Thursday, July 21, 2011

A sample of Chain of Kisses

My new e-book, book, Chain of Kisses, is out now from Changeling. It's available in Kindle and Nook format, among others. I just wanted to share a little sample of it.

You will find it here:
Chain of Kisses

Be aware, though-- this is short, but it's really, really kinky. There's a wide streak of BDSM in it, so if you don't like that, you won't like this book. In fact, I had to hunt some to find a section of it clean enough to post. As it is, don't read any further if you are under 18. I MEAN IT!!! I'm a momma, so don't make me come over there....

Twenty members of Arles’s crew sat around the octagonal serving tables in the Mjölnir’s mess. As we walked in, their voices filled the room with a cheerful babble of jokes, tech talk, and the usual playful taunts, reminding me of happier days aboard the Valkyrie.

But as they spotted Arles leading me toward the officer’s table, all conversation died away. Men and women alike turned to stare.

No wonder. A length of gold chain led from my jeweled collar to the prince’s big hand, and manacles bound my wrists. My bonds were as finely crafted and gem-studded as any jewelry I’d ever worn, but no one would mistake them for anything but symbols of my sexual captivity.

I lifted my chin and met the curious gazes, freezing my expression into one of cool disdain. I might wear chains, but I was still a royal princess of Swanhilde.

Still, the walk to the captain’s table stung. Women smirked in satisfaction at seeing an enemy so shamed. Men leered at the nipples visible through my filmy thrall tunic. One spacer made a comment that triggered barks of crude laughter.

My hands curled into fists. I wanted to rage at them, but I muzzled my fury and reminded myself of my bargain with Arles. A little shame was a small price to pay for the lives of my crew.

Even as I drew my shoulders back and stiffened my spine, eyes widened all across the room. Everyone promptly found something else to look at. The snap of heads turning to gaze elsewhere looked almost synchronized. What the hell

Which was when I noticed the tension in Arles’s broad shoulders and his white-knuckled grip on my leash. I couldn’t see his expression -- I walked at his heels -- yet I could almost feel the radiating heat of his anger -- directed, for once, at someone other than me.

I stared at his stiff spine in speculation. Perhaps he was simply a jealous man, yet some naïve part of me hoped he’d felt my shame and silently defended me with a glare.

Ridiculous thought. Why would he care? Especially given that shaming me was obviously the intention behind the sex-thrall tunic and chains.

But as I trailed him across the gleaming faux marble floor to the table reserved for senior officers, I remembered the boy I’d loved. Arles had been an idealist then, devoted to his father’s vision of imperial honor and responsibility.

I’d been five years old the summer my mother had hand-fasted me to Prince Arles. Even then, the tall, handsome fifteen-year-old had fascinated me. He’d been kind, showing me the model starcraft he’d built, even teaching me to fly the little toy around the palace.

I’d proceeded to break one of my mother’s priceless Elderkind vases with a particularly ill-aimed dive. To my astonishment, Arles told our parents he was to blame. Though he suffered his mortified father’s thundering wrath, he didn’t reveal I was the true culprit. And I was deeply grateful.

Queen Zerelda expected her daughters to be worthy representatives of our royal House. Had Arles not claimed responsibility, Mother would have ordered the captain of the Royal Guard to flog me with his sword belt.

It would not have been the first time, nor the last.

From then on I’d worshipped my prince. And that was how I thought of him, My Prince, as though he were a hero from some ancient tale.

We spent hours together in the years that followed, arguing ancient battles and plotting wild strategies to defeat the Fafnar. I came to adore Arles with all the passion in my young heart. Not even Galon had been able to dislodge him.

But Arles was no longer that boy, as I was no longer the foolish girl trembling before her mother’s anger. It was past time I took responsibility for my actions.

I had indeed shamed the royal House of Vanda and voided the treaty that had been in place since our parents had hand-fasted us. It was a good thing Emperor Ragnar had not abandoned Swanhilde to its fate, or the Fafnar would have enslaved my people and wiped out my royal House. They’d done as much on the other worlds they’d preyed upon.

We wouldn’t have had any hope of defending ourselves. Swanhilde’s people were artisans and poets, farmers and philosophers. The Torreans, on the other hand, were the finest warriors in human space, which was why my mother had sought the treaty with Emperor Ragnar to begin with.

My stomach clenched as I considered the fate I’d almost brought down on my world. I deserve anything Arles wants to do to me.

The prince sat down at the server and waved me to the high-backed seat next to his. I settled into the chair, feeling its warm, dark blue padding shift and move around me until it cuddled my body like a living thing. I glanced over the room, lifting my brows. Every seat in the mess was of the same expensive type. “You pamper your crew, Captain.”

He shrugged. “Small comforts are the brick and mortar of crew loyalty. My people are well paid, and I treat them with respect. In return, they never hesitate to follow me wherever I lead.” Arles grimaced. “Including more than one hand-to-hand brawl with the lizards.”

“That couldn’t have been much fun.” Fafnarian warriors are built like biped tanks, more than two and a half meters tall, with armored black hides and claws like daggers. “I’ve had a scuffle or two with them myself. I killed one, but I damned near bled to death doing it.”

That particular lizard had slain Galon, which was why I went after the reptilian fucker with a quark-splitter’s axe. I’d been so blind with rage and grief, it was a wonder I lived through the fight at all.

Galon had been dead two years now, but I still missed him.

Blue brows lifted. Arles eyed me as if he saw far more than I wanted him to. With his sensor implants, he probably did. Finally he nodded shortly and turned his attention to the tabletop menu display.

I watched his clever fingers tap meal choices for both of us. I was not surprised he didn’t ask my preferences. I was his thrall, not a guest, and he wanted to make sure I knew it.

While we waited for the server to produce our plates, the prince propped his elbows on the table and studied me. I decided it was time to own up to my mistakes.

“I was a stupid girl ten years ago, Arles.” I had to force my gaze not to drop. “I know you may not believe me, but I’ve rued my flight every day since. It was cowardly, and I was not raised to be a coward. I have spent the last decade trying to become a woman who could meet her own eyes in the mirror.”

Arles bared even white teeth, not sympathetic in the least. “While my House endured the shit-storm of rumor you left behind -- rumors my enemies used against me to erode my reputation and stain my honor.”

I swallowed. “Yes, I’ve seen the news vids.” The galactic news coverage had been vicious. Reporters brought up my jilting him in every story about his victories.

“And we won’t even mention your sister’s antics once she became my brother’s wife.” The prince grimaced. “Had I not redeemed myself in the Fafnar war, our nobility would have refused to acknowledge me as my father’s heir. You damned near wrecked my career before it even began.”

“I know.”

“Meals are served,” the table announced before I could say any more. Panels in its gleaming surface opened, and the server lifted our food into place.

I picked up my fork, only to put it down again, unable to eat for the tension knotting my belly. “I wish there was a way to make up for my actions.”

“There is.” Arles studied me with a gambler’s cool calculation. “My tour of duty here is done. I’m returning to Tor. If you truly mean to make up for your transgressions, serve as my thrall until I find a wife.”

I gaped at him. It was one thing to parade around his ship on a leash, playing sex games. To do so on Tor, where the news services would beam every juicy detail to Swanhilde… ”But my mother…”

“Yes, I imagine it will be quite the scandal. A Swanhilde princess in bondage to her former betrothed.”

Another woman might have mistaken the nasty curve of his mouth for a smile. “Fortunately, you’ve seen to it that I’m inured to scandal. You, however, will experience the same depths of shame I knew when you jilted me before the whole of my father’s empire.”

I hope you'll enjoy "Chain of Kisses" as much as I did writing it. Thanks for reading!


Angela Knight

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