It's day two and I'm at 7244 words. Wrote the first kiss today (the excerpt). Fair warning, it is all unedited.
The epoch was 1000 B.C. Kyra lived with a band of mercenaries in the badlands between Philistia and Israel.
Kyra thought she'd be the next chief. She'd trained hard, mastered weaponry and horsemanship. She even passed the manhood ceremony at the head of her class.
But the day Kyra killed the wild boar and earned his tusks, she found out she was female. Female? As in a woman? A whore? That was even lower than the eunuch she believed herself to be.
Along with her newfound identity come a host of trouble and the possibility of love. Stripped of dignity, humiliated and abused, Kyra struggles against a fierce enemy, one who is bent on subjugating her and claiming the tribe for himself.
A fresh footprint in the mud raised the hairs on the back of her neck. She scanned the dense underbrush and unsheathed her knife. Gripping the knife between her teeth, she dropped to her hands and knees and closed in on the tent. She might have heard a snore. She’d surprise him. She almost dropped her knife while smiling.
A flash of white swung toward her face. Kyra gasped and the knife fell, greeted by the husky laughter of a man. A bouquet of white lilies lay on the ground right under the knife.
“What do you think you’re doing sneaking up on my tent?” Niko held out his hand.
“Your tent? What are you doing camped so far from the troop?”
He pulled her to her feet. “I’m a man now, and I need my privacy.”
“You’re fifteen, and need I remind you, you have not made the boar kill yet.”
Niko fingered the tusk around Kyra’s neck. “But I have bested the holder of the boar’s tusk in a fight.”
Kyra slapped his hand. “Don’t touch my tusk. Next time, I’m going twist those jewels of yours off and you’ll be just like me.”
He closed in. “And how’s that like, to be you?”
Kyra stepped back, right into a tree trunk. Niko’s calloused hand touched her face. She drew in a shocked breath. His eyes were half-closed, his long lashes arched and fluttered, and he looked at her… as if… he cared?
Niko was the strongest and most robust of the boys in the camp and excelled at all sport. And he was also the quickest to point out her deficiencies and lead the others to tease and ostracize her. Many nights, Kyra had cried herself to sleep, excluded from the inner circle of well-endowed boys, those with natural gifts, the future great warriors.
He tilted her chin, his gaze exploring her face, as if she were an exquisite jewel. Why was this beautiful man, his strong, bronze man with the sturdy jaw and high-bridged nose looking at her so dreamily?
He pressed her against the tree, his legs on both sides of hers, his elbows at her head, and his hot breath fanning the top of her head. Kyra pushed his chest, urging her arms to give him a quick shove. But her fingers flexed over his hard pectorals. She exhaled, a little too sharply. She’d never have a chest like his, and the scent, musky and aromatic, like smoky lilies in a pine forest. She fanned her palms over his chest and moved to the planes of his muscular abdomen.
Oh, to not be a freak. She wanted what he had. She closed her eyes. If she could pretend she was manly, strong, hairy, able to whip a broadsword without raising sweat. If she could leap onto a horse without grabbing its neck…
A warm, firm hand caressed the back of her neck, and a set of tender lips descended on hers. Kyra should have pushed, she should have ducked, she should have at least struggled. But the lips enveloped hers, and the ground shook beneath her, and her fingers tightened over the sides of his rocking hips.
Reason flew away, as she opened her mouth and tasted his honeyed, cinnamon breath. She explored the warm recesses of his mouth and sparred and jockeyed with him for possession of his tongue, probing deeper and fighting a loving duel of lips and teeth. He slipped a warm hand under her leather breastplate and untied it.