The teaser below isn’t technically from a WIP because I’ve finished writing the story, but I submitted it recently enough for it to be called a WIP teaser. Besides. It’s my blog and I call it what I want to 😉
This teaser is from In My Arms Again, that I mentioned here. (I decided to keep the name after all!) The story is a M/M historical fantasy, 21 809 words long, and it will be published some time in October. The excerpt below is from chapter 2 and it’s unedited.
I have a blurb:
Trapped in a growing sense of restlessness, Oxen the hunter is lonely. Feeling like he’s waiting for something—or someone—he’s unable to focus on getting ready for winter. But when a handsome and very ill stranger collapses on his doorstep, everything changes.
The stranger, Vinge, is from a Pegasus family but has never been able to transform. As soon as he awakens, both men feel an instant connection, and it grows deeper as Oxen nurses him back to health. Something profound within each man calls out to the other, but neither of them knows what it is.
The questions surrounding Vinge and their deepening relationship are many. Why is Vinge so familiar to Oxen when they clearly have never met? Why are they both reluctant to take the first step to a real commitment? And what will it take for the true depth of their connection be revealed?
I have no idea how long I’ve slept when an urgent banging on the door jolts me awake. My head shoots up and I peer through the window, but the outside is even darker than before. The wind howls more ferociously than ever, sounding like a pack of angry nightwolves outside the walls of my cabin. Rain pelts my home from every direction, smattering against the walls, making the glass in the windows rattle.
More banging chases me to my feet. I cross the floor in a few long strides and pull open the door.
Someone falls in through the doorway and collapses before me in a drenched heap. The person doesn’t move at all, as though banging on my door stole the last breath from their body.
I shove my hands under the person’s arms and pull them inside so I can kick the door closed. My rough handling doesn’t stir the stranger, so I keep pulling until they’re as close to the hearth they can get without catching fire before I allow myself to look at the person who knocked on my door in the middle of the night.
It’s a man. He’s tall and lanky with skin as black as the night and even darker tangled, waist-long hair; it’s so black it’s shifting in blue. His face has a grayish tinge to it, with the exception to two bright red spots on his cheekbones, and the full lips are chapped and scraped. The narrow chest rises and falls irregularly, showing none of the usual steadfastness of a steadily breathing man. His skin is cold and clammy to the touch, and he shivers under my scrutiny.
I lay my hand on his forehead—a rough and hardened palm against his delicate features—and snatch it back immediately. He’s blazing hot, just like the fire.
My burning palm kicks me into action, and I cup his shoulder, shaking gently.
“Esteemed visitor.” I wince at the roughness of my voice, but he doesn’t move. I shake again, speaking louder. “Honored stranger, wake up for the sake of the Maidens.”
When he doesn’t as much as twitch, I spring into action and pull his wet clothing off his shivering body. Despite the bedraggled state of the garments, I recognize that they’re of good quality, the finest silk woven in ornate patterns. Far too thin for the season, but valuable and beautiful, nonetheless.
I pat him dry and collect his hair into a piece cloth before hurrying to the chest of clothes and digging out a floor-length, thick nightshirt, socks reaching over the knee, and a pair of fur-lined moccasins that are far too wide for his narrow feet, but they’ll keep him warm all the same.
With careful movements, I pull the garment over his head and coax his uncooperative arms through the sleeves. His limbs are soft, as though every bone in his body has vanished. When he’s dressed, I cover him with a woolen blanket and push a pillow underneath his head.
He would be more comfortable on my bed, but my first concern is to warm him up.
I move the cauldron of broth to the side of the hearth and pour some water into the kettle that I hang in its place over the flames. As I wait for it to come to a boil, I hurry to the cabinet and search my stores for the tin of Alvea needles. When I find it, I grab a few sprigs and put them into a drinking bowl, add a big helping of golden honey, and pour the steaming water over it. As the tea steeps, I hang his clothes to dry next to mine.
I try to wake the man again. A slight twitch to his eyelids is all the reaction I get.
After removing the sprigs of needles from the tea with a small wooden spoon, I sit on the floor and carefully maneuver the stranger’s head and upper body onto my lap. When another shake to the man yields no results, I cradle his head in my arm and drizzle a few drops of his tea into his slack mouth. I set the bowl on the floor, close his mouth, and massage his throat to make him swallow the tea, wincing as the bow-string calluses on my fingers scrape against his soft skin.
Again and again, I repeat the procedure until the bowl is empty and the worst clamminess of his skin starts to disappear.
I’m probably imagining things, but his breathing appears to be a little less labored than before. It shouldn’t be possible because the effect of the tea takes some time to set in, but maybe the Maidens are keeping watch over both of their lowly servants this night.
Except, the stranger on my lap is not so lowly. Save for the pallor caused by his illness and the rough weather, his skin is free of blemishes and close to perfect, and his teeth are straight and flawless. He’s thin like a reed, but in a healthy manner, not like he’s emaciated. Despite his lean stature, his arms and legs are wiry, and I’m certain he’s much stronger than he looks.
I look down on his face. His features are relaxed, the tea definitely helping by now. His cheekbones are high and defined, his chin broad with a deep dimple to it that softens the angular jaw. His nose is wide but straight, his eyebrows immaculate arches over his eyes, and his lips—where they not parched and chapped—are full and pillowy. The blueish black hair is even longer than mine and shines bright now that the fire has dried it.
He’s a study in contrasts. Hard angles versus soft lines. Straight and severe versus soft and plush.
He is the most beautiful being I’ve ever laid eyes on, and a sense of calm floods my chest. A sense of…peace.
I just have to show you my inspiration for Vinge, the stranger. This lovely man won’t be on the cover though, because I found him on the internet and not on a stock photo site, but OMG, ain’t he fabulous?? 😍