The Shape of Temptation is a class-crossed love story between a talented mage and a lowborn soldier. Here’s a short excerpt from a scene that occurs just after Benim has captured Kailey in order to bring her back to the capital for training:
He took her extended hand and closed the manacle around her wrist. The thick iron band looked ridiculous wrapped around her slender wrist. Like taking up a sword against a bumblebee. But Leesan had insisted upon it and it would be Benim’s head if he allowed her to escape again.
She simply stared at the black metal and then lifted her gaze to meet his. Beautiful eyes—the pure pale blue of mountain water, now rimmed in red. Her sneer was less beautiful but more heartening.
Closing the other manacle around his own wrist, he said, “There. Now I don’t have to worry about you running and you don’t have to worry that anyone will try to hurt you.”
“Except for you.”
“I will guard you with my life.” A solemn pledge and the plain truth. It was his sworn duty to protect the gifted.
“And who’s going to protect you from me?”
That startled a smile from him. “If you killed me now, my dead body would only anchor you here until morning.”
“I could cut off your hand.”
He lay down, tucked his free hand behind his head. “It takes a good deal of determination and a sharp blade to cut off a limb. You wouldn’t manage it before someone stopped you.”
She fell silent as she considered that. He held his breath waiting to see what she’d come up with next but rather than continue the argument, she lay down beside him…as far away as she could get. The chain tugged at his wrist and he shifted his arm to allow her as much comfort as he was able.
When she rolled onto her side, facing him, he glanced her way. Already her eyes were closed. Her lashes were dark against her pale skin, darker than the gold-brown shade of her hair. A small straight nose. Her lower lip was shorter than her upper one but temptingly plump. She was possibly the oldest mageling they’d ever gathered. Truly, a woman grown. He’d felt her breasts against his arm when he’d captured her. The feel of her warm strong body beneath him when he’d tackled her to the ground. He’d been trying to forget the shock of that sensation ever since. Two months was a long time to be on the road but no matter her age, he couldn’t look at her as a woman, not when she was one of their charges. Not when she was wounded and frightened and alone.
“Are you cold?”
Her eyes snapped open. “I don’t need your warmth if that’s what you’re offering.”
“I’m offering a blanket.” He stared back at the stars, hoping she missed his smile. “The nights here are cold.”
“For a Sarian.”
“You are a Sarian, Kailey.” The sooner she accepted that, the better off she’d be.
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