He was a sturdy hearth that nurtured that fire (hetero romance excerpt from The Second Mango by Shira Glassman)

Isaac appeared by her side. “Theatrics?”

“He’s insufferable,” she grumbled.

“Which one?”

“Yes.”

“We could spar after the ball.”

“Please. I don’t think I could sleep very easily after this.”

“I’ll be there.”

“I’ll try not to cut off your hands.”

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Speaking with Isaac after such an insult had felt like eating the roast chicken after the stale bread. This was the way she wanted a man to talk to her—to be concerned for her feelings, to invite her to spar, to be unafraid of her aggressive moods. Far from being a wet blanket upon her fiery nature—instead, he was a sturdy hearth that nurtured that fire and gave it a safe place to flourish. She was happiest when she was around him and looked forward to their next meeting when they were apart. Often, she wished for his company in unlikely moments.

A frisson of fear rippled through her body. She forbade herself even to think the words. But the idea itself, wordless, bubbled forth from her heart and could not be contained. Try as she did, she couldn’t suppress a sudden thought of the thick solidness of his body—tall, strong, and a little stout but sturdy—and his impish, placid expression and pointed eyebrows that suddenly made her think of a cat smiling at you with its eyes closed. She saw them with new eyes and clenched her fists at her sides.

Feeling as if her very blood had been replaced by a substance both unfamiliar and intoxicating, she went to her room to collect her sword, ready to meet him at the battlefield of her heart.

from The Second Mango by Shira Glassman, available on eBook and in paperback. Artwork above by Erika Hammerschmidt.

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About Shira

Queer Jewish feminist author
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