Book: Peasant Princess
Series: Teller of Destiny #3
Author: A.H. DeCarrasco
Genre: Young / New Adult Fantasy
Tour Organized by: Indie Sage, LLC
Release: Mid-Late 2014
“I would do it again.” Lunule placed Raphere’s cold fingers between his hands, to warm them. “A thousand things I would do for your pardon.” Events in Paz Etur have taken an ugly turn. Whispers of conspiracy and censure echo within the city. Recovering from a near-mortal wound, Raphere can do little to shield those she has sworn to protect. As First Scout Otti embarks upon a journey east, to unravel Raphere’s past, Rant finds his own challenges waiting in Paz Ori. The dark deals he made as a mercenary cannot be dismissed, and Dark Lords are not known for patience. Even Tranquia is beginning to have misgivings where Raphere is concerned. As strange plagues spread over the plains, and wolves prowl forever closer to the kingdoms, will Raphere have the strength to calm the ill winds churning from all directions? Will she find her closest ally in the cruelest of princes?
…His expression softened as he sat down beside her. Carefully, Lunule moved the chair and winced as it creaked. He leaned closer to her. His elbow nearly touched her hand. His fingers could almost reach her face. Raphere’s dark hair had grown quite long since she came to the palace. He lifted a lock and held it between his fingers. It was soft, like silk.
“Do you wish to pull it?”
He released the curl and leaned back. “No, not today.”
“Good,” she retorted and turned her face away. But sleep was gone, and without a thought to his struggle, she lifted her arms above her and slowly stretched out the kinks in her limbs.
Could she take his weight? The nasty voice of his mind goaded. He shook his head to clear away the persistent thought.
“I am not supposed to be here,” he told her.
“Really?” She didn’t seem to care that he was.
“My father has brought me to task. Told me I shouldn’t see you unless you called for me.”
“Then why are you here?”
“You didn’t want to see me?”
“Hardly.” She scoffed at him, cutting him to the quick with one word.
“But, of course, I knew you wouldn’t want to see me. But I care little for other’s wants or needs, as you’ve told me. I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
“Lunule,” she snapped angrily and made to rise but cried out in pain. Lunule leapt to his feet, shocked that she still suffered, and watched helplessly as she seemed to shrink under her blankets. Her breath rasped from her throat, uneven and harsh.
“Prince,” she whispered, her voice strained. “Why must you torture me? Haven’t you had your fill?”
Lunule was quiet a moment then ventured on another path. “I wanted to thank you.”
“For what? Taking the wound you deserved?” she retorted hoarsely.
“I shouldn’t have come,” he said. Suddenly very ashamed of himself, he retreated toward the antechamber. “I am sorry, Raphere.” Again the apologies spilled from his lips. Ah! He was a fool.
“No. Do not leave, please.”
He turned around as his heart lightened. He reclaimed the seat he had left and leaned near her. Her captivating green eyes looked at him a moment.
“How is Rant? Is he well?”
Lunule’s jaw tensed as he felt the knife’s twist. His lips lifted into a smile to cover his wound and he leaned back in the chair. “He is well. He returned to Paz Ori with his mother.”
“Any word for me?”
His hesitation was imperceptible even as his mind, quick as a bee’s wing, contemplated his choices. He had left the note behind. Why make the journey to retrieve it tonight?
He made his decision, if only a postponement. “No,” he lied. “Not yet, anyway.”
He noticed her disappointment but it mattered little. She wanted him near only to serve as a messenger.
“I must have angered him.” Raphere decided.
“No,” he reassured her. It was the least he could do. “I think he had other matters to see to. Not that you weren’t important. My father strictly forbade his seeing you, and he had to leave that day.”
This did nothing to soften her frown, however. Again, she averted her face from him.
“I freed the prisoners for you, as you asked.”
She turned back toward him. “I am glad, Lunule. It was the right thing to do.”
“I know that now,” he admitted. “You are always teaching me…such things. I never realize how stupid...” His words dwindled.
“Raphere,” he began again, not knowing what his very next words would be—what chitchat could he offer to change her mood, her heart. This was a failure. Almost accusingly he continued. “Now you must forgive me.”
“I forgive you, Lunule,” she told him but her heart was not in it. He could tell that much.
“That is not my only penance, I’m afraid,” he admitted. “My father wants me to go to the Feast of Second Harvest and wash the feet of ten peasants.”
This sudden information brought a true laugh from Raphere but she winced in pain even as she chuckled.
“Their feet? Oh, Lunule, what an appropriate punishment for you.” Her throat was dry and her laughter turned to hoarse coughing. Lunule leaned forward and grabbed her hand. She squeezed his fingers tightly as pain wracked her body.
“Dear Fate, Raphere,” he said miserably. “I am so sorry. I never meant harm to you. Not like this.”
She continued to cough. He grabbed the water pitcher and filled a cup, spilling the liquid in his haste. The prince acted as servant, supporting her head and helping her bring the cup to her mouth. She drank deeply. Her emerald eyes met his over the rim.
“The water tastes bitter,” she noted when she was done, her voice yet hoarse.
He took the cup from her and placed it on the bed’s night table, then gently fluffed her pillow.
He couldn’t help himself, being so close to her, her breath on his face. He lowered his lips and gently kissed her cheek.
She said nothing, not a retort or insult. Again, he took her hand in his even as her eyes grew moist. He watched helplessly as she blinked back tears.
“I would do it for you,” he told her quickly. “I would wash their feet if you wished it.”
She didn’t say a word to comfort him. She looked away just as a tear proved victorious against her battle and spilled onto the cheek he had kissed, as if to wash it clean.
“You didn’t hear me that night, Raphere, when Tranquia said you would die. She claimed there was nothing she could do. I told her she must not let you die. I told her before all the nobles and stable hands that you couldn’t die...because I love you. And I do in my heart, as only I can know.”
Lunule squeezed her hand tighter. Fearing she would draw it away from his, he clasped it with both of his hands.
“I don’t expect you to return my affection—”
“Affection?” she countered bitterly. “Is that what you call your actions? Affections—?”
“I can only ask a chance to prove my feelings are real. Only that. I would wash their feet for you, Raphere. A thousand things I would do for your pardon.”
She pulled her hand back and rolled onto her side, toward the balcony. Away from him. “Do it for yourself, Lunule.” Her words dismissed him.
About the Author:
A. H. De Carrasco embarked upon the writer’s journey at a young age, writing illustrated fan fiction for her grade school classmates’ favorite shows. Several decades later, she is publishing her collection of fantasy novels for teenagers and adults. Lately, she writes beside a waterfall as her husband tests his goggles and flippers. Her cats look on in displeasure from the screen door, but purr happily when she writes at her desk.
Teller of Destiny Series
From Continue #1
Princes and Fools #2