Hump Day Hunk with Christina Phillips
Thank you so much J’aimee for having me back on AusRom Today to chat about Tacitus, the hero of my latest release in The Druid Chronicles, Enslaved.
When Tacitus first discovers his heroine, Nimue, he gives the impression of being a typical proud Roman warrior. With his hard, bronzed body and mesmerizing violet eyes, no woman has ever said no to him before and with his noble lineage he’s used to being obeyed without question. Although I don’t always have a celebrity in mind when it comes to my heroes, that wasn’t the case this time. Think Henry Cavill and you won’t be far wrong J
But there’s a lot more to Tacitus than first meets the eye…
Beneath that gorgeous, confident exterior, he’s a complex tangle of conflict. Unlike many of his fellow patricians he harbours a fierce sense of justice, and is torn when the only way to keep Nimue safe is to enslave her. It goes against everything he believes in, but the alternative is unthinkable.
He’s a man who’s had every advantage in life, and his glorious career was ordained before he was even born. Deep in his heart he’s determined to follow another path, but when he meets Nimue everything he’s ever believed in is turned inside out.
(Set up: Nimue has just been shot by a Gallian archer, and before Tacitus can save the situation his cousin Blandus arrives)
“Tacitus.” Blandus grinned, clearly well satisfied with the day’s events. Until moments ago, Tacitus had been feeling good about the day too. Until that stupid Gallian had interfered. “Wondered where you’d disappeared to.” His gaze shifted to the ground, to where the Celt lay. “Not dead is she?”
“No.” Tacitus forced the word between his teeth. A few moments longer was all he had needed to secure her surrender. Then he could have protected her as a casualty of war. Now if she survived, she risked the fate of all captured insurgents.
And looking as she did, her fate would not be crucifixion.
Blandus dismounted and strolled toward the fallen woman. “Gods, she’s a beauty.” He crouched down to get a closer look. Tacitus only just prevented himself from shoving his cousin onto his arse. “Clean her up, get rid of the blood and filth.” Blandus reached out and brushed tendrils of her hair from her face. If any other man had dared to touch her so, Tacitus would smash his fist into their face. But Blandus was his cousin, and this woman—this girl—did not even belong to him to warrant such protection.
“And the arrow.” Tacitus’ voice was scathing. “Or didn’t you notice that?”
Blandus grunted. “Whoever is responsible for that should be gutted.” His hand curved over her uninjured shoulder and along her arm, before cradling her breasts.
Tacitus crouched on the other side of the Celt and glowered at Blandus. “She’s not a horse. Take your hands off her.”
Blandus shot him a salacious grin before sliding his fingers across her belly toward the apex of her thighs. Tacitus knocked his hand away. It turned his stomach to see Blandus treat her as if she wasn’t even human.
“I see the way your mind is working.” Blandus’ voice was low, although dark amusement glinted in his eyes. “She’s damaged goods. We could get her for a bargain if we offered to attend her injuries ourselves. And I’ve no doubt we could make a good profit on resale by the time we tired of her.”
Tacitus looked back at her face and a jolt shot through him. Her eyes were open, staring up at him, but they were glazed as though she could not truly see him. Without thinking, he cupped her jaw and rubbed his thumb across her cheek. As much as he wished to take issue with his cousin’s offensive remarks if he didn’t get this Celt back to civilization soon, the chances were high she wouldn’t survive the night.
With a deep breath, he gripped the arrow in her shoulder and snapped the shaft. She gasped and then her eyes rolled back and she descended once more into oblivion.
“Ten lashes?” Blandus said as Tacitus gently lifted the Celt into his arms. He hoped she remained unconscious until the physician managed to remove the rest of the arrow from her shoulder.
“What?” He glared at Blandus. The girl weighed next to nothing. So light, she could easily be a water sprite. What had she been doing, wandering alone in the aftermath of battle? She had wielded a dagger, but there had been no danger to his life. She was too small, too fragile to cause harm to anyone, let alone a warrior.
Blandus nodded at the girl. “The one who damaged her. Ten lashes?”
Tacitus stood, his attention on the pale face of his Celt. “He’s from your Legion. Your responsibility.”
Blandus jerked his head in confirmation, then reached out for the girl. It took a moment for Tacitus to realize his cousin was merely offering assistance while he mounted his horse. With grim reluctance he handed his charge over and then lifted her limp body and positioned her against his armored chest.
One arm wrapped around her, he angled his jaw in an attempt to keep her head upright. Her hair was soft against his throat and the faint scent of wild berries teased his senses.
He gritted his teeth and urged his horse forward. The Celt was soft and vulnerable and unconscious. It was depraved that he still found her not only intriguing but impossibly desirable.
Blandus drew alongside. “We’ll have to make our intentions known directly,” he said. “Even injured, this one will attract plenty of attention. I for one don’t want to lose out to your beloved commander.”
Tacitus shot his cousin a black glare. His commander was Blandus’ uncle, although no blood relation to Tacitus. He was, however, a lifelong friend of Tacitus’ father.
The thought of the commander touching this Celt was repugnant. But too easily imagined. The older man had an insatiable penchant for young girls, especially those with blonde hair. Already Tacitus could see the lust in the commander’s eyes. There was no doubt that, if he saw her, he would buy her before she even reached the market.
Blandus made a sound of impatience. “She’s an enemy of Rome, Tacitus. She was captured in battle. Her fate is sealed. Now are you interested or not?”
Tacitus tightened his hold around the Celt. Her breasts pressed against his bare arm, full and tempting, and the extent of her vulnerability was acid through his gut.
In the eyes of his countrymen, she was already a slave. It was inevitable and another wave of fury against the Gallian scalded his blood. She could have remained free. He would have ensured she remained free.
Now all he could do was ensure she remained out of the clutches of his commander.
When a Druid priestess falls for her Roman captor she’s torn between her duty to her goddess and her love for the enemy…
When Druid priestess Nimue is injured and enslaved by the hated Roman Legion she’s determined to escape and complete her covert mission for her beloved goddess, to eradicate the invaders from her land.
But the tough warrior who captures her is far from the brutal barbarian she expects. Instead, Tacitus turns all her prejudices inside out, and it’s hard to remember he’s her enemy when she craves his touch more than her next breath. Her first loyalty is to her goddess, and she can’t afford to forget it.
Tacitus is enchanted by the fiery beauty who shows no fear and challenges him at every turn. Though enslaving her goes against his heart, it’s the only way he can protect her. As a fragile trust grows between them, he believes they can have a future together. But when he discovers the depth of her betrayal, his loyalties are torn between his heritage and a woman who could destroy everything he’s ever believed in.
Previously published as BETRAYED in 2013
#4 Tainted – Release date 7th November 2016 – Pre order iBooks
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