Before I begin, I wanted to call attention to the Book Launch scheduled at BookPeople (Austin, TX) on August 11, 7pm. Hopefully, I'll see y'all there if you're in town. Okay. On to the snippet. Today, I think we'll go with a bit of something from Nels's point of view.
In this cut, Nels is a passenger on the Waterborne ship Lorelei. He's on a diplomatic mission of sorts. Also if you've read the previous novel, Cold Iron, you'd know he doesn't care for sailing much.
Nels had never intended to speak to anyone related to Lorelei. Given the situation, it was best that he remain belowdecks and out of sight, but his tiny cabin reeked, and he'd been desperate for fresh air.
"Lorelei doesn't take kindly to insults." The woman with the husky voice gave the ship a pat, and, speaking to it, said, "You'll forgive the elph for mucking up your sides, won't you, my love?"
As if in answer, the deck lurched and then dropped two feet. Nels fought for balance and failed. The woman clamped onto his arms. He staggered, and his face met the front of her shirt. The steadying force of her grip vanished, and for a moment, he pillowed his head in the scent of rosewater. Firm breasts pressed against his cheek.
She's not wearing stays.
She coughed. He snapped upright, and fierce human eyes the green of spring leaves took his measure. Dark hair parted into a hundred tiny braids curtained a crooked smile, and a scar traced a pale, narrow line up one dark cheek.
"You're a fine specimen. Big, too. I understand elphs have a certain reputation. Might be fun to see if your equipment measured to standard." She lowered her voice even further. "However, my crew is watching, and I value my post more than a good swiving---no matter how good." Her face went hard, her pistol bored into his tortured stomach, and the hammer on the flintlock clicked into place.
He raised both hands in the air.
"Time for introductions," she said loud enough for the others to hear. "I'm Captain Gaia Julia. I don't give a shit how much your man is paying. Touch me again, I'll kick you overboard and settle for the half he's paid. Understand? Or do I need to translate it into Eledorean for you?" Her finger didn't move off the trigger.
"I apologize," Nels replied in Acrasian. "I hadn't intended--"
"Good." She uncocked the pistol and secured the scrap of oiled leather protecting the pan from the damp before returning the weapon to her belt.
It's a long way to Norman Island, Nels thought. Too bad I can't swim. After a lengthy uncomfortable pause, he bit back his resentment and gave her his most charming smile. "Call me Gunnar."
She stared at his open palm as if he'd offered her a rotten fish and stalked off. "Get the hells below before this slop turns into a full-fledged squall."
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.