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by Lila Dubois
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: Lord Moregon needs a wife but not just any wife will do. Aketa is a farm girl, raised on the outskirts of the magnificent Great City. When a proclamation is issued, inviting all eligible females to attend a ball at the Palace for a chance to be Lord Moregon's bride, Aketa dismisses it. She would never win the hand of a noble Lord. Her haunting past and scarred face are enough to drive any man away, never mind one who has his pick of any woman in the city. But Moregon's requirements in a wife are far from normal. She must be a woman of exceptional spirit and strength. Most importantly she must be brave enough to face the whips and chains of Moregon's world. When Aketa meets and falls in love with the handsome and kind Moregon she resolves to do anything, endure anything, to win him.
eBook Publisher: Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: June 2009
134 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [242 KB]
Reading time: 147-206 min.
Excitement pulsed through the Great City. In a land that had known great sorrow and little joy, the latest summons from the Palace was a cause for celebration. People stopped to talk in the streets and no shopping transaction could be completed without a word on the subject.
The men in the city, young or old, were discussing the subject, but the women, the women. The light of possibility, of imagination and longing, was alight in every young girl's eye, for what girl could not help but be fascinated by the prospect of winning the hand of a noble lord?
Several major crossroads boasted copies of the summons. The magnificent parchments with their swirled letters were tacked to boards and propped up near the edge of the street, so as to be out of the way. But their placement did nothing to stop the interruption of traffic, for at each was a perpetual group of ten to fifteen young girls, gathered and giggling.
Literacy was low among the people, so most crossroads were also staffed by a crier. These brave souls had been the first to pour this startling news into the city, and now they bore the brunt of the questions and speculation. Most criers returned to their homes at night with their ears ringing and voices hoarse.
There was one crier, however, who had an easier time. He staffed the lonely proclamation on the road that wound up into the southern foothills. There were no crossroads here, only a shallow shoulder to the dirt road.
The road was a busy one, for much of the city's farm goods, from corn to cotton, traveled this way. The hardworking farmers each stopped, curiosity forcing them to pause until the crier had recited his summons. If the party was only men they would blink a few times, maybe nod, and continue on their way home, where they would repeat what they'd heard to eager wives and daughters.
If a girl or young woman accompanied the party the crier would be sure to look at her, to let her know the summons applied to all, even a dirt speckled farmer's daughter. Their cries of delight and ten thousand questions eased the boredom of the crier's day. When these young women walked away, they were smiling. Hope shone in their eyes as brightly as in those of the girls of the valley floor.
There was one girl who did not smile.
She walked behind a farmer's cart. The man and boy who walked beside the horse's head stopped at the crier, but the girl stayed back. She had a thin shawl draped over her head, shielding it from the sun, but the sleeves of her dress were pulled up and tied at the shoulder, revealing brown, well-muscled arms.
"What be this?" the farmer asked, hand stroking the horse's neck. His son, their family resemblance clear, peered at the summons.
"My good sir," the crier began, "their majesties have issued a summons, and posted it here so that all the people of the Great City may hear and know it."
"A summons?" the farmer said, distrust thick in his voice. "What do they think they can take from us?"
The crier blinked in astonishment. The King and Queen had come into power after overthrowing the old King, who had ruled the land with a harsh hand. The rise of the former Priestess and Prima Zinah, each beloved by the people in their own right, to the rank of King and Queen had been a cause for celebration, not resentment.
"They, uh, well," the crier stumbled. He looked away from the farmer, to the girl. She immediately dropped her head, but not before he saw large green eyes peering out from the shadow of the shawl.
Gathering himself, the crier recited the summons.
Hail and Summons
A joyous new era has descended upon the Great City. King Tamlohn and Queen Cryessa bid all citizens of the Great City heed these summons.
The High Lord Moregon, Minister of Agriculture, former Zinah, beloved of their Majesties and the Goddess, seeks a wife. All eligible maidens and their families are invited to the Palace on the night of the next full moon for a grand ball and feast. Those chosen to continue their bid for Lord Moregon's heart will be invited to remain at the Palace.
All are welcome.
The crier looked expectantly at the girl. Her head remained bowed.
He looked to the farmer.
"A ball?" the man asked.
"Yes, all are invited. No formal dress is required if that is your concern."
The farmer snorted. "Don't have fancy dress. They should know that if they want to go inviting everyone."
"Er, their majesties are aware of it. That is why there is no formal dress required."
The farmer snorted again. Awkward silence descended for a moment. The crier wished they would leave--they were quite the most unpleasant people he'd encountered.
"A feast, you say?" the farmer asked.
"Yes, there will be a grand feast."
"And anyone with a daughter can come?"
"Does it matter if the chit's ugly?"
The crier's mouth dropped open in astonishment. He looked to the girl. Her head had dropped even lower, and her shoulders were now hunched forward.
"The, uh, the Lord Moregon seeks a bride based on more than physical beauty."
"But as long as you bring the girl, you can come to the feast."
The farmer nodded and turned away. He clicked his tongue at his horse, and the beast started forward. The boy, who'd been silent, waited a few moments before he started peppering his father with questions. They were close enough that the crier heard the high squeak of the boy's excited voice.
"Papa, are we going to the feast? Can I go? When is it? Can I ride the horse? Can Mama come?"
The girl asked not a single question. Nor did she smile.