Blurb: Tristan is a skilled knight, sworn to defend the Kingdom of Leadon. He’s devoted his life to being the best he can be, and he’s as steadfast and loyal as his knighted father was before him. But when the king of Leadon informs Tristan he’s arranged a marriage for him in order to unite Leadon with a neighboring kingdom, Tristan, for the first time, balks at an order. He cannot and will not marry the princess because his heart already belongs to another.
Clayne is the poor assistant to the village blacksmith, and content with his station in life. Especially since he has the love and support of a very special man…his very own tender knight. He and Tristan grew up together, forging a bond first of friendship, and then of love, and even when Tristan became a knight of the kingdom, nothing could shake them apart. But the king’s command that Tristan marry a princess just might.
When the king threatens Clayne’s life to get his way, Tristan is forced to choose between following the dictate to save the man he loves, or a riskier plan that will endanger them both and challenge everything in which they believe…
Buy link: Amber Quill Press
…“My life is how I like it.” Tristan finally raised his gaze, eyes narrowing in the opposing way he’d been taught not to behave in the presence of royalty. “I mean no disrespect, but I cannot go through with such an arrangement. I don’t believe your offer is the right one for me.”
The king lowered himself to his chair again. “You are your father’s son,” Garrick said, jutting out his chin in disregard of the statement. Tristan fumed but held strong. “He said the same when he disrespected me,” the king continued. “Would you say his fate turned out as he had hoped after his treason?”
“My father? What do you…my father died defending you. He died with honor and loyalty to you.”
“His loyalty faltered when he disagreed with my orders. You do not wish to join him in his treasonous conduct, do you, Tristam?”
Tristan was on his feet so fast his head spun. His mouth dropped open and he was instantly freezing. One plus one suddenly added up to two. “Why would…how could you? My father was a good man. Surely you don’t mean what you’re saying?”
“If you do not wish to hear the truth, that is your choice. Consider it all water under the bridge now. It is you we are talking about, not your father. I am offering you freedom to go about your life on an easy path, while at the same time having status and a wife to please you. What more can a man want?”
Shallow intakes of air slurred Tristan’s words. “I’m not that man. If that’s the life you deem me fit for—you order me to have—then I’ll give up my knighthood or join my father in the ground before I obey your orders.”
The king laughed again, heartily but disrespectfully. “Do not be ridiculous. I’ve never met a man who would give up his own life to not marry.”
“I’m not most men.”
“So it appears. And what of the man in the blacksmith’s shop? Does he rank as most men? Will you order his death as well, young Tristam? Do you believe him so devoted to you that he’ll give his own life for your stupidity?”
Red hot rage mixed with ice cold fear in Tristan’s veins. “Don’t…you wouldn’t dare. He has nothing to do with this.”
“I believe he does, and have you forgotten who I am. I would most certainly dare if you do not do as I’ve declared, as I have already promised. Your little friend means nothing to me or anyone else. Pull up your hose, boy. Do as you are told, and he will remain as he is and you may do with him what you choose.”
Tristan stood speechless, all the bluster slowly seeping from his body. “I can’t,” he said, his voice raw, throat and eyes burning with unspent emotion. “Please don’t…”
“I believe we’re done here. The wedding is in seven days. Get your affairs in order and prepare to become a wedded man. This is a high honor. Remember it as such. Now leave me.”
There was clearly nothing else Tristan could say, at least not in that moment. His emotions were heightened, itching just under his skin, tugging at his mouth, his eyes, but the last thing he could do was reveal any breaks in his composure in front of his king.
Those words no longer held the meaning they had upon waking that morning. He suspected they never would again…
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