Paranormal Erotic Romance/91,000 Words
Verdantia (Book 4)
Scornfully rejected by her desert lover and uncertain of her place in the world, Adonia travels an arduous road fraught with peril to the fabled mountain-city of Nyth Uchel. She wishes to heal their sick and dying, but in the arms of Hel—their highborn prince—Adonia discovers where she longs to belong.
Noble born, a descendant of the greatest kings their planet has known, Hel willingly bears the burden of his dying city and its people on his massive shoulders—alone. But forced to watch helplessly as a dark evil attacks the very soil under his feet, he crushes his pride to summon help. He is staggered to discover the answer to saving his city and perhaps all Verdantia might lie behind a heavy fall of chocolate hair and shy brown eyes.
As their entire planet faces encroaching black death, Hel and Adonia, two seemingly disparate individuals, forge a partnership of love and sacrifice that alters their future forever.
Other Books by Patricia
They had been leading their horses for some time, roaming in seeming circles through an area dotted with trees, tall up-thrusting boulders and thick grass. The late afternoon light began to turn hazy when Hel hollered back, “I’ve found it. We will camp here tonight.”
Adonia let out a slow breath. The time had arrived. She could blame fatigue for her trembling legs—but she’d be lying. She stripped her mount of gear, hobbled him and turned him loose to graze. Apprehension-induced weakness flooded her but she resolutely walked up to DeHelios.
She examined the third button on his coat—he would lose it soon if not sewed on tighter— and shoved her hands into her pockets. “What do I do?”
His massive hand tucked under her chin and raised her head until their eyes met. “I chose this place because hot springs reach the surface there.” He nodded his head. “And there is another behind those trees. The thermal pools provide a natural spa.” Adonia thought he smiled. With all the facial hair, she sometimes guessed at his expression. “Ramsey and Steffania are going to use that pool. I would like for you to bathe with me in the other.”
“All right. I have a request, also.”
She wondered if she dared ask. “Will you shave?”
His eyebrows rose. “Shave?”
She dug her hands deeper into her pockets and looked down at her feet. “If I am going to be intimate with you, I want to see your face.” She glanced up at him through the fall of her hair.
“Huh.” He pulled off his cap and scratched his head, considering, then turned. “Ramsey!”
“Lend me your razor…and a knife.”
“By the Goddess, what are you going to do to the poor woman?” Ramsey walked up and slapped a blade and his razor into Hel’s outstretched hand.
“Not her. This.” Hel flipped his beard.
“Good. It won’t change your uncouth behavior, but you’ll look less of an animal.” Ram shot Adonia a glance. “Steffania and I won’t be far. If you want me to hold him down for you, just call.”
Adonia dared a smile at Hel’s growl in response. Ramsey just chuckled and walked away.
“Come on. It’s this way.”
Adonia followed Hel past a tall stand of trees and up to what looked like the vertical face of a cliff. A small split in the sheer rock face, just enough for a person to squeeze through, ran up to the sky.
The claustrophobic press of stone on either side of her body made for tense moments as she followed Hel through the gash. What lay on the other side was worth it. A pebble-strewn shore along an aqua blue pool beckoned them. Some god had stretched his hand down and scooped out a portion of rock, leaving an irregular basin filled with hot water. Steam rose from the pool and wafted off on the breeze that flirted with the water’s surface. A slight sulfurous smell tinted the air, and the temperature in the grotto was noticeably warmer.
Hel turned and studied her for a moment before sighing. “You look as if a touch will shatter you. We are simply going to bathe together, and you will help rid me of this beard.” Adonia felt his rough hand cup her chin, and his thumb moved over her mouth in a caress. “I know this is awkward for you. Do you want me to go first?”
“Why don’t we do this together?” She smiled tentatively and began to undo the buttons to her coat.
They each undressed. For Adonia, the slow disclosure of the body underneath Hel’s bulky clothes was a revelation—as if a sculptor slowly removed the drape covering a masterpiece in white marble. When Hel stepped out of the last of his clothing and stood nude before her, she stood transfixed, holding a shirttail in her hand, only partially undressed. He cocked his head and his smile turned to a chuckle deep in his chest. She realized she was staring. “Uh, sorry.”
She never looked at him again and made quick work stripping down to her skin. She ooched on tender soles across the tiny pebbles and submerged herself up to her neck in the hot water of the pool, her arms clasped about her breasts, her hair loose and floating on the water. The temperature bordered on too hot but worked miracles on her tight, cramped muscles and chafed skin.
She closed her eyes and revisited the vision of blue-veined alabaster skin, lean rippling muscle, impossibly broad shoulders, chiseled pectorals, abs and a sculptured waist—no extra flesh anywhere. She could count the man’s ribs. A fine swirl of dark hair made a tee on his chest with a narrow line down the middle of his abdomen, past his navel to his groin, and below, ah, below...Goddess preserve her. In every way, he possessed a terrible beauty. She had expected from his height and width that he would be crude and bulky, perhaps hairy. No. He stood tall and wide, but every part of his height and width held proportion and refinement. Shit. Even his gods-be-damned feet were pretty. Who had pretty feet?
A touch on her shoulder brought her swirling around with a gasp. “Easy, Healer.” Hel’s gray eyes found hers, and he offered her the knife, handle first. “I think we take most of the hair with this and then use the razor. Yes?”
“Umm, yeah, yeah. Okay.” She smiled tentatively and took the knife. With a deep inhale, she grasped a thick hank of his beard. His hair felt luxurious and silky. She raised her eyes to his and positioned the keen blade against his Adam’s apple.
“Always. Don’t take more than hair—hmm?” She thought he teased her but only his eyes broke rank with the solemnity in his face; amusement lurked in his clear gray gaze.