Ok, so I didn't manage three "As" like I was planning, but I'd kindly ask ya'll to give me a break. I got home last night around 11p.m., after spending a long weekend in sunny Florida, which will be my new home come August. Our flight was delayed thanks to Alberto, and it was quite a bumpy, lightening-filled ride, too. The only plus side to the unpleasant flight was that I spent the duration editing a wonderful manuscript that I've fallen in love with - part of Sacrilegious by Savannah Jordan. This will be one of the first releases from Aphrodite's Apples, and I strongly encourage everyone to read it. This lady is going places.
Back here in Maryland it is cold and wet. Actually, it's not terribly cold, probably low 70s, but after spending the weekend in Florida where it was in the 90s, I'm experiencing some shock.
I really liked Jacksonville. I no longer throw up in my mouth (a little bit) at the thought of moving down there. My new apartment is, to quote H.S. Kinn, FAAAABULOUS. They are renovating the units now, and as such I was able to choose my carpet, paint, cabinets, etc. There is a screened in porch which the cats will love, and have much fun chasing those little lizard things that fascinate me a good deal. I did not see any gators, but I asked every person I met about them. I mean everyone. I may have made a bit of a name for myself by being obsessed with them and the "gator pits" as I call them - the little drainage ponds that are everywhere in Florida.
And now, to make up for being remiss in my updates, I shall give you an excerpt from Svetkavista, which will be released later this year, only from Aphrodite's Apples!
Karina woke at dawn the next morning, before her family, and long before the rest of the camp would be up to make breakfast, pack, and depart. Normally, she would be sneaking back to her tent at this time, hoping to catch an hour or two of sleep before breakfast. In happier times, the kumpa'nia would not travel quite so much, staying in the same place for a week, or perhaps two, before moving on. They couldn't afford to do so now. The tribe also used to be much smaller, but varying factions of Rom had banded together, united in disgust and fear of the Empress' laws.
She made her way down to the banks of the Tisza to quickly bathe in private.
Stripping down to her white undergarment she stepped gingerly into the water,
moving forward until she was knee-deep in the icy current. She paused to
allow herself to adjust to the chill before wading out farther.
Half a dozen more steps, and the water was up to her elbows. Karina dipped her head back, soaking her hair, and closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness as she rested in the water's embrace. When she began to shiver from the cold she straightened and glanced down at her torso -- the white slip was plastered against her pale form, the flesh underneath covered with goosebumps.
She gazed at her reflection in the water, murky and imperfect, and sighed. Papusza had said that Brishen liked her. How could that be? She was a half-breed, and an unattractive one at that. Her one redeeming feature was that she could dance; and if her father had his way she'd never dance for anyone, except in secret, midnight rendezvous' with people she was supposed to look down upon.
She slipped back down into the river with a sigh and relaxed her arms, allowing them to float on the buoyancy of the water. She drifted this way for a time before standing and glancing up to the sky. The first rays of sunlight were peaking out from between the hills. The others would be waking soon.
Karina waded back to the bank, pausing to wring out her hair and undergown. She laid down on the grass, stretching out beneath the creeping warmth of the dawn sun. There were clouds just beyond the horizon, suggesting that the day would soon turn gloomy and damp, and she wanted to enjoy the sun for as long as it lasted. She would go and dance tonight, Karina decided -- for herself, for Papusza, and to prove to Brishen that she wasn't unnerved by him. Maybe, to prove it to herself as
When she was dried, she stood and shuffled over to where she'd left her clothes. She pulled the skirts up over her hips, and was about to shrug into her shirt, when she heard a voice behind her.
"Droboy tume Romale."
Karina whirled around and saw Brishen leaning against a tree, not far away, with his arms crossed loosely over his chest. She narrowed her eyes and looked away, but
"I offended you last night," he stated, without remorse.
"You did," she answered curtly, avoiding his gaze.
"It was a compliment, wanting to watch you dance. Truly."
"Then there are lies more believable than the truth," she quoted.
He grinned. "I don't believe I've ever known a woman who couldn't accept a compliment before."
"And I've never known a man with such a perverse notion of compliments," she countered, gathering the rest of her clothing in her arms. She made a motion to walk past him, to get back to the camp where he wouldn't dare try to speak with her, moving with a calm that belied her nervousness.
Brishen's hand shot out as soon as she was close enough, latching onto her elbow and halting her progress. His grip was firm.
"Let go of me!" she exclaimed, twisting away from him. In response, he brought his other arm up to circle her waist, pulling her against his body. Her armful of clothes was the only thing separating them.
"I'll scream," Karina whispered. "I'll scream at the top of my lungs, and they'll all come."
"No, you won't."
"Yes, I will."
He pulled her even closer, crushing her against him, and brought his face within inches of hers. She could feel the lean, hard muscles of his chest through the thin fabric of his shirt, could feel the strain of his forearm against her waist. His other hand released its grip on her elbow and came up to stroke her cheek.
"Then go ahead and scream," he murmured.
She opened her mouth to do just that and he covered her lips with his own, kissing
her hard and fast. His tongue pushed into her mouth, tracing the line of her teeth, and thrusting with a rhythm that, to her horror, her body seemed to recognize.
When he released her he was smiling. "I told you you wouldn't scream," he said with a smirk.