Summoned to aid Oriana’s father in the war against two powerful enemies—one of them Oriana's savage husband—Zyraxes proves himself worthy of more than just noble titles and coin. But he wants none of it. What he wants is her.
When Zyraxes discovers a broken and nearly dead Oriana, though forbidden, he disregards her father's orders to leave her to her death, and instead chooses to protect and conceal her. Will saving her be enough to win her heart? Will his part royal lineage make him worthy of her love?
“Such a fool!” Oriana’s eyes brand me with their intense glare. “Galtys’ women don’t awake everyone with their moans. Galtys’ indiscretion doesn’t offend me, but your actions do.” With both hands Oriana covers her mouth, blinking fast and shaking her head. “I … apologies, I do not know what got into me … a proper lady does not speak about such matters. Apologies.”
“Oriana, I …” A foreign heat burns my face. “I … the women outside this chamber do not come in for good reason … people think of me as a … if my behavior were different than what they all know me for they’d suspect I hide something. I cannot draw attention to myself without risking your discovery. My duty is to keep you safe even if I must do things you disapprove of.”
I hold her gaze when she looks at me as if reading my mind. Long ago I gave her my heart but she was too blind to see my love. Too blind or not interested. Granted I never spoke of my feelings, but my actions prove them. It never occurred to me that my behavior causes her grief.
Oriana sighs. “I am nothing but a burden to you … I have no right to tell you what you can or cannot do. Your life is in danger because of me and yet I demand … I behave so childish.” She smiles briefly then looks down at the cloth in her lap. “I do not know how to show my gratitude for everything you have done—”
“By the gods, Oriana, stop it!” I get up and walk away, turning my back to her. “I do not want your gratitude.”
She comes behind me, her Oriana scent—dewy earth, freshly cut grass and gladiolus enthralling me. In a small voice she says, “There is nothing else I have to give. I have no possessions, no gold to repay you.”
I turn and seize her arms, anger and desperation blinding me. “Who speaks of gold or ransom, woman? Have I asked for any of those? Have I?”
She opens her mouth to say something, pain twisting her face. When it finally dawns on me how rough I am, it’s too late. Galtys pushes me away whilst Oriana leans onto Thera, barely walking to the bed.
I reach for her. “Oriana!"
Who I was yesterday … I’m no longer today, nor will I be tomorrow. Each day I grow a little. I stumble, get up, and learn something. I wish and dream and want and look to the future.
Who I am is not important, but what I leave behind is.
Copyright © 2013 CAMELIA MIRON SKIBA
WEBSITE: LOVE. WTHOUT YOU http://authorcameliamironskiba.com/
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: Camelia Miron Skiba