First Kiss Friday – Apollo’s Gift by Sandy L. Rowland

Today’s First Kiss Friday featured guest is Sandy L. Rowland, author of romantic fantasy Apollo’s Gift.  Welcome Sandy!  Here’s the first kiss between Cassie Priam and Apollo.

APOLLO's GIFT - Front Cover (for Barnes and Noble)

Cassie opened her eyes to slits. She hadn’t been annihilated. No thunderbolts streaked across the sky, and no fissure gaped to swallow her whole. Tremors had put her off balance, but they weren’t worthy of panic. Get hold of yourself. This was only a dream. Any minute she’d wake. And since this was her dream, she refused to cower. He floated like a cloud. “I’ve come to give you a gift.”

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” she murmured. “Thank you for the offer, but I couldn’t possibly accept.”

“It is my will.” Another tremor sent her to all fours and her hand struck rough stone.

“Fine.” She shifted to her bottom and rubbed a red patch on her palm. “What is it?”

He landed beside her, his white robes fluttering in the breeze. “The greatest of all gifts, prophecy.”

She got to her feet and glared at the dream masquerading as Apollo. His warm breath grazed her cheek. “Oh, no,” she argued. “That never turns out well.”

“I admit that in your previous incarnation things didn’t go as I’d planned.” He shrugged one shoulder. “But I’ve negotiated with Hades, and paid a high price so your soul could take form in this body.” He leaned over her. “You’re my Cassandra, Princess of Troy.”

“Whoa! You bought my soul?” She backed up into a marble wall. “Even if I believed I had one, I’m sure it would belong to me. Who said you could buy it?” This was a nightmare. “And this whole prophecy deal, that was a disaster. Apollo gave Cassandra that gift and then cursed her so no one believed her warnings. I think I’ll pass.”

“No, faithless, mortal woman. The curse came by way of your lie. You promised me your virtue and then spurned me.” His honeyed voice had taken on a definite edge.

“Hey, not me.” She threw her hands up in defense. “Cassandra was murdered ages ago and my virtue is not open to discussion. I don’t even believe in gods and prophecy.” Wake up, Cassie. Wake up.

“Hear me.” He stroked her hair with the tips of his fingers sending a tingle over her scalp.  She wanted to move away but couldn’t, his soft, seductive tone freezing her in place. “You have a chance to make amends and give yourself to me. Honor your promise and all will be well.”

“For who?” Even for a dream, this was a pretty lame line.

The corners of his mouth twitched. “You are still pure.”

“Well, that’s none of your business.” Heat rushed into her face. She brushed the dirt from her robe and glanced at him from the corner of her eye.

“I am a god and discern that you haven’t known a man.” A satisfied smile spread across his full, perfect lips. “I am pleased.”

“Right,” she grumbled. The man was exasperating.

“You doubt me.”

This had gone on too long. “Enough already. You’re part of a dream brought on by hot sun and a romantic location, nothing to take seriously.”

At least six foot five, he towered over her like an ionic column. He moved closer, pressing her against the wall. Her heart thumped in response. He’s a dream, a deliciously tempting dream.

He leaned in, his mouth a kiss away. His breath tantalized with the scent of nectar. “I’m real and eternally serious.”

She licked her dry lips. Maybe she was wrong and this wasn’t a nightmare but a really, really good dream.

“This is no dream.” He brushed his lips over hers, soft, warm and as addictive as the fabled ambrosia. She leaned in wanting more, but he denied her. “It’s done.”

“What’s done?” she murmured.

“The gift is given.”

“No. Wait.”

“Once given, I can’t take it back.”

Panic tightened her chest. It’s a dream. Damn it. “Take it back.” She sputtered and spit. Something had to rid her of his gift. “I won’t use it. Prophecy or not, nothing can make me tell people.” She wiped her wet mouth on her sleeve.

A beautifully irritating smile spread over his mouth. “Ah, Cassandra, you haven’t changed. The same argument you tried in your last incarnation. I’ve missed this.”



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