I’m mired down in ENRAPTURED right now, trying to finish it up by my deadline, but as I was doing copy edits last week for TEMPTED I thought it’d be fun to post a scene to tide readers over. I do have to warn you, it was hard to find a scene that wouldn’t confuse everyone. So much is happening in this book and there’s a lot of action right from the start. Everything builds from there.
I hope you enjoy!!
Graceful, dickhead. And really fucking heroic. If you wanted to stare at her body, you should have left that sheer black nightgown on her instead of giving her your shirt.
Pinching the bridge of his nose, he tried to wipe away the image of Isadora’s near-naked lower half from his mind. Which was as productive as trying to open the friggin’ portal right this minute, because all he could see was her sleek bare legs, those creamy inner thighs, that little treasure that was hidden just under the hem of his shirt…
His face grew hot, and his pulse beat so hard he could hear the blood pounding in his veins. Dammit, he didn’t want her. He didn’t like her. She wasn’t even his type.
He thought back to that girl at the club. The dominatrix with the delta tattoo and fuck-me boots. Now she was his type. She was the kind of female he was attracted to. The only kind he deserved.
Isadora cleared her throat. Scowling, he glanced sideways and saw she’d crossed her good leg over her bad and pulled his shirt down over both legs as far as she could, then wrapped her arms around herself in a don’t-even-look-at-me move he’d have to be a moron to miss.
Okay, just fucking refocus.
He stalked across the ground, picked up what was left of his weapons. He was going to need to make more. The invisibility spell he’d cast on the edge of the cliff wouldn’t last long, and with the sun setting, they needed to find shelter. Two days on this island had already taught him the really nasty stuff came out at night.
“I didn’t realize you were a…” Isadora swallowed. “A witch.”
“Yeah, right.” Louder, she added, “You’re from Jason’s line. It shouldn’t surprise me, since he shacked up with a sorceress. Do the other Argonauts know?”
“I don’t give a flying rat’s ass what they know.”
“That would be a no,” she muttered.
Her disgust hit him square in the chest, and before he could stop it, that blackness circled, latched on, and squeezed. “I also don’t care what you think you know. But don’t lump me in with your little witch friends. I’m not the one who turned you over to a warlock.” I’m the one who fucking saved you, dammit. He reached for another broken spear from the ground.
“Oh my gods,” Isadora whispered. “Apophis’s witches. You were there.”
Her shocked voice brought his head up, and too late he realized, bingo. Thanks to him, her brain had just snapped back into gear. She’d been out the whole time they’d been here, while he’d been getting his ass kicked, trying to find a way off this damn island and at the same time making sure nothing snacked on her when he wasn’t looking. And though it would have been nice if she’d been awake instead of deadweight during all that, her consciousness now ignited a whole other set of problems. Namely, what did she really remember, and how the hell was he going to explain any of this?
Way to go, dumbass.
“I…I didn’t think anyone was going to find me.”
He definitely didn’t need to hear the quiver in her voice. And he sure as hell didn’t want to think about what that twisted warlock had done to her in the hours she’d been in his castle. Demetrius had already played every scenario around in his head a dozen times, then promised himself that when he got off this freakin’ island, he’d go back and kick some warlock ass just to settle the score.
“How did you find me?”
Her soft words cut through his thoughts, and a little voice in the back of his head cautioned, Ignore her. But instead of listening, he heard himself say, “Your handmaiden.”
“Saphira.” Her eyes slid closed. “She came to me in my chamber. I was…upset.” Her cheeks turned the softest shade of pink before she added, “She gave me tea, only it wasn’t tea. It was something else. And then…then I was out.”
“Nice handmaiden.” If the witch weren’t already dead, he’d add her to his takedown list. “Too bad the king didn’t call off your binding ceremony to Zander earlier.”
And whoa, why the hell did he even care? And since when had he turned into Mr. Noble? He gave his head a swift shake and glanced toward the thick forest to the west in an attempt to clear his gray matter.
“My father did what?”
The shock in her voice nixed his thoughts and brought his head around before he could stop it. “You didn’t know?”
“No. He…” Her surprised chocolate eyes skipped over the ground. “He decided to let Callia and Zander be together?”
Demetrius shrugged, though inside, that darkness brewed deeper. If the king hadn’t reneged on the original arranged binding between Theron and Isadora weeks ago, neither of them would be here now. “Don’t know. Wasn’t there. Really don’t care.” He pointed toward the west. “I think our best bet is through those trees.”
“Wait. What was…?” She swallowed. “That thing looked like a Fury.”
Thank the flippin’ gods she’d changed the subject. He gathered the last of what was left of his weapons. “Furies have snakes in their hair. Like Apophis’s witches.” And trust me, Princess, they’re a thousand times worse. “That was a Harpy.”
He moved to pick her up, but she blocked him with her forearm. “What happened to my leg? The last thing I remember is stepping through the portal from Apophis’s castle into a field full of daemons. How did we get here? And”—her eyes widened—“what happened to Gryphon? He came through with us.”
Demetrius fought to keep his shoulders relaxed as he straightened. Here came the questions. He should have picked up his damn pace. “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
“I mean, Your Highness,” he snapped, at the end of his patience with her and this place and all of it, “I don’t know what happened to Gryphon. When I opened the portal to get us the hell out of there, something crisscrossed and we wound up here.”
“Crisscrossed? That’s your best explanation?”
“That’s the only one I’ve got.” And the only one you’re gonna get.
“So where is Gryphon?”
“I don’t know.”
She stared at him, and then slowly her eyes narrowed to thin slits. A demeaning look he was used to seeing on her pale face. “What you really mean is, you don’t care.”
His head snapped back as if she’d hit him. She obviously couldn’t consider the possibility he was as worried about Gryphon as she was. But then, why would she? She thought he was a son of a bitch, which wasn’t far off the mark. And considering what had been running through his head a few minutes ago, if he wanted to find a way to get her off this island before Atalanta’s little scheme clicked into gear, it was better all around if she went on thinking he was nothing more than a righteous prick.
But it still cut. Just as it always did when she refused to look him in the eye or turned the other way when she saw him in the castle. Even if that was the only way it could be.
“Yeah,” he muttered as he rested his hands on his hips and glared down at her. “You’re right, Princess. I don’t fucking care.”
Her mouth snapped shut. She crossed her arms over her middle and looked down at her legs. If she was at all still hurting or upset, she didn’t show it. The tight line of her shoulders was a clear sign she was well and truly pissed. Which was exactly what he wanted, wasn’t it?
“Where the hell are we?” she asked without looking up.
Oh yeah, her adrenaline swing was in full gear. She’d morphed from scared shitless to ticked in the span of a few seconds, thanks to him.
Well, good. He handled pissed a whole lot better than freaked-out and vulnerable any day of the week.
He shifted his legs wider, crossed his arms over his chest. “Why don’t you tell me? Since you’re the expert on everything. Where the hell do you think we are?”
“Harpies and rabid boars—”
“Calydonian boars. There’s a big difference”
“Whatever. They don’t really exist.”
“Tell that to the two dead monsters down on that beach.”
Her eyes met his. Eyes, he noticed, that weren’t quite as enraged as he’d originally thought. Lurking behind the tough-girl shield was true fear.
Which, skata, he did not need to see.
“The Argonauts extinguished the lines,” she protested. “Thousands of years ago, that was the first thing Zeus commanded them to do. To sweep the world, gather the monsters wreaking havoc on humans, and destroy them. It’s in all the history books. They did that. They—”
“Your history books were obviously wrong. If you ever left that palace you call a bedroom suite, you’d know that.” Refusing to be moved by her shocked expression, he added, “Look around you. The Argonauts didn’t kill anything. They gathered and they dumped. Right here in the middle of the Ionian Sea. And lucky us, we followed.”
“Ionian Sea?” Shock flicked over her features. “Pandora isn’t a real island. It can’t be. It—”
“Looks pretty damn real to me.” He glanced up, noted the sun had now completely dropped behind the water and that dusk was creeping in fast. They were about out of time. The fresh kills down below were like blinking beacons to the nasties. They needed to get the hell out of here before the really ugly shit woke up and went hunting.
Far off in the forest below, a bloodthirsty howl echoed. Isadora’s head snapped in that direction and her eyes grew even wider until a halo of white surrounded her golden brown irises.
“Sounds pretty fucking real, too. Let’s save the bickering for later, shall we? We need to make tracks.”
“Wait,” she said when he bent toward her. “Open the portal and take us home.”
He clenched his jaw. “I can’t.”
“Because whatever crisscrossed to get us here screwed with my ability to open the portal.”
She pressed a hand against his chest when he lifted her into his arms. A hand that was warm and soft and ignited a tingle in his skin he liked and hated all at the same time. “Demetrius…”
Bloody hell. He did not like the way she said his name. Didn’t like the sudden soft lilt to her voice or the way the sounds rolled off her tongue. And it didn’t make him think of hearing her say his name just like that when she was naked, beneath him, her head kicked back on a pillow—
“Pandora can’t be real. It can’t be.”
“Why the hell not?” He pushed the image out of his mind and looked down at her this-can’t-be-happening expression. It was all he could do to keep his face neutral as that tingle spread lower and his mind flashed back to the skimpy black nightie she’d been wearing when he’d first found her. To the way her skin had peeked out beneath the sheer black fabric. To the sway of her hips, the roundness of her breasts, the soft indent of her belly button…
“Because,” she whispered. “If the creatures are real, if Pandora is real, it means the myth is real. And according to the myth, there’s no way off the island. No one who’s been here has ever lived to tell about it.”
Like he didn’t know that? Reality snapped back firmly in his face. Welcome to my hell, Princess. Dying on this island wasn’t his greatest fear. It was being stuck here alone with her that scared the shit out of him.
He headed for the trees. “Then we’re gonna have to figure out a way to prove the myth wrong, now, aren’t we?”
A scream joined the howl far below. Her hand gripped his shoulder. She pulled her body close to his on reflex. His skin warmed in response, and before he could stop it, a whole host of electrifying tingles erupted beneath her fingers where she held him, beneath her breast, pressed tight to his bare chest, then rushed straight down his torso, right into his cock.
Which he so didn’t need, now or ever.
He ground his teeth to the point of pain. And shoved a whole lot of I-don’t-give-a-shit into his voice when he said, “I liked you a lot better when you were unconscious.”