The third book in Samantha Young’s (writing as S. Young) True Immortality series is coming next week, and I have a sneak peek for your from this exhilarating adult paranormal romance.
“Ready to go?”
Niamh turned from her spot on the deck. She was sitting on a wooden lounger that had been left out there, gazing at the sun as it set, light filtering through the trees and dancing across the misty pond below.
It felt like they were at the end of the world.
It was wonderful.
Her eyes widened at a half-naked Kiyo standing in the doorway of the deck and the living room. Her gaze, with a will of its own, drifted down his taut pecs and tightly roped abdominals. The scar on his belly, left there quite clearly by silver, pricked her curiosity. She wanted to ask about it but thought perhaps he’d done enough sharing for one day.
“Well? We need to go. Sun is almost set.”
“Sorry.” She blushed at his slightly impatient tone. “Just wasn’t expecting you to come out wearing only joggers and looking like a Japanese Adonis.”
Kiyo shook his head at her nonsense but she caught his slight smile as he walked back into the lodge. She followed him inside as he threw over his shoulder, “The less I wear, the less I have to strip off before the change.”
That made sense. Niamh swallowed hard looking at his strong, sleek back and the perfect muscled arse currently hugged by black jogging pants.
She was feeling very warm all of a sudden.
“I see you’re dressed for running.” He flicked her a wry look as he pushed open the door and gestured for her to go ahead.
Niamh glanced down at the sneakers, yoga pants, and sports bra she’d conjured.
Perhaps she had taken the whole thing too literally.
She noticed his tongue hadn’t rolled out of his mouth at the sight of her bare belly like hers had at his. Vanity pricked, she shrugged as she deliberately brushed her chest against his as she squeezed past. “I wanted to run like I was naked without being completely naked.” She emphasized the word naked both times she said it.
She heard a rumble deep from his chest and smiled to herself as she sashayed across the porch. Niamh could feel his eyes burning into her arse.
It wasn’t fair for her to be the only one smarting from sexual frustration.
The porch light spilled across the outside stairs and as Niamh approached, something caught her eye that she’d missed in the bright daylight. She lowered herself at the top of the staircase, staring at the creature carved on each newel post. It looked somewhat human but had a shell on its back and dish-shaped indentations atop its head. “What on earth is that?”
The smoke and heat of her werewolf companion enveloped her as he crouched down beside her. “That”—his deep voice caused a hot tingling in impolite places—“is a pair of kappa. They’re believed to live in and around bodies of water, like rivers and ponds.”
She turned her head to meet his gaze and found his mouth tantalizingly close.
He really did have the most spectacular lips with that exaggerated cupid’s bow.
“It’s not a very pleasant-looking thing, is it,” she said hoarsely.
Kiyo’s gaze followed suit, dipping to her mouth. “No,” he responded, voice gruff. “They’re said to emerge from the water to do strange things to humans and cattle.”
That was somewhat disturbing. “Why would someone carve kappa into a lodge perched on a pond?”
“Because this lodge is owned by a werewolf who rents it out to other werewolves. He doesn’t want humans or anyone from outer villages staying near the lodge. If they see the kappa, they’ll take it as a warning to stay away.”
Their eyes locked, and a saturating heat swelled between them like mist rising across a hot tub.
“Time to go.” Kiyo stood abruptly, causing Niamh to rock back on her heels.
Renewed disappointment flooded her as she followed him down the staircase and into the woods.
The sun was still setting, and it shot through the trees in radiant beams of orange and yellows and reds as the pair trekked upward.
“The light through the trees is so pretty,” she murmured, a contentment she hadn’t felt in a long time sweeping over her.
“Komorebi.” Kiyo glanced back at her.
“What does that mean?”
“It’s the Japanese word for ‘beautiful forest with sunlight peeking through the leaves of the trees.’”
Wonder filled Niamh. “There’s an actual word for that?”
“Komorebi,” he repeated. “We have a few words and short phrases that encapsulate a feeling or a moment in time that doesn’t have a literal translation in English.”
“Japanese is beautiful,” Niamh said, feeling that beauty so deeply, her heart ached.
Sensing her sincerity, Kiyo’s countenance softened and he slowed so she could catch up to him.
“Do you have a favorite word like that?” she asked, curious about … well, everything about him.
“I do like komorebi,” he admitted. “I think of it every sunset in the woods before the full moon.” His brow furrowed. “My mother’s favorite was Takane no hana. Literally it translates to ‘flower on a high peak,’ but its actual meaning is ‘something that is beyond our reach.’”
Niamh’s felt a swell of compassion. “Your father?”
Kiyo nodded, eyes to the ground. “She loved him even after he left us. She loved him to her dying breath. He was her ikigai.” His tone changed as he forced levity into it. “Ikigai is someone’s reason for being. What makes them get up in the morning. It’s the convergence of four elements—passion, vocation, profession, and mission. In my mother’s case, the latter three played no part. It was passion for her. Who she loved.” His expression hardened. “No one person should ever be someone’s entire reason for being.”
It seemed like a warning, another example of him trying to push her away. But Niamh wasn’t having it. They’d come too far now. She wouldn’t let him spoil the mood. Continuing on in silence, she didn’t brood. She didn’t give in to the tension that pulsed between them.
She was here to enjoy the run.