Today's snippet is from my recently re-released Arabian Nights novel Heart of Flame. It's a romance novel, mind, so don't go expecting chapter upon chapter of rumpy-pumpy, but it does feature TWO passionate and troublesome romantic relationships, so there's a lot of angst going around. The main story is that of Taqla and Rafiq, who are charging back and forth across the Middle East on a magic horse, trying to rescue the Amir of Damascus' daughter from the djinni who's kidnapped her. Since this is taking some time, poor abducted Ahleme is having to deal with the djinni Yazid herself...
He circled the pillar until he was almost on top of her. “You humans must be miserable all your short lives,” he growled. "Living without love."
She averted her face, pivoting on her trapped ankle to turn her back on him. “Maybe we are. It isn’t important.” She rested one flank against the pillar, feeling the cool glass against her thigh and left breast.
“How can you say that?” He was standing right over her now. She could feel his breath on her hair when he spoke. “I would make you happy, Ahleme, if you’d let me.”
“You’d make me your slave,” she whispered.
“I would set you free.” His hand descended on her thick braid at the nape of her neck and she jerked.
“No!” she warned. Yazid hissed and withdrew his hand.
“Don’t—I’m not going to hurt you. Not even touch you. Just your hair, Ahleme. Let me stroke your hair.”
She pressed her face to the pillar, gathering her will to repel him. Then he laid his hand on her head gently and ran it down her braided hair, and she nearly whimpered.
“There. There. It’s not hurting you, is it?”
He wasn’t hurting her. Her resistance wavered.
“You’ve beautiful hair, like darkest honey.” His voice was a low murmur, and Ahleme felt her bones turn to water at its purr. She was tired and scared and she dreaded the thought of mutilating herself once more—every part of her recoiled from that thought—but she would do it to stop his assault, she was ready for that if she must. If he did. If he didn’t just stand there stroking her hair, twining the long tail of her braid with his fingertip, dipping his face to the top of her head to breathe the scent of the rosewater she’d washed her hair with. She shut her eyes. He wasn’t hurting her. It didn’t feel bad. It even felt good, this slow caress, because it had been so long since she’d been touched or embraced or comforted by anyone she knew. She was accustomed to physical contact every day with her women, and she’d missed those soothing fingers massaging or anointing or combing out her hair. It was good now just to feel the contact, the rhythm of his stroking hand, the warmth radiating from his skin, the brush of his fingers on her spine…
“Oh… Your skin is so soft.” Yazid traced the line of her backbone, from the cloth stretched across her shoulder blades all the way down to the hem of her skirt just above the cleft of her bottom, exploring each dimple of her spine. He was very gentle and she couldn’t feel even the tip of his claw. She wanted to feel angry but she couldn’t. It would have been so much easier if he’d made her angry. She couldn’t even feel scared now, not really, although in one way she was as dizzy with terror as if she were back outside standing on that high arch. Yet it wasn’t a fear that made her recoil or fight. It made her press herself to the glass, aware of every inch of her skin as he repeated the motion. Her scalp pricked and shivers chased the length of her back, raising gooseflesh, which he soothed away with the warm sweep of his palm. “Don’t be frightened,” he whispered.
She was frightened. And yet she wasn’t, not at all. She didn’t understand how she was feeling, only that that there wasn’t room to step back and analyse it, only to react to that gentle, searing touch. One way or the other.
“Let me just stroke you.” Yazid’s spread hand nearly encompassed the whole width of her waist. “You’re so beautiful. I just want to…” His hand slid over one firm cheek of her bottom.
“No!” she groaned, stiffening instantly. No—that was too far, she knew that. That crossed the line. Yazid removed his hand.
“All right. It’s all right. Just your back. You don’t mind me touching your back, do you?”
How could she say no, when she’d let him already? When he went back to stroking her back it was such a relief, and such pleasure. Even when he hooked a finger under the stretched cloth of her top and the fabric turned to dust that fell shimmering down her smooth skin like sprinkles of gold.
Ahleme gasped and pressed her bare breasts to the glass, her breath fogging the blue surface. Yazid laid his hand flat between her shoulder blades, on the bit that always itched, rubbing in slow circles.
“Don’t be afraid. You’re beautiful, my Jewel of the Earth.” His voice was the growl of a lion, but so quiet, so very quiet that he had to lower his mouth to her temple and utter the words with his lips brushing her ear, something that sent shivers prickling all over her skin. He sensed the movement and scratched her gently between the shoulder blades, which made her gasp with gratitude. Then he ran his claws down her back, tenderly, all the way to the rising sweep of her rump, and that made her groan out loud. “Oh yes,” he breathed.
Dimly she realized she wasn’t thinking straight anymore, that somewhere along the line sensation had become too important, that her body was overriding her better judgment. Somewhere in her head she was still scared and outraged by the djinni, but not enough to drive him off. Not even when he buried his face in her hair and breathed deeply the scent there, not even when his bare chest brushed against her bare back, his heat making up for the cold of the glass he was pushing her up against, the cold that was pinching her nipples to stiff points. Not even when he stopped talking and just breathed hard and quick.
Buy Heart of Flame from your seller of choice HERE
A romantic Arabian Nights adventure
The most beautiful woman in all Arabia has been abducted by a djinni - and only forbidden magic can bring about her rescue.
Taqla the sorceress lives in comfortable secrecy, until she agrees to help the handsome traveller Rafiq find the kidnapped daughter of the Amir. They set off together on a journey fraught with magic and peril, though a landscape of ancient desert ruins, terrible monsters and deception. With so many secrets to keep, Taqla cannot afford to trust Rafiq – and yet she must, with her life.
In the meantime, the captive Ahleme must try to fend off the attentions of the terrifying djinni who wishes to father upon her a new saviour of the Djinn race. Can Ahleme survive her imprisonment? Can Taqla really bring herself to help Rafiq win Ahleme back, when she is hopelessly in love with him herself? Can she trust him not to betray her, when sorcery is a crime punishable by death? Passion may yet betray them all.