The Servant Prince
Prince Joron of Blade Rain was kissed by a man he had no idea was King Aric of Claymoor Doom. Of course King Aric had no idea the one he kissed was even a man since Joron was dressed as a woman. Disguised to escape the newly crowned king of Blade Rain who just happens to be Joron’s brother, Joron is swept off his feet by Aric when he is rescued by him from an assault. Aric is also swept off his feet by the beauty of the “woman” and that one amazing kiss. Aric, who is led to believe the beautiful woman he kissed is actually the princess, immediately goes to the king of Blade Rain and offers for the princess’s hand in marriage and his offer is accepted. Unfortunately, King Aric is now betrothed to Liarta, Joron’s sister. But an emergency has King Aric racing home without finding out the mistake he has made and now Joron must ride to Claymoor Doom to renegotiate the offer since Liarta is in love with someone else and does not want to marry King Aric.
Imagine Aric’s surprise when he discovers the Prince is the one he thought was the Princess! So Aric does the only thing he can think of. He will release Liarta from her obligation of marriage, but only if Joron takes her place… in the marriage bed.
“Prince Joron.” Kinnabe ran down the hallway toward Prince Joron’s chambers. He burst into the receiving room frantically looking for him, but the room was empty. “Prince Joron,” he called again.
“Yes?” Joron said groggily as he came out from his bedroom. He had put on a robe to cover his nakedness but had failed to tie it shut.
Kinnabe averted his eyes, amused. The prince had no idea of his beauty or how it affected those around him, both women and men. Small and petite, he had creamy white, perfect skin. His hair was shoulder length, silky and dark brown. He usually wore it loosely tied back but this morning, it hung tangled around his face. That only heightened his allure, like he was fresh from his bed, which he was. His face was sweet with large, beautiful green eyes, a perfect nose, and full, kissable lips. He stumbled to a chair in front of the fireplace, finally pulling his robe tight around him from the chill in the air and not from sudden modesty.
“I’m sorry, my prince, I know you only went to bed a couple of hours ago, but the king is meeting with a commoner, Hawklin Tuso of Ghost Pines Parrish, from the other side of Ice Dragon Pass. His daughter is gravely ill and in need of medicine that is only produced here in the Royal Infirmary. Hawklin tried to make it for the official assemblies three days ago but was delayed. The king is meeting with him outside those usual meetings because he came all this way.”
Joron widened his eyes in surprise. Like Joron, Kinnabe was well aware of the oddity that King Oxys, Joron’s father, would take time away from his customary activities to actually meet with one of his people in need, especially now he himself had become sick. “Really? When?”
“I believe they are in chambers right now, my prince.”
“Damn. Hurry. Help me dress. I need to be there to make sure…”
He ran into his bedroom with Kinnabe shadowing him. Kinnabe shoved his own dark, unruly hair back from his eyes as he followed the prince into the bedchambers. Standing behind Joron, Kinnabe towered over him, but then most men did—and even some women. The prince’s small stature inspired protectiveness in others. At times, his compassionate nature made that protectiveness necessary. Kinnabe smiled fondly at the back of Joron’s head, his eyes wandering down to the beautiful neck hidden by that silky hair. How he loved the prince’s soft skin. He had touched the prince enough in his years of personal service to know firsthand how soft it was.
The Servant King
Things are going well for King Aric. He had Joron safely hidden away. Diagus, although a continuing threat to Joron, had left his castle empty handed, and the Cetin Gang was headed for his dungeons. He should be thrilled but – something was not right. He could feel it.
Sure enough, when he returns to Claymoor castle, he finds Joron has been kidnapped and he must ride immediately to rescue him. And knowing the culprit, it was not going to be an easy task. However, Aric has a trump card; a letter from a dead king. Seemingly nonsensical at first, it now points a finger directly at a murderer and Aric is convinced Joron is next. Somehow he has to find him and get Joron back into his protective arms before it’s too late.
Unfortunately, there are other huge pitfalls just waiting in the shadows. It turns out Joron is the true king of Blade Rain and Aric’s long dead wife miraculously returns to claim Aric as her own. Between all the lies, murders, and life altering revelations, is there hope for these two at all?
The sound of the clashing swords was deafening in the narrow alley as King Aric continued to gain on his opponent. He jabbed and dodged, slashed and defended. The leader of the notorious Cetin gang was no match for Aric, and the arrogant asshole finally understood it, as he fell farther back; the look on his face was one of imminent defeat. A final, sudden charge from the king had the Cetin leader’s sword out of his hand and clattering to the ground out of reach. Then Aric had his own blade up against the man’s throat, the man up against a brick wall.
“Are you done?” Aric ground through his teeth, breathing hard into the other man’s face.
The Cetin leader, also breathing heavily, laughed. “What? You’re not going to kill me?”
“I should. You killed my comrade and good friend and for nothing more than a couple pieces of silver. Why should you live?”
“Then do it. Slit my throat!”
For a moment Aric held his place, pushing the Cetin leader to the wall. Slowly he smiled. “No. I have a better idea. I think instead you can rot in my dungeons.” He pulled off the man and sheathed his sword. “I don’t feel like dirtying my sword on your filthy blood.”
Besides, it was time to go back.
The ride to Eden Downs, the finding and rounding up of the gang, and now facing the trip back, was taking a whole lot longer than King Aric expected it to. But he couldn’t believe his luck in being able to finally put the gang behind the thick, solid doors of his dungeon. He shackled the leader’s leg himself, taking great pleasure in seeing the fear written on the captive’s face.
And not only was no one killed, no one was even injured.
But now, facing the ride back, the euphoria he had felt when he first learned of the gang’s proximity had turned into pure and utter exhaustion.
He reveled in the reason for his fitigue. It was due to his long sessions of lovemaking to a young prince who blew all reason and will out the window, not to mention self-control. He couldn’t wait to be back beside that warm body and sink his tongue into any and all openings. He shivered imagining it—the way Joron felt, the way he tasted, all of it. The young man was magic, simply magic, and Joron was his.
And now he had the notorious Cetin gang in his clutches too. Life simply didn’t get any better than this.
But suddenly a dark cloud overtook his musings as he remembered Diagus’ intent. How dare the idiot waltz up to Claymoor Doom’s front gates with his pathetic little army and demand Joron be returned to him? Fortunately, from the reports he received right before he left in pursuit of the Cetins, he had been told the new Blade Rain king had left the castle alone. He still shuddered to think Diagus had fully intended to take Joron away from him.
It was true, however, only the king had the right to barter the freedom of any of his royals. It was one unwritten law that was a known fact among the royal houses. It kept order when lust for power and lands would bring chaos. But it had to do with wealth and status too. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if riches had been what the Amar bastard was after. Aric could play to that tune any day, all day. But King Amar wanted Joron. He also made it clear it wasn’t over. But it didn’t matter. He would protect Joron now, with his very life. No one would take Joron from him. No one. Not even the spoiled brat Amar.
Aric wished, though, he had made sure Joron received a message he would be gone for a day plus, but time had not permitted it. When he was told the Cetin Gang was in Eden Downs, he had to run. He sent instructions to give Joron anything he wanted, insisting he had to stay in the private quarters of the castle. The doors to that part of the castle were to remain locked and guarded and no one—absolutely no one—was allowed in, and Joron was most definitely not allowed out. He was sure his orders were followed, but suddenly there was a vague feeling of doubt, as if he was double crossed somehow. He thought back and realized he did have nearly everyone, if not all, of his most trusted men with him. He was not going to rob them of this incredible moment of capturing the Cetin gang, just as he himself had wanted to be present. But how could that matter? His servants were his servants. They would follow his orders.
Why did he doubt it suddenly? Could it be everyone who even knew those orders was with him on this journey?
He was very glad he was within a couple hours ride now of the castle. He had to admit the last couple of days had been strange. It had started with his nightmare of that night, the night his wife had died. Seeing Abydell once again throwing her ring at him and racing out into the storm, remembering yet again that scream as she plummeted to her sure death off the high cliffs of Norferry Mire and into the ocean. The dream left him weak and breathless. Then the very new King Amar’s disturbing visit, confirming his lust for his own brother and his intent on taking his brother back… Aric had learned directly from Joron of not only his brother’s sick obsession but also of the pending intent on Joron’s very life, having had the ownership of the Ice Dragon Pass given to him by decree of his father, the dead king. Only Joron’s death would reverse that act. Aric was not surprised Joron was sought out to be brought back. But the speed in which the new king moved to do it was disconcerting. Then the sudden sighting and capture of this elusive gang, something that in the past he had never been able to do… Things had been odd, off somehow.
Yes, the uneasiness had settled into his bones. Another point of contention: Diagus’ surrender. He simply gave up too easily, left too fast. For the first time, Aric thought about this slowly. Could it have been planned? Why? What good would that have done? Except… except to put Aric off guard. For what purpose? Amar left, and he left alone. He had been assured of it. So what purpose would it serve to put him off guard?
Again he considered the nearly too easy capture of the Cetin gang. Never had he been able to even get close to them before. Usually by time he received word of where they were and they were able to arrive to that location, the gang was long gone. Time and time again, they had either just missed them or were actually days behind. This time was completely different. It was as if word reached the castle about the same time the gang reached Eden Downs. Was that possible?
No. It wasn’t.
It had been too easy. Of course. That bastard, Diagus, set this up. Aric wasn’t sure how it was done, how Diagus even knew about the gang or could move them into a position like this, and it might even be crazy to think it, but Aric was certain now that had been the plan all along. But Diagus left alone. He knew that. Then why? He kicked his horse into a gallop. The poor animal had been pushed far too hard yesterday and today, but he knew his war steed could take the punishment. He had to hurry back to the castle. He had to see for himself Joron was there, perfect and well. He feared it would not be the case.
The Servant Crown
King Diagus of Blade Rain is in a bind. He is duty bound to produce a royal heir and the only way he knows that can happen is if he beds a woman. Definitely not his idea of Happily Ever After. In fact, far from it. Except instead of walking down the aisle with the princess he has arranged to marry, Diagus is off in the wilds of Claymoor Doom. But there’s a good reason. Rumor had it there was someone near Gray Valley with Diagus’s stark blue eyes. A possible relative and therefore an heir? Was there a chance he might not have to marry a woman, after all? Regrettably, Diagus finds no one matching the rumor’s description. What he does find is a heinous, black magic plot for murder and Diagus is the next on the list.
Tama’s pregnant sister claimed to be carrying the child of a king. Not just any king. The mighty king of Blade Rain. She was determined to get out of the very poor house of Hilman and into the lap of luxury. But fate had its own agenda. Sadly, Tama must raise his nephew all by himself after his sister unexpectedly dies in childbirth. It’s not a problem, though. He loves Aydin as he loved his sister – with all his heart.
However, Tama’s lazy and abusive father, Beourn, is angry and extremely disappointed. Being the grandfather of a crown prince, he was looking forward to moving to the castle and living a life of extravagance. With his daughter’s death, that was no longer possible. So, he does the unthinkable. He kidnaps Aydin with the intent of selling him to the rich and powerful king. Tama is stunned he would do such a thing and chases after Beourn to rescue Aydin.
But he doesn’t get far before he is confronted with a beautiful man being viciously attacked. Of course Tama has to help. If he doesn’t the man will surely die. Except Tama quickly learns the man is far more than just someone in trouble. In fact, the man is a king and will change Tama’s life. Forever.
Many, many years ago
“He is evil,” Silver said, her hair flowing around her as if it had a life of its own. Her bright gossamer gown billowing and wafting in the breeze, enhancing the illusion she was floating rather than walking.
“Yes,” Red chimed in. Her own gown, like Silver’s, a match for her name, hugged her shapely body in an almost obscene way, her very ample bosom being nearly forced out due to the tightness of the shiny fabric. “Using us like he did, pitting us against each other. He. Must. Die!”
“Yes, death would be a goal.” Black pushed her own unruly midnight hair back with a flourish that set the very air around them to movement. “But remember what we have learned, my sisters. DinRau is a powerful being. Killing him would be a waste. All that energy would be lost.” Her sisters were too emotional. Always acting without thinking things through. More concerned about their looks and age than they were about power and immortality. If she didn’t need them for her grand plans, she wouldn’t even let them in on it. How could they not understand simply killing the man for his arrogance could not be allowed?
Silver huffed when Black held out a hand to stop the duo. But both Silver and Red had been on their way to confront the very dominant DinRau. A huge mistake. Black was angry, too. It was extremely upsetting the man, as it turned out, was a lover to all three of them. Black wanted the blue-eyed bastard dead, as well. But if Black’s sisters knew anything about the man, if they knew him like Black knew him, they would not even attempt such a thing.
DinRau had been hers. She had taught him so much. Half his damn power he had learned from her. How could he have betrayed her like this? How could her sistershave betrayed her? Somehow Silver and Red got their fucking claws into him, each not telling the others that they were being bedded by the man.
But it was water under the bridge.
Facing Black, Silver sighed, “You are right, my sister. He is probably much too powerful for us to kill, anyway. You have another plan?”
Black smiled. Oh yes, she had a plan. She despised DinRau for what he had done, and her plan would speak volumes to that. “If we pool our efforts, we can make him suffer.” And suffer greatly.
“Go on,” the two other sisters said in unison.
“I know a spell. A spell out of the Great Marsh, itself, punctuated with the very nectar of the Rabbit Rose.” Black heard her sisters gasp.
“Rabbit Rose?” Red exclaimed. “A fairy tale only!”
“No, my sister. I have discovered one. It lives. It makes Gray Valley its home and bloomed for me. I have several vials of the nectar right now on a secret shelf.” She had planned on sharing her great discovery with DinRau, planned on the two of them creating a spell with it that would give them both supreme power. Until the day she found Red coming from the man’s house. At first, Black had simply been surprised that Red even knew the man. But when she caught up with her sister, she could smell him on her.
“But legend says it only blooms every seventy-five years.”
“The legend is true. And I have all the nectar the flower will give for this blooming. I left nothing for anyone else. Couple that with the new spell I have learned, and we will have our revenge. We will lure DinRau here and weave it around him, rooting him forever in the swamp itself. And once the spell is complete, we will be able to suck all his power into ourselves.”
“And become true witches?” Red whispered, her eyes wide.
“Yes.” Black smiled, her heart pounding just a bit faster. “The second-best part? He will be fully aware of it for the rest of his life. And there will be nothing he can do about it.”
Silver huffed at Black. “What is this power spell you speak of? Where would you learn of such a thing?”
Black chuckled. “You sound jealous, Silver.”
“Hardly, my poor sister. But it seems power is the only thing you desire. It is the reason DinRau chose me over you.” Silver laughed. “Oh, go ahead and raise those eyebrows. It will do you no good. He obviously only toyed with you, Black. He lovesme. Only me.” She leaned closer to whisper, “He told me so.” Silver laughed again as she preened herself, her thin beautiful fingers creating snaps of fire as she combed them through fine hair. “Tell me truthfully, sister. How could he not? Look at me.”
“Untrue, oh vain one.” Red pushed at her sister, her face taking on the color of her name. “He must tire of your constant need for praise, as we all do. It is I the man truly loves. I guarantee it. He craves my skill in bed. I, unlike you would ever be able to do, put him first. And he told me so just the other night.”
Black growled, her heart hurting all the more and her anger taking even a firmer hold. Only in her heart would she admit her jealousy of Silver’s incredible beauty that attracted every man who saw her. Like a moth to a flame, they flocked to her, promising anything if she would stay by their side. But she was no less jealous of Red and her voluptuous body she enjoyed showing off with how little she tended to wear. Along with her insatiable sexual appetite, all men simply fell at her feet, obsessing over her if only to get her in their bed.
On the other hand, Black had been born with brains. She was proud of her ability to control and manipulate. But few men stuck around her for any length of time, mainly due to being intimidated by her intelligence. However, she didn’t care. She was more interested in becoming a powerful witch, and a man would only get in the way of that.
Oh, yes. DinRau. He had been impressed with her, not at all afraid. He thought her brilliant and, surprisingly, had often compared her to her sisters.
“You are so much more beautiful, my Black witch. We will be unstoppable together. I am so very much in love with you…”
But the memory of those words was hardly a comfort now.
What hurt so much, though, was the fact she truly loved the man. His amazing blue eyes always undid her when he gazed at her the way he did. She had never been in love before and so did not know its power. She had no idea how to handle it. And being betrayed by him, she knew how to handle even less.
“You are both wrong,” she cried out, knowing she gave away her pain. “He knows I am the strongest of all of us. I have the greater potential, and DinRau knows that. Men like him love only one thing. Power. And that would be me. Me! I should know, for he tells me…oh, he…” She closed her eyes as she recalled how many times that had happened. “—tells me.” Her last words were only a whisper.
Silver harrumphed. “Seems he has told each of us what we want to hear. Clever man. Like I have already said. He is evil.”
Red nodded, fury showing on her face. “He is evil and must die.”
Black opened her eyes again, trying hard to change her deep sorrow back to anger. “He is evil and he will die—eventually. Before that, we will strip him of his power. What say you, my sisters?”
I live in Minnesota where I holds tight to the idea that here, where it’s cold a good part of the year, I won’t age as fast. Yep, I avoid the truth as much as I avoid mirrors. But one of the reasons I love writing is reality doesn’t always offer up a “happily ever after” and being able to take control of that is a powerful lure. Being a happy ending junkie, writing just makes them easier to find. Oh, I doesn’t mind “real life” and I do try to at least keep it in mind when I write my stories, but I truly love creating a wonderful couple, knowing they will fall in love and have their HEA. Every – single – time. And, of course, that is exactly the reason I love reading this genre, too. Give me a glass of red wine, some dark chocolate, and my computer, whether I am reading or writing, and I will entertain myself for hours. The fact I actually get paid to do it, is Snickers bars on the frosting on the cake.
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