With a sigh, Amara let the hot water relax her and she tried to banish the
troublesome thoughts from her mind. Fretting about what could happen would do
absolutely no good, and she knew firsthand that usually what a person thought
was going to happen ended up being the complete opposite of everything one
She soaked a little longer, then stepped out of the tub and dried off with a yawn. A
cool summer night’s breeze blew in from the window and touched her skin, raising
goosebumps all along her arms. She shivered and frowned. It wasn’t really cold.
The evening was warm, in fact, but something in the breeze chilled her right to the
bone. She pulled on her night dress and combed out her long blonde hair, plaiting
it into a braid. An owl hooted outside, it’s call low and mournful. For some reason,
that made her shiver also.
She frowned, wondering where her jitters were coming from. She hadn’t been
scared of the dark since she’d been five, and she usually found the sounds of the
night calming and peaceful. She shook her head. She was probably just on edge
because of her worrisome thoughts. It would do her well to get a good night’s rest.
Turning away from her vanity mirror, she moved toward her bed, but stopped with
a gasp when she saw a shadow pass across her window. Her heart stuttered in her
chest then thumped hard against her rib cage. She blinked and kept her eyes on
the window for several seconds. No other movement came. She debated on her
course of action and knew she should leave her room and go find a servant or a
guard, but she was no cowering child. Besides, she didn’t even know if she had
actually seen anything at all. She was exhausted and there was a very good
possibility that that, coupled with all the worrying she had been doing all day, had
made her eyes play tricks on her.
Taking a quick glance around her room, she snatched up a heavy silver
candlestick. It wasn’t the best weapon, but it was better than nothing. Clutching it
tightly in her hand, she approached her window, which lead out onto a balcony.
Tentatively, she poked her head out and scanned the area.
She breathed a sigh of relief and stepped out onto the balcony, letting her eyes
gaze across the moonlit gardens of the castle.
Catlaan was a beautiful country, full of rolling hills and dense forest. Their kingdom
was worth fighting for, and her father was a wonderful king. Benevolent and just,
her father had ruled the lands with peace since before she had been born. She
couldn’t bear the thought of someone wanting to do him harm now.
She sighed, smiled sadly, and turned to go back inside, but instead of finding the
open window granting her access into her chambers, she bumped into a solid
object that caused her to gasp and stagger backwards.
She grasped the candlestick tight and raised it, ready to swing away, but her hand
stopped in mid-air as her eyes fell upon the face of the stranger before her. He
was very tall and dressed all in black, almost as if the night itself was cloaking him,
and his face…it was wicked. Demonic almost in its darkness with green eyes that
seared her…like jade fire. His black hair framed a face harshly and cruelly
beautiful, and shivers broke out all over her body. Shivers of fear. The menace
that radiated off of him was almost nauseating in its intensity, and her shock
abated into horror. Something clicked back into place in her mind and she swung
her arm at him in an attempt to hit him with her weapon.
He shackled her wrist easily with his own large, gloved hand and he squeezed until
she was forced to drop the candlestick. It fell to the ground with an echoing thump.
His burning eyes never left her face and her heart hammered in fear as his
sculpted lips broke into a malevolent sneer. He stepped up close to her, trapping
her with his presence alone, and she felt a scream boil up her throat. She opened
her mouth to release it, but no sound emerged. He grasped the back of her head
and pressed a cloth to her nose and mouth, restricting her air supply and
replacing it with some-thing noxious, something that made her stomach turn and
her vision go blurry. She squeezed her eyes shut and was vaguely aware of the
fact that she was fighting against him, not that it did any amount of good. The
stranger was as solid and unmovable as an oak tree. Slowly, her consciousness
slipped into dim confusion. Then…darkness…
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He was hewn from cruelty and violence.
He felt nothing, he was nothing. He was wild, untamed, a
shadow, a hand of death, a law unto himself. He had never
known love. He had never felt love.
For the amaranth flower. Perfect, undying, beautiful. The only
soft thing in his hardened world. The only thing he had ever
held in reverence, and the only thing to ever offer him solace.
He had never faltered in his assignments. His hand had never
wavered. But that was before he’d been ordered to kidnap her.
A woman of unique disposition, undaunted in the face of her
adversity. A woman bearing the same name as the immortal
flower he so cherished.
She could be his greatest downfall…or his greatest treasure.
|Amaranth of the Wild Things
Available in Print & e-book
May 2009/Revised Edition 2015
$12.95 / $3.99
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