Moira Rogers


Temple of Luna, Story Four
Series Info:


Reissued 2015

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For years, Celine has ruled the Savage Temple as the high priestess of Luna, one of the most powerful women in their world. She gave up everything for her position, including the only man she’s ever loved. Free now of her duties, she’s ready for a second chance — until she stumbles into a trap guaranteed to wake Karim’s dark side.

Karim gave up on love the day Celine chose her goddess over him, but a bruised ego can’t keep him from coming to her aid when she calls for help. Rescuing Celine from her captors might be easy, but controlling his slide into protective, feral warrior is not. Capable of breaking her body as surely as she broke his heart, his only chance is to trust her to tame his beast, even if it means falling in love with her all over again.

Originally published as Savage Healing.

Read an Excerpt

Karim let another arrow fly from his bow and turned to his cousin’s pregnant wife. “Avani, you should know better than to worry about me. No matter what sorts of torments our king has in store for me, I’m sure I’ll be all right.”

Avani lifted her own bow, and the healer hovering a few paces away made his disapproval known by clearing his throat loudly. The young queen ignored him as she drew the bowstring back with a graceful ease that credited the warrior reputation of her family.

Except for the fact that her arrow, when released, flew several yards wide of the target.

She sighed and lowered her arms. “Oh well. At least I can blame it on being pregnant now.”

“Believably?” Karim didn’t bother to hide his affectionate smile. “You were just as terrible before the child.”

“Yes, but you’re the only one who dares say so to my face.” She set the bow aside and reached out a hand to him. “Why don’t you escort me back to the nice shaded bench before my hovering guardian calls your sister? If Zahra shows up and fusses about me, Rais will try to lock me into our room again and I might murder the father of my child.”

“Goddess, no.” It was the threat of his sister’s presence that spurred Karim to offer Avani his arm. “Present company excluded, of course, but I despise the happily married. Zahra won’t give me a moment’s peace these days. She’s after me to find a wife.”

“Oh, the horror.” She leaned on him just enough that he knew she was more tired than she’d let on. “You should know that she’s been conspiring with Rais. I don’t understand this business about the Temple, but it only seems fair to warn you.”

Karim’s blood chilled, but he kept his easy smile. “Rais has been threatening to appoint me to the Temple as a trainer. He’d never really do it, though.”

Color rose in her cheeks, a charming pink that couldn’t be blamed on the sun. “Forgive me, Karim, but if memory serves that’s not the sort of position a man can take if he’s not… enthusiastic about it.”

He laughed. “There’s enthusiasm, and then there’s enthusiasm. I might be capable, but that doesn’t mean I’m thrilled about it.”

Avani peered up at him. “Are you going to tell me why he’d do such a thing? I do worry about you, Karim, even if you think I shouldn’t. I’ve grown rather fond of you.”

Why, indeed? “He’d do it because my cousin is a big believer in confronting your demons.” And Karim’s demons were very specific, very female… and still, for the time being, very much in charge of the Temple of Luna.

The queen’s eyes narrowed. “You told me once that a priestess of Luna had taken your heart. Are you saying she’s still there?”

Karim merely smiled and led her through the courtyard.

Two steps from the door she stopped walking. “It was never the king, was it? It was you. You’re the one they whisper about.”

He avoided her gaze. “I haven’t seen Celine in years. I doubt I’d even recognize her now.” Liar.

“I always thought…” Her fingers tightened on his arm. “It explains so much. It explains everything.”

“So much you shouldn’t be worrying over, Avani.”

“I thought she hated me, you know. That I’d disappointed her somehow. She couldn’t even look at me when your aunt summoned me to court because she knew I was being summoned for you. If Rais hadn’t come to his senses and come back for me, I rather think she would have hated me in truth.”

Only a few years ago, the words would have elicited hope. Now, he shook his head. “A romantic fancy, little one. I doubt Celine even remembers me.”

“If that’s what you wish to believe…” Her tone was more than a little irritated. “I was speaking out of concern.”

Avani’s temper was legendary, and pregnancy hadn’t dulled it. Karim patted her hand. “I know that, and I appreciate it. But, like I said, you shouldn’t worry yourself.”

“I’ll worry myself over what I like –” Her voice cut off as Rais appeared on the other side of the courtyard. “Oh, damn. If you tell him I picked up a bow, I’ll encourage him to send you to the Temple.”

He lowered his voice to a whisper. “And if you tell him how badly I don’t want to go, I’ll spill the beans about the horseback riding.”

“Unforgivable bully.”

“I’m ruthless, darling. Don’t forget it.”

Rais strolled up to them and arched one eyebrow. “You both look guilty as hell. What have you been plotting?”

“What’s going to happen to you if you try to confine me to my bedroom again,” Avani replied. But as tart as her tone was, she slipped her hand from Karim’s arm and moved to embrace her mate with an eagerness impossible to hide.

“Mm-hmm.” The king spared a smile for his queen as he slid his arm around her. “Karim, I thought you had better sense than that.”

“I do, cousin.” He smiled lazily in spite of the emptiness that yawned inside him. Watching the pair indulge their seemingly effortless happiness always left him feeling lonely. “Did you need me?”

“We’ve just received a messenger.” Rais’s expression was carefully neutral as he held out a sealed envelope. “This was delivered for you.”

Karim took it, instantly recognizing both the seal and the scrawled loops of his name, and it suddenly made sense that Rais would hand it over himself. “It’s from Celine.”

“Celine?” Avani’s brow furrowed. “That’s not the Temple seal. Has Lexa taken over the Temple? Surely not so abruptly, without a ceremony or banquet. Celine was high priestess for years.”

Something was wrong. Karim almost fumbled the letter as he opened it and quickly scanned the small, neat script. “She’s gone back to her hometown. She says there’s some sort of unrest there.”

Rais frowned. “Unrest?”

The letter was vague. “I don’t know. She only asks if I might know of someone trustworthy who might come to help.”

The king snorted. “I do. Pack for travel. Go see what’s wrong and report back. I don’t have any available troops, but I can send my personal guards, if need be.”

“Perhaps she just wants to see you,” Avani ventured. “Celine has favor with dozens of powerful men. And she wouldn’t hesitate to make demands of Rais himself, if she thought she had reason.”

“I doubt it.” It may have been years since he’d last seen her, but he still knew Celine. If she wanted nothing more than to see him, she’d simply ask. “I’ll leave at once.”

“Be careful.” Avani reached out to touch his arm. “And take care of Celine. I owe her a great deal.”

“As do I.” Rais clapped him on the back. “Send word as soon as you arrive.”

“I will.” If he caught a shuttle, he could be there in just under two days. His heart thumped painfully as he considered it.

Perhaps it was as Avani said — everything was fine, and Celine only desired his presence.

Even as he hoped it was true, he didn’t dare believe it.