Genre: Erotic romance
Publisher: Totally Bound
Date of Publication: 29 May 2015
Number of pages: 62
Word Count: 15188
Cover Artist: Posh Gosh
Astri Ingebrigtsen has no time for romance. A member of an elite team of trollhunters, tasked with controlling and concealing the troll population, her days are too full to focus on anything else, so filled with nightmarish brutality that her nights have become dreamless. So when hot researcher Kai joins the crew to help them in their latest job, hunting a mountain troll, Astri ignores the chemistry between them—something her jealous teammate Micke fails to do.
Astri knew Micke was a jerk, but even she never expected him to send Kai up into the mountains alone to face the troll, unaware that she was asleep in the trailer. Now, trapped in the mountains with a destroyed car, she and Kai need to work together to confront the creature, and their bond grows—but even if they get out alive, can Astri trust Kai with her heart?
Rain spattered the windows of the café, mist making the sunlight bleak. At a table by the wall a man was sitting with a breakfast tray, a small stack of paper on the seat beside him, oblivious to the sideways glances given by the other customers. His messy beard, tousled brown hair and heavy duffel coat gave him the appearance of a slightly cleaned-up vagrant.
“This place is too expensive.” Astri Ingebrigtsen dropped her food on the table and sat down across from him, throwing her dark hair back out of her face. “At this price these eggs should be gold-plated.”
“Get Micke to pay.” Otto grunted, looking down as he dug through his paperwork. “He wanted to stop here.”
“I did. He moaned.”
Otto rolled his eyes just as Micke appeared beside him, breakfast in hand. Without a word Micke picked up the papers then dumped them unceremoniously on Otto’s tray before sitting down with his own.
“Paying for Lise’s too?” Astri asked casually.
“Get lost,” Micke snapped.
As Lise joined them with her own food, Astri turned her attention to her breakfast, smiling to herself. Micke was so easy to wind up.
But God, it had been a miserable week. She cast a rueful glance out of the window to where their trailers sat in the car park, each attached to a Jeep. They were a necessity when they were on a job that required travel, but try as they might, it was impossible to keep them properly warm inside, even with the help of space heaters and extra blankets.
And this had been a long job. Traveling every day, out hunting every damned night. She was beginning to think it would never be over.
Otto was spreading a map out on the windowsill, eating his svele one-handed as he ran a finger along the road markings. The shrill ring of a mobile phone cut through the air and he cursed, dropping his fork and burrowing his hand into his coat pocket.
“Otto here.” He paused. “Not yet. We left Trondheim this morning.”
Astri exchanged glances with Lise. This sounded important.
“We should get there around two. We’ve booked ahead. Tell him to wait in our cabin.” Otto hung up the phone and eyed Astri and Lise, who looked back at him innocently.
“That was Gunther. Our new addition will be meeting us in Orkanger.”
“What did you say his name was?” Lise asked through a mouthful of bread.
“Kai. Kai Amundsen.” Otto glared at Micke, who had let out a dismissive snort. “Enough, Micke.”
“We don’t need more people.” Micke twisted in his seat to face Otto, his mouth twisted in disgust. “Too many of us attracts attention. And we don’t need a greenhorn holding us back.”
“We’ve been over this. We need his research to capture it.” Otto held up a hand to forestall any further response. “This is not negotiable. Eat.”
“He’s right, Micke,” Lise cut in. “We’ve been chasing it for weeks. This could mean we finally catch it.”
Micke slammed his fist on the table, making the cutlery jump. “I do not need some college student to tell me how to do my job. When he’s never in his life caught a tr—”
About to snap back at Astri, Micke caught her eye and shut his mouth. Astri hastily scanned the room to see if anyone had overheard.
It didn’t seem like it. A few heads had turned at his outburst, but apparently nobody had picked up on that last dangerous word.
Character Name: Astri Ingebrigtsen
Character Bio: A member of a team of Norwegian trollhunters, skilled in weapons use and climbing.
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
My worst quality is that I can be quick to judge people. My best is probably my resilience and take-charge attitude.
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
That there's more to me than trolls!
What are you most afraid of?
After spending my life trapping and killing trolls, I'm not sure I'm afraid of anything. I see too much in my line of work that's horrifying. Probably seeing someone I love being killed.
What do you want more than anything?
To find someone who I can just be with, without any expectations.
What is your relationship status?
I've been single for years - I didn't have time for men until Kai joined our team. Most men are intimidated by me anyway.
How would you describe your sense of fashion?
"This will do." I'm not a follower of fashion. I wear whatever works.
What is your idea of happiness?
To be surrounded by the people you love.
What is your most treasured possession?
A geode my father got me. It's small, but it's connected to my family.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Probably my attitude. I don't let anything stand in my way.
What is it that you most dislike?
People who don't pull their weight.
Which living person do you most despise?
My team-mate Micke. I've had to put up with his crap for a long time and he's the kind of person you can get really sick of.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Probably the same as for men - inner strength. I expect to work with people as partners, not carrying anyone's weight.
Who is your favorite hero in fiction?
I like action novels, so probably someone like Jack Ryan.
Which living person do you most admire?
I admire people who work for animals, not necessarily out in the field, so it would probably be Jackson Galaxy.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Maybe to be a bit less judgemental. I know I tend to get strong opinions about people too quickly.
Tanith Davenport began writing erotica at the age of 27 by way of the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme. Her debut novel "The Hand He Dealt" was released by Total-e-Bound in June 2011 and was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for 2012.
Tanith has had short stories published by Naughty Nights Press and House of Erotica. She loves to travel and dreams of one day taking a driving tour of the United States, preferably in a classic 1950s pink Cadillac Eldorado.
Tanith's idea of heaven is an Indian head massage with a Mojito at her side.