Authors: Harmony Raines
Tags: #General Fiction
Table of Contents
All rights reserved. This book, or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written consent of the author or publisher.
This is a work of fiction and is intended for mature audiences only. All characters within are eighteen years of age or older. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, actual events or places is purely coincidental.
© 2016 Harmony Raines
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Princess Tallia has a problem. She needs a son, but to get a son, she needs a husband.
After the death of her father, she is the sole heir to the throne, on the planet Carinia, the only problem is, the Emissars will only accept a male as an heir. Her only hope is to find a husband, but being cut off from all suitors means finding a good man is never going to be easy.
In a last ditch attempt to find the right man, she goes to visit a psychic, who tells her where to find the answer to her problems – in the form of a seven-foot alien with tattoos, who also glows silver like the moon. With no other choice, she pays him to marry her and father the child she needs.
Johar left his home planet of Limera, choosing to be a free man and escape the fate his father believes is his. He loves the life of a trader, and a rogue. But when Tallia asks him to marry her and father her child, he agrees. For money of course … there could be no other reason he would want to play prince to this princess. Or is there?
Chapter One – Tallia
“Are you sure this is the place, My Princess?” Rian asked, ducking her head to look through the gap in the curtains that served as a door to the tea house. Tallia understood her unease. This was not the kind of place a princess frequented.
“Yes. I am sure,” Tallia said, lifting the curtain and ducking under it. “Stay here, I will not be long.”
“Don’t you want me to come with you, My Princess?” Rian looked scared, and she had every right to be. On Tallia’s instructions they had evaded the watchful eye of her guards, who thought that Princess Tallia was in one of the larger boutiques up in the traders’ quarters, The Silken Promise, trying on silk dresses, not down here in the marketplace amongst beggars and thieves.
Rian knew very well that if anything happened to her princess, she would be held responsible and severely punished, even if she was acting on the orders of Tallia. Tallia had no intention of letting that happen, because she had no intention of anything going wrong.
That was what she had told herself an hour ago. However, the reality of the traders’ market was a lot worse than she had imagined. She had not ventured down here for months, and then it had been with an armed escort. Two women on their own were viewed a lot differently than a princess with sworn swordsmen at her side.
Unarmed, and wearing only peasant dresses, they had been harassed by several men, and Tallia had only just managed to bite her tongue and stop herself demanding
did they know who they were talking to?
Certainly if they did, she would now be in a slavers’ warehouse awaiting her fate. Which would probably mean being held to ransom. She was not sure the
of Carinia would pay. It would be a gift to them, a way to get rid of their princess with no blood shed.
“My Princess,” Rian said, her hand on Tallia’s arm, which would earn anyone else ten lashes.
“Are you sure this is worth the risk?”
“I have no choice. You know that.”
Rian looked troubled and turned away as Tallia let the curtains fall back into place and looked around the tea house.
The scents of spice and herbs assailed her senses, a heady aroma that mixed together to make her feel relaxed and calm. Trying not to let her guard down as she breathed deeply, she weaved her way through the worn chairs pushed under equally worn tables, most of which were empty, to the back of the shop. Beneath her feet, the wooden floor creaked, making stealth impossible. Tallia smiled. It didn’t matter; she had not come here to hide, she had come here to find answers.
“Can I serve you?” The girl behind the counter looked like one of the slave girls who came from Quara, the planet on the outer edges of the galaxy. They had little technology, and so were easy pickings for the Brigal, who made their trade selling the misery of others. When she took full power from the Emissars, the Brigal would have their Carinian star port permissions revoked. She hated them, but that was a fight for another day.
“I am looking for the owner.” Tallia decided not to act
This called for subtlety; help was more easily given by asking rather than ordering, in her experience.
A wariness came into the girl’s eyes. “She is busy. May I serve you to some tea?”
“You don’t understand. I wish to speak with her.” Her tone hardened enough to make the girl aware that no wasn’t an answer she would accept.
The girl’s eyes flicked backwards, giving Tallia all the information she needed. Pushing past the counter, she headed into the darkness, with the girl calling for her to stop, but she did not physically try to prevent the princess from entering the hallway, where she would hopefully find what she was looking for.
Tallia was quick. Surveying the two empty rooms, and then standing before the closed door of the third, she knew she had found what she needed. Tilting her head, she pressed her ear to the door, and listened. The soft, mesmerizing voice that met her ears confirmed she was in the right place. Slowly, she opened the door, and then slipped inside. The room was purposely dark, the thick smell of incense dulling her senses almost immediately, but she had been taught to ward off the sleep that followed, and for once was grateful of her training. Out of all the training Tallia had wished to undertake, this was one of the only ones that the Emissars had decided a woman was worthy of. Her other skills had been taught in private, without their knowledge.
She drew closer to the center of the room, where a witch light illuminated the face of a woman. She wasn’t old; she wasn’t young. She was ageless, faceless, unrecognizable from one moment to the next. Her features shifted and changed, so that if Tallia was ever asked to describe her, she would be unable to.
Tallia’s presence made the features coalesce, and eyes, piercing in their intensity, flicked open to look at her. Violet, bright as stars, they bore into Tallia, but the princess held her ground, and the woman moved, her hands letting go of the fingers of another woman, who sat opposite her across the small table with her eyes closed.
“There, your reading is complete.” The witch spoke with a strong accent, one Tallia had never heard spoken by any other person in her life. It was instantly familiar to her, and yet unique.
The woman who had her back to Tallia stirred, as if woken from a dream. “And?”
“And take this out to Driole and she will mix the herbs.” The witch scribbled something down on a piece of parchment and handed it to the woman.
“What did you see?” the woman asked, pushing for answers.
“I saw the need for you to take this infusion of herbs.”
“That’s it?” Disappointment infused the woman’s voice, laced with distrust, but she did not voice those sentiments.
“Yes.” The witch sat back in her chair, hands on the table, with her eyes downcast. It was a dismissal, a sign that the conversation was over. Tallia knew: she had been here a hundred times before with her mother, watched the frustration as the witch dismissed her, telling her there was no hope. No hope that she would ever conceive a boy.
Tallia stood still and watched the woman leave. As she passed, Tallia kept to the shadows, her face turned away, she didn’t want to be recognized. She just wanted answers of her own.
“I am busy, child. You should come back another day.”
“I am here now, you will see me,” Tallia said, her voice conveying the authority she demanded. This was no time for subtlety.
“And what can I do for a princess?” The game had begun, but Tallia had no time for games.