Excerpt: Legend of the Bastard King

Fallon stepped through the doors and stopped in confusion. When the man said court, she had envisioned a court of law. This… this was more like a cross between an orgy and a variety show. At least no one seemed to give her any notice as she tried to gather her wits. When an acrobat leaned back and touched a torch to his lips then exhaled a long stream of fire in her general direction she managed to hold her ground. Barely.

“Lieutenant Fallon Gregoran of Helicon.” The herald had a big mouth, and a voice loud enough to cut through the din.

And still nobody looked up. No, there was one man paying attention. Behind the bench—or would that be a throne? He’d been walking toward a door and stopped at the name of her homeland, turned and glared directly at her.

She almost forgot to breathe. If this wasn’t the king, he should be. Mere mortals didn’t have the kind of presence that could make a woman feel naked just by staring at her across a crowded room. He was dressed simply, even plainly, in a white shirt, gray jacket and dark trousers, and he stood out like a White Sister in a Carnivale parade.

The only thing that glittered on him was his eyes; she couldn’t be sure if they were promising all the delights of paradise or the horrors of the darkest ring of Hell. And even through the disguising clothing, it was obvious he had the body to deliver on the promise either way.

He walked back to the throne and pulled up the half-dressed figure sprawled on it—by his hair—then leaned down and said something she couldn’t hear over the general roar.

The man on the throne opened his eyes and sat straight, blinking at her. Light eyes, and golden-brown hair in the better light. He looked as if he were part Heliconan, at least. A chill shivered up her spine. Or a Heliconan raised in Dacia’s fog. Surely someone would have mentioned Heliconan expats on Dacia if they’d known about this?

“Come closer, my dear, no need to be shy here!” The roar ceased.

Aware of every eye on her, she straightened her spine and strode through the suspended chaos. And through it all the dark man next to the throne was watching her as intently as a cat with a goldenfish. Her heart sped up. What was he looking at?

She stopped eight steps from the throne as she’d been taught and executed a deep bow.

“So, Lieutenant Gregoran, welcome to Vanashta. And welcome to the court of Dryan of Dacia. What can I do for the Helicon Empire today?” His sensual mouth curved up in a smile that didn’t even make it to the bridge of his nose. “Or are you a gift?”

Fallon swallowed hard at the leering tone of his last question and reached for the envelope in her breast pocket. “I have a message from the Sea of Leagues Treaty Organization, regarding the naval base.” She stepped forward far enough to hand the sealed, beribboned envelope to the king, then retreated back to the safety of protocol’s limit.

Dryan handed it over his shoulder without looking at it, and the dark man took it with only a frown line between his brows indicating he’d noticed.

Dryan leaned forward, one elbow planted on his thigh. “Why now?”

“Excuse me, Sir? I mean, Your Majesty?”

“The land was granted by my great-grandfather for that base, and it’s sat unused for three generations. I repeat, why now?”

“I wasn’t told that, Your Majesty. I’m a liaison, not an ambassador.”

“Yes, and I’m obviously important enough to rate a lieutenant as my means of communication with the almighty Gattus Gregoran.” Sarcasm dripped from his words.

She could feel her blood pressure rising and suddenly she didn’t care what anyone thought. “Well, you’re important enough to have Admiral Gregoran’s daughter as a means of communication with him, if that makes you feel any better.”

The dead silence erupted into a breeze made of whispers. He leaned back. “Then it seems I have a second reason to welcome you…cousin.”

If he’d meant it to come as a shock, he was a little late. She bowed again.

“The evening meal begins in two hours. I shall expect your company, lieutenant, so we can compare family trees.” He turned to his left. “Lord Rigeliar, assist Lieutenant Gregoran to her quarters and help her get settled.”

“Quarters, Your Majesty? You mean to house me in your own palace?” A ripple of laughter answered her.

“Of course. You’re family, after all. On my mother’s side at least.”

“Your Majesty, Kriegan—” the dark man began.

“No, Rigel.” Dryan’s voice had changed from warm honey to icy titanium. “You will escort my cousin to the consul’s suite. Not one of your minions.”

“As you wish.”

1 comment so far

  1. Debbie on

    I’ve read Blade’s Edge and The Valmont Contingency. Loved them both. Wish I could get The Valmont Contingency in book form, not just ebook.
    Just read your excerpt from Legend of the Bastard King – it’s great, left me hanging. When will the rest of the story be available?

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