A chance meeting between a prince and a peasant results in consequences that will not only change their lives, but also the kingdom.

Cover by Zillah Designs.


32. Chapter Thirty Two: Khyber

      I clutched Samera closer, silently cursing myself. What had I been thinking going to see her when I was so upset? I didn’t want Samera to remember me like that. I should have waited until I had calmed down but I’d needed to be comforted by her, to be held by her. Kissing Samera’s hair I breathed in her scent, vowing that I wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t send her away. Fighting away the bitter tears that stung my eyes I recalled the conversation I’d had with my father. The King’s greeting had been cold and he looked ten years older than the last time I had seen him.

      “I want her gone,” he’d growled. “I don’t mind that you’ve started using whores but you cannot keep one in the Palace.”

      My cheeks had flushed with indignation. “She is not a whore.”

      “Abelard said that she is the peasant those gahlers pretended was Leanda. He also said that you’re in love with her.” My father’s eyes had turned hard. “You will never see her again.” I had opened my mouth to interrupt but the King had continued. “The whore will be out of the Palace by the time the sun rises otherwise I will have her head mounted on a spike. If she sets foot on Palace grounds again I will...”

      “I get the idea,” I’d muttered angrily.

      Samera sighed softly in her sleep and I turned my attention to her. It was no use; I would have to wake her but I couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to see Samera every day. I sent a silent prayer to the Goddess, begging her to look after Samera.

      “Samera,” I murmured shaking her gently. “Wake up, Samera.”

      Her blue eyes opened and slowly focused on me. “Khyber,” she smiled.

      Stroking her cheek I said. “I... I’ve got some bad news. You need to leave the Palace.”


      I frowned. Samera hadn’t sounded upset and her face was hard to read. “By sunrise,” I answered.

      She immediately pushed the bedcovers off and moved to the ornate wooden wardrobe. I watched silently as Samera walked behind the screen in the corner with some clothes. Sitting up I gazed at the painted screen, knowing that I should say something but having no idea what.

      When Samera appeared from behind the screen dressed in the plainest of the dresses that Leanda had given her, she said. “The sun will be rising soon.” She pulled on a thick cloak and stood before me as if waiting.

      I got to my feet and tried to smooth down my crumpled clothes. Samera came over and ran a hand through my messy hair. My scalp tingled and I took her hand in mine. “I’ll walk you to the gate.”

      There was hardly any snow left now and our journey to the main gate was over far too quickly.

      Lifting my eyes to meet Samera’s I whispered. “Samera, I don’t want you to go. It’s my father... I’m so sorry.”

      With a sad smile she shook her head. “I don’t belong here. It was kind of you to care for me. I’m very grateful.”

      “Kind? You think I did that out of kindness? I love you, Samera. I can’t stand the thought of not being near you.”

      Samera’s blue eyes were shiny with tears. “Please Khyber, don’t make this harder than it already is. I don’t want this to be how you remember me. ”

      “What do you mean?” I asked, my eyes widening when I saw the sun starting to rise. “We’re going to see each other again.” I was uncomfortably aware of how desperate I sounded.

      Samera was quiet for a moment before saying. “Yes, of course we will.”

      There were several guards at the metal gate that divided the Palace and the upper town, but I ignored them as I kissed Samera goodbye.

      “I love you so much,” I murmured, resting my forehead on hers. “I will find a way for us to be together.”

      “I love you too. May the Goddess protect you.”

      The guards opened the gate at my order and Samera smiled sadly at me before turning and walking away. It felt like she was taking part of me with her.


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