Healer’s Garden

I tripped across two new reviews for Healer’s Garden.

The first is from The Pagan & The Pen Book Reviews. They gave Healer’s Garden four cards and Kim had this to say …

“Healer’s Garden was an easy, enjoyable read …All in all, the sex is steamy, the romance touching, and the story entertaining. I found myself rooting for Brenimyn to find his heart’s desire, and change Jahara’s mind about a man and a woman having a loving relationship.”

The second comes from Just Erotic Romance Reviews. They gave Healer’s four stars and L. Yau had this to say …

“I certainly didn’t expect the the way the story ended though. It is a definitely original world, for what Ms. Pierce tightly wove, and created. There are multiple characters that were created, and explained within the plot of this lengthy story … This book is definitely something to savor over though. I don’t read science fiction/post apocalyptic plots as often, but this story was one I enjoyed.”

I’m very happy over both these reviews. And with that I thought I’d treat you to a new EXCERPT:

“Today I’d like you to do the breeder physicals.” Gabriella’s heels clipped along the tile floor. She detested this wing of the hospital only slightly more than the petite woman scurrying beside her. Jahara was here to ruin the Garden, she was sure of it. Why else would a woman of her advanced age, with such a prestigious pedigree, suddenly show up here?

“I realize how difficult it is to adjust to life in the Garden. It was unfair of me to ask you to work alone in the clinic yesterday.” She tipped her head, raising an eyebrow, forcing her lips to curve. Gabriella knew hatred pulsed in her eyes, but she didn’t care what this woman thought of her. “You must have been just worn-out.” Her insincere inquiry didn’t require a response and they both knew it.

Pushing open the door to the breeder’s clinic, Gabriella watched Jahara recoil from the overwhelming stench. The pungent odor of urine and sweat hung in the waiting room like a fog. Unlike the rest of the hospital, this wing was depressingly dark. No holograms brightened the drab walls of olive green. No plants sat cheerily filling the shadowed corners. The luminous ceiling was the only source of light in the dim room and even that barely penetrated the murky gloom. Gabriella insisted it remain that way. The naked men slumped in the metal chairs lining the walls and running down the center of the room deserved nothing more. They were repugnant creatures.

“Dr. Bresilee, such a surprise.” Standing quickly, the receptionist sitting at the dented metal desk across the room bumped his knee in his haste to greet them. “It is truly an honor to have you here in the well-check.” He limped toward them, his insignificant penis bouncing with the motion.

Jahara’s throat worked to swallow what Gabriella hoped was disgust. The man standing before them had no testicles. Perhaps the healer had never seen a eunuch. Gabriella hoped that was the case.

Her smile was genuine when she turned back to Jahara. “Collin, this is Dr. Hriznek. She’s new to the Garden of Serenity. She’ll be conducting the well-checks on the breeders today. I have given Sahannah the day off. Please be sure Dr. Hriznek has everything she requires.”

“I am pleased to meet you, Collin.” Jahara reached out her hand. “Please call me Jahara.”

Collin’s brows pinched, his gaze darting from Jahara’s hand to Gabriella then quickly about the room. Jahara’s polite gesture clearly confused him. Bowing again, he kept his hands clasped tightly at his navel, his bony knuckles white with nerves. “Dr. Hriznek, cherished of humans, gifted breeder of offspring, I shall be honored to provide for you today. Please call on me with any request.”

“That will do.” Gabriella dismissed him with a bored wave of her hand. “I will show her how to do the first breeder, be sure to keep the cubicles full. I know the schedule is busy today.”

“As you request, most honorable Dr. Bresilee. The first men are already in their places.” He shuffled back behind the desk.

Gabriella choked down her revulsion. She only needed to get through one physical, surely she could do that. Her first years at the Garden flashed back to her in snippets of satisfying memories. Men were such weak and stupid creatures. She held on to that thought as she led Jahara through an archway opening into a sterile room lined with stretchers separated by thin white curtains that had aged to a sickly yellow.

“Here we are.” Gabriella didn’t try to disguise the revulsion in her voice. She had nothing to hide from this woman. “Be sure to wear gloves, boxes of them are in all the cubicles.” Gabriella pulled plastic sheathing over her hands. “Well-checks require very little healing power. The gloves are designed to protect you from these…anim…I mean breeders.” Gabriella coughed. The biting male odor clogged her throat and made her gag. “The gloves are thin and once you become accustomed to them, they will be no hindrance.”

Jahara’s cheerful expression disintegrated. Perhaps the healer loathed men as well. That thought brightened Gabriella’s dour mood. Oh, this would be the perfect place for the woman who had been sent by her Dame to spy on them. She knew from the beginning, Jahara wasn’t here to bear offspring. Gabriella was nobody’s fool. Well fine, if the government wanted to see firsthand how she ran things, she wouldn’t make it easy on Jahara. She’d simply keep the healer with the male breeders where she would do the least amount of damage. It was her ability to spot minor nuisances before they became problems that had gotten Gabriella to the position she now held. And Jahara certainly had the potential of becoming a major pain in the ass.

In the 23rd century, after a virus has killed off a large portion of all females and nearly every male, continuing the human race has become a government concern. Healthy males are enslaved and kept as “breeders”. “Healer’s Garden” is the journey of a woman who’s empty heart finds love in the most unlikely of people. Please enjoy this excerpt …

Patience. That’s what was required of him. But damn, he’d been treading water a hell of a long time while he waited for destiny to change the course of his life.

Brenimyn didn’t enjoy these monthly exhibitions any more than he liked copulating with Kylie. Though she’d never admit it, she detested his touch. He didn’t mind. It was less confusing without emotions getting all tangled in their peculiar relationship.

Since arriving at the Garden three years ago, Brenimyn had become accustomed to arrogant women who thought they were the only intelligent creatures walking this earth. Kylie was a prime example of that conceited attitude personified.

To the women before him, he was nothing more than a stud. Stupid, beastly and-inhuman. Oh, if only they knew what he could do, they wouldn’t think themselves so superior, now would they? But the time had not come to travel that particular road. Preparations still needed to be made. In the meantime, he would swallow his pride and let the mauling begin.

“Their physiques are quite different from ours, not all cushy and round. Rather ugly if you ask me.” Kylie pulled off Brenimyn’s tunic and smiled up at him. “Sorry, Brenimyn. I know the truth stings.”

Forcing his lips to lift, he bent and kissed her cheek. “Nothing is as beautiful and sweet as a woman, Kylie. Not even the flowers in the gardens.”

“Thank you.” She callously patted his stomach with a cold hand.

“Now, Brenimyn is going to take off his breeches. Though you all studied anatomy in school, the first look at a man’s genitals can be shocking.”

Brenimyn untied the cords at his belly slowly, seductively. This was the only time he had control and he stretched the moments out until the females before him leaned forward in breathless anticipation. His eyes locked on the only woman in the room who seemed less interested in this whole charade than him. The raven-haired beauty actually looked lost despite the maturity lining her face. Her hand caressed her cheek even as he thought of her. Her eyes shifted uncomfortably around the room, not watching as the fabric pooled at his bare feet and the inevitable gasp of awe echoed off the walls.

“Please come up and have a closer look,” Kylie said. Her hand fondled his buttocks. Touch but don’t desire, this one is mine, her caress communicated to the breeders even as her lips curved into that plastic smile he’d come to despise. “My mate is a wondrous specimen.”

Brenimyn resented Kylie. He belonged to no one. Least of all her.

On shaky legs, the dark-haired woman approached with all the others. Her gaze searched everywhere but the one place he willed her to look-his face. For some reason, he wanted her to see him, not as a supplier of sperm, but as a man.

Like all the others, her eyes focused only on his physique. Her gaze slid over his well-defined chest he worked hard to maintain. She followed the small line of blond curls around his navel then lower. From her frank appraisal, he wondered if she had ever seen a human male as natural as the day he was birthed. This woman was no different from all the others. Disappointment slumped his shoulders.

Winding her fingers into the yellow mass of curls, Kylie’s fingers cradled Brenimyn’s testicles. “Touch everything, it’s all right.”

At Kylie’s tone, Brenimyn dropped his gaze to the floor. He worked to block out the uncomfortable flurry of fingers petting his skin. He thought again of the Governmental Body of the Garden and wondered how much longer they would keep him as head of the male breeding population if Kylie didn’t conceive soon. As much as he abhorred this display, he needed to be here. He was desperate to meet all the new women entering the Garden. After the mating ritual with Kylie, he’d circulate through the other instructing rooms under the pretense of checking his breeders. Surely the woman he sought would be among this breeding class. Although the girls currently giggling and fondling his body couldn’t really be classified as women, now could they?

Lost in his own thoughts, Brenimyn wasn’t prepared for the shock wave tearing through him like a jolt of electricity. He stared at the fingers trembling along his forearm then into the amber pools that had held his gaze since he entered the room. He wasn’t supposed to meet the women’s eyes when they were this close, but the unexpected tingle of awareness had broken his usually stoic concentration. The beautiful brunette looked at him through thick lashes as if she recognized him. Her mouth trembled with a smile. Did she feel it too? He studied her, trying to discern if she sensed the flow of knowledge rushing between them.

Writing is hard. Waiting for the first reviews to come out after your book is published is excruciating. I don’t write books to have them sit at my publisher … I write books to send them out in the world and hope people fall in love with them! Well, that’s the hope anyway. LOL!

So CeCe at Bitten by Books gave Shadows of Fire 4 tombstones and
said this …

“Shadows of Fire” is a page-turner. It is definitely full of action. Ree[s]e and Alex are likable and relatable characters.

Lisa at Night Owl Romance gave Healer’s Garden 4.5 and a TOP PICK and said this …

“Evil forces play into this story, with unexpected twists, turns, and a very pleasing resolution…This wonderful fantasy culture where women are dominant and men disrespected is a very interesting twist and carries a strong plot well. Strong characters, their struggles with ethics, justice, and morality, coupled with excellent dialogue and attention to detail, make this book a fantastic fantasy read!

The sex scenes were very well written – so hot, Hot, HOT!!!! Get the air coolers running!”

So squeeee! It makes me so happy when people like my stories. It makes me warm and smiley. And to top it off Ellora’s Cave offered me a contract this week. Yeeeeah, it’s been a good week so far and it’s only Tuesday!!

He understood she was his destiny.
She never knew a man was her future.

Yay! I LOVE RELEASE DAY! It never gets old … trust me! And this particular book is very close to my heart. I poured into the hero, Brenimyn all the traits I’d fallen in love with since I began reading romance in my early teens. And boy, did I have A LOT to share. I love Bren. I really do. And I think I found the feisty raven-haired beauty in Jahara who could give him a run for his money.

But this book is so much more than a love story. There’s an interesting twist on discrimination and social ignorance. It was really a challenge to explore that aspect of the story. And as a little teaser I’ll leave you with the blurb and a new excerpt (you can check out chapter one on the Jasmine Jade website).

BLURB:
In the female dominated society of the 23rd century, mating with a male, even if it is to save the human race, is a distasteful task and one Healer Jahara Hriznek has successfully avoided-but time and excuses have now run out. Obligated to reside at the procreation facility known as the Garden of Serenity, Jahara finds more than pleasure at the hand of the one man who refuses to leave her bed.

Brenimyn is a gifted breeding instructor at the Garden. Forced to copulate with all females who request his services, he’s tired of the sexist government enslaving men. He yearns to find the one woman who will fulfill his destiny and help him bring about social equality. When Jahara arrives with the new class of breeders, Brenimyn’s body immediately aches for her. But convincing the stubborn healer that sex is more than just an act for procreation proves to be a challenge he refuses to fail.

Jahara doesn’t want to enjoy the sinful rapture only Brenimyn brings to her body. Brenimyn has no intention of dousing the flames of desire licking at them until Jahara is completely his-mind, body and heart. But when the government finds their burgeoning relationship a threat to the natural order, there may be more than their stubborn wills at stake.

EXCERPT:
The sound from the crowd rolled up from the grass. The noise engulfed him like a thunderous storm. He had never delivered the words with such enthusiasm and confidence. Putting his arm around Jahara, he was showered with the strength flowing from her. He kissed her passionately, barely able to control the impulse to run his hands down her body and feel her respond to his touch. She melted into him and he held her until the noise diminished, satisfied in the minimal contact.

Knowing the next step would be the hardest, he hugged Jahara close to him. Her body tensed. She understood what was coming. “Most honorable friends.” He raised the book, waiting for the din to subside. “The time has come. We have waited and now it will begin.” Pausing a heartbeat, Brenimyn let the suspense hang in the air. “Men, no longer will we submit to the domination of the female gender.” The breeders whooped and raised their fists. “No more will we be treated as animals good only for increasing the female population.” Some men jumped to their feet. “We will no longer accept that we are not worthy of gifts and education.” Even with the amplifier, Brenimyn had to shout to be heard over the celebrating crowd.

“Women, you will no longer be forced to procreate for the sake of continuing humankind. Mating will be a choice, one’s body freely given to another for the sake of love, not obligation for reproduction.” Everyone was on their feet. “The time has come to stop ripping your children from your womb and your hearts.” He watched the pregnant women cradle their swollen stomachs. “We have waited long enough, the time is now.”

He let the crowd have their moment before lifting the book to silence them. The crowd settled back into the grass. The murmurs of approval still rippled over them like a pebble dropped in water.

“The prophecy says two great warriors, a woman and a man, shall join together to ready an army for a monumental battle. It will not be fought with weapons as our ancestors had done, but with intellect and cunning. This war will oppose all common beliefs and bring about a new world order where men and women, as equals, shall reign.” Jahara went slack in his arms. She braced her hand on his chest, her gaze flicking wildly about the people below. Holding her quivering body, Brenimyn knew only his arm kept her from collapsing. This was a burden anyone would find difficult to shoulder.

“Many visionaries have confirmed the prophecy. As you know, from a young age, I understood I would be chosen to begin the fight. I accepted the responsibility many years ago and have prepared the way, waiting anxiously for the woman who would stand at my side.” The crowd stilled, holding a collective breath, already knowing the words he would speak. Unsure of her reaction, Brenimyn looked down at Jahara. He watched her transformation in rapt fascination.

Stepping away from him, she stood with her feet planted, pulling herself up tall. She filled her lungs, her bare breasts held high. The dark triangle of her womanhood was visible through the gossamer fabric of her breeches billowing in the breeze. She looked so feminine. Yet, under the lifted chin and unpretentious set of her mouth, he could see the fierce warrior the visionaries had promised. She held her arms casually at her side, not at her hips in defiance as many would.

BUY THE BOOK

And don’t forget to check out the contest (in the upper right corner of my sidebar) I’m having to celebrate the release. 

Since Healer’s Garden just got it’s release date. I thought I’d share an excerpt with you from Chapter One …

May 2267

Jahara Hriznek’s life was over. The evidence weighed heavy in her hands. In the time it had taken to do the retinal scan, her future had been stolen from her.

As she stood at the tall bank of windows, staring at the distant mountains, Jahara knew nothing could change this new course of her life. She felt the hollow reality as obviously as the barren expanse of desert stretching between her and the horizon. There was nothing to break up the monotony of the landscape. Nothing to take her mind off the inevitability of the days to come. Nothing to bring back the future she’d thought lay before her when she woke this morning.

No helo-vehicles were out this time of day. It was still much too hot for people to leave the climate-controlled confines of the buildings in the city on the other side of the mountains. It would be a few more hours still before the sun sat low enough to make the commute across the blistering sands a safe one. Then the nearly empty roadway, three stories below, would bustle with solar powered helo-vehicles and buses.

She wouldn’t be among the commuters winding their way from the Eastern Territory’s capital city of Lexington into her little village. Jahara had taken a much-needed day of rest from the healing facility.

The city’s new government expansion had brought with it careless male workers whose stupidity forced them to the hospital in droves for emergency services. Those healers not completely repulsed by the men’s presence were forced to work overtime to treat the injuries. Jahara had been fielding complaints and filling in for overworked healers for weeks.

For one day she’d wanted to think about nothing more taxing than what music selection she would pull from her computer files. She’d planned on using some of her monthly water allotment and soaking in a hot bath rather than her daily chemical wash. Jahara had even considered calling Merenith and convincing her to take the day off from the animal clinic and lounge around with her. She had no doubt her current lover and she could find ways to entertain each other.

But none of that had happened.

The messenger service had shown up at her door early this morning, delivering the wretched news. Had she known they were making their way to her, Jahara definitely would have worked at the hospital today and long hours into the night. Using her hands to heal males was preferable to holding this retched projection disk.

Now, as Jahara glared at the palm-sized disk, fear burned the back of her throat and trembled along her chin. Hot tears of anger welled in her eyes. She shouldn’t be so upset. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t known this was coming. Her twenty-eighth birthday was next month. It was law. Her birth-mother, the Dame of her family, had held off the inevitable as long as possible. Jahara’s position as medical director had, up until this day, kept her from fulfilling the horrid obligation. But no woman, no matter how prestigious her position, ever ran from it. The thought soured in her stomach.

She’d known what the packet contained the moment she’d opened the door to find the government currier standing in the hall. Jahara had wanted to flee, to shut the door and hide from the responsibility, but instead she calmly leaned forward and let the android do the eye scan that proved the disk had found its way into her hands. She stared down at the official government seal over her Dame’s image on the disk. Even offspring of the chief administrator of the Eastern Territory weren’t exempt from this law enacted by Congress nearly a century and a half earlier.

Throwing the disk at the wall, she let out a feral sound of frustration.

As if chastising her, the bells chimed at her door. The normally soft chirp sounded loud in the silent womb of her living abode where she’d closed herself away. Jahara didn’t want to answer it. Didn’t want to know there was more to fulfilling her obligation. When it rang again, the sound almost persistent, she reluctantly skirted around the couch and slammed her hand on the touchpad, retracting the pneumatic door.

“Having temper tantrums, I hear.” Merenith leaned in for a quick kiss. “I heard you all the way down the hall.” The short crop of blonde swished about her chin as her lover shook her head in disbelief. Her pouty lips were pulled tight between her teeth to mask-humor? Concern? Jahara couldn’t be sure.

“You have no idea what kind of a day I’ve had.” Jahara stepped back and invited the willowy beauty through the door. “The worst day of my life, as a matter of fact.” As she passed, Jahara marveled as always at the beauty of Merenith’s body. A descendent of the Olakuma clan, Merenith’s ancestors had long ago lost any semblance of body hair. It was unnecessary in their life in the desert heat. Merenith’s skin was all tawny satin, save for the velvety blonde eyebrows and thick lashes that once protected her people from the harsh sand thrown up in the hot winds.

The woman stared at her, arching one of those elegant brows, the skeptical expression marring the flawless contours of her face. “Worst? I think you’re exaggerating just a bit.” Merenith bent to brush the dust of the desert from her heavy work boots.

“You have no idea.”

Straightening, Merenith tenderly pressed her lips to Jahara’s and wrapped her in her arms. The comforting scent of jasmine, hay and the animals Merenith tended filled Jahara’s nose. She pulled Merenith in tighter, wishing they could stay this way forever and ignore the projection disk.

Merenith might be four years her junior, but Jahara wanted to believe that what they shared was the stuff made of fairytales. At her age, Jahara was desperate to find the woman who would complement her in every sense of the word-a woman who could be the sun to her moon, the color on her drab canvas, the shadow that moved in synchronized harmony with her-a woman who would satisfy every part of her. She had hoped Merenith would become that person. But their relationship was still so new. There was no doubt fulfilling her obligation would have some affect on her career, but that she could rectify. Jahara just wasn’t sure she would survive if it stole from her the one thing she wanted most-true love.

Two years ago my first book was published. Mind you, it wasn’t the first book I wrote, but the one a publisher thought worthy to send out into the world. “Healer’s Garden” is one of those books that has been with me for a very long time.

Brenimyn is the hero of my dreams. No, he’s not perfect, but he certainly wraps his heart around Jahara’s and works very hard to get her to fall in love with him. *sigh* I don’t tell my other guys, but I think he’s my favorite hero of all my books.

“Healer’s Garden” received wonderful reviews when it was released and has gone through a complete rewrite which only improved, tightened and certainly spiced up the story! Here’s the new cover from Ellora’s Cave designed by the most awesome Seneca!

Isn’t it beautiful??

I just finished edits and got the wonderful news that this book will be released by Ellora’s Cave on JANUARY 13!!

Here’s the blurb:
In the female dominated society of the twenty-third century, mating with a male, even if it is to save the human race, is a distasteful task and one Healer Jahara Hriznek has successfully avoided-until now.  

Brenimyn is a gifted breeding instructor at the Garden of Serenity. Forced to copulate with all females requesting his services, he yearns to find the one woman who responds to his touch. When Jahara arrives with the new class of breeders, Brenimyn’s body immediately aches for her, but convincing the stubborn healer that sex between a man and a woman is more than just an act for procreation proves to be a challenge he refuses to fail.

Jahara doesn’t want to enjoy the sinful rapture only Brenimyn brings to her body. Brenimyn has no intention of dousing the flames of desire licking at them until Jahara is completely his-body, mind, and heart. But when the government finds their loving relationship a threat to the natural order, there may be more than their stubborn wills at stake.

Now I guess it’s off to update the book trailer and find some excerpts to share!

Oh, and Happy 2010 one and all. May it bring you enough tears to appreciate the good times, enough sadness to appreciate the joy, many hugs to wrap your life in warmth and love abundant to fill your heart to overflowing.

This week I’d like to share another excerpt from my futuristic erotic suspense novel, The Healer’s Garden. Currently available from Liquid Silver Books

He understood she was his destiny. She never knew a man was in her future …

The sound from the crowd rolled up from the grass. The noise engulfed Brenimyn like a thunderous storm. He had never delivered the words with such enthusiasm and confidence. Putting his arm around Jahara, he was showered with the strength flowing from her. He kissed her passionately, barely able to control the impulse to run his hands down her body and feel her respond to his touch. She melted into him and he held her until the noise diminished, satisfied in the minimal contact.

Knowing the next step would be the hardest, he hugged Jahara close to him. Her body tensed. She understood what was coming. “Most honorable friends.” He raised his arm, waiting for the din to subside. “The time has come. We have waited and now it will begin.” Pausing a heartbeat, Brenimyn let the suspense hang in the air. “Men, no longer will we submit to the domination of the female species.” The breeders whooped and raised their fists. “No more will we be treated as animals good only for increasing the female population.” Some men jumped to their feet. “We will no longer accept that we are not worthy of gifts and education.” Even with the amplifier, Brenimyn had to shout to be heard over the celebrating crowd.

“Women, you will no longer be forced to procreate for the sake of continuing humankind. Mating will be a choice, one’s body freely given to another for the sake of love, not obligation for reproduction.” Everyone was on their feet. “The time has come to stop ripping your children from your womb and your hearts.” He watched the pregnant women cradle their swollen stomachs. “We have waited long enough, the time is now.”

He let the crowd have their moment before lifting his hand. The crowd settled back into the grass. The murmurs of approval still rippled over them like a pebble dropped in water.

“The prophecy says:  two great warriors, a woman and a man shall join together to ready an army for a monumental battle. It will not be fought with weapons as our ancestors had done, but with intellect and cunning. This war will oppose all common beliefs and bring about a new world order where men and women, as equals, shall reign.”  Jahara went slack in his arms. She braced her hand on his chest, her gaze flicking wildly about the people below. Holding her quivering body, Brenimyn knew only his arm kept her from collapsing. This was a burden anyone would find difficult to shoulder.

“Many visionaries have confirmed the prophecy. As you know, from a young age, I understood I was the chosen one. I accepted the responsibility many years ago and have prepared the way, waiting anxiously for the woman who would stand at my side.” The crowd stilled, holding a collective breath, already knowing the words he would speak. Unsure of her reaction, Brenimyn looked down at Jahara. He watched her transformation in rapt fascination. 

Stepping away from him, she stood with her feet planted, pulling herself up tall. She filled her lungs, her barebreasts held high. The dark triangle of her womanhood was visible through the gossamer fabric of her breeches billowing in the breeze. She looked so feminine. Yet, under the lifted chin and unpretentious set of her mouth, he could see the fierce warrior the visionaries had promised. She held her arms casually at her side, not at her hips in defiance as many would.

All this happened in a matter of seconds. 

“I present to you today, my mate–the honorable Jahara Hriznek. She is the one sent to save us from the tyranny of the Governmental Body of the Garden.”

Bowing before the thunderous crowd, she accepted the accolades with humility. Brenimyn was sure his heart would burst with love for the brave woman standing not above him like so many other females, but at his side.

The Healer’s Garden was my debut novel. First contract. First book cover. First release. First time I fell in love with a hero I created. Brenimyn makes me sigh. He was the subject of my fantasies years before I decided to write. That’s why he’s so special… just don’t tell my other heroes! 😉  Here’s an excerpt from one of the first times he meets our very confuse heroine, Jahara …

EXCERPT:
She slammed into the bathroom behind him. He hadn’t seen this much fight in a woman in a long time. He tried to rein in the hope blossoming in his chest. Calmly he shut the door and turned the faucets on at the sink and tub.

“Now, there may not be cameras in here, but the audio amplifiers in the other room are very sensitive,” he said. “The water will help drown out our voices, but I suggest you keep that raging storm of yours to a dull rumble.” He settled himself on the edge of the tub, crossing his arms and feet.

She wrung her hands and sputtered under her breath. The picture she created made him laugh. The rolling sound echoed off the tiles.

She stopped moving and stared at him. “What on earth could be so funny? I don’t think any of this is humorous.”

“You, Jahara. Just you.”

“What about me?”

“You’re fluttering around as if you’ve got bugs crawling on your skin and I find your nervousness over your first mating … cute.” Concern softened his voice even as his eyes searched and penetrated. “You’ve never been with a man have you?”

“I don’t believe that’s any of your business.”

“Oh, but it is my business.” He dropped his hands to the edge of the tub, hoping the relaxed posture would ease the tension sluicing off her in waves. “I’m the primary breeder responsible for training, and leader of the male breeding stock. When one of the partners for the first mating isn’t available, I take their place. It’s part of my responsibilities.” Of course Ishawny’s partner wouldn’t be home puking his guts out if Brenimyn hadn’t laced the man’s food with the vile medicine he’d stolen from his friend’s bag of herbs.

But Brenimyn had needed to meet this woman. He needed to know if the connection he’d felt arc between them yesterday had been real or a figment of his overzealous imagination. He’d put his plan in action the moment he’d found out she’d requested a breeding guide.

“But you’re Kylie’s mate. Even I know I can’t usurp another woman’s claim on a breeder,” she said, her doe eyes full of confusion and fear. “Why have you come to me?”

Now that was a loaded question. One he couldn’t answer without scaring her. She wasn’t ready for complete honesty. “I’m responsible for making sure the first copulation is pleasant.”

She turned from him, her voice barely above a whisper. “Perhaps we don’t need to do this tonight? You see, I’m already committed to another.” Jahara waved her ring finger in the air. “I didn’t choose to come here.”

“Jahara, few choose the Garden.” Least of all the breeders forced into slavery, he wanted to add, but knew it wasn’t prudent. “You realize you can’t put off the inevitable. Tonight, tomorrow, next week, eventually you will be expected to mate in front of the cameras.” Brenimyn wanted nothing more than to take this frightened woman into his arms and show her the strength of a man. But she wasn’t ready for what he wanted to give her.

He couldn’t resist reaching out to her with his thoughts.

Her hand fluttered to her cheek. “I…” She turned and fear flashed across her brow.

“Jahara, being with a man isn’t so horrible.” He rose and walked to her, his hand stroking the spot his mind had touched. “Don’t you feel the chemistry between us?” A frisson of awareness sparked from her cheek up his arm. His suspicions were confirmed. Jahara was the one who’d been sent to fulfill his destiny.

So, I’m going to start a new weekend blog post. Saturday selections. I rarely post excerpts from my books. So for the next few months I’ll offer snippets from my various books. This week’s selection is from my futuristic erotic suspense, The Healer’s Garden. Please enjoy …

She slammed into the bathroom behind him. He hadn’t seen this much fight in a woman in a long time. He tried to rein in the hope blossoming in his chest. Calmly he shut the door and turned the faucets on at the sink and tub.

“Now, there may not be cameras in here, but the audio amplifiers in the other room are very sensitive,” he said. “The water will help drown out our voices, but I suggest you keep that raging storm of yours to a dull rumble.” He settled himself on the edge of the tub, crossing his arms and feet.

She wrung her hands and sputtered under her breath. The picture she created made him laugh. The rolling sound echoed off the tiles.

She stopped moving and stared at him. “What on earth could be so funny? I don’t think any of this is humorous.”

“You, Jahara. Just you.”

“What about me?”

“You’re fluttering around as if you’ve got bugs crawling on your skin and I find your nervousness over your first mating … cute.” Concern softened his voice even as his eyes searched and penetrated. “You’ve never been with a man have you?”

“I don’t believe that’s any of your business.”

“Oh, but it is my business.” He dropped his hands to the edge of the tub, hoping the relaxed posture would ease the tension sluicing off her in waves. “I’m the primary breeder responsible for training, and leader of the male breeding stock. When one of the partners for the first mating isn’t available, I take their place. It’s part of my responsibilities.” Of course Ishawny’s partner wouldn’t be home puking his guts out if Brenimyn hadn’t laced the man’s food with the vile medicine he’d stolen from his friend’s bag of herbs.

But Brenimyn had needed to meet this woman. He needed to know if the connection he’d felt arc between them yesterday had been real or a figment of his overzealous imagination. He’d put his plan in action the moment he’d found out she’d requested a breeding guide.

“But you’re Kylie’s mate. Even I know I can’t usurp another woman’s claim on a breeder,” she said, her doe eyes full of confusion and fear. “Why have you come to me?”

Now that was a loaded question. One he couldn’t answer without scaring her. She wasn’t ready for complete honesty. “I’m responsible for making sure the first copulation is pleasant.”

She turned from him, her voice barely above a whisper. “Perhaps we don’t need to do this tonight? You see, I’m already committed to another.” Jahara waved her ring finger in the air. “I didn’t choose to come here.”

“Jahara, few choose the Garden.” Least of all the breeders forced into slavery, he wanted to add, but knew it wasn’t prudent. “You realize you can’t put off the inevitable. Tonight, tomorrow, next week, eventually you will be expected to mate in front of the cameras.” Brenimyn wanted nothing more than to take this frightened woman into his arms and show her the strength of a man. But she wasn’t ready for what he wanted to give her.

He couldn’t resist reaching out to her with his thoughts.

Her hand fluttered to her cheek. “I…” She turned and fear flashed across her brow.

“Jahara, being with a man isn’t so horrible.” He rose and walked to her, his hand stroking the spot his mind had touched. “Don’t you feel the chemistry between us?” A frisson of awareness sparked from her cheek up his arm. His suspicions were confirmed. Jahara was the one who’d been sent to fulfill his destiny.

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