A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novella
(Unbound, Book 7)
Paranormal Women's Fiction
Publication Date: January 19, 2024
Publisher: Changeling Press LLC
Toran Bladewielder’s life was upended when a battle injury forced him to leave his order -- the Holy Defenders of the Gods. It is upended again when he catches a thief pilfering food from the warehouse he is guarding. Although the miscreant turns out to be a beautiful woman, his duty is to hand her over to the authorities.
But when he discovers she is a slave who escaped from a ship in the harbor, his sense of right and wrong urges him to hide her.
Desperate to maintain her freedom, Farah will do anything escape the clutches of her cruel master -- even seduce a man whose sexual innocence and moral decency are clear to her.
But as she angles to keep Toran on her side, their relationship heats up. Neither expected to ever find love, yet the intensity between them builds -- until Lord Camari’s men find Farah and drag her back to him for punishment. Can Toran rescue her, and is there any way for these unlikely lovers can forge a lasting relationship?
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2024 Rebecca York
Toran Bladewielder lurked in the darkness of the warehouse, determined to catch the thief who had been stealing foodstuffs from recent shipments. Repressing a wince of pain, he leaned back against the building’s rough stone wall to ease the ache in his leg. Six months ago, he had been a Holy Defender -- a member of the religious order which preserved the authority of the gods. Then in a battle far from home, he had been struck down by a blow from an infidel.
The injury to his leg had made him unfit for military service, and he had been unceremoniously shipped back to his home monastery. There he had been given a choice -- accept the menial jobs of tending the garden and preparing food for his brothers -- or leave the order. After the exhilaration of battle, he was unable to envision a life of such work. With a heavy heart, he had chosen to renounce his vows.
For months he had felt like a brigantine without a rudder, adrift on an unknown sea, until his old schoolmate Gareth Lamb had offered him a guard’s job in one of the Glencarn warehouses that he and Prince Gawain owned. It was a far cry from his former holy mission, but at least it was work that could utilize some of his fighting skills.
When he wasn’t at his post, he was working to strengthen his ruined leg. The combination kept him from tipping over the edge into the black despair that had threatened to swallow him whole.
It had been a routine job -- until the last few days. Now he had a real puzzle to solve. No one had been able to catch the sneak thief helping himself to a recent shipment of foodstuffs from far off Amorn, although the evidence of his work was as plain as an open box of dates or an unsealed amphora. But the knave was well-nigh invisible.
Invisible? Toran snorted. That was mere fantasy, but the lout always seemed to know when it was safe to strike -- leaving only the evidence of his thievery.
Not tonight. Toran had worked out a plan to capture the culprit. He made his preparations during the day, then stationed himself in one of the smaller side rooms of the dockside building.
But the plan had its own disadvantages. After hours of waiting in the shadows, his bad leg had begun to throb. Soon he would have to shift his positions, and that would give him away. He clenched his fists, his jaw set in a hard line as he fought down the pain.
He was about to give up when the sound of soft, stealthy footsteps put him on alert. Someone had come into the room where Toran had stacked crates of the cargo that the thief had been plundering. He stayed where he was, determined to win the upper hand this time. He could not see into the room where the bait was stacked, but when his keen ears detected the squeak of a nail being eased from a crate lid, he readied himself to pull on the cord in his right hand.
To his surprise, he heard a sudden flailing as though his quarry had somehow realized what was about to happen. But it was already too late.
The rope released a net that fell from the ceiling over the boxes -- and over the brigand who stood beside them.
The man let out a high-pitched scream, then scrabbled as he tried desperately to disentangle himself from the web, but the edges were weighted, making it hard to lift.
Toran sprang from his hiding place and moved across the stone floor as quickly as he could. But he had been standing in place for too long. His bad leg gave out, and he ended up going down in a heap. Luckily, the netting trap gave him the time to crawl forward and come down on top of the struggling prisoner.
They lay entangled on the cold floor, both breathing hard, the miscreant trying desperately to get away, and Toran just as determined to hold onto his captive. As the man thrashed about, Toran felt spindly arms and legs, a slender back, and a mass of soft hair. An unusual combination, he thought as he pulled the webbing tight, gathering it around the prisoner as though he were securing a wild animal in a net.
“Stop struggling or you will hurt yourself,” he advised.
The words were met with a stout kick to his bad leg that might have hurt if the netting hadn’t truncated the blow.
It was too dark in the warehouse to see the struggling form. Ignoring his throbbing knee, Toran gathered up net and captive and dragged them across the floor and through the cargo door onto the riverside wharf where he had left a lantern burning on a hook.
At this hour of the night, there was no one else about. As he dragged his bundle, he added to his impressions of the thief. This was no full-grown man. It must be a youth -- mayhap a desperate street urchin who was using the shipments as a source of food. Still, stealing was stealing, and it must stop.
Angry that the exertion had him breathing hard, Toran grabbed the prisoner by the hair and turned him to his back so that he was suddenly looking down into frightened green eyes. They were the first thing he saw, but he quickly took in more details. Wild dark hair framing a delicate face. A small nose, a slender neck. His gaze traveled farther downward, seeing ragged clothing of a cut he did not recognize. Not pants below the dirty shirt, but skirts. As a former holy brother, he had little experience with skirts or anything else to do with the female sex. Quickly his gaze traveled upward again, seeing twin mounds pushing up at the chest. This was no slender lad. It was a girl.
“Blood of the gods,” he croaked. “Who are you?”
She looked away. “Nobody.” Her voice was soft and strangely accented.
“A thief,” he answered his own question. “Look at me.”
Slowly she turned her face back toward his, and he saw the look of devastation in her eyes.
“Let me go and you will never see me again,” she whispered.
“I cannot. You have stolen from a royal warehouse, and I must turn you over to the prince’s guards.”
He saw her lips tremble. “I did it to keep myself alive.”
“Who are you?” he asked again.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling Author Rebecca York began her career as a journalist writing articles for newspapers and magazines, but after several years decided to try writing fiction. She's a highly successful author of over 50 romantic suspense and paranormal novels and is the head of the Columbia Writers Workshop. Her many awards include two Rita finalist books. She has two Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times: for Series Romantic Suspense and for Series Romantic Mystery. Her Peregrine Connection series won a Lifetime Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense Series. She collects rocks, and enjoys cooking, walking, reading, gardening, travel, and Mozart operas.
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