Woohoo!! Atlantis Unmasked releases Tuesday (sightings are already pouring in) so here are some "get you in the mood" snippets:
“It’s almost impossible to shoot a bow while driving.”
Grace Havilland clenched her fingers around the steering wheel of the Jeep and waited for the Atlantean warrior riding shotgun to respond to what she thought had been her very reasonable point.
Waited. Waited a little longer.
She’d met Alexios months ago and seen him sporadically since, but she’d never been in such a small space with him. It felt like being trapped in a cage with a lion that’d just eaten a full meal. Deadly, dangerous, and exhilarating, but maybe—just maybe—you’d live through it.
Unless he suddenly felt like a snack.
Alexios looked around the crowded lobby, remembering the countless times he’d waited for one or another of his fellow warriors to be healed. Unlike the healing chambers in Atlantis, which were an oasis of serenity—all fresh air and sunlight, soft silken cushions, and masses of flowers from the palace gardens-- this room where desperate and injured humans waited smelled of sweat, blood, antiseptic, and despair.
Grace huddled in an orange plastic chair, strangely diminished without her many weapons strapped to her body. He stood across the room from her, leaning against a battered vending machine, and tried to think of a time he’d seen her without them, but came up empty. The bow, knives, and guns were part of her; oddly dissonant to her beauty and her name.
Grace. It suited her. She was Grace in motion, in and out of battle. Except now, when she hunched in that ugly chair, arms wrapped around her knees, waiting for the bleakest kind of bad news.
She jumped a little at the sound of his voice; the sound she’d been waiting for—and dreading--all morning. Coffee splashed over the rim of the mug, stinging her fingers. “Ouch!”
“Not the greeting I would have expected, but you do have a history of surprising me.” The amusement colored his voice until it was as rich and dark as the coffee.
She told herself the shiver snaking down her neck was simply because of the cold. He couldn’t possibly be as formidable in reality as he was in her memories. Adrenaline-fueled attraction, that was all.
Pasting what she hoped was a friendly but neutral expression on her face, she put the mug down and swung around to face him. “Alexios. Welcome. We’re glad you’re here. Did you just get in through the magic doorway?”
It hadn’t been the adrenaline.
He was tall. Broad-shouldered and lean-hipped with the exact muscular body type she’d always found irresistible, but that wasn’t what she saw first. It wasn’t what anyone would see first.
In the bright afternoon sunlight that turned his mane of thick hair the color of molten gold, the sight of his scarred face was almost shocking. She’d seen him—seen his face—several times before, but always in the night time. Always in the dark. The merciless quality of the winter sunshine cast dark shadows along the jagged edges of the badly healed gouges. The left side of his face was scarred from temple to chin, leaving only his left eye and, oddly enough, his nose, whole and unmarked. But the right side was perfection; both counterpoint and mockery to the damage it mirrored.
The half-smile that had quirked at the edges of his lips faded under her perusal and she was suddenly desperately ashamed. How long had Alexios been forced to endure the stares and speculation? And, worse, what torture and unimaginable pain had he suffered that could have caused such scars?
His narrowed eyes, rapidly turning the deep, turbulent blue of a storm-tossed sea at dusk, gave her the answers: far too long and far too much.
“No," he replied, a grin quirking the edge of that sensual mouth. "I took the tram.”
More tomorrow! Whee!