Through a twist of fate, Princess Gabrielle became First Knight of the King’s Elite Guard, a position always held by the second born male. She's spent years proving to the Minsters of Faldaera she is capable of leading the king’s Army.
When mythical creatures plague her kingdom, Rielle is sent to capture Captain Brody, the alleged culprit behind the attacks and the man who broke her heart four years ago.
Brody, Crown Prince of Delphine, is living in self-imposed exile, atoning for the sins of his father. But Fate has different plans for him. Tired, beaten down, and ready to give up on life, he is tossed into the path of the one person he would do anything for―Princess Gabrielle.
With a traitor in her ranks, and a mark on her head, Brody joins forces with Rielle, hoping to keep the woman he loves safe.
Happily-ever-after is not guaranteed, and mythical creatures aren’t the only danger the couple face. As battles rage, Rielle has the chance to prove herself a capable leader, but will doing so cost her the love of her life?
Brody lifted his tankard and took a swallow of the bitter brew, wishing he could drown his sorrows away. He knew from experience it was the worst thing to do. Not only would his problems still be there the next day, but if experience held out, they would be worse. A raging headache and upset stomach interfered too much with crewing a ship.
“We could stay here a few more days, if you want,” Ruprecht said.
Brody raised a brow. “Are you reading my mind now?”
“No. I’ve just seen that look before.”
Before Brody could say anything, the door opened. A young woman, dressed in field armor, stepped inside with two knights flanking her. Her gaze swept the room, drifting past him, before returning and locking on him, eyes widening in surprise.
Brody cursed under his breath, recognition dawning as she exchanged words with the two men. The older one shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. The younger tapped a hand to his chest and slipped out the door. He couldn’t hear what she said, but by the flush that crept into the knight’s face, he was certain she hadn’t liked him disobeying her order.
Of all the people in Faldaera, she was the last person he ever thought to see. She should be at Griffonvul Castle, training with the men, not out for a pint. Surely her appearance here was a coincidence. Or was it? Had his aunt somehow learned of their stolen moment in the garden four years ago? He wouldn’t put it past her to have set something up with the princess.
As she stalked to his table, he took the opportunity to study her. Eyes, like honey flecked with chocolate, looked at him, a flicker of hurt in their amber depths. He wondered at it briefly as he studied the rest of her.
Strands of golden blonde hair pulled loose from her braid. Dirt and dried blood smeared her face and her leathers, as if she had ridden here from the battlefield. She was far from the beautiful princess he had danced with under the stars, but she still made his pulse jump.
The derision filled word rang in the room, drawing the attention of his men. They shifted in their seats, hands drifting to weapons. He knew he need only give the sign and they would detain her.
“Princess Gabrielle. What a pleasant surprise.” He smirked, the twist of his lips blossoming into a full smile when her eyes narrowed.
“Surprise?” She laughed, the sound wrapping around him and squeezing his heart. “I don’t think so. What are you doing in Faldaera?”
He took a sip of ale, studying her over the mug. “Just passing through.” When she frowned, he decided to see how far he could push her. “Were you hoping I’d drop by the castle for a visit?”
“Hardly,” she replied, dryly. “Besides, you’d have a hard time finding me there, anyway.”
“Too busy out playing knight?”
“Playing?” The man at her side said, his hands flexing as if he’d like to take a swipe at Brody. “Do you have any idea to whom you are speaking?”
Brody grinned and winked at Rielle. “Oh, I know exactly to whom I’m speaking.”
“Then you should be more respectful,” the knight said.
“I apologize if I have offended you, Your Highness.”
Brody tipped his head forward, a lock of brown hair falling in his eye. He brushed it back just in time to catch Rielle rolling her eyes.
“It would take more than that to offend me. However, my men are a bit touchier on the subject than I am. You’d be wise to be careful with your words.”
Ah, she still had the same rapier wit he’d sampled the last time they met. He wondered if her kisses were still as sweet. If her skin was still as soft. If she would melt in his arms like she had that night.
“My father has requested an audience with you.”
Her words snapped him out of his thoughts. “Me? Whatever for?”
She laughed again, but this time it was a hollow, mirthless sound. “You truly thought no one would put the pieces together and figure it out?”
“Figure what out?”
“Your arrival in Faldaera corresponds perfectly with the increase in creature attacks. Then there’s the trident marking on their manacles. What are you after, Captain Brody?”
He grinned, relieved she hadn’t used his real title. Then her words registered, and he stared, stunned she would think Delphine responsible for what was happening here.
“I thought you knew me better.”
“So did I,” she whispered.
He swore he could see pain in her eyes, and he hated to think he had put it there.
“I have my orders. Will you come willingly?”
He looked at the man at her side again and grinned. “Traveling light, Princess?”
“My other men will be here soon.”
“Ah, but mine are here now.” He leaned forward. “Who do you think would win?”
Her face paled, and for a moment, he thought he’d gone too far.
“You’ve never seen me fight, Captain.”
“There’s a first time for everything. Do you remember our other firsts?” Her cheeks tinged, and she swayed. Brody frowned. “Are you all right?”
She looked up at him, and he saw fear in her eyes. Her mouth opened, but no sound came out.
Her eyes rolled back as her body went limp. Brody jumped to his feet, scooping her into her arms before she collided with the floor.