A brand new release from the wonderful M.J. Schiller:
Sir Darius Lee is a Knight of the High Order.
But when Darius discovers a stranger in his room in the middle of the night, and the intruder turns out to be a beautiful woman, he begins to question how he is meant to live his life.
Princess Megan of Bethyea is being held captive.
But when two knights help her to escape and bring her back to her home planet, she finds the home she knew no longer exists.
When The Council of Twelve questions Darius about his relationship with Maggie, she tries to flee from The Academy of the High Order to prevent him from losing his knighthood.
Will Darius and Orion find Maggie before she leaves Albion? And if they do, how can they face the decision of The Council? And what about the feelings Orion has developed for the princess?
Darius Lee sat up in bed and listened to the darkness. What interrupted his sleep and caused him to become so fully awake? Several seconds elapsed while he held his breath and waited, but he heard no noise. Still, he was aware someone else was in the suite he shared with his young novice, Orion Quinn. He closed his eyes and tuned into his Spirit Within in order to get a feel for his current level of danger. He sensed at once the outside presence he felt in the room was not threatening. Despite that, he knew something must be amiss for a stranger to enter their rooms unannounced in the middle of the night.
He had been uneasy since he and Orion landed here on Faador on their latest mission. It all started when The Academy of The High Order, where Darius gained his knighthood, received a transmission from an older man dressed in uniform. The man stated Faador’s leader, Justin Filithy, held captive a woman, a princess, from another planet. Little was known about Filithy other than he had some questionable dealings with slave traders. Details of the princess’s abduction were sketchy too, as the communication was cut short. The Order sent Orion and him to quietly investigate any wrong doing under the guise of a routine security check. Yet, ever since they arrived, the leader was occupied elsewhere. In fact, the whole place was crawling with guards and he surmised they were under a high alert of some kind, but no one provided any information. A trio of soldiers stuck them in this suite and promised a meeting with Filithy the next day. He was annoyed by the delay, but since they arrived on the planet late in the afternoon it seemed reasonable to wait until morning.
He slid out from underneath his lightweight bedcover without making a sound and grabbed his clothes, which were lying on a chair beside the bed. He slipped his head through the opening in the loose-fitting shirt, but left it untied at the neck, glancing at his laser-sword leaning against the nightstand. He decided to leave it. No need to scare anyone off if they meant no harm. He would simply have to use caution.
Darius reached the door and thankfully it slid open across its tracks without the usual high-pitched hydraulic hiss. He made out a figure standing in the open doorway to the room where his novice slept. The interloper was dressed in the same slightly puffy white uniform of the guards who they’d seen in abundance ever since they arrived. He was amused at first by the fleeting thought that they resembled marshmallows. Now as he watched the shadowy form, he was curious. What reason would anyone have to steal into their rooms like this? The guard wore a white helmet as the others had, with a tinted visor which could conceal the entire face. This visor, however, was open. Darius could see it flipped on top of the helmet, no doubt so the guard could see in the dim lighting. He wondered why the sight of this stranger gazing at Orion, who was lying completely unaware and vulnerable, didn’t alarm him more. But again, something told him the intruder was frightened, even desperate, but not a threat.
His training taught him how to enter the room without a sound, but the stranger seemed to detect his presence, darting to the left toward the door leading to the outer hallway. Darius took several steps before launching his six-foot-four-inch frame, timing his tackle perfectly. He wrapped his arms around the fleeing legs, bringing both parties down heavily. On contact the stranger’s helmet flew off and skittered across the dura-tile by the entryway. The guard twisted around to try to fight him off, while Darius sought to pin his shoulders to the ground. To his immense surprise he found himself staring into the face of a beautiful, terrified young woman. Long, wavy blonde hair fanned out on the floor as she struggled to free herself from his grasp. Their gazes locked and he drew his breath in a rush. Hers were the eyes of the hunted, wide and intensely blue-green. The oddest sensation came over him, as if, in that one look, an invisible hand reached into him and somehow tied him to this unknown woman. At the same time it was like the connection had been there all his life, an answer to a question he never knew to ask.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he whispered to calm her. Surprisingly she stilled, searching his face as if to determine something there about him. “If I let you up, do you promise to stay here and answer a few questions for me?”
“I will not harm you.” He dipped his head to better catch those eyes. “Trust me.”
Something in the way he said it seemed to convince her, and she nodded slowly. He released her arms and moved to the side. He sensed she was still tensed to flee if necessary, but for the moment, she decided to place her trust in him.
Her heart was racing madly. What was she doing? She should run. She should run as fast as she could, or at least search about the room for a way out.
She sensed him there behind her, though she heard no sound. Her immediate instinct was to flee, as well it should be. After all, she was on the run from a half dozen guards. It was only by ducking into this room a few moments ago that she avoided capture. In spite of all that, she now sat on a couch with the man. It was totally incomprehensible to her, trusting him. She learned the costly lesson of trusting in the goodness of men long ago. But when she scrutinized his face as he peered at her on the floor, she had been filled with an unfathomable sense of calm. It was the most bizarre feeling. All logic, all of her past experiences said to get out as swiftly as possible. But here she was, sitting next to this man as if it was teatime and not the middle of the night in a room where he discovered her hiding. She guessed him to be five or six years older than she. His face was strong, but kind, almost noble, and his deep, dark eyes were compassionate, with a hint of wisdom. It was the kind of face one could trust.
“Now,” he began slowly, ”why don’t you tell me exactly what you’re doing here?”
She was saved from figuring out an answer for his question by a young man who came barreling out of the door behind him. He brandished a laser-sword, yelling as he entered, “Master! I’m here!” The suddenness of the action startled them both.
The man turned slightly to say, “Orion, deactivate your weapon,” and that was all she needed. Her fear returned and catapulted her off the couch and toward the door. She hit the keypad with a force that sent a shock wave rippling up her arm, and was on the other side as soon as it opened wide enough to allow her small frame through. Once on the opposite side, she started pounding on the keypad there, and was able to effectively disable the door for a moment, enough time to search the hallway for a path of escape.
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MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh! Can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has a nineteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and seventeen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.