Authors: Elysa Hendricks
Tags: #Kidnapping, #Fantasy Fiction, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #Fantasy, #Life on Other Planets, #Revenge, #General, #Love Stories
She was his dead brother’s lover and murderer, so how
could she affect him like this?
When he reached down for the woman, Kyne had braced
himself, but unlike when he touched her before, this time he
sensed nothing. Her fingers felt cool and fragile in his grip.
The heat of her at his back distracted him from any other
thoughts. Through his heavy cape he felt her every movement—
the shift of her hips as she eased the strain of riding, the turn of
her head, the press of her soft breasts, the brush of her slippered
feet against his calves, and the feel of her small hands on his
waist. Her sweet, feminine scent drifted under his nose. His
body reacted, tightening in spite of his mind’s objections. Disgust
that he should desire this woman pooled on his tongue.
“Are you cold?” How could she be? Self-loathing made
him hot despite the crisp mountain air.
“No. But I am hungry. You did not allow me time for first
meal. Is starvation to be the punishment for my alleged crimes?”
As if in emphasis, her stomach rumbled.
Kyne restrained his smile at her tart words. “Reach into
my pack, and you’ll find a bag of dried fruit and a skin of watered
wine. Calm yourself. Until you are judged, you’ll not be
She squirmed behind him as she hunted through his pack.
Her shoulder bumped his hip and her voice was muffled as she
answered. “Is that supposed to reassure me? Already I’ve been
abducted, dragged from the threshold of my bed chamber in
my nightwear, carted through the rain, terrorized and bruised,
accused of foul deeds and threatened with horrible retribution.
But I’m not supposed to worry because I’m safe until you see
fit to be my judge and pronounce sentence on me?” She
straightened and spoke her last words directly into his ear.
“Forgive me if I prefer to remain agitated.”
Always and forever my hero.
Other Books by Elysa Hendricks
At the edge of her bedroom terrace, Sianna lifted her gaze
and breathed in the peace and solitude of the night. Above,
Tareth’s twin moons dominated the night sky. While Kala’s
light bathed the garden in a white-gold glow, Dema remained a
translucent shadow—a crystal moon—a wishing moon.
“I wish my father would love me.” The night swallowed
her whisper but made no promises.
From behind, without a sound of warning, a strong arm
wrapped around her waist. The sharp, cold edge of a crystal
blade pricked her neck.
“Scream and I’ll cut your throat,” a woman’s voice rasped.
Sianna froze. “What do you want? Who are you?”
“Silence,” the woman hissed. “Don’t fight me, she-hound,
and you might live to see another sunrise.”
The woman’s whisper stirred the fine hairs at the nape of
Sianna’s neck. She shivered at the contempt and hatred in those
softly spoken words.
“Do you understand?” The woman’s arm tightened around
The crystal blade moved a hair. A pinprick of pain, then
warmth trickled down Sianna’s throat.
She swallowed and gave a brief nod. Through her thin
nightdress and robe she could feel the heat and strength of her
captor. Shock held her motionless.
What choice did she have? Scream, and the guards would
come in moments. Could they halt the slice of the blade? Sianna
doubted it. Or would she allow herself to be abducted? A quick
death or the unknown?
Closing her eyes, Sianna reached out empathetically toward
the woman. Like others read words on a page, Sianna read
The woman’s gut-wrenching ache of loss left Sianna
breathless. As always, she responded to the anguish with an
urge to soothe and heal. Her deep sense of empathy and the
healing skills she learned from the Sisters of Light, enabled her
to ease not only physical suffering, but emotional torment as
well. “Do you seek my help with your pain? If so, there is no
need for force. I’ll give it willingly. I am a trained healer.”
“Be quiet, or you’ll soon learn what pain is.” Her captor
shoved a gag into Sianna’s mouth, yanked her hands behind her
back, and lashed them together.
The choice was no longer hers to make. The force of the
woman’s shoulder in her middle knocked the air from her lungs,
but fear left her stunned. The woman threw Sianna over her
shoulder and strode off the terrace. Blood rushed to Sianna’s
In Kala’s fullness, Sianna had prayed for release from her
father’s control, to be free of his plans for her. She feared this
might be her answer.
She lifted her head, and her view of the garden dissolved
into the night, replaced by the thick forest of the surrounding
countryside. Even the faint light spilling from the open door to
her room disappeared. Branches scraped her arms and legs
and snatched painfully at her hair as her captor carried Sianna
through the foliage.
Her limbs grew numb from the lack of circulation. Dizzy,
she struggled to remain calm, to think rationally. All she could
manage was to breathe.
Sianna realized the hatred radiating off the woman in searing
waves was directed solely at her. Panic threatened to engulf
In a small clearing, the woman stopped and stood Sianna
on her feet. A saddled quinar waited. The dark, shaggy beast
stomped his hooves against the ground and shook his massive
head at their approach.
Sianna bolted, but took barely three trembling steps before
the woman snagged her arm and yanked her back. “Try to
escape again, and I’ll fix it so you’ll never walk again.” Her
captor flashed a knife in front of Sianna’s eyes. “Do you
Mesmerized by the glint of moonlight on the blade, Sianna
The woman mounted the quinar and hoisted Sianna up in
front of her.
Responding to an unspoken command, the quinar sprang
forward. With powerful strides, the animal carried them rapidly
away from Sianna’s father’s compound and safety. The ground
became a blur. Trees whipped past. Hands bound at her back,
she closed her eyes and prayed for deliverance.
Much later the woman slowed the blowing quinar to a more
sedate pace. The quinar ’s muscles quivered, its sweat
dampening Sianna’s bare legs. She read his simple emotions
easily. If the woman asked, the beast would run until its heart
burst, such was its love and devotion for this woman. That her
captor inspired loyalty in the animal gave Sianna hope.
Above, clouds gathered, obscuring the moons. A cold rain
began, quickly soaking through her robe and nightdress. Only
her inner thighs, pressed to the quinar’s coarse fur, and her
back to the woman’s chest, remained warm. She shivered, her
teeth biting convulsively at the gag in her mouth.
Her captor seemed oblivious to the downpour and the cold.
The intensity of the silence frightened Sianna more than the
threats or the crystal blade. Pain, fear and exhaustion had her
sagging against her captor, grateful for the meager warmth the
woman’s body provided.
Questions flickered through Sianna’s mind. Why had she
been abducted? Where did they travel? What would be her
fate when they arrived?
Only her captor knew. Even if Sianna could pose the
questions, she doubted the woman would give her answers. A
shudder racked Sianna. She pushed uselessly at the gag clogging
her mouth. Lulled by the sway of the quinar, she thought of the
changes recently wrought in her life.
For all her eighteen years, Sianna had lived with the gentle
Sisters of Light, hidden away by a father who appeared to
have forgotten her existence. Under their care she grew and
learned their healing arts. Long ago, she gave up hope her father
would call her home, that she would have a family beyond the
sisterhood. She loved the sisters and her work but longed to
see the outside world. Sometimes the constant peace and
serenity wore on her. Though necessary for healing, the
atmosphere often left her restless and unsatisfied.
Then a tenday before, without warning her half-sister, Laila,
arrived, saying their father wanted Sianna to return home. Laila
stormed the peaceful enclave of the sisterhood as if conducting
a war campaign. Her intrusion changed Sianna’s life. Before
she could question or object, her meager belongings were packed,
and she was on the road.
Filled with hope and apprehension for the future, Sianna
found comfort in Laila’s kindness. During the trip, she eased
Sianna’s fears, protected her from the dangers of the trail and
made her laugh. Hungry for a family of her own, Sianna quickly
grew to love her brash warrior half-sister. Though Laila’s
emotions were hidden from Sianna, she felt that Laila returned
Home proved to be quite different from Sianna’s girlish
daydreams. No loving arms enfolded her, no laughter, no
warmth. Her father greeted her coolly, then avoided her
company. When she tried to reach out to him, he shut himself
behind mental walls she could not scale. She perceived a misery
deep in his ka, but he rejected all her overtures.
Once in their father’s castle, Laila shared her quarters with
Sianna, but not her thoughts. She became distracted. Shortly
after their arrival, Laila left, and their father retreated to his
rooms. No one would say where Laila had gone.
Sianna’s intuition screamed a warning, but she could find
no solid cause for her feelings of imminent tragedy.
Then that morning, her father emerged from seclusion. At
dinner he announced her coming marriage. Though shocked
and terrified, Sianna, trained in respect and obedience by the
good sisters, held back her instinctive denial of her father’s
edict. Only later did she seek peace on her bedroom terrace.
She had fled one trap and stepped into another.
When the quinar came to a halt, the jolt stirred Sianna from
her dazed state. The rain had stopped and dawn struggled to
break the night’s hold, casting a gray light over the clearing
ahead where a campfire gave off an enticing glow.
Dressed in dark, coarse clothing, their hair long and unkempt,
six men approached. An air of determination and menace
surrounded them. Their hard, merciless stares struck terror into
her heart. Sianna couldn’t stop her shudder of fear.
An impenetrable wall of hatred blocked her tentative
probing—hatred directed at her. Bile clogged her throat. She
choked, her body convulsing.
The woman ripped away the gag. Dry heaves racked Sianna
as she gulped air.
One man stepped forward and grabbed the quinar’s bridle.
“You are a fool, Katya!” Ire warred with concern in the man’s
voice. “Were you followed?” He reached up. His large, battle-
scarred hands closed around Katya’s waist and lifted her down
from the quinar.
Katya stood toe-to-toe with the man. His massive body
dwarfed her tall frame. “No, Graham, I was not followed. I
doubt she has even yet been missed. DiSanti’s compound is in
disarray, the watch lax, as if no one is in charge. The little fool
walked in the garden without guards. Did they think we would
not avenge Aubin?” Her voice broke on the last word.
Graham’s gaze softened. “You are wet and cold. Come
warm yourself by the fire. I will see to Deju.”
To Sianna, the man’s strained, gravelly tones spoke of his
regard for the woman.
Katya nodded, either unaware or uncaring of the man’s
love. She turned and grabbed Sianna, pulling her from the saddle.
Cold and numb, Sianna’s legs buckled. Unable to catch
herself with her bound arms, she landed face down. A twig
tore her cheek. Warm blood oozed from the scratch. Tears
sprang to her eyes.
A booted foot prodded her side. She tried to curl into a ball,