Yes, it is almost time! Atoned, Chronicles of Calan Book V, is in the final formatting and editing stages and will be released very shortly. I know this one has been so long in coming and, as an apology for making you wait, I am posting a short excerpt from this new book. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Kyreen stood, giving in to her desire for more alcohol. Before she could grab the bottle, however, Rhun was beside her, his own hand wrapped around the neck of the vessel. He grinned down at the surprised woman as his other hand picked up a glass, which he handed her.
“Wine such as mead deserves to be consumed properly, not from the bottle,” he teased, taking her hand and drawing her back over to the sofa. Once she sat, he uncorked the bottle and poured a healthy portion of mead into Kyreen’s glass.
“Now,” he remarked, corking the bottle and placing it on the side table before settling back, “how about you fill in some of those blank spots in your story from this morning?”
Kyreen drained the glass of mead so quickly, Rhun wondered if she even tasted the wine. She flashed him another grin, one that looked carefree and winsome but at the same time did not reach her glittering emerald eyes. “That is a long tale.”
“We have all night,” Rhun replied.
“But do we have enough liquor?” Kyreen murmured, almost to herself. She reached across Rhun for the bottle but froze as he wrapped a hand around her wrist. Her body tensed, her eyes drifting down to focus on his hand, so dark against her pale skin. Unlike last year when her tension was born of fear, this tensing was more akin to alertness, ready for danger, waiting for action. Rhun felt an eagerness in her, a vibration, as though she wanted him to act, to do something. Instead he released his grip, swiveling his hand so her wrist rested in his palm.
“How about you begin by telling me this story?” he asked, his voice soft, his thumb gently stroking the tattoo on her wrist.
For a long moment she stared at the mark – the beautiful tattoo of bronze, silver and golden strands woven together in an intricate pattern around her slender wrist. Rhun wondered if he had asked about the wrong story, pushed her too far, asked too much too soon. Then Kyreen sighed softly, settling back on the couch. Though she pulled her arm away from his touch, she also abandoned her quest for more mead.
“It is a magical mark,” she commented, her voice quiet, her eyes locked on the tattoo. “It focuses my energies when I transpire.”
“Transpire?” Rhun asked, vaguely remembering hearing the term from Brigit last summer.
“Magical transportation,” Kyreen answered from the bedroom.
Rhun had shot to his feet when the Calanian disappeared. Now he turned to see her step into the doorway, leaning casually against the jamb as the guild leader had done not too long ago.
“Rhun, I am not the girl I was before,” she remarked quietly.
“I know,” he responded, unable to quell the thought that he sounded like a chastened school boy.
“You cannot fix what troubles me. Not with sweets. Not with books or stories. Not even with mead,” she paused to walk to the side table, uncork the bottle, and take a long swig, “although alcohol does help for a bit.”
She glanced at him. As always Rhun regarded her without pity. She wondered if that would change if she did talk, did tell him the full story, revealed all she had seen, all she had experienced, everything she had done and that which she had condoned through a lack of action. She pushed away those thoughts and flashed an impish grin. “Other things help as well.”
Then she closed the distance between them, wrapping her arms around Rhun, pressing her lips to his. For a brief instant, Rhun did not react. Then he relaxed and, sliding his arms around her slim form, he returned her kiss, allowing the sensation to draw him in for a single long contented moment.
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