Running for her life, a frantic witch finds the man of her dreams. But can she trust him not to betray her?
Hacked at with knives and tossed in the Danube, Melis Andresen's tormentors are certain she's dead. But for quick thinking, witchcraft and her training as a healer, she would have been. She's asleep in a bedraggled heap next to a small fire when a man walks out of the surrounding woods. Though she doesn't know it at the time, her life is about to change forever.
Witches and cats have nine lives.
The river caught Melis Andresen and spun her around, pulling her under. Plumes of red eddied next to her, dark against the murky water, then vanished into the river’s current. A distant part of her mind clamored, that’s my blood. Strike out for shore. Do it now while there’s still some left. The same thought repeated in her brain, do it now...do it now, but she couldn’t force her arms or legs into motion.
It’s already too late, an insidious inner voice whispered.
“No,” she rasped, shocked by how weak her voice was. “Damn it. It’s not too late. I have things to do yet.” Pulling her body through the water was excruciating. Melis gritted her teeth so hard they ached. Muscles took over where her mind stopped. Her legs kicked against the weight of the water pulling against her. Somehow, she got into a ragged rhythm, but even that required constant attention. Heavy clothing dragged her down. The river’s current was strong—almost stronger than she could handle in her present physical state.
A snag rose out of the turbulent water just out of reach—part of a huge logjam. If she could just catch hold of it, she might be able to work her way to shore using the logs for purchase. A shudder ripped through her, making her teeth rattle uncontrollably. Now she’d begun moving…the cold enveloped her. She hadn’t noticed how close to river temperature her body had fallen until she started fighting so desperately for her life. Ironically, the cold water was likely the only reason she was still alive. It slowed the rate she was bleeding from her wounds.
Pay attention to now. It’s my only chance.
Melis forced her eyes to focus. She was closing on the snag fast. She’d have to work hard or she’d miss it by a good five feet. Gasping, panting, and moaning, Melis drove her limbs to move faster. She shook her head to avoid inhaling any more of the polluted water.
An ungodly shriek rose from deep inside her, trumping the rush of the water. She flung herself toward the snag and closed her fingers over it. She hadn’t counted on how slippery the bark would be and nearly lost her grip. Sheer will saved her—and a foot she jammed into something underwater. Pain ratcheted up her leg. Don’t think about it.
Clinging to water-slick logs with both hands, Melis wanted to howl her victory to the skies, but the logjam began breaking apart. She had to hurry or she’d be right back where she started—a foundling in the current. She wouldn’t have the strength for a second round if she lost this one. Pulling herself onto the rolling logs, she eyed deep gouges on her arms and winced.
- Word Count: 8,950
- Author: Ann Gimpel
- Website: Ann Gimpel
- Heat Level: 3
- ISBN: 978-1-61937-577-2
- Artist: Kelly Shorten
- Editor: Cathey Spies
Gothic Mom's Book Reviews
Review: Today's review is on A Matter of Honor by Ann Gimpel
Short and sweet with just a little heat, A Matter of Honor will captivate…
Long and Short of It
Review: The premise for this story sold me on this story. It suggests something momentous will follow this mysterious man’s arrival. It begins with a great…