Life has been calm and quiet for Aran for almost seven years since moving into Banter. She is a prosperous business owner, has friends, and helps those in need without question. Yet a delivery of a mysterious jewel encrusted box changes all of that for her in an instant.
Not only is the mysterious box enchanted, revealing someone knows of her deepest secrets, it imprisons a man unlike any other. Bold, fearsome, strong. A warrior from a place she's never heard of, a land she's never known. And the most glaring fact to his arrival is she is the only one with the knowledge to set him free, with a magic he cannot trust.
Rordan must return to the kingdom of Eglandor to stop the wicked sorceress who has imprisoned him, deliver the throne to King Tah-lel's appointed heir, and fulfill his destiny with the woman from another time, another world. And there's only so much time to do it all with the King's health failing and an uprising from within only waiting for the moment to claim the throne.
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Her hand trembled as she reached for the black stone box, cautiously opening the carved lid to peer inside without lifting it from the table. She sagged with relief when she found it empty. She had really been worried about the alternative. A draft from a window somewhere sent a soft breeze that wrapped around her ankles.
It was an empty box after all with just a bed of midnight black velvet in the bottom. No mirror, nothing on the inside. Not even a ring shelf. She flipped it over once or twice just to see if it had a hidden compartment. When the box gave up no more secrets, she snapped the lid closed, repinning the shield. She sighed in disappointment.
She barely caught the flicker of movement behind her out of the corner of her eye as she set the box back on the table. She spun and screamed. The sound was cut off when a huge hand stopped her air.
"Where is she?"
Her hands flew up to steel-hard arms, clawing desperately, but her strength against his was an impossibility. A kitten fighting a tiger. She couldn't even wrap her fingers around one wrist.
She tried to talk, but her voice had left her. Her eyes rounded under the constriction of his strong fingers. They would have fallen out if she let had them. Spots were already forming in her vision and a harsh roaring began in her ears. She realized with a sinking feeling it was her racing heart.
The man holding her captive looked just like the one who had given her the box. He was just as huge, with incensed black eyes, and a snarling rage in his voice.
He shook her once. "Where is she?" he shouted.
"Who?" Aran barely gasped out.
"Lady Branwyn," he said bending her backward over the table's edge, his hand punishing in its strength.
"I don't know," was as much as she could gasp. She blinked, fighting rising nausea and spots.
A hissing sound echoed in the room, grating through her mind. The long glinting blade of a sword filled her vision. His furious gaze drew to slits. "I said, where is she?" She tried to swallow. Another sword? Just who were these guys?
His low demand was malice wrapped in hate. Aran shook her head, trembling and unable to stop. She thought she might even have the first fainting episode of her life.
"I don't know," she managed through a throat that was hot and raw. "I don't know her."
She gulped air greedily when his fingers flexed and loosened. She wasn't free, but it was a start. She stood straight, his hand holding her in place as easily as a collar.
"Who are you? You are not one of her maids." His gaze raked over her, really seeing her for the first time. She shivered at the contempt sparking from those black depths.
"I'm no one's maid," she told him firmly, daring to breathe deeper. His fingers felt like hot iron, wrapped around her throat. She was still tugging and pulling ineffectively at the arm that held her so easily. She had yet to do anything to affect his position or his hold.
"Let me go." His gaze narrowed at her attempt to sound brave. She repeated it, adding, "Then get the hell out of my house!"
His fingers circled her neck once more briefly, almost casually. "No."
"No?" The nausea reared up and threatened again.