By day, Alric is a fearless warrior who rules his people fairly and protects them fiercely. But when the full moon rises, he becomes that which he hates -- a beast whose ferocious impulses he cannot control.
Caasi belongs to a wandering people who have set up camp on Alric's land. From the moment she first catches sight of the lord of the land, she is enchanted by him. And he is no better off -- it's no wonder his people call her a witch.
Alric is desperate to find an end to his curse, and he calls upon Caasi to help him. But as a mysterious old crone has hinted, only he can free himself...
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Cursed by Moonlight by Melissa Lopez
Caasi drained the last of the wine from the goblet with a sigh. The drink had been sweet and refreshing. Just what she needed to soothe her frayed nerves. The night crawled by with little hint of ending.
The clan of Glanworth was a rowdy tribe.
But something else unnerved her. Something she dared not explore. Setting the empty container down, she moved to a quieter corner for a moment's rest. She didn't get far before the old man who'd earlier spent much time staring stopped her progress. He clasped her arm. "I wish to speak to ya."
Assuming she'd been taken for a woman who'd allow a tumble for treasure, she glared fiercely. How often had she been taken for a whore? The old fool. "I'm no whore." She silently urged the man to release his hold. If he didn't, her ever-on-guard brother would start a fight.
The wiry hand dropped away. "Nay, girl, we've got plenty of willing wenches." He reached up and smoothed down the scraggly beard that covered his face and trailed down his chest. Suspiciously, he looked around the hall before he lowered his tone. "I've need of a witch."
A breath rushed through her nose. Rarely were she or her people confronted so boldly without intent of malice. And then, normally someone wound up dead. People were of a superstitious nature, and when they didn't understand another's way of living, they turned ugly.
"'Tis what ya be, ain't it?" His light eyes narrowed. "A witch?"
With pride, she lifted her chin. "Some have called me such." To her people, she was the granddaughter to a great wise woman, still a fledging, learning the craft of magic. Only at her grandmother's passing would she take her rightful place as a wise one. Only to outsiders was she known as a witch.
"Good." The man's smile showed missing teeth. "I'm called Godric."
"I'm named Caasi. You wish me to heal someone? Tell your future?"
"There be nothing but my death left for me." He laughed with a shake of his head. "Even I can see I'm an old man."
A smile tugged her lips. She could see Godric meant her no harm. His crinkly eyes and tone set her at ease. He reminded her of her uncle. "What do you wish then?"
"After you meet my lord, we'll talk." Falling in step behind the man, she glanced back to catch her brother's familiar gaze.
As expected, keeping to the shadows, Nassar followed. At Lord Glanworth's chamber, Godric entered with barely a knock. She followed after reassurance Nassar would be a sentinel.
The lone man sitting in the chair stood at her entrance. Not daring to look at any one man--let alone the lord--too long, she'd stolen only peeks at him earlier. Now she couldn't tear her gaze away as sweet sensations she wasn't accustomed to burst to life low in her belly. As her breath quickened, her mouth went dry.
A powerful man stood before them. He radiated strength with his broad shoulders and height. He would tower over many of her people, probably many of his own. She appreciated his wedge-shaped chest and brawny arms. His long brown hair hung in a loose tail down his back. This allowed her to look her fill at his face. The strong lines held no scars, no imperfections. But his green eyes were most arresting.
"Godric?" His big hands rested on his hips while the lord's mouth tightened. "Why have you brought her here?"
Unprepared for his direct stare, she straightened under its weight. She'd seen the hunger in his eyes before. Instinct that had been nurtured since childhood took control. The man had eyes that missed nothing. He had the eyes of a wild pack animal on a hunt. Every sense she had, every piece of her body, screamed at her to run.