Companion Scene for Sand and Storm, Chapter 5

A companion scene is a scene that happens in the book but that is told from a different point of view (in this case, Damorin’s point of view instead of Cora’s). Have fun!


Damorin stood outside the entrance to the tent he was supposed to share with his wife. His wife. What a colossal joke. Cora was the woman he was intimately connected to and the woman he’d sworn to avoid. The one he wasn’t supposed to touch and the one who was rapidly driving his self-control to the breaking point. If only she weren’t so beautiful. If only she hadn’t looked at him with such hope when they met. If only he weren’t convinced that if he went down on his knees and begged her forgiveness for being a fool, she’d open her arms and …

At the thought of being in Cora’s arms, his sand brands flared. Their heat seared his skin as the patterns shifted, minute grains spinning through them as they tried to drag energy out of him.

He shuddered and stood still, forcing his emotions back under control, cooling the sand.

After a long moment, he became aware of Jarvis, the youngest of the archaeologists, staring at him. Swearing under his breath, Damorin pulled back the flap and entered the tent.

Cora sat with her back to him, brushing her hair. He froze, unable to look away from the cascade of glorious waves and ripples, glossy even in the light of the sand lamp. Dear Jalwa, he’d give up his skillhouse ranking for the right to bury his hands in it, to pull it away from her nearly bare shoulder and kiss the curve of her neck.

It was a miracle he hadn’t done that very thing when he’d stepped out of the whirlwind and found her alive and unharmed.

And breakfasting with the prince.

The swirling of his brands altered, became more grating if no less intense. He remembered the laughing looks Cora and Raikh had exchanged, the intimacy of their voices as they’d addressed each other.

Kill him, the sand whispered.

Cora set down her brush and turned. He forced his eyes down just in time, focused on a miniscule sandstorm raging over the back of his hand in response to the activity of his brands. But he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “Stay away from the prince.”

Her lips tightened and anger flared in her vivid green eyes. “Last night—our wedding night, in case you’d forgotten—you told me to go my own way.”

“Raikh is an exception.”

She stood and stalked over until she stood toe to toe. Tilting back her head to glare at him, she asked, “Why?”

Damorin took a small step back, widening the space between them, not trusting himself to stand so close to her. “He’s untrustworthy.”

“He seemed trustworthy last night when he was saving my life.” Cora closed the gap again.

Damorin forced himself to hold his ground. “Take my word for it. You barely know him.”

“I barely know you.” She turned away, walking back to her stool. Over her shoulder, she said, “Besides, I like Raikh.” She paused, letting the silence end her sentence: I don’t like you.

Damorin took a deep breath, forcing back the sand that surged inside him, pushing him to action. “If I have offended you—”

“You have ignored me, dismissed me, and apparently told your friends I am a ‘necessary evil,’ so yes, Damorin, I am offended.”

She sounded angry, but he caught the glitter of tears in her eyes. They hurt him worse than the brands. He was doing everything he knew how to protect her, but apparently all he could do was give her pain.

His shoulders slumped, and he absently massaged his temple, where a headache had begun to pulse. “That was never my intention.” He pulled one of the little stools forward and sat down in the middle of the tent. “Will you let me explain?”

“You’ve already done plenty of explaining,” she muttered, but she took the other stool and sat facing him.

Damorin loosely clasped his hands in front of his knees and tried to make his overwhelmed mind think through what to tell her.

“We don’t have to end up like them,” she said.

He stiffened. “Excuse me?”

“Your parents. That’s what you’re afraid of, isn’t it? That we’ll become them.”

He hadn’t expected her to be so acute. “What do you know about them?” he asked, evading her question. It was true, but he felt himself curling up around the old wound, instinctively protecting it.

She shrugged slightly. “That your father had an affair with every woman on his staff. That most gossip says Amara drove him to it.”

He held himself rigid so he wouldn’t wince. “My parents are an infamous example but hardly the only one. I can show you a dozen examples in the council of equally unhappy marriages.”

“Are there no happy ones at all?” she pressed.

He looked away. Certainly there were couples who looked happy, but he trusted their happiness no more than the first thin ice of winter.

“Have you ever been in love?” she asked.

Inside, he curled tighter, defending another aching place. Outwardly, he summoned a cynical smile. “Once.”

“What happened?”

She clawed my heart out of my chest, he thought. Aloud he said only, “It ended badly.”

“So that’s it?” she asked. “Because of your parents, and the other bad marriages in the Council, and your own disappointment in love, you’re giving up?”

What would she say if she knew how much she tempted him to believe again? “Is it still giving up if you realize the oasis in front of you is a mirage?” he countered. He had to stay strong for both their sakes.

She flung up her hands as if to shield herself. “So I am a mirage? A false image? That’s not fair, Damorin. I don’t share your belief. When we vowed fidelity, honor, and union, I meant it. I made a real promise.”

“We don’t have to be in love to keep those vows,” he answered.

“Without love, the vows are burdens. With it, we could have more than an agreement. We could have a life.” Her wide green eyes scrutinized his face and must have read his wavering. Cora slipped off her stool and knelt next to him, took his hands in her own.
“Give me one year,” she pleaded. “That’s not much out of a whole lifetime. For one year, let’s try to build something more than an empty contract. If, at the end, you still feel the way you do now, I’ll give in. At least I’ll know we tried. Please, Damorin, let’s try.”

If I still feel the way I feel now? He almost laughed. If he gave in to her for a single minute, much less a whole year, he would be hers, body and soul. And then one day, maybe within the year and maybe not, the darkness inside him would lash out and wound her so deeply she would bleed for the rest of her life.

“No,” he said, snatching his hands out of hers, knocking over his stool as he stood, fleeing the tent and the forbidden fruit she offered.