Attacked by a rival who wants to steal his land and end his life, Galan of Longtail Rock was nearly dead until Erin saved his life by giving him her energy, binding them to each other with mysterious force. Now Galan has no idea how to break their link without paying the ultimate price. But Erin doesn't mind sharing such close quarters with Galan. Ever since she's met him, she can't stop fantasizing what it would be like to feel his lingering kisses on her lips and his warm caresses grazing her skin. As Erin learns more about Galan and his intriguing world, she finds herself falling deeper and deeper in love with him...
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Bound To Love Her
By Esri Rose ZEBRA BOOKS
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One Things happen in the spring. New things, sexy things ... odd things. In my case, all those things happened in one particular evening because I took my neighbor's dog for a walk.
A chill wind blew the tails of my long, black coat behind me as I walked to the house next door. Streetlights flickered to life over waving tree branches dotted with buds. I rang the bell and waited.
A small, elderly woman opened the door, accompanied by a huge, black Newfoundland. "Hello, Erin!"
"Hi, Mrs. Jamison. Would Thor like a walk?"
Mrs. Jamison looked down at her pet. "What do you say, Thor?" He grinned up at her, tail thrashing as his claws clicked restlessly on the wooden floor. "I think that's a yes." She handed me the leash that hung by the door. "I appreciate this so much, Erin."
"Hey, you're doing me a favor. I love to walk after dark, but I wouldn't do it alone." I took a deep breath. "The air is incredible tonight, isn't it?"
Mrs. Jamison peered at the waving trees, rubbing her knuckles as she did so. "We used to say this was the kind of night for ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties."
"I'm not worried. When I hear a bump in the night, it's my cat jumping off the kitchen counter."
She chuckled. "Not a believer in the supernatural? I thought you worked at a New Age store."
"That's because I believe strongly in harp-oriented CDs and flower-fairy jewelry." I patted Thor. "We should be back within an hour."
Thor kept doubling back in excitement as we walked the few blocks to the trailhead. My hair blew across my eyes, and I pulled a silvery headscarf from my pocket and tied it over my head. I keep my hair short because that makes it curl, and I dye it mahogany because its natural color is mouse brown.
We left the road and stepped onto the dirt trail that enters the public wilderness. Thor gave me a pleading look, so I unclipped his leash and put it in my pocket. "Stay close, you savage. You're supposed to be protecting me," I yelled as he took off.
Pine trees swayed overhead, making sighing noises as I hiked upward along the ridge. Thor ranged in circles around me, crashing through the brush and flushing the occasional sleepy bird.
A few more minutes and we were at my favorite spot, a thirty-foot slab of red granite thrusting out of the ground at the top of the ridge, the first in a series of stones that snaked across the hill like the spine of some giant fossil. The remaining light showed a litter of broken beer bottles and empty cigarette packs scattered around the base of the first stone.
I called Thor to my side and pulled a plastic bag from the pouch on his collar. "Stay," I commanded. "I don't want you cutting your feet on that glass."
I squatted and picked up an empty condom wrapper with the very tips of my finger and thumb. "Ewww! I never used to find this kind of crap up here." My angry tone made Thor whine and look guilty.
I reached for a scrap of paper, but it whirled away as the wind strengthened, causing the trees to thrash and whisper overhead. Something plucked my headscarf off, and I jerked my head up to see the tip of a low branch toss it into the wind. The scarf flew across the rocks and disappeared in the darkness.
"Damn it!" That scarf had been last year's best thrift-shop find. I stuffed the bag of trash into my pocket and pulled out my keychain, with its small, squeeze-activated flashlight. The narrow beam of light blinked on, making the surrounding darkness that much blacker.
I held the ends of my hair out of my face with one hand and looked around for the scarf, trying not to notice the way the shadows seemed alive with half-glimpsed movement. There was a flash of something pale a short distance away, among a tumble of boulders.
The lichen-covered rocks were rough on my hands as I scrambled over them. "Too bad you're not a bloodhound, Thor." Taking his name as an excuse to be released, Thor joined me, his eyes narrowed against the buffeting wind.
I stopped and moved the beam of the flashlight over the rocks, scanning for my scarf. The pale gleam was much larger now. I squinted and made out a man's crumpled shape on the ground. "Oh, my God!"
He was about four yards ahead of me, lying motionless under the edge of a boulder. I hesitated. Maybe he was hurt, maybe not. "I have my dog," I said loudly. "Thor, speak!"
Thor's deep bark echoed off the rocks.
My fingers found the can of pepper spray on my key-chain and slipped the safety off. "And I'm armed as well, so you'd better not be faking."
There was no response. I picked my way through fallen deadwood and rocks, keeping my eyes down to avoid tripping. But when I reached the spot, there was no man-nothing.
"Hello?" Had a bleached tree branch or some angle in the rocks fooled my eyes? The wind rushed past my ears, chilling them, and Thor leaned against my leg. I shivered and bent down to pat him. "I swear I saw someone."
Then I straightened, shrieked, and dropped my flashlight. The man lay directly in front of me. How had I not seen him?
Thor began to growl.
I scrambled backward, almost falling, only to realize that Thor wasn't growling at the man on the ground. He stared off to my right, the massive ruff around his neck rising as he snarled and barked. I scrabbled on the ground for my keychain and found it under my foot, the flashlight in pieces.
Thor's growls escalated into a series of ferocious barks, and my mouth went sticky with fear. There were mountain lions in these hills. I stepped toward the man again. "Are you okay?"
His face turned slowly toward me, a pale oval in the dark. Holding the pepper spray in my right hand, I reached toward him. His outline seemed to waver for a moment, as if he were about to disappear. Then I was touching him, and my senses clarified with a jolt. I shook his shoulder slightly. "Can you get up?"
He said nothing, but pushed himself up slightly before falling back again. I looked around anxiously. Thor was in a frenzy-lunging from side to side as he roared into the darkness. I gripped the man under one arm and he managed to stand. "We've got to get out of here."
The next few minutes were a nightmare of stumbling through the increasing darkness. The wind blew like a live thing, making me squint to avoid being blinded by blowing dirt. The man fell and stayed down once, as if he couldn't go on, but I tugged at his arm, willing him to move. "Come on," I shouted over the wind and the sound of Thor's barking. "It's not far now!"
When we reached the main path, Thor looked back with a final growl. "Good dog!" I said, and really meant it.
I pulled the man's arm more firmly around my shoulders, glad I was tall. He was probably a couple of inches over six feet. Luckily he was slender, although I felt muscles bunching around his waist where I gripped him.
The going was easier now, and the wind less violent. His long, fair hair drifted across my face, smelling like woods after a rain, and suddenly I was very aware of being so close to a stranger.
We crested the second, smaller ridge, and the lights of the city spread out before us. He straightened and took his arm from around me.
"Are you sure you're all right to stand on your own?" I asked.
He glanced behind us. "Apparently so, although I'm not sure why." His voice was beautiful-low and musical.
We followed the dirt trail to where it met the sidewalk and the first street lamp. "Stop for a minute," I said, intending to check him for injuries. He turned toward me and my breath caught in my throat. He was quite simply the most beautiful man I had ever seen.
His face was angular and dramatic, with high cheekbones and deep-set eyes. It was impossible to determine their color in this light, and equally impossible to check his pupils for signs of concussion.
He smiled, the wind blowing his hair across his lips. "Thanks for helping me."
"You're welcome." I reached down and scratched Thor's head, feeling shy. "What's your name?"
"I'm Erin. Do you need to go to the hospital?"
"No." He glanced back at the foothills again.
I thought he looked a little forlorn. I raised my voice over the wind. "Do you live near here? Do you need a ride?"
"I don't know." He shook his head. "I feel pretty shaky."
"So what happened to you?"
He put a hand to his temple. "It hurts my head to talk over this wind. Could we just walk for a little?"
"Sure. Sorry." We walked past a row of brick houses, leaves blowing down the street ahead of us. I stole glances at Galan.
His clothes were like something from the Renaissance Faire: a long-sleeved, loose shirt topped by a leather vest that was laced in front; pants that looked like suede and were tucked into cuffed boots.
A car drove by and he saw me looking at him, his long hair flashing silver in the headlights. I turned away, embarrassed to have been caught admiring the line of his long, muscular thigh in the close-fitting pants.
I walked on autopilot, and it wasn't long before we reached my house. I stopped at the end of the walk that led to my small front porch. "Wait here a sec." Holding Thor by the collar, I went to the front door. It was unlocked, so my housemate was home. I stuck my head inside and called, "Jed?"
"Yeah!" he shouted from the kitchen.
"I've got Thor," I yelled. "Can you shut Kitty Girl in my room?" I waited to hear his confirming shout before I let go of the dog and turned to Galan. He stood at the end of the walk, looking tired and pale.
"Do you want to come in for a minute?"
Thor galloped into the house ahead of us, his big feet sending area rugs skidding. "Thor! Calm down!"
Galan followed me into the small entryway. I took off my coat and hung it in the closet before leading the way into the wood-floored living room.
An enormous couch with faded green upholstery dominated the room and faced Jed's thirty-two-inch TV, which perched on a coffee table a little too small for it. The black-and-white Ansel Adams prints on the walls were mine.
I waved Galan to the couch. "Sit down and rest. I'll be right back." I went into the kitchen to find Jed.
He had his coat on and was pulling a six-pack of beer out of the refrigerator.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
He closed the fridge and hitched up his jeans, which rode dangerously low on his lean, muscled waist. "I've got a game tonight. Vampire role-play. Want to come?"
"No. Listen, you won't believe what just happened." I lowered my voice. "I found this guy on the ridge trail, pretty much unconscious. He might want a ride home, and I don't know anything about him."
Jed raised his eyebrows. "So if he does, you want me to go with you?"
"That would be great. I'll drop you at your game on the way back."
"Works for me. It'll be good to be off the bike. I must have done a dozen blueprint deliveries today, and those cardboard tubes are a bitch to carry."
"Thanks." I got a glass from the cupboard and filled it with spring water from the huge bottle we kept on the counter. "He hasn't told me what happened yet."
Jed put the beer back in the refrigerator. "Let's go see what the deal is."
Galan lay on the couch, his long legs crossed at the ankles. His eyes were closed when we entered the room, but they flicked open and fastened on me immediately, barely glancing at Jed. I couldn't help but feel flattered. Thor followed us in, claws clicking on the wood floor.
I pushed a battered hassock next to the couch and sat on it. "Galan, this is Jed. Jed, Galan."
Jed slid bonelessly into the overstuffed chair across from the couch. "Hey. How's it going?"
"Fine, thanks," Galan said.
I noticed that he had his arms wrapped across his chest. "Are you cold?" I asked. "Do you feel like you're in shock?"
"Shocked, perhaps. In shock, no."
"I brought you some water." I held out the glass.
He pushed himself upright and took it from me.
"So what happened to you?" I leaned forward, eager to hear his story.
Jed suddenly stood. "Is anyone else hungry? I think I need a snack."
I stared at him. "No, I'm not hungry. Don't you want to hear this?"
He waved a hand at me. "Yeah, yeah. I'll be back in a minute."
I watched in disbelief as he headed for the kitchen, then returned my attention to Galan. "Forget about him. I'm listening."
He handed me the empty glass. "It's a little difficult to explain. Someone attacked me."
"We should call the police." I rose to get the phone, but his hand caught mine. I froze, feeling the contact all the way to my stomach.
"I know who it was," he said quietly, "and the police won't be able to catch him."
He closed his eyes for a moment, and I noticed the color of his lashes and brows, a sort of tarnished silver. He let go of my hand, and I sat. "Who attacked you?" I asked.
"You might say it was a poacher."
"Like a hunter? This close to the city? What'd he do, bash you over the head with his gun?" Leaning forward, I took his face in my hands and angled it toward the light. "Let me check your eyes for signs of concussion."
Violet. His eyes were dark violet. I swallowed, feeling the warmth of his temples under my fingers. "Your pupils are exactly the same size. You don't feel an overwhelming need to sleep, do you?"
His lips curved at the corners. "Not at the moment."
Given that I had rescued him and was now taking care of him, I could probably tuck his hair behind his ear without it looking like a total come-on. It was a maternal thing.
My fingers pushed his hair back on one side. Like the rest of him, Galan's ear was beautiful. It was also extremely pointed at the top.
I jerked my hand back and laughed nervously. "Did you just get back from a Star Trek convention?" He sighed. "No."
I looked again. It was definitely his natural ear. I was close enough to see that there was no latex involved anywhere. "Then all I can say is you've got one hell of a plastic surgeon."
He closed his eyes for a moment. "I'd love to lie to you, but you saved my life tonight and I need your help if I'm to keep on living. Erin, I'm not from your part of the world."
"Let me guess. You're from California."
"No, I'm from the woods where you found me. Until tonight, I owned that piece of land."
I spoke carefully. "That land is designated as public wilderness by the Parks Department. The city owns it."
"And it owned me, until a little while ago, when Fellseth broke my bond with it."
"Fellseth the poacher?"
"Fellseth the dark elf."
I scrambled to my feet. "Oh, I get it!" I said, surreptitiously patting my side to call Thor. "You're one of Jed's role-playing type people." Where was Jed, anyway?
"No, I'm not."
Thor came over and looked up at me. I plastered a grin on my face. "Then you're with the Society for Creative Anachronism, and one of your buddies got carried away and conked you over the head with one of those big sticks."
Galan flushed, and his musical voice was irritated when he spoke. "I never thought I'd have to explain this to a human."
I couldn't help rolling my eyes. "Wow. You're deep into it, aren't you?"
He frowned. "Try to pay attention. I'm Galan of Longtail Rock. I've lost my land, my source of energy, and ..."
I ran into the kitchen, leaving Galan still talking behind me. "C'mon, Jed. We're taking this guy to the hospital right now."
"Can I drive?"
"You bet." I grabbed my purse from the kitchen counter and handed him the keys. "Start the car. We'll be right there."
My Ford Focus was parked in the alley behind the house. Jed left through the door at the end of the kitchen, pulling it shut against the wind.
Back in the living room, Galan looked pale.
"Come on," I said, making my voice stern. "Time to go."
He didn't move. "If you would just listen for a minute."
I wasn't having any of it. "Come to the hospital and I'll listen. I think you're hurt worse than you look."
"That is certainly the case," he said grimly, and heaved himself off the couch.
Excerpted from Bound To Love Her by Esri Rose Copyright © 2008 by Esri Allbritten. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
Laugh-out-loud, girl-powered adventure! (Stephanie Rowe, Date Me, Baby, One More Time (RITA nominee))
A delightful and sensual tale with a unique spin, Bound to Love Her has an endearingly practical New Age heroine who is suddenly thrown into a world where elves struggle to survive as their world is torn apart. (Marta Acosta, author of the award-winning Casa Dracula series)
A sexy, Legolas-type meets his match in Esri Rose's witty, fast-paced tale. (Colleen Gleason, The Gardella Vampire Chronicles)
A delightful fantasy sure to appeal to anyone who loves wit, mystery and magic! (Kathy Love, bestselling author of Fangs For The Memories)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Once in a while I come across a book that I wish would never end. Esri Rose's 'Bound to Love Her' is that kind of book. This is a fantasy that makes you think, but there's nothing cut and dried about the book's message. Boulder, Colorado, nestled in a picture postcard scenic spot with its New Age mentality, is the perfect locale for a tale of beleagured elves trying to save a bit of wilderness for their survival and at the same time having to blend in with humans and their technology. The romance is touching, the action is riveting and the characters are memorable. There are also lots of good laughs. I really loved this book and am looking forward to the sequel.
I enjoyed Esri Rose¿s ¿Bound to Love Her¿. It was an unique fun reading book, the author¿s first. The unique hook to the book is Galvan, our hero, is an elf. Not a lot of romance paranormals out there with elves. It was a nice change from the vampire/shapeshifters that are the norm.
I liked the characters and seeing how Simone and Galvan bonded, whether they wanted to or not and how she eventually came to care deeply for him. Enough on storyline.
If you read books just for the heavily detailed sex scenes, this book isn¿t for you. There are sex scenes in the book and they light, leaving a lot to your imagination ¿ which is fine, it fit well with the rest of the story. In other words the sex scenes are there but not in your face sort of description.
I¿m glad I needed an extra $3.99 to make my order and picked up this book. I¿m also glad I didn¿t read the reviews first, half of them were good the others so-so.
If you¿re looking for a fun light book, with light sex scenes that isn¿t your usual vamps and such, give this book a try. I think you may enjoy it too.
Well, um, I finished "Bound to Love Her" by Esri Rose. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't really good either. Thus the 3 rating. I couldn't quite buy into her world and the plot didn't flow too smoothly for me. Some of the actions seemed out of character and the motivations were all over the place. I think this writer has definite promise and a vivid imagination, but this book just didn't quite hit for me.Erin's life is going well. She's about to become the owner of the New Age store where she works with her best friend. One night, she takes her neighbor's dog for a walk and helps an injured man. But he won't go away. He claims he's an elf and will die if he separates from her. What a winner! Galan doesn't know how he became bonded with Erin, he just knows he is. During their investigations in how to safely break the bond, they run into other elves. Some are hostile (his parents), some are aloof, and one dark elf becomes fixated on Erin and her ability to provide energy. These two will have to work together and motivate other elves to help to overcome the powerful dark elf.I'll be watching this author to see what's next.