For The Love Of…Sneak Peeks by Artemis Crow

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Bryn’s Flight, book 8 of my Zodiac Assassins series, is coming out in December! Here’s a sneak peek…

Like before, it only took days for Bryn to heal, but this time, she wasn’t under orders to stay in her room. This time, Helena and her brothers, Alexander and Magnus, helped her into a wheelchair they insisted be rented so they could include Bryn in every meal, every excursion around the ranch. Or as many as could be reached in a chair. 

Bryn had watched Rota as she patiently fielded the twin’s questions about the break-in, or rather dance around giving the boys any real answers. She had watched Rota answer the sheriff’s questions about how the boys had come to stay with her. She had listened to Rota talk to the parents and give her reassurances that all of them would stay with her until they got home and wondered why Rota, a former Valkyrie, would be aligned so closely with a human family that she’d tolerate the indignity of babysitting their children.  

But none of the explanations or assurances she’d overheard provided answers about the break-in. Mr. C’s sons and friends didn’t seem to need money, and the fact that they were rifling through an office instead of looking for valuables that could be sold off made Bryn wonder what the hell was going on. What were they looking for that could be more valuable than money, jewelry, or art?

Rota’s smooth evasions spoke volumes; she knew what was at stake and she wasn’t sharing. That peaked Bryn’s interest. She could quiz Rota about the break in and the why of it and soon.

More importantly than the break in, knowing that the prickly Valkyrie cared about someone other than herself was good; something to use. 

Bryn smiled to herself and basked in the morning sun, her belly full, her pain mostly gone, and her heart full as she watched Rota work the horses. That was the greatest surprise of all: Rota’s deep relationship with every horse under her care and the responses of the horses to her love. It took Bryn’s breath away.

The Valkyrie horde had never loved their battle horses; they held a deep respect for what the magnificent beasts could do in a fight, the sacrifices many of the horses had made to protect the life of the Valkyrie on their back. There was a symbiosis, yes, and it was critical to both horse and warrior, but to call it love would be a stretch. Mutual admiration, mutual dependence, but not love, not like she saw in Rota’s eyes, in her touch, in her every movement and manner around her horses. 

They flowed, for lack of a better word. Horse and woman moved and communicated as one.

The difference in what Bryn had grown up witnessing and what she saw now, was startling. It didn’t change what she had to do, but it had set up a longing in her that she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to get rid of.

“Bryn,” Helena called out as she trotted over. She plopped on the ground at Bryn’s feet and placed a notebook on the ground. “How are you doing?”

Bryn turned her attention away from Rota and to the girl. “I think I’ll try those crutches tomorrow.”

“Wow, you do heal fast.”

“Thought you figured that out before.”

“Yeah, but those were bruises and stuff. These are bullet wounds.”

“Well, don’t get any ideas that getting shot is no big deal, because it is. I heal faster than almost everyone, and I was lucky that those men had terrible aim. It’s not like television, okay?”

“I know that. Not sure my brothers do though.”

Bryn laughed at the girl’s exaggerated eye roll.

“Hey Bryn, I wanted to ask you about something.”

“Sure.”

Helena scrolled through her phone for a second then held it up. On the screen was a photo of Bryn’s back, bloody and swollen, her brand on full display. “What is that?”

Bryn stopped herself from recoiling. She wasn’t ashamed of her brand or her numerous scars, but none were easily explained. Not to a teenage girl. “Why do you ask?”

“Because…” she lowered the phone and scrolled again. “…there are paintings of my ancestors in our house, and they have the same brand.” She put down the phone and picked up the notebook, thumbing through it for a second. She showed the page to Bryn. “Your brand is part of my family crest.”

Bryn stared at the crest for a long moment before she raised her head. “Rota!”

“I’m busy!” Rota snapped as she led a horse into the barn.

“Helena, can I look at your notebook while you get Rota for me?”

Helena stood and wiped the dirt off her jeans. She handed the notebook to Bryn, her expression puzzled but she didn’t question Bryn’s request. “Okay.”

Bryn waited for her to leave before she stared at the page again, taking in all the details in the crest. Irritation didn’t quite cover the emotional turmoil bubbling up inside her.

She kept a finger on the one page as she flipped through the notebook, studying the girl’s beautifully detailed and skilled drawings, and reading her thorough notes. Helena had indeed done a lot of research into her family. A shadow fell on her. She flipped the pages back to the crest and held it up to Rota. “Care to explain this?”

 

May your words flow freely,

Artemis

The Zodiac Assassins series
Available on Amazon Kindle and Print, Nook and Kobo

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Leona’s Descent – https://amzn.to/2yaDfjW

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Libra’s Limbo – https://amzn.to/2q3VkNg

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Leona’s Cage – https://amzn.to/2QTbVyp

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