by Trisha Wolfe
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Published: April 19th 2013
In the sand-covered queendom of Cavan, the goddess once saved a young Kaliope’s life, preventing the mercury her father attempted to hide in her blood from reaching her heart. Now, a cybernetic clamp filters it, but the silver streaks swirling faintly beneath her skin are a constant reminder that she’s different.When nineteen-year-old Kaliope is chosen as head of the Nactue Guard, she becomes the sworn protector to her empress. In the midst of an invasion on a neighboring land, Kaliope is placed in charge of guarding Prince Caben, the last heir to his kingdom. But when they’re attacked by the feared Otherworlders, Caben and Kaliope are abducted and taken below to a realm where they must fight for their life in a caged arena.Kaliope struggles to protect her princely charge, keeping him and herself alive while battling inhumanly opponents, and trying to save the stolen, sacred relic that will restore her empress’s life force and all of Cavan. And if she can somehow awaken the goddess within her, she may save what’s most important.
OF SILVER AND BEASTS
by Trisha Wolfe
I don’t know if I’ve been asleep for hours or minutes, but the adrenaline rushing system to act makes it impossible to sleep. Nudging Caben’s slumbering body, I say, “Wake up.”
He’s still lying on his side, his legs curled up where they had been entangled with mine while we slept. His arms reach out, searching for something as his eyes crack open. “It’s not morning,” he deadpans.
“I don’t know if it is or not, but we’ve slept enough.” I prod him once more, rousing him fully awake. “Get—”
He rolls over.
Annoyed, and having had just about enough of his chauvinistic arrogance, I lift my bare foot to kick his backside. Before my heel meets his rump, his arm reaches behind and he grabs my ankle. I swallow my yelp as he pulls me onto the cot. Landing on my back, I bite my lip, holding in my cry as the bar beneath the mattress gouges into my spine. But all thoughts of aches and revenge flee my mind as Caben pulls my ankle and slides my body underneath his. Hovering above me—half his weight on the cot, half on top of me—he presses me into the bedding.
His hand lowers my foot to the bed, then slowly slides up the side of my leg until it reaches my stomach. Lifting the bottom of my tunic, he rests his palm on my waist, on the small curve above my hip. His eyes never waver, his heated gaze holding mine.
“Before we begin nefariously plotting,” he says, low and husky, his breath skimming my cheek. “I want to know—I’ll only ask this once.”
Unsure of what he’s demanding, I squint, and my breath halts as his eyes drop to my chest. I swallow. My eyes close.
“Kaliope.” He says my name with the hint of accent I now know I only hear when he’s taken off-guard. When he drops his barriers, either in anger, urgency, or fear. I wonder what emotion is causing him to lose control now. And will his lilt deepen out of alarm or revulsion when he sees my chest?
I open my eyes.
The steady thump of his heart beats against my arm. It speeds as the tension thickens the slight span of air between us.
No matter what happens later, whether we live or die, I at least have control over this moment. Even if we survive, and he goes off to rule his kingdom and I to lead the Nactue, I can keep this one moment.
One stolen moment out of a lifetime of duty.
Taking a breath and releasing it in tiny clips that make my breastbone ache, I cover his hand with mine. The metal cuffs on our wrists clank together. I force his hand slowly upward—onto my belly ... my rib cage ... around the swell of my breast—to the hard glass covering.
I fight the urge to shut my eyes and close myself off from the many, sudden emotions that cross his face. His eyes enlarge, and a crease forms between his brows as his features shift to confusion. And when I think my body will die from tremors, he finally breathes, his full lips pressing together in discernment.
Attempting to remove his hand and rise, I shift sideways, but he holds his place, firmly pressed against me. The rough pad of his fingertip traces the scar tissue around the casing. His deep, stormy eyes follow the hollow of my neck until they land on my collarbone. And with a movement so subtle, he turns his hand over and pulls my tunic down, exposing the clamp.
My insides threaten to combust. Every nerve in my body is ready to set the mercury aflame—my dread is complete. I have to force some word from his mouth, some action from him, to end this torment.
Only when he begins to lower his mouth toward mine, I freeze, wondering if he’s merely accepting me because again, we could die, and I’m the last chance he’ll have to be with a woman before then.
But his lips pass mine, brush over my chin and jawline, and instead find the sensitive, scarred skin of my chest. He plants a soft kiss, and then another. My throat thickens. My nostrils flare as a burning sensation blazes behind my sinuses. It quickly subsides when the unshed tears I’m holding back release. I blink, and they quietly trail down the sides of my temples.
WELL? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?