Authors: Joanne Wadsworth
To love and protect...across worlds.
Eighteen-year-old Hope Wincrest calls the Outback of Australia her home away from home. She is a princess of Dralion from the planet Magio, where the two leading nations are at war. While in the Outback, Hope is warned by her warrior father–who holds the prophetic ability of forethought–that she is about to meet an enemy protector. She doesn’t expect him to be her soul-bound mate, a man she must now work with to piece together her unknown mother’s lost heritage.
Peacio’s Silas Carver follows the calling of his soul to Australia, only not all goes as planned. Discovering Hope is his mate has him demanding his release from their bond. She agrees, but only if he first helps her learn about her mother.
Hope must lay her life in Silas’s hands during a journey which takes them deep into foreign lands. Waging a battle of the heart, and of the land, can the young mated pair find their place with each other?
A Lyrical Press Young Adult Fantasy
Sometimes warriors came who I didn’t know. This one wore the dark leathers and belted side-sword of our highly battle-trained, his height matching our tallest men.
I licked my lips, my gaze traveling down his body. His worn, black leather vest stretched over broad shoulders. The tails of his loose white shirt fluttered from under his vest.
Wow. I fanned myself and plucked the front of my shirt away from my heated skin. He was one gorgeous specimen I’d like to get my hands on.
“Hello there. May I help you?” I certainly hoped I could.
He lifted his head, slowly turning to look my way. His eyes were to die for, a blue as deep as the ocean with softer specks intermingled. I could have drowned in those eyes.
“What are you doing here, Faith? Why are you not with Davio?” The paler flecks blinked out.
Drat. He couldn’t be a warrior. This must be the protector Dad had warned me of, the one who knew my sister. He was here, already.
Every muscle in my body tightened. The dagger weighted my ankle.
He set one hand over his sword, and his nostrils flared. “No, you’re not Faith.”
By Joanne Wadsworth
For my daughter, Marisa, who is growing up before my eyes. You are so precious. Hugs.
This book was so much fun to write, and even more fun to edit and sculpt, thanks to my amazing editor, Penny Barber. Also, huge thanks to my publisher, Renee Rocco, who gives every one of her authors the same amazing opportunities.
To my hubby, Jason, and kiddies, Marisa, Caleb, Cruise and Rocco, I love you all, and thank you for allowing me the time to write.
For my readers, you rock. I received such a wonderful response after
and this series lives because you joined me, taking the journey to where imagination and magic soar.
“Hope, I know you’re hurting.” Goldwyn Wincrest, my aunt, strode beside me along the path to the horse corral.
I kicked at the red outback dust underfoot. “I can’t stand my existence being kept from my own mother. All these years, she’s believed me dead.”
My father, Alexo Wincrest, was reuniting with my mother, Kate, right now, and had forbidden my return to Dralion.
“But Alexo’s trying to fix things, to build a relationship with Kate after eighteen years of separation. We need to give him the time he’s asked for.” Argh, how could Goldie be so reasonable when, at nineteen, she was only a year older than me?
“My own mother’s a mystery to me, as is the sister I’ve gained along with her. How on earth do I have a twin? I need answers.” Even as I understood it, I detested Dad’s request.
“Lieska’s been scouting for us. She contacted me telepathically and said she has news. Let’s wait on her.”
“Alexo never taught me to sit idly by. I can’t believe I must.”
“It’s what he’s asked.” Goldie kept stride beside me. “Alexo had to protect your mother and sister’s whereabouts from Donaldo since the day he brought you home as a baby. It was not an easy task, but it was done.”
I unclipped the gate and waited as she came through. “My father has forethought and forewarning. Alexo should know I won’t sit still.”
“You must.” She tipped her black Stetson back and eyed me. “He’s asked you to wait before meeting your mother and sister. There’ll be a good reason. He sees the bigger picture, Hope.”
“What I wouldn’t give to have his prophetic abilities, or any of the strength skills of our people.”
“Just be glad Donaldo Wincrest doesn’t have Alexo’s skill of forethought and forewarning, because as much as I love my father, we’d all be in trouble if he did.” Her breath whistled out.
Donaldo, my grandfather, ruled our home land of Dralion with precision and determination. My mother, Kate, had been of Earth, and even though she was Dad’s soul-bound mate, she was not a skilled Magioling. Donaldo would never have allowed her for his son had the prince brought her home.
A shiver chased down my spine, even as the sun blazed high above. By leaving her behind on Earth, Dad had sought my mother’s protection. She had remained safe, but at what expense?
A light breeze swirled. The displacement in the air had to be Lieska. I needed answers and Lieska was a warrior, close to our age. A trusted confidant.
Her form wavered into view and solidified a few feet away. Yes.
Lieska stepped forward, brushing the dust from her hip-hugging leather pants.
“What news do you bring?” I burned to know.
“I come from the trenches.” She shoved her fingers underneath her dark hair and swished it. A smattering of dried nettles fluttered to the ground, one leaf catching in the spiked belt on her side, which held a curved dagger.
“Peacio?” I froze. Carlisio Loveria, along with his fighting force of protectors, ruled Peacio. “What’s the land of our enemy got to do with finding out more about my mother and sister?”
“Kate Sol. That’s your mother’s name. Your sister’s is Faith. Bad news, that one.” She sighed raggedly. “I’ve seen Faith with Davio Loveria. In Peacio. Obviously not the place I expected to find her, but I tracked her from Dralion.”
“What?” Dad would never allow such a thing. He had not hidden my mother and sister for eighteen years just to allow my sister to be with Carlisio’s grandson. That would be like throwing her to the lions. “That’s outrageous. Why would my sister be in Peacio with him?”
With a firm shake of her head, Lieska said, “Your sister is soul-bound to Davio Loveria. I’ve spied them together and can assure you I speak the truth. It is a complication your father has clearly foreseen.”
“Tell me you lie. This can’t be.”
The mated bond was revered, but this had to be a cruel joke. We had not had a mated match between our people and theirs in forty years. Not since enchanter Gilles Moyer spelled the dome, the energy field over Dralion protecting our people from Peacians.
My heart lurched.
Goldie stared at me. “If that’s the case, Donaldo can never know of this. To discover his newly returned granddaughter is mated to his enemy would take our war to new levels.”
“You are right.” Lieska nodded. “I’ve spoken to Alexo, and he protects this knowledge. It is one of the reasons he makes Hope wait. He has asked me to speak of his current needs with both of you.”
I raised a brow. “Continue. Tell me all he’s requested.”
She stroked the polished hilt of her dagger. “Faith holds forethought and the battle skills as your father does. She is a telepathic and can ’port. She moves freely, as all warriors and Wincrests do through the dome room. Faith’s rising is complete, and along with it came the ability of mind-merge, a skill we’ve no historical records of. Alexo has a specific request.”
I inhaled, slowly. One of my passions was the study of our people’s strength skills. I worked here on this outback station, and when on our home world of Magio, spent a great deal of time documenting all I could. “Mind-merge doesn’t flow through the Wincrest line and my mother is an Earthling.”
Lieska eyed me. “Unless she is not.”
The wind picked up, swirling the dust at my feet. “What do you know?”
“Your sister’s ability of mind-merge has come from your mother’s line. Alexo has had forewarning. You’ll soon get close to a protector, and when you do, find a way to piece together all you can on Kate Sol’s line. You must do this without giving yourself away to your sister, as the protector in question knows her. It’s imperative you and Faith not yet meet.”
“That’s all he gave you? The unknown skill of mind-merge and Kate Sol’s full name?”
“You must discover the rest, for there is nothing more he can do from Dralion.”
“Great.” How was I to get close to a protector? “Did he have any advice, even a smidgeon more?”
“It’s not advice. He said he loses sight of you for a few days, but it’s what needs to happen. He told me you must rely on those around you. Not all is as it seems.”
“What? Alexo never loses sight of me with his skill, unless I’m in the dark. How can I be in the dark?”
“He didn’t like that piece of his forewarning either, but it’s what needs to be. His words.”
Goldie squeezed my arm. “I’m concerned, particularly about this protector you’re going to get close to. We don’t associate with our enemy, not unless there’re swords and bloodshed involved.”
Dad had seen more than he’d spoken of. “Obviously I’ll need to carry a weapon.”
Lieska unstrapped a knife from a sheath on her calf. “Your father said you would not be harmed, but take it.”
I lifted the cuff of my blue jeans, and strapped the band of warm leather above my ankle. Slotting the blade carefully into place, I resolved to see to his instructions. I would not let him down.
Goldie crossed her arms. “This is why the Wincrests rule Dralion. We do what we must.”
Lieska fisted her hands. “Yes, and Alexo asked me to speak to Guy next. Our young enchanter has made his own arrangement with Faith since he spotted her in Peacio. Alexo needs Guy to know he’s heard of his talk with Faith, and he expects him to keep quiet on all he’s discovered about her being mated with Loveria. No word of any of this can get back to Donaldo. Faith’s mated relationship took with Loveria before her ties to Alexo were known. Now their soul-bond cannot be undone. Even the Loveria family keeps quiet.”
Horses whinnied from the corrals and Goldie checked over her shoulder. “Guy’s here somewhere. Probably with Maslin in the stables. Give me any further updates the moment they come to hand. With Davio Loveria mated to my new niece, and a protector soon coming into contact with Hope, we need to take the utmost care.”
“Certainly.” Lieska turned to me and set her hands on my shoulders. “I told Alexo I would keep an eye on you, but he said you’ll handle what’s coming. Make sure you do. You do not have any strength skills.”