Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Hero's Bargain by Rayne Forest

Now available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid

When a poker game turns ugly, erstwhile gambler Ryder Vaughan runs for his life. After crash landing his ship on an unknown world it looks like his life will be a short one - until the lovely healer, Saba Duer, finds him and saves him. Smitten, Saba has no qualms allowing Ryder to seduce her.

In Ryder, Saba sees the coming of a hero to save her people. The deadly errol that has terrorized the Ramalho Clan for so many years has been spotted on a course that will bring it to the village. Ryder has a weapon that could destroy the creature. She strikes a bargain with him to secure his help. Ryder's not yet well and whole, but there is no choice. Saba has to let him go and face the truth -she's sent him on a mission to die.

Only Ryder has a plan and dying isn't a part of it.


“Have you pain?” she asked softly. He shook his head again.

“No. But I didn’t jiggle my back around.”

Jiggle? He must mean that he hadn’t moved the root nerve along his spine. That made perfect sense given her observations of him. She began folding the blanket that was draped across the foot of her bed.

“Let’s get this beneath you. Then you may have food.” She slipped an arm beneath his shoulders, helping him ease up. His face rolled against her breasts. He drew in a deep breath. She almost jerked away. Once he was propped up she dared to look at him.

His face was inscrutable. Too much so. She handed him the mug of thickened broth.

She should have poured it over his head for making her breasts feel so strangely. Her nipples tingled and itched. It was all she could do to keep her hands from rubbing them. The only thing that stopped her was the conviction he’d get some sort of perverse pleasure from the action.

“You wouldn’t deprive a dying man succor, would you angel?”

Succor, was it? She glared down at him.

“You are not dying. I’m on to your games now and you won’t be able to do that again.”

He laughed, a wicked, low sound that shivered across her nerves and teased her woman’s flesh to a tingling awareness of him. He took a cautious sip from the mug. Then another.

He drank it in rapid little sips as she watched. He had no difficulty swallowing and it appeared his stomach was not at all unsettled.
“Would you like a slice of bread?”

His gaze flicked up to hers. “You’ve been holding out on me? Shame on you, angel.”

“Is that a yes or a no?” She snapped at him.

He grinned. “Yes. I’d like a slice of bread.” He held the cup out to her. “Is there more of this?”

She snatched the mug from his hand and refilled it. “This is all there is for now. Would you like rettub on your bread?”

“Sure. Whatever that is.” He accepted the mug and began sipping again, slower this time. She handed him the bread and he dipped it into the liquid and took a bite. He repeated the action until the bread was gone.

“This is manna. Thank you. And thanks for rescuing me. I don’t know if I’ve told you that or not.”

“You did, but you do not have to thank us. Are you experiencing any discomfort?”

He shook his head and lifted the mug to his lips, draining its contents. “I can’t say as there’s any pain at all right now. I’d like to stay still and keep it that way.”

“I’m sure you would. But I should bathe you again.” She could get another look at his maleness. She was the healer, after all, and needed to have knowledge of many things.

“Oh, I think not. Call one of your minions for that. Get Tyree in here.”

“Tyree has more important things to do and I need to see how your wounds are healing. Some may need another application of salve.”

He gave her a calculating look. She refused to flinch.

“Angel, Tyree has nothing more important than a stranger in his village. Trust me on this one.”

“Tyree will ask for your weapons.”

“Tyree doesn’t know I have weapons unless you told him. Did you?”

She couldn’t lie. Her face would give her away. “No. I did not tell him. Not yet.”

“Why not? You should have.”

He was right and she knew it. “Tyree may be the headman of the village but he doesn’t know how to work your weapons. I would not have him examining them and injuring himself or others. You will show him your weapons in due time.”

He looked pleased she’d thought it through that far, his eyes lighting with amused respect. “You seem awfully sure of that. My weapons don’t belong here. I can’t let Tyree have them.”

She plucked the empty mug from his fingers and busied herself washing it. She had her opening. She couldn’t lose her nerve now. It was their only hope. She dried the mug and set it up on the shelf then turned back to Ryder.

“We need your weapons, and your help. If you agree to use your weapons to destroy the errol, we will pay you.”

His eyebrows shot up. His eyes darkened.

“Pay me, will you? With what? A ship so I can get back to my life? Tell me you have one. Lie to me, Saba.”

He had every right to be bitter over his circumstances. She understood, but his acerbic tone shocked her. She hadn’t considered anger. Anger could make him dangerous in ways nothing else would. Nonetheless, her mind was made up. It was her decision, be it folly or not.

“No. The coin I would pay you with is my body.”

ISBN: 978-1-60313-668-6
Available now at
Whiskey Creek Press

Rayne Forrest

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