As promised, here's a little excerpt from SIREN SINGING, out today from Ellora's Cave! The excerpt is PG because this blog isn't age controlled, but trust me, the book is hot :) And remember, everyone needs to buy the book since writing is now my only income and I'll soon have a baby to feed. (cheeky grin)
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Siren Singing Copyright © 2008 Isabo Kelly.
Sonia Karishja took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. She’d known for years this day would come. Even before her father announced his decision, Sonia began to prepare. From the moment the seer revealed the future to her, she’d studied and trained, learning everything she could to guarantee success.
Because this one day could ensure the future of her entire planet.
Her wedding day.
“Sonia, stop fidgeting,” her lady-in-waiting scolded. “The jewels will be crooked if you don’t stop moving.”
She glanced down at Nina where she knelt, affixing small rubies to the skin around Sonia’s navel. “Sorry.” Standing here, getting ready to meet her groom for the first time, nerves plagued Sonia. She’d been so positive this marriage was the right thing. Now her future seemed less certain.
Vander Ulneric was the oldest son of one of the most powerful families, both militarily and politically, on Callisea. This marriage would form a bond between his family and hers, a powerful Ishari family, creating a treaty between their planets that couldn’t fail like so many had in the past. Sonia would bring the superior technology of her planet to the superior armies of his. The tie would force their two governments to deal with each other, and together they could survive as independent worlds against the onslaught of their mutual enemy, the Selmorahn Empire.
So she’d learned everything there was to know about Vander to ensure the success of their marriage, even to the point of becoming fluent in his native language. And all that knowledge had produced an unexpected side effect.
She’d fallen in love with him.
“This seduction plan of yours will go a lot smoother if you aren’t worried about crooked body art,” Nina said.
She tried to grin but her stomach fluttered. Nina was her best friend and the only person she’d trusted with this particular secret. “I’m starting to worry about my plan.” She glanced over her friend’s head to her reflection in the floor-length mirror. Cool spring light streamed into the room through giant windows, making the white silk of her dress glow. “I’ve never tried to seduce a man before. Not like a normal woman.”
“Then use your song. I don’t understand why you won’t. If I had the talent, I’d use it.”
Sonia shook her head and watched the tiny bells in her hair sparkle as the jingling sound danced through the quiet room. “I want him to want me. I don’t want him tricked into lusting after me.”
Nina sighed but didn’t look up from her work. “Sonia, you want him to love you. But…”
When Nina didn’t finish, Sonia glanced down. “What?”
“But you know that might never happen,” she finished and finally met Sonia’s gaze. “You better than anyone know you’re facing an uphill battle.”
Sonia bit her bottom lip and glanced back at the mirror so she wouldn’t have to see the compassion in her friend’s eyes. Nina was right. She understood only too well her quest to make Vander fall in love with her might be hopeless. He was already in love with someone else. A ghost. A woman who’d been killed in a Selmorahn raid only four months before this marriage was arranged.
A woman who was opposite in every way to Sonia. Anya had been petite, fair-haired, light-eyed, quiet, shy, biddable, sweet, caring and giving. Sonia was dark—black hair, black eyes, olive-colored skin. She was tall, curvy, forward and brazen. She considered herself caring and would do anything for her family and her people. But she wasn’t quiet, sweet was questionable, and biddable wasn’t a term often used in the same sentence as her name.
Not that she hadn’t considered changing for Vander. But as Nina pointed out, she made a terrible blonde. Half smiling, she shrugged. “If I have any hope of winning his heart, I have to earn it for who and what I am. You said as much already.”
“I didn’t mean for you to avoid using the one sure-fire talent you have to seduce men. Besides, that’s part of who you are. Would you hide that from him?”
“No. But I’m not using it against him either.” She looked up at her reflection again. “I’m just going to have to seduce him the old-fashioned way.” She ran a hand over her gown.
The dress was cut to reveal more skin than it covered, despite the full-length skirt and long sleeves. She wasn’t even supposed to wear undergarments, but after some debate had opted for small, lacy panties. While her own people wouldn’t think twice about her provocative attire, Calliseans were much more conservative. Undergarments weren’t the only adjustment she’d had to make to accommodate a wedding on Vander’s home world, including having to forgo the typical four to five day weddings of her home city, Holiabad. But she’d kept a few of her own customs. She would remain barefoot on her wedding day and for the following four days. And her hands and feet were decorated with red body paint, her hands covered with flower and vine designs specific to her family clan.
In the bright sunlight filling the room, the contrast between red paint, white silk and her dark skin was striking. She grinned. “If he isn’t seduced by this fine work of yours, I have no hope. With or without my song.”
Nina grinned back. “If he doesn’t want you on first sight, he’s made of stone and doesn’t deserve you. You’re going to have every man in that room drooling.”
Sonia pressed a hand to her stomach, above the swirls of rubies. There was only one man she wanted to notice her. And he was the one man she was worried might not.
Nina patted her hip and stood. “I have an early wedding present for you.” She crossed to the stacks of trunks that made up their luggage.
Sonia had been given a lavish suite next to Vander’s in the family wing of the palace. But to prepare for the ceremony, she’d stayed in Nina’s cozier room in the guest wing. At least here, she could stand on thick rugs. Most of the palace had marble floors which were freezing against her bare feet. One of the maids told her the palace remained cool even in the height of summer. But it wasn’t summer yet, so she found it hard to appreciate the cold floors. Part of her missed the dry heat of her own home. Even in the approaching winter, she’d still have been able to spend time in her sun-drenched gardens. Though as she remembered the heat of summer, she couldn’t help but appreciate the cooler climate here.
After digging through her case for a few moments, Nina rose with a large box wrapped in gold paper. She grinned as she handed Sonia the present. “If this doesn’t get his engines revving, the man’s a eunuch.”
Sonia raised an eyebrow. When she removed the wrapping and saw the present, she laughed. “Thank you, Nina. I think you just tipped the scales in my favor.”