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My first love in the romance genre was Regency. There is something so intriguing about an innocent young débutante and her first taste of passion. However, some time after I began reading historicals a friend introduced me to the paranormal world. Soon, I wondered if there could be a way to merge the two. The following excerpt is from my WIP novel Ere Mercury Rises. I have a soft spot in my heart for the god Mercury. (Some of you may recognize him as Hermes in the Greek Pantheon). The first half of this Regency takes place in London during the “Little Season” and then tragedy strikes. The heroine, Sarai, travels to Greece and a situation unfolds that unites both god and human. It is similar to the events of the Trojan war. I hope you enjoy this excerpt. Mercury is done with using dreams to seduce his love. Now, he is going to show her exactly what he wants from her.
Mercury’s thoughts turned inward. He concentrated on the location of his next duty readying himself for the hieron transition. Shedding this mortal body and moving into the aether gave him much more freedom and amplified his powers. His divine abilities of travel had manifested just a short time after his birth and they had grown stronger with each passing century. All it took was a little focus and normally this never posed him a problem.
Never, ended tonight.
Instead, he found his mind attuned to the goings on within the party. His senses reached out seeking Sarai attempting to locate her within the crowded ballroom. The emotions running through her thoughts assailed him and an overwhelming desire to go to her careened through him bludgeoning his self control. Taking a step towards the house and another, he nearly succeeded in throwing his father’s declaration to the wind. Consequences, be damned! An incredible yearning simmered deep inside him; one that prodded him to barge in on that fête, take hold of his woman and lay claim to her heart before all in attendance.
Outright disobedience to his father, the king of all gods, was the only thing standing in his way. Mercury did not want to see Jove’s fury raining down upon his own head, or Sarai’s for that matter. In a fit of rage, dear old dad, could inflict severe damage. Jupiter striking him down with an infamous thunder bolt was not the greatest concern, indeed not! Handing over Sarai to the wily, shallow Eros as a punishment was though; and that did not sit well with Mercury. Losing her would be intolerable.
Mercury paced, ordering his feelings. The painstaking task of pulling his mind away from Sarai and onto those affairs he must attend to was an arduous one. Nevertheless, he was bound to duty. Taking in a deep breath he once again prepared for the transition from his human form into the freer immortal one.
The crunching of gravel brought his awareness back to the forefront. Mercury stepped into the shadows, waiting and watching but remaining concealed from anyone’s view. The softest hint of perfume came to him on the breeze. Recognition hit him like a fist in the gut, inhaling deeper he took the essence all the way down savoring the sweet fragrance.
Sarai was returning.
A sense of urgency hung to her like a cloak, her pace was both erratic and fast. By Jove what had her rushing in such a manner? Closing his eyes he reached out his senses, wanting to assure himself she had not been harmed, nor hurt in any manner. Tentatively he scanned her for physical defect, or injury. When nothing out of the ordinary emerged, he reached even deeper and slid into her thoughts. It was all he could do to hold back the groan which formed low in his chest.
She thought of him.
Learning that her mind whirled with memory of him and those evocative lips murmured his name bolstered Mercury’s confidence and he grinned victoriously. Her whispered words could barely be discerned over the cacophony of the night, its many birds and rodents scurrying about here and there. Even the wind pulled her words away whipping them from her lips. With a curse Mercury vowed to repay Zephyrus for such meddlesome behavior. It hardly mattered. Nevertheless, Mercury focused on the minute sound and reveled in the beauty of her voice.
The closer she came, the harder it was for him to remain concealed in the shadows. Sarai stepped up the first step of the gazebo and paused. She cocked her head to the side, looked directly at where he stood. Crossing his arms over his chest, he forced himself not to move. He needed to know why she had come back. The way the moonlight illuminated the exquisiteness of her features, shimmered with the beading on her gown drew his eye, mesmerized him. Mercury wanted to snap his fingers and use his powers to make her stay right where she was.
Quickly tamping down that urge, he let her move on, tracking her every step. She ascended the stairs and entered the shadowed gazebo. After stopping, she scanned the periphery searching for something. The tension in her shoulders dissolved when she found it. Hurriedly she jogged across the wooden floor, taking hold of the white, silk gloves. She lifted the pair up, held them to her breast. A wave of relief washed over her and Mercury felt the change in her demeanor, the ebbing away of that tense apprehension.
Her goal obviously achieved, Sarai must have found what she’d come for. Now, she ambled about the interior. When her eyes widened, her lips parted he narrowed his stare on what she was glancing at. His mouth quirked up as she strolled cautiously to the planter secured to the railing.
The crocus had long since wrapped back up into a tight, protective furl. Their yellow tubular stocks hid the crimson stamens from view. Tentatively, she reached out and ran her fingertip over the silky petal. She traced all along the flower, her motions gentle and tender. Mercury drew in a shaky breath, imagining that same touch upon his heated skin.
She bent down inhaled deeply.
And abruptly sneezed.
Mercury chuckled softly. Sarai straightened with a jolt, her eyes wide and alert. He had startled her.
Deciding in that instant he could not let her run from him, he strode out of the tree line and headed straight for her. Before she fled back into the obscurity of the ball, to the seductive charms of his cousin, he had to claim the moment for himself.
“Like the salty tang of the ocean breeze.” Mercury walked towards the gazebo. “Krokus would not have borne the ignominy of any other scent.”
He watched her stagger backwards, her eye flitting up and down, as she stared at the crocus and then back to his face.
The flowers opened wide, blossoming and stretching out to him. Mercury felt a stab of emotion at the reminder of his lost love. The memory of their time pierced him like a thorn; the stinging reminiscence bolstered the need he had to hold onto the opportunity before him. The chance to experience a deeper connection once again, a relationship that promised so much more than the games of the flesh, dalliance.
Lifting his eyes, he met her apprehensive stare. She exhaled sharply an enticing blush spread across her cheeks. Nervously she clenched her fists, took another step, backing away from him. Mercury moved unhurriedly and came close to the post of the gazebo. He remained outside observing her, while she tried not to observe him.
Her gaze fixed on his face, she lifted her chin determined not to gape at anything else. Mercury could feel the confusion swirling within Sarai’s mind. Those firmly rooted convictions regarding what she thought was right and wrong warred intensely with her curiosity. Smirking, he tossed his shoulders back and set his hands on his hips, arms akimbo. He realized he truly wanted her to look at him, finally see him beyond the shadowy figure from her dreams.
Oh but he craved much more than just her inspection. The lingering sensation of her fingers fluttering along his skin, the slide of her silky thigh against his, and the heat of her mouth as he brought them together in the fiery bliss of a passion filled kiss were all things he craved. The thoughts were provocative enough to prod him forward. In a blink, Mercury vaulted up and over the railing landing directly in front of her.
Panicked, Sarai shied away. When she stumbled, her gown impeded the sudden movement, catching her off balance. Mercury reached out with lightning reflexes, sliding his hands around her shoulders to steady her. Touching her burned through him like wildfire, whipping his need for her into a blazing inferno. Sarai stiffened and shivered. Then, she glanced down.
With a jerk his body responded. Her stare held fast to the sight of him, to the evidence of his desire. Her mouth opened to speak and closed, consternation lined her pretty brow. Mercury cocked his eyebrow up as she tried to articulate the obvious.
“You, you are…” Sarai stammered, her voice lowered to a maidenly whisper. “Unclothed,” she finally added.
“Indeed, and you are quite bewitchingly dressed.” Mercury looked his fill. Somehow knowing what lay beneath that silk creation, now hidden from his view, added to her allure. The tight corset and elegant bodice drew his eye to the flesh he so thoroughly enjoyed last night while the skirts obscured the curve of her hip, the line of her lovely legs. His fingers flexed as he imagined peeling away the yards of material hindering him from seeing her body displayed for his, and only his, eye.
He slid the palm of his hand over the lacey edge of her dress and swept the gossamer strap down until her shoulder was uncovered. She took a shallow breath. Her body trembled in his protective hold.
“Sarai,” Mercury murmured as he bent his head and pressed his lips to the warm exposed skin. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply savoring the perfume that clung to her. The scent of jasmine and honey could not hide the more heady fragrance of her desire. It was there under the surface, diminutive and restrained. But he had cultivated it last night when he guided her into her first experience of passion and he would never forget the appeal of such sweetness. He moved slightly, set his mouth to her throat, where her pulse rushed a pounding cadence. Sliding his tongue out, he traced the throbbing beat savoring her shuddered response.
Mercury straightened, they were so close. Near enough for him to tilt his head and take her mouth, claiming her with the power of his kiss. One meant to beguile and captivate; a lasting reminder of who she belonged to and who she did not. Definitely not that hominis stercus, even if he wore a golden crown and pranced about like a dandy.
A shock of fury shot through him as he recalled why she was in this gazebo. Who she had been with earlier, that scandalous cad had tried to debauch her. Foolish mortal dallying with the object of a god’s obsession! Mercury would not stand for such insolence again. The Bavarian prince cavorting with Sarai, kissing Sarai, touching her infuriated Mercury, rage swirled together with need until he nearly saw red. Lifting his hand he brushed his fingertips over her mouth as if to wipe away any remnants of that human’s seduction.
Then he bent his head, a sliver of space remained between them, he hovered there drawing out the moment. She exhaled; he took her breath deep into his lungs. When the tip of her tongue slid out, moistening her lips, the urge to cover them with his own bludgeoned his control. He fought the craving, mentally shackled the wild beast raging inside him prodding him to close the distance and take her. Lifting his hand, he cupped her cheek within his palm.
The warmth of her skin burned deep but nothing prepared him for her response, she leaned into his touch and murmured his name, “Mercurius.”
Emotion swamped his normally cool demeanor and he nearly moaned at the sound of his name as she whispered it.
“I have truly lost my sanity.” The despair in her voice echoed through the silence. It overwhelmed him.
Sliding his thumb under her chin, Mercury tipped it back forcing her to look directly at him. “No. This is not an illusion Sarai, nor a hallucination. It is time you accept the truth, this reality.” Before she could utter another word, he bent down and took her lips in fierce possession.
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