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Lyza has grown accustomed to being alone. After all, a witch can never be too careful. People can be superstitious and men can be brutes – warriors being the worst brutes of all. When a beloved family member goes missing in a dangerous land, Lyza engages the services of a warrior brute with a wicked smile and entirely too much charm to act as her guide. Their quest uncovers greater dangers than they ever envisioned and reveals all the secrets of their hearts.

PublisherBritt DeLaney
Release dateDec 14, 2021
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Britt DeLaney

Britt DeLaney lives and writes near Philadelphia. In her spare time she watches too much Netflix, eats too many Pop-Tarts, and is currently writing her ass off.

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    Book preview

    Bluster - Britt DeLaney


    THE MAN TWIRLED the dagger with practiced, lover’s fingers. He didn’t just spin the blade—he stroked it as though his large hands had caressed the handle a thousand times.

    Dangerous. The man was dangerous.

    Lyza reached for her mug and took her time blowing on it to cool it before sipping slowly, gathering her thoughts as she perused him head-to-toe.

    He looked much like any warrior brute. He was a big man, a few inches over six feet, broad in his shoulders, with thickly muscled arms and legs. The well-worn sheath on his sword belt and the scuffs on his boots made it clear that despite his aristocratic features—oddly out of place on a warrior brute—he was the brute who carried out the orders and not the dandy sitting on a horse giving them out.

    But this man was no ordinary warrior brute. Aside from the aristocratic features—an aquiline nose, hair of raven black, a smooth but strong jaw, lips that were full but not fleshy—he had a commanding way about him. If this man followed orders, it was only because he chose to do so. The man looked lethal, and not just because he knew how to handle a dagger and sword. There was a keen intelligence in his eyes—eyes that shifted about the room from time to time, marking faces, body language, and conversation around him. When he’d seated himself at the table, he hadn’t chosen the seat across from her—the one that would’ve put his back to the door.

    Instead, he sat to her right, and entirely too close for Lyza’s comfort. His long, lean legs stretched out under the table nearly touching hers, and she could feel the heat coming off his body. A slight quirk of his lips brought her to the sudden realization that she had been staring. Color flooded her face, and she set her mug back down, slopping some of the broth over the side in her haste.

    Now then. Her tongue flicked out to wet her lips, and her nerves increased as his eyes followed the movement. I have a matter of some urgency I need to discuss with you. It involves a contract.

    We wouldn’t be having this conversation unless it involved a contract, he reminded her smoothly. His eyes dropped down to her lips once more and lingered. Unless you have another sort of arrangement you’d like to discuss with me.

    "This will not be that sort of arrangement, Lyza said tartly. I was under the impression that the DarkSwords were honorable, if dangerous men."

    And women.

    Beg your pardon?

    And women, he corrected. "The DarkSwords are made up of honorable men and women."

    Lyza was taken aback for a moment. Really?

    He gave a nod of affirmation and she leaned forward, unable to keep the eagerness from her voice. Men and women? Why have I never heard this before?

    He stopped twirling his dagger, laying it down carefully on the table before he reached for his tankard of ale. We don’t advertise it. Kingdoms can be antiquated at times and get a little twitchy when they hear that women will be fighting for them, no matter how competent those women may be. It can also be quite useful in stealth operations. No one expects a DarkSword with breasts.

    Is there much cause for women to be whipping them out? She asked wryly.

    His mouth twitched into a smile. You would need to ask them. I would imagine that any man would consider them a prize. DarkSwords are always at peak physical condition, highly trained in special tactics, extremely flexible, and full of clever, inventive ideas.

    His eyes held hers over the rim of his ale as he took a long drink. It took everything Lyza had not to squirm under his regard. The tavern was dimly lit, and his eyes appeared almost black. What color were they? And why did she care?

    Do you have a name? She managed to ask.


    Of . . .?

    DarkSwords do not claim allegiance to any of the ruling kingdoms. But I maintain a residence in Veren.

    You don’t sound like you’re from Veren.

    I’ve traveled my entire life, and with the DarkSwords for two decades.

    You don’t look old enough for that.

    And you don’t look old enough to be contracting a mercenary for a dangerous mission.

    Lyza pulled herself up straight, wishing she could will a few more inches of height onto her petite frame.

    I am two years over twenty. More than old enough to make contract and to see that it is followed through.

    Brend leaned back in his chair holding up a hand. You don’t have to prove to me how formidable you are. The fact that you were sitting in this tavern unmolested before I joined you tells me that you can take care of yourself—at least for a short period of time. He lowered his voice. And that tells me that you likely have skills of your own.

    Here it was, the moment of truth. She pulled in a breath and raised her chin. I am a witch. If that bothers you—

    You don’t frighten me, he assured her blandly. But be aware that if you try to bespell me to forget what you owe me, it won’t work. I am protected from coercion and memory charms.

    Lyza took a sip of her broth, considering. That sort of protection doesn’t come cheaply.

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