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.


21. Chapter Twenty One: Samera


      I awoke in Omer’s arms. He rarely left my side these days.

      I was getting better. That was what Myra kept telling me, and I knew I was because ever since Khyber’s visit on the winter solstice I had managed to say several words. The book he had given me was under my pillow. I pulled it out and flicked through the pages. The writing made no sense to me but the drawings were beautiful. It had been very kind of the prince to give it to me. Omer didn’t like that Khyber visited me so much. He was jealous. But what did Omer have to be jealous of? Khyber was only being kind by spending time with me. He didn’t come for any other reason, just kindness. He was the good prince. Sliding the book back under my pillow I gazed at Omer. He was pleasant to look at but I knew that he cared for me more than I did for him. It surprised me that he was allowed to share a bed with me even though we weren’t married yet. Something white caught my eye and I sat up slightly. Flurries of white were cascading down outside. Moving out of Omer’s arms I padded to the window, my feet in thick socks. I pressed my hands to the cold glass and peered outside. Everything was covered in white.


      Memories of snowball fights with Menul and Omer filled my mind. I liked the snow. I liked how it made everything look so different. An excited laugh escaped my mouth.

      “Samera? What are you doing?” Omer blinked at me sleepily from where he was lying in the bed. I gestured for him to join me and he got up. His arm wasn’t in a sling anymore. Omer was all better.

      “Snow,” I grinned as Omer put an arm around me.

      Smiling he kissed my head. “You always did love snow.”

      I grabbed Omer’s hand and pulled him towards the corridor. “Let’s play in the snow.”

      It was the first coherent sentence I had said and Omer stared at me in shock. He stroked my cheek, his brown eyes shining. “Samera you...” laughing he enveloped me in his arms and held me close. “Oh I love you so much.” Omer’s lips met mine and he kissed me tenderly, a hand on my neck and the other on my waist.

      When he released me I continued towing him to the hallway.

      “Wait,” Omer said stopping me. “You can’t go out like that. You’ll freeze.”

      Quickly changing into warmer clothes I ran outside with Omer in tow. He laughed at my enthusiasm. I knelt down and ran my gloved hands through the snow. The first morning rays were shining, brightening the sky. Omer lifted me up and span around. We overbalanced and ended up on the snow. He smiled at me where I lay on top of him and brushed my hair from my face. A snowball attacked us and surprised we looked up to find the two children, Chia and Birna standing nearby. Omer and I got to our feet and soon there were snowballs flying everywhere. I liked Chia and Birna. They were a handful for their poor mother who had a young baby to care for as well, but they were sweet children. Myra let me play with them. Recently she had even let me help her with the patients.

      We must have been playing for a long time because Prince Khyber appeared. Without thinking I threw a snowball at him. It hit him on the face. Realising what I had done I gasped and pressed my hands to my face. Behind Khyber, Orien was trying not to laugh. Khyber gazed at me in surprise. Was he going to punish me? Would I be whipped? Or worse, killed? He started chuckling and relief filled me. Then Khyber threw his own snowball at me and I cried out when some of it slipped down my neck.

      We went back inside not long after that. Orien and I played with Birna and Chia while Omer and Khyber talked in a corner. I watched them not liking how upset Omer looked.

      “I had children.” Orien said, drawing my attention. I nodded and he continued. “Twins they were and a handful just like these two. They got an illness and couldn’t shake it. They both died on the same day.”

      Reaching out I placed a hand on his arm. “I’m sorry.”

      Orien’s eyes widened at my comprehensible words and he gave a sad smile. “Thank you. You know, I’ve never told anyone that, not even the prince. You have a way of making people open up, and you bring out the best in people. Omer is a lucky man.”

      I blushed at his compliments.

      His voice was full of anger. “We will make Kale pay for what he did to you. You can be sure of that.”

      I frowned not understanding.

      “You don’t remember what happened?” Orien asked.

      I shook my head.

      “Kale pushed you and Omer into the mine.”

      Fear clutched at me. The mines. I hated the mines. My chest constricted and I couldn’t breathe. Tears slid down my cheeks.

      “Omer,” Orien called.

      He was at my side in an instant trying to soothe me. Sobbing I pressed myself to his chest.

      “Breathe, Samera.” Omer said, rubbing my back. “Everything’s okay.” to Orien he asked. “What happened?”

      Orien looked guilty as he answered. “I said that Kale had pushed you two into the mines. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset her.”

      “She’s scared of the mines.” Omer said, stroking my hair as I clung to him.

      “What happened?” Khyber was stood beside us.

      “There was an accident when we were kids. She got trapped down there.”

      I slowly calmed down and feeling Khyber’s eyes on me I met his gaze. His grey eyes were sad.

      Turning to Omer, he said. “Don’t forget, you have to be there by five o’clock this afternoon.”

      Omer nodded and then Khyber and Orien left. I stared at Omer questioningly.

      “Are you hungry?” he asked, helping me to my feet.

      I nodded wiping my cheeks. To my surprise, Omer took me to the docks in the upper town. It was cold but it had stopped snowing. We bought hot pies and sat on the pier. The water was frozen, so all the ships were stuck in place. The wind whipped my hair across my face and after a while I was shaking from the cold. My hands were numb. When Omer and I returned to the warehouse we helped with the patients. We were caring for an elderly man when Myra came over and gathered Omer to her chest, tears steaming down her cheeks. I watched as Omer tried to console her, but whatever it was that Myra was so upset about couldn’t be fixed by anything he said.

      “Have you told her?” Myra asked as she blew her nose.

      Omer’s brown eyes were cheerless as he regarded me. “No not yet.”

      “You have to. You’re leaving soon.” Myra burst into tears again.

      When Myra had left Omer laced his fingers through mine and led me out to the hallway. “Samera,” he said stroking my cheek with a rough fingertip. “I’ve got some bad news. I... I have to go away for a while.”

      “Why?” I asked confused.

      Omer hesitated. “We... we’re at war with Gersa. I have to go and fight. But I will be back, I swear to you.”

      I gazed at him in shock. War? Was that where Menul had gone? “Omer,”

      Pulling me into his arms he held me close. He was shaking. What if he didn’t come back? What if he died?

      “Don’t go.”

      Omer rested his forehead on mine. “I wish I didn’t have to, but I do. I’m sorry. I’ll return and then we can marry. That’s what I will think about every second I am gone, you in a wedding dress waiting for me. I love you, Samera.”

      Tears welled in my eyes and I squashed my lips to his. “Be safe.”

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