LOVE ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is out today!
Read on for an excerpt from my story, “The Princess of Sands”
The Princess of Sands
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Publisher: Stars and Stone Books
Date of Publication: 1 August 2017
Cover Artist: Carrie Miller
The solar panel that powers the Sand Palace Hotel on planet Andala is failing. The hotel’s tyrannical owner will go to any length to secure a new panel, including arranging a marriage for his only daughter, Eliara Desanthar. Unable to reconcile marrying to benefit her father, Eliara sneaks aboard a ship in the castle’s landing bay, ready to make her escape.
But this ship is no ordinary vessel. It carries Prince Randroth of Belmret, who is on a diplomatic mission to Andala. When Eliara accidentally tries to hide in the prince’s chambers, Randroth vows to protect the terrified but beautiful girl, even if it means destroying relations between the two planets.
Unaware Randroth is her betrothed, Eliara returns with him to Belmret, where fun-in-the-sun, deep passion, and trapping revelations await.
And the truth might not set them free.
The door of Randroth’s chamber slid open with a nearly silent hiss. “About time,” Idgmet said in his nasal voice and shuffled inside. He wore a one-piece bright lavender jumpsuit, complete with silver trim. Belmret fashion had done some odd things over the years, but this was the strangest. Idgmet fixed Randroth with a quizzical stare. “I hope you are not wearing that to meet your bride-to-be?”
Randroth tugged on the simple black trousers and adjusted the blue tunic he wore, a match for Andala’s oceans. He’d chosen the outfit purposefully to appeal to Desanthar—blue for Andala’s oceans, black because it would let the blue stand out. He would only get one chance to make a good impression. This was not the time for Idgmet’s idea of style.
“In fact, I am,” Randroth said.
Idgmet made a noise in the back of his throat, either distaste or disdain. A line appeared between his perfectly trimmed silver-painted eyebrows for only a second before the squire schooled his features. “Very well. I didn’t come to discuss your clothing, much as the topic needs addressing. Your father wishes me to remind you how crucial the securing of this union is.”
“Does he?” Randroth couldn’t keep the derision from his voice. This marriage had come suddenly and without warning or reason, at least none Randroth could detect. Belmret was not poor and, thus, in no need of a financial alliance with the riches of Desanthar’s tourism business. For all his money, Desanthar was not royalty, and so the wedding was not for political gain. In short, there was absolutely no reason why Randroth had to wed now, and to a girl he’d never met. “And did my father happen to explain to you why it is so important? He left out those details when discussing it with the son who is to be wed.”
“You know how much Belmret’s safety and future mean to your father.” Idgmet delivered his rote response in a flat tone. The underlying meaning was clearer than Belmret’s lavender oceans. There was still no reason for the union, or at least no reason Randroth’s father would disclose.
“I do.” Randroth folded his arms. The shirt pulled a bit at his shoulders. He’d filled out some since last wearing it. “But safety with not even an implied threat is not a reason to force marriage upon your child.”
“All due respect, Your Highness.” Idgmet held up the pointer finger of his left hand. His silver nail polish exactly matched the trim of his suit and his eyebrows. “I do not have time to argue about this. We must disembark.”
Randroth blew out a breath. There was no winning. He would leave the ship, meet Desanthar’s daughter, and wed in three days. “Very well.”
Idgmet spun on one heel. When he reached the door, it opened. He shuffled through, leaving Randroth to sulk in a most unprincely manner. All his life, Randroth thought he’d marry for love, like the princes and knights in the book of fairy tales he kept beside his bed. Whenever royal life got to be too much, he had read one of the old tales as a reminder of how his life could be. He should have known reality could never resemble fanciful stories in books, especially in matters of love. It wasn’t fair.
But then, what in his life was fair? He was a prince. Royalty did what needed to be done. Randroth straightened, squaring his shoulders and closing his eyes to collect himself. He drew in a deep breath and let it go slowly. If he must wed Lemswurth Desanthar’s daughter for some undisclosed reason, he would do it, sands be his witness.
The chamber door hissed open.
Randroth expelled the last of his breath in a huff. And if he had to put up with Idgmet’s impatience, he would do his best not to strangle the squire. “I said I would be right there.” He opened his eyes.
Idgmet wasn’t in the doorway. It was a girl. Her blonde hair fell in a mess of waves to her waist, and a faint pink colored her cheeks.
A tugging sensation pulled at Randroth’s heart. She looked like someone in trouble. He stood. “Are you all right?”
The girl jerked. Her head snapped up and around. She blinked wide green eyes at him, and the pink in her cheeks drained to a terrified white. She lurched backwards.
“Wait!” Randroth rushed to the door and captured her delicate wrist between his fingers. She trembled under his touch. Or had she already been trembling? “How did you get on this ship?”
The girl opened and closed her mouth. “I…” She swallowed with an audible gulp. “I need to get off the planet. My father…can you help me?”
The tug now tried to yank Randroth’s heart in two. One end pummeled him with duty and responsibility. He was supposed to stay on Andala and meet Desanthar’s daughter. In the other direction, there was still no reason for the marriage. The truth crumbled Randroth’s sense of duty. Forget trouble, this girl had the look of a caged animal. She ran, maybe for her life. He couldn’t leave her to fend for herself.
“Of course I can,” Randroth said.
Relief fell over the girl’s face like a curtain. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
A chill ran through Randroth at the gratitude in her voice. An iron determination followed. Whoever this girl’s father was, Randroth would do anything in his power to protect her. He pulled her into the room until the door slid closed. “What is your name?”
“Eliara,” the girl said.
“A lovely name,” Randroth said. It fit her well. He bowed his head. “I am Prince Randroth of Belmret, at your humble service.”
Eliara’s emerald eyes widened. “Prince?” She lurched into a bow. “Forgive me, Your Highness. I—”
“It is nothing.” He tipped her chin up with one finger. A current like electricity seemed to spark where his skin met hers. The current spiraled into a desire to pull her closer, feel her delicate body against his. “Please,” his voice rasped with the desire coursing through his blood, “call me Randroth.” ~Buy LOVE ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
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