Hello and welcome to the first Just Romance BlogHop of 2014! If you’re just joining us, you can check out all the participating authors from the beginning by clicking the picture below:
And now here’s my contribution to the warm chills and heated shivers: An excerpt from my latest release, The Royal Wizard. Winter days are perfect for getting cozy and learning a little magic, wouldn’t you agree? 😉
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Saeran shifted to find a more comfortable position and strained his ears to listen. “I hear nothing.”
“You are not listening hard enough. Concentrate. It helps if you close your eyes.” She closed her own to demonstrate. “Put everything from your mind but the sounds, and listen not only with your ears, but with your heart.”
Saeran breathed in deeply and held his breath, counting heartbeats. He could hear them getting louder, but only because they were thrumming in his head now. Expelling the air from his lungs in an explosive sigh, Saeran shook himself and tried again. He drummed his fingers on the table—that he could hear. He tapped his foot. Also a sound his keen ears were able to pick up. Besides that, he heard nothing. “This is boring. When can I work a spell?”
“When you learn to hear what is around you,” she said without opening her yes. “A thing will tell you how it wants to be changed. It will know your intent and help you achieve it. A pitcher will know when you want it to float next to the table instead of sitting on it. It will do as you command. But a flower will not obey a command to grow if it knows your only intent is to pluck it.”
There was wisdom in her words. She sat unmoving, composed, but still at ease. Saeran’s backside was starting to ache from sitting on the hard chair, yet Nia didn’t show any discomfort at all. Her control over herself was astounding.
She knew what to do and was the only one who could teach him. He would have to learn on her terms and trust she would lead him true. Saeran closed his eyes again and quieted his mind. For a long time, nothing happened. He heard nothing but his own breathing, felt nothing but his weight sinking into the chair.
But then it began to change. Slowly, he began feeling lighter, almost floating. His hands felt warm, his head swam. The flicker of torchlight cast shadows on his eyelids, and he followed the movement as if he could see the real flames dancing.
Suddenly he heard them. Two torches, then three, and then all of them. They were singing! Not in the sense of a human voice, but it was a melody nonetheless. They sang in the direction of the book shelves, as if performing for them, and Saeran’s awareness floated toward the dark alcove. The scrolls and tomes there whispered. He could hear words so ancient and powerful they sent a chill up his spine, and he knew such knowledge in the wrong hands could destroy with impunity.
Wary of it, Saeran withdrew.
He pictured Nia in his mind, sitting in front of him, regal as any queen, and suddenly he heard her breath as he did his own. He heard her heart beat like a drum to the rhythm of life all around him.
Saeran opened his eyes, amazed when the sounds didn’t dull. He saw Nia there, and she was so beautiful it pained him. She hadn’t moved, sitting quietly with her eyes closed. Saeran had faced armies, felt warriors’ souls leave their bodies and seen peace at last in their dying eyes. He’d met with great kings, masters of every trade, wizards and holy men; sought their knowledge and wisdom. Nia’s silence was more profound than anything those men had ever taught him. Her serenity seeped into his bones and made him feel as if no ill or plight could touch him as long as she was there.
He leaned toward her, captivated by this strange, beautiful dream, and reached out to touch her. His fingers brushed through her hair, and the golden strands chimed for him a harmony of countless strings. Nia tensed. But she didn’t move. Saeran felt like a master musician, playing the silken strands to yield a melody that shamed the most accomplished bards.
The music all around him grew louder to compliment his movements. He did it again, savoring the sound as clear as crystal, and then he leaned closer still and touched his mouth to hers.
The song quieted. His ears became deaf to everything but the beat of his heart, thumping in perfect unison to hers. He kissed her softly, reverently, and Nia yielded to him with a sigh that shivered through his soul.
In that moment, Saeran sensed everything stop and wished it could stay that way forever. Shrouded in silence, hidden in the depths of time itself, Nia looped her arms around his neck and he pulled her closer still. The table was gone. They floated together in a warm current of air that folded around them like a blanket.
They had no anchor to latch on to except each other. Saeran held Nia so tightly he could feel her heartbeat against his chest, yet it still wasn’t enough. He needed more. Her heart set the rhythm of his. Saeran wanted inside her skin, to touch her soul and bind it to his.
Sounds began to intrude. Someone was approaching.
A sharp knock at the door rang out in deafening echoes, jolting Saeran and Nia out of the trance and they fell to the ground several feet apart.
Nia stared at the prince, frozen in shock, unable to look away. Her heart was racing so fast she couldn’t catch her breath. Saeran seemed similarly incapacitated. He looked as if he wished to say something, but couldn’t find his voice. And neither of them dared to blink.
Want to read more? The Royal Wizard is now available in eBook and print format!