Today's a double post day.
First, my erotic fantasy romance Quickie, Jewel of Apthgar, releases today at Ellora's Cave!
Rahziya Sanura, princess of Gar, and Callum Hefeydd, prince of Apth--two people in love but separated by feuding kingdoms. Their one hope for unification--both for themselves and their countries--is the legendary Jewel of Apthgar, a 6-inch long amethyst said to have come from the great god Apthgar's sword. Sent by their respective fathers to retrieve the gem, they must first defeat the dragon guarding it.
Will the Jewel provide the means for them to be together, or will it drive them apart?
Rahziya stared at her father and tried unsuccessfully to tamp down the rising anticipation that tightened her stomach and made her heart thump faster. Her father… Was he finally taking an interest in her? Seeing her as a person of value rather than the infant who killed his beloved wife in childbirth?
“My scouts believe they have located the Jewel of Apthgar,” he went on, releasing her elbow and continuing on to his throne. With a flourish, he swept his crimson robe out of the way and sat down. “In order to be a strong leader, all Garan heirs to the throne must perform a feat of great bravery before they may rule. As my only heir—” His jaw tightened and she saw the familiar disappointment in his eyes. She tried not to react to it, though it hurt, as always.
Her father cleared his throat. “As my only heir, I want you to retrieve the Jewel. It will do much to solidify your reputation as a worthy successor in the eyes of the citizenry.”
Rahziya’s eyes went wide. The Jewel of Apthgar! An artifact treasured most highly by the Garans, as well as their political enemies, the people of the Kingdom of Apth. Said to be an amethyst taken from the hilt of the great god Apthgar’s mighty sword, it was purported to have been used in unifying ceremonies exclusive to the nobility.
That was the story, anyway. The Jewel had been lost for four hundred years. No one knew what it looked like—at least, if they did, no one had ever told her. But it was said to be around six mahtongs long, roughly two-thirds the length of her forearm, and carved from one solid piece of amethyst.
“If we know where it is,” her father said, standing to pace in a circle in front of his throne, “then you can be sure that that bastard knows as well.”
That bastard—meaning the king of Apth. The father of Prince Callum.
Callum, the one man she was forbidden to have. The animosity their fathers felt toward each other was based solely upon the centuries-old feud between the two families that had divided Apthgar’s kingdom to begin with. If she and Callum were anything other than politely apathetic toward each other in public, it could plunge the two countries into war.
But because the Jewel was the one thing both peoples would rally behind, it was the one thing that would bind the two kingdoms together once again. And, too drunk on power and prestige, that was the one thing neither ruler wanted.
She did. And she knew Callum did. Perhaps peace would come with their generation.
“Are you listening to me?” The king strode to her and shook her shoulder. “I don’t want that bastard getting his hands on it. Idiot can’t even measure things right,” he muttered. His brows knotted as he went on about what he considered to be the useless intricacies of the Apthian system of measurement. An argument she’d heard since she was little as to why merging the two kingdoms would be impossible. His hand tightened on her shoulder, his grip bordering on pain. “Gods above. Not only did I not get a son, I ended up with a girl who’s always off in la-la land.”
Rahziya clenched her jaw against a tart rejoinder. This was her father, her only parent, and he was the king. He deserved her respect.
She despaired of ever receiving the same in return.
“Where is the Jewel?” she asked, easing away from his hold.
His gaze slid away from hers. He turned his back and walked toward his throne.
Her heart dropped into her stomach. That her father, usually so blunt and no-holds-barred in his approach to people—especially her—would instead be reluctant to impart information did not bode well for her.
Not looking at her, he gruffly cleared his throat. “It’s in Dearthrealm.”
Dearthrealm. Where the dragons lived.
“Protected by a fearsome wyvern that carries poison in the barb of its tail.”
She stared at him. “Well, you’re just full of good news, aren’t you?” she muttered under her breath. Of all the species of dragons, wyverns were the fiercest, protective of their entire territory, not just their hoards. One strike from that barbed tail brought about a horrible death, the victim transformed to liquid from the inside out.
Her father turned to face her, his brows drawn down. “What was that?”
Rahziya took a deep breath. “You want me to face this creature alone?”
“Don’t be daft.” He sat down on his throne. His face suggested he’d about used up his quota of patience with her. “You’ll be accompanied by a full complement of royal guardsmen.” He leaned to one side, resting his elbow on the padded arm of the oversized chair. “You surely aren’t afraid of this task I’m setting before you, are you, Ziya? After all, you’ve been telling me since you were a youngling that you’re as good as any son I might have had.”
Of everything she’d said to him over the years—most of which he’d ignored—trust him to remember that.
Copyright 2008 Sherrill Quinn. All Rights Reserved.
Jewel of Apthgar - available at Ellora's Cave.
Second, if you're here looking for Installment #21 of Faery Kisses, scroll on down.