Prince Kayler of Dungreddin is the second son and no heir, a knight back from the Crusade. After all the death he's witnessed, he has one pursuit...enjoyment of life. His father makes a treaty with an enemy to trade Kayler in marriage to Lord Bolivar's oldest daughter. Seren of Bolivar has one problem... no man has ever unlocked her frigid heart. Can his lips be the key?


She considered leaving then. But duty won out. She felt obligated to serve her father's wishes.

So with her hip length red hair coiled in a braided coronet around her head, decked in a green velvet dress with gold embroidery and lining, and heavy hanging sleeves that knotted so as not to drag the floor, she made her way to the chapel. Every soft scrape of her slippers deafened her. It was as if she walked to her doom.

She wondered how long it would take to be so sick of her father's game that she…that she…she would have to obtain a dagger. She couldn't kill herself without one.


Just as she reached the chapel door, it occurred to her that a warrior such as Kayler of Dungeddin should be in possession of a knife. Then, just as swiftly, the vision of foppery returned. The only knife that one would have is a fruit knife on his belt.

She went in. It surprised her to find her father nowhere, and see her sister there, waiting in the first pew. Wasting no time, she went to her and asked, "Where is he?"

"He has been and gone."

Seren took the news poorly. "What? The least he could do is witness this travesty."

"Shh," Keren said. "He will hear you."

"I thought you said-"

"Well…it is truth, but he merely stepped out the priest's door."


Keren grinned. "You do care to please him! I saw it."

"He is my father. I have no choice but to make the effort."

"No. I meant…him, Kayler of Dungeddin."

"Oh. Him." Seren lowered her voice. "It is my wedding day; of course I have an interest in pleasing the man." She hissed, "I don't care to have it spread that I was alone at the altar and he did not come." She promptly sat down beside her sister. "How does he look, up close?"

Keren's eyes got big. "Imposing." She glanced past Seren's shoulder. Her hand reached out and covered Seren's. "He will break your heart, I swear it."

Behind them, the priest's door opened and closed. Boot falls could be heard, slow and steady, coming toward them. Seren knew that he had come in. But her sister's horrid words had her afraid to turn and see.

In rushed whisper, Keren said, "You are a virgin. You won't be able to handle his…ah…if you want, I'll marry the bloke."

It was some comfort that Keren offered to take her place--not that it could be done--without Seren dying first. Keren had always considered herself more suited to adventure, and Seren tended to agree. But, now that she was there, Seren felt a sense of destiny.

"Best leave off with this now," Keren pushed. "I am better suited to this marriage. If you delayed this…but a day, you could take another and I would reset this treaty in two days time."

The priest moved to his place and said, "I have received word that his majesty, Filaban, will not be able to attend this ceremony. If you will, we would make haste here. There is no reason to tarry."

Seren felt her heart drop. The priest was not fooled. No one was attending, save Seren. And her father wouldn't watch her vows? Had he even met the man yet?

It had not taken her long to prepare. How did this man of Dungeddin feel about the lack of pomp, or the rushed circumstances? He had barely had time to stretch his legs from the ride.

The priest prodded, "Come, my lady. Take your place."

With dread, Seren said a short prayer, and stood up. Her veil over her face, she felt protected. She turned and waited for the priest to direct her with a pointed look. She took the place beside the prince of Dungeddin without a word, wondering if she should've taken Keren's suggestion. If she should stop the farce before it went any further.

But, no. Her father had entreated her to do this thing for him. This one thing, she would do. Even if it killed her.

The vows were nothing to her. Stone words to a cold heart.

Until the priest asked her to take the hand of the man she would marry. She lifted her fingers, waiting for him to take them. But he hesitated. She could feel his gaze upon her, but she couldn't bring herself to look up.

She whispered, "My Lord?"

He took it very gently then. "I would see you before we do this."

His voice contained a pleasant tenor timbre with a leaning toward the bass. Smooth and sensually lilted, it sent shivers over Seren's back. It reminded her again that this was none other than a renowned rascal. No wonder he seduced women by the droves!

"Nay," she said with strong resolve. She had to protect herself. This would end badly. There was no other course for it. If nothing else, she'd have him take the vows before her father had reason for war. She couldn't take an insult before the ceremony, nor would she give one.

Buy To Claim a Queen here
Website Builder