Excerpt #2: TEMPTED by Elisabeth Naughton + Giveaway

>To celebrate the release of my critique partner’s third book in the Eternal Guardian series, TEMPTED, she’s provided a nice sneak peek excerpt and we’re giving away 1 copy each of the first two books in the series plus matching bookmarks. Leave a comment to enter!

DEMETRIUS—He’s the hulking, brooding warrior his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length.

Isadora is missing. The words pound through his head like a frantic drumbeat. For her own protection, Demetrius did all he could to avoid the fragile princess, his soul mate. And now she’s gone—kidnapped. To get her back, he’ll have to go to the black place in his soul he’s always shunned.

As daemons ravage the human realm and his loyalty to the Guardians is put to the ultimate test, Demetrius realizes that Isadora is stronger than anyone thought. And finally letting her into his heart may be the only way to save them both.

Excerpt, Tempted

     “Aren’t we curious this morning?”

     Isadora’s heart lurched into her throat. She dropped the book, grasped the sword, and whipped around with her arm outstretched. The tip of the blade stopped centimeters from Demetrius’s bare chest.

     His eyes flicked down to the weapon, then lifted to rest on hers. “I see sleep did you well. You obviously remembered all those reasons you hate me.”

     Her heart pounded hard against her chest. Relief that it was him and not some monster pissed her off more than if she’d found herself face-to-face with a Hydra. “No, I just remembered your legendary cruelty.”

     “Very good, Princess.”

      His low, mocking tone clawed at her self-respect, heated her cheeks, and made her remember all over again what she’d done last night. With him. In this very room. The difference was, to her it had meant something. To him it was…

     She didn’t know what it was to him. A game, she guessed. One more way to humiliate her.
He took a step forward, until the tip of the blade pressed into his chest but didn’t break the skin. “Do it. Now’s your chance.”

     She wanted to. She was so angry she could barely see straight. Every one of his cruel words over the years crashed in to remind her of the thousands of times he’d belittled her. And that, coupled with the newfound fear over her sister, made her unsteady. But when he moved closer still, and the tip pushed deeper, she tensed. Her eyes shot to his chest and to the tiny droplet of blood that trickled down the blade.

     Her stomach rolled. Yes, she was angry, and yes, she hated that he made her feel anything at all, but she didn’t want this. She didn’t want to hurt him just because he’d hurt her.

     “Go ahead, Princess,” he whispered. “All you have to do is push.”

     Her eyes lifted to his, and though she saw indifference in his black irises, she also saw something else. Lurking deep, there lingered…regret.

      Her heart stuttered, caught, and picked up speed as she stared at him. The night before spiraled through her memory again, only this time she didn’t focus on his words. This time she focused on the look of desire in his eyes, the way he’d touched her, the fact he hadn’t been able to get enough of her. And she remembered the way he’d told her to tell him to stop, and when she hadn’t, how he’d finally let down his guard and taken her places she never knew existed.

     He’d wanted her, and it scared the crap out of him. So much, he’d reverted to his old ways to convince her he was the enemy. She lowered the sword, even as her heart raced beneath her breast.
“Your father’s right,” he muttered. “You’re no leader.”

     His words cut to the heart of her, to every one of her insecurities and what she feared most in this world. But she didn’t dwell on them. For whatever reason, he was trying to make her hate him. And his baiting words belied his actions. Those were what she focused on.

     She turned the sword and held out the handle to him. “Maybe I’m not. But I know a lie when I see one.”

      For just a split second, confusion crossed his features. And then the mask came up again, the one that said Fuck you to the world and Leave me the hell alone. But that wasn’t the real him. The real him was the one who’d rescued her more times than she could count, watched over her, and pleasured her so completely last night without taking a single thing for himself in the process.

     His fingers wrapped around the handle of the blade, and as he lowered it to the ground, she knew she had a choice. To let him go on believing that lie or prove to him he was wrong.

     She moved into him without a second thought. Just as she had last night, except this time she wrapped both arms around his waist and held on tight.

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