Happy Hump Day, all! Today we’ve got something we know you’re going to like, a steamy excerpt from Cecilia Tan‘s fourth and final Magic University title, The Poet and the Prophecy, out next week. This book is smoking hot, so much so that we had to turn away a different excerpt for being too hot for RT, which is not a thing that we thought was possible!
This New Adult paranormal romance has senior Kyle still looking for that fated love, which will upend the dire ancient prophecy forecasting ruin. As his world becomes more troubled, with storms, earthquakes and more, Kyle once again runs into Frost, who Kyle hasn’t stopped thinking about. Good, right? To the excerpt!
Kyle haunted the dining hall that night, hoping to catch Frost before he—or she—could disappear again, eating early with a few of the broomsmen (and women) who were already plotting this year’s Halloween festivities, then lingering after they had left. He ended up entertaining a group of freshman girls who wanted to know if it was actually all right for them to do the asking out when it came to things like formal balls. He assured them it was.
There was no sign of Frost until shortly before dinner ended for the night. He rushed in moments before the service line closed down. Kyle glanced out the window and saw the sky was quite dark. She, then.
Kyle still didn’t know how the ritual sex they’d had two years ago had cursed Frost to shift to female every sunset and male with every dawn. All he knew is he couldn’t get Frost off his mind. All attempts to forget him and move on had failed.
Frost plopped down at an empty table in the back and began devouring everything on the tray.
Kyle took a deep breath, got up to refill his drink, and then sat in the chair across from Frost. “You just made it before dinner closed,” Kyle observed casually.
Frost merely nodded and then concentrated on eating again.
Kyle looked away. When he looked back, she was wiping her mouth on a napkin and looking at him, not quite a glare, but not a welcoming look, either.
They were the only two left in the room.
“We need to talk,” Kyle said.
Frost had this way of speaking with jaw clenched, and yet all the words were sharply intelligible. Sharp as knives. As teeth. “Just because we’ve had sex all of twice—”
“Six!” Kyle spat, desperate to interrupt before she could get on a roll.
Frost blinked, as if Kyle had just coughed up a live kitten. “What?”
“Six,” Kyle said in a softer voice, because he felt foolish for saying it now, but he couldn’t help but notice that Frost leaned toward him, trying to hear. “I… I don’t count it as… as twice. I… ” I sound completely pathetic. “I count six times.” At least.
For a moment it looked as if Frost might storm from the room. Or explode. But then she seemed to deflate a little. “Six then. Still doesn’t give you any right to do it again or to lay claim to me.”
“Is talking the same as laying claim in the magical world? Did I miss that class?” Kyle shot back. “Come on, Frost.” He suddenly remembered Indra, and how convinced she was that he was trying to get into her pants, merely by virtue of being present. “I don’t lie. You know that. Yes, I want you, so that’s not a newsflash. But that isn’t… that isn’t what I want most.”
“It’s not?” Frost’s eyebrow arch was as sharp as her tongue. “Then what do you want?”
“When I say I want to talk, I actually want to talk,” Kyle said.
“You said we ‘need’ to talk,” Frost pointed out.
Kyle held his anger in check. Now was not the time to lash out, even if Frost was being a dick. Or a bitch, as the case might be. Quite suddenly Kyle realized what he should be doing. He should be trying to harness that fickle talent in him, the wild thread of poetic magic that sometimes put the right words into his mouth. Use it now! he urged himself.
“Whether you count it as twice, or six times, or whatever, I know that doesn’t give me the right to talk to you or even look at you if you don’t want me to,” he began. “And maybe it didn’t mean anything to you or it only meant bad things to you, but for me, it was some of the most significant interaction I’ve ever had with another human being. Not just the best sex, that doesn’t even describe it, and not the strongest magic I’ve experienced either. Making love with you changed me, Frost. That doesn’t mean you owe me anything. But it does mean I wish you could acknowledge it. And that you can’t ask me to forget it.”
There was a moment where it looked to Kyle like Frost was holding in tears—when her face went completely still except for the way she breathed.
“Neither of us has been the same since,” Kyle added hurriedly. “And I know… I know you want to go back to the way you were before. But I don’t. I can’t. I’m different now. Even if I never get to see you again or speak to you again, painful as that would be, I wouldn’t trade it for going back. It’s like I wasn’t really alive until you. And I thank you for that. I wish… I just wish you could acknowledge that. That even if it was horrible—or nothing!—to you, that it was something for me. You’re always going to be important to me.”
Frost sat back. “You have plenty of other lovers,” she said. “Surely one will supersede me soon.”
“That’s not what I’m saying.” Kyle shook his head, though he had a feeling Frost was arguing for the sake of arguing. “You’ll always be the one that changed me.”
Her voice was rough. “And you’ll always be the one who changed me.”
Kyle bowed his head. “I know. I know that.” Then he looked up cautiously. “But what if I could be the one to make it right?”
Frost stood suddenly, but it wasn’t to storm out. Hope flared in Kyle’s chest as she said, “Let’s discuss this upstairs in my room.”
Somehow they made it up the stairs without getting stopped. Kyle closed the door to Frost’s room behind him and then stood there.
Frost eyed him then gestured to the spot on the bed where he’d sat before. Kyle sat.
“You were saying,” Frost said, rubbing her fingers against the short-short sides of her hair.
“I talked to Professor Bengle today,” Kyle said. “And he told me you’d read the poem before. That you’d found it while researching something else. Let me guess, you found it while looking into gender-changing glamours.”
Frost didn’t even have the good grace to look sheepish at having been called out on the previous night’s shenanigans. “You’re right,” she said.
“If what you need to create the glamour is masculine energy, basically, I mean… I’m a lightning rod, for Pete’s sake.”
“You’re the bloody king of swords,” Frost added. “Yeah. You’ve got it in spades.”
“And please don’t think I’m bringing this up as a… a ploy to… you know.” To have sex like we’ve had every other time. “We don’t have to have sex for there to be a transfer. I’ve called down lightning for people who used it without… using me that way.”
Frost’s eyes narrowed. “Do you have any idea how complicated this ritual spellwork is going to be?”
Kyle shrugged. “I don’t. But I’m taking a class now on ritual design and improvisation. If we can define the goals, we can make it happen. That much I believe.”
“Yes, I took that class already.” Her arms were crossed, but her expression was softening. “And do you have any idea what price you’ll pay for doing this?”
“My power is pretty much unlimited,” Kyle pointed out.
“That’s not the same thing as a price,” Frost snapped back. “What if I told you the price was… your fertility?”
Kyle shrugged. He wanted so very much to scoot closer to her and reach out a hand to touch her. But he didn’t. “Don’t underestimate the sacrifices I’m willing to make to try to make this right, Frost.”
Frost swallowed. “Well, you are already a white knight. But for this to work, you know I become ‘la belle dame sans merci,’ right?”
Kyle laughed; he couldn’t help it. “Frost, you are already completely pitiless. I’ve read the original poem. Not the Keats, the Chartier. You’ve already got the ‘heart as hard as marble.’ And I’m already, like Keats’s knight, stuck wandering in your vale, pining for a glimpse of you.”
But Frost bowed her head. “This isn’t what I wanted to be, you know.”
“And it isn’t what you are,” Kyle said quickly. “Not half the day, anyway. And if it works, I’ll be the only one who sees that side of you.” The only one who bears the brunt.
Frost chewed her lip. “How long will we keep it up for?”
“I don’t know. Maybe someday we’ll find a more permanent solution. Or maybe in a few years you’ll feel differently.” Kyle spread his hands. “For however long you want me to.”
Frost stood. “You realize, if we do this, you’re… you’re basically promising that you’ll never make love to me again. The knight never catches the queen. She never gives in to his advances. And the spell won’t work unless you’re in one role and I’m in the other. The relationship between those two archetypes is unchanging. That’s where the power transfer comes from.”
Kyle didn’t know what to say to that. “Just let me help.”
“It’s not perfect,” Frost said. “But it’s the best thing we’ve come up with so far.”
Kyle stared into Frost’s eyes, which looked the same whether male or female: pale blue and merciless. “So what do we do next?”
Frost licked her lips. There was a pause. Then she swallowed and said, “You get on your knees in front of me.”
For a moment Kyle wasn’t sure if she was joking or not. Then he decided it didn’t matter whether this was the start of a ritual or merely Frost toying with him. He slipped to his knees in front of her.
“Take out your cock.”
Kyle hesitated a moment, then opened his fly and pulled it out, finding it half-hard already. They stared at each other another moment.
“Bring me a storm,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Arguing was not in the cards. Kyle licked his palm and began to stroke himself, never taking his eyes from hers. She’s testing me.
It had been a while since he had done this, but the weather outside still had a vestige of the late summer humidity, and the thundercloud built quickly. Or maybe the magic was so vigorous and grew so fast because he wanted Frost so very much. The window was open a crack and wind whistled through it, blowing a few papers from Frost’s desk. As the energy gathered, her lips parted and her breathing stuttered.
Then she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Stop,” she said.
Kyle ceased the movement of his hand, but he did not let go of his cock. His heart was pounding.
“Cover yourself,” Frost said, stepping back. Then she turned to face the window, looking out where the wind had begun lashing the trees. “Leave me.”
It was only by sheer force of will that Kyle let go and did as she asked. He paused at the door, wanting to ask her if there was anything else he could do for her. But she had said, “Leave me.” That was an unambiguous order.
He closed the door behind him and then stood there on the landing at the top of the stairs, trying to catch his breath. Inside his jeans his cock was throbbing. There was probably someone he could call who would love to help him with that…. But he didn’t want to go out in the rain, and all those someones were in another building, which seemed so far away compared with how urgent his need was.
There was a low rumble of thunder, then, as nature took up where he had left off. Quite suddenly he couldn’t wait even long enough to go down to his own room. Kyle pushed his hand down into his jeans and rutted into his palm, holding his breath to keep silent. Another crack of thunder, this one close by, accompanied his orgasm, and in the sound of the storm that followed it was impossible to make out whether the sound of sobbing came from the other side of the door, too.
The Poet and the Prophecy will be available next Tuesday, September 15, and you can preorder your copy on Amazon, Barnes Noble, Kobo or iBooks. And if you’re in the mood for more Hump Day excerpts, click here.