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Posted in Uncategorized
November 4, 2018

Sexy Sunday Snippet: The Arrows of the Heart

Here’s a sexy snippet to steam up your Sunday!

Fantasy romance, The Arrows of The Heart, by Jeffe Kennedy is part of the Uncharted Realms series.

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Blurb:

As the Twelve Kingdoms and their allies are drawn toward war, a princess cast aside must discover a purpose she never dreamed of…

Karyn af Hardie behaved like a proper Dasnarian wife. She acquiesced, she accepted, she submitted. Until her husband gave her a choice: their loveless, unconsummated royal marriage—or her freedom. Karyn chose freedom. But with nowhere to run except into the arms of Dasnaria’s enemies, she wonders if she’s made a mistake. She wants love, security, a family. She can’t imagine finding any of it among the mercurial Tala.

Worst of all is Zyr. The uninhibited shapeshifter is everywhere she looks. He’s magnetic, relentless, teasing and tempting as if she’s free to take her pleasure where she wishes. As if there isn’t a war rising before them, against a vile and demanding force far stronger than they. But with Karyn’s loyalty far from certain, Zyr offers her only chance to aid the defense—a dangerous gambit to seek out a land not seen in centuries, using clues no one can decipher. Together, they’ll have every opportunity to fail—and one chance to steal something truly precious…

Excerpt:

“What in Moranu is wrong with you?” Zyr had gone back to impatient, and I realized he’d been talking to me. He’d even set down the wooden chest and taken me by the shoulders. “Talk to me—are you ill?”

“Lieutenant Marskal left,” I managed to reply, the command spurring me to answer.

“Yes, that’s what I said.” Zyr sounded puzzled, ducking his head to try to look into my face. “Explain why that has you looking like you’ll faint.”

I had to catch my breath, my lungs too tight to draw air. “He… didn’t take me… along and now… I’m all alone… in this place…and I’ll starve… and die!” I finished on a wail that robbed me of the last of my breath and would’ve had me melting in embarrassed horror if I didn’t feel like I might fall into a puddle of faint instead.

Zyr cursed in his language, which would have sounded pretty if he weren’t so annoyed. He backed me up to the balustrade and made me sit, forcing my head down almost to the ground. “Deep breaths. Slow and even.” He spoke slowly and gently, rubbing a hand down my back. Far too familiar a touch, but it felt good and I could hardly throw him off. “That’s it, gréine. Calm and easy. Breathe.”

And I found I could. Being upside-down made my head feel funny, but I no longer felt like I’d fall the dizzying drop to the beach.

“You’re not all alone,” Zyr said, spacing out his words as if talking to a child. Which, I supposed was fair, as I was acting like one. “Only Zynda and Marskal left, on a private, stupidly heroic mission. The rest of the Hawks are still here, and you’ll keep training with them. My cousin Ursula, her royal high whatever, is sending more Hawks and troops here to Annfwn, to reinforce defenses in case there are more Deyrr attacks—remember? No one is going to let you starve. All right?”

I nodded.

“An actual verbal reply would be helpful, so I know you’re with me.” A hint of his usual teasing in there, but he still sounded gentle. Soothing. Totally unlike the Zyr I knew.

“All right,” I answered.

“Better now?”

“Yes.”

“Can you sit up?” He helped me straighten, and I caught a glimpse of his concerned expression before I averted my gaze. “Also, you wouldn’t starve anyway. Watch this.”

I did as he told me, watching as he reached up a long arm to an overhanging tree limb, plucked a fruit and handed it to me. Bemused, I held it, the smooth globe cool from the night, the sweet scent almost like flowers.

“No one starves here.” Zyr tapped the fruit, then put a finger under my chin, lifting my face so that keeping my eyes averted became more difficult. “Your cheeks are all pink now,” he noted.

“From being upside down,” I pointed out, more tartly than I would’ve if I’d been feeling fully myself. Your impulsive tongue will get you in trouble someday. My mother’s words echoed in my mind as if she stood right there. By now she would’ve heard that my impulsive tongue had made me ask His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Dasnaria for an annulment of my marriage with Kral. She likely believed me dead. Just as well, as I’d never see any of my family again.

Zyr broke into my mournful thoughts, his fingertips feathering over my cheek, as if testing the color, sending a shivery sensation through me I didn’t know how to handle. “Your skin is so pale and clear all the blood shows through.”

“That’s disgusting!” I yanked away from his touch, shocked by his words and mortified that I’d let a strange man touch me. Even if it had felt nice for a moment. And not lonely.

“How is that disgusting?” he asked, laughing and not caring at all. “People have blood in them and have skin to hold it in. This is true of animals, too. The Tala understand this—don’t Dasnarians?”

“Yes, but we don’t discuss such things in public.” I smoothed my braid, refusing to look at him, no matter his antics. “It’s not an appropriate topic for mixed company.”

“Mixed, as in Dasnarians and Tala?” His tone held plenty of mischief.

“Mixed as in men and women.”

“So, are only conversations about blood not allowed, or all bodily fluids?”

I nearly choked, so I stood, straightening my skirts.

“I guess that’s all bodily fluids,” Zyr observed, uncoiling to his feet with that odd animal grace. “You come from a very strange people.”

“At least my people keep one body,” I replied, annoyed enough to be outright rude.

“There, you sound better now. Your usual prim and offended self.” He retrieved the wooden box and started walking, so I had to go along. “And you’re blushing even more now, by the way. Is that what bothers you about me—that I’m a shapeshifter?”

“It doesn’t bother me.” I looked out over the sea, bluer now with the rising sun that hadn’t yet tipped over the rim of the towering cliff above. “Zynda is a shapeshifter and I like her.”

“Then you don’t like me personally.”

“I don’t have an opinion about you one way or the other.” I kept my tone as neutral as I could manage. This man made it impossible to be polite.

“But you won’t consider taking me as a lover,” he replied with that easy openness of his people.

I pressed my lips together, mortified to be in this conversation, my face burning hot.

“I’m an excellent lover,” Zyr continued, uncaring of the group of Tala girls who passed us carrying baskets. They giggled, several of them calling out what sounded like agreement. Zyr replied in their language, obviously flirting with them.

I considered simply leaping over the balustrade and ending this. Instead, I quickened my pace, striding ahead while he dallied. Perhaps he’d forget about me and run after them.

But no, he immediately caught up. “I’m not bragging,” he insisted, ducking his head to catch my eye. “Well, I’m bragging a little, but I can back it up. You’d enjoy yourself in my bed.”

I stopped so fast he went a step past me, before whipping around. That was uncanny, too. These shapeshifters moved so fast they almost blurred, back in front of you before you realized they’d changed position. “Your bed?” I squeaked out, astonished and horrified enough to look him directly in his eyes.

They widened, searching my face, his expression abruptly serious. “Why do you say it that way—is that an insult?”

No. No, it couldn’t mean the same thing in Common Tongue. “It’s nothing.”

“I don’t think so. We must talk about this,” he said.

“Nooo.” I shook my head emphatically, drawing out the word so he’d hear it. “We will not discuss this. In fact, this whole conversation is over. I never should have talked with you in the first place. I’m going for my breakfast now.”

Head held high with all the dignity of the Hardie family, I walked on.

The Arrows of the Heart is out now! Get your copy!

~~~~~~

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.

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