To change it up a bit this week, we’re going to do a teaser of Jaded Stone. Here’s a nice long one for you.
I’ll do a teaser of No One’s Angel again next week. (Only 4 weeks until the release!)
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Josina stood in the doorway, her fair features bleary with sleep. “Your Highness, Lord Hendel is here to call upon you before you go to the pier. Will you see him?”
“Rees?” Valencia tilted her head to the side. “Is everything all right with Celiah?”
“As far as I know, Your Highness. This is the younger Lord Hendel.”
Reid. Her heart fluttered as she realized who’d come to see her. Did she want to see him? She fought the urge to laugh at herself as she realized she’d already started toward the outer chamber. Apparently so. Just before entering the sitting area, Valencia paused to check her appearance. Her hand smoothed her long satin skirts, then her fingers combed through her silky blonde curls. Last night, he’d seen her at her worst. Today she wouldn’t accept being anything less than the picture of perfection. Once satisfied, she glided into the room.
Reid stood as she entered, abandoning his nervous perch on a convenient chair. He bowed, more deeply than necessary, then met her gaze with a guarded expression. “Your Highness.”
“Good morning, My Lord. I trust my hasty departure last evening didn’t keep you from a good night’s rest?”
“I won’t call it good, but it was restful enough. I hope I’m not intruding by calling on you, I—”
“Why should I expect anything less than a formal visit? I think you made it quite clear in the garden that you are nothing if not a perfect gentleman.”
Reid’s eyes clouded over, as if he were trying to decide if she’d just insulted him, or not.
Secretly, Valencia hoped for or not. But it wouldn’t do any harm for him to be just a little insulted, either. The walls around her vulnerability had been reinforced, and she waited patiently for him to decide and respond.
“Are you angry with me?”
The way his dark hair shaded his eyes drew her attention and she had the incongruous thought that she might find it quite difficult to be truly angry with him. That didn’t mean she couldn’t try. “Should I be?”
“I hope not. I only wanted to be respectful of you as both a woman, and my future queen.”
Valencia sighed, resisting the urge to turn away in case her eyes betray just how much his words mattered to her. “I was not myself last night, My Lord. Between the attack on my life, and the overall disruption at the royal wedding festivities… Regardless, what matters is that I’ve returned to my senses.”
“So I made you forget yourself, did I?” The playfulness finally returned to his eyes and he took a few steps forward, alleviating the distance between them.
“It won’t happen again,” Valencia cautioned.
“Why? I liked the way your outer shell cracked just a bit. I don’t suspect many have seen that side of you. Don’t shut me out just because I tried to do the right thing, instead of what I wanted. Isn’t that what you need? I know the pressure you put on yourself regarding who you choose to lead beside you.”
“Then you know I also need someone who knows when to break the rules, and when not to.” And maybe someone who was more than willing to break the rules along with her. The Three knew she’d made a habit of ignoring whatever rules she wished.
“Perhaps I should demonstrate.” With two powerful strides he closed the small gap left between them. His sudden nearness washed over her, momentarily catching her in its current.
“Perhaps you should remember your place, My Lord.” The last words came out as more of a squeak than a command.