Lightning Strikes!

Lightning Flower is coming soon! I know it’s hard to wait. So, to quench your thirst a little, here’s an excerpt for you to sink your fangs into. 🙂

Kindel rubbed his head and sat on the edge of his bed, unable to sleep, again. He glanced up at the wrapped present on the shelf, feeling stupid beyond measure. A layer of dust covered the grey wrapping paper and bow. How long had it sat there? He shook his head. Why pretend he didn’t know? It was almost a year old, not that it had sat there on the shelf all that time. No, he’d moved it all around his house. Every morning he swore that would be the day he would give it to her, and every day he chickened out and left it in his house.

He felt his cheeks burn even though he was alone and in the dark. Ena didn’t care for him as anything other than a co-worker. She wasn’t attracted to him. She never flirted or tried to tease him. He figured she probably didn’t even like him as a friend. She was driving him crazy.

He’d been incredulous at himself when he first started looking at her, really looking at her. And even more incredulous when he noticed his feelings had changed as well. She wasn’t his type. She was demure, and girlish. He’d always been attracted to strong, rebellious women, like Forest. For years he was convinced he was in love with Forest, but he let go of his fantasies instantly when she came back from her mission, mated to Syrus. And letting go of her emotionally was easy, so he guessed it hadn’t really been love at all. Forest was one his best friends now and that was all, besides being his boss.

But Ena… She was precious to him. She twisted him into knots every day. Her laugh was adorable and infectious. The way she raised one eye brow and pursed her lips when she was angry turned him on completely. She was strong, but it was a quiet strength. And she was intelligent and worked hard without complaint. He wanted to protect her, well, he wanted to protect her from everyone but himself. Her innocent ways made him want to teach her some things, get her a little dirty.

A rumble rolled over the sky as the blood lock shuddered. This could be the end, he thought. The wizards were trying to kick in the door. What was he waiting for? He got up and dressed carefully for the day. He didn’t care it was way early for him to go in to work, he wasn’t going to get any more sleep in any case. He’d finally take Ena the small present he’d gotten for her a year ago, and try to tell her how he felt. And whatever happened, happened.

Fortress was mostly dark when he arrived. No one but security was there this time of morning. He used his key to open the office. His desk was on the side of the room, while Ena’s was in the center. Taking a deep breath, he set the little wrapped box on her desk, straightening the edges of the bow and turning the little piece of parchment tied to the ribbon face up. The ink on the parchment was a little faded but still readable. To Ena, from Kindel, was all it said.

Knowing he had a while before she came in, he made some coffee, and looked over his workload for the rest of the week. Work was a fairly ineffective distraction. The present kept drawing his attention, as if it occasionally screamed at him. He thought about taking it back. There was still time to punk out. He was going to make a fool of himself. She didn’t have any feelings for him.

He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, remembering the day he met her, when Forest took up her position as Hailemarris. She sent him to the Onyx Castle to offer Ena the job as her secretary. She’d accepted the job enthusiastically before he’d even finished offering it to her, and was ready to go with him in a matter of minutes. He thought her very young and cute at the time, and probably a poor choice for the job, but she proved him wrong the very first day. She was a quick study, and had shown herself to be serious about her job and future.

He knew she wanted to travel. She had let it slip once, but he caught it, and remembered. If only she might give being with him a chance, he would take her anywhere she wanted to go. He never did anything, living a modest lifestyle, and had saved most of his income. Travel, even extended, exotic travel was something he could afford to give her.

As the morning wore on, the sounds of shuffling feet filled the halls, as people began arriving for work. His stomach squirmed as Ena came in. She looked surprised.

“You’re very early this morning, Kindel,” she said, taking off her jacket. Then her eyes rounded. “Oh, no, was there something we forgot to do yesterday? Is that why you’re early?”

“No,” his voice sounded off, too high, or something. He cleared his throat. “There’s nothing. I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I was awake early and had nothing else to do.”

She sighed, relaxing. “Oh. Okay. It’s going to be busy. Forest messaged me. She won’t be in today. I’m going to have to reschedule all of her appointments.”

“Would you like some help with that?” he offered.

“That’s sweet of you, but your work is more important than mine. I can handle it.”

His chest constricted as she sat down at her desk. She picked up the box, looked at the note on the top, glanced over at him, and then put the present down on the corner of her desk, unopened. She opened her ledger and began scribbling as though nothing had happened. She didn’t look at him or speak to him again, ignoring the present as if it wasn’t there at all. Perturbed and confused he went about his work. Was she waiting for something like her lunch break to open it?

As she predicted, it was a very busy day and the present just sat there on the edge of her desk the whole time. People came in and out. Ena talked with them easily, promising them Forest would honor their appointments at the next available time. When no one was in the office with them, Ena didn’t speak or even look at him, and the present was the damn elephant in the room.

Kindel had never had such a bad or stressful day of work in his life. Of all the scenarios he’d imagined, no response at all was not even among his worst case ideas. When quitting time rolled around he closed up his desk, feeling defeated and sad. But there was a little anger as well. Ena had never been rude to him. So what if she didn’t feel anything for him? They weren’t enemies. They worked together and he had brought her something. Why didn’t she open it? Or acknowledge it in some way, at least? Had he done something to offend her?

“I’m going home now,” he said.

She looked at him, but said nothing. Anger won out in that moment. He walked up to her desk and reached for the box, prepared to take it back. “I thought you might like this, but since you can’t even be bothered to open it…”

As soon as his fingers closed over the edge, she stabbed her letter opener into the top of the box. He jumped, retracting his hand. “Whoa!” he exclaimed.

She dragged the box to the center of her desk with the letter opener handle. “What is this about, Kindel?” her voice was cold.

“What do you mean?”

She scowled beautifully and tore the wrapping open and lifted the lid of the box. Instead of delight, she raised one brow as she lifted the shimmery, grey scarf out of the tissue paper.

“I just…I know you like grey,” he said apologetically. “I saw it one day, and thought of you.”

She put the scarf back in the box, closed the lid, and stood up. She walked right up to him and looked hard into his face. He couldn’t help the heat that flooded his cheeks. She grabbed his wrist and lifted his hand up, touching his sweaty palm with her index finger. She dropped it and took a step back.

“Are you trying to make a move on me?” she demanded.

“I…well…”

“You’re really nervous. You’re blushing and your palms are sweaty.”

“Maybe I’m getting sick.” He paused, he wouldn’t be a coward any longer. “No. You’re right. I am making a move on you. I can’t sleep, I can’t think about anything but you. You’re the only thing in my mind. When I do sleep, I dream of you. I want you to be happy. I want to protect you. I want to give you things. I know you don’t feel anything like that for me…but please consider giving us a chance.”

She closed her eyes and sighed. “About time.”

“What?”

To his surprise she threw her head back and laughed. He’d never seen Ena laugh so hard. “Oh, you stupid man. So dense. Don’t you know I’m totally into you? I’ve been dropping you hints forever!”

He was stunned “When?”

She just laughed again and shook her head. “Why don’t you kiss me, and we’ll see if there’s any chemistry between us?”

He moved slowly, cupping her cheek, and running his thumb lightly over her lips. She bit down on his thumb, shocking him. “Not so easy,” she said.

He kissed her roughly. The way he really wanted to. She wanted chemistry? He didn’t know if she felt any, but he was swamped in it. He pulled back and looked down at her. Her eyes fluttered open and fixed on him.

“Well?” he asked.

She gave him a small smile. “Are you taking me to dinner?”

“Uh…yes. I suppose I am.”

She flounced back around her desk, opened the box, pulled out the scarf and draped it over her shoulders. He offered her his arm. She linked hers through his as they left the office.

Be sure to put Lightning Flower in your Goodreads TBR pile! Click here.

 

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