ADULT CONTENT warning!
WARRIOR'S DAWN (Fire and Tears #3)
by Isabo Kelly
Mina pulled a small packet of dried fruit from the cabinet. “Don’t go into the front of the shop. The windows are dirty but not covered enough to prevent a passing patrol from spotting you.” Then she climbed the stairs to the room she always used, the one with the best views of the surrounding streets, and settled in for a day’s vigil.
When Althir joined her, she wanted to groan in irritation. She needed to be alone, just for a few minutes. Could he not listen to wisdom and go sleep?
“You’re tense,” he commented.
She couldn’t read anything in his voice, couldn’t decipher his tone, but since he hadn’t ask a question, she didn’t bother to respond. She had no interest in conversation with him outside of what needed to be done.
Or so she kept telling herself.
No, no she really didn’t want to talk with him right now. Not when thoughts of her brother were so close to the surface.
“The minions scared you?”
She snorted and shook her head.
“Then it’s something else…”
“Althir. Go sleep. Or twiddle your thumbs. Or eat. Or do nothing at all. I don’t really care. Just go away.”
“Something about the minions…” he murmured, drawing the sentence out, ignoring her pleas.
“We’re in enemy territory now. I have every reason to be tense.”
“There’s a difference since the patrol passed.”
She rolled her eyes. “You don’t know me well enough to judge my mood shifts. Go away.”
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll sneak out and alert the patrols to your presence?”
She finally turned from the window to look at him. “Because they’ll do much more damage to you, after betraying them, than they could ever do to me.”
“I could buy their forgiveness with you.”
“I’m not that valuable. And you are many things distasteful to me, Althir of Glengowyn, but you’re no idiot.”
“If I weren’t an idiot, I wouldn’t be in this mess.”
She wasn’t sure which mess he referred to—joining the Sorcerers to begin with, having to turn himself over the Sinnale to save his miserable life, or this current mission to regain his freedom. It was on the tip of her tongue to ask when she remembered she didn’t care and had no interest in talking with him. She turned back to the window.
The sound of the bedsprings creaking made her want to screech, “Go away!” But she didn’t say anything aloud. Engaging him would just draw things out. Showing him her anger and annoyance would reveal more than she wanted a traitor elf to know.
“What other distasteful things am I?” he asked, amusement clear in his tone.
She nibbled on her fruit, ignoring him. At one time, her family had been large and boisterous. She’d learned well the power of silence.
Or so she thought.
“Can’t think of any? I suspected as much. I’m too charming and handsome to be distasteful.”
That surprised a snort of laughter from her. She cut it off as quickly as she could but knew he’d heard the response and cursed herself. Damn him and his charm to the sacred hells. She preferred the crass, bitter elf she’d met the day before. She couldn’t find that elf amusing, even if she did find him beautiful to look at.
“I’ve visited this chocolatier before,” he commented. “Before the invasion. Damned fine sweets they made. Maybe the best truffles in the city.”
She shrugged, though it took an effort not to refute his claim. Family pride died hard, even after years of war.
“Another topic then. You never answered my question about how you managed to maintain anything like a figure over the last two years.”
She felt her cheeks warming but kept her gaze on the streets below. Discussing her figure wasn’t exactly an improvement in topics.
“Oh I’m sure some of it’s down to family, right? Your mother probably had great tits too.”
She tried not to react or stiffen, but knew she’d failed when she heard his slight hum, as if he realized he’d uncovered something.
“And sisters? Cousins, maybe? Were they as…fully curved as you?”
She continued to munch on her fruit as she tried to ignore him. In the otherwise quiet room, though, the deep cadence of his voice dug its way into her consciousness, leaving her too aware of him.
“I bet they were. With tits and asses to make a man’s mouth water.”
“Are you attempting to use that vaunted charm on me again?” she asked before she could stop herself. “If so, do you realize you’re failing miserably?”
Her retort earned her a soft, sexy chuckle. “So, she speaks. Will you answer my question?”
“After all that rot you’ve just rambled on about, I have no idea what you asked.”
“How have you managed to keep from getting too skinny during the occupation?”
She blew out an irritated breath and raised her hands palms-up in surrender. “Fine. If you must know, I was fat before the war.”
When he didn’t respond, she looked at him over her shoulder. His brows were raised and he was staring at her as if surprised by her outburst. The expression made her want to laugh.
“Gloriously fat,” she continued. “So beautifully full and fat I was coveted by many a man in my family’s industry.” She realized too late she’d said too much. Biting her lip, she faced the window again. “Now go away.”
“I’ve never heard a woman announce being fat with such pride,” he said, continuing to ignore her pleas for him to leave. “I like it. I approve.”
“I don’t care.”
I hope you've enjoyed a little look at what Mina is in for with Althir. It's going to be a very fun ride.