Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The trade paperback of Before the Storm is now available with a nice pre-release discount. Check it out!
And here's a little excerpt from Chapter 1, where Alex - who's a mare, a woman kept for the pleasure of the nobility - is given away by her master to a man reputed to be worse than he is. Naturally (or so she thinks) he inspects the merchandise with some help from his pet sorcerer...
“Take your cloak off,” Robert Demeresna said. “Mayerd… help her with it.”
Alex unfastened the cloak and let it drop, wondering if the sorcerer would flip it through the air with magic. Instead, he was at her side as the velvet slipped off her shoulders, and he caught it before it hit the floor.
He moves too fast and too silently for a man of learning, was her last thought before the air struck her skin, chilling it. She let her mind go blank and her body doll-like, waiting for further instructions. The baron seemed to prefer it that way.
He cleared his throat. “Take it off.”
“Of course, my lord,” Alex said. The Iternan backed away, running his hands over her cloak, patting the velvet in a caressing way that would have disgusted her if she had been able to feel anything at that point. She unfastened the black sheer and let it puddle at her feet.
“Step out of it,” the baron said. “And your shoes.”
There was something strange about his terse orders, and the unfamiliarity penetrated even her gelid calm. She obeyed, watching as the Iternan dropped the cloak on the hearth and picked up her shoes. He examined them before he set them beside the cloak and gave his attention to the black sheer, shaking it out, turning it this way and that. He looks like he’s going to try it on for size, she thought and killed a spurt of half-hysterical laughter. She didn’t know which man would be worse when angered.
“It’s very skimpy,” Mayerd said finally.
“I beg my lord’s pardon.” What in the world did he expect the Black Mare to wear—armor? She looked at her bare feet, noticed the sheen of sweat that gleamed on her breasts, and wished she wasn’t standing so close to the fire.
The baron took a step closer and Alex glanced up, startled at his nearness. He was not very tall but he was large, and her skin crawled as she noticed the width of his shoulders. This was a man strong enough to hurt her with his bare hands, and she supposed he would start soon. She concentrated on floating, allowing years of training to take over while her mind drifted.
“I see you wear no jewels.”
“No, my lord.” Valuables or money of her own would have been far too liberating.
“You don’t need them.” The baron’s tone was quieter. “Take your hair down.”
She raised her arms slowly, letting her breasts move with them, and kept her gaze fixed on the baron's face as she did so. His body was tense, as if waiting to pounce, but his expression was not so much lustful as wary. She didn't understand that, but what did it matter at this point?
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