This week, I’m going all the way back to Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale, the first book in the Domains of the Chosen Series
“Chosen’s balls girl, you look angry,” drawled tall, flame-haired Karmal, trying to divine the source of her friend’s irritation. She was keen for the drama that usually followed when Sadira lost her temper. “Has some little tart dared to piss you off?”
“No Karmal,” answered small, bright eyed Vintia, pointing at Gavin “She’s trying to get the attention of that guy.”
“Who? Him?” said Karmal, trying to divine why Sadira, her friend and rival was interested in the figure below them. “He’s a Gladiator, but he doesn’t look like your type, Sadira; he’s not important enough for us to know and not attractive enough for us to care.”
“I think he’s handsome enough Karmal, but you know Sadira’s just angry that she can’t get his attention,” responded Vintia, snatching a small piece of honey-dipped, pickled ginger from a passing tray “He seems more interested in food than anything else. Maybe you could use that to your–”
“Good idea,” interrupted Sadira, snatching a sticky piece of ginger from the same tray and hurling it at Gavin’s head with a deft flick of her wrist. For a woman of her skills it was an easy shot and she hit her moving target perfectly, the honeyed ginger sticking to his cheek with a wet smack. Vintia’s mouth hung open in shock, while Karmal let out a delighted laugh that could be heard over the background chatter. Sadira waited for the man to turn, a thrill of anticipation quickening her pulse.
Gavin felt something splatter just below his eye, sticking to his face. A strong smell of ginger and a distinctive smacking sound accompanied this odd sensation. He heard Karmal’s laugh then, which sounded very malicious to him. He raised his hand to his cheek, which remained sticky even after he removed the offending hors-d’oeuvre. He looked around, colour rising to his cheeks, deeply humiliated at being the sudden centre of attention. His immediate thought was that someone was trying to humiliate him.
A lithe girl next to him raised her hand to cover her laughter. Gavin snarled, looking around, and his eyes were drawn inexorably to Sadira. When their eyes met, Gavin, full of anger, met her piercing eyes did not look away. Beauty did not matter to him then. He squared his shoulders, cloaking himself with all the dignity he could muster, ignoring everyone but his assailant. A long moment passed as the two stared at each other across the crowded room. A shiver ran down Sadira’s spine. She felt suddenly childish, embarrassed by her rash and mean-spirited behaviour.
This little morsel leapt to mind because it was my stepson’s birthday today (technically it is still Tuesday somewhere) and his grandmother took him to a local restaurant, the Old Mill. Despite never having the pleasure of eating there, the Old Mill was such a fixture of my childhood, riding past it every day on the bus, that it made its way into the Campus Martius.
This scene is where Gavin and Sadira meet for the first time. Gavin is as socially awkward as a young Gladiator can get while Sadira is a bratty teenage queen bee at the time. Queue fireworks!