Conte Camliel Aristos deTano, Ari, has long spurned the marriage forced upon him. His contractual bride, Princess Fleur Constante, the beautiful future queen though young and inexperienced, is willing to risk everything, including her own sanity, to save her planet.
The inhabitants of the sentient planet, Verdantia, are poised on the precipice of extinction following a brutal invasion by an off-world, nomadic horde. Verdantia’s capital, Sylvan Mintoth, must have its failing energy shield restored, or the planet is doomed. The Elders know the shield can draw energy from only one thing-a very arduous and grueling coupling of two specific people who were pre-chosen by the planet Herself and promised by prearranged marriage contract.
Verdantia draws strength from the duo, but the sentient planet whispers to Ari that a third is necessary ~ Ari’s aide de camp, Visconte Doral deLorion, an angelically handsome, skilled assassin who silently surrendered his heart to Ari long ago.
The trio struggles to make this surprising partnership harmonious, pushing through pride, scars of past abuse, fears of inexperience and distrust. To save Verdantia, they must overcome their individual weaknesses and realize their full potential. Only the tetriarch and their combined synergy, can harness Verdantia’s immense power to shield its citizens from invasion.
Doral’s muscles screamed at his long inactivity. He ignored them. His brain registered the frigid cold penetrating his wet clothing. He shut it out. Prone, covered by dense foliage, invisible to any observer, his eyes scanned the brooding clouds intently. A flicker of orange flared through the gray. There. They landed there. Quiet satisfaction suffused him. His informant had been accurate. Rising with lithe grace, he slipped through the forested undergrowth on a path converging with that of the private lander. The craft would have bare minutes to land and take off before Verdantia’s electromagnetic disruption disabled its engines.
Hidden close by, Doral observed patiently as the craft disgorged its treacherous passenger and immediately powered thunderously into the heavens. Warmly cloaked against the poor weather and high altitude, the traitorous aristocrat waited, alone, in a sheltered copse. The clack of horses’ shod feet slipping on rock and the murmur of men’s voices could be heard as an armed detail ascended the mountainous trail to the landing site. They will find only your dead body, you duplicitous filth. But it would be a close thing—no time for interrogation. The watcher slipped into the copse and on silent feet moved to within striking distance. Dropping a needle-sharp stiletto into the palm of his hand, he engaged with and quickly disabled his prey.
Holding the victim’s arm twisted behind his back, dislocation imminent, his stiletto poised to enter the man’s throat, Doral whispered into the traitor’s ear, “By High Lord DeTano’s command, for your betrayal of Verdantia, you die, Duca Loretto.”
“DeLorion! Wait, I can pay…” The traitor’s protest ended in a gurgling, liquid gasp as Visconte Doral DeLorion’s blade slit his throat. He gently lowered the limp body to the ground and rapidly searched it, carefully removing a heavy packet of folded papers from the dead man’s clothing. Glancing quickly at the papers, his lips twitched in a slight smile of satisfaction. Finally—proof. There is a traitor among the LFP. Now who is it?
Doral swiftly skirted the incoming troop detail and vanished down the side of the mountain. Finding a place well hidden, he carefully reviewed the papers in his hand, then folded them away in his tunic for safekeeping. Doral’s mind slipped away to dwell on his absent High Lord. He wondered how matters progressed between Conte DeTano and the princess. The subtle yearning ache that had grown with every day that their separation lengthened now threatened to become a sense of true loss. I wonder if I’ll ever have him? Doral shut the thought away, unexamined. He couldn’t accept what his brain told him the logical outcome of that possession would be.