“When do we get to start Warrior practice?”
Her shoulders tensed. “Tomorrow, I suppose.” And then she hurried away. That was how she ended conversations that made her uncomfortable.
Which was basically every conversation she had with him.
He’d get used to it. He always did.
Returning to his suite, he methodically cleared it of all the debris and dust and cobwebs, turning it into a livable space while he listened to the water running through the pipes in the wall between his room and Tessa’s.
He pictured her in that stall, water pouring over her naked body. Her hands, slippery with soap, roaming over her torso, paying special attention to her breasts, which he was sure were utterly perfect, a handful each--
He shook his head, trying to dislodge the thoughts that had made his dick stiff as damn piece of iron.
Yeah, maybe that would work, because iron was deadly to the fae, so if he impaled her with his iron staff, she’d die, and he didn’t want that, did he?
Except he was fully aware that his dick wasn’t made of iron, so that thought wasn’t helping to deflate it.
Giving in, he did the only thing he could do; he stripped out of his filthy clothes and climbed into the bathing stall. Pressing one hand against the wall, where he knew Tessa had been standing on the other side a short time ago, he grasped his dick with the other hand. Closing his eyes, he pulled up the image of her bathing, stroking himself as he allowed his imagination to run free.
Getting it out of his system. That’s what he told himself, anyway.
That task tended to, he dressed and headed down to the kitchen, where he planned to offer to help but hoped she’d decline.
“I can handle it,” she said, right on cue.
Her hair was still damp from her shower. She’d pulled it into a twist on top of her head. Her clothing was casual, a loose-fitted top and linen pants, sandals instead of boots. A fascinating side to his new Warrior partner, which was no less attractive than the angry badass he’d met and consequently saved after she’d been beaten near to death.
A fire burned in the hearth, a copper pan warming on the grates. Steam drifted out of a pot that was atop another, smaller flame. There was still a sliver of sun stretching through the windows, but Tessa had already lit the torches. He should probably light the ones lining the staircase and hallway outside their rooms before it became fully dark.
Instead, he asked, “Can you describe any of your attackers?”
Her shoulders stiffened, and she took a generous drink of wine.
“Oh, I want some of that,” he said, reaching for her cup.
She jerked it out of reach. “Get your own. It’s in the cellar.”
Guess Warrior partners didn’t share everything. ’Course, he already knew that. As much as he loved the idea, he was certain Tessa would never share a bathing experience with him.
Once Rejected, Twice Shy
Faerell Book 1, Rejected Mates Collection
Faith Calhoun was almost forty when she walked in on her husband screwing someone else.
Talk about a terrible way to end what had admittedly not been an iconic decade of her life.
After serving him divorce papers—on her birthday—she heads straight to her favorite bar, where the ultra-hot bartender plies her with drinks to take the edge off.
They end up tumbling into bed together.
That part’s not bad—in fact, it’s really, really good—except in the morning, he rejects her too, and somehow, that rejection is even worse than the first one. Especially when he insists he needs to remain in her life to ensure she’s protected.
From what? Her gossipy neighbors?
Oh, and let’s not forget all the strange occurrences that are getting harder and harder to explain away.
First, there’s a wolf in her house. A real, live, massive wolf. Then the house is attacked and nearly destroyed by some unknown—and unseen—enemy, and, get this, the wolf saves her. Then the bartender tells her he’s a wolf too. It’s like something out of her favorite shifter romance novel—except she’s living it!
And then there’s the icing on the cake: Mikail, the bartender-slash-wolf, tells her she’s a faery princess.
Maybe this week isn’t so bad after all.
If you overlook the reason he kept her identity a secret: the enemies she didn’t know she had want to kill her, and now that she’s been outed.
“I’m sorry. We should not have come back here last night.” He should have sent her home and climbed the stairs to the apartment above his bar and slept in his own bed—alone.
She shook her head and reached into the refrigerator for a jug of creamer, added a dollop to the mug sitting on the counter. “A small part of me wishes he’d come home while we were in the middle of…”
Mikail sucked in a harsh breath. “You took me home because you wanted your cheating husband to catch us in the act?”
He’d thought she was attracted to him because of who he was, not because she wanted revenge.
He’d been used. It wasn’t a pleasant thought. And while it certainly hadn’t been the first time in his long life, it was the first time he felt…dirty about it.
She shook her head so forcefully that red tendrils sprang free of her loose braid and whipped her in the face. “No, not at all. I didn’t think about him at all until this morning. I was lying there on my back, my arm resting on your chest, my leg draped over your thighs, not really ready to wake up, and I thought, I’ve never experienced this before. I can’t believe I had no idea what I was missing. But he never missed it. I’m pretty sure he’s been getting it on the side for almost our entire marriage, and I had no idea. And I wanted him to see that I was happy and satisfied—with someone else.”
Mikail gritted his teeth and was barely able to suppress the growl. Yes, he’d made the poor choice to take her to bed, but he’d not thought it would be a revenge fuck for her. He’d wanted her to enjoy pleasures he knew she’d never experienced before—just as she’d said—but he’d also not wanted her stupid husband to have anything at all to do with it, even if it was anger or frustration she was feeling.
This was why he taught the Watchers to keep emotions out of the mix. Because emotions made people dumb.
“But then I got out of bed and went to the bathroom and took a shower,” Faith said, “and I wasn’t thinking about him at all. I didn’t feel sad or vengeful or anything tied to him.”
She canted her head and studied Mikail while her cheeks pinked. “It sort of felt like I had a new beginning. My life is starting over, as of last night.”
“You mean since you started the process of divorcing the man?” Mikail suggested. He did not like where he suspected this conversation was heading.
“I don’t want to start over alone.”
“I don’t want to go back to giving myself orgasms.”
“Is that all it was to you?” Why did he even ask? The entire experience had been all about showing her what she’d been missing by staying with Luke. He had meant to give her a night to remember, but he hadn’t meant…
“Oh no. I want so much more than that.” She took a sip of coffee, her brow crinkling when her gaze landed on the sugar container. Rather, what was shoved between it and the wall. “What’s this?” she asked, moving a handful of steps.
She pulled out the wadded ball of clothing, untangled the different pieces, and held up her panties. “Why is this stuffed back here?”
He cleared his throat. “I didn’t want, uh, the reminder of what happened to be in your face when you woke up this morning.”
“Because why, Mikail?” Her tone had taken on a hard edge. She crumpled the panties in her fist.
“Faith, love, we cannot…”
Christ, she was going to make him spell it out. He stabbed his fingers through his hair. “What happened last night cannot happen again. That is not how it is supposed to work between us. We should not have even done it in the first place. It is against policy. Against the rules.”
The mug slipped from her hand. As he watched its descent toward the floor, he thought, if she were in possession of her magic, she could stop this right now.
The cup hit the unforgiving ceramic tile and shattered, pale brown liquid jumping up and dousing both his and Faith’s legs. Luckily, it had cooled to a lukewarm consistency and did no more damage beyond making a mess.
He glanced up at Faith’s face. She was as pale as a ghost, save two spots of bright color on her cheeks. Her eyes were wide, the blue of her irises shimmering. Oh fates, had he made her cry? He hadn’t meant to do that. He only meant--
“Are you rejecting me too?”
TJ Bell is the naughtier alter-ego of romance author Tami Lund (although you should totally read Tami Lund’s books too, because they are really, really good). TJ Bell writes paranormal and fantasy romance, all the time. Her heroines are tough, even if they are broken, and her heroes tend to have a heart of gold under all that alpha. Hell, sometimes they aren’t even alpha at all; after all, who doesn’t love a solid beta hero?
When she isn’t writing snarky, steamy books, TJ Bell likes to take long walks on the beach with a tall glass of wine… oh wait, wrong bio. But still true.
TJ Bell lives in the (sometimes) beautiful state of Michigan, USA, where the weather is glorious approximately 30% of the time, with her even-more-snarky husband, snarky-in-training (and progressing impressively) teenage daughter, and her dog, Kaya, who wants to know if it’s dinnertime yet.