Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway:
By Amanda Meuwissen
Zen is a half dark elf in a world that hates him, protected by being raised by the Order of the Sun to become a priest. He longs for a different life with a mysterious, beautiful man he only glimpses in dreams. After encountering an adventuring party, Zen is drawn to accompany them to destroy a fabled vampire lord, but the pull he feels toward those lands might be more fated than he realizes.
Zen pitched forward, something scratchy and heavy slamming into him from behind, as the gaggle of children ran past.
“Slow down!” someone called. “You wouldn’t want this haybale to fall on you, would you? Oh no! Sir? Did I strike you? I swear I didn’t mean to!”
Zen turned at the gentle voice to find a young man not much older than he was, maybe as old as Khel and Morty, but human with a smile—a face—an everything—that almost made Zen trip again on absolutely nothing.
He was stunning.
Though his clothes were modest and dusty from hauling the haybale, they looked well made, with deep brown trousers, leather boots and belt, and a burgundy shirt loosely tied together at the top with hide. The rich color matched his ruddy-brown eyes.
With his sleeves rolled up, the lean line of his muscles was evident, and from lack of sun, his skin was a soft cream with rosiness in his cheeks from exertion. His black hair was neatly trimmed but tousled in a way that let a stray lock fall into his eyes, and he paused to flick it with a finger.
And so familiar…
“Did I knock the words from your lips, stranger?” he asked with a sweet smile. “Unless you can’t speak? I’m sorry if—”
“I can speak,” Zen forced his mouth to work. The children had long since run off, meaning it was just him and this angelic-faced human behind the houses. “I’m Zen. We just arrived.”
“Enki.” He held out a hand, and Zen realized he was being offered it—a human was offering for them to touch.
Zen lifted his own hand but wasn’t sure what to do.
Enki laughed and grasped his forearm in a firm squeeze. “Pleasure to meet you, Zen. Sorry about the haybale. The children surprised me. They’re just excited for the festival. I need to move this into the barn. Would you like to help me? If you’re not too burdened.”
Zen was still loaded for travel, complete with bag, belt, and a crossbow on his back, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him if it kept him in this man’s company a while longer.
“I can manage,” Zen said, moving around one side of the haybale. It was tightly bound, but easy enough to lift by the twine. As they each took an end, however, it proved heavy enough that Zen couldn’t imagine how Enki had lifted it on his own before now.
“So…we?” Enki asked during their slow shuffle toward the barn at the end of the row of houses.
“You said we. We just arrived.”
“Oh! My party. My fellow adventurers. My friends. We haven’t known each other for very long, but they’re good men. There’s four of us. A wizard, a paladin, and a warrior. Though they’re more than what they seem. You’re a farmer?”
“And a wizard,” Enki said. “On occasion.”
It took them crossing the threshold into the barn for Zen to register that statement. “Doesn’t that mean you could have levitated the haybale?”
“Where’s the sport in that?”
Zen laughed, regardless of the strain in his arms when they finally dropped the bale between them. Enki hadn’t needed any help, and not only because he could have used magic. With a mighty heave, he lifted the bale over his head to place it with a stack of others in the loft, making the exposed muscles of his forearms ripple.
Zen wondered what the muscles of his biceps, shoulders, and back would look like if he wasn’t wearing a shirt…
“What about you?”
“What about your role?” Enki dusted his hands off on the sides of his trousers. “You said four members in your party but only listed three.”
“I’m a priest.”
“Of the Lord of Law?” Enki looked stricken, which caused Zen to sound unsure when he answered.
“Don’t say that loudly,” Enki said in a sudden hush, pulling Zen closer by the arm. “Most villagers wouldn’t care, but some believe the lord of these lands is angered by worship of the Sun God.”
“That makes sense,” Zen said, distracted by Enki’s lingering grip, stabilizing and warm. He had almost forgotten how cold he’d been when he woke up. “But…can’t everyone tell what I am from my robes?”
“How?” Enki stared at them.
Zen looked down. Besides the colors, the only distinguishing marks that pointed to the Sun God were on his stole—which was gone—and his amulet, which was hidden in the robe’s folds. He must have left the stole back at camp.
How had he managed to gather everything else in his sleep but not that?
“Never mind, I guess,” Zen said, making sure the amulet was securely hidden. “And no matter. I’m not exactly devout.”
“I believe in the gods, but I have no allegiance.”
Enki tilted his head with a curious stare. “Yet your god still provides you power?”
“I don’t know why.”
At last, Enki’s hand slid away, but slowly, until the last alight of his fingers drifted from Zen’s elbow. “Maybe because your intentions are pure. You are a healer after all.”
“I try to be. Although…”
“I’ve been known to have the hands of a thief.”
“A morally gray priest.” Enki grinned like that only intrigued him more. “Do I need to watch my pockets?”
“Only if you have something worthwhile in them.”
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate Amanda’s new release, we are giving you a chance to win an 2 e-copies of Courting Nightfall!
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cc0f2a57226/?
About the Author:
Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual, happily married, and self-proclaimed geek. Primarily an M/M romance author with a focus on urban fantasy, she has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed Creative Writing major from St. Olaf College and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. For more information, visit amandameuwissen.com.
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