Read this excerpt as more sparks fly between Sky and Vilicia.
You first met Sky Turan and Vilicia in THE GREATER GOOD. Now read their own story in THE LESSER EVIL, as Vilicia takes a post as a diplomat in The Realm. Juston entrusts his friend Sky with Vilicia safety while she trains with all those randy men. Everything Vilicia does irritates Sky, and he doesn't trust her. But his body doesn't care. Everytime he's near her, he wants her. Can a man love a woman he believes has no honor?
Vilicia doesn't need Sky to watch out for her. She's a trained warrior herself. And when she's around him, she wants nothing more than to show him just how nasty she can be. But the handsome swordman awakes soft and urgent feelings in her that she doesn't know how to handle. Does she really hate him or it this thing called love?
And while they sort out their personal problems, an enemy more evil and clever than they could anticipate plots their deaths. Can they trust each other to join in a fight against the malicious evil?
READ AN EXCERPT FROM THE LESSER EVIL
Sky grunted with the effort of blocking Vilicia’s sword as it arced toward his ribs. Sweat poured from every inch of his skin and a light trembling started in his knees.
Vilicia grinned at him, the pure joy in her expression distracting him further. Her next attack swept like heat lightning through his too slow defense. Her heavy wooden sword cracked against his ribs and sent him reeling backwards.
She followed and stuck her sword tip under his chin. The sleeveless shirt she wore exposed her lean muscled arms. Arms that were solid and steady as she held him at sword point.
Vilicia laughed and spun the sword around her hand in a trick Sky knew was extremely difficult. “You’re no challenge, Turan. You should go home and take a mid day nap until you get back your strength.”
There was nothing he would have liked better than to rest. But Brady told him many men were asking after him. He had to put in an appearance at work or someone might get too curious.
“I need to be seen. And how am I going to draw this assassin out if he thinks he can’t get to me?”
“Are you sure you want to draw him out in your condition?”
Sky glared at her, but as he was finding out, it had little intimidation power over her. “I can handle whatever comes at me.”
Vilicia snorted, but said nothing more. She gathered up her overshirt and her real sword.
Sky took a deep breath, feeling like he was diving off a steep cliff into the cold waters of the sea. “About drawing this person forth, I was thinking of some ways we could do that.”
Vilicia strapped on her sword and looked up. “Go ahead.”
“Well, I spend most of my time here at the academy or at home with the girls.”
“You don’t have to explain your social ineptness, Sky.”
Sky plunged on despite the sarcasm. “If I start walking around, not following my normal habits, we could scare him off.”
Vilicia looked thoughtful. “I’m listening.”
“Well, if I have a reason to walk around in the town, we won’t tip them or him off.”
“Sound deduction. What is your reason for changing your habits?”
“That’s your part. You’re my reason. I’ll show you around the town, take you to dinner and see what happens.”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
“Brady explained what a date was and this sounds an awful lot like a date to me.”
“You mean like the night he took you to dinner?” Sky asked.
“I told him that sounded like a date also.”
“What did he say to that?”
Vilicia waved a dismissive hand. “He told me to call it what ever I wanted to call it.”
“We’ll be working while we’re out. Watching for someone following us and being alert for an attack. Also, if you’re to act as a diplomat to us from Solonia, you need to see all parts of the Realm.”
“I’d love to go, Sky,” Vilicia said sweetly. She started back toward the path that would take her to her quarters.
Sky almost fell as the tension eased from his body. Damn, why had he been so worried about her answer?
Vilicia turned right before she walked through the surrounding hedge. “Still sounds like a date to me, Turan.”
“I thought they might have something you would like,” Sky said.
Vilicia smiled at him. He smiled a crooked smile back. They had visited three interesting shops before Sky brought her to this little eatery. The server had shown them to a small table in one corner. A candle smelling of wild lavender sat in the middle of the table and water was provided in fine glasses. Solonia often traded for Realm glassware. The craftsmen in the Realm were far superior to those in Solonia.
Vilicia lifted the glass, finding the water was flavored with the tart exotic taste of lemon. The Realm settlers had brought the fruit trees with them and maintained a few orchards. Though Vilicia admired the exotic glass products of the Realm and found chocolate pure joy, nothing made her mouth water like lemon. If Solonia never traded another thing with their neighbors, she thought she would find a way to steal some lemons. The foreign fruit trees would not bear fruit in the higher altitude of Solonia.
She noticed Sky stared at her lips as she lowered her glass back to the table. Warm pleasure flooded her.
The server reappeared at their table, placing a basket of fragrant rolls down before asking what they would like.
“The vegetables wraps with rice for both of us,” Sky told her. The young girl scurried away.
“You didn’t have to forgo your dead animal for my sake.”
Sky gave a crooked smile. “Somehow it loses its appeal when you refer to it as dead animal.”
“Don’t apologize. The Solonians know more about health and healing than the Realm. Maybe we should eat like you. All of you seem rather healthy.”
“That might be the first nice thing you ever said about Solonia.”
Sky’s gray eyes were inscrutable as he stared at her over top the candle. “There are things I admire about Solonia.”
“Things?” Vilicia took another sip of water and watched Sky’s gaze drop to her mouth again. She licked her lips when she finished drinking. Sky looked away.
“Things like their knowledge of natural remedies. The fact that you survived all these years living in the midst of the Savages. Your warriors are competent.”
“Competent?” Vilicia growled.
Sky grinned at her reaction and her initial offense fled before the boyish charm in his expression. Their meal arrived and they ate in a comfortable silence for a while.
“This was delicious,” Vilicia said as she finished the last of her meal.
“I noticed you liked it.” Sky pulled some of the metal discs, known in the Realm as trade credits, out of his pocket and put them on the table. “Let’s get out of here.”
He put his hand beneath Vilicia’s elbow as he guided her through the maze of little round tables and dining patrons. She noticed the stares of many people, mostly the men, as she walked past them.
When they reached the walking path made of split timbers outside she asked Sky about it. “Why do so many of your people stare at me so rudely? Is it the color of my hair?”
Sky snorted. “That’s part of it. Blonde hair is unheard of in the Realm.”
“What’s the other part?”
Sky stopped and turned toward her. They had passed beyond the dim filtered light provided by the business establishments. He moved closer to her. Though he didn’t quite touch her, the heat from his body warmed her. He stood so close she had to tilt her head back to meet his intense gaze.
“Did I tell you how beautiful you look in that dress?” Sky asked in a hoarse whisper.
She felt trapped by his will, unable to do little more than whisper back. “No, you didn’t.”
He leaned toward her, and she lifted her face to him. His lips brushed across her mouth once and then again. He pulled his head back and she had to put her hands on his chest to catch herself as she swayed toward him.
He caught her and looked into her eyes for a long moment. A fierce fire glowed in the gray depths of his as he again lowered his mouth to hers. Her lids drifted closed as his lips met hers with less caution and more demand.
Vilicia wanted to savor each tiny smidge of her first kiss, but her senses overwhelmed her thoughts so she could only return his kiss. No rational analyzation of the moment was possible.
At some point, Sky wrapped his arms around her. He pulled her close and then closer until every inch of her front side seemed glued to his. He lifted his head enough to whisper against her lips. “Open for me.”
She tried to ask him what he meant, but he brought his mouth to hers again. His tongue entered her mouth before she could close it and then she didn’t want to. The sensation of having part of him inside her, stroking her sensitive tongue with his own, weakened her knees so she had to hang onto his shoulders to prevent falling.
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