Book 2 in the series Trek Mi Q'an
Giselle McKenzie trembled inexplicably as the sound of a low growl reverberated throughout the threads of her consciousness. She knew it couldn't have emitted from her date, the man sitting across from her in the quaint restaurant. Yet every time he placed his hand over hers, she heard that eerie, primitive growl.
Book 2 of The Empress' New Clothes: NO MERCY, tells us the story of King Rem Q'an Tal and the capture of his Sacred Mate.
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March 07, 2003
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Excerpt from No Mercy by Jaid Black
Present Day Earth
Giselle McKenzie's mouth pinched together in a tight-lipped frown as she regarded her dinner date from across the slight expanse of the small, intimate table for two in the restaurant where they were seated. Had it come to this? she thought grimly. Had she truly become so desperate for male company that she was willing to give away her virginity to this hog in men's clothing?
Giselle's nostrils flared wickedly as she watched Anthony slurp up another helping of spaghetti from his plate, sauce clinging to his chin as he attacked his entree. The scene playing out before her brought to mind a pig dining at his trough, except for the fact that pigs usually don't make such a horrid mess of themselves.
She sighed, her expression remote as she set her elbow atop the table and plopped her chin down onto the palm of her hand while she watched him eat. "Are you enjoying your meal?" she asked blandly.
"Tremendously," Anthony intoned through bites of the sticky red pasta.
Giselle winced, the sight of the half-eaten spaghetti strands showing between his teeth more than she could stomach looking at. She closed her eyes briefly, then took a steadying breath and straightened up in her seat.
No matter how bad Anthony's table manners, she told herself firmly, she would see this evening through. After tonight she would no longer be a virgin. After tonight she wouldn't have to carry around the secret shame that came with the knowledge that she'd never known a man's bed...and she was thirty-six years old.
Where had the years gone? she asked herself nostalgically, the state of her maidenhood still somewhat surreal-seeming to her. It wasn't that she was a prude or undesirous of male company--that was most definitely not the case. It's just that the opportunity for a relationship with a man had never presented itself at her country doorstep. And she had never gone out of her way to remedy the situation--until now.
But now, after thirty-six years of spinsterhood, of having never known a man's touch, she was determined to change the course of her existence. And she was determined that it would change tonight.
Giselle had spent her early twenties as a shy and withdrawn girl. She had preferred perfecting her equestrian skills over worrying about snagging dates with members of the opposite gender. By the time she'd finally overcome her shyness in her late twenties she hadn't had any time to commence an active social life then either for her father, at the time her sole surviving parent, had become ill with a rare blood disease and had needed her constant attendance. As is the case for most people world-round, their family hadn't had enough money to hire a professional nurse, so the job had been Giselle's from the first--not that she had minded.
But her father, the only person in the world she had ever truly loved, had lingered amidst his illness for seven long years. She had cherished each and every moment she'd had with him and had done everything in her power to make his painful existence as comfortable as possible.
There had been times when it had been difficult, times when she had sat up crying at night because she knew that no matter what she did the end result would inevitably be the same. And, indeed, it had been. He had died almost seven years to the date of his original diagnosis and had left Giselle empty, broken, and utterly alone.
She had grieved for the loss of her father for a little over a year. And now, at the age of thirty-six, she realized that life had somehow managed to pass her by and that it was time to reclaim some of the youth she'd lost.
Giselle was a woman of average looks, neither hopelessly plain nor heart-stoppingly beautiful. At five feet four inches in height, with a long straight mop of strawberry-blonde hair, and pale skin with a splash of freckles here and there, she didn't feel that there was anything all that remarkable or recommendable about her looks. She wasn't a dark-haired exotic, nor a tanned, blonde Barbie doll, nor a red-headed vixen. She was just Giselle McKenzie, an average-looking woman of average appearance.
If there was anything particularly fetching about her, she conceded, it was her large, green eyes. Somehow, amidst her ivory skin and the freckles dusted here and there, they managed to sparkle, to make a rather ordinary face seem a bit more appealing. A bit. But probably not by much.
Giselle, however, was not the type of woman to waste her time wishing she was somebody else or wishing that she would become a miraculous beauty overnight. She would work with what she had and hope it was enough. And Anthony's interest in her had proved that it was enough for at least him. Not that he himself was anything to write home about, she thought morosely.
Bloody hell! Would the man never stop drooling that ghastly spaghetti sauce?
Her chin going up a notch, Giselle relegated all misgivings concerning what she was about to do tonight to the back of her mind. She would see this through. She would go to Anthony's bed. She would--finally--be rid of her unwelcomed and unwanted hymen. And then she would be able to resume her country life without feeling so wretchedly inadequate.
Whatever happened between her and Anthony after this night, or her and any other man for that matter, was up to fate. She was determined not to worry about it, to let life happen. But, she thought with a sense of inward satisfaction, at least she would be letting fate take its course sans her maidenhead. A bloody embarrassment, that.
"So tell me more about yourself," Giselle said, refusing to look anywhere below Anthony's eyes lest the sight of his eating make her ill. "How long have you been the manager of the grocery store in town?"
Anthony spoke through mouthfuls of pasta. "About eleven years now."
"I see. And do you like it?"
She tapped her nails on the tabletop, considering what else could be said. "What do you like to do for fun?" she asked conversationally.
"Do you win much?"
Giselle sighed. This was definitely the most boring conversation she'd ever had the displeasure of partaking in. It only irritated her all the more that her date for the evening, the first one she'd had in more years than she cared to contemplate, was more interested in his meal than in her. She remembered her maidenhead and plowed on determinedly. "Which card game is your favorite?"
"Poker." This with three large spaghetti strands dangling from his chin.
Her lips tightened. "That sounds rather interesting. Perhaps you could teach me how to play."
Bloody hell! Couldn't the man say more than one word at a time!
"Would you like to have sex with me?"
The sound of Anthony's fork clanging against his plate at least brought Giselle a feminine sense of satisfaction in knowing that she had well and truly rattled the damned man. She smiled like a woman of the world feeling terrifically smug for a thirty-six-year-old virgin.
"Wh-What?" he squeaked out. Tugging at his tie, Anthony considered her through bulging eyes.
"I said would you care to have sexual intercourse with me this evening?" She thought of her hymen and immediately decided she was taking no chances he'd not heard her correctly. "You know," she said magnimoniously, waving a hand about, "have sex, make love, do the dirty deed."
Her eyes narrowed as she looked at his shocked expression, wishing that any man but this pasta-inhaling wimp would be the one who would take her virginity. The course, however, had been set. Besides, she thought bitterly, she'd just purchased two damned cats last week. Enough was enough. "Be a man," she seethed through clenched teeth. "Take me to bed."
Anthony gulped nervously, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. "Okay," he squeaked.
Giselle sat up straighter in her chair, the feel of victory surging through her veins. She felt as though she'd just won the Olympic gold, climbed the highest mountain, swum the deepest of oceans. That her major accomplishment was getting the moron across from her to agree to sever her hymen wasn't of consequence.
What was important, she told herself staunchly, was that within the next few hours she would know the delights of being with a man. Or, she thought with down-turned lips, she would at least know what it was to be with a man. She doubted much in the way of delight would factor into the equation. That last thought caused her determination to falter a bit, but when she reflected back on her recent feline purchases she regained her rigid stance. She was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she failed to realize the bracelet that was dangling from her wrist had unclasped itself and fell to the ground. "Shall we leave then?"
Anthony's jaw went slack. "W-Well..."--he cleared his throat--"where shall we..."--his face colored as he lowered his voice--"have sexual intercourse at?" he whispered.
Bloody hell! Must she think of everything!
Giselle's nostrils flared. "In the car, at your flat, at my house. I don't particularly care. Let's just get the show on the road so to speak."
Anthony gawked at her a moment or two before regaining his senses. He'd never had a woman throw herself at him quite so brazenly. His erection was stone-hard. "W-Well..."--he reached across the table and placed his hand atop hers as his voice went down in timbre--"the car will do fine I--ouch!" He snatched his hand back with a howl.
Giselle shook her head, not understanding. She heard a low growl resonating in the back of her mind but, thinking it no big deal, discarded it as irrelevant. Someone must have brought a seeing-eye dog into the restaurant or something. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"You stabbed me with the fork!" he whined.
She took offense at that. "I most certainly did not."
"Then why am I bleeding?"
Giselle's gaze fell to his bloodied hand to quickly ascertain that, indeed, the hammy thing truly was bleeding. "I've no notion," she said in a bewildered voice. "I wasn't even holding my fork." She had brushed against it with her pinky finger, but hadn't realized it.
Anthony looked at her speculatively for a protracted moment, then decided she must be telling the truth. The woman had invited him to her bed, or in this case her car. Why would she stab him before getting a piece of him? He smiled. "Of course you aren't responsible, darling," he crooned.
Darling? she thought.
"It was obviously no more than a bizarre accident." He reached across the tabletop and laid his hand atop hers once again. "Shall we--ouch!"
Giselle watched in shock and horror as the fork that had been lying under her hand on the tabletop catapulted from its resting place and hurled itself straight toward Anthony's eye. He turned his head at the last possible moment and the four-pronged eating utensil lodged itself in his cheek instead. She screamed.
The low growling sound grew wilder, frenzied, crazed-sounding. She covered her ears, her mouth hanging open dumbly as she gawked at Anthony and tried to figure out what was happening. Her heart-rate was inexplicably high. She was sweating bucket-loads even though the restaurant was kept at a cooled temperature. Feelings of primordial anger and possessiveness swamped her. But they weren't her own feelings. They were somebody else's. A man's. A male who meant to punish her if she didn't...
"I'm hurt!" Anthony wailed. "I need a doctor!"
Giselle broke out of her trance and shot to her feet, discarding all of the weirdness of the situation as irrelevant and focusing on the tangible. "I'll drive you to the hospital," she said breathlessly, the strangest feeling of fatigue overpowering her. It took her a long moment to snap out of it. "L-Let's go..."