Fire for Ice
There’s a killer loose in the kingdom of Lanae, and Captain Tamir Arden, and his gremlin, must bring the culprit to justice. After a young woman is murdered, he discovers the killer has left a clue—a strange, but familiar marking carved into the poor girl’s flesh—a symbol belonging to the beautiful Princess Callista of Lanae. On his way to question her, Tamir finds Callista in panicked fear in the hallway outside her royal apartments, lost in a strange, magical spell. He’s swept away by the princess’ beauty, but even worse, both their gremlins are enamoured with each other—and whatever their soulbeings feel, so do the humans they represent. There’s a little quandary, however. If Tamir is caught with Callista, it could mean certain death for him. Ensnared between catching a killer who is hunting the Princess, and fighting his growing desires of forbidden love, humans, gremlins and magic collide.
He relished in the vibrant light of life shining in hues of red and orange, dancing like licking fire around her. The little imp on her shoulder confirmed the flame of her soul. The princess’ long, pale brown hair hung in a loose braid that trailed down her back. Her green eyes held him captive.
She offered a strained smile. “Captain Tamir. To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” The flowing skirts of her russet gown swirled about her legs as she moved to take a seat.
Forcing his knees to bend, he sat as well. He found it easy to slip into the formal speech required when visiting a royal, though he had little use for it. “I need to speak with you on a matter of utmost importance.”
“Of course, but first let me order us some refreshment. I find that always helps to move conversations along.” She smiled again, though it looked strained. She reached for a small crystal bell, and with a gentle shake, she summoned the maid. “Muri, please bring us something cool to drink, and a snack.”
The woman bowed and again disappeared as silent as a wraith, returning swiftly with the requested items.
“Thank you, Muri. That will be all.” When the woman left, Callista faced him once more. “Now, Captain, what is this pressing matter that you must speak to me about?” She poured him a glass of sweet, pale nectar and set a dainty little plate of cheese and bread before him.
“It’s about the murders, Princess.” Tamir pretended to take a sip, gazing at her over the rim of his cup. Her face looked far too drawn and pale, and her delicate brows drew into a tiny frown that quirked her lips downward.
“The murders, Captain? What would I know about the murders?”
She looked away, but he saw the tensing in her shoulders and the quiet gasp she tried to stifle. Tamir glanced around, spotting Glaze and the red imp huddled together, whispering. A smirk curled his lips. Glaze knew how to pry information from even the most closed-mouth of his kin. Trying his best to ignore the blatant attraction his gremlin found in the other creature, he turned his attention back to the princess.
A slight blush highlighted the apples of her cheeks. Ahhh, she feels it, too. With effort, he shook the emotions away. “There was another slaying last night in the market. Until now, this madman has never left a clue.” He set his cup down and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. Callista’s gaze returned to meet his. “This clue…involves you.”
“Me? H-h-however do you mean?” Slender fingers gripped the goblet tighter.
“The mark of flame and lyon were carved upon the woman’s flesh.” He waited for a response, but only saw her nostrils flare the slightest bit. This isn’t like a flame to be so calm. He ventured another glance at their daemons. Neither showed any emotion.
“I’m certain I’m not the only royal flame in the kingdom, Captain.” The smile she offered was forced, and didn’t reach her eyes.
“Oh, of course, I’m well aware of that. But this bears your personal sign as well.”
The blush from moments ago vanished into a ghostly pallor. She squirmed uncomfortably and stood to pace. “And how, may I ask, do you know my personal emblem?” She stopped, staring out the window.
“I’m sure you know that certain of those high in the royal guard are privy to such information.”
She spun to face him, the true nature of a fire soul beginning to take control. “I don’t suppose you can tell me what my symbol is?” Both her brows quirked high. She lifted her head and stuck out her chin, defiant and cold.
He stood and made his way toward her. “I can, but it must be away from prying ears.” He closed the gap between them, leaning down to whisper in her ear. “You are the phenix, Princess.” A spicy, exotic scent swirled through his senses. Without thinking, he nuzzled her neck.
She stepped clear of him, her delicate frame quivering with heated emotion.