Chain of Kisses -- July 2011
For years, Prince Admiral Arles of Tor has been obsessed with Princess Gisel Vanda, who jilted him at the altar. When he discovers the lovely runaway is now a mercenary space captain, he sets out to capture her; Gisel is an obsession he means to get out of his system. He soon discovers she’s even more intelligent and beautiful than before, but she’s also a political liability he can’t afford.
Gisel bitterly regrets jilting Arles, and her love for him still burns bright. Her captivity offers her the opportunity to redeem herself. But as a murderous enemy closes in, can love survive the demands of royalty?
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I gave the manacle on my right arm a restless tug, and it responded with a musical rattle. I couldn’t see a damn thing. A blindfold bit into my temples, wrapping me in sensual, intimate darkness.
The lack of vision only made me more aware of him. His scent, that faint tang of spice and masculinity, the heat of his big body standing just to the left of the bunk he’d chained me to, the slight rasp of his breathing.
I have always been acutely aware of Prince Arles of Tor. Once my intended, now my captor.
He took a step nearer, and the click of his boot heels on the deck reverberated in my senses. I quivered like an animal. The bed dipped under his weight. I imagined his nudity, and my breathing roughened. The way he’d looked that night ten years before was branded on my memory.
Arles’s broad back had flexed as he’d used the light whip, the perfect tanned hemispheres of his bare ass working in concert with the leap of thigh muscles and the snap of brawny arms.
Rilla had squirmed and sighed each time he’d hit her. Even as young as I’d been a decade ago, I’d known she loved it. The smell of sex hung in the air like some kind of musky, exotic spice.
“That’s what he’ll do to you,” my sister had whispered as we watched from the secret chamber. “And he’ll make you want it. Mother will be appalled.” Our mother might know Arles dominated other women, but it would never occur to her that one of her daughters would feel the need to submit. We, after all, had been born to rule.
“Never,” I’d snarled, with all the melodrama of the seventeen-year-old I was. I couldn’t drag my eyes away from the prince’s feral strength. “I will not shame my blood.” I could feel myself going wet.
“You will. He’ll weave his alien magic, and you’ll bow that proud little head.”
I feared Isa was right. Even if I hadn’t been in love with him, Arles was too much for me. I’d end up sacrificing everything I was to his dominance and raw male power. My mother would turn from me in disgust and revulsion. Child that I was, I could not bear the thought of her disappointment.
But I also knew my mother would force me to abide by the demands of the treaty. Saying no at the altar was not an option.
Two hours later, I’d slipped out of the palace, abandoning my world, my family, and my life. The Capital Spaceport was only a few blocks away, and I meant to seek passage off-world. I was too well-known to take a flitter taxi – any capital cabbie knew my curfew and would refuse to pick me up, for fear of the Royal Guard’s wrath -- so I decided to walk.
Barely a block from my goal, I was attacked by a pack of throat-slitters who dragged me into an alley. I survived only because a passing mercenary heard my screams and charged to the rescue. He killed every one of the slitters and flew me to his ship for treatment, for I’d been badly injured.
Captain Galon Teve had a merc’s hard eyes, but his heart was soft. When I told him my story, the big gray-haired cyborg took pity on me and hired me on as crew.
My new mentor taught me to how to fight, how to kill -- and how to pleasure. Yet no matter how I tried, I could never love Galon as he came to love me. My heart was already captive to a boy with a paladin’s eyes.
And a man with a devil’s smile.
Under Galon’s tutelage, I discovered a talent for tactics and strategy. Eventually I became his second-in-command. When Galon fell in battle with the Lizards, I succeeded him as captain of the Valkyrie Quest.
Through it all, Arles haunted my shamed fantasies. I’d lay in my lonely bunk with one hand stroking between my thighs as I remembered the shadows rolling across that big body in time to the snap of his whip.
Now it was no dream.