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Authors: Jolyn Palliata

Impending Reprisals

BOOK: Impending Reprisals
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IMPENDING

REPRISALS

Jolyn Palliata

Electronic Edition

Published by JP Publishing, LLC

Copyright 2012 Jolyn Palliata

Cover art by Steven Novak

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locations are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used factitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.

Chapter 1

The spirited woman danced out of Kael’s reach, and he simply grasped the air in her wake.

“Anya, you know I will marry you when we are of age,” he solemnly told her, stepping closer still.

“Perhaps.”

“You doubt my intentions?” He reached for her again; a tentative motion as if sudden movements would spook her away, and yet decisive, clearly displaying his eagerness to hold her in his arms.

“No, I do not doubt,” she replied, a wicked gleam in her emerald eyes—a gleam he knew all too well. “But you will have to catch me first.”

Kael smiled as he watched Anya sprint down the hillside, her bare feet merely grazing the ground during her flight. She was a vision indeed as her white dress billowed behind her, a deep contrast to the flow of auburn hair cascading down her back, curling with the humidity of the day.

“Get her, Tajvek,” Kael commanded, addressing the massive white tiger sprawled further up the hill. The animal perked his ears, then bunched his muscles and leapt after her; a single bound closing the distance to Kael, and another halving the remaining distance between him and Anya.

Kael shot forward as well, closing fast on the beautiful woman who had been slowed by the animal standing in her path.

“Move, Taj!” she yelled, glancing over her shoulder with wide eyes, her already bronzed skin blushing a deeper shade. Seeing Kael right behind her, she let out an anticipatory laugh with a dodge to the side.

Kael wrapped an arm around her waist before she could complete the maneuver and pulled her to him, twisting around as they fell to the ground to cushion her fall with his body.

Anya feigned a glare at the white tiger now comfortably curling at the base of a tree, watching the events unfold with lazy, sleepy eyes. “You are meant to obey
my
will, Taj, not his.”

Kael rolled, settling against Anya’s side. He looked down at her as one hand came to rest on her hip, while the other kept his weight from crushing her. “He senses that in which you desire most.” A mischievous grin spread across his face. “He knew you wished to be caught.”

“Hmm. That he does.” Anya gazed into Kael’s deep blue eyes, lost in the endless pools of desire they always immersed her in. “And now that you have me, what
are
your intentions, noble sir?” The corner of her mouth twitched as she tried to contain her smile, fairly confident as to what his motives truly were.

Kael locked his eyes on hers, rubbing his hand across her hip. Anya’s mirth faded into serious contemplation, her breath held and stomach fluttering from the contact. Easing down, he brushed against her lips, teasing her as his hand caressed her ribs.

Anya sighed as his mouth met hers once more, and she weaved her hands in his thick, dark hair, drawing him close. She felt his hot, firm hand pressing on her body, feeling as if it might burn through the thin fabric of the bodice separating them, and wishing it would. But the material was as impenetrable as a mortar wall, a solid barrier between his skin and hers.

Kael was powerless against the temptations she held for him as their kiss deepened, their tongues twirling as their mouths fused together, their breath coming in shallower, quicker intakes. He lost himself in the sensations of Anya; the heave of her breasts against his chest, her hands tangled in his hair, her flushed body pressed against his. He was barely aware of his own hand’s movement as it grazed the swell of her breast, but the intimate contact was not missed by her.

How Anya had longed for his tender touch, for him to explore her body and revel in the seductions she had to offer. So long had he teased and tempted her to the point of frustration, all the while stating it to be improper and disrespectful to partake in such pleasures.

The same time Anya issued a soft whimper, Kael became aware of his hand’s placement, but her reaction stopped him from pulling back. The intense hunger she always brought to surface in him caused his whole body to ache, indicating the point in which he would always retreat. Only this time, his strength faltered.

Anya sensed his hesitation and bowed her back, pressing her breast against his palm, literally putting temptation within reach. And deny it, he could not.

A guttural moan slipped from deep within his chest as his hand cupped her breast, his fingers curling around, stroking and caressing the soft mound. Their kiss escalated into a frenzy of emotions—passion versus lust, want versus need—as they pressed their bodies tight in desperate longing.

Kael suddenly broke away with a great gasp of air and moved his busy hand to Anya’s hip, knotting his fist in the fabric of her dress; a simple act of frustration. Anya slumped back in defeat, her lip slipping out into a pout after she let loose a heavy sigh.

He released her garment from his clenched fist to trace her mouth with his finger, issuing a husky laugh as she pleaded at him with disheartened eyes. “You know we cannot, Anya.”

“I know.” And, despite her own actions, she was well aware of his honorable morals. They would wait until she was of age to choose her own partner, her love, when she alone was able to decide without the approval of her father. And yet, twenty-three years of age seemed a lifetime away at that particular moment.

“I will wait until the proper time to have you. Three years is not such a long time, considering how long we have waited thus far.”

She scowled. “You are a patient man, Kael. Far more patient than I.”

He grinned at her irritation as he took on a more serious tone. “I did not yet have a chance to tell you…”

Anya arched an eyebrow as she looked up at him, donning an inquisitive expression.

He stroked the long, shiny locks curled across her bare shoulder. “You were a vision last night, near impossible to resist.”

Anya smiled at the compliment, bowing her head in a humble gesture. As much as she had just braved this first step in their physical relationship, she was just as shy in other aspects. “As were you.” And he was handsome indeed as her escort to the masquerade ball, hosted by a visiting lordship, and the talk of their small village in the days preceding it. “I can barely believe my father had suggested we attend together. I feared he would arrange for some dreadfully boring man to accompany me.”

“As did I fear such a pairing as well.”

Both Kael and Anya had been riddled with surprise at her father’s request. But, of course, neither one issued a single word of protest with the arrangement. The only qualm the evening held for the young couple was they were unable to spend every moment together. As was custom, they were expected to switch partners during the various dances throughout.

Kael’s strong jaw flexed as he thought of the previous night’s activities, his tone turning sour. “Although one man surely took more than his fair share of your time.” As unwilling as he was to share her presence, Kael could not very well deny the pleasure of Anya’s company. Especially not from the visiting lord; the host of the ball.

“Why, Kael…are you jealous?” Anya smirked, tilting her head to the side as she regarded his response. “And yet you will not take what I would willingly give you?”

He looked into her alluring green eyes—the lightest part of her entire being, and a vivid contrast to her darkened skin and mahogany hair, now altered to auburn as the summer sun took its toll. And he suddenly realized if he did not avert his gaze, he would once again be compelled to embrace her.

Glancing away, he groaned. “Do not tempt me, Anya.”

Tajvek began making a low humming sound in his chest, a clear warning, drawing their attention and causing them to tense.

“What is it, Taj?” Anya asked.

“Anya!” Her father’s resonant voice bellowed through the expansive meadow, echoing off the air itself with a commanding presence.

Kael scrambled away from Anya’s side as he held out his hand to assist her to her feet. But he was unable to stand before her father, Chiberus, an imposing hulk of a man, crested the hill. Staring at the flow of the white dress before him, Kael pinched the fabric between his fingers and feigned his examination of a grass stain, brushing at it with a gentle touch.

“What is the meaning of this?” Chiberus demanded, coming to a stop beside them.

Anya offered a sheepish grin as she shrugged. “I fell.”

“Kaelestis, you are to well protect my daughter, even if it is from herself.” He crossed his arms, brow creased.

“I apologize, Weapons Master of Liberwood, for not having a quicker steadying hand.” Kael bowed his head respectfully as he released her dress.

“Bah! She appears no worse for the wear.” Chiberus clapped his large hand hard on Kael’s shoulder, the mirth touching his eyes only. “And how many times must I insist you call me Chiberus?”

Kael stood as he and Anya exchanged a curious expression. Although her father had entrusted her safety to Kael for many years now, he had never before shown a personal interest in getting to know the young warrior.

“Sedalene has dinner ready, Anya, and she is upset by your tardiness.” He paused and then muttered, “Well, as upset as she ever gets.”

Anya smiled at his description of her nanny’s reaction, for nothing ever seemed to anger Sedalene. The only overt emotion she has ever known Sedalene to display was annoyance with Anya’s father, and that was due to his blind eye toward her affections.

“And I need to speak to you, Kaelestis, about an urgent matter.” Chiberus’ dark eyes turned darker still.

“Is there cause for concern, Weapons Mas—” Kael halted as the much taller, and bigger, man glowered at him. “Pardon me…Chiberus.”

“No, no, my son,” he assured, causing Kael and Anya to once again glance to each other over the ‘my son’ reference. “But we must act with due haste.”

“Very well.” Kael bowed his head in a slow, respectful motion.

“Now, come along you two.” Chiberus ordered as he smoothed down his neatly-trimmed, black beard and looked pointedly at Kael. “I will meet you in the sparring room.”

“As you wish.”

Chiberus turned and walked away, his long strides holding a brisk pace.

Tajvek crept to Anya’s side and nudged her waist, no doubt sensing her confusion and wondering as to the cause. She stroked the huge cat’s head as she stared at her father’s retreating figure. “You may go now, Taj. I will summon you later.” The white tiger leaned into her briefly before fading into a spectral state, then disappearing altogether. Anya glanced at Kael, tipping her head toward her father. “What was that about?” she whispered as they turned to follow Chiberus.

Kael simply shrugged.

“Maybe I shall ask Sedalene. She may know something.”

“That is a thought, though I imagine I will find out soon enough.”

“Do you suppose Father is arranging for…” Anya trailed off, not daring to state her greatest desire out loud, afraid to even hope for an arranged pairing between Kael and herself.

Kael smiled, a hopeful gleam in his blue eyes as he presumed where her comment was leading. “I can only dream of becoming such a fortunate man.”

Anya’s heart fluttered and she blushed, looking away as she composed herself.

They walked side-by-side, following Chiberus at a distance as they traveled back to Anya’s home, a modest manor located in a village on the outskirts of their great city, Liberwood. Kael periodically brushed his hand against hers, an amorous, although shrouded, reminder as to how he felt about her. And she responded in like, trying to capture his hand during each pass, her hidden fingers reaching from the folds of her dress.

They each had a lightness to their step, and in their hearts, while they speculated as to what Chiberus’ news might be. And hoped, without saying the words, it would indicate the beginning of a new life together.

BOOK: Impending Reprisals
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