Adored Excerpt

Excerpt from Adored, third book in the Pride of Uttor series.

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“My father is getting old,” Vallmer said, “and I see the day coming when I must take the throne. I would like to do so with a wife at my side. My father gave Benarri three sons. Now my subjects will look to me to provide another generation of princes.”

“You know, your father didn’t do it alone.” Adora somehow made the words encouraging. “Men may require a female to bear a child, but a wife should be more than a womb.”

“Mine must bring a womb along with an alliance, and—better yet—great wealth or lands.” He sighed and looked at the city again. “What I am seeking isn’t romantic, it’s practical. As such, it should be doable. I shall not be too great a burden as a husband, and the position I offer is a good one. It’s just—”

“Have you ever had a normal relationship with a woman? Or any relationship at all?”

What did she mean? “I’ve known many women. Most politely, and some less so.”

“Less so was for sex, I take it?”

Did she really expect him to answer so personal a question? Apparently she did, because she was giving him the most provocative smile, one that said she knew she’d put him on the spot. His answer, however, would be too revealing.

She laughed again, but the sound was warm, embracing. “You know, sex doesn’t have to be impolite. It’s a little undignified, but—”

“Which is why it is private.”

“Yes,” she agreed, and cocked her head, reassessing him. “Yes, it is.”

“Why are we talking about this?”

“You tell me.”

Now that would be dangerous. He was talking to her about sex because she made him think of it. Because Adora looked and sounded and smelled like a woman who might enjoy being with a man. Lorant had called her a slut, but Vallmer had never been fool enough to believe it. He had known all along Lorant could not abide being rejected by a woman who found him wanting. Vallmer liked that about Adora, that she was fearless about her opinions. He met too many women who were so completely deferential to men their thoughts could not be trusted.

“I talk to you this way because I feel I can talk with you about anything, anything at all. And because I feel this way, you can steer me into talking about anything you wish.”

Her smile beckoned him to thoughts he would do better to avoid. “Are you calling me artful, Prince Vallmer?”

“I am calling you fascinating.”

Their bodies were close enough he had but to turn his hand and he would feel her. As it was, oil lamps burned overhead and lent such warmth to the beckoning green depths of Adora’s eyes that he found it impossible to look away from them. From her. He watched the way her expression softened, rose-tinted lips parting with a pleasure that invited him to continue. Realizing he was wondering what it might be like to kiss her, he moved to extricate himself.

“If I may ask a favor, Lady?”

“A favor?” Her necklace of gold and lapis lazuli beads led his eye from her shoulders down to the soft cleft between her mounded breasts. Now he must force from his mind the idea of kissing those, too.

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