A Heart's Chance
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Paula Calloway
Word Count :25515
Publication Date :2011-06-19
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-55487-001-1
Blinded by light is preferable to blinded by darkness.
In his search, Mikeli learns the heart that belongs to him is wrongly taken and loses all claims to the heavenly realm for his failure to reunite their celestial souls. Into his world comes another heart, his own daughter, who lives under his protection until the seraph who holds claim to her comes forward.
Marija loves her father, but her mother’s words haunt her as time promises her no escape from her inevitable part in the games of men.
His soul tugged at by death, Cael nears the end of his hunt until a black stallion races through the snow and delivers his heart into his grasp. His search ends, but her ways are set, and his chances are slim.
Heavily armored, his visor down, Mikeli inhaled the lingered tang of blood. “The scent of death is a sweet victory.” The scrape of metal on his black greave garnered his attention. He tilted his head and pointed his sword at the struggling man’s throat. “Those unable to rise, die.” His blade shoved into the dying man’s neck, he strode past and freed his sword in the process. “Pass the order and find me the weakling Jazep.”
As he strode into the castle yard and looked up, his gaze zeroed in on a young lady adorned in noble garb. His goal the heavily land-laden woman fixed in his view, he smirked. The scent of her fear tinged the air. Although the woman didn’t match the physical description, he innately knew her for her behavior. “Seize everything. It now belongs to me.” Her sprint down the upper walkway earned his lecherous chuckle. “Especially that prize.”
His stop ended in a slide, Fricis saluted. “The noble couple is cornered in the war room with several high-ranking officials, my lord.”
Mikeli pointed with his sword toward where he last saw the fleeing beauty. “A young lady adorned in royal finery, not quite fitting the description of my new wife, ran that way. Retrieve the girl and bring her to the war room so she may join us for negotiations.”
“Right away, my lord.” The guard signaled toward several soldiers. “Follow me. Will be done fast, my lord.”
“I know.” He rested the flat of his blade on his shoulder and stepped through the splintered remains of the main doors. “Perhaps the next time one suggests you fortify your stronghold, you’ll listen instead of thinking yourself too mighty, Lord Jazep.” In all fairness, he did warn the noble idiot two days ago. His admiration of the marble floor brief, he nodded at two of his men who stepped from his path upon his entrance of the grand room. “Well, well, well. What a lovely sight.”
His sword unsteady, Jazep stepped back. “What do you seek?”
Mikeli yawned. “My wealthy lady wife.”
“My rich and well-titled wife.”
Fricis entered the room, the struggling young woman’s elbows and wrists secured behind her with the assistance of another soldier. “Sire, I have your prize.”
Mikeli turned. “Ah, here’s the lovely creature now.” He nodded. “Lady Ilona.”
“She’ll put up a good fight, sire.”
The bruise and cuts on his soldier’s cheek swiftly assessed, he ascertained the length and size of the utilized weapon. “So declares your split lip. I hope the involved mirror wasn’t one of her prized possessions.” His grin wicked, he swept his gaze over her slight figure and narrowed his eyes. “I anticipate our encounter, my lady.” He pivoted and faced the sword-wielding stronghold master. “Her for peace.”
Jazep lowered his sword point toward the ground. “You come into my home brandishing a blade adorned with the drying blood of my slain people and demand peace?”
“Oh, pardon me.” His maneuver swift, Mikeli stabbed his sword into a nearby official, withdrew his blade, and eyed the fine-honed metal. “Now it’s fresh blood.” He crossed the floor in two strides and aimed his sword point at the stronghold mistress’s heart. “Give me your daughter in exchange for an alliance or lose your lady wife, Lord Jazep.”
“M-my daughter is married.”
“No, she is widowed. You can give her to me, and we can form an alliance, or I can take her. Last chance.”
Haughty, Daina raised her head. “I arranged her marriage to an older noble of high-ranking wealth years ago, and she married last month on the day after her eighteenth birthday. If you murdered him, I would arrange a more suitable marriage with another noble, but certainly not with the likes of a baseborn lord like you.”
His sword steady, the arrogance in her voice too much, Mikeli locked his gaze on the stronghold mistress’s face. “And at merely four years older than the lady in question, I am a more appropriate match. Also, Lady Daina, rest assured I will never trade your daughter as payment for a debt.” He thrust his blade into her bosom, pierced her heart, and withdrew in a single maneuver.
“No!” Ilona stared as her mother slumped to the floor and landed in a heap at the black plate mailed boots.
He turned his head and leveled his gaze on the young woman’s face. “Yes, my lady?”
Her shuddered breaths shrugged off, Mikeli raised his weapon and aimed the steady point at the stronghold master’s heart. He smirked, and the monarch’s dropped sword clattered to the ground. “Your answer, Lord Jazep.”
“Stop.” Ilona fought her bindings to reach him but failed. “Please, dark lord.”
He turned his head and studied her tear-streaked face. “Pardon me, my lady, but I’m not quite certain I heard your words correctly.”
“I accept your terms in exchange for my father’s life.”
Jazep gasped. “Ilona, don’t—”
Mikeli redirected his gaze and raised his sword point to the stronghold master’s throat. “The lady and I are speaking. Be silent, or I’ll detach your head from your neck.” He turned back toward the impressive young woman. “Make me your offer again, my lady.”
“Tell your lackeys to release me.” Her demand granted by his swift, but curt nod, Ilona stepped forward. “You asked for my hand in exchange for an alliance. I will grant such if you lower your sword, gather your forces, and leave my father’s realm tonight.”
Delighted by her shiver, he lowered, cleaned, and sheathed his blade. “Done.” He studied her expression. “You propose no further terms?”
“Need I do so?”