(Book One – Dangerous Desires series)
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(available for preorder – ready to read February 16):
Deception knows no limits. Passion knows no bounds.
When she is kidnapped, Senorita Isabella knows the men have been sent by her uncle in a murderous attempt to control her family’s fortune. But when she is rescued by a dashing and mysterious warrior, Isabella can’t imagine why a stranger would risk his life for her—until she discovers her rescuer believes she’s someone else….
Fernando de Zayas loves nothing more than the cry of battle. Defying death is his way of life. But when he discovers his betrothed has been kidnapped, he rushes to her aid—never suspecting that spirited beauty would soothe his warrior heart…
With her uncle’s minions close on their heels, Isabella finds herself drawing closer to Fernando. But as the desire between them builds, her secret could keep them apart forever…
On a shuddering breath, Isabella searched the market for any means of escape and found none. Too many people pressed close with no clear route from the area. If only she could see what was behind her, she might find a way out.
A quick glance showed even more people and cramped stalls, proving how trapped she was. The eunuch’s high-pitched shout suddenly rose above the slaver’s angry growl. Wanting away from them, she inched back. The eunuch dashed to her right, blocking her. The slaver to her left and reached for her robe.
Piercing wails filled the heated air.
Isabella stiffened. The slaver’s hand fell from her. He and the eunuch turned toward the sounds. Two dark-robed women pressed their hands to their veiled mouths. Children had stopped playing, their youthful eyes widened in wonder or fear at an aged man. His white beard trailed down his chest, and infirmity bent his tall frame, forcing him to keep his face lowered. He wore a turban and full robe, the voluminous fabric hiding the contours of his body.
Suddenly, he thrust his hand into a fire used to cook some manner of food.
Many in the crowd gasped. A young girl backed into a basket of olives, toppling it. The fruit rolled across the ground until it reached a pool of spilled honey where a black cat prowled.
The aged man kept his hand in the fire without bellowing in pain. He chose three smoking coals, tossing the hot embers from his right hand to his left much as jugglers did at fairs with brightly colored balls.
This was no fair nor was he a juggler, but a fakir, a holy man.
Isabella had heard tales of such beings who traveled the Arab territories. Fakirs had no homes or commerce, begging for food as they roamed from place to place, performing amazing feats to shock everyone, as he did now. Merchants, free women, and children waited to see what the strange man would do next.
With no one watching her, Isabella prepared to break into a run, to lose herself in the throng.
The fakir tilted his face and met her gaze.
Her heart caught. His eyes were arresting and strangely beautiful, his gaze so intent she stepped back. His expression changed. With a hard frown, he seemed to warn her to remain where she was. He turned to the eunuch and slaver, crying to them in Arabic, his voice reedy with age.
Her stomach churned. Was he warning them of her intent to flee?
When he looked back at her, raw power lit his expression, holding her to the spot.
Even if she’d wanted to move, she couldn’t now. The eunuch and slaver stared at her.
The air grew heavier than before and far too still. The slaver adjusted his weight from foot to foot as he and the eunuch spoke to the fakir. The holy man answered in kind, juggling the hot coals. He drew closer to them, his movements inefficient and tottering, no different from a babe. The slaver stepped back. The eunuch did not. His shrill voice rose in what sounded like an oath. The fakir hobbled closer, the hot coals jumping more slowly between his hands. At last he responded, his voice low.
The eunuch scowled and shouted a string of foul-sounding words. The fakir grabbed the eunuch’s throat, pressing the hot coals to it. Squealing in agony, the eunuch fell to the ground, rocking and mewling.
Frightened sounds rippled through the crowd. The holy man spoke to the spectators, who exchanged glances with each other and shuffled back.
The fakir grabbed more hot coals from another fire and staggered toward the slaver. Unlike the eunuch, the slaver offered no retort as he stepped back quickly. The fakir followed. It was a strange dance, the fakir plodding forward a step, the slaver retreating the same distance as he focused on the newest coals.
Again, Isabella realized no one noticed her. Before she could think to escape, the fakir was at her side, clutching her hair in his free hand, shouting at the others.
Again, they backed away.
He yanked Isabella toward him and whispered in Castilian, “When I release you, grasp your throat and cry out. Your freedom and life depend upon it. Do you understand?”
Her heart hammered so wildly she could barely breathe, much less think. With no time to consider why he would help her, she nodded.
The fakir shouted something to the others then brought the coals close enough for her to feel their heat. She clutched her throat and wailed.
The slaver spoke hurriedly, his words seeming to beg for mercy.
The fakir lifted the hot coals to his mouth and blew. Flames poured from his parted lips. Screams tore through the crowd with more than a few bolting.
The fakir gripped her wrist, his touch steel.
Again, he lifted the coals to his lips. Flames shot out of his mouth, which he directed to the black silk hanging on a stall. The cloth caught fire. He bolted, pulling her with him.
She struggled to keep up as they dashed through the narrow streets of the market, past stalls and startled people. Behind them, men shouted. She glanced over. Guards pursued them. The fakir ran faster, forcing her to follow. They darted down one cramped street after another. He knocked over goods deliberately. Both of them dodged buyers. Finally, he rushed into an unattended shop offering a variety of baskets.
Before she could question why this place was empty of a merchant or buyers, the fakir pushed her toward a shadowed corner near the entrance and shielded her with his body. She was so close to him her face and breasts pressed against his surprisingly muscular back. He shifted his weight. An object beneath his robe tapped her knee. She looked down at a long, thin outline hidden by the fabric. A sword?
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Tina is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Kensington, Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Siren Publishing, Booktrope, Luminosity, Decadent, and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic novels (Freeing the Beast, Come and Get Your Love, and Wicked Takeover) were Readers' Choice Award winners. Another three (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the EPIC competition. Sensual Stranger, her erotic contemporary romance, was chosen Book of the Year at the French review site Blue Moon reviews. The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for her erotic romance Lush Velvet Nights. Two of her titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition. Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.
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