Saturday, December 7, 2013

Yule Romance Excerpt

I'm feeling all holly jolly at the moment, so I thought I'd drag out the Holiday stories for some excerpt time. 
This bit is from Lords of Oak and Holly, a Yule Romance published by Devine Destinies. 

 When Maris loses the annual ice sculpting competition, her favorite season takes a turn toward dismal. The rent is due and her landlady won't accept a fourth place ribbon. When the mysterious Lord Brayce arrives with a last minute commission, Maris jumps at the chance. But as her host's icy exterior begins to melt away, Maris finds there is far more to him than meets the eye and his attentions leave her wishing this particular job could last forever. 

When Brayce's family arrives for the holiday, Maris is plunged head-over-heels into a world of secrets and an age-old conflict between brothers. 

Can an ordinary girl survive at the center of a battle straight out of myth? And if her impossible suspicions are correct, what are the odds that Maris can win her prince?

“Here it comes!” Gaia squealed like a girl and stepped out into the drive.
Siere moved faster, herding her back onto shelter just as the sleigh emerged from the haze. It raced up the driveway past the huge oak, the beasts ambling at the forefront barely clearing the tree’s branches. They leaned into the traces and swung their necks forward and back, jingling the bell collars as they moved.
The sleigh they pulled dwarfed any Brayce had ever seen—and he’d seen his share. The four animals hauling it, however, baffled him completely. They stumbled to a halt in front of the entrance, standing on flat, leathery feet and swinging ugly heads in all directions. He felt his ire stirring, that his brother had conjured such an oddity, that he’d managed to fit his gift to such a traditional holiday theme.
But beside him, Maris laughed. She pulled his arm closer and he leaned down. “They’re camels,” she whispered.
The creatures indicated tilted their droopy noses toward the sky and bellowed a sound full of gravel and cough. Brayce smiled. Camels. He’d heard of them, but never imagined such a travesty of limbs and fur and drooping features. “Camels,” he said. “Wonderful.”
Siere had launched himself into the sleigh as soon as it trundled to a halt. He stood on the padded seat beside a well-wrapped driver and swept one arm wide to include the entire vehicle. “Mahogany,” he said. “Inlaid with gold and hand painted here.” He pointed out the scrollwork designs along the side rails. “And here.”

“It’s lovely, dear.” His mother took a step toward the sleigh. Meanwhile Chronos approached the team, drawing another round of gargling from the curving throats. “What about the animals?”
“Camels,” Brayce interjected. He saw Siere’s jaw drop and grinned. “They’re camels, Mother.”
“From the Orient,” Maris added.
He could have kissed her for the matter-of-fact tone she used, as if one saw camels everyday where she came from. They made a great team. Pulling her even closer to his side, he watched the consternation twisting over Siere’s face and enjoyed the glow of victory. But when his father reached up to pat one of the saggy necks, Maris stiffened.
“Lord Brayce,” she whispered. “I’m not sure if he should.”
“Are they dangerous?” He stood up, concern for his father replacing any smug sense of satisfaction. He stepped toward the team at the same moment the nearest camel peeled back its excessive lips. The skin on its face vibrated and a wet hiss emerged. It finished with splat.
Gaia squealed again. This time it held more horror than wonder. Brayce stared at his father and couldn’t help but grimace. A large, blackish wad of spit clung to the front of Chronos’ suit. As they watched, it sagged and slid down the fabric, leaving a sickly green trail in its wake. The camel gargled its own triumph and bobbed its head.
All eyes fixed on the blob as it detached from his father’s trousers and slurped into the snow. Brayce felt Maris shudder beside him. Chronos clapped his hands together and shook off the last clinging bit of goo.
“Wonderful!” he said. Knowing their father, he actually meant it.

Lords of Oak and Holly

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