Her cheeks flushed. She had embarrassed herself. Not only had she divulged how poor and hungry she was but she also remembered the hem of her dress had been sitting up at her thighs, no doubt giving him an indecent view of her legs.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a snap followed by furious rustling above her. Just as her head lifted, she saw the branch of the ash tree break and the well-dressed man thudded onto the grass. Cerise couldn’t help but cackle.
He stood, rubbing his ribs and wincing. ‘Well, at least that eased the tension a little.’
‘Not for that poor tree,’ Cerise shook her head. ‘Don’t you know trees are alive? Plants are as alive as we are and you’ve just done irreparable damage to that one!’
The man looked over his shoulder at the tree, which was obviously motionless and looked pretty much inanimate to him.
‘I’ll send it a bouquet of roses by way of an apology,’ he shrugged, brushing himself clean.
Cerise’s eyes widened with anger but she held her tongue.
‘So, did you want some of this bread or not?’ he offered, retrieving the loaf from next to the trunk and brushing off a few crumbs of earth.
She wanted to say no but the way she subconsciously smacked her lips and swallowed at the sight of the bread betrayed her. The crust was crumbling in his hands and she could even smell the enticing yeasty aroma from where she stood. The man held it out to her but she shook her head.
‘I don’t accept charity, but thank you,’ she said, looking round for the cheese he had mentioned. A chunk of cheese would have been welcomed right now. She’d make an exception on her, “no charity,” rule for cheese.
The man edged closer, taking tiny steps, drawing out the tension. Her chest rose and fell as her breathing quickened. Every rational thought in her mind told her to run. He was not local to the village and could easily be a pervert planning to kidnap her or do something vile and leave her for dead but there was something about him that willed her to stay.
He grabbed her hand, placed the small loaf into her grip and pushed it towards her torso.
‘It’s not charity. You’re going to earn it,’ he advised.
Cerise was almost scared to look him in the eye. It wasn’t like her to be so timid but being this close to him made her head spin. She allowed herself a moment to be timorous before she ground her teeth and lifted her chin. She almost lost her nerve again when she looked at his twinkling hazel eyes and silly grin. He was actually amused and if she wasn’t mistaken, his eyes kept darting to her lips.
‘No, sir. I am grateful for the offer but I will not be providing any services in exchange for food.’
He rolled his eyes. ‘Oh, pipe down, woman. All I wanted was a kiss.’
Cerise recoiled, her face flushing, imagining having to kiss his most intimate body parts.
‘Where?’ she gasped.
‘Here, under the tree,’ he nodded, squinting at her in confusion.
‘No, I mean…’ she paused. ‘Never mind. I suppose a kiss isn’t too bad an exchange.’
Title: Cherry Lips
Author: Lacey Dearie
Cerise is not a witch. She’s an apprentice herbalist whose father is a wannabe warlock and fairy godmother is a madame. But Cerise has a closely guarded secret – the cherry lip-stain she manufactures and sells to the richest and most powerful women in the land is a potent aphrodisiac that makes the wearer irresistible. Of course, with such power comes responsibility, something Cerise did not consider while she was testing each batch of the product on the men of her home town.
Soon, word of the magical make-up reaches the childless Queen Merewald, and she becomes determined to uncover the secrets of the lip-stain herself and use them to seduce her ageing, impotent husband, King Palen. Her best chance is to send her feline brother-in-law, Blaxton, to befriend Cerise and spy on her. What the Queen didn’t count on was her nephew falling for Cerise without the use of magic or her niece using their jester as bait to uncover the secrets before she did.
Cherry Lips is a chick-lit fairytale about a medieval amateur cosmetologist, a nymphomaniac witch, a kinky jester, an unconventionally handsome prince, a wizard with magical healing powers, a castle made of sand and crystals, magical lip-stain that makes the wearer irresistible and cats. Lots and lots of cats.
Lacey Dearie is the creator of the best-selling Leger – Cat Sleuth Mysteries Series about a talking Glaswegian cat detective. She loves observing cats and their idiosyncrasies and has a particular fondness for black cats with amber eyes or pretty calicos. She would own a house full of pets if her allergies allowed it.
She is also the author of chick-lit novel and Amazon UK Top 100 best-seller, The Tangled Web (currently available only on Createspace), chick-lit fairytale Cherry Lips, two nonsensical short stories about amorous foods and the soon to be released Candlelight Lane Mysteries which blend culinary cozies and magical realism.
In her spare time she loves to travel and is a regular visitor to Cyprus – a place that has influenced almost every story she writes as much as her home country, Scotland. She has a personal blog dedicated to lingerie and fragrances, studies perfumery and is a tiny bit obsessed with cute stationery and ska.
Lacey loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted on Twitter as @laceydearie (please be aware of adult content) or on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/laceydearie (family friendly).
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Amazon AU: AMAZON AU
E-Store where you can purchase a signed copy with author swag included in the price: laceydearie.storenvy.com
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