An Apprentice’s Touch by Mary Winter
erotic fantasy romance novella (M/F)
Cover Art by Mina Carter
Teryn Windhorn, local mage, patrolled an area too large for him to handle. Stretched to his magical and physical limits, the Mage Council demanded he find an apprentice. Still, the past haunted him with the images of a beautiful young woman pressed to far beyond her skills and her teacher who should have seen, her teacher who should have saved her life.
Jendaya Carinella lived, worked, and fought magical beasts alone. It was, after all, what the bastard daughter of a mage, cast off from her own village had to do. Until a magical fight left her wounded and brought Teryn to find her.
Training her became imperative. Loving her, unavoidable. And one act of courage could finally show him the partner he needed. If he can only believe in an apprentice’s touch.
Note: This book was previously released under the title HIS MAGICAL STUDENT. This work has been revised and somewhat changed from the original version.
The warm smell of oak and hickory pulled Jendaya from the gentle space between waking and slumber. Her body ached, each breath sending pain throbbing through her ribs. Her thigh wound stung. She laid there, eyes closed, listening to embers popping in the fireplace no doubt sending crackles and sparks into the air. If it weren’t for her injuries, or the fact that she’d been on her own for over a year, Jendaya thought she might be back home, where a winter evening was spent at her father’s knee listening to stories about his wandering days.
But it wasn’t, for the goose-down mattress on which Jendaya lay softened the wooden frame of the bed and fluffy pillows cradled her head.
She didn’t have niceties like this at home, or in her cabin. As she attempted to feel along her body to determine the extent of her injuries, she discovered the cool touch of iron manacles at her ankles and wrists.
And she was naked.
She pulled her left wrist and found it fastened securely to the bed frame. The same for the right and both her ankles. She panicked for a moment; the last thing she remembered was fighting the boaresk. Just as quickly, she realized she couldn’t get free, and she sagged against the mattress. She needed her strength for whatever was to come. A chill breeze teased her nipples into hard points. The side of her closest to the fire basked in the warmth. She canted towards it, wishing whoever had tied her here had the forethought to toss a blanket over her instead of just a thin sheet.
“Hello?” she called out.
Only the dancing flames answered her. Magical energy caressed her skin, wrapping her in a healing cocoon. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, feeling the power, masculine, yet complimentary to her own.
The mage who supposedly guarded their village was male. Some protection! He’d apparently found her near dead, brought her back to his cabin and then chained her to his bed like she was some sort of sex slave. She expected no less from the man who ignored her village’s pleas for help over the last several months.
“Hello. You know I’m awake,” she yelled. “I know who you are.”
Silence met her cries. If she didn’t hurt so much, she’d yank on the manacles and try to free herself. She doubted she had the strength, even fully healed. With her body still aching from the boaresk’s tusks, she knew she lacked the ability. She fumed and wondered if this would be some part of her magical training. Harrumphing, she told herself she did just fine on her own.
Jendaya tried to quell the doubt at that last thought. How many times had she listened to the men’s stories of the fearsome creatures that lived in the forest? Two mages had battled for power here and twisted the land, creating these fearsome beasts, many generations before. So long ago her grandmother only knew the tales, not the reality, and still people paid the price for a magic user’s greed.
Hell, she paid the price. Whispers of hell spawn followed her around the small village. Everyone knew her mother had had an affair with a passing mage, and she was the fruit of that illicit affair. She frowned. When she became a fully-trained mage, she would use her powers for good, to protect people, and hope she could do enough to heal the land. Maybe then her village would accept her. Maybe then her father would be proud enough of her to claim her as one of his offspring.
The door opened. Jendaya tamped down her anger at the mage, preferring to wait like a stalking cat. None of the villagers had ever died, but several had come close. Of course, with magical beasts it usually wasn’t the initial attack. Blood poison from whatever warped magic the creature carried usually finished them off in the end.
Jendaya tried to shove the bitterness away. This mage hadn’t been seen anywhere near her village in recent memory. Just last month a group of men had to fight off a baby rakin. Had it been an adult, the five men wouldn’t have had a chance against the winged reptile.
And now she lay bound in the mage’s bed. She wiggled against the smooth sheets trying to find a comfortable position. A dull ache, from her shoulders down to her injuries, throbbed through her.
A gust of wind washed over her naked body. Jendaya shivered. She craned her head and watched a large man enter the cabin.
He wore trews and an over-tunic of deep purple, the sleeves reaching down to his pale hands. Boots covered his feet and without even acknowledging her, he turned toward the fire and pulled them off. He removed his over-tunic, and she couldn’t see what else. But when he turned back toward the bed, he still wore a thin white undershirt and his pants.
Jendaya sucked in a gasp of air. The mage—she didn’t know his name—looked carved from marble. White-blond hair hung over his shoulders, nearly down to the middle of his back. Golden amber eyes shone against his pale skin, his lips colorless. The thin shirt molded to strong muscles and leather defined strong, muscular legs.
Jendaya’s mouth went dry. Her anger fled under the sudden lust that sizzled in her veins. A flash of heat washed through her body. A rush of moisture filled her pussy. She’d never seen a man as handsome as this.
A feral smiled curled the corners of the mage’s lips. “I see you’re awake.” His gaze raked her body, hidden beneath the sheet, as intimate as a caress.
“So you’re the mage who hasn’t been protecting my village?” she asked, using her anger to keep her arousal at bay. “At least you managed to find me and start me on the road to healing.”
“I’m sorry. My duties have kept me elsewhere. How are you feeling?”
She expected indifference, arrogance even. His simple admission startled her. “I’m feeling better, thank you,” she grudgingly admitted. “But why am I tied naked to your bed?”
“What is your name, young mage?” He pulled a stool over beside the bed and sat down. He reached out as if to touch her, then curled his hand into a fist and let it rest on his thigh.
“Jendaya Carinella. Who are you?”
“Teryn Windhorn. It was a brave thing you did going up against the boaresk by yourself. Stupid, but very brave.”
She bristled at his tone. “I did what I had to do.” This close, Jendaya smelled the musky, woodsy scent of him, as if he’d been walking in the forest. His amber eyes darkened as he took in her form. She never considered herself voluptuous like the other village girls and wondered if he liked what he saw.
“As I said, it was a brave but stupid thing you’ve done. You have the potential to be a great mage but such power needs training. You will be my apprentice, and you will start your lessons right here.” Teryn stood. He pushed the stool back and strode to the end of the bed, where he slowly, oh-so-slowly, tugged down the sheet
“What if I don’t want to be your apprentice?” Jendaya tensed her thighs in an attempt to close them.