Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Rachel Leigh Smith’s A’yen from The King’s Mistress.
Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul?
Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he’s not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A’yen fears for the young man’s sanity.
Upon returning to Titan, A’yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he’ll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he’ll live long enough to do it.
With A’yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.
Separated by light years, A’yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.
Make sure you stick around to the end and earn another entry into the Black Friday $50 Amazon giftcard giveaway.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. The music, decorating the tree, all the goodies, Ghirardelli peppermint bark, seeing family, watching Christmas movies. I’ve never been one for the whole Black Friday thing though. I worked it one year at a craft store, and that was enough. Last year I shopped Black Friday deals online for the first time, by accident, and picked up a Nook Simple Touch for half off.
I write science fiction romance. And since Christmas is my favorite thing ever, of course I created a world where Christmas still exists. But in My Name Is A’yen and The King’s Mistress my hero and heroine are on a remote, unsettled planet for their first two Christmases together. It took some head-scratching to figure out what they might do, and how I could write it. Then it hit me, so here it is. What A’yen would get Fae for Christmas if he had access to shopping.
Except there’s a wrinkle in it. He’s a slave, and because he’s a male of his species, he’s not trusted. Which means he can’t go shopping for her on his own without getting in serious trouble.
A’yen’s a romantic, and I can’t lie here. He’s patterned after my dad, who has excellent taste in jewelry and knows exactly what kind of stuff each of his three women love.
A’yen brushed the dusting of snow from his hair and shoulders then stepped into the warmth of the cabin. And froze to his spot when he saw the little tree in the corner with all the ornaments he and Master had collected.
“Pete brought them to me.” Fae hugged his arm.
Of course he had. Pete Tristan was the best friend any person, human or otherwise, could ever ask for.
“He said you love Christmas. Is it too soon to share your Christmas memories with me?”
“No.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I’m done with mourning. It’s time to make happy memories again. But what are we going to do about gifts? It’s not like we can go shopping or order something.”
She unbuttoned his coat and pulled it from his arms, hung it up, and then pushed him toward the sofa. “You’re my gift, A’yen.”
He settled in and drew her to his side. She curled into him, her head on his chest, hair tickling his chin. “Indulge me here. I like giving presents to the ones I love.”
One beautiful finger traced lazy circles on his chest. “Okay. If we were on Titan, what would you get me?”
With a sigh he relaxed into the familiar comfort of the sofa. “First, I’d have to avoid the malls and most of the stores. So I’d go to the jewelry shop Arrin frequents, not far from the university. The owner isn’t afraid of us.”
“Ooh. Shiny things are one of the fastest ways to a girl’s heart.” Her lazy circles continued, sending tingling warmth deep into his muscles and relaxing the tension.
“I know. Fifteen years with a man doesn’t mean I don’t know what makes girls love me.”
She popped his chest with the flat of her hand. “Goof. Back to my present.”
“It’s a charm bracelet. In the center is my heart. Because you’ve put it back together.”
Fae sniffed. The circles stopped. Her warm, soft mouth touched his jaw. Instead of turning into it to claim her mouth, he smoothed his hand down the fall of her ebony hair. So soft and silky. A delight to lose himself in.
“There’s a star on it, since we traveled through the stars to get here. A ladybug, since it’s the closest thing to what the beetle symbol looks like. A circle, to represent what we’ve found here. A little house, since you’ve found my people’s home. A shovel for all the digging. One blue bead and one green bead, for our eyes.”
Fae skimmed her hand across his arm, shoving up the long sleeve to reveal his markings. The pattern of fiery vines covered his arms, across his shoulder blades and upper back, down his sides, and followed the outside of each leg to end on the tops of his feet. The markings caused unending pain, but were also capable of drowning him in such pleasure he forgot all about the pain.
“Every time I looked at the green one I’d think about your markings,” Fae whispered. “I don’t like seeing you in pain from them.”
He tightened his hold on her, pulling her ever closer into the safety of his arms. “You’re worth it. I’d put a fish on it too.”
Fae laughed. “For the disastrous attempt at teaching me how to swim?”
He nuzzled against her temple. “For the moment I noticed you as a woman and realized I wanted the right to touch and hold you and keep every other man alive from doing it.”
“Oh, A’yen.” Fae put her hand on the back of his neck and pulled his head down. He fit his mouth to hers, claiming her, branding her. Telling every man alive to keep his hands off her because she was his. All his. Forever.
When she pulled back to catch her breath, he let her, but didn’t allow her to escape his arms. She snuggled in. “What else would you put on it?”
“One of those little white flowers you love so much. And more beads, for all the tree colors.”
“Can I have a pencil on it?”
The lazy circle tracing resumed on his chest. “I never see you without a pencil or stylus in your hand.”
“Unless I’m holding you instead.”
“Any other requests?”
“No.” She straightened. Put her hand on his cheek. “Want to know what I’ll get you?”
“My house on Titan has a basement I don’t use. It’s yours now, to be your studio for drawing, painting, and your cartography. We’ll deck it out exactly how you want.”
He cupped her face between his hands, vision swimming as he studied the most beautiful face in the galaxy. “I don’t deserve you.”
“Nor I you. Yet here we are. Merry Christmas, A’yen.”
“Merry Christmas, Fae.”
Meet Rachel Leigh Smith!
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging. She’s an active member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America.
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