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To gain the only thing he truly wants, he’ll have to risk everything.
Juliana, newly appointed Queen of the Unblessed, has realized there is a bit more to her position than she first thought. Sure, it has its perks: a sinfully sexy husband who is also a king, growing powers, and a magical life that’s never boring, but the drawbacks are considerable. To save her kingdom from war, Juliana accepts assistance from a witch. But when her reality turns upside down, she realizes she’s been betrayed.
For a brief time, Merrick knew happiness, as much happiness as the king of necessary evil could ever feel. Juliana has become the light in his darkness. Though he can never tell his wife he loves her—or risk upsetting the balance of both the mortal and immortal realms—the words are understood between them. Or so he thought. When she falls prey to a wayward spell, becoming encased in stone, he knows he’ll have to risk everything to gain the only thing he truly wants.
Warning: This book contains sexy times, violence, an evil witch, a blundering wizard, meddling sprights, a new queen and the lustful king who plans on showing her just how fun it is to be in charge.
Dark Fantasy Epic Historical-set Paranormal Other-World Romance
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Realm Immortal: Stone Queen
By Michelle M. Pillow
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2007 Michelle M. Pillow
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Lord Kalen," Merrick acknowledged.
"My king." Kalen bowed his head.
Merrick motioned to the side, away from Juliana's throne though it was empty. A chair grew, twisting silently up from the stone floor, and a goblet of piskie ale appeared on the arm. As he drew his fingers back, a matching goblet appeared in Merrick's hand. He took a leisurely sip of the liquor, enjoying the sweet flavor and knowing Juliana liked tasting it on his mouth when she kissed him. "How is the war?"
"Violent. Long. Bloody." Kalen's smile widened as he moved to take a seat. Generally accepted as a madman, he led the elite dark elfin warriors known as the Berserks. The noble often made what appeared to be careless decisions to those peering in from the outside, sometimes calling off his troops on the eve of a great battle they'd be sure to win. He would judge a person with one touch, turning an apparently great ally from his door and accepting an unquestionable enemy into his home. Other warriors outside his Berserks thought him reckless, but the Unblessed King knew the true secret to Kalen's genius. He was a clairvoyant, cursed with empathy. It was something he didn't tell many people. "How is the queen?"
"Guarded." Merrick took another sip. He focused his feelings briefly on his wife before drawing his attention back to his friend. "I worry."
Kalen took a long drink, finishing his ale before setting down the empty goblet. Taking a deep breath, as if bracing himself, he reached toward the king, fingers pointed up, palm out. "Tell me."
Merrick pressed his palm to Kalen's, pointing his fingers up as well. The instant they touched, a thin band of light entwined their joined hands. All information Merrick wished to impart to the man flowed between them. It was over as soon as it began. Kalen slowly lowered his hand back to his empty goblet, tilting it slightly in the king's direction. "You got something stronger than ale, my king?"
Merrick chuckled, waving his hand over it to fill the drink once more. This time with a green, potent concoction the mountain wizards produced in strange stills hidden in caves. It was vile, strong and had been known to make lesser creatures sleep for days after a single sip. Kalen glanced at it, made a small noise of appreciation and took a drink without hesitation.
"Do you see why I worry?" Merrick asked, keeping to his ale.
"All carrying women have moods," Kalen answered, moving the goblet from his mouth only long enough to answer. "It passes with the birth."
"I fear it is more than that. I want you to read her just to make sure."
"So you told me." Kalen lifted the hand he'd touched to Merrick's and wiggled his fingers. "But as I've warned you before, to know the future is to know madness."
Kalen's visions were only pieces of the future-bigger pieces than most, but pieces nonetheless. When Merrick first found out about his son, he'd gone to a divining basin to see the future. The images it showed were of his hands covered in blood as Juliana screamed, her pale cheeks stained with tears. The memory of it haunted him still.
"See, madness," the noble whispered.
"Kalen, Juliana is my ..." He took a deep breath, not daring to say the words out loud. To do so, to admit the depth of what he carried inside would be to weaken himself to those unscrupulous creatures who would gladly relieve him of his throne. Now was not a time to be weak. Fate had been cruel to him once when it made him decide between a life of happiness on the Blessed throne and the life he now led. Though, it wasn't much of a choice. If the old king hadn't been stopped, the Blessed throne wouldn't have been much. Would fate be cruel again? Would it take the dream of a family away from him? If he whispered how he felt about his wife, would fate hear him?
"I will read her again," Kalen said. "But, methinks it best if-"
Merrick shot to his feet. A searing pain ripped through him, a cold, barren gash in his power. He felt a burning across his gaze, indicating the whites of his eyes filled with black as he looked up to his bedchamber, every sense on alert. Bitter, icy emptiness greeted him where Juliana's essence should've been.
"What?" Kalen stood, his body tense. "What has happened?"
"Juliana," Merrick whispered, shaken. He'd sensed her great need before all traces of her disappeared completely. Panicked, his body turned to mist, drifting faster than he could run through the great hall to the door behind his throne. Going under it, he arrived in his bedchamber only to solidify. His wife was there, waiting, only she wasn't as she should be.
Excerpted from Realm Immortal: Stone Queen by Michelle M. Pillow Copyright © 2007 by Michelle M. Pillow. Excerpted by permission.
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