By Vivian Arend
Anya Bast has a book out today, and I’m giving away copies! Isn’t that a gorgeous cover?
She owns nothing of herself but her heart.
Sienne is beautiful, intelligent, talented…and a slave. Given to the lord of Nordan for a season, she has one mission: seduce Marken with a body made for sin and bring back to her Sudhran masters secrets they can use to conquer their northern neighbors. If she fails, the family who took her in as a child will pay the price.
Marken has no desire for a slave. Women come to his bed willingly or not at all. Yet when he frees the beautiful temptress, she refuses to leave his side, sating her curiosity with questions about his court and her desire with a depthless ability to submit to their growing pleasure. But despite every plan to teach her to be free, Marken finds himself becoming increasingly entangled…and increasingly possessive.
Time is running short. Sienne has until the last winter’s snow has melted before she must make a choice that will change the shape of two nations forever.
This book was previously published.
Copyright © 2012 Anya Bast
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
The cool gray of the castle walls reached heavenward to meet heavy clouds pregnant with the promise of snow. Sienne shivered in her saddle, seeing the place which would imprison her for the cold season. It was a credit that she could still feel emotion when confronted with a new set of chains. Most slaves lost everything, including all feeling in their souls.
Of course, she considered as Ramdan, a burly Sudhraian soldier, yanked her mount past the yawning, sharp teeth of the portcullis, it might be easier to have no emotion. Her owner, Cyrus, was even now inside the keep, making arrangements for her temporary transference into the hands of the lord who ruled this gray world.
Once in the courtyard, at the base of the tall stone keep, Ramdan grabbed her around the waist and lifted her from the back of her horse. Around them, the castle’s inhabitants gave them sidelong looks as they went about their business. People of the north weren’t used to seeing travelers from the south. The sound of a blacksmith’s hammer hitting iron clanged through the air and the dry scent of hay from the nearby stable teased her nose.
She watched a young girl of around twelve as she passed with a basket of late autumn apples. The girl cast a shy, blue-eyed glance her way, then bowed her head and scurried away. Jealousy flared through Sienne. That little blue-eyed apple girl would grow up free, free to make her own decisions, free to have final say over what was done to her body.
Cyrus barreled through the double doors of the keep and took her by the upper arm. “It’s done. Come with me.” He pulled her into the keep and up a steep set of stairs toward a heavy wooden door.
Sienne stumbled as Cyrus pushed the door open and roughly pulled her into the room. A huge see-through fireplace dominated the center of the chamber, driving out the chill so prevalent in large castles like this one. An enormous bed stood across from the fireplace, heaped with soft blankets and pillows. Tapestries depicting spring-tide hunts covered the walls and a table stood to the left of the bed, scattered with papers and books.
“Lord Marken has accepted you as a gift for the winter months.” Cyrus’s voice never failed to grate against her mind. “Use all those fancy skills your family taught you to seduce him. The man has brains as well as brawn.”
Of course, seducing Lord Marken wasn’t her only purpose.
Cyrus yanked her hard toward the four-poster bed and tied her to one of the posts. He slipped his hands to the neckline of her gown and pulled it down, so that the very tops of her breasts showed and the fabric lay right above the nipples. He brushed his thumb over one, causing her to flinch, and then brought his hand to her chin, tipping it up. His brown eyes narrowed and his dirty-blond hair fell into his eyes. Quickly she wiped the look of disgust from her face. If he saw it, it would earn her nothing but pain.
“Get what I need from him, Sienne. If you don’t, the price will be your life. And in case you don’t care about that, know I’ll hold your foster family accountable for your ineptitude. Believe me, I’ll make them hurt before they die.”
She winced and looked away. Her foster family had been as kind to her as possible under Cyrus’s constant threat. He continually held their well-being over her head. If she didn’t care about anyone, life would be easier.
Cyrus had placed her here to get as much information as she could from Lord Marken about Nordan politics, military positions…and weaknesses. It was amazing what a man would reveal to a woman when comfortable, warm and sated with sex.
When she looked back, Cyrus was striding to the door, his black cloak swirling around him and his boots clicking on the polished stone floor.
Now this Lord Marken would come. She twisted her wrists in the rope that bound her, chafing her skin. The knots were excellent, as usual. It never stopped her from testing them, though.
She glanced around at the books that lined the shelves. Her mind worked, trying to think of all manner of ways to get close to Lord Marken, to get him to confide in her, to believe she was safe. Every man in power needed someone safe. She’d learned that long ago.
Footsteps of a different cadence sounded at the door. Lord Marken closed the heavy, gold-inlaid door behind him. Sienne twisted in her bonds, her stomach tightening in sudden fear. Although, something deep and dark within her always thrilled at the prospect of a new man to please with her skills. Even though she was a slave, she had power in some things, and she’d learned to exploit that small amount.
And this one was far from displeasing to the eye. A long fall of onyx-in-shadow hair framed a face that was close to handsome, but not quite. His chin was strong and his features well-crafted, his body muscular in the way of warriors. This was no weak-limbed nobleman. Eyes the color of the river in winter, a cool blue-green, peered from a well-sculpted face. His best feature by far was his lips. Full and sensual, they looked perfect for tracing with the tip of her tongue. Maybe she could get what she needed from this man if she proceeded carefully.
Marken crossed the floor slowly, taking in her appearance. She knew how she looked, her hair free over her shoulders, her gown clinging to her curves, her nipples, tight from the cold, showing through the sheer, flesh-colored fabric. Cyrus had done his job well.
He stopped in the center of the room, his gaze intent. His leather jerkin was open halfway down his chest, showing an expanse of smooth, sculpted muscle. His leggings fit tight over powerful-looking thighs. She shivered in fear spiced with the slightest pinch of desire and looked away.
“What’s your name?”
Her eyes widened. “My lord wishes to know my name?” she asked in Nordanese. That was not something most men were concerned with, especially not at first.
“You do have one, do you not?”
She averted her eyes. “Yes, my lord, my parents gifted me with the name Sienne.”
“Sienne.” He rolled her name around in his mouth like it was a choice sugared raisin. “Look at me, Sienne.”
Her gaze snapped to his. “Yes, my lord.”
“You are not here of your own free will, are you?”
She let out a derisive laugh. “My lord sees me secured this way and asks such a question?” She bit her tongue on the last word. Perhaps she’d finally lost her mind. She waited for him to hit her, but only got a bemused smile.
“Ah, so there is some fire left in you after all. They haven’t beaten it all out of you yet.”
“Forgive me, my lord. I shall endeavor to be more submissive.”
“Oh, now what fun would that be?”
Available at all digital stores including SAMHAIN
To be entered to win one of 10 copies I’m giving away, leave a comment and the format that you’d need the book in. I’ll pick the winners Wednesday morning.