Today’s theme is apologies. Apology scenes are a lot of fun to write – so much emotion, especially if a big, bad, pushy alpha male makes one. I’ve written tearful, on his knees apologies, I’ve written sarcastic apologies, angry apologies, happy ones too. They’re rich with emotional content no matter how they’re done.
Today’s excerpt from INSATIABLE is from the beginning of the book when Daniel has first extracted Carina. They’re making their way toward the Portal to escape and she’s realizing he is nothing like the man he’d faked being only hours before. He gives an apology here, but he only halfway means it. Don’t worry, Carina can handle him.
PHANTOM CORPS: INSATIABLE by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2010, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing July 6!
Gaze glued to his body, her hands fumbled, but she managed to change into the simple gown he’d provided. It fit fine, and the fabric had been softened by age. Her skin had darkened, and from what she could see, her hair was now the same shade as her eyes. No one would expect to see her in the first place, but now she felt even better about their ability to remain undetected.
His muscles flexed and bunched as he moved. As he slid weapon after weapon onto his body. He was so taut and dangerous. Beautifully lethal and it stole her ability to think. His clothes fit his body well and even though she’d watched him strapping on all that gear, she couldn’t tell by looking at him.
“I never thought to carry a weapon there,” she said, and then he looked up. Their gazes locked, and she felt it all the way to her toes. This was how she wanted to look at a man. There was something there between them. It wasn’t the same sort of depth of want she’d witnessed in the loft, but it was not the calculating greed she’d seen on Hartley’s face either.
It had been less than a day, not even half a day since he’d been some fop bowing and scraping to her father. It seemed as if weeks had passed, as if worlds had slid between her and the woman she’d been before the first moonrise. Instead of Mortimer, or even the man who’d introduced himself as Daniel in her bedchamber, he was some-thing else again. Capable. Aggressive. Hard. This Daniel was posing as a boot maker, he’d told her. Ha!
She’d had boots made for her over her lifetime, and none of the men who’d crafted them ever looked like Daniel. She might have worn boots more if they had.
“Ready?” Daniel, broke his gaze away from her face as he looked her up and down. He made a sound and stepped into her space, fussing with her hair. She tried to pull back, but he held on, yanking just a bit harder than he needed to, and she slapped at his hands.
“I don’t appreciate being manhandled.”
“Too bad. Look, you’re sheltered obviously, but common people don’t have that sort of hair, not the way you have it styled. What woman who had to work all day long would have the time to do something so ornate?” He took down the updo she’d created and began to braid it in the back.
It felt . . . intimate to have his hands in her hair that way. Even as she wanted to be angry at him for handling her as if she were a doll or a thing, he was gentle once she held still. She didn’t get touched very often. Other than her mother and YaYa, no one hugged her tight or touched her with absent affection.
She slammed the door on that. If she went that way, she’d only end up more upset.
“There.” He stood back, and she patted his work, finding it more than satisfactory.
“Do you braid your wife’s hair?” Well, that was very obvious. She fought a blush and thanked the low light of the room.
He took a few more steps away and the distance yawned between them and then she felt like a fool, wondering if he’d misinterpreted what she’d said. Or interpreted it correctly.
“No. My sister has very long hair though, like yours only dark as obsidian.” He shouldered his gear and motioned to hers. “Grab your pack. I can’t carry it for you.”
“I don’t expect you to!” That bag held what little she could safely take with her. She’d hold it and keep it safe herself.
He rolled his eyes. “Stop being so offended all the time. You’re a workingwoman; you’d be expected to carry your personal pack. If it were heavy, I’d take it for you. But you have to remember your role here.”
It was right at that very moment when she promised herself that she would never again live a lie or use masks with people unless it was absolutely necessary. She had a big job ahead of her, and she’d be alone. She owed it to herself to be a real person, the Carina Fardelle she was when she was alone in the passageways.
“In the first place, do you have another complaint to make? I’m bored with this one now.” She glared. “I’m not offended! You keep going out of your way to think I’m someone I’m not. It’s vexing. It’s like you want me to be offended. If I mess up, then do correct me, but you have no right to prejudge me. You don’t know me enough to think me spoiled and lazy.”
“Deal with it.” He turned and fussed with something in his pack, so she was content to make a face at his back.
She tested the weight of her bag; it wasn’t too bad. Offended! The only thing she was offended by was his assumption that she was offended in the first place. She hated that he thought she was a spoiled princess. Yes, she had grown up with things many others didn’t have, but she wasn’t so sheltered she didn’t know how to carry her own bags.
“Carina.” He kept his back to her.
“Yes?” she asked with mocking sweetness. He may have snorted; she wasn’t sure.
“You’re right. I apologize.”
Ugh! He was so infuriatingly unexpected. Before she could reply, Andrei came back into the room, and the moment had ended.
This time he faced her. “We’re going now. Follow my lead and remember, you’re not Carina, you’re Rina, and you’re my sister. I’m hoping they don’t find you missing for a while yet. At least until after we get checked in. But if they do, if we encounter anything dangerous, you have to trust me and follow my lead. Have your papers within easy reach; you’ll need to show them multiple times.”
She clenched her fists so her nails dug into her palms, just needing that sharp edge of pain to keep it together. Carina needed to remember that it was still some time until she’d be expected. There was no reason to go searching for trouble. They had enough already.
“Fine. I’m not stupid, you know. I’m educated and capable. And”—she arched a brow at him, reminding him she was more than some half-witted twit who couldn’t find her way from a wet bag— “I’ve been to other ‘Verses many times throughout my life. I’ve been on transports before. I’m also a qualified pilot.”
He stopped so close to her she felt the heat from his skin. So close she could scent him. That male whatever he seemed to exude—and it made her heart beat faster, her breath catch and all sorts of wonderful things happened to her nipples and her clit. She might have been embarrassed by that even just days before, but right then, she reveled in it.
He leaned his head down, just inches from touching her. She could almost feel his lips against her temple. How could his nearness make her so befuddled? It was as if the closer she stood to him, the more fluff-headed she felt.
“I don’t believe you’re stupid. I do believe I know more about this sort of thing than you do. In fact, let’s get this clear right now. You will give me your complete obedience in all things. Once this is over and you’re safely on the other side, you can do whatever you want. But until then, our lives are on the line, and all my concentration will be necessary to get us out of here. If you can’t do that, tell me now.”
She had a few things to tell him all right. “You’re such an ass.”
He grinned, and it infuriated her. Both that he was so arrogant and pushy and that her body seemed to find those things attractive.
“I’ve been told this a time or two. I may not have the best manners of any man you’ll meet. Then again, I’m not a torturer either. In any case, I’m the best hope you have of escaping, so let’s just get to the point where you agree, and we can get going.”
With a barely restrained growl, she clamped her lips and nodded. “Fine.”
“Then let’s move.”
And they went from the quiet little room out into the city again, surrounded by noise and people. Andrei touched his forehead with a slight bow and then turned to Daniel.
“Travel safe, friend.”
Before she could say another word, Andrei had melted into the crowd and she lost sight of him. She swallowed hard at the unex- pected swell of emotion at the loss of someone she’d only known for a short time.
Daniel squeezed her hand a moment and tipped his chin toward the departure decks, and she took the big, scary step into her future.
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