Happy Wednesday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for ROYAL CAPTIVE by Heather Frost! I’m so excited to share an excerpt of the book with you today, AND more information about the author and tour, PLUS a link to a FREE book!Royal Captive by Heather Frost
Series: Fate of Eyrinthia #3
Published on March 18, 2022 by Amazon/Self published
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
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A DECOY trapped in a dangerous lie
A SERJAH searching for the truth
A PRINCE caught in a deadly game
A WORLD choked by secrets
Abducted during a devastating ambush, Clare is now the captive of ruthless mercenaries. Dragged through the wilderness while grieving heart-rending loss, she must maintain the illusion that she is the princess. Because if she lets the mask slip, even for a moment, the Mortisians will have no reason to keep her alive.
After arresting traitors close to the crown, Desfan fights to rebuild his court, knowing that the imminent arrival of the Devendran princess will further upset the precarious balance in Mortise. But Desfan’s world is rocked when he discovers a rumor that rewrites the most devastating event in his life. He will stop at nothing to find the truth–no matter where it leads.
As Grayson struggles to find his footing in Mortise, he discovers new friends and enemies. His life is further complicated by the tenuous alliance with his spymaster brother. With secrets deepening around him, Grayson must decide where his loyalties truly lie. Through it all, his heart remains in Ryden with Mia. Unfortunately, his love for her is no secret, and the Black Hand is a coveted weapon . . .
Eyrinthia holds its breath as allies and enemies collide. Secrets. Lies. Betrayals. Nothing will be the same.
A thickly-built man stepped in front of Clare, blocking her view. His eyes scanned her face, noting the salty tracks left by her tears, the firm set of her jaw. A slow smile spread across his lips, but there was nothing human in his gaze; it was dark and cold. “You really are beautiful, Princess,” he said, his voice a low rumble as he spoke the trade language. “Just like the rumors say.” His fingers moved for her cheek and she jerked back, though there was nowhere to retreat; the man holding her from behind was a solid wall at her back, trapping her.
Callused fingertips ghosted over her skin, the light touch making her shudder.
The man’s grin hiked as he pulled back his hand. “I am Salim. One thing you need to know about me is that I keep my word. If I say I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill you. If I say I’m not going to kill you, then I won’t. Do you understand?”
Clare stared at him, forcing her spine to remain rigid, her knees locked. She would not give him the satisfaction of getting another reaction from her. “Yes,” she managed to say.
“Good. It’s important you know I’m a man of my word.” Salim rocked back on his heels, his hands going to his hips. “Now, we’re going to be traveling quite a distance together. We’ve been offered a great deal of coin, and I’m itching to get paid, so we’ll move light and fast.” He glanced toward Vera, and his mere acknowledgement of her had Clare’s gut dropping. “Is she your maid?”
“You care about her?”
The tears in her eyes were unwanted, but she couldn’t blink them away. “Yes.”
“All right, no need to get emotional. Now, I mentioned how keen I am to move quickly? Well, if you do anything to slow us down, I will kill your maid. You do anything I don’t like, I’ll kill her. You try to escape? I’ll kill her.”
Clare’s fingers clenched, rolling to fists at her sides. “Threats are unnecessary. You can let her go. I won’t try to escape.”
Salim clicked his tongue. “But I’m sure you’re used to having servants, and I wouldn’t want to make things uncomfortable for you.”
Around them, men snickered, the sound menacing. Fates, there were so many of them.
She tried to ignore them, keeping her gaze focused on Salim. “I promise I’ll do everything you say if you let her go.”
“You know,” the man said, tapping a finger to his bearded chin. “I think you’ll do everything I say if I keep her here.” His head angled to the side as he studied her. “I’ve heard you have defensive training, but I would urge you not to use it. Best not to risk your maid. And I’ll be asking now for any weapons you might have.”
His eyes bit into her, and he wasn’t the only one watching. Waiting. Completely surrounded, Clare knew there was nothing she could do with the blade strapped to her calf. So when the man holding her dropped his arms, she didn’t hesitate to turn it over, still in its sheath.
Salim passed it to one of his men, and then he lifted a dark eyebrow. “Is that all?”
Clare nodded, though her heart pounded and the silver bracelet on her wrist burned. The hidden garrote was an exact copy of a bracelet Serene had; Bennick had given it to her, and it could prove useful later. She would not give it up.
Salim, it seemed, was not a man who trusted easily. He looked to the man standing behind her. “Search her.”
Large hands brushed over her, and it took every bit of restraint Clare had not to strike out at him. His palms swept over her arms, waist, hips, and dragged down each leg. Her entire body trembled from fear, revulsion, and anger. When his fingertips strayed over her bracelet, she fought to keep her body from tensing. Especially when he hesitated, looking to Salim.
He merely shrugged. “Let her keep her pretty things for now.” His smile turned mocking. “I would hate to upset a princess.”
The man’s search continued, and he dipped a hand into her pockets.
Clare stiffened when he drew out the small tin soldier she always kept with her. It was dented, the blue paint scratched. Mark, her youngest brother, had given it to her when she left home, to protect her. Her heart ached to see a Mortisian criminal hold something so precious.
“An odd thing for a princess to carry.” Salim held out a hand, and Clare took an involuntary step forward as the toy soldier was dropped into his palm.
One of his men grabbed Clare’s shoulder, halting her.
Salim grinned, inspecting the tin soldier. “Interesting. A battered children’s toy is worth more to you than your dagger, or even that fancy silver bracelet.” He stepped forward, and Clare tensed as he leaned in until their noses almost touched. “I won’t kill you, Princess. I wasn’t hired to do that. But there are ways I can punish you, if you defy me.” Clare felt him slip the tin soldier back into her pocket, and it took all her willpower not to shiver as his head shifted, placing his mouth at her ear. His breath was hot and foul against her skin. “Never forget—I hold everything. You have nothing.”
He drew back, the corner of his mouth twitching. “Take a moment to see to your needs. You’ll forgive me, but I think we’ll bind your hands afterward, just to be safe. Then we’ll be on our way. We’re riding through the night.” He glanced over the group at large. “Lay your best trails to deceive any followers.”
Men nodded, and some immediately broke away—tending to horses, or digging out some food to eat. The clearing was suddenly bustling, and Clare felt the moment the man behind her moved away. Salim watched her, as if waiting for her to realize that even if she wasn’t being physically held, she was still their prisoner.
Clare stared at him, attempting to crush her rising panic. These despicable men would kill her and Vera the moment they realized she wasn’t the princess. All the lessons in etiquette, dancing, how to hold a teacup—none of those things had prepared her to be Serene’s decoy here. She was surrounded by enemies, trapped in a hostile kingdom, and Bennick was not coming for her. The thought was a knife in her chest, and she knew if she did not have Vera to take care of, his death would have crippled her. She had just lost Eliot. Her brother’s death had broken something inside of her, but Bennick . . . She wanted to sink into her grief, but she couldn’t. For Vera’s sake, she needed to bury her emotions. She needed to become Serene completely. The cool, untouchable version of the princess that Clare had first known.
It was the only way to survive.
She straightened her shoulders and lifted her chin, adopting the now-familiar mannerisms like they were a shield—a weapon. “Where are you taking me?” She was prepared for him to threaten her or refuse to answer. She was not prepared for the amusement that crossed his face.
“I’m taking you to the man who bought you, Princess,” Salim said with a smile. “I’m afraid he wants to kill you himself.”
What do you think about Royal Captive? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!