Looks serene doesn’t it? This view of Loch Ness from the ruins of Urquhart Castle? Wish I felt as peaceful as this picture.
But Monday, December 13th is the start of Round Three in the Kensington Brava / RT Book Reviews Writing With the Stars contest. Yep. That’s right. Monday, December 13th unveils the six remaining finalists. *GULP*
To urge the day to arrive a bit faster and half-heartedly attempt to make myself useful, I thought I’d post a brand new excerpt from ETERNITY’S MARK −my entry that’s been battling for the win. Hope you enjoy it (and keep your fingers crossed that ETERNITY’S MARK makes it)!
A loud crash followed by a roared curse brought her attention back to the bedchamber. Taggart stood in the doorway, sword drawn, eyes glowing with a murderous light. A tall, wispy man with thin trailing hair stood slightly behind him.
Padding into the room, Hannah crossed her arms over the front of her skimpy nightgown and scooted for her robe draped across the end of the bed. She glanced at the strange man behind the breakfast cart, then turned to Taggart with a frosty hiss. “Would you mind telling me what you think you’re doing? All you had to do was give me a few minutes and I would’ve eventually answered the door.”
Taggart sheathed his sword with an irritated thump as he scanned the room. “Why in the hell did ye no’ answer the door when Thaetus knocked and asked ye to allow him entry?”
As she yanked the belt of her robe tight about her waist, Hannah envisioned wrapping it around Taggart’s neck. How dare he talk to her as if she was a child! Who did he think he was? “He only knocked twice and I was busy. All he had to do was wait a minute. Since when do you break somebody’s door down when they don’t open it after a couple of knocks?”
“Actually, I knocked thrice.” Thaetus cleared his throat and folded his pale, narrow hands atop the brass handles of the cart. “And I called out to ye twice and asked if ye were unwell. When ye didna answer, I could only assume something had gone awry and ye needed immediate assistance.”
“Thaetus.” Hannah stalked across the room, hands clenched into the folds of her robe, struggling to channel her irritation. “Do you know what happens when you assume?”
Thaetus raised his chin, his spectacled eyes narrowed as he replied with a delicate sniff. “No. What would that be, Lady Guardian?”
Hannah glared at the stone-faced servant. She itched to fire back her standard smartass reply of it makes an ass out of you and me. She gritted her teeth and decided the phrase would be lost on the stoic-faced man. She might as well save her breath. She doubted Thaetus would get it. “Never mind, Thaetus. You’d never understand.” This was ridiculous. They guarded her like she was some national treasure. There hadn’t been any attacks since they’d left Jasper Mills. Surely, she was safe here at Taroc Na Mor.
“What were ye doing, Hannah? Why did ye no’ call out and answer Thaetus?” Taggart slapped at the twisted hinges dangling from the chamber doors, scowling at the damage he’d done to the paneling and the surrounding doorframe.
“I don’t believe that is any of your business.” With a huff, Hannah poured a cup of coffee and curled up on the settee to return Taggart’s fuming stare. She had to admit she rather enjoyed irritating him. And this was the second time she’d gotten a little more than breathless by seeing him rush to defend her. When he brandished his sword, his wondrous muscles bulged, leaving no doubt he’d slay anything foolish enough to cross his path. Hannah cradled her cup between her palms, remembering the warmth of Taggart’s essence when she’d helped him heal Septamus. She shifted on the settee, drawing in a rapid breath. These chambers suddenly seemed very warm.
Thaetus’ eyes widened with a horrified look and he tapped nervous fingertips atop Taggart’s arm. “Ye need to leave this room and allow the Lady Guardian to compose herself. Ye have upset her and you know that is forbidden.”
With an arched brow, Taggart studied Hannah closer then sidled a glance back to Thaetus’ bug-eyed expression. A roguish grin crept across his face as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Truly? Are ye absolutely certain, Thaetus?”
“Aye, Taggart. Ye know the rules. The Lady Guardian must be left alone.” Thaetus plucked at Taggart’s tunic with long, narrow fingers and jerked his head toward the door.
“Thaetus, I know we might’ve gotten off on the wrong foot and please don’t take this the wrong way. But you are acting strange. What exactly is your problem?” Hannah stretched forward, sliding her china cup onto the marble slab table squatting in front of the damask settee.
Taggart’s warm, rumbling chuckle bubbled up from the depths of his chest and echoed off the walls of the high-ceilinged room. “I have to tell her, Thaetus. ‘Twould no’ be fair to keep the lass in the dark. Ye’ve already given yourself away.”
Thaetus shook his head and backed against the wall, pulling the breakfast cart in front of his body as though it were a shield. “She will not be pleased. Consider yourself warned, Taggart. And ye might want to step behind here with me.”
Taggart rubbed his nose with the back of his hand as he gave a wink and a nod toward Thaetus. “Thaetus is an empath, Hannah. Ye might say he’s very sensitive to your…um…needs.”
Hannah looked from Taggart to Thaetus and then back to Taggart’s knowing grin. That son-of-a-. Thaetus had picked up on her very private case of the hornies and alerted Taggart in code. Embarrassed heat of this revelation stormed its way through her body. Her cheeks burned hotter than they had in high school when the zipper split on her jeans during her speech in the middle of assembly.
“Get out.” Hannah pointed at the door hanging off the hinges while fixing her gaze on the center of the coffee table.
“It’s all right, Hannah, I understand how ye might be excited by−”
“I said get the hell out!”
Thaetus took the lead and hurried toward the door, dodging the coffee cup Hannah lobbed at their heads. He only paused long enough to hiss to Taggart. “I advised ye she would not be pleased.”