I'm feeling a bit uninspired today, so I thought I'd just post a book excerpt. I chat a lot about work and life, but I've realized not so much about the writing side of me. I'm going to try to remedy that.
This is an excerpt from ANAM CARA, featuring the first kiss between hero and heroine, Bran and Liza. Enjoy.
He let his fingers curve around her shoulder. The warmth of her skin through the linen of her gown brought with it the chill of the terror coursing through her. "Tess is in no danger today."
"You do not know that, just as you do not know if Anna suffered."
"I do. Trust me."
"Trust? I..." She frowned up at him, scrutinizing him with a wary expression. Her eye widened. "Ah, it has just come to me why I find you familiar. The former Lord of Duncarnoch, the one named Douglas. You are kin to him as Aelric thinks."
Bran forced himself not to suck in an uneasy breath as she spoke.
"He would visit my inn on occasion. He was as dark and wild as you are."
She exhaled for him because he couldn't, despite the desperate, clawing need to breathe. Denials, lies and accusations of lunacy crowded his tongue, but something in her desperate expression damned the flow of words. What good was there in deception? And the answer was unexpected. None.
"Aye. We were cousins."
"You mourn for him."
She touched his hair, delicately pressing an errant curl behind his ear. A stew of emotions spilled across her face, filling her eyes with tears. His fingers traced her jaw line. The firm ripeness of youth was being winnowed by time, a fate shared by all granted a full measure of days. The slow fading did not erode the beauty of her soul or drain the intelligence from her eyes. Tess, for all her glinting brightness, paled beside her mother. Even his dream woman couldn't compete with the reality before him. Liza had been pared by time and tempered by life until she possessed the strength and economical grace of a Byzantine sword.
Without seeking permission, he pulled her close. Her head tucked neatly beneath his chin. Gently, he pushed hair that smelled as sweet as wild heather out of his face and whispered words of protection over her brow. He waited for the sobs, but as he laid the charm, she only shifted until she pressed against him, the curves of her body fitting his. Her palm pressed against his chest, speeding the beat of his heart. He ran a finger over her hand. It was not the soft hand of a maid, but vitality radiated from it, and he knew it was a hand that would never flinch from grasping the truth. When she lifted her face, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. She sighed and brushed her lips against his, then rose to her toes and kissed him passionately.
Surprise slowed his reaction. At first she was only sweet on his tongue, the heady lightness of new wine, then the taste of her exploded in his mouth, rich and warm and full. The pulse of her blood hit his skin and pulled him backward through forgotten nights until the air roared around him.
From nowhere and everywhere, the seductive scent of honeysuckle crept along the air. The light held an unnatural shimmer. Warning crawled across his nape with icy fingers. As always, his first instinct was to fight, and as always, he opened himself to the slide.
In a dizzying moment, he was lost, falling through nothing into nothing. Stars circled beneath him. Time slipped out of its channel and sluiced over him. He sank into the confusing, cold flood. Warmth cut the chill. It snaked over his hip and down one leg. He felt a hand and a chest, both slick and trembling. His chest or his hand? He wasn't sure. Terrified, he forced himself to look. His right hand still clasped a dagger. Blood coated hand and blade. Beside him, Liza's eyes were wide and confused, and Aedan lay at their feet.
No, not Aedan. Another brother. Another time.
Behind them, angry shouts and shrieks urged him to hurry. The rest was lost as the vision unraveled into a slurred tale of blood, mud and cold, bitter seas. Then grayness lifted, pierced by heat and light. Where was he? When?
In England, he reminded himself. He realized he was on his knees, Liza at his side. He tasted blood. He'd bitten his tongue.
He peered at Liza, barely able to focus for the unseen mace pounding his brain to pulp. "A moment," he whispered hoarsely, his voice as dry as the land around him.
"I do no' know."
It was another half-truth, and he suspected she knew it, but time allowed no more. The dead called. The sheriff was on his way, and soon the inn would thrum with the curious, the sad and the gossips. The chance was lost.