Page 69 challenge: urban and epic #fantasy excerpts!.

Page 69  BloodMarked (Amazon, February 28, 2015)

“So when you fail,” she hoped he hadn’t noticed her lapse in attention. She really needed a f**king nap, “you have to cut your hair?” A yawn broke through the last word, and Jami chuckled.

“Among my people, a man’s hair is a sign of his honor and his skill in battle. When he fails, a man must offer his braid as a sacrifice to the Gods, so that he might atone for his failure and prove himself worthy.”

“I don’t know about your Gods, but I don’t think you…failed.” The yawns were coming fast and hard. “You did everything you could. Saved my ass anyway.”

“Greta, if I didn’t know better, I’d think that might be a thank you.”

“Not hardly.”

He laughed, a wide smile splitting his face. “Come on, let’s get you to bed.”

She couldn’t help herself. One minute she was turning to walk back to the bed, the next she was against him with her fingers in his hair. “It really was beautiful.” His smile dropped, and she faltered. “I mean…I like it this way as well.”

He gave her a half-smile and put his hand on the small of her back. “Thank you.”

A shiver shot up her spine, and suddenly, she wasn’t so tired anymore. “Er. Uh. It was so long. How long had you been growing it out?” Stupid.

“Almost eighteen years.”

“The last time…” He started ushering her to the bed before she could finish the thought.

“I won’t fail you again,” he said sternly, “I promise.”

She believed him. All the way from the ends of her hair straight down to her toes, she knew this man was good to his word. She let him fold her into the bed, paying no attention to the damp spots on the sheets left by the towels. He tucked her in, pulling the comforter up to her chin and smoothing his hand soothingly over her hair.

“Go to sleep now.” He pulled away slowly, as if he was reluctant to move.

She reached out and caught his lingering hand. “Where you going?”

“To sleep in the chair,” he said matter-of-factly, as if the answer was obvious.

“You don’t have to.” At his raised eyebrows, she added, “Unless you want to.” He didn’t look convinced. “This bed is huge. We’re both adults. We can share.” He cast her a quick glance that was very adult and made her think twice about sharing, but he strode quietly to the other side of the bed and climbed in on top of the covers. “You’ll get cold,” she scolded, trying to toss the spare length of comforter over his legs. He hadn’t even taken off his boots.

“I haven’t been cold in centuries,” he chuffed. “Don’t worry about me.”

“Centuries,” she mumbled, her head already getting fuzzy with sleep. “I can’t even imagine that.”

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