Excerpt: Rye

Excerpt: Rye

Book 1: Joyadan Mates

“What were you doing down here?” he asked.

Elika closed her eyes, and he studied her closely. It wasn’t often he got the opportunity to simply stare at her. She was always so watchful, always had her guard up. He understood why. Being held for years by a maniac like Mortef Husan would make anyone jumpy and careful. She was doing remarkably well considering she’d only been free a few months.

Dark, sooty lashes stood out against the paleness of her skin. Her long, brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail, revealing her graceful neck. She’d gained some weight over the last few months but not enough. At least her cheekbones weren’t quite so pronounced.

Her blue eyes opened, and he hastily turned his focus to his communicator, as though he had been studying it all along.

“I was going for a run, and I saw Norman up on those rocks.” She gestured up. “I called to him, but then he disappeared. So I raced up onto the rocks and saw him down here.”

“And instead of calling for help you decided to follow him down here? What the hell were you thinking?”

She glared at him. “Obviously, I thought I’d follow him down, hurt myself, and then have you rescue me. Oh, lucky, lucky me.”

He clenched his jaw, grinding his teeth together.

Elika placed her hands over her ears. “Please don’t make that noise. It tortures my ears.”

“Sorry,” he muttered.

“I twisted my knee part way down then fell the rest of the way. Norman proceeded to half lick me to death—and by the way, he’s been eating garbage again—before I sent him to get help. And no, I can’t talk to him, but I think he understands more than he lets on.”

Rye looked over at Norman who was once again engaged in his favorite activity, chasing his own tail. Yeah, he wasn’t so sure.

“All right, so if we can’t use our communicators and you can’t talk to Norman then I’ll have to go back up the cliff and get some help.”

She bit her lip. “Okay.”

He stood, hesitating slightly. He didn’t want to leave her here, hurt and alone. “Norman, stay with Elika.” Knowing Norman, he’d probably do the opposite, but it was worth a try. But the dog did stop chasing his tail and sat.

“Rye?” she asked as he turned away.

Rye turned back. “Yeah?”

“I’m sorry. For being so rude to you.”

Surprised, he nodded. “It’s okay. You’re in pain, I understand.”

She smiled. It was the first time she had ever smiled at him. Jesus, she was beautiful. And a witch, he reminded himself. The very last person he should ever want.

“I’ll be back soon. Just stay where you are.”

“Wasn’t planning on going anywhere.”