Where passion and pleasure become one...
She is Solstice, a sensual beauty who has dedicated her life to serving the Supplicant Queen. Yet the existence of an all-powerful Ring threatens her monarch. And Solstice herself is sent away as the captive of Axel, the one man she can never forget...
Axel leads the disgraced Solstice away to watch her fulfill the terms of her punishment: teaching the queen's willing subjects the art of lovemaking. Incredibly aroused by what he sees, he gives himself up to the erotic delights of her sexual powers....
Praise for the erotic novels of Lucinda Betts...
"Moon Shadow is one of the best fantasy erotic books this year." --Road to Romance, Reviewers Choice Award
"Betts once again brings to life her incredible imagination. Fans of the fantasy/erotic genre will be very pleased." --Romantic Times on The Supplicant, four-star review.
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November 23, 2009
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Excerpt from Scarlet Nights by Lucinda Betts
As Axel de la Couere leaned forward in the saddle, exhilaration poured through his veins. He finally had the slavers cornered. Finally! Mountains blocked them on the west, and city walls blocked them on the east. A band of his men waited for them in the caves ahead.
"Go!" he shouted to his mare. White foam from her shoulders splattered across his face as he squeezed with his calves. After all these years, he would finally bring the slavers to justice. He'd deliver them to the monarch's feet. This foreign land would make him a hero--but that didn't matter. He was about to save his brother.
For a fleeting moment, he wondered if Solstice would see his success. Would she be in court? No matter that she'd sold out to the harlot goddess, she might be the only person alive who knew what this victory meant to him.
His bay's legs churned beneath him, but he asked for more speed. "Run!" He slammed his calves into the animal's barrel as he yelled. The mare responded, lengthening her stride. Like him, she'd trained every day of the last five years for this moment.
She lay her ears flat against her head and extended her neck-- she gave all she had.
Her efforts bore fruit. He could see the outline of the slavers' horses now, could count their number: ten.
He hoped Kamir and the others were keeping up behind him. But Kamir wasn't his second-in-command without reason. Axel knew he could trust Kamir's quick wit and fast horse.
He watched the rear rider in the slaver band look over his shoulder twenty nalps ahead. Like Axel and his men, the slavers were disguised in flowing traders' robes, and blue linen fluttered behind their mounts like odd horsetails.
The slaver must not have liked what he saw. Axel watched him kick his horse, and even through dust Axel could see the man's lips move as he shouted something to his party.
Try whatever you want, Axel thought as his mare slung her ears forward. Her speed did not relent. You won't escape this time. The slavers were heading right into his trap.
Except they didn't.
From the middle of the fleeing pack, a rider split away, his dun-colored Barbarian horse difficult to see in the flurry of sand. The main party continued on their mad gallop toward the caves.
"Pus and puke," Axel muttered. He hadn't thought any of the slavers would split. Was the leader getting away? What if the leader had the information? Before he could consider a course of action, his mare turned and bolted after the lone rider.
"Fair enough, horse." He kept his balance over her withers. The One God knew he'd counted on less-informed intelligence in the past. His second-in-command could follow the main group of slavers and herd them into the trap waiting in the caves.
In the dust ahead, the rider sped past, away from his comrades-- but he didn't veer northeast into the desert as Axel expected. For a heartbeat, he felt relief. Barbarian horses were difficult to spot in the sand.
The relief didn't last long. When the slaver turned toward Marotiri, Axel's gut churned. What was he doing?
Axel urged his mare forward, even as he kept his eye locked on his prey. He expected the man to veer again, make a desperate bolt toward the desert. No slaver in his right mind would enter Marotiri City, not since the white-skinned queen had taken her place next to King Kalief as coruler of the land.
The bandit galloped past an arching inselberg, and Axel stood high in the saddle, trying to see through the plumes of sand. His desire for justice left an acrid taste in his mouth. No one should have to lose a brother to slavers. White skin shouldn't doom a man to a life of servitude.
As if sensing his determination, the bay kicked her speed up another notch--but her valiant efforts were wasted. The slaver didn't take cover in the desert.
Instead, the man galloped toward the ungated road leading to Marotiri City. Axel rubbed his eyes. Surely the sand was blurring his vision. But, no. When he looked again, he saw it clearly. The slaver was going to the city.
Axel clenched his teeth. If the slaver thought he could hide there, he knew something Axel didn't. Not good.
White-skinned queen or not, the last place Axel wanted to go with his blond hair and pale flesh was the city. Dark eyes would measure his strength and imagine him as their property.
He pushed away the thought. No time for it. Maybe the slaver fled to the city in desperation, not as part of a plan. Maybe he thought he had no place else to go.
That was a thought worth hanging on to. "Run!" he urged his mare again.
His bay's hooves clattered as the animal left the sand for the road--and then men's angry shouts overrode the noise of hooves on brick.
Holy nomads blocked the road. Thousands of sheep and goats filled not only the cobbled path, but the sand-covered shoulders on either side of it, too.
The slaver paid no heed. He bolted into the middle of the holy flock. Sheep screamed and tried to flee, but they had no place to go.
The nomads bellowed in rage and pointed at the fleeing man with their canes. The slaver urged his horse through the terrorized sheep. The earsplitting bleats and scent of goat piss wafted through the hot air. The coppery odor of blood mingled with it.
The holy nomads began to ululate. Fury and anger laced the sound, and the high-pitched wails echoed off the rocky walls.
Axel sat back, knowing he'd caught his prey. He couldn't see past the sheep into Marotiri proper, but he knew its citizens wouldn't welcome this fake trader--not covered in sweat and blood, not with the nomad's ululations clinging to the air around them.
He was wrong again, though.
By the time Axel edged his horse around the periphery of sheep and into the city, the slaver was gone. Had someone helped him, or did he have a plan? A single horseman on a sweat-lathered and winded mount couldn't just vanish in a city square filled with people.
For a moment, rage rushed though him. How had he lost his quarry? But he pushed the anger away.
Focused now, Axel scanned the ground. Well-laid cobbles provided roadways, but Marotiri sat in a desert, and sand lined the street edges. Cobbles wouldn't hold a track, and neither would dusty sand, but wet sand...
With a start Axel found a clue just near his mare's hooves: the arc of a hoofprint in the dry sand. Had his own horse made it? He bent over her neck and looked. No, her feet were as dry as the surrounding dust.
Pausing for a second look, he noticed the deep red color of the print. Blood. A horse that had just galloped through sheep's blood would have made a dark red curve like this.
Where did they lead? His eyes followed the tracks north. The chase was on again!
But Axel flashed a glance at the city guard. The soldier wouldn't want a slaver here, Axel knew--but would he trust the word of a white man, a white trader? Axel doubted it, and he didn't have time to find out. Ignoring the mounted guard, Axel pointed his mare toward the prints and pushed her to a trot. He'd do this alone.
"Hey!" one the guards called to him. "You there! On the bay horse! Stop!"
But Axel didn't stop. He nudged his mare into a canter.
"Hey!" the guard called again. His voice echoed off the brick walls. "You there! Stop! Show your papers."
Axel snorted. Papers, indeed. Why should he have to prove he was a free man? Did any of the black faces around him have to prove it?
Axel was beyond obeying. His mare's ears were back now. She was on the trail. The hindquarters of a horse--a dun with a black tail--vanished as its owner turned a corner. The slaver was heading into the potters' quarters.
Axel galloped past streets of shelving, each bearing pottery. Stacks of blood-red bricks, unfired and wet, lined the street.
"Slow down, fool!" A woman pelted him with a handful of wet clay. It slid down his arm. "You'll buy this if you ruin it."
"Apologies!" he shouted, but he didn't stop. He could see the horse he was chasing. It was a Barbarian, just the same as he'd seen in the desert, and sweat lathered its sand-colored coat.
"You on the bay, stop now!" The guard called again. Axel heard the sound of a sword being pulled from its sheath. As long as the soldier wasn't throwing spears or daggers...
Suddenly the narrow road he'd been following opened up, and a huge statuary fountain stood before him: an oversized naked woman standing in front of a wall. Water poured down the wall in a clean sheath. It also flowed over her breasts and filled the brimming pool with a loud splatter. The street ended here.
"Hey!" Axel shouted. "Stop!"
But the slaver ignored him as much as Axel ignored the city guard. His quarry galloped straight toward the fountain wall, and Axel's heart pounded. He had nowhere to run.
"Stop!" Axel called to the man again, knowing it was futile. He pulled his dagger from his belt and prepared to throw it.
The man still didn't stop, didn't alter his path. Instead he rushed right toward the wall of rushing water.