Welcome to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked for a new year, literally, of Mid Week Tease hosted by Sandra Bunino.
Authors: this is a great opportunity to spotlight a few lines or even a paragraph or two from a new release or backlisted title. Readers: you get to sample some delicious snippets! We’ll do our best to tease, titillate and tantalize you into the weekend.
Today I'm offering snippets from my new release A Centaur's Solstice Wish, a sweet M/M fantasy romance, and Book 2 in the Rifts series. Corporal Ronin has brought in two injured men on Christmas Eve and Sedgewick knows how to help them. The problem is, Ronin doesn't know how to tell Sedgewick how much this means to him.
"Do you know what goes into the salve?"
"Yes. My granddam taught me." He grimaced and wouldn't meet Ronin's gaze. "The problem is I can't make it with only one arm."
Ronin gripped Sedgewick's shoulder. "I'll help you. Just tell me what you need done and I can be your extra hands."
Both Bethany and Sedgewick gaped at Ronin for a moment. Hellfire, he'd surprised himself with the outburst, but he wouldn't go back on his offer. His men needed him and he'd do anything he could. And if you're really honest with yourself, you'd admit you want to spend a little time with Sedgewick.
Bethany was the first to recover. "Thank you, Corporal. That will be very helpful." She nodded to the injured men. "First, I'll need you to get these men stripped so we can see the extent of the damage."
Ronin stuffed his disappointment behind a sharp nod. "Will do."
"Good. Sedgewick, please show me what you need and let's get started."
While Ronin helped the other soldiers to undress Navarro and Colver, he kept Sedgewick in sight as the buckskin directed Bethany in a soft but sure voice. The men moaned when they lifted their shirts and armor, and he cringed in sympathy. Great, swollen welts spread across their backs from skull to tail, disfiguring them in red sores.
Medicinal scents accompanied the grind of a pestle against a mortar bowl, and Ronin turned just as Bethany called for him.
"Can you please grind this while I prepare the salve base, Corporal?"
"Yes, of course, Master Healer."
Ronin took the pestle as the human woman gave him a friendly smile and he tried to smile back, but Sedgewick's presence beside him made it difficult. Oh, for the love of Epona, I should be able to do one simple task. He bent to it, putting his strength and focus into the action of grinding the medicinal herbs. He almost jumped when someone laid a hand on his forearm.
"Firmly, but gently, Corporal. Marble isn't as good as the herbs for healing." Sedgewick's voice held amusement as well as warmth.
Heat blossomed across Ronin's cheeks and chest. "Forgive me, Sedgewick. My concern is with my men."
Sedgewick lost his smile and nodded, releasing Ronin. "Of course, Corporal. But if you grind them too much, they lose potency." Sedgewick nodded to the mortar. "I think they're ready. Bring them to the fire, please."
Ronin regretted his words immediately and cursed himself for a nervous fool, but dutifully followed the buckskin soldier and swept the crushed herbs into a pot of boiling water. Sedgewick nodded and stirred them with a soothing rhythm, his good arm flexing in ways that set Ronin's heart galloping. Sweet Goddess, what I'd give to feel his arms around me.
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