Skella: A form-fitting black garment specifically tailored to cover a man's lean, muscular physique from head to toe. Worn exclusively by those in the king's personal guard. His Guardians.
For Nelina Lannen, the skella is more than an outfit. It's a symbol of everything that's wrong with the royal rule. Ever since the king's men stormed into her bedroom eight years earlier and ripped her lover from her arms, she's been haunted by the memory of the ruthless bodyguards.
That long-ago night they snatched the only man she's ever loved. Now they've returned to claim her body.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
November 13, 2009
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from All the King's Men by Lacey Savage
She glared at him and yanked her hand away. "I'm not coming with you."
Kirel rose, fighting to keep his features uninterested. "What you do or don't want doesn't matter. We're taking you back to the castle where you'll accept your training like the queen you're meant to be."
She snarled, her full lip curling, revealing perfect teeth. "Never."
He jerked his head in the direction of the other Guardians. "Take her."
Nelina's eyes widened as Domenic moved around her, grabbing her left arm. Thor took her right, lifting her off her feet. "You can't do this!"
With a nod to the assembled onlookers, Kirel headed for the door. "Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the rest of your night. The king sends his blessings."
Kirel led the way out. The door opened into darkness. Red dust swirled around him, muffling Nelina's protests.
Her cries carved a hollow slash through Kirel's heart, reminding him of the last time he'd heard the sounds. It had been his fault then, just as it was now. It seemed he was destined to cause her pain.
He pulled open the carriage door and waited while Thor and Domenic yanked Nelina inside. As they pulled her past him, she jabbed out with her elbow, spearing him squarely in the ribs. An angry hiss escaped his lips, directed more at himself than at her.
For the love of Aris, he was a Guardian! A protector! He'd been trained to defend, not to harm. Yet here he was, hurting the woman he loved.
Because your duty is to the king. Not to her.
Clenching his fists, he slammed one against the driver's window. "Go!" he shouted then leapt into the carriage and yanked the door closed behind him as it began to move.
The interior of the chariot was shrouded in shadow. Occasionally a beam of moonlight slid through the uncovered windows to play across Nelina's face. She sat across from him, between Thor and Domenic. Each man had a hand on her thigh. The sight of their splayed fingers so close to her tantalizing flesh sent a jolt of arousal and jealousy to slither through his veins.
Kirel stretched his arms across the expanse of the cushioned backrest and dug his fingernails into the soft fabric. "Why fight it, Nel? Isn't this what every woman wants?"
He caught sight of an angry gleam in her blue eyes. "You don't have a clue what I want. You never did."
"Come now, that's not fair. All those nights you spent in my arms... I remember the way you used to beg for more." His voice dropped to a low whisper. "Don't you?"
Domenic slid an arm around Nelina's shoulder and pulled her to him, ignoring her protests. "We'll find out soon enough. Won't we, sweetheart?"
She tried to jerk out of his grip but Domenic kept her pressed tightly against him. "What's he talking about?"
"Your training of course," Kirel said, fighting to keep his mind detached. The erotic images that had haunted him all night intensified, taunting him with mental pictures of Domenic lifting her skirt and toying with her pussy right there in the carriage.
He'd be well within his rights to do so, as would Thor and Kirel. Until she was handed over to the Fates for their decision during the Trials and then ultimately to the king, Nelina was property of the king's men. They had complete autonomy over her training and could carry it out as they deemed necessary.
His cock stiffened, pulsing almost painfully, tenting the fabric of his pants. Gods, he was going to be useless if he couldn't get his emotions under control. He needed to prepare her for the Trials, not fuck her senseless until he made up for all those lost years.
Nelina fell silent. Even in the gloom, he could make out the calculating way she watched him from beneath lowered lashes. "Why the act, Kirel?" she asked at last. "Why not just walk out the door like every other man? Did bringing in your friends and pretending to be dragged away by force make you feel better about yourself?"
His stomach churned. Her darkened silhouette sandwiched between the two strong men took his breath away. "It wasn't an act." The words sounded hollow and meaningless, even to him. "The king sent for me."
"I get it," she said sardonically. "Then the king must have kept you away for all these years, preparing for the day he decided he wanted me for himself. Do I have that right?"
"Something like that," Kirel acknowledged.
"Holy Moon Gods, save me from lying men," she muttered under her breath. "What do you intend to do with me?"
His fingers clutched the backrest tighter. "Everything."
Nelina sucked in a breath between her teeth, falling silent. His erection raging out of control, Kirel kept his gaze fixed firmly on the window, watching the sandstorm drown out the few glittering lights of the farmhouses they passed.
Waldemar Castle was situated about two miles out of town. As they approached, the storm began to quiet as though even the blowing gale prepared for their arrival.
The carriage slipped between tall gates that opened for them and circled into the shadowy gloom of the cliffside. The castle had been carved into the stone of Tradition Mountain, the range with the highest peaks in all of Aris. Flaming torches ensconced in the walls lit their passage as the driver pulled up to the circular entranceway.
Kirel pushed the door open and jumped out first, Domenic on his heels. As Kirel extended his hand inside the carriage and beckoned, the wind died down completely. Nelina ignored his offer of assistance as she descended, her spine rigid and her head held high. The white blouse she wore stretched around her breasts, lifting the full mounds up like a divine offering.
Swallowing back a groan, he averted his gaze and gestured toward the entrance. "You can follow me or I can have Thor and Domenic carry you. It's your choice."
"Both choices sound so tempting." Nelina ran the tip of her index finger over Domenic's biceps. "How's a girl to choose?"
Kirel scowled. He didn't know what she was doing but he didn't like it. "Walk. Or I carry you."
She tore her hand away and stormed past him toward the entrance. "When you put it that way, the choice is much easier."
He thought he heard Domenic chuckle behind him but he didn't hang around long enough to find out. Hurrying to catch up to Nelina, he touched her elbow to steer her down the right-most passageway.
She jerked out of his grasp and crossed her arms over her chest. "Don't you need to ask my permission before touching me or something?"
For the first time that evening a smile tugged at his lips. He leaned toward her to whisper in her ear. "Not at all. In fact, I'm encouraged to do things...wild, carnal things...to you until you become queen. The more I touch you, the greater the reward when you pass the Trials."
He caught the abrupt stiffening of her spine and knew he'd hit a nerve. When she spoke again, it was with a distinct tinge of panic and arousal in her voice. "What about them?" She hooked a thumb over her shoulder.