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Description: Tending the Spirit has never been so sexy. A Claimed story. As a tree singer, it is Shay-non's duty--and pleasure--to tend the chi of the few remaining trees left after the Cataclysm. Even if it means enduring the life-sucking presence of the greedy cybernetic elites who own them. But the moment she steps into Elite Sandor's compound, he throws her world into disarray. Instantly, she finds herself tricked into twenty-four hours as his sexual "guest", an infuriating prospect. Then he lets her see, but not touch, the magnificent oak in his possession. An oak that shouldn't exist. For one moment with the tree, she'll do anything--even submit to Sandor's attentions. Sand has waited years for Shay's unmet sexual needs to weaken her defenses enough to make his move. The time is ripe to begin a spiritual revolution, plus convince the lovely singer he has always loved her from afar--all in one day's time. A daunting task, especially since her earthy sexuality has him making all sorts of deviations from his plan. Now that he has her captive, he can only pray. That she'll agree to help him defy the Council and raise an illegal forest temple. And that she'll see past his sensual blackmail into his heart. Warning: This book includes brief references to m/m and ménage relationships. Some readers may be disturbed by references to a death during sex. There's also sex involving a tree that will forever make you smile when you hear the term "tree-hugger".
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: June 2009
52 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [139 KB]
Reading time: 85-120 min.
She stood, her black veil slithering reluctantly off the red velvet. Gathering herself, she did a body check. Red cap of hair smoothed, big brown eyes subtly tinted, lashes enhanced, lips gleaming with a tasteful nude gel. Her veil aligned around her body, a massive piece of transparent synthsilk that lay over her head and trailed on the ground around her. Synthsilk was the only material singers could bear to have near their bodies. Shay went nude when she was at home in her singer compound, but she preferred a veil when faced with strangers. She'd chosen black woven with filaments of silver. It darkened her form, and the glitter drew a person's eyes to her veil, not her bare skin beneath. She was good to go.
The lasered door went down, and to her surprise, a textured swath of steelron emerged from the trans-droid that swept through. The machine laid the pieces out quickly right to her very red toenails. It hurt singers to walk on plascon, a wholly unnatural chemical mix. Not many knew that. Gratefully, she stepped onto the cool metal. The texture was one of rounded nubs, which was interesting and energizing on her feet. The droid zipped in ahead of her, silent on its air cushion.
She heard the lasers sizzle into being as the hem of her veil passed the threshold. The elite with their layers of security. So paranoid, when they were the ones who were the greatest danger with their scheming and politics. She stopped. The entire foyer was laid with stone. Called marble, it was ancient, freezing with age and power. Her astonished gaze traveled over the smooth expanse, noting the wonderful imperfections that marked it of the natural world. Swallowing, she let herself be lost in the subtle shades of white and gray. Her breath was coming in little pants as she willed herself forward. Stepping off the pebbled steelron, she clenched her teeth against a moan of pleasure. Stone of the earth. Glorious. There were so few untainted resources left. The singers collected what they could, but the elite held more money, more power.
When she was able to focus again, she became aware of the man walking toward her from the far wall. His footsteps were an ominous drumbeat marking counter-time to her heart. He was slightly more original than the compound's architect. He wore black instead of gray. It matched his hair. He was as pale as she. With the air poisoned, no one could bask in the pure sun anymore, but even many singers roasted themselves under elite sunshine lamps. He too was barefoot, not typical of the elite she met. A wide, tall, solid column of black, he stopped just out of reach, a polite distance. His shirt was loose and looked soft. His pants looked even softer.
Mesmerized by the density of the fabric, she was reaching for it before she was aware of her own need. Her foot took one small step onto a cooler patch of marble. Then her mesh-covered fingers brushed the fabric above his stomach.
"Ohhh," she moaned. She was sure now it was cotton. This fabric had been alive. Warmed by the human presence under it, it was magnificent. She stepped closer, her hand flattening against a hot, hard torso. A strong body to match a strong life force, his chi. The whole of him hummed to her. She cursed her veil. She needed to be closer.
"Are you Elite Sandor?"
"I am. Greetings, Tree Singer Shay-non." His gravelly voice was textured, like the stone her feet pulsed against, like the black cotton.
She smoothed her hand over his ribs, pulling the cotton tight. Only when her other hand rose to join in the decadence did she realize what she was doing. Freezing, she took a step back, the marble's chill racing up her legs to wrap around her lungs. What had she done? Incredibly, her hands were still upraised as if fighting for the chance to touch him--no, his shirt--again. She forced them down, curling them into fists.
"My apologies. I have never seen cotton before. It took me by surprise." She had just laid hands on an elite, of her own free will. She held her breath.
"No apology necessary, Shay-non."
Her breath eased painfully from her frozen lips. Her brain still struggled to understand her loss of control. She raised her gaze to his for the first time. Her lips parted. Green. He had blessed eyes. And he was not fooled by the dark glitter of her veil. His stare burrowed right through it and pinned hers ruthlessly.
"It would of course be my pleasure to accept your request. I take you into my keeping." He waited, watching.
Her heart burst alive again in her chest. "Sir, I know you understand that I did not mean--"
He interrupted her by taking his hand out of his pocket. He held an irregular, thick glass that fit his huge hand perfectly. The latest in personal video-player models, it was very elegant. It replayed a distance shot of her reaching for him. Taking that extra step toward him. The next vid replayed the shot at a closer distance and a different angle, the awe and lust on her face clearly visible. Then it showed a devastating close-up of her veiled fingers, the short narrow nails unsteady, resting against him. Despite everything, her fingers pulsed with the need to return to him. Without her veil.
She tore her eyes from the damning screen to his steady regard. There was nothing for her to say. She had just signed her life away for the next twenty-four hours. Multi-Class Regulation Nine: Singer-initiated contact indicates a physical request the chosen elite shall attend to for one standard day. Shay closed her eyes. For the first time in her life, she'd been tempted. No, she'd been tricked. Trapped. Her stomach churned. The room dipped. She would not be sick. She'd grown complacent, unwary. Now she would pay.
The only thing that kept her from screaming was the lack of gloating in his face. No triumph lit his eyes and no smirk tipped his lips. He was a mask of calm.