I’m writing this edition of The Writer Gal Letter listening to Problem Girl by Rob Thomas. And I am grinning from ear to ear because, Postmate! I FINISHED Book #30something TEMPT! Well, I just finished the first draft of the book but still…after seven months and numerous hours of self-doubt and even more questions, I can now proudly call myself a writer all over again.
And the best part? By the time I wrote THE END on the first book of this cliffhanger duet, I had stopped being in pain – mental and physical. Well, apart from today when my energy levels have been sucked down to subzero due to the heat here in my city and the comedown from finishing this major milestone book for me! Apparently, exercising, eating well, and sleeping on time are all actually good for you! Color. Me. Surprised, Postmate.
ANYWAY, I am too tired to get super chatty with you today! So I’m leaving you with the whole, yes, the WHOLE prologue of Tempt in case you’re not keen on downloading the sampler (pink button below) and reading the extended Tempt sampler edition that I’ve released just for you.
I will also be sharing two more chapters in coming editions of The Writer Gal Letter over the next few days, so if the sampler thing isn’t your scene, I have you covered with the book :d Be on the lookout for TWGL in your Promos tab or worse, SPAM! (I know, right? How dare they?)
Do check out these totally cute Barbiegram graphics I’m throwing up on social media! I love Barbie and the Kens. It all works so much :D And then read the whole-ass prologue!
Tempt Prologue (Unedited and subject to change)
He dreamed of death and violence.
Of bones breaking and blood spattering on a ground soaked with it.
He could feel himself bunching the muscles of his hand to an iron-clad fist. The thing that pumped into his veins, a poison that couldn’t just be blood. Not when he was filled with unnamed rage. His fist tightened, the knuckles standing out in stark relief. As did the veins snaking out of his very skin, trying to come out.
And strangle the man, the opponent, foolish enough to think he could beat the man they called Chattaan – Fortress. For his ability to take all the beating in the world before felling his opponent.
He raised his fist. A mighty god filled with untrammeled power.
And he looked down at the man, the puny mortal who was bleeding and broken in front of him. Weaving on his feet, one eye shut from the blows he’d rained on him, almost certainly breaking the delicate cheekbone. His lip split apart so a steady stream of blood trickled down.
At that moment, he didn’t feel his own bruises. The single rib that was broken in three places making it hard for him to take a goddamn breath. The bone from the rib had punctured his lung so blood poured from his own mouth. In an ending stream. His other shoulder was dislocated, hanging useless from its socket.
But he was still on his feet. He could still make a fist.
So, he’d done it.
“Please…stop,” the man in front of him mumbled. He was in piteous shape. Truly.
One of his fingers was bent out of shape and he’d heard a bone crack on the guy’s abdomen when he’d pummeled his kidney.
He just hoped the damage wasn’t permanent. But it was a vague hope. One he didn’t even believe in, himself.
It was the hope of a nice guy. One who didn’t break bodies and souls and spirits for a living. It was the hope of the man he wanted to be.
The man he was, wasn’t that man.
He was death incarnate.
He raised his fist higher.
The man, his opponent, put his dukes up. His fingers creaking and groaning with the motion. He weaved again, this time out of intention.
It was no use.
He brought his fist down. A good hard roundhouse punch, thumb tucked in just like he’d been taught all those years ago by the best in the business – Sultan Dada. The bones of his hand made contact with the man’s chin and nose.
And physics did its thing.
Just like they showed in the movies, the man was jerked off his feet, unable to defend himself. His hand flailing, landing a weak hook to his chin that glanced away. The man flew a full foot in the air, the force of the punch taking him right off the ground. The man groaned a death groan as he went down. First his neck snapping back, followed by his vertebra and his abdomen and then his lower half followed.
He went down, as he was always going to.
And only then, only then did he hear the cheers and coarse slurs around the arena. Blood and gore and his own sick swam disgustingly inside him even as the ump raised his hand and declared him the victor.
He stood there for a second, not weaving, he wasn’t a weak-ass punk bitch. He’d stand on his two feet.
And only then he lay down so the ground could swallow him whole. The screams of the crowd playing in his mind like the cacophony of hell.
And the cacophony had just one name.
“Nashit,” he heard again. Soft and insistent. The most beautiful voice in the world.
He stirred, his blood still pumping hard and fast from the dream he was half buried in.
“Nashit, wake up.” A warm, soft hand touched his open chest. Quested for his fast-beating heart.
He snapped his eyes open at the action.
Stared into eyes the color of whiskey warmed by the firelight. Rich and somnolent. Addictive. Ruinous.
“Pehelia.” His voice was hoarse, far too intimate for it to be proper. From arousal. From bloodlust. He caught her wrist with a grip that was just short of punishing. “Ki korche?” He lapsed into Bengali, because his waking mind couldn’t comprehend seeing her here.
What are you doing?
He’d asked her. But he was screaming it inside.
She was too close. Too hot. Too alive.
“It’s nearly four am. I saw you sleeping here, outside. So, I came to check on you,” Pehel answered.
He sat up, quickly buttoning up the cotton shirt he’d opened while sleeping. And almost dislodged her from where she’d been kneeling over him.
He wished he could scramble away from her without it looking like a weak-ass punk bitch move. He was not himself. His brain still caught up in the last moments of killing some faceless man like he’d done countless times just a few a years ago.
He was on edge.
And she looked ready to be needed in her sleep shorts that showed all her curves (and she had not shed any of those even now) with the lacy bows on the shoulders, the tops of her breasts just barely peeking above the lacy neckline.
Nashit lowered his eyes.
Bastard, his conscience whispered. You’re a bastard for looking at her like that after dreaming about killing a poor motherfucker. She’s young. Untouched. Innocent. How dare you?
“Quaoar is about to give birth any minute,” he murmured. Still unable to look at her, willing his blood, his body to cool the fuck down. “So, I thought I’d stay down here and make sure she’s okay. Not alone.”
“Oh, that’s so kind of you.”
He could hear the smile in her voice. The warm appreciation for the nice thing he’d done. And he despised himself.
“What are you doing here, Pehel? It’s too late and too cold to be wandering around like this.” He was still hoarse, a little harsher than he meant to be. But dammit, he needed a second to get himself under control.
“Like what?” She gestured at her chest again. “This?” Pehel grinned. “Welcome to global warming. It’s hot in winter.”
And his whole body tightened. As if he was going to fight the fuck out of her. And, sometimes, when he was in his worst moods he wanted to. Those were the times he took a horse, the worst, most violent of them all and rode far, far away. So, he wouldn’t touch her. Wouldn’t corrupt her.
Because, far too often, especially this winter when she’d turned eighteen, she would look at him. All soft and appreciative. Inviting.
He sprang up. And yanked her up in the same motion. Since she was almost a foot shorter than his six-three height, she wasn’t prepared for it, so she put her hand on his chest to steady herself. Her mouth, unpainted and so goddamn luscious it was like a mangosteen fruit ripe for the plucking, parted slightly.
“Nashit,” she breathed, a million dreams writ large on her expressive, open face.
She wasn’t conventionally pretty. Still carrying the pudgy fat from her adolescence on her rounded cheekbones. And her forehead was too high for it to be dainty. But some combination of her rosebud lips, whiskey eyes, soft button-like nose and springy brown curls always caught him off-guard. Made him feel simultaneously like a sinner for daring to look at her and so insanely protective he wanted no one else to ever see her.
Ugly twisted emotions scrambled for purchase in his sleep-deprived brain.
“How was your date with Gautam Bejhar?” he snarled at her. “I heard he took you to the nicer Café Leopold?”
Her smile dimmed. And now it was her turn to drop her eyes. Guilty for nothing more than going out with a young, filthy rich boy her parents had deemed appropriate for their young, filthy rich daughter.
“It was good. The momos weren’t as good as they are at Khalid Chacha’s.” She smiled, mentioning his favorite food of all time, dumplings, also called momos at their favorite food joint, just down the highway outside of town limits.
She nudged his shoulder with hers. The bow slid down with her action.
Nashit’s mouth watered. Even as he thought of all the ways he could do undo the lace – with his fingers, his teeth, just his lips…lay her down on the stiff bale of hay and lower the lace some more while he…
He sat down abruptly. And since he was holding her, she sat down with a bump next to him. But, bless her, she didn’t mutter or complain about her barely-clad butt making contact with the cold ticklish grass.
Pehel had always been willing to go to any lengths to stay with him.
“You know why you get to go Leopold with Gautam and have to go to a place halfway out on the highway with me?” he asked her idly. “Because your father will kill you first and then me if he saw me taking you to Leopold in full view of the townspeople. But he doesn’t mind it when it’s Bejhar.”
Ruthlessly pinning his own thoughts down into a dark, depraved corner never to be visited in the light.
“You’re in a mood.” Pehel sighed. But she didn’t refute him. Because he was damnably right.
Pehel wasn’t like her brother, the rebel. She didn’t draw attention to herself by defying authority. No, she was agreeable to a fault. Even going out with a socially acceptable date when she had zero interest in him.
Now, she drew her legs up and placed her chin on her knees. Her shorts slid dangerously down to reveal the curves of her inner thigh. Immediately, she tugged them down.
He sighed. “Why’d you do that?”
Pehel shrugged. “Dad doesn’t like it when I sit like that.”
All the hot ice around his heart melted. He squeezed her wrist. “Your dad’s not here. Sit however you want, okay?”
She turned around and rubbed his knuckles. “Okay.” Her voice wobbled. “Thank you.”
Even though she was temptation personified for him, he wouldn’t make her feel for one second that it was her responsibility or even something she had to ever think about when she was with him.
She got enough of that shit from her father over the clothes she wanted to wear. Just because she was not the conventional kind of pretty or beauty with their stick straight figures and size zero obsessions. She was real. Holdable.
He turned away from her and looked out into the peaceful cool night.
Fog two feet thick wafted up from the ground, like a siren trailing song over everything she touched. As far as the eye could see and he had perfect eyesight, was Bhatnagar land. The Farm’s land. Ancient trees and fields for sowing feed and carefully manicured lawns dotted the land for over twenty-five thousand acres.
He mapped it all out in his head having walked or ridden or driven through most of it since he was eleven years old and had first stepped foot on The Farm.
Floodlights dotted the land randomly casting ghostly shadows on the hulking structures – the barns, the feeding areas, the corrals, and the training areas. All of which contained a large, stylized B – stamping the brand of The Farm on everything that moved and everything that didn’t.
The brand on Nashit’s chest, a tattoo he’d been given when he was nineteen and had formally been asked to join The Farm throbbed dully. A reminder of his place in her life. And his.
On the other side of Pehel, were wood and cement structures that held all the precious cargo and product Bhatnagar Stud and Racing Farm sold – winning Thoroughbreds.
Some of them were so precious they had air-conditioned quarters while some of the farmhands didn’t even get a goddamn ceiling fan in the bunkhouses.
“Get inside, Pehelia,” he spoke gently. “You’re not dressed for the cold. Come on, don’t be stubborn. Please?”
Pehel gave him a knowing look. Her eyebrows had a thick line of hair between them. She’d not yet learned to groom them carefully. Not like some of the girls he’d met at the arena who were waxed and plucked everywhere.
He liked that about her.
There was no artifice about his Pehel. She was authentic. Original. Just her.
“You could warm me. Give me a hug,” she shot back cheekily.
His lips twitched. Like she wanted them to.
Cautiously, very aware of the sparse distance between them, he put one arm around her shoulders and rubbed the side of her arm. Felt the fucking lacy bow move with the friction. Felt himself grow hard at the gesture.
He stopped the caress.
Pehel murmured in protest.
“I have to go check on Quaoar.” He stood up. “You should really go inside and get some sleep.”
She watched him from the corner of her eyes. “One of these days,” she said quietly. “I won’t be there to wake you up, Nashit. What will you do then?”
He worked up a wicked smile for her, one that was full of teasing and sarcasm. While the poison that pumped life into his body froze solid at the idea of Pehel not being there. The one constant to his days and nights. Her trusting face, her sunshine smile belying the crappy treatment she got from her father while her mother did her own thing for the last two years.
He loved his sister, Sonia, and she was the light of his life, he’d give anything to protect Sonia. But Pehel? Pehel was his prize. His lodestar.
“Honestly, my dear,” he drawled like an honest to goodness cowboy. “I wouldn’t give a damn.”
Pehel chuckled. Low and sweet, mindful of the sleeping horses and dogs. “Bastard. I’ll go inside now. The Almighty will stir in twenty minutes,” she referred to her autocratic father and Nashit’s boss, Krishna Bhatnagar.
Nashit chuckled this time. He never failed to, when she called her father Almighty. And it was nothing less than the truth. The man was omnipotent when it came to Bhatnagar Farm. Not a blade of grass or a horse’s forelock or a person’s hair moved without his permission.
The notion that he could be anywhere near Pehel Bhatnagar, daughter of the richest and most powerful man in town was pathetically laughable. Dangerous.
Pehel walked away, her steps slow and unhurried, bird-like as she crossed the lawn.
He imagined she stopped because he’d called her name, her special name, Pehelia…and turned to look back at him. But the truth was, she always stopped to see him. One last time.
Then she gave him a small wave which he stubbornly didn’t return. Sticking his fingers in the pockets of his torn wet and tented-in-the-front jeans. The less he encouraged her, the better it was for both of them. She wasn’t young anymore. A child anymore.
She was eighteen. And he was nearly seven years older than her, and barely this side of a criminal. They were never meant to be.
And the sooner that message was received by all parties, the sooner he could move on. Live.
Stop giving a damn, the part of his heart that had somehow survived his childhood and adolescence whispered. He stopped watching Pehel and turned back to the task at hand.
She was right. The boss was coming soon, and it was time for him to remember that and do his job.
And just that.
That is all I have for you today, Postmate. I hope you are as looking forward to Tempt as I am to share it with you!
Till then, stay safe and awesome,
I need to read it again before commenting on the writing, but the cover art in fantastic!