact me at kirstensaell AT yahoo DOT com with your preferance of title and format.
Now I'm off to obsess over whether my book is selling or not. Where's my booze?