There are loads of fantastic Crooked Cat books at 77p available from across the Amazon network!
You'll be able to get THE BELTANE CHOICE for 77p /99c if you've not read it yet...
and that's fantastic because Book 2 of the series, AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN, launches in only 9 days....
Still time to read Book 1 before you carry on with the stories of my Celtic Garrigill warriors.
Here's a little bit from THE BELTANE CHOICE:
(This is near the beginning when Lorcan of the Brigantes has come upon Nara of the Selgovae in the forest. Alone, Nara needed his help to save her from a wild boar attack. Lorcan was happy enough to do this for her but he has subsequently decided to take her captive. He is presently forcing her back to his hillfort of Garrigill, some distance hence....)
What could Nara say to this seething warrior? The truthful answer was she was not promised to the goddess any more. It was an affront to the goddess to lie, yet this Brigante had started something momentous, leaving her in a place where the tantalising end had been within a blink. An end she had only glimpsed, and now she was curious to experience the whole process of making love. A sense of deprivation, and of another failure, gnawed at her. His rejection injured her still trembling body as well as her pride. Why should she humour him by giving answer?
“Make haste.” He urged her onwards, his face thunderous while he hacked at the boar’s head.
Nara’s thoughts were mutinous. What did she care for this man who mocked her so cruelly? Why should she concern herself if he thought her to be a woman of no consequence, unable to do her duty? She had never had the luxury of feeling herself a normal woman of her people, since from early years she had been promised to the goddess. As an acolyte, it had been necessary for her to suppress all sexual contact during the years since reaching her maturity.
Though those were not her circumstances now, had not been for these last two moons. It was a relief the Brigante had stopped for he should not be the one to take her maidenhead, even if he had stirred her passions. She would never allow him to get close enough again.
“Where are you from?”
The warrior’s demand came again, though he avoided her gaze. Her mind worked quickly while she pulled up her braccae, knotting the waist string. This warrior would not be in Selgovae territory alone. He must be with a raiding band, but where were they? Could the man have been bluffing? Maybe Cearnach was still alive? Still at the ford where the horses were? Wriggling into her tunic, she watched him bend over the boar.
The thwacking of his sharp sword, then the well honed knife slicing through bone and flesh was a powerful reminder of how strong this man was–that brawny body, which had cradled her just moments before. Another shudder wracked her which had nothing to do with cold, or vulnerability, when the warrior tracked her movements. Between glances, he hacked off the head and legs of the kill, discarding them, one by one, wide to the forest floor for other animals to scavenge.
When he tossed a boar leg to the side, she sped off in the opposite direction aiming for the best bush cover. Two steps into her flight a whup, whup, flipping over of the sharpest of small blades flashed past her shoulder and embedded itself into the tree trunk just ahead. Fighting down both alarm and nausea, she willed her feet to fly faster.
“Next time it will be deep into your flesh.” The warrior’s growl blasted in her ear as he halted her escape, the force of his lunge propelling her forwards onto the debris of the forest floor. Barely down on her hands Nara felt herself soar up again, then he dragged her on towards the bark fisting one of her unfurling braids in an excruciating grip. A quick flick, his blade was free and back into his waist pouch.
The knife was free, but she was not.
Nara cursed her long hair as he hauled her back to the animal carcass and released her well away from any weapons, his fingers a lingering slide through her waterfall of tangles.
“Make haste and ready yourself, Nara. Attempt no more escapes. My knife skills are unsurpassed, yet I would have you live.”
Her scalp a burning tingle, Nara rebraided her mess of waves, fumbling around for the tie that had dropped to the ground when she had pulled her tunic over her head. While she tied her hastily repaired waist belt, she watched the Brigante unfurl a strip of strong cord which had been slung cross-wise over his chest. His whipcord movements were precise, his upper arm muscles rippling. Those same strong muscles which had just grasped her body and had effortlessly held her aloft, so close she had felt every single part of him. Her body heated with the memory of it.
Lorcan of Garrigill had the cord around the carcass as a dragging harness in a blink, ready for towing along the forest floor. Bound to him–like she had been.
For a moment.
“Move or you will feel this.” His spear tip thrust towards her as he rose to his feet, the tip close enough to show he meant it, yet not close enough to penetrate her skin. He tucked her short sword and knife into his waist scabbards with his own, grasping her spear in the hand that was enwrapped with the twine.
How could she outwit this incensed man? Nara walked, her braccae a flapping discomfort against her ankles having had no time to garter them. Why did he not kill her? She had given him ample justification, trying to flee, and throwing him a challenge in reaching for her weapons–even though she had been a measly coward about properly drawing blood. Humiliation flooded. Another failure.
It had not been blood-rage she had felt when her blade had been poised to drive deeper; it had been an inexplicable anguish over harming him. She had been doomed, unable to wound further, though he had disregarded the small cut she had made, and even now he ignored it when she glanced back. A thin trickle of blood from the wound still seeped, but it did not trouble him sufficiently to even wipe it from his skin.
His knife would have ripped her flesh asunder, though, had he aimed truly for her shoulder. She had no doubt about that, but she was still his prisoner. Dragging the burden of the carcass over uneven ground, the warrior was at least five paces behind her. The track ahead was bordered by low scrubby ferns and gorse bushes already thick with yellowing foliage. Picking the most successful space ahead of her, she surged.
The humming of the reverberating spear blocking her passage was deafening, having missed her by a hair’s breadth. The clattering noise of a weapon dropping was surpassed by the roar of the warrior when he leapt upon her, easily subduing her struggles and cries. Her knees ground into the forest floor before he whirled her face-up, his fingers encircling her throat poised to throttle. The speed of his attack, and the dead-weight of him fully atop her, should have brought forth the blood-rage of battle, but…it did not.
From neither her, nor him.
Yet again their gazes locked and lingered. Nara panted, but not because he was stifling the breath out of her. He looked dismayed; maybe even guilty. She was not convinced which emotion he felt most, but though his hands remained in place, the tension in his fingers relaxed. His thumbs gentled the skin they had just pressed upon while he, too, fought hard for his breath, his glowing brown eyes sliding down to stare at her neck.
She was so aware of the virile scent of him and of his harsh face now squashed against her own. His voice grit against her ear. “You are not going to escape from me, Nara.”
“Your spear did not hit its mark…” Nara gasped, struggling under him to no avail, the hilts of his weapon hoard digging deep into her stomach.
“My spear hit exactly where I wanted it to. If I had wanted to fell you, I would be walking past your lifeless body right now.”
Lorcan moaned into her face while she squirmed, her breasts writhing against his solid chest. She watched his eyes shut tight in anger before he rolled off her, the leap to his feet agile as a gambolling lamb as he dragged her upwards. Her hands were clamped in front of her before she took another breath, a long cord from his belt lashed securely around them before she managed any real struggle. The other end of the leash he entwined with the harness for dragging the carcass of the boar, fisting both of them in a firm clench. Forcing her chin up with his free hand, his words whiffed through the whiskers bordering his upper lip.
“No further escape attempts. Now walk.”
Nara felt him push her into motion none too gently. The leash was only long enough for her to be a few steps away from him, yet was secure enough for her to know trying to break free was futile. He seemed reluctant to kill her, though why? The local Celtic tribes did not generally take slaves. Sometimes captured women were absorbed into the tribe as concubines, bringing new bloodlines to the families. If that was his intention, why had he not taken her virginity?
Lorcan of Garrigill’s conduct made no sense.
Happy ebook buying, and even happier reading.