Read A Hero's Bargain Online

Authors: Forrest, Rayne

A Hero's Bargain (20 page)

“You may
go anywhere you choose on this world. There are far-off lands and others who
may be more like your own people.” It would kill her if he left. She would
simply shrivel up and die.

“Perhaps
some day the Ramalho will seek them, but not for a long time. I love you, Saba.
Will you marry me, or do whatever your people do to partner with me?”

She
stared at him.

“Blink,
angel. It’s bad for your eyes to get dry.”

She
blinked, and blinked again as tears flooded her eyes. She thought she nodded
but wasn’t sure. His arms tightened around her so much, she couldn’t breathe.

“Is that
a yes?” His voice was breathless in her ear.

She could
manage a few words, if she tried. “Yes. I love you, too.”

Epilogue

 

In the
first season of Wae after the time of the errol

 

Ryder straightened, stretching his
back muscles. The piece of toweling tucked in his waistband was already wet and
dirty, but he wiped his face and neck with it anyway. He’d known digging this
trench was going to be nasty, hot work.

A group of the younger boys were
running about and making nuisances of themselves. He yelled at them and they
snapped to attention as he ordered told them to go fill the drinking bucket and
bring it back without spilling the water. They scampered off, seeming pleased
to be able to help the men with their project.

Tyree stopped digging and leaned on
his shovel. He flipped his thumb in the direction of the disappearing youths.

“It’s hard for me to fathom you’re
going to have one of those soon.”

Ryder grinned. “Me, too. She
tricked me into it, you know.”

“Of course. That’s what they do.
They bat their eyes at a man, wiggle their hips, and the next thing you know,
they are having babies, it’s morning and you’re digging irritation ditches.”

Ryder laughed. “That’s
irrigation
ditches, my friend.”

“No. I said what I meant, outsider.
I hope the next idea you come up with does not require digging.”

“I’m afraid it might, headman. Once
the water starts to flow to the gardens, the women will howl until we extend
the system to every hut, and add reservoirs.”

“I will plug my ears. Here comes
Saba. Perhaps you should look busy so you don’t need to plug yours.” Tyree
started digging again. Ryder followed suit.

The men had become friends. Ryder
suspected it was as surprising to Tyree as it was to him. Tyree acknowledged
Ryder as his equal. Ryder gave Tyree the respect due him. He had to work hard
at not treading on the headman’s toes some days, but in the long run, the
welfare of the Ramalho was what mattered most to both of them. They always
agreed on that.

And, respected or not, Ryder would
always be the stranger who fell from the sky. It was the way of things. His
life was good. He had what he wanted.

The woman he loved. A child coming.
A mission.

He
watched Saba walking toward him. If he looked closely, he could see her belly
had begun to round slightly. It wasn’t too obvious when she was wearing her
work tunic.

She
laughed at him at night, when he’d slip beneath the blankets and talk to their
child. Yet she never called him foolish.

She
stopped several feet away from him. “Are you about finished for today?”

Tyree
growled. Ryder glanced at him.

“I don’t
think so, no. I suppose I can’t run off and leave our headman on his own. He’ll
get off track and the ditch will have turns it’s not supposed to have.”

Saba
shrugged. “That’s too bad. The Lys traders have come. There is a piece of cloth
Jennica covets. They would let her have it for twelve bottles of dark malt. If
she had any, that is.”

Tyree
growled again and threw one last shovelful of dirt onto the cart before
stomping off. Saba turned to Ryder and smiled.

“Are you
finished for the day
now
?”

Ryder
shoveled the obligatory last bit of dirt for the day out of the trench. “I
guess I am.”

“I have
something for you.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a gold chain.
“It’s for your medallion.”

His
throat felt tight. She’d never once said a word about the gold coin he’d
drilled a hole through to string on a braided leather cord and wear around his
neck. He draped the chain across his hand. It was well crafted.

“You got
this from the Lys?”

“Yes.”

“What did
you trade for it?”

“All the
wine I had left. It’s a good thing the berry harvest will be huge this year.”

He took a
deep breath. “
All
the wine?”

Saba
grinned. “Not, not all.” She patted her stomach. “There is enough for you, and
I kept one bottle of the black morning berry so we can celebrate the birth of
our daughter.”

Gods, she
was wonderful. “Thank you, angel. I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you
will go bathe and be fast about it. I’m very tired. I need to lie down.”

“You do,
do you?” He put his arm around her and they fell into step, his strides
shortened to match hers.

“Oh, yes.
I think I’ll need to rest all afternoon, while it’s so hot. I think you will
need to massage my back and my legs. Perhaps even more of me. Perhaps you will
finally tell me how you came to have that gold coin.”

Ryder
pulled her closer.

“It all
started with an invitation to a card game on a planet called…”

 

 

 

 

THE END

 

About the author….

 

 

 

Best selling author Rayne Forrest lives in scenic western Maryland,
where she was born and raised. Her many novels, ranging from futuristic settings
to romantic suspense have earned stellar reviews from the toughest critics in
the industry—her readers.

 

When
not at her computer, she enjoys working in her garden, crafting, bowling, and
reading romance and science fiction. Rayne enjoys classic rock and New Age
music. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and a two-time EPPIE
finalist.

 

Rayne is a member of the Romance Writers of America (PAN).
If you'd like to learn more about Rayne, visit her website at
www.rayneforrest.com
,
and her blog at
http://twentysixkeys.wordpress.com
.

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction
Novels by Rayne Forrest

A Hero’s Bargain

Across Time

 

Futuristic Novels
by Rayne Forrest

Step Into Time

 

Paranormal Novels
by Rayne Forrest

Skipping Heaven

 

Contemporary Novels
by Rayne Forrest

One Summer

Skipping Heaven

By Rayne Forrest

 

 

What if you were a ghost and didn’t
know it?

 

Daniel Woods is passing through the
timeless and mysterious Appalachian Mountains on his way to Kentucky and his
inheritance. A misstep tumbles him and his horse down the side of a mountain.
Battered and bruised, they come upon a small homestead and help in the form of
the lovely Justine Noakes. Daniel finds himself inexplicably attracted to
Justine - and determined not to embarrass himself by acting on impulse.

 

Justine recognizes the blue-eyed
trouble that just led his horse into her settled world is something she never
bargained for. Irresistibly drawn to him, Justine has a problem. She needs to
come up with a way to get Daniel to stay in her mountain aerie. The only way
that can happen is if Daniel accepts his new reality.

 

What Justine knows, and Daniel must
discover, is that sometimes heaven is found in unexpected places.

 

* * *

 

EXCERPT

 

They reached the barn and she
darted to the corral, slipping between the rails and clapping her hands. Lady
trotted to her then followed her into the barn. The mare was steady and he had
quickly had her harnessed to the little buckboard. Daniel placed his foot on
the wagon step, preparing to swing up onto the seat when Justine placed her
hand on his arm. He froze, looking down at her.

 

“Thank you again for doing this,”
she said quietly, smiling.

 

Impulse seized him. He put his boot
back on the ground and pulled her into his arms. He caught a quick glance at
her eyes before her eyelids closed and she rose on her toes to meet him
halfway.

 

He was not trespassing.

 

He meant the kiss to be gentle. He
meant the kiss to be soft and tender.

 

He meant the kiss to be something
to lure her closer to him and suddenly it didn’t need to be. Suddenly she was
as eager for the kiss as he was.

 

Suddenly she was the one in control
of everything but the kiss.

 

Daniel grabbed what little wits he
had left and slanted his mouth across hers. Her trembling lips opened under his
as her arms came up around his neck. He moved his lips on hers then swept his
tongue over her lower lip, a slow, lazy stroke that made her hold him tighter.
A small moan escaped her and it was all the encouragement he needed.

 

He backed her into Lady’s stall,
pulling her down to the clean straw. She clung to him without protest. He
rolled her beneath him, never taking his lips from hers, feasting on her as she
feasted on him.

 

She moaned again when he flexed his
hips to hers, digging her fingers into his shoulders. He flicked his tongue to
hers and she responded in kind. The heat in his groin spread, coiling in his
belly. His cock swelled, filling with unbridled anticipation.

 

He cupped her breast, feeling the
hard peak of her nipple through the thin cotton of her shift and bodice. She
arched up to him, pulling her mouth from his and sucking in a great lungful of
air. He sobered immediately.

 

God, he couldn’t take her here in
the straw, on the ground, in a livestock barn. She deserved clean sheets and a
soft bed, a man fresh from his bath, not a restless night spent sweating in the
grip of barely recalled dreams.

 

He rose up and blinked her into
focus. She met his gaze without pretense.

 

“I don’t want you to stop.”

 

 

What they said about Skipping Heaven…

 

5 Angels and a Recommended Read from Fallen Angel Reviews
-
This is an
interesting amalgam of genres, including both historical and paranormal
elements. I’ve read several of
Ms. Forrest
’s books, and this, despite
its brief length, is my favorite so far. The plot is simple, and yet complex;
sweet, and yet sinfully erotic; happily ever after, and yet bittersweet. The
writing is exquisite, depicting for us the everyday life of a simpler time and
place, while, at the same time, preparing us for more serious events to come. I
became caught up in the lives of Daniel and Justine, who seemed like real
people. The love scenes between the two are sensual and moderately explicit,
and very emotionally satisfying. In my opinion, this is a story that transcends
genre. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to read historical romance, science
fiction, or fantasy, you will find Skipping Heaven irresistible.

 

5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies Reviews

SKIPPING
HEAVEN is the most beautiful love story I have read in a long time.  Rayne
Forrest draws her readers in from the first page and has them glued to their
seats throughout this heart-warming romance.  I laughed at the antics and
went through a box of tissues at the end.  Ms. Forrest pens a
romantic tale with vivid imagery, captivating characters and passion hot enough
to singe your fingers.   Justine and Daniel are characters that will
leave you spellbound.   They are fun, sweet, sassy and sensual. 
 This is the first story I have read by Ms. Forrest, but it definitely
will not be my last.  I look forward to reading all of her work. 

 

4.5 Stars from eCata Romance
-
Rayne Forrest did an excellent job with
Skipping Heaven. She carefully unfolds little hints that things are not as they
should be and then zings you with the twist. Daniel and Justine had wonderfully
passionate love scenes that were poignant and tender. They made a wonderful
couple and seemed to be made for each other. All this combined with an intriguing
plot makes this story one you won’t want to miss.

 

 

 

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