In this sequel piece to “Cost of Failure”, Kyosh has been dispatched by WardenLord Bronwen to bring back the Black Stone. At any cost. Zain Thomas, the ancestral keeper of the Stone, senses that he’s coming and draws on her mystical knowledge to keep him away, but she doesn’t realize that Kyosh will do anything to succeed, even give up his own heart.
Kyosh stepped into the room, his wings—she could see now that they were black and feathered—dipping to accommodate the low entryway. His gaze trailed to the floor and the line of herbs there, and then to the iron nail hung above it, “I cannot leave that way. Close the door, Zain.”
It was a small elation to realize that her charms had worked, that he couldn’t come and go through her doorframes. “Then how did you get in?”
“Close the door,” He said softly, his head tilting, “Come to me and I will tell you.”
For some reason, her hand closed the door, sealing him into the room with her. Sealing herself in. Gods, she was an idiot. “I’m not coming any closer.”
“You want to.” He spoke quietly, half-suggestion, half-demand.
She shivered as she realized that yes, she did want to. She wanted to step closer, look into his face, see the blue of his eyes, like the waters of the Caribbean. Was his skin as cool and marble-like as it looked? “I’m not coming anywhere near you.”
“Stay there, then. I will come to you.” Kyosh stepped towards her, slowly measured paces, his boots barely brushing the carpet.
“Stop.” Zain raised the dolphin, prepared to throw it. “Stop.”
Kyosh took another step, and then another. He was close enough that if they both reached, they could have touched fingers. His gaze never left her face, his wings riffling in the warm soft breeze from the furnace vent as he stepped even closer.
“Stop.” Zain said once more, but her lips barely moved and the sound was less than the puff of breath that releases a dandelion’s dander from its stem.
His hand raised and closed around her wrist, sliding up to remove the heavy stone statue from her trembling fingers. He tossed it to the overstuffed chair in the corner, where it landed harmlessly, then reversed his hand to slide his fingers through her own, curling their palms together. His murmur sent shivers down her spine, “You don’t want me to stop, do you?”
Zain was twenty-eight. She spoke four languages, had traveled to Europe, to South Africa, to Zimbabwe and to India. She had worked in translation for a major airline firm for the past four years. She had lived with lovers, broken hearts, and had her own broken. She had danced in the rain and swum in shark-infested waters. She had abseiled into the caverns of Costa Rica, and jungle surfed in Australia. She had walked through the remains of the Haitian plantations that had killed her ancestors and wept over the graves of her parents and her grandparents. She had danced in the ceremonies of her grandmother’s people. She knew wonder. She knew magic. She knew beauty. And in the moment that Kyosh touched her, in the moment his cool hand tenderly entwined with hers, she forgot all that she knew. She forgot all that she was.
“No.” The whispered words feel from her dark lips, finding truth amidst the storm of doubt, “I don’t want you to stop…”
Kyosh’s smile betrayed none of his triumph, briefly come and gone again as he lowered his head, his lips seeking hers with a kiss enchanted and tender. His taste was of wild things, jungle flowers and smoky autumn winds and Zain started to return it. His left hand sought her cheek, tilting her face into his kiss, his entire body moving into her sphere, closing ranks around her until she gasped suddenly and drew back.
What was she doing? Whatever it was, she didn’t want it to stop, and that, more than anything else, frightened her as she squeezed back against the wall, away from him. Kyosh drew back immediately, but didn’t release her hand.
“What are you afraid of?” His voice was gentle in the air between them, “Tell me so I may ease your fears.”
“Woman of the Black Stone” is available now through Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JDKS64U