June 1st officially kicked off the Sizzling Summer Reads Party, hosted by the good folks at theromancereviews.com. There are literally hundreds of authors participating in Sizzling Summer and they are fabulous. Every day, a handful of books are spotlighted with a quick quiz. You can find the answers by clicking on the helpful hint links, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget the question once you start exploring those sites. There’s fun and prizes and cake and lots of authors you can’t wait to read yet. (The cake is a lie.) So tell your friends and be sure to check back with them every day to explore some fresh sizzle and share your favorites!
In the meantime, every Monday and Thursday in June, I have been celebrating the summer of sizzle with some sizzling samples from each of my books. I warn you right now: Some of them are weirder than others. And now we have come to the last Thursday of June, which means my last sizzling snippet. Fear not, giveaway-enterers! You still have all weekend long to enter my last drawing to win your choice of the ecopy of one of my books, including the upcoming The Last Hour of Gann. As with the other two drawings (congratulations again to Misty Rios and BN100!) I will be holding the drawing the day after it officially closes, to give all my late readers and readers in other time zones a last chance to enter. Between now and then, you can probably get in three more entries. Just look for any post tagged Sizzling Summer Reads and leave a comment that includes a viable email address (so I can contact you) and words to the effect that you do want to enter. Remember that all my books contain graphic violence and strong sexual content, so you must tell me you want to enter the giveaway.
Since June has also been the month of Bad Boys and Hot and Deadly, I thought for my last sizzling snippet, I’d leave you with something on the sweeter side–maybe not as sizzly as some of the others, but still one of my favorite scenes from the Lords of Arcadia series. A love story, as it were.
He snorted, then caressed her hip with the same slow movements he’d used to pet Aisling. His eyes were dimmed and thoughtful. “I am no talesmith, lady, but there is one that my father’s father told me that may please you some. He told me that all things that ever were had a will and soul of its own. Every beast. Every tree. Every cloud that ever blew across the sky of every world. Some lives are short, like those of the drops of rain that fall, they shine once in brilliance before extinguishing forever. Some go on forever, like those of the stars that burn unending in the night. But all see us. All know the touch that falls on them. All have hearts and all can lose them to another.”
Already his voice was settling into the rise and fall of story-telling, and Taryn found herself relaxing.
“He told me,” Antilles continued, “that when our clan first came to this valley, led by the great chief Cebrionus, the mountain that even now sleeps beneath us beheld him and was smitten. She gave her bones freely to the building of the city of Dis so that she could soonest embrace him whom she loved.”
“Him and a few hundred others,” Taryn said, snuggling into the bedding a little more.
“Aye, well, love may overlook many such petty details in the pursuit of the greater goal. But Cebrionus was the male that she longed for, though he did not know it.”
“No one ever suspects the mountain,” she said sleepily.
“True enough. And as the years passed and life grew easier, eventually came a day that Cebrionus felt secure enough in his new holdings to cast about for a mate. He had many to choose among, for he was chief and of a striking form, and he selected of them Persea, who was among the greatest of his warriors. In their quiet moments together, the watching mountain oversaw their matings.”
“Uh oh. Did she get jealous?”
“You shall not often see such a thing in Arcadian tales,” Antilles remarked. “Nay, the mountain saw only the manner in which Cebrionus loved, and with this knowledge, took a form to empower her to approach him. Now of the new day, through the new-set gates of Dis came this female, more pleasing to the eye than any Cerosan before her or since, and all the clan gathered in amazement, for none of them knew of whence she came. And Cebrionus came also, and aye, found her winning indeed.”
“Naturally, since she was made for him.”
“Still, it must have proved gratifying to know her efforts had been so successful.” Antilles shifted Aisling so that he could draw Taryn closer before continuing. “She did not speak, for words are of another nature that mountains can never know—”
“Not like walking or falling in love.”
He chuckled and tossed his horns. “I tell the tale only as I have been told.”
“Yes, I know. Sorry. Go ahead.”
“But even her quiet way seemed greatly alluring to Cebrionus, and he put Persea aside that night and brought the stranger to his bed.”
“I’ll bet the earth moved, too.”
“Aye, and that sporting well, for Cebrionus lost many days and nights to the pleasures of the coupling couch. He called her Isaure, for she was as the gentle breeze that softly goes, and together they explored the many rooms in the temple that is love. But the mountain could not inhabit her Cerosan form and hold her will over the mountain that was her truth. Her soul that had lived since the world was spun began to die, and with it, the stone itself. Though she loved him, she knew she must return to the mountain.”
“This is starting to not sound like such a happy story.”
“I suppose it depends on one’s perspective, lady. One day, Cebrionus awoke to find his entrancing mute gone from his bed, and though he searched all the Valley, he could not find her. But he could feel her, aye, and never more strongly than when he was alone upon the mountainside. As the years passed and his Isaure did not return, Cebrionus took back his duties as chief and ultimately, as the first lord of Hoof and Horn. He sired many young of many mates, Persea first among them, of whom my line is descended, but always he found a little time to sit alone upon the bare rock and remember his beautiful and silent Isaure. And in his dreams, when he slept upon the open stone, he knew her again and held her in his arms.
“Mountains have long souls,” Antilles continued. “Their memories reach easily through millennia of time. But Cerosan do not live forever. Eventually, there came a day that Cebrionus walked out alone to the mountainside and did not return. A search was made.”
Antilles raised himself up and pulled the shutters above the wide bed open. He beckoned, and Taryn got to her knees and leaned out the narrow opening, looking up the snowy mountainside and seeing it aglow with moonlight.
“And that is what they found,” Antilles said. His arm enfolded Taryn’s shoulders, warm against the winter’s bite. “No track nor trace of their aged lord, but only this peak, grown as by magic over the swell of mountain stone. For if everything that ever was has a soul and a heart that yearns, then surely blessings can come even to a mountain and him who loved her, and they have been together ever since, joined eternally.”
Taryn smiled, leaning into his side. He nuzzled at her neck, then drew her back down to the bed, but left the window open. He pulled a fur over her shoulders, gathering her close onto his chest, and stroked her hair. He said, “And that is the tale my father’s father told me, about the mountain we call Isauren and the peak called Lover’s Rest.”
“A very happy story,” Taryn said. “And I have a feeling it’s going to last the test of time after all, because I’m going to make you tell it to me every night.”
“Aye, maiden. As you will it.”
She closed her eyes against the sight of Lover’s Rest and, with his heart slow and even beneath her and Aisling snoring lightly at her hip, she surrendered herself to dreamless sleep.