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.


27. Chapter Twenty Seven: Samera


      I pressed myself closer to Khyber clenching my jaw to stop my teeth from chattering. Our legs had somehow become entwined during the night but I was still freezing. Maybe I had gotten the amounts of the ingredients wrong? I was sure that I wasn’t supposed to be this cold. But it had worked. I couldn’t feel any pain. Khyber mumbled something in his sleep and his hand brushed my waist. This was wrong. I shouldn’t have been sharing a bed with him for a second time. We weren’t going to be married. Feeling guilty my thoughts went to Omer. He was at the frontline fighting for his life and here I was in the arms of another man, a man who had saved me yet again. I had no doubt that Abelard would have beaten me to death if Khyber hadn’t intervened, just like he would have raped me if Khyber hadn’t protected me. I had heard every word they had exchanged and it surprised me that the two princes were so different. But I was so very glad that they were.  


      I awoke warm and in pain. Khyber was gone but I wasn’t alone. Sat beside the bed was a beautiful young woman with a glossy mane of ruby red hair. Her green eyes were intelligent and kind. The woman’s dress was different to anything I had ever seen before and the colours were captivating. Realising that I was staring I tried to sit up but cried out in agony. The woman handed me the pain reliever that Khyber and I had made. I thanked her and drank less than the night before, not wanting to become so cold again.

      “Are you Princess Mariella?” I asked wincing at my aching chest.

      She smiled. “Yes I am. I told Khyber that I would take care of you while he’s gone.” she had an accent but it wasn’t very strong.

      “Thank you, your highness,”

      Annoyance fluttered across the princess’s face. “Please just call me Mariella. I don’t understand your country with its divide between the rich and the poor. In the Opal Isles we treat everyone equally. I may be a princess but I went to school with people whose parents were merchants, farmers and salesmen.”

      Shocked I said. “It sounds like a wonderful place.”

      “It is,” Mariella whispered, tears filling her eyes. “I miss it. Life here is not what I imagined.”

      I reached out and squeezed her soft hand.

      Smiling at me sadly she replied. “I’m sorry for the way my husband has behaved towards you. He is... also not what I imagined.”

      While Mariella stared out the window lost in her thoughts, I gazed around the room. It was big and had to be at least twice the size of the ground floor of my home. The ceiling was high and there was a huge fireplace set into the wall nearby. Lying down as I was I couldn’t see much furniture. The bed I was in could probably fit six people in it comfortably. The sheets were so soft on my skin that I couldn’t stop touching them.

      “I brought some books for you,” Mariella said waking from her reverie. “I didn’t know what you would like so I chose several different ones.”

      Accepting the leather covered books from her I placed them beside me.

      “Aren’t you going to read them?” she asked.

      A blush crept onto my cheeks. “I... I can’t read.”

      Mariella’s green eyes widened in shock and she said. “Oh, I’m sorry. Shall I read one to you?” she picked up the first book and started reading.

      It was a book of poems and I soon found myself lost in the words. Mariella’s voice was so hypnotising that I didn’t notice Khyber enter the room carrying a tray of food.

      When Mariella had finished the poem Khyber spoke. “Sorry to interrupt. I thought you might be hungry.”

      “That’s very kind, thank you.”

      Mariella stood up and brushed her skirts saying. “I’ll leave you two alone.”

      “You don’t have to go because of me,” Khyber said surprised.

      Smiling, Mariella shook her head. “It’s not because of you, Khyber. I’ll see you soon, Samera.”

      Mariella left the room and Khyber sat down in the armchair she had evacuated.

      “Here you go.” Khyber held out the tray.

      I sat up, flinching when I knocked my ribs, and accepted the tray. “It looks delicious.”

      On the elegant wooden tray was a plate of the most delicious smelling food I had ever smelled.

      “Are you just going to stare at it?” Khyber asked amused.

      “Sorry, I just... this is going to be the best food I ever eat. I want to savour it.”

      He frowned. “You might prefer the meal this evening.”

      I blinked in surprise. “But I thought... I assumed that I would have to leave soon.”

      Reaching out a hand, Khyber caressed my cheek, his grey eyes soft. “You’re not leaving until you’re fully healed. In fact you don’t have to go at all.”

      “Khyber,” I murmured overwhelmed by his kindness. “I...”

      “You’ll be safe here. I can protect you. I can even teach you to read if you want, and to write.”

      Was that love shining in his eyes?

      I would have to leave in the spring to marry Omer but I didn’t have the heart to bring it up. Instead I said. “Thank you so much. I... I don’t know how to repay you.”

      “Eat your food.” Khyber grinned. “It’s getting cold.”     

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