Blood Moon (Skye Morrison Vampire Series, #5.5) (16 page)

BOOK: Blood Moon (Skye Morrison Vampire Series, #5.5)
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Divine Merit

The Divine Series – Book One

V. Cantrell

 

 

Divine Merit (Book 1)

Divine Merit Copyright © 2014 V. Cantrell

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form without written permission except for the brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Published By: V. Cantrell

Cover design by: AM DesignStudios

Edited by: Hot Tree Editing

Copyright by: V. Cantrell

Formatted by: Angels Indie Formatting

This work is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely Coincidental

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Copyright © 2014 V. Cantrell

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

“She is a child playing games, nothing more,” she heard Caeden say from the other side of the doorway. The cold tone in his voice sent a shiver through her entire body and froze her in mid-step. Her handsome soldier was upset. This was a side of him she was not usually permitted to see. In her presence, he was always polite, if a bit distant and reserved. Everything about Caeden fascinated her; even his anger, and she couldn’t help but stop to listen.

It would be extremely embarrassing for the Princess of Velius, the future ruler of the island of Cashile, to be caught eavesdropping at the door of the soldier’s keep, but Amira was willing to take a chance for the opportunity to glimpse the real Caeden. He was strong, determined, loyal, a pure warrior — her warrior... well, maybe not hers yet, but she could dream. She knew she spent entirely too much time focused on him, but despite his usual aloofness, there were times she would catch him watching her with an unguarded expression. She was inexperienced, but she could almost swear it was desire she read on his face.

That was the reason she now found herself sweaty and tired from their weekly self-defense lesson. It was against social etiquette for females, especially one of her stature, to participate in such a crude activity. She had originally asked him to train her solely for the chance to spend time with him, but she had actually grown to enjoy the physical activity of it as well. Unfortunately, they had just finished a particularly frustrating lesson on how to immobilize an attacker. She knew Caeden had been disappointed by her lack of attention and her unwillingness to take a swing at him, but she just couldn’t force herself to hit him. She would look into his ice blue eyes, feel herself melting inside and be unable to think of anything else. The lesson had ended badly and she didn’t want to end their encounter on a negative note, so she was using the excuse of returning a towel to the training room as an opportunity to see him one more time before they both went about their duties.

Standing in the hallway, she could picture in her mind the look of frustration in his intense blue eyes and the tension in his squared jaw. She envisioned him carelessly pushing his honey brown hair out of his ruggedly handsome face. She wished she were brave enough to run her fingers through his shoulder-length hair, brushing it away from his face for him. She’d let her hand rest on his broad shoulder before slowly sliding it down to explore and memorize his muscular chest and hard, flat stomach. Amira barely caught the sigh that nearly left her lips at the fantasy inspired by his masculine beauty and lethal grace. He had the build of a perfect warrior. As captain of the elite Royal Guard, which served her family directly, he was responsible for leading the army of Velius.

Legend said the people of Cashile were the descendants of the union between angels and humans, the fabled Nephilim. The angels had created the island as a sanctuary for their offspring to protect them from persecution by man for their strength, beauty, and longer life span. The island was located in the northern hemisphere and was protected by a shield, which surrounded the hidden island. Amira had never seen any of the angels who they were supposedly descendants of, but she could imagine Caeden’s powerful and flawless body rivaled that of the mighty angels. Just the mental image of his body was so enticing and distracting; she almost forgot where she was until the conversation beyond the doorway continued.

“True, she hasn’t reached full maturity, but that hardly makes her a child,” came the even response from Trevin, another member of the Royal Guard.

Their people reached full maturity at the age of twenty-five, when their aging process all but stopped and a type of maturity took over. After reaching full maturity, they became immune to disease and, although they could still be injured, their bodies healed quickly and would leave no marks. Their life span was almost ten times longer than a human’s and they could live for near to a thousand years before their bodies settled into an eternal rest. Before reaching full maturity, they were extremely vulnerable and fragile in comparison.

Amira rarely heard Trevin speak unless he was directly addressed. This was indeed a candid moment between the soldiers. Trevin was the quietest and most deceptively calm of all of the Royal Guard. His even manner often made others forget how absolutely deadly he could be. She had once witnessed his swift defeat of a soldier who thought to challenge him. He had reminded her of a snake waiting for the exact moment to strike, and then it was all over.

“She reaches her maturity in less than two years, but I’m not talking about her actual age,” Caeden said, still sounding frustrated. “These training sessions are unbearable.” A loud bang, like something hitting the wall, made her jump. “She is just so damn naive, following me around, seeking my attention,” he said on a sigh. “The way she looks at me...”

Amira’s whole body turned to lead at hearing those words. They were discussing her!

“What is wrong with it? She looks at you like a girl who has just received a gift from the angels.”

“That’s very poetic of you, Trevin,” Caeden responded dryly. “What’s wrong with it is I’m her guard; she shouldn’t look at me like that.”

“And why not?” Trevin asked again.

After a slight hesitation, he answered firmly, “It chases off all of the other females; that’s why not. They don’t even want to be seen with me for fear of upsetting their beloved princess.”

Child... naive... OTHER FEMALES!

She couldn’t listen to another word. She could barely breathe; hopefully, she would make it to her chambers before she made a complete fool of herself and broke down into tears in the hallway. The towel she had been returning fell silently to the floor as she turned and ran.

***

Trevin burst into laughter. “Glad to amuse you, Trevin,” Caeden said sardonically. He could tell his closest friend was struggling to contain his enjoyment. It was rare to see him laugh, but this subject never failed to entertain him.

Typically, he’d get an enigmatic smile on his face, but today, it seemed he was in an unusually talkative mood as he said, “I didn’t realize you knew this island had any other females.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”
(

“When was the last time you were with a female?” Trevin asked knowingly.

Caeden had to admit to himself it had been a while. There were plenty of opportunities, despite what he said about the princess chasing them off. The truth was, he just wasn’t interested. Not that he’d ever admit that to anyone else.

“I’ve been busy with my duties,” he said as an excuse. Caeden could still see the grin Trevin was trying to hide and knew he wasn’t fooling his friend. Trevin was the type of person who often saw far more than you wanted anyone to see. His stoic nature made him easy to confide in and the fact he rarely spoke made him a great listener.

“Yes, your duties—guard rotation, soldier training, and, of course, your personal hands-on lessons with Princess Amira,” Trevin pointed out with a smirk. He was the only other person who knew Caeden had been secretly instructing the princess. “If you’re overwhelmed and she is really a burden, I could take on her weekly lessons.”

“No,” Caeden answered instinctively and watched as a full smile split across Trevin’s face. “I mean, she found the courage to ask me and it is not a huge burden,” he tried to explain. He couldn’t admit there was a part of him that craved this time spent with her. His princess was usually so poised and polite, but in the training lessons, she was unguarded and excited; she had a fire in her eyes he rarely saw, like a dormant part of her was coming to life. Give that up? No.

“Technically, I shouldn’t even be teaching her. I’ll face the consequences if we’re found out, no need for you to be involved further. The rule is archaic, but it’s still a rule; although, it hurts nothing for a female to learn a few basic moves to protect herself. Not that the princess will ever have need or opportunity.”

That was the Royal Guard’s job. His job.

“You don’t have to defend it to me. My point being, you have sanctioned the time spent with our princess and have enjoyed her attentions. What male wouldn’t?” Trevin said with a wicked glint in his eyes.

Indeed, what male wouldn’t? He could picture all the males who would gladly stand in a line just to have a conversation with his princess or even a touch of her hand. The thought of another male touching her made him want to snarl with fury. And that was exactly the problem. She wasn’t his, would never be his; so, he had no right to feel possessive of her. He was Princess Amira’s guard, nothing more.

“As I said, she plays a childish game with me; flirting and trying to get my attention. I know it’s all innocent, and I highly doubt she would know what to do with my attention anyhow. I’m sure she simply feels it’s safe to behave this way with me because nothing can come of it. But, I am a male, Trevin. I only have so much self-control. She’ll get over this infatuation soon, but until then...” he trailed off on a sigh.

It was difficult for him to admit this weakness, even to his closest friend. Caeden prided himself on his control and hated not being able to let go of this all-consuming attraction he felt for his princess. There. He admitted it, at least to himself; he was attracted to the princess. She drove him to distraction with her delicate frame, her big grey eyes that flashed silver when she was excited, and the sweet scent of vanilla that seemed to trail after her. Her waist-length, rich, dark brown hair was an incredible sight. At 5’4, she was unusually short for their kind and his 6’4 frame dwarfed her. Princess Amira was so small and looked so delicate; it was no wonder he felt overly protective of her. The truth was, she was delicate and vulnerable, at least until she reached her maturity.

While he was being honest with himself, he had to admit it was her age which scared him most of all. He feared all of the possible things that could happen to her. What if she were injured or became ill? Caeden was unused to the cramping fear he felt in his stomach at the thought. He couldn’t let himself even consider such an incident. It was his job to protect her and he would, even from himself.

“What if it’s not a game?” Trevin asked quietly. “Not to her. Stop fighting it and stop trying to control it. Let things take their natural course.”

Caeden felt like he had been sucker punched as his breath caught in his throat. What if... No, he couldn’t allow himself to even entertain the idea for a single moment. Thoughts like that were dangerous.

“No.” Caeden shook his head.

“Why not? I’ve seen the way she looks at you like you’re the reason the sun rises each morning.”

He had seen that look, too. He loved that look.

“That is exactly what I mean. She is so innocent and doesn’t know what is best for her. She’s naive enough to think I’m safe to practice her affections on.”

Trevin didn’t bother to respond, but gave his friend a look which told him how much of an idiot he thought he was.

“I’m a soldier; she’s a princess. My father was a low ranking soldier, and my mother and sister tend the fruit orchard. I grew up in a modest cottage, and she was born into a palace. I have no social graces,” Caeden felt the need to explain, as if their social status would clarify everything.

“You are the highest ranking soldier in the entire kingdom, hell, on this entire island. You somehow think your humble upbringing makes you unworthy of her? You’ve struggled and worked hard for everything you’ve achieved.”

Trevin continued before Caeden could respond. “Tell me, do you think one of the lazy aristocratic males from another territory would be better suited for her? Worthy of her? Could protect her and meet her needs? Let alone take command of the kingdom?”

NO! “Yes,” Caeden said through gritted teeth.
(

Trevin sighed, shook his head and headed for the door. Caeden felt like punching something or someone. He’d like to start with all of the aristocratic males parading themselves around his princess, which happened more frequently as her maturity approached. He couldn’t count how many formal dinners he had been forced to stand guard at, watching as the weaker aristocrats tried to win favor with his princess. She was beautiful and sweet, never saying an unkind thing about anyone. She went out of her way to make every guest feel welcome and she genuinely cared about everyone in her kingdom. Princess Amira had a vibrant spirit she kept hidden behind her sense of duty, but that wasn’t why they tried so hard to impress her. They pursued her because with her hand came the Kingdom of Velius and rulership of all of Cashile.

Thus far, she had shown no sign of favoritism toward any of her suitors, but Caeden knew someday it would soon change. It was his princess’s duty to marry and continue the Royal Bloodline. So far, she was poised, polite, the perfect princess... but she was bored out of her mind at all of their attempts.
Would tonight be different?
He dreaded the constant thought. Tonight was another formal dinner with the leaders of the three other territories of Cashile, and the most persistent of her suitors, Sorin of Ammon, would be present. The thought of Sorin and his princess together made his vision red with fury. He really needed to hit something. Thank the angels it was time for training.

***

“Amira, may I come in?” came softly through the closed chamber door, accompanied by a light tap. “It’s an hour until supper. Would you like me to help you prepare?”

BOOK: Blood Moon (Skye Morrison Vampire Series, #5.5)
8.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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