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Death & Beauty Teaser

The ancient, half-dead apple trees behind our 180 year old farmhouse are blooming!


And that reminds me of a scene in my forthcoming erotic fantasy romance based on the Norse myth of Odin’s son Baldr, Death & Beauty


Death & Beauty Teaser

It was late afternoon on the third day, the final day, and I was feeling damn near desperate. I’d asked to go for another walk in the orchard. This was where Hel seemed the least comfortable; for some reason, this orchard threw her slightly off her game. It was my last, desperate chance. Perhaps I could stumble on something out here.

“Are these all apples?” I asked. I’d given up trying to offer her some knowledge. Instead I was asking a thousand questions in this hopes she’d slip up.

Hel shook her head.  I wished I could ask her why the orchard made her uncomfortable, but after the icy end to yesterday’s little picnic I was trying very hard to keep from prying.

“So…pears? Cherries?”

The trees around us were flowering, filling the air with their delicious perfume. Soft, white petals drifted in the space between us, falling like snow.

She shook her head again, although I wasn’t sure if she was telling me I was wrong or if she was just trying to brush off the stray petals caught in her hair. She was wearing it loose today, and it tumbled down over her shoulders, softening the severe lines of her aggressively unflattering dress.

“Would you even tell me if I guessed?” I asked, with a smile.

The tendons in her neck flexed as Hel turned away from me. I had no way of knowing, of course, but now I was starting to suspect she did that when I actually succeeded in making her smile. I picked a blossom from a tree and brought it to my nose. It had a light, sweet fragrance. I examined it. Five soft, white petals unfurled casually from a pollen-laden yellow core.

apple blossoms 2

“Apricots?” I glanced at her.

She looked away so fast her hair whipped across her shoulders. At the same time her dress snagged on a log hidden in the thick grass, and she stumbled.

I moved without thinking, catching her arm in mine. It was only after I closed my hand around the twin bones of her skeletal forearm that I realized it didn’t feel right.

Her arm was warm and soft. Like skin.

She met my eyes and a deep red flush burned across her neck and cheek. Then she yanked her arm out of my grasp and stumbled backward, her face again a cold, impassive mask.

Maybe she wasn’t totally immune to my charms after all.

“Pardon me,” I said, holding my hands up in front of me. “I just didn’t want you to break your nose.”

Her lips twitched with the barest hint of a smile, and an absolutely insane idea bubbled through my consciousness.

“Oh, there is something I can teach you,” I whispered.

“Excuse me?”

I stepped closer to her, so close our bodies were almost touching. Her back stiffened, although she held her ground. I met her eyes, trying not to be distracted by the way her breath was suddenly coming faster.

“You’d have to trust me,” I said.

She laughed. It sounded forced. “Trust you? You really think you could do anything to hurt me?”

“I’d never hurt you,” I said.

I raised my hand and ran my fingers softly along the curve of her cheek. Her entire body shivered in response, but she didn’t back away.

“And we should be somewhere private. Where we won’t be interrupted.”

“I know all about sex,” she hissed. But her voice trembled.

“I’m sure you do,” I said. I dropped my fingers, tracing the curve of her jaw. “You’ve read all the books.”

She inhaled sharply as I ran my thumb down her neck. Her pulse raced under my touch.

“Stop,” she whispered.


Want more? You can preorder Death & Beauty now for just .99 on Amazon and tons of other places!

And stay tuned – this scene will continue on Janine Ashbless’s awesome blog next month. 😉

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