Moonlight Mistress is out December 2009 from Harlequin Spice. In this scene, Noel Ashby has recently been captured by an enemy.
A woman crouched before him, naked, her long blond hair trailing to the chalky stone floor. She had a round face with large eyes, a delicate snub nose, and a cherubic pink mouth. “Wake up,” she said, slapping his cheek. The blow was not gentle.
“Christ, my head hurts.” The inside of his skull felt as if it had been burned, and the inside of his nose as well.
“If you vomit again, I will make you wish you had never been born,” the woman said.
Again? Noel tensed his arm and realized he could move. He drew up his legs to guard his belly and cradled his throbbing head in his palms. “F*cking hell.”
“Yes,” she said, as if agreeing. She slid something across the floor to him. He smelled water. He squinted open one eye. The water was in a shallow bowl. The woman’s lip curled. “We are animals to him,” she said.
We? Pain tore through him as he moved, snaring her arm and bringing it close to his face. She flinched, then froze as he pressed his nose to her skin and inhaled, deeply, the unmistakable scent of werewolf. His smile hurt.
She snatched back her arm. “You have nothing to smile about, Englishman.”
Noel grinned. He had to squint, but he grinned. “I’m extremely pleased to meet you.”
“Soon, you will not be. Are you going to drink?”
“Are you going to help me up?”
The room was small, perhaps ten feet square, and looked as if it had been carved out of the rock, then poorly whitewashed with lime. It smelled overwhelmingly of carbolic. A dim bulb hung from a wire strung across the low ceiling; he followed the wire with his eyes and noticed it exited through a hole next to a reinforced wooden door, with its locks on the outside, of course.
Noel felt fractionally better after drinking his fill, though he would have been happy for a handful of aspirin as well. He sat on the floor across the narrow cell from the woman, his back to cool white stone, and contemplated changing form, to see if that would help with the pain. The woman was watching him, narrowly, then her eyes flicked towards the door, and again to a corner near the ceiling. His eyes following hers, he saw a port in the door, currently closed, and what looked like another opening higher up. They were watched.
Well, it could hardly be a surprise to their observer, or observers, that he would be curious about his situation. “Where are we?” Her accent was either Belgian or Dutch, with the former more likely. He didn’t feel as if a long enough time had passed for him to reach Holland.
“I don’t know.” She rested her crossed arms on her updrawn knees, eying him narrowly through a thick swathe of blond hair. Her scent tantalized him. He wanted to crawl across the floor and lay his head in her lap until he felt better, then he wanted to nuzzle her all over. It was too bad he couldn’t. First, he didn’t plan to let his wolf self dictate his actions. Second, she did not look as if she would be amenable to him getting any closer, though he didn’t sense any dislike of him personally. Perhaps she felt a generalized wariness. In the circumstances, it was completely warranted. She was imprisoned, and not only imprisoned, but trapped with a man whom she’d never before met.
“How long have you been here?”
“Several days. I was wise and did not fight as you did.”
“I find that difficult to believe.”
“This is not the first time for me.” The tightness in her voice made the hair raise on his arms; had he been in wolf form, his hackles would have flared. If she was afraid, her fear was well-submerged beneath several layers of rage.
“Will you enlighten me on what’s to happen to us?”
Her lip rose in a snarl, then she visibly calmed herself to a level of quivering tension that Noel recognized from soldiers who’d been in action about an hour past good judgment “We are experimental subjects.”
“Kauz,” she said, almost spitting the name.
“Doubly my enemy, then.” Noel rolled his shoulders, trying to loosen his cramped muscles. He would need not only to protect himself and the woman, but also prevent the German from gaining any information useful to the war effort.
The woman eyed him without blinking for a long time. At last, she said, “We could rip out each other’s throats. It would not take so very long.”
Noel caught her gaze with his own. “I’m Noel Ashby,” he said. “What’s your name?”
“Tanneken Claes,” she said. “You are pretending there is a better way.”
c. Victoria Janssen 2009
More Snippet Saturday: