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Branded by Etain

Author(s): Jianne Carlo

Can a princess tame a beast?

Princess Étaín of Caul Carlinne remains unsullied by her violent past. When she chooses Brand of Bärvik as her mate, has she brought havoc and destruction to her people?

Excerpt


Étaín wrinkled her nose at Larkin’s too-depictive command, but held her tongue until the three warriors departed. A stiff wind rattled the shingle attached to the shop into which he had disappeared. She hugged her arms, pretended a shiver, and mimicked a sneeze.

Cedilla gave her a sharp inspection. “Rory, run after the cart, and fetch milady’s wool brat. Make haste and return to us. Did I not say ′twas too cold for that summer brat? Your da will have me whipped if you catch a chest chill again.”

“Aye. You had the right of it Cedilla. I should have donned my heavy cloak. Forgive my stubbornness. Look, we are at the baker’s pasty shop and his ovens fair heat the air. Wait here for Rory, while I warm my chilled flesh inside the shop.” When Cedilla frowned down at her, Étaín added, “I will be but an ell away from you and the door is open. I will come to no harm.”

Before her nurse could utter a word, Étaín ducked into the shop. ′Twas here she had seen him these past months, here and on the piers, but never had she dared enter when he was there.

Shadows lay heavy in the hut’s corners, but she ventured into the deep darkness drawn by his unique scent, man, the sea, and some arousing, unknown spice.

“Good morn, milady.” The pasty maker’s wife squatted to throw two logs under a brick oven. “What have you this day? Venison or swede pasty?”

“She will have one of each.”

Étaín could not draw a breath when he stepped out of the shadows and into the flickering light of the oil lamp hanging from a rafter. His voice brought to mind an image of the giant oaks found in the Fathomless Forest overlooking Caul Cairlinne, deep timbered, gruff, and compelling.

He wore a raven-blue cloak pinned at his throat by a brass brooch in the shape of some mythical creature with wings, horns, and clawed hands and feet. A beast with ferocious features, yet she felt no timidity, no anxiety. Instead, her heart swelled and galloped fit to burst out of her chest.

She linked her fingers together to stop their violent trembling and gawked at him.

The dark hood concealing his features fell away. He took two great strides to the pasty maker’s counter laden with steaming pies.

Étaín had memorized his face the first time they had stared at each other across the congested quay. The sun had woven its rays into the burnished chestnut of his hair, which fell in waves to the cusps of shoulders too broad to span in one glance. The bump in the middle of his nose spoke of battles long waged.

Dark brows pinched together when he drew coin from a purse and tossed the round metal onto the wooden counter.
The pasty maker’s wife wrapped two pies in a large green leaf and handed them to him.

He spun around.

She marveled at the poetry of the way he moved, all animal supple, arrogant, and contained, like a fierce dragon crouched to pounce.

“For you, fair lady.” He sketched a courtier’s bow and she wondered if he, too, was of royal blood.

“My thanks.” Étaín’s knees quaked and she blushed under his intense scrutiny. She accepted the pasties, balanced the broad leaf in one hand, and tore it in half. Concentrating on her task but aware he studied her every action; she divided the pies in two, folded one of each into a leaf half, and offered him the larger portion. “Will you break your fast with me, my lord?”

“I am yours to command, my lady, in any way."



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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-62916-059-7
Genre: Historical
Date Published: 12/05/2013
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing

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