Title: Taken by the Pikosa Warlord A Barbarian SciFi Romance Series: Xiveri Mates #7 Author: Elizabeth Stephens
Genre: Barbarian Warlord/Sci-Fi Romance Release Date: August 31, 2021
Halima I’m wrenched from a five thousand year sleep into a new world. It was supposed to be uninhabited. Humans were supposed to have died off. Those of us preserved in the stasis tanks were supposed to rebuild.
But there were survivors. And now those survivors have formed factions. The leading tribes enslave those weaker and language keeps them apart.
Funny, because in my past life I was the interpreter and I intend to bridge the gaps so that when we escape, we do it together. But I have to get past the warlord watching me first.
Ero Communication between tribes is unheard of. Forbidden. A death sentence. I should kill the little slave that dares defy this edict.
But the signs suggest something unthinkable. That this little creature is mine.
I need to find a way to get rid of her before she dismantles everything, escapes, liberates slaves, brings warring tribes to my doorstep…but to do that, I’ll have rid myself of this pesky little thing called want.
She makes me want her.
Taken by the Pikosa Warlord is a barbarian SciFi romance that is a complete standalone within the Xiveri Mates series. It features a dark, savage warlord and the brilliant interpreter who defies him, action, steam and a guaranteed HEA.
Ero hisses, “Halima.” “Halima.” I blink and see waves, but they don’t belong to the river. They belong to the ocean. I look up and a man is smiling at me. He has my eyes and my stubborn chin, at least, that’s what my mother tells me. I’m crying but he’s chuckling lightly as he reaches forward and pulls the plastic bag out of my hand. I’d been devastated to see so much trash on the beach, but my father just grins gently and says, “It resists. That’s how the ocean survives, despite all the harm we do to it. It resists, remaining unbroken. And though it is unbroken by us, it can break us so easily. There are too many droplets and, when they gather, they are capable of magnificent violence. Its calm now is just an illusion so be careful, habibty, with the ocean. “Respect it, but know that if it can remain unbroken by us, then you should not be broken by this.” He holds up the plastic bag and stuffs it into his pocket. “Now come. Let’s catch up to your mother, aunt and uncle, and all your cousins. The family is waiting.” “Halima.” I look up. Ero is frowning at me and the entire room falls away. I waver as I come out of the dream and my slick leather sandal slips on a couple of the rocks. I fall back onto my butt, quickly pulling my toes out of the stream. When I look up, Ero is perched forward on the edge of his seat, veins in his forehead popping proudly. I can see his tension even from here. He opens his mouth, but doesn’t say anything, so I use the opportunity. “You shouldn’t have done that to Haddock. It was my betrayal. I wanted you to sleep, not to die. I don’t want anyone to die.” Leaning his elbows onto his knees, he sneers, “It is a bit late for that now, don’t you think?”
“What is Ahrabiq? Another Tanishi language?” Her eyes get large at that and, whatever pretense she’d been protecting, is shed. She looks around, searching for something. She doesn’t find it. Instead, she comes to me and takes me by the hand. “Yes, it is a Tanishi language, but I…I don’t know how to say it. I must show you.” She leads me by the hand to the tray of food, most of which is empty. I’m pleased by the sight of it. She uncorks the wine, releases my hand and repositions her fingers around my wrist. She dips my longest two fingers into the wine and my fingers drip onto the stone, but she moves them to hover over the half-eaten tablet. “Ahrabiq was the language I spoke first. But it isn’t like Inglesh, another Tanishi language. Ahrabiq…you have to feel it.” She smiles up at me as she says the Pikosa word for feel and it makes me feel strange, like we’re sharing something private. She takes my wine-dipped finger and moves it across the tablet to form a peak, then brings it down and to the right before sweeping back in and up. The long upward stroke links to another upward stroke, this one much shorter, before creating a fluid circle and then another shape that’s somewhere between a triangle and a circle. She concludes by adding two dots above the triangle and two more dots below the shortest line.
“Ha-lee-ma,” she whispers. “That is how you illuminate my name, how it should be inscribed.” She lowers my hand and I suffer from the loss of contact. I stare down at the tray. The foods pushed aside. A bone that’s been gnawed at. The wine stains the dry stone in loops and swirls that don’t mean anything to me. Only that isn’t true, is it? Halima. In her language. The language she learned first, long before she learned Pikosa. She learned so many other languages between now and then. It makes me jealous of every single person she spoke those languages with. “And this,” she says, moving my hand again in a different pattern this time, “is Ero. This is your name in Ahrabiq.”
I drag my fingers over the letters and feeling hits me with sharp suddenness — a full frontal assault — and I find myself incapable of fighting back. “You…” I watch the letters disappear, evaporating against the stone until it’s blank and bare. My voice is thick with feeling that I can’t seem to swallow as I say words I didn’t think myself capable of. Gentle words. “You miss this language, don’t you?” She smiles weakly, but her gaze is pinned to the tablet between us. Her fingers on my wrist smooth down my palm and my eyelids flutter. I want to put my arm around her shoulder…and then I do. She jolts, as if surprised by the contact, and when she looks up at me, there’s a wetness to her gaze that makes me feel like I’ve somehow failed her. “Don’t do that,” I whisper. Her gaze flicks up to mine and she sniffs and shakes her head, like she’s shaking off a weight far too heavy for her slim shoulders to bear. “You’re right. I don’t miss it,” she says, but it’s a lie I can feel to my core. “Don’t do that,” I growl. I snatch both my hands away from hers and use them to cup her face. I stroke the sides of her cheeks, disconcerted that she feels so soft, but not disconcerted enough to stop touching her. I smooth one hand down her throat and touch the tender lines of her collar bone, then smooth that hand underneath the linen flaps covering her shoulder. My other hand slides around her neck, fingers threading through her tangled curls. I angle her head back and before I can interpret my actions, catch them and stop them, my mouth is covering hers. I kiss her hard, crushing her lips, shocked by how they feel and how good this is. Feel. That’s what I told her. Pleasure. That’s what she’s teaching me.
Elizabeth Stephens writes romance of the SciFi, paranormal and suspenseful varieties. Her favorite trope is enemies-to-lovers and she loves to world-build so much so that she sometimes gets lost in places that don’t exist.
One year into her author journey, she’s been shocked to see her books listed among Amazon’s bestsellers in their categories. Still, her favorite pieces of fanmail are from BIPOC women expressing surprise and gratitude that they’ve found an author who looks like them and (does her very best!) to write books that make them feel included.
Other than writing, Elizabeth also likes to throw very exciting-looking pottery on her balcony in Berlin where she lives with her loving husband (who bought her said pottery wheel for her last birthday) and her doggo, King Louis. Though she’s lived over half her life abroad, she still calls Seattle home.
To find out more about her projects and upcoming releases visit her website at booksbyelizabeth.com.
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