08 January 2009

Excerpt Thursday: Isabel Roman

Thursdays on Unusual Historicals mean excerpts! Here's one from Isabel Roman. She writes:

Dark Desire of the Druids I: Murder & Magick is the first in my series of Druid stories set in 1880 England and Philadelphia. Raven Drake is a master, one of the most powerful magickers in the world, and responsible for protecting those few remaining magickal people from a world that wants to eradicate them. When she finds herself falling for the wrong man, someone who knows nothing of her world, will she trust him enough to tell him her secrets?

***

"Are you all right?" Mac asked in a soft tone, his hand a gentle brush on her cheek. The act belied his body's reaction. He refused to release his tight control on his emotions.

"Aye," Raven nodded. Her eyes were still closed, her rapid breathing caused her breasts to strain against the bodice.

She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, and he couldn't get enough of her. Passionate and smart, funny and willing, she was everything he'd ever wanted in a woman. And more, so much more.

Alive. She was alive and unhurt and in his arms.

"Then tell me," he demanded, the tiniest slip of control. But his fingers were still soft on her neck, the tops of her breasts. "What the bloody hell do you think you were doing? Following me onto the lawn like that with Corwin's men there. It was dangerous! Corwin's dangerous. Mad most definitely in his quest, and that makes him even more so."

Stiffening in his arms, Raven struggled to pull away. His hands tightened around her, holding her captive between him and the door. He couldn't let her go. His hands wanted to shake. His heart clenched in remembered fear at how close she was to death. The bullet had come entirely too close to her for his liking. Too close for his sanity.

Fire in her eyes, she glared up at him. "I wasn't going to stand indoors and wait for you to do whatever it was you planned. I didn't follow you," she added with a sneer worthy of the best sailors. And he'd seen more than a few. But he felt her pulse jump under his fingertips, saw her own fear, hidden in those fire-blue eyes.

"I followed Corwin to see what insanity he'd brought with him."

"You could've been shot!"

His fingers convulsed on her shoulders, and he shook her once. His voice betrayed his own anger, his own panic. Hating that weakness, he stilled. Breathing heavily, Mac forced his fear-fuelled rage to calm. Forced images of Raven's bloody and broken body away. Deliberately relaxing his fingers, he smoothed his hands down her arms, twining their fingers together.

Closing his eyes for a moment, he opened them again to see Raven watching him. She was furious, but there was still that fear deep in her eyes. She nodded once, gaze holding his. Shutting her own, she breathed deeply.

"I know."

She was barely aware she'd said the words aloud as she rested her head against his chest. Allowing herself that single weakness, she squeezed his hands and looked back up at him. She knew what he felt, though she also knew he was unlikely to show it more than he'd already done.

His anger was fear for her safety. It didn't stop her temper from igniting. Something settled around her heart, compressing it tight. He cared far more than he ought, far more than she should wish him to.

"I'm fine, Malcolm," she said in an even voice, a gentle smile on her face. Despite the stress of the evening, the smile was easy. For him.

In Malcolm's arms, with his sheer presence around her, Raven had no trouble forgetting.

Forgetting she'd wanted to know what Corwin knew, terrified he knew entirely too much. Was frightened she and her family, the people she'd promised an end to terror and persecution, were in terrible danger. She wanted to change what had happened and help that man.

Blinking the memories away, she looked into Malcolm's clear eyes and relaxed. The tension of the day would return soon enough, haunting her nightmares. Strange how she never dreamt when she slept in his arms. But that didn't bear thinking on.

Right now, with Malcolm holding her close, Raven willingly let him soothe her. Maybe she'd hate herself later. Maybe she'd find no solace beyond the physical.

For now, it was enough.

"They had no right," he stated through clenched teeth. His eyes flashed and fingers convulsed around her arms. Raven wondered if it was in anger at Corwin, or at her for her perceived foolishness. "He had no right. Corwin's a madman, worse than whatever evil he professes to hunt. That man fell mere centimeters from you, if the shot had missed..."

"Shush, darling." She touched his cheek in a tender caress, and smiled up at him. He was a good head taller than she, strong, and commanded respect for both his size and his money. Yet all she wanted at this moment was his body in hers.

"Make me forget, Malcolm. I don't want to think of Corwin or that unfortunate--" She looked to the side for a moment. No, there was no sense in wishing. "Make me forget."

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