In the year 3478, Reaper Cynyr Cree has been sent to the western territories by the High Council as their executioner in taking out rogues. He's hot, tired, dusty and not in the best of moods when he happens upon a young woman being attacked. Dispatching the assailant with a careless flick of his laser whip, Cynyr doesn't give the woman a second thought until she follows him to his camp in search of food and protection.
Sold by her ex-husband for a brace of horses, Aingeal has known the hardships of being the property of a Jakotai brave intent on keeping her at all costs and she has run away. Being rescued by an infamous Reaper seems the only way she can escape her captivity and she's willing to do what it takes to stay with Cree.
Taking lives comes easy to Cynyr. Living one is another matter. Always keeping his distance from others, he is stunned to realize he doesn't want to let Aingeal leave him.
When a man named Cynyr decides to make a woman named Aingeal his own, no man will ever take her from him.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from WyndRiver Sinner by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
As she climbed the stairs, Aingeal was aware of the weight of the stares settling on her. She wasn't sure she liked the attention she was getting.
"You might as well get used to it, wench," Cynyr told her. He was so close to her she could feel the heat of his body as they climbed. "You're a Reaper's mate and that's just one rung below the devil himself."
Aingeal sniffed. There wasn't anything demonic about her lover--at least where she was concerned. She had no doubt he could be hell on wheels when it was necessary but she refused to think of him in any other way than the gentle, considerate man she was fast growing to love.
Aingeal stopped on the stair, making Cynyr run into her. Where had that thought come from? she wondered.
"Who wouldn't love me?" he asked, prodding her into motion once more. "I'm such a lovable cur."
It unnerved her that he could read her mind. She knew she was going to have to be very careful around him if she wanted to keep anything private and to herself. The Reaper's snort as that thought drifted through her mind made her groan. Keeping her privacy wasn't going to be an easy thing to accomplish.
The room to which the hotelman led them held only a bed, a nightstand, a small dresser with a pitcher and ewer sitting atop it and a single ladder-back chair, but it was clean and warm.
"It's the best in the house," the man said, rocking on the balls of his feet. "Only the best for you, sir."
Cynyr reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of paper bills. He peeled one off and handed it to the man. "This should cover our stay," he said.
Peeking down at the money in his hand, the hotelman's eyes lit up. "More than enough, sir!" he agreed, quickly stuffing the bill into his pocket. "I'll see to that soup, now. Would you like a bowl for yourself?"
The Reaper nodded and asked for something a little more substantial for the two of them. He also ordered a hot toddy for his lady.
"I don't drink liquor," Aingeal said when the hotelman had left. She hadn't wanted to contradict Cynyr in front of the man. She sneezed again.
"You will today," Cynyr told her. "Now get out of those wet clothes."
She pursed her lips. "Why can't you just--" She didn't finish, for in the blink of an eye she was standing there as naked as the day she was born. Her lips parted and she was about to berate him for his devilishness but a warn flannel gown settled lovingly around her and she sighed. "This is just what I had in mind. I can really get used to this, Reaper," she said, smoothing her hand down the soft fabric.
"You'd better," he replied. He went to the bed and turned down the covers. "Now, in you go."
Like a child, she hurried to the bed and flounced upon it. Although the covers were a bit musty, they were starched and soothing as she thrust her feet beneath the lightweight blanket.
"My feet are freezing," she complained as she pulled the covers to her chin.
Cynyr removed his hat and shrugged out of the duster. He laid them on the chair then took off his gun belt. Even as she watched, his own damp clothing vanished with a wave of his hand and he was standing there barefoot in a black silk shirt opened halfway down his chest and a pair of dark britches. He came over to the bed and sat down at the foot. He pushed the covers aside and took one of her feet in his hands.
"You're right," he said as he began gently massaging warmth into her flesh. "Your feet are like ice, wench."
Aingeal started to tell him how nice his ministrations felt but she sneezed then sneezed again.
A knock at the door announced the arrival of the hotelman and a serving maid bearing a tray heaped with bowls of soup, freshly baked bread and slices of country cured ham. Two steaming mugs of hot toddy sent the wafting aroma of cinnamon and whiskey through the room. The maid set the tray on the dresser and the hotelman placed Cynyr's wet saddlebag on the floor by the dresser.
"If you need anything else, you just holler," the hotelman said. He was staring at the Reaper's hands as they massaged Aingeal's feet.
"That should do us," Cynyr said, not bothering to look at the man. His gaze was locked on his lady, but from the corner of his eye he saw the hotelman glance at the gun belt that was draped over the chair.
"Yes, sir," the man said, and pushed the maid from the room, shutting the door behind them.
"That man isn't to be trusted," Aingeal said.
"My thoughts too, wench," the Reaper agreed. "He was thinking if he could get his hand on my whip, he could sell if for a goodly price."
Aingeal frowned. "The chances of that happening are slim to none, I'd think."
"Even if he acquired a whip, no man but the one it was created for can operate it," he said. "He'd just have a handle and that's all."
Comfortable beneath the covers and loving every touch of the Reaper's hands upon her feet, Aingeal was looking at him through half-lowered lids. He was an incredibly handsome man with finely chiseled features that caused a soft heat in her loins. His dark hair was damp and curling slightly around his ears. Hanging free of his britches, his silk shirt was opened to reveal the crisp hair peppered thickly on his brawny chest. As he worked, his right pectoral flexed in such a way she wanted to run her palm over it.
"Keep thinking thoughts like that and I'll be under those covers with you," he said, standing up and replacing the coverlet over her feet.
"Umm," she said, her gaze shifting to the tray of food.
"Is that the only other thing you have on your feeble mind, wench?" he asked, and was amazed to hear himself laugh.
"I'm starving," she said, licking her lips.
"After that breakfast?" he asked, one thick brow arched.
"That was four hours ago," she reminded him, pushing herself up in the bed.
Shaking his head, he retrieved the tray from the dresser and brought it over to the bed. He set it on the nightstand and handed her a bowl of the soup. "Smells like beef barley."
"Smells wonderful," she said.
While she dug into the hearty soup, he put a slice of ham between two thinly sliced pieces of bread and took a healthy bite.
"My favorite sandwich," he said.
"You don't eat small children then?" she asked as she chewed a fat chunk of tender beef.
"Only every other Sunday and then only as a treat," he replied, for he'd heard all the vicious tales of his kind.
"With or without salt?" she asked.
"I prefer them simmered slowly in a rich custard sauce," he replied dryly.
"Is it true you turn into a wolf on a full moon?" she asked, eying what he was eating.
Cynyr crammed the remainder of his portion of the bread and ham into his mouth then prepared a sandwich for her. "Every third full moon is more like it," he told her. "We transition about four times a year unless we have need to shape-shift for other purposes."
"Like what?" she asked as she chomped into the bread and ham.
"Piss one of us off and we just might run you to ground in our lupine shape."
Aingeal cocked her head to one side. "How many Reapers are there?"
He shrugged. "Legal ones? There are seven of us. Rogues? Only the High Council knows for sure." He took her hot toddy off the tray, set it down where she could reach it then put the tray of empty dishes on the dresser.
Aingeal chewed thoughtfully as her lover took a sip of the hot toddy. "What happens when you've taken out all the rogues? Will they send you to some other world?"
The Reaper skirted the bed and sat down besides her, leaning back against the headboard with his toddy. "I have no idea what the High Council has in mind, but I wouldn't think they'd ship us off somewhere else. They want the security of knowing we're here to protect the people should other rogues find their way to this world.
Sneezing again, Aingeal reached for the hot toddy and drank a large swig of it. "I hate colds," she said, fanning her mouth for the liquor was still very hot.
"Drink it all down," he advised. "Maybe you'll sweat it off."
She turned her head and gave him a hot look. "You plan on getting me hot and bothered, Reaper?"