When Reci Waters, Queen of Cups, an underwater nation, suddenly abdicates to live on land, no one, not even the two people closest to her, know the real reason -- to save her kingdom from a deadly enemy. Now, a year later, she plans to reclaim her throne, only she's been out of the water too long and falls victim to a royal curse.
When the curse hits and Reci divides into two people, she's forced to face emotions she's long suppressed -- most importantly her feelings for her handsome Captain of the Royal Guard, Arthur Finn. But when her hot-blooded twin decides it's time to explore those sexual longings, things don't just grow steamy, they're scorching hot.
Arthur has loved Reci for years, but royal protocol forced his longings to smolder just below the surface...until Reci divided in two. Now he's finding her irresistible -- both of her. There's only one problem -- Reci will die if he doesn't get her back to Cups, and her twin has run off, refusing to return to her underwater home.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Divided Love by Sally Painter
It had been eight months since she'd sent him away but the first four months being in the same close confines with Reci had been wonderful although torturous. Eight long months. Arthur had worried he'd never talk with Reci again. It had required all of his willpower not to call or stage an accidental meeting while she was out shopping. He'd managed to tail her without her knowing it--every day. He was always on duty, even though she'd asked him to leave, except today when he'd been delayed by a broken water pipe. He'd arrived too late to tail her.
Did she really think he could abandon her? He was her official guard--Captain of the Royal Guard--and she was his queen. He'd kept her under constant surveillance, always close enough to respond if an occasion arose. And while it was his duty that was not why he still protected her.
Gods, he could never leave Reci unguarded. Hell, he couldn't leave her period. He wanted to marry her, but she'd never given him a chance to profess his love for her once they'd landed. She'd always managed to change the subject whenever he attempted to guide the discussion in that direction. He'd hoped their new lives would change the way she perceived him. Another disappointment in a career of them when it came to his queen.
All that was about to change. He climbed the steps leading to the upper porch of the beach house and paused at the front door. Had any man ever wanted a woman so much? Wanted. Yeah, he wanted her. His need was a fire searing through his gut. He couldn't sleep. Damn, he'd given up trying to sleep. Every waking second and even his dreams were filled with her.
The way her long dark hair cascaded over her back in soft tempting curls was enough to pump his blood harder. But it was those dark brown eyes and long lashes that set him burning with a desire so intense he had no control over the way his body reacted. Like now. He groaned. His cock was stiff and there was little he could do to hide it, other than hold his hands clasped in front of him as he'd done since the first time he'd seen her and been introduced as her new Captain of the Royal Guard.
When the call had come from Kit ten minutes ago, hope had pushed past the determination not to feel anything for Reci ever again. Of course, he knew that was ridiculous. She was his very breath and now she wanted to see him. Good. She'd finally come to her senses. Why couldn't they be together now that they were landers? Her reasons had never made any sense to him.
She believed he'd eventually persuade her to return to Cups. Okay, maybe the first few months he felt it was a bad idea to just leave the throne because she wanted to be a lander. It was outrageous and out of character and he suspected something had happened to make her leave, but so far she'd not been willing to admit there were any other reasons. But Gods, where'd she get the idea he'd force her to return? He'd come with her to the surface, hadn't he? He'd given up a highly successful career to be called a traitor for all eternity. He knew once she got an idea in her mind, she was impossible to dissuade.
Since Kit's call, that was suddenly all in the past. It didn't matter. He knew this moment would come. Granted, he'd expected it sooner, but here it was. Finally! He pressed the doorbell. Reci was going to be his.
The door opened and Kit smiled up at him.
"Captain. It's wonderful to see you." Kit nodded with the regal poise of a court servant.
"I thought we left our titles underwater, Kit." He nodded and stepped past her into the breezy foyer, peering through the large high-ceilinged room. Blue sky and a bluer ocean rose in front of him past the tall windows. A pang of longing for Cups streaked through him. He straightened his shoulders and glanced back at her.
"Where's Reci?" he asked, finding it odd to call her anything other than "Her Majesty".
"She's out, but will be back in a few minutes."
"I thought you said it was urgent?"
"I need to talk with you before she returns."
The skin along his neck prickled.
"What's going on?"
She slipped past him and motioned for him to follow her onto the deck.
Instantly, the heat of the day hit him followed by the constantly battering summer wind. Seagulls called overhead and the rhythm of the sea pounding against the beach drew him like a drug. An overwhelming urge to strip and charge into the salty water pulled at him. Instead he tightened his hands into hard fists by his sides.
"Please sit, Arthur." Kit motioned to the table and chairs beneath the large umbrella.
"You know I prefer you be direct with me, no courtly politeness or royal beating around the bush."
"I know." Kit sat down and crossed her slender legs, waiting for him to join her.
"Water?" she asked, pouring a tall glass from the pitcher. The ice cubes clinked against the sweaty glass.
"Always," he sighed, growing impatient with her parlor etiquette.
"There's a problem, Arthur."
"Is Reci okay?"
"For now." Kit looked up at him as though trying to weigh her next words.
"For Poseidon's sake, Kit, just say it."
"Very well. Are you familiar with the ancient Curse of the Absent Throne?"
"Is that why I was called here?" He couldn't keep the disappointment from weighting his words.
"I'm sorry," she said and reached out to touch his hand, but he pulled away.
The last thing he wanted was sympathy. Anger coiled in his gut. Damn her! What kind of game was Kit playing? She knew how he felt about Reci. She'd confronted him at the time Reci had dismissed him as her guard.
"So this was your idea? Reci doesn't even know I'm here?"
"She knows. She agreed to contact you."
"I don't understand."
"Reci is, ah, well, she's not herself lately."
"What's wrong?" He leaned forward. If anything had happened to her--
"The curse is what's wrong, Arthur. You're her only hope."
"What fucking curse are you talking about?" His anger was beyond reining in. He'd believed Reci had summoned him because she'd come to her senses. He narrowed his stare on Kit, making her the target of his frustration over Reci's stubbornness.
"The Curse of the Absent Throne. Aren't you listening to me? Today is the one-year anniversary of her abdication. And, it started this afternoon at lunch. I thought we had plenty of time, but it seems we didn't. We were on our way home when I called you. But time caught up with us faster than I anticipated."
"What are you babbling about?"
"Reci is no longer herself." Her lower lip quivered.