Happy Monday, romance readers! Today's book moment comes direct from the fantasy, fairy tale romance, Snow Maiden. This scene shows the growing attraction between Nika and King Vasilli of the Northern Kingdom. Enjoy!
When she came back, Nika dressed the man’s wound, packing it with the poultice they already had available then wrapping it tightly. Every other man that had wounds from the night before she saw to until there were no more wounded left.
Lena had gone to get more water again, though now there was no need. With nothing left to do, Nika started to straighten the area.
“Another has need of your tender ministrations, mistress.”
Vasilli’s familiar voice carried to her over the space. She turned away from rolling bandages to look toward the door and nearly gasped.
Vasilli stood in the door frame. Both of his forearms rested on either side of the entrance, his light blue eyes twinkling.
“A-and, who might this forgotten soul be, your highness?” Nika asked.
“Just me,” Vasilli said.
“Oh, yes, y-your highness,” she faltered over the word, “your arm, of course.”
Nika was suddenly all thumbs in his presence. She fumbled around for clean cloths and water. Vasilli’s eyes stayed on her the whole time, she could feel them and it sent a warm ripple up her spine. He wore an amused smile when she looked up at him and she knew that she blushed bright pink.
“Sit, please, my lord,” she said, glancing at the one stool in the building that was little more than a stable for men. Probably it was only used for their gear or to keep out of the weather when they weren’t honing their skills on the field.
He moved to comply in the tight area, but when he passed by her, there was barely any space between them. He paused in front of her and Nika’s eyes met his broad chest in its leather breastplate. Made to protect the wearer, it was thick but fit tightly over every hard plane of his torso and outlined his muscles in a way that Nika couldn’t pull her eyes away from. Vasilli touched her then, briefly, in passing. He grabbed both of her elbows with his fingers. It was only for a second. It meant nothing. He was only trying to move by her, she told herself. But the small pressure of his touch made Nika’s heart pound against her ribs.
Then he sat and she could breathe again, which she did in one deep, head-clearing pull through her nose. She thought she caught a glimpse of a movement from him, but when she looked up, he was sitting in the chair as she’d asked like a young boy aiming to please.
Nika drew her brows together and frowned. This made Vasilli laugh.
“Well,” he said, “aren’t you going to fix me?”
Nika couldn’t help but smile when his was so infectious. She liked the way his eyes crinkled up at the sides when he was happy. Setting the bowl of water down on a stool, she moved closer to him.
“Let’s see then,” she motioned at his shirt, “it’s your arm isn’t it?”
Vasilli nodded. He kept his eyes on her as he untied his breastplate then slipped it over his head. Nika watched with rapt attention as his fingers that had touched her just moments ago loosened the lacings of his tunic at the top of his chest. She didn’t know why she hadn’t been more prepared for the idea that he would have to remove his shirt. His wound was up high on his upper arm. Of course it would have to come off. She pressed her tongue to the roof of her mouth, tense as he moved.
He lifted the garment up and off then, just like that, was half naked before her. Nika felt like she was frozen in place. She’d looked at him while he was ill and been fascinated, but this was not the same. His skin was smooth and pale gold in color. It stretched over taut muscle that rippled and bunched as he moved. Every breath he took made the lines of his body dance. The sight mesmerized her. She’d felt his strength every time he’d lifted her or as she’d leaned against him in the circle of his arms on the ride to Northland, but seeing him like this… it was too much.
His light brown nipples hardened in the chill air of the shed and she felt her eyes go round as she stared at them.
“Nika,” his voice said, so low it was near to a growl. She started and looked up. “It is cold in here… if you wouldn’t mind.”
His tone was stern but his lips held a smile. Her fluster obviously entertained him. She blew out a breath then hurried to dip the cloth strips into the bowl of water. Her movements were jerky as she wrung them out and turned to him. Vasilli’s chest and shoulders rocked, the muscles bouncing with his laughter. She bit her lip as she shoved the cloth toward his arm.
Vasilli’s other hand shot up to grasp her wrist, a hairsbreadth away from touching him. She looked at him with round eyes.
“Why so alarmed little doe?” He traced the underside of her wrist with his thumb. “Have you never seen a man’s chest before?”
Her eyes went straight from his to that part of him. He was so much harder than her there. It made the soft areas of her body feel all the softer.
She shook her head no in answer to his question. She hadn’t, not besides him the other night when she’d been frantic to heal him. In the daylight, now that he was hale again, the sight he made was a completely different thing altogether.
He moved her hand closer to him until her palm rested on his chest. Through the cloth, she felt how warm he was despite the chill in the air. The bottom of her hand grazed his nipple and both of her own tightened under her shift in response. Pulling her hand up, she glanced at him. He watched her through hooded eyes, seeming to marvel at her every reaction. Nika gave her head a small shake then reclaimed her hand and set to the task of cleaning his cut.
“There, it is clean,” she said when she was done, then grabbed the jar of salve that Lena had brought with them earlier. With her fingertips, she spread some of the concoction on Vasilli’s arm then wrapped a length of clean cloth around his bicep though it no longer bled.
“It should be good as new very soon y-your highness.”
“Thank you,” Vasilli said as he shrugged back into his shirt.
She smiled in answer, relieved that he was dressed again. It did little to ease the riot of sensations that now coursed through her, but at least she could catch her breath.
“You are welcome, my lord.”
Her eyes were downcast. She looked at the ground, uneasy under his penetrating stare. But then he brought his hand up under her chin and lifted her face to meet his gaze.
“You are good at this,” he said, eyeing his arm then her again. He was so close to her she could feel the heat from his breath.
“My grandmother taught me,” she explained, “she was the healer in our village.”
Vasilli nodded like he was trying to understand things about her.
“The fairies,” he said, “the women from the forest, they said you had mentioned her. Does she need you there?”
His pale blue eyes searched her face.
Nika looked down again. Pressing her lips together, she shook her head.
“She is gone now,” she said. “No one needs me there.”
His thumb ran along the fine bone of her jaw then feathered across her lips. She remembered how he’d kissed her the day before, on the stallion’s back. The thought made her lips tingle under his touch. She pressed forward on her toes toward him.
Would he kiss her again?
She wet her lips in anticipation. He made a deep sound low in his throat as he pulled her closer. What could she possibly be thinking? A million thoughts flashed through her head. He was a king, of a failing kingdom yes, but a king still. She was a lowly peasant girl run out of her own village.
She leaned into him as he drew her closer, even as she thought that she should leave, run from this place. No good could come of this. But as his lips neared hers, his scent intoxicated her—pine and fresh mountain snow. That warm feeling danced up her backbone again. It radiated into her chest, thawing the ice of her soul as it went. He stepped into her and, suddenly, she could feel every hard part of his body pressing against her front. His lashes lowered, long and dark against his skin as he dipped down to touch his lips to hers.
For more moments with Nika and Vasilli, buy Snow Maiden on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ibooks or Kobo.
A commoner and the outcast of her village, Nika is forced to flee her home to keep the dark secret of her birth. When she is hunted by a rugged Northman, she finds herself lost in a land of enchantment and curses. His kisses start to melt her cold, lonely heart, her secrets are laid bare and she finds herself in a magic war for the man and the kingdom she loves.
King of a cursed winter kingdom...when Vasilli first lays eyes on Nika stealing bread at a fair, he knows he has to have the fair haired beauty. The legends surrounding his kingdom tell of a snow maiden who will break the curse of the Northern Kingdom but he wants Nika for his own.
Mages and sorceresses, omens and curses - this spellbinding winter romance is a tale of magic in an ancient land and legendary love to heat up even the coldest winter night.
18 and up, contains sex, adult language and some violence. If such material offends you, please don't buy this book.
About the Author
Amanda V Shane is an author of paranormal and fantasy romance and is currently working on her Tides of Atlantis series about the super hot lost kings of Atlantis as well as her Enchanted Lands Romances.