Okay, this one is my favorite. I love D and G as well, but this one is my first love so far. Jonah is a new character for me, and with her I did something I have NEVER done.
I based a character loosely on someone I know. One of my friends, Jo-Anna, joked when I was stuck on J that it should be for Jo-Anna and after brainstorming with the wonderful Kerry again, Jonah was born.
Bowen has been one of mine for a while, but in Jonah I suppose he's met it his match. I adore her, I hope you do, too.
As far as the timeline is concerned, this is probably a few years after Sword's Call. Don't have my finger on *exactly* where, but they will get their own full book because I am totally enamored with them.
The crash and shatter accompanied the wine soaking her boots. Jonah winced. Not again. Morag would have her head for breaking another wine jug, not to mention wasting the drink.He turned around at the noise and their eyes met. Jonah wanted to melt into the floor.Why had she tried to cut through the baths on her way back into the castle? She could have at least called out that she was heading inside. But then again, she’d seen the knights of Lord Aldern’s personal guard leaving just moments before. She couldn’t have known there was still a man inside—a naked man. She blushed to her toes.“Are you all right?” His voice was deep and her eyes snapped to his. Light brown depths she could get lost in. Her face blazed, but she couldn’t look away.“Wh—wh—what?” He’d said something, right? What had he said?Enunciating as if she were daft, he repeated, “Are you all right, lass?”Golden skin, muscles rippling as he turned toward her, he wrapped a bathing sheet around his trim waist. But not before she saw—everything. Her eyes traveled his body. The naked expanse of his back had nothing on his well defined chest. It was smattered with sandy curls that matched the hue of his slightly too-long locks. He didn’t have a muscle that wasn’t toned.Jonah gulped.She took a step back and one corner of his mouth lifted. She wanted to cringe. There was no way he’d missed her perusal, but he said nothing.“I’m fine,” she finally managed. “Just…clumsy.” Had she really just said that? Had her face ever been so hot? “Sorry…to interrupt you. I…was just passing through.”He smiled and her heart stuttered. One dimple. He had one dimple it was perfect. “What’s your name?” He took a step toward her.“What?” Why had she asked him that? He was going to think she was an idiot.His eyebrow shot up and he took another step toward her, one hand on the linen at his waist. “I haven’t seen you around here.”“Oh. Right.” Jonah fidgeted, bending to retrieve her dropped tray and wincing as her eyes raked the shards of the wine jug. She clutched the tray in front of her with both hands, white knuckled. “I’m new. Jonah…I’m Jonah.” He smiled again and came even closer. Her heart thundered.“Bowen.”“A knight of the personal guard?”“One of the twelve.” He stuck his hand out and she stared at it. “You know, it’s customary to shake one’s hand in greeting, even outside of Greenwald.” The laughter in his tone made the tease obvious but Jonah jumped.“I—I—I’m sorry.” She bit her lip and slid her hand into his. A jolt of energy shot up her arm. Bowen must have felt something too, because their eyes locked. His lips parted and his chest heaved. Jonah struggled for breath. What happened?“Are you married?” he breathed.“No…” What kind of a question was that? He tugged on the hand he held and the tray clattered to the floor again.Moments later, warmth was encasing her. His arms slid around her and he pulled her closer. Jonah gasped but didn’t pull away. She couldn’t. She didn’t want to.She could feel his body heat through the fabric of her tunic and his heart pounding against hers. Her body hummed in response. What was going on? She didn’t even know this man.Jonah looked into those almost golden eyes. Her heart skipped a beat. Bowen was staring right back, but then his eyes searched her face and his gaze stopped on her lips. He wasn’t going to…His mouth covered hers before the thought was complete. She opened without hesitation and pressed her body closer to his. Through the bathing sheet she felt his physical response and desire pooled low in her belly. Someone moaned.Their tongues dueled with mutual exploration. Jonah tightened her arms around him and Bowen pulled her even closer. They were melded, hips to hips, chest to breasts. Her legs weakened as he kissed her harder, desperately. Feeling rushed her body as never before. She’d been kissed, but not like this. Never like this. She didn’t know this man. But…she wanted him.Jonah pulled away with a gasp, her chest heaving. She splayed her hands on his chest. She needed to push him away, but ended up burying her fingertips in his sandy fuzz. Bowen loosened his hold, but did not release her.His eyes were half-lidded as she looked up at him, and the desire she saw there made her whole body flush. She trembled in his arms and forced a deep breath. She needed focus on something other than Bowen’s handsome face. She couldn’t speak.“I don’t know what to say,” Bowen whispered.Jonah blinked and swept her tongue over her bottom lip. She could still taste him there. “Are you in the habit of kissing strangers?”Bowen groaned. “No, but if you do that again I’ll have to kiss you again.” Jonah blushed and looked away. His arms dropped to his sides but he stayed close. Their bodies were still almost touching.Callused fingers brushed her cheek and tilted her face toward him. Their gazes met and he smiled. His dimple flashed and Jonah’s heart skipped a beat. His touch was tender and she wanted more. “I won’t apologize for the kiss, but I am sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”“You didn’t.” Bowen chuckled and Jonah found herself smiling. “Seeing your state of undress was…startling.” He grinned and re-tucked the end of the towel in, securing it.“I’m sorry about that.”“I’m sorry I dropped the wine. Morag will not be pleased.” Jonah winced and Bowen threw his head back and laughed.
“Our headwoman is rarely pleased.”“I will certainly need to stay away from her.” Jonah turned to grab the tray again, but he gripped her hand.“I’ll protect you.” His tone and expression were sincere. Her stomach flipped.“I don’t even know you,” she whispered. Bowen tugged her to him again. Her arms went around him automatically. Would he kiss her again?“I would be glad to change that,” he whispered, his lips hovering over hers.His second kiss was tender and melted her heart as well as her body against his. It was much too short, but she stayed close to him as they parted.“Even a knight will be unable to protect me from Morag.” Bowen laughed.“I’ll admit, I avoid her like the plague.” The dimple was back. Jonah grinned.“Bowen?”“Aye?”“This is the best welcome I’ve received since coming to Castle Aldern.”“I hope there hasn’t been any of a similar nature?” Jonah bit her lip to keep from laughing as she stared up at him.“I’ll never tell.”Bowen growled and kissed her again.
All rights reserved; copyright © C. A. Szarek. The text within may not be reproduced in whole or in part or distributed in any form whatsoever OR SOLD without first obtaining permission from the author