Ethan ~ a mercenary leader trapped between his growing attraction to Katarina and his responsibility to protect his friends from the evil pursuing her.
Zebulon ~ a malicious sorcerer waging war as though it's a game, caring nothing for the lives he destroys in his quest for power.
Drawn together by a moonstone medallion—an indestructible relic with immense magical power.
Katarina steals the medallion from Zebulon and flees in the dead of night. Together with Ethan and his mercenaries, she struggles to stay one step ahead of the sorcerer and his minions in a race against time to save her homeland. Fierce battles, ravenous monsters, and bloodthirsty brigands—those are no surprise. But Katarina never dreamed her greatest obstacle could be falling in love.
"It's time to concede, fair Katarina," Zebulon remarks in a bored tone. "Though I don't particularly mind breaking your spirit or your mind, your body I need intact." ~Zebulon
Honorable knights do not threaten and kill innocents—we protect them. ~Katarina
"I owe him everything then for saving you so that we could meet." ~Ethan
"You look like the Ethan I met in Verdane with that smirk plastered on your face," I say with a loud sigh. "That Ethan was very annoying." ~Katarina
"You think to scare me with a fluffy white dog?" ~Lilith
“Is your life so precious that it's better to live through deceit than die through valor? Are we nothing but pawns to be used as you see fit?” ~Caleb
"You have no idea how badly I want to just whisk you up into my arms and run away," he whispers before pulling away. "Sometimes I really despise duty." ~Ethan
"That's not really true," Bronwyn scoffs. "I can think of several ways, one of which includes a full-scale assault." She tosses her long black hair, and then stares out the window at the darkening evening, the twilight giving her pale skin an ethereal glow. "Or we could just feed whoever it is to Loki." ~Bronwyn
Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a bestselling YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs, four cats, and lots of dragons. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) She currently lives in San Antonio, TX but has been somewhat a rolling stone in life, having resided in several different cities and states.
The pirates seem endless as they swarm over the schooner, taking out the less experienced merchant sailors with ease. Any that challenge me fall to my blade within moments. They may have vast numbers, but their sword skills are lacking. Most try to avoid fighting me. Either they don't see me as a threat or they don't wish to harm what they view as a valuable captive.
Several pirates disregard me and storm past to surround Captain Harris, who is fighting at my side. The fool tries to lead the group away in what appears to be a last-ditch effort to protect me.
My heart wrenches when he's hit on the back of his head with a saber. He collapses to the deck unmoving. I race to his side, cutting down the three pirates surrounding him. Ignoring the battle raging all around me, I fall to my knees beside him. He stares up at me, sorrow marring his handsome features. I brush the hair from his forehead with my fingertips, watching the blood gush from the wound on his head. It's a fatal injury. He'll bleed out within moments.
"I'm so sorry, Katarina," he murmurs as I gaze into his stricken brown eyes. "I wish… I…"
"Shh, don't speak," I say, grasping his hand while his body shakes.
"S-stay strong," Harris whispers. "Don’t let… him catch you… save Tellain."
Harris knew? I gaze at him in silent question and he nods. He knew I was on the run from Zebulon the whole time. This man I thought a scoundrel could have made a fortune turning me in, and now he’s dying in an attempt to protect me instead.
"How?" I ask around the lump in my throat.
"W-wanted pos… ter."
Coughs wrack his body. With a grunt of pain, he raises his hand and brushes a light caress across my cheek with his fingers, leaving a warm smear of blood behind. His eyes glaze over in death, and I close them with my fingertips, saying a quick prayer to War God Ramil.
I rise and return to the battle raging around me, shaking with an overwhelming combination of fright and fury. Captain Harris was the only skilled swordsman on this ship, with him gone… I steel my back along with my resolve. I’m the only thing standing between the pirates and my family now—they need me, the people of Tellain need me. This is no time for sorrow, regret, or dread.
When I bury my fear, rage-fueled adrenaline consumes me. Several stunned brigands fall under the wild, almost berserk swings of my sword. Intense anger gives me strength. I cut a swath through the pirates, leaving injured and dead men lying in my wake.
My sword pierces through the stomach of a small pirate standing near the cabin door. His muddy brown eyes meet mine, shock etched across his young face. My heart sinks. He's a boy, not more than twelve years old. We stare at each other, my sword still lodged in his torso. I watch the light in his eyes dim until they glaze over and roll backward. The young pirate writhes a bit on my sword before sliding off and collapsing to the ground, a tangle of lifeless limbs. I somehow manage to continue on, though my fury has faded to grief. The only thing that keeps me swinging my sword is years of intense training, duty so deeply ingrained it's become a part of me.