Excerpt and contest by Katalina Leon
Maeve stood alone in the elegant room. She glanced around, thinking that many of the objects in the suite belonged in a treasure house. There was so much to look at and explore that she doubted she’d get much sleep.
Like a magnet, the portrait of Lord O’Griofa drew her. She stood in front of it staring at the man’s broad chest and ropey arms with admiration. He seemed to be a powerful man who took charge of his world and appeared completely capable of decimating anyone who stood in his path.
Maeve caught herself daydreaming about being confronted by a man who could so easily take what he wanted. Lord O’Griofa looked determined enough to seize any woman of his choice, throw her over his shoulder and march off with her. And would that be such a bad thing?
She wondered what it would feel like to be ravished at the hands of a lustful man who couldn’t be stopped. Not harmed by a brute, but carried off and forced to surrender to a man like the fiery-eyed O’Griofa. A heated thrill raced to her core.
A long-denied part of her admitted that even though the desire was politically incorrect, the prospect of being captured by a man like that sounded totally hot.
Ravished war prize.
The words slid across the surface of her thoughts like raindrops on a windowpane. She gave herself butterflies just thinking about it.
Conqueror. Claimed. Surrender.
Her face warmed. Lord O’Griofa seemed to embody all the exciting qualities of a mythical hero, which she also imagined could go wildly astray in the modern world. Still, the thought of lying prone beneath a passionate man intent on taking her for his lover was an exciting one. Shivers skittered across her skin.
She abruptly turned her back to the portrait to avoid the overwrought thoughts from hijacking her. “I must be jet-lagged,” she mumbled.
Maeve kneeled, unzipped her luggage and rummaged through it halfheartedly, knowing that the act of brushing her teeth and changing out of her clothes would require colossal effort. With her head nodding from exhaustion, she sought a vinyl bag of toiletries and a whisper-soft pair of flannel pajamas.
A faint clink in the corridor caused her look up and again the portrait drew her attention. This time she noticed a faint scar on O’Griofa’s chin and a slight crook in the bridge of his nose, as if it had once been broken. She now saw that he was not the fresh youth as she had first thought. Now he displayed the weathering of a man in his prime who faced the elements and lived an active life.
She moved closer to the portrait to make sure she wasn’t imagining the changes. She wasn’t—the changes were real. It was as if the portrait was becoming more lifelike before her eyes. Why hadn’t she noticed those distinct details before? The tiny flaws were interesting, personal details that she assumed many vain men would have omitted from an idealized portrait of their youthful exploits.
Overall, the fierce lines of O’Griofa’s handsome face were breathtaking. The flattering angle of the portrait not only showed off his strong jaw and dimpled chin, it also made it appear as if he had just turned his head toward the viewer and was now studying them intently from beneath stormy brows.
She wondered how the hell she could get undressed and fall asleep with that hunky character shouting a battle cry over the bed.
After gazing at Lord O’Griofa for several minutes she decided it might be easier to get undressed in the bathroom and make a mad dash for the bed. This self-conscious hesitation was so unlike her, and she wondered why she was tormenting herself over a portrait. She knew she should make an effort and jump into the shower to rinse away the many gritty hassles of her long journey. With toothbrush and leopard-print pajamas in hand, she stood with the intention of heading toward the bathroom.
Lord O’Griofa’s dark gaze seemed to follow her across the room.
Maeve hurried toward the bathroom, slammed the door and locked it. “Damn.” She sighed with relief. The portrait was too much to deal with in her highly strung state of mind. She considered that maybe a night in the O’Griofa suite wasn’t such a treat after all. Part of her felt as if she’d been abandoned in the presence of an intense man and forced to cope with it.
“I’m being ridiculous.” She stared at the bathroom’s gleaming marble floors and claw-foot bathtub with admiration. The creamy marble walls and countertops with golden fixtures looked like they belonged in a palace. The calming thought occurred, why not spend some time in here and enjoy a luxurious soak? She plugged the drain, turned on the faucet and watched steaming water tumble into the tub.
She stripped her clothing away, grateful to be rid of it, and brushed her teeth. She gathered her shoulder-length dark hair, twisted it into a topknot and pinned it into place with a plastic clip.
A crystal dish filled with artfully molded miniature cakes of soap caught her eye. The beribboned and colorful foil-wrapped ovals of soap resembled marzipan candies from the finest confectioner’s boutique. It was all she could do to resist licking them. She chose a cake encased in emerald-green foil. When she tore the wrapping away it released the light lemony scent of white roses. A pleased sigh crossed her lips.
She turned off the faucet and stepped into the bath, stirring the water with her toes. The soft splash echoed against the marble walls. She sank into the massive tub. As the warm water embraced her, all cares and concerns faded. Worries fled. She’d reached her goal. It was over. She was safe at her destination. The divorce was final and the business had been sold—as it should have been long ago. Her house was on the market and she was free of a man who’d wished she’d been a tall, cool blonde with lots of money and a shared taste for quality vodka.
( The moment Maeve relaxes in the bathtub, guess what? The real fun and the time travel begin. Maeve’s finds herself in mortal danger in a burning medieval castle under siege. She’ll need to be rescued. Thank God for Lord O’Griofa and his long, thick broad sword!)
Genre: Paranormal romance shape-shifter
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Date of Publication: July 10, 2013
Number of pages: 114
Word Count: 50k
Cover Artist: Syneca
Part of the Emerald Isles Fantasies series
Tullamore Castle Ireland is an enchanted place where the unexpected happens. Phantom lovers materialize in haunted beds and a lonely griffin patrols the ramparts waiting to reclaim its mate. And that’s just the beginning.
For the adventure of a lifetime Maeve de’Burgo visits Tullamore to study genealogy. Through a magical act and time travel she becomes embroiled in a dangerous medieval romance and the unfinished life of her ancestor. Maeve gets thrown back in time to be captured, ravished and cherished as a war chief’s prize.
Ronan O’Griofa is a griffin-shifter, the most loyal of creatures. He’s been trapped in limbo as the avenging guardian of Tullamore since 1332 AD and longs to be free. When the soul of his wife returns to the castle he’s granted the privilege of becoming a man for one day to be her lover, win her heart and remind Maeve of a bond strong enough to last an eternity.
About the Author:
I’m an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id Publishing and a couple new publishers to be announced soon. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe there’s a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.
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