A Furious Muse
Book 1 of The Golden Key Legacy
Since the day of her birth, Princess Faedrah Austiere has been defined by her place within the kingdom. As the single heir to the half-blood gypsy king and his prophesied white queen, she is fiercely protected, shuttered inside an ivory castle and well-trained in the art of war. Yet neither her obligations as future queen nor the black infestation threatening her kingdom fail to hinder the mysterious pull of the antique armoire hidden in her parents’ bedchamber. And stealing the golden key for a leap through time is the only way to confront the dark lord haunting her dreams.
One face. The image of one defiant, relentless woman has been stuck in Rhys McEleod’s head ever since he was old enough paint her luscious curves on the canvas. But the day she walks into his life off the street—sexier than hell and itching for a fight—he’s not convinced she’s the same women he’s envisioned since childhood. That is, not until he spots the golden key around her neck—an object he’d never fully shown in any of his paintings.
Now if he could just persuade his lovely muse he’s not the enemy. Unless the elusive Faedrah Austiere learns to trust him, he’ll never have her in his bed—the one place he’s convinced she belongs.
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He gripped her wrist, forcing her knuckles deeper into thick muscle as he strode forward. She retreated the same distance to reclaim some space. Matching her pace for pace, he held firm, the tempo of their steps a dangerous dance relaying a fierce contest of wills.
Her back slammed the wall and he closed in, smacking his palms to the wooden planks on either side of her head. “Where did you learn to move like that?” She lowered her lashes to avoid his inspection, but he dodged low, keeping their gazes locked. “And spare me the half-truths, Faedrah. You and I both know lying to me is a waste of time.”
Dipping her knees, she tried to escape the prison of his arms yet he moved with her, trapping her in place with the rigid tension in his thighs. “I can’t help you if you don’t let me in. Dammit, I can’t protect you unless you tell me what you’re hiding.”
Frustration tightened her jaw, and she fisted the fabric of his shirt. If she confessed, if she allowed the slightest indication of her leap through the veil, he would undoubtedly think her deranged.
Her uncles had warned her. Magic did not exist in this place. To risk that Rhys’ admiration for her would disintegrate to disgust, to exchange the lust in his gaze for pity… Goddesses wept, she would rather disengage from her quest altogether than to have him peer upon her as if her wits had fled.
“Why won’t you trust me?” His hands left the wall for her cheeks. The calloused tips of his thumbs swept the thin skin beneath her lashes. “I swear to God, whoever put that fear in your eyes is a dead man.”
She could not reason with him so close. All thought except banishing the sharp fury from his gaze was lost beneath the heady musk of his skin, the invitation of his lips hovering a breath from hers.
A whimper scuffed her throat as she ran her palm up his biceps, along his shoulder to scrape her nails through the short hair at his nape. His brow twitched. Arousal darkened his jade irises to the mystery of a shadowed forest, and he squinted.
“Do not be angry with me.” Rising on the tips of her toes, she urged him near. She needed him to believe in her. Despite the secrets she guarded. Regardless of the uncertainties between them. His faith she could truly embody the woman in his paintings was the one thing to hold her steady and sure amid the unforeseeable tempest she faced. “For all my duplicity, I do not think I could bear it.”
“Oh, baby.” He sighed, shook his head, and dropped his lips to hers.