Addendum 28th Nov 2011: Ruby’s Dream is now available through the following e-tailers:
Smashwords, Amazon (US, UK, DE, FR), Barnes & Noble, iTunes (US & UK), Diesel eBooks, All Romance eBooks.
(It’ll roll out to Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony etc etc as soon as it’s approved for premium distribution. You’ll find buy links, available e-formats etc. on my Books page as they come to hand.)
Ruby’s Dream was a Romance Writers of New Zealand Clendon Award finalist for full-length romantic manuscript. It’s set in New Zealand, and all the characters save for the hero, Kyan, are Kiwis, like me. And I love the cover my clever and very talented DH designed for me!
Here’s the blurb:
She’s a plus-sized woman with sub-zero self esteem. He’s a Crystal Warrior, and the gods’ gift to women. But for a chance at the Happy Ever After they both deserve, they must learn that appearances can be deceiving and pass the Crystal Guardian’s test before time runs out for them both.
What’s worse than being plus-sized, boyfriend-less, and turning thirty?
For Ruby, it’s getting The Worst Birthday Present Ever from the brother she adores. So other than scoffing chocolate, what’s a girl to do? Why, register for a triathlon of course. Only one problem–okay, two: she can’t swim or ride a bike. And she’s emailed all her friends and colleagues, so it’s too late to back out now.
Then her best friend gives Ruby a piece of kyanite crystal, and when she accidentally breaks it, she encounters the most beautiful man she’s ever seen in her life. He’s her dream man, a veritable leather-clad Adonis. The way he looks at her makes Ruby feel special–sexy even. Wow. Best birthday present ever! But hang on, how could someone like him possibly be attracted to someone like her?
Kyan can’t figure Ruby out, either. He knows only one way to get a woman out of his system, and that’s to seduce her. But making love to Ruby proves to be a big mistake. Now he wants more from her–perhaps more than Ruby is prepared to give. She’ll have to make the next move, though, because now Kyan’s learned about the curse that binds him to her, he refuses to be responsible for taking away her right to choose–even if it does mean he’ll be bound back to his hellish crystal.
By the time Ruby learns the disturbing truth about Kyan’s past, he’s embedded himself deep in her heart. She’s more than halfway in love with him–not that she’ll ever admit that for fear of a humiliating rejection. Still, she’s got plenty of time to sort through this mess, right? And then the Crystal Guardian intervenes, and Ruby realizes too late that time has run out for them both.
Plus, to save you from having to head over to my Facebook author page to read an excerpt, I’m posting Ruby and Kyan’s first meeting excerpt here. Enjoy!
**By reading this excerpt, you are stating that you are 18 years of age or over. If you are under the age of 18, please exit this page immediately.**
Book Two of The Crystal Warriors
By Maree Anderson
Some unnamed force pried open Ruby’s fingers. The visions abruptly cut off the instant the crystal left her grip and dropped to the carpet. Her finger joints ached and she shook the tension from her hand. Even her jaw throbbed from clamping her teeth together.
What the hell just happened?
She was standing, yet she didn’t remember getting up from her seat.
A flash of color and movement caught her eye and drew her to the window. She pressed her nose to the glass and spotted an elderly man strolling down the footpath. He seemed rather trendy for an old guy, dressed in jeans and boots, with a bright golden splash of silky material wrapped around his throat and tucked into the open neck of his white shirt. Auckland weather was pretty mild this time of year, so the scarf struck Ruby as odd. She watched him until he shuffled around the corner out of sight.
“Bugger! It’s broken in half.”
Jules’ dismayed voice reclaimed Ruby’s attention. She turned to see Jules kneeling on the floor. “Sorry, what’s broken?”
“The crystal I bought you. You would have thought landing on the bloody carpet might have saved it from breaking. What a piece of crap. Sorry, Rubes. I’ll buy you another one.”
“It’s fine, Jules, really.” Ruby shook herself, trying to slough off the lurking uneasiness. “My fault. Must have gotten a bit heavy-handed with the alcohol in that Mai-Tai mix. Anyway, it’s all good. Because now I’ve got two crystals and double the chakra power.”
Jules grinned. “Trust you to look on the bright side.”
“What kind of crystal is it, anyway?”
Jules re-wrapped the crystal halves in the torn tissue paper and placed the bundle on the phone table. “Beats me. The old guy from the shop called it ky-something-or-other. Sorry. I’m sure I’ll remember after a few more of these cocktails, though.” She waggled her empty glass at Ruby.
“What am I? Your slave? Get your own bloody cocktail.”
“Some hostess you are.”
The doorbell shrilled. Jules hunched her shoulders and made a face. “God. When are you going to get that damn bell fixed?”
“Um, never? I’m used to it now. It’s quirky. Like me.” Ruby could hear cat-calls and loud chatter from outside.
Jules pinned her with a sharp glance. “Are you ready?”
Ruby had no trouble deciphering that glance. Was she ready for the disbelief and unwanted advice from her friends regarding this outrageous goal she’d set herself? Was she ready to face their well-meaning platitudes that she was okay just the way she was? Was she ready?
Shit no. And in retrospect, maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to have emailed her entire contacts list about registering for the triathlon. But she would bluff her way through this evening—just as she had so many others. She smoothed her dress over her hips, and threw back her shoulders. “Fix me another cocktail, Jules. It’s show-time.”
Jules saluted her with an empty glass. “You got it, babe.”
Ruby sashayed over to the entranceway with an exaggerated wiggle of her bum that made Jules snort with laughter.
She opened the door. The effusive welcome she’d planned stuck in her throat. All she could do was stare, openmouthed, at the most beautiful man she’d ever seen in her entire life.
No exaggeration. Ruby was connoisseur of the male form. Other women her age bought gossipy fashion mags. Ruby splurged her hard-earned wages on her secret vice. Really classy male erotica magazines. Odes to the male form in all its manly splendor. Ooh la la!
So how did this guy stack up with those airbrushed fantasy men? Oh, he was right up there with the best of them. Really up there. Cover boy material—the best of the best.
He was tall—at least six feet. He’d scraped his blond hair back from his face and secured it with a tie. The severe style highlighted intense blue-green eyes the exact shade of an aquamarine necklace Ruby had stuffed in the bottom of her jewelry box. With his high cheekbones and full lips, his face was only saved from being too pretty by a nose that was just a tad too long. It suited him though. Made him look… regal. And the icing on the cake? A honed, muscular physique that looked formed by years of actual physical exertion, not just pushing weights around in a gym.
A man to sigh over. With a body to die for.
And Ruby was positive she wasn’t merely imagining his amazing body because, courtesy of the unlaced leather vest he wore instead of a shirt, there was such an awful lot of it on display. In fact, she was having such a good time drooling over all that burnished bare skin and those rippling muscles, she barely noticed the other guests hovering behind him. Or their grins.
Having completed her voyage of discovery, she dared raise her gaze to his face again. His gaze locked with hers. The rest of the world blurred, pushed to a tiny corner of Ruby’s brain. Unimportant. Meaningless. There was only him and her. And God, the way he was looking at her, like she was a delectable treat he couldn’t wait to eat.
A bray of high-pitched feminine laughter broke the spell.
Ruby blinked and saw herself reflected in his eyes. It wasn’t pretty—a chubby, thirty-year-old woman wearing a scarlet “look-at-me” dress and matching lipstick, who’d squeezed her feet into high-heeled sandals in a vain attempt to look sexy.
Ha ha. Good joke. And, as usual, the joke was on Ruby. As if any guy who looked like he did, would ever be interested in someone like her.
Unless he was being paid.
Ah. Riiight. Classic light bulb moment. Now it all made sense—his intent gaze, the way he made her feel special simply by looking at her. It was all a careful act, designed to please. One of her friends had booked her a stripper.
Ruby flushed, hyper-aware she was still staring. By now, everyone would surely have noticed her making goo-goo eyes at the gorgeous himbo. She could imagine what they were thinking. She dropped her gaze to stare fixedly at his chest. For once she couldn’t summon the smart repartee she relied on whenever she was embarrassed. She had nothing.
Ah, what the hell. Might as well make the embarrassment count. Her gaze drifted lower. She’d get her thrills before he figured out he’d been paid to entertain her, and ran screaming into the night.
A figure detached herself from Mr. Dreamy’s side. “Whose idea was the stripper, Ruby?”
“Uh, hiya, Caroline.” Ruby tore her gaze from the stripper’s delectable pectorals to greet her guest. “Um, I don’t really know whose idea it was.”
Caroline clutched Ruby’s shoulders and air-kissed her left and right. “Whoever it was should be congratulated on their excellent choice in men. Come on, Hunkalicious.” She ushered him inside by the simple expedient of squeezing his bum. He jumped like a scalded cat and Ruby caught a perplexed kind of frown before he smoothed his face and sauntered inside.
“Nice present, Rubes!” someone called out amidst a chorus of Happy Birthdays from those still standing outside. Around a dozen of Ruby’s friends filed in after Caroline, and clustered around the stripper, leaving the Birthday Girl hanging onto her door and gaping at their backs.
“Hiya, Rubes.” Jules’ boyfriend, Alex, strode down the pathway toward her, brandishing a bouquet of orchids. “Happy birthday, babe!” He kissed her cheek and presented the bouquet with a flourish.
“Thanks Alex, they’re beautiful.” Her favorite flower. He’d remembered—he always did. He was a real sweet guy. And Jules was a lucky, lucky girl.
“I gather he’s the planned entertainment?” Alex linked arms with Ruby and escorted her inside. “Don’t think it was Jules who organized him—better not have been, anyway.” He gave a mock-growl. “Babe, you better get over there before that estrogen-starved twig decides she wants your stripper all for herself. Look at her, groping his bum again. Jesus. Girl’s got no manners. Poor bugger’s gonna have some mighty fine bruises tomorrow.”
Ruby snickered. Alex preferred his women to “look like real women”—doubtless why he loved Jules’ curves. And got a pained look in his eye whenever he was forced to socialize with Caroline. He’d once commented that having sex with a scrawny thing like her would be like fucking a bag of bones. Eeeuw.
“I’m glad you’re here.” Ruby gave him a quick hug.
He planted an affectionate kiss atop her head. “Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Ruby turned and surprised Mr. Dreamy gazing toward her and Alex. His eyes suddenly seemed more green than blue—and a pissed-off kind of green into the bargain.
Huh. Seemed he was more than a little jealous. Great. The stripper someone had chosen for her was gay. That “someone” sure had a warped sense of humor.
Beside her, Alex stiffened. She gathered he’d also spotted the green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head. Might be a good idea to suggest he head straight for Jules before Mr. Dreamy got the wrong idea and tried to chat him up.
“Will you look at that?” Alex whispered, almost to himself. “A man after my own heart.”
“What do you mean?”
Liar. Ruby scanned Alex’s face. He sported one of those insufferably self-satisfied looks—the kind that screamed he knew something important, but he was going to make her work it out herself. For her own good, of course.
Cocktail in hand, Jules sidled over. “Hey, babe.” She kissed Alex on the mouth, taking her time about it. When she came up for air she said, “What were you looking so smug about?”
He wound an arm about her waist. “My secret.”
“C’mon, Alex, ’fess up.”
“Awww, Aleeex!” She pursed her lips in a cutesy pout.
He snickered. “You’ll have to do better than that, babe.”
The grin she hit him with was pure evil. “Just you wait ’til tonight. You’ll be sor-ry!” And the threat was made in horror-movie-worthy singsong tone.
She grabbed his arm and shoved it up behind his back. “Tell me.”
“Gee. Ouch. Is that all you got?”
She increased the pressure.
“All right already. Geez. Was contemplating that old saying that beauty is more than skin deep.”
“Huh?” Jules released him, and glanced at Ruby in askance.
Alex heaved a long-suffering sigh then changed the subject. “Honey, do you know who organized the stripper for Rubes?”
Jules considered said stripper thoughtfully. “No idea. He’s pretty hot though, huh?”
“Don’t ask me. I don’t swing that way.” Alex scratched his chin. “Gotta be his first private do, I reckon.”
“What makes you say that?” Ruby asked.
“He doesn’t know what to do with himself. Hasn’t even brought his own music. Must be an amateur. Rubes, you better get over there before those women talk him into a Full Monty.”
She flushed at the thought of Mr. Dreamy shucking his leather pants along with his vest. Gay or not, he was off-the-charts hot.
“Go on, Rubes. Get over there and let him know you’re the Birthday Girl!” Alex gave her a push.
She stumbled forward, teetering on the higher than usual heels. Please, God, she didn’t trip and end up sprawled on the floor crowned with a mashed bouquet of orchids.
Like magic, the gaggle of women clustered around her stripper parted and he was there, reaching out to steady her with a hand on her forearm.
Her flush deepened. “Uh, thanks. I’m the Birthday Girl. Is there anything you need before you um, start?”
His lips curved upward for a split second before his brow knit into an impressive frown. His hand tightened around her arm. “This is your celebration?”
“Erm, yes? My thirtieth birthday.” She waved a limp hand at the guests. “Hence the flowers and guests and stuff.”
He released her. “If you are in charge, perhaps you would be so kind as to order these brazen females to refrain from pinching my arse.” His perfect white teeth flashed in a sardonic grin. “I am a little unprepared for such a mob.”
Uh oh. An unhappy stripper. This wasn’t going well. Still, his voice rolled over her like liquid silk and it took a few moments before she could formulate any sort of coherent speech. “Um. Okay. Hands off, you lot!” she said to the bunch of smirking women. “You, especially, Caroline. Quit bruising the goods. It’s rude.”
Caroline made a face and stuck out her tongue. “Party pooper. When’s this show getting on the road? I’m dying for him to get his gear off.” She giggled as swigged the cocktail she’d somehow managed to grab in between grabbing the stripper. Caroline always did know how to look after number one.
“Your wish is my command.” Ruby shoved her flowers at Caroline and bared her teeth in a weak attempt at a smile. “Be a sweetie and put these in a vase? And I’ll see what I can do about getting the ball rolling, ’kay? Thanks!”
Caroline suddenly seemed to recall it was Ruby’s birthday so she was supposed to be nice to the Birthday Girl. She shut her mouth with a snap and flounced off.
“Cocktail table is over yonder.” Ruby shooed the rest of the hovering women away. “A bit of privacy, please?”
They grumbled but they obeyed. Thank goodness.
“Sorry ’bout that,” she said to Mr. Dreamy. “Caroline comes on a bit strong when she drinks. It’s her lack of, uh, padding. There’s nothing to soak up the alcohol and prevent it from going straight to her head. She doesn’t mean to be offensive. And she wouldn’t just pinch any man’s bum. I mean, he’d have to be really hot—like you. If you weren’t, like, amazingly good-looking, even if she was drunk as a skunk she’d not give you a second glance.”
Oh, God. She was babbling. “So it’s a compliment, really,” she finished lamely, wishing the lounge floor would just open up and swallow her whole. “So, um, do you need some music or anything before you start the, uh, show?”
“Show?” That crinkle appeared between his brows again.
Ruby’s brain kicked up a gear. “You are the stripper, right?” Oh God. What if he was the boyfriend of one of her male guests and she’d totally got the wrong idea? She ran through the list in her head to try and figure out who he might be partnered with. Nope. She had nothing. Besides, only a stripper would wear that sort of get-up in public. She was panicking for nothing.
Well, not nothing, exactly. She was panicking because of him. He unsettled her. And the thought of him shucking his clothes…. Yikes. Pity fans had gone out of fashion because she could sure do with one about now.
Ruby didn’t allow herself to fall desperately in lust with men anymore. That was just begging to be disappointed. But this man…. The perfect planes of his face, the incredible physique. He might be gay, and therefore unobtainable, but he’d stepped right out of her fantasies and she wanted to enjoy the fantasy for a little while longer. And hell, what was wrong with that? It was her birthday, after all.
“I am a warrior,” he said, his tone ringing with unmistakable pride.
She smiled. “The Warrior Stripper. Yeah, well you certainly look the part. Great outfit, by the way. Don’t have a clue how you manage the pants, though. Do they have strips of Velcro at the sides or something?”
He blinked and stared at her like she’d just turned into an alien or something.
She took pity on him. “Look. Here’s the deal. If you’re not comfortable taking off your clothes and prancing round half naked to entertain a bunch of drooling women, I’ll understand. Believe me, I get it, okay? You don’t have to do this if you don’t want. You can just go—no hard feelings, all right?”
His eyes widened and his mouth sagged open.
Friggin’ fantastic. Looked like she was about to be lumbered with paying off a gay stripper who was suffering an attack of the shys. “If you haven’t been paid, I’ll—”
“You want me to take off my clothes and dance for these people?”
Ouch. When he said it like that it sounded awfully sleazy. Ruby cooled her cheeks with the palms of her hands. “I guess. That’s sort of the idea, anyway. Um, yes?”
“And I will receive a stipend to do this?”
Huh? Stipend? Ruby’s stomach got that whole sinking sensation. Fab-u-bloody-lous. On top of everything else, she had to score the foreign import who had no real idea what he was in for. What the hell had she done to deserve this?
She took a deep breath and silently counted to five. “That’s how it generally works. Or so I’m told. But if you don’t want to, that’s cool.”
She patted his arm, hoping to project reassurance. And hoping she didn’t succumb to the temptation of squeezing his muscled biceps and whimpering. “I wouldn’t force you to do something you were uncomfortable with. But if you don’t want to strip, I’m sorry but I’ll have to ask you to go. The natives are getting restless and if you stick around much longer, they might just take matters into their own hands.” She jerked her chin toward the bunch of women gathered by the drinks table, staring avidly in his direction.
His gaze drifted over her guests.
By now, about forty people had arrived and were either squeezed into Ruby’s kitchen, living room and dining area, or milling around outside on the deck. Most of her friends were women she knew from work or the frequent and varied night-school classes she’d taken over the years. But there were a few men, too—boyfriends and husbands who hadn’t been quick enough to come up with an excuse to beg off this Saturday evening’s entertainment.
“And the men? Do they, too, enjoy this spectacle of a man taking off his clothes?”
Geez. How to say this without giving offence? “Well, I think most of the men here tonight would actually prefer a female stripper.”
“What about you, Birthday Girl? Do you prefer a female stripper? Or would you prefer to see me remove my clothes and make a spectacle of myself?”
Geez. Stupid question, much? Couldn’t he see how much the thought appealed to her? To be honest, flamboyant public displays usually weren’t her style. She preferred to do her perving in private—specifically, at the men who graced the pages of her magazines. But she wasn’t about to miss out on a chance like this. God only knew what Mr. Dreamy thought of her. Just as well he couldn’t read her mind. The poor guy would be shocked out of his socks… if he was wearing any under those boots.
“Uhhh, I’m a girl—or at least I was last time I looked—and I happen to like men. So if I’m going to watch anyone taking off their clothes, of course I’d prefer it to be a man.” And of course I’d prefer a man who looked like you and wasn’t gay. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
The gaze he turned on her was speculative, like he was weighing his options. Then the quality of that gaze changed, morphing to something so obviously assessing it brought another wave of heat flooding to her cheeks. “There is no question that you are indeed female,” he said, and pivoted on his heel.
“Hang on.” She made a grab for his arm. “What’re you planning on doing exactly?”
He smiled down at her. A lazy, self-satisfied, supremely confident smile that made her toes curl. “I am going to entertain you.”
He was actually going to do it: take his clothes off.
In her lounge.
To entertain her.
Ruby’s knees turned to putty.
Kyan grinned. From the dazed expression on the woman’s face, she was so enamored by the prospect of him taking off his clothes she seemed on the verge of fainting. Perhaps she had never seen an unclothed male before. He opened his mouth to ask, then shut it with a snap before he could inadvertently give offence.
Sorcery had ensnared him, and doubtless sorcery was to blame for thrusting him into a world that was so alien, so unlike any other world he’d experienced, it made him question his ability to discern friend from foe. But one thing had not been lost amidst the riot of strangeness clamoring at his senses. Kyan’s innate sense of self-preservation was still very much intact.
The majority of the women he’d encountered at this gathering thus far were forward creatures, who looked him in the eye as they fondled him and made it very clear they found him attractive. Their menfolk seemed unconcerned by this behavior, but Kyan, for all his brashness when it came to pursuit of women, was not foolhardy enough to take what they so blatantly offered. He had neither sword, nor weapon of any kind. The gods only knew what alien weapons might be brought to bear on him if he crossed some line and gave mortal offence. The odds that he would prevail against so many were not in his favor.
His gods had not entirely forsaken him, however.
It was obvious as a sand-lizard’s ruby-red eye that the gathering he’d been transported to was a matter of some import for the woman in the short red gown, standing before him. This same woman who’d opened the door, taken one look at him, and melted into a puddle of lust. She was the guest of honor, the Birthday Girl. It would behoove him go along with her request and curry her favor. And, in truth, it would be no hardship to entertain her by removing his clothes and displaying himself before all these people. He’d done far worse on a drunken dare. The prospect of coin, too, was a significant factor in his decision to act the entertainer. Coin would give him the means to purchase clothing more suited to this realm so that he could blend in.
His gaze followed the path of her hand as it crept up to rest over her heart. She was a sweet little dumpling, all soft womanly curves displayed in a sensual package that made him long to press his lips to the abundant cleavage on display.
Wulf, his commander, had once said, “If it has something resembling womanly parts, Kyan will bed it.” That wasn’t entirely true. Kyan couldn’t abide females who didn’t bathe regularly, or those with rotten teeth, or pustule-ridden faces. Nor scrawny ones with limbs like twigs, such as the female who’d thrown herself at him the instant she saw him. Other than that, Kyan didn’t have a preference when it came to women. Short or tall, slim or robust, dark or fair, it was of no consequence to him. Given the chance, he would dally with any comely female. And this woman most certainly fit his criteria.
“Am I to presume my decision pleases you then, Birthday Girl?”
“Well, duh,” the Birthday Girl said. “You’re a freaking Adonis and I’m only human. Of course the thought of you ripping off your clothes pleases me.” She blushed to the roots of her hair. “Uh, that kind of came out wrong. Uh, whatever you want to do is fine with me.”
She blinked and her gaze dropped to the floor. When she next spoke it was a whisper, and he barely caught her words. “Like have your wicked way with me, right now, right here on the floor in front of everyone—carpet burns be damned. God. It’s such a crying shame you’re gay.”
Kyan’s grin widened. He’d understood enough of her declaration to find it flattering.
Her gaze darted to his and she clapped both hands over her mouth. “Omigod. Did I say that aloud?”
“Not exactly. But I have exceptional hearing.”
Poor chick. Her fair complexion shrieked her embarrassment with splotches of crimson.
Hunger gnawed his stomach, and he rubbed it absently. His gesture drew her gaze down his body, and her naked wanting licked at his skin. In response his cock twitched, and hardened. And it was his turn to feel the heat of embarrassment. He could not take off his clothes and display himself publicly in this condition.
He glanced around the room, seeking diversion. His gaze lit on the food-laden table. He couldn’t help himself, he groaned aloud.
“Whoa. I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what’s up—you look exactly like I do every time I wander past a Baker’s Delight store.”
Before he could decipher her words, his stomach growled. Loudly.
She giggled. “You’re pretty hungry, huh?”
He dragged his gaze from the table and fixed it on her face. “I cannot remember the last time I ate,” he said, with unaccustomed bald-faced honesty.
Her face creased in sympathy. “Help yourself—there’s plenty of food.”
“No, thank you,” she said.
There was a little catch in her voice that caught his attention and gave him pause when he would have made straight for the food. “For what? I have done nothing to deserve your thanks.”
“For not running screaming into the night the instant I introduced myself as the Birthday Girl. For not sneering at me, or trying to put me down because—” She ducked her head, hiding her eyes from him.
“Because of the way I look.” It was barely a whisper.
Her stark vulnerability shocked him. Did she truly believe herself unattractive?
Each world he’d visited had vastly differing ideas about what constituted attractiveness when it came to women. Kyan had no clue what this world’s ideal female might conceivably be, but for a man not to find her attractive, he would have to be blind.
Or a neutered eunuch.
He swept his gaze over the room, taking note of all the female attendees. Most were younger women. All were slim, and a few were what he would term unhealthily underweight.
Ah. His little chick had a complex about her ripe, womanly body. A pity. In his world, she would have been a prize, indeed. He’d seen far more plump women display themselves on the Choosing Block and whip the bidders into a frenzy with their unabashed femininity.
He tipped her chin up with his finger, forcing her to meet his eyes. He paid homage to her rouge-glossed lips with a gentle kiss. And the instant he touched his lips to hers, his stones tightened and his cock swelled.
He had no idea how long he’d been consigned to the void, but it seemed an eternity had passed since he’d had a woman, buried his face in fragrant hair and his cock in a warm, willing body. And before he could do something he would regret, before he could drag her somewhere private and use her to assuage the hunger that burned through him, he released her.
He would fill his belly with food. Then at least one of his hungers would be fed. And with a full belly, perhaps the situation he found himself in would start to make sense. Because right now, when he should have been gathering information as to how he’d escaped the crystal sorcerer’s spell, taking steps to ensure he was not be-spelled again, and, most importantly, discovering how to get back to his homeland, all he could think about was the woman standing before him, gazing at him with such yearning that his heart ached.
Kyan had been the object of many a young girl’s desires since he’d become a man. If the girls’ looks pleased him, and they were available and willing, he took them. And when he tired of them, he moved on without a backward glance. Their pleas affected him not at all.
This woman? Something told him he might not be able to walk away from her so easily if he took her to his bed.
“I like the way you look,” he murmured. “I like the way you look very much indeed.”
He had not meant to say the words aloud. But he could not be sorry that he had, for his reward was a tremulous smile that filled the emptiness in his soul.
Be still her wildly beating heart. He was sooo not gay—Happy Birthday, Ruby!
RUBY’S DREAM by Maree Anderson
Copyright © 2011