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Excerpt for Heiress of Light

Excerpt from Heiress of Light, releasing August 1 in Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

Heiress of Light by Ashlyn AllbrookLiam’s gaze scanned the men but purposely avoided me. “I know you have questions about what we just heard, and I know you want to spill blood, and I’m sure you’ll get your chance in due course. But at the moment, we have to protect the princess. We need to leave now.”

Finn, Dax, and Tobias freed the horses, while Matthew and Liam moved away from the trees discussing something in low voices. I remained in place, mortified.

“Elena,” Finn said softly and reached a hand toward me. “Let’s go.”

I refused to take it. I turned and picked my way through the brush to the river bank, my face burning with humiliation.

Finn brought my horse to me, and offered me his hand again to help me mount, but I evaded his touch and snatched the reins from him, moving away from him at a fast clip.

“Princess, what are you doing?” he asked in alarm.

My only thought had been to get on my horse without assistance, but now another thought came to mind.

I dragged my horse to a nearby stump and stepped up.

Dax moved closer and reached for me. “Princess, we can help you.”

I pointed my finger at him and took step back, nearly falling of the stump. “Don’t touch me!”

Embarrassment washed over my face, and I couldn’t face them. We were embarking on a journey that would last who know how long. There was no denying the feelings I was having for all of them, set loose by the priestess.

Sex magic.

I wasn’t sure if magic existed, but there was no denying that what I felt was real.

The best thing for me to do was leave, but where could I go?

My guards would catch me in no time. And if I turned myself over to Leonardo’s men, my guards would follow and die trying free me. I couldn’t be held responsible for that. I’d have to convince them to let me go.

“Elena,” Finn’s voice, full of compassion, broke my thoughts. “Everything will be okay.”

Tears burned my eyes as I looked up at him. “What if it’s true?” I whispered. “You know something happened in the temple. What if I’m…wicked?” Tears tracked down my cheeks.

“Elena,” he said, sorrow heavy in his voice. “There is no way you could ever be wicked.”

I choked back a sob, and Dax moved closer. I involuntarily jerked backward. “How can you know?” I pushed out past the lump in my throat. “How can I… feel these things and not be wicked?”

Finn’s kind eyes lifted to mine. “I know you, Elena. The girl we know is kind and courageous and has a servant’s heart for her people. There has never been a truer ruler for our kingdom.”

“But I’m not a ruler,” I said, keeping my voice down in case Leonardo’s men doubled. “I’m chattel. I’m a virgin sacrifice for Leonardo to use. He thinks I have sex magic.”

“Enough.” Liam’s voice boomed through the air and all of us cringed. He risked our discovery. “You will be no sacrifice. Over my dead body. Now get on your damn horse and let’s leave this place before we’re discovered.”

“Leave me here,” I said. “I’ll go to my grandmother’s on my own.”

The other’s protested, but Liam stalked toward me, anger clenching his fists. He stopped in front of me and the stump put me at his eye level.

“I swear to the gods Elena Elizabeth Maria of Garius, if you do not swear to me now that you will stay with us, then by the gods, I will throw you on my horse and make you ride astride my lap.”

The shiver of lust at the thought brought fresh tears to my eyes.

“You’ve made her cry more, you idiot. You’re making it worse,” Finn said. “Let me handle this.”

Liam gave me another dark look then stomped over to his horse. “Mount up.”

The others got onto their horses, although obviously reluctant to leave the matter still unsettled.

Finn moved closer and reached out for my hand.

I tucked it under my armpit. “Don’t touch me.” More tears leaked from my eyes.

“You’re not wicked, Elena. I swear on all that is holy. We’ll figure this out. We’ll make it right. But you need to stay with us.” He paused, sorrow and pain in his voice. “Promise me you’ll stay.”

“I promised before,” I said, my voice shaking.

“That was before… this. Nothing has changed for us,” he said in earnest. “Liam still has a plan. Promise me you’ll let us help you.”

My options were limited. I really had no other choice at the moment. The best thing would be to just go with them. “I promise to stay with you for now.”

Finn heard the limitation I had placed on the promise, but he gave me a soft smile and said, “I guess that will have to do. Let’s get you up on your horse.”

He reached his hand toward me again, and I shook my head. “No. No touching me.”

Finn didn’t say anything, just dropped his hand and watched as I mounted, which was considerably harder since my legs were sore and stiff. I swung my leg over and nearly fell. Finn’s hands were up to catch me, but I shot him a dark glare.

I lifted my chin with a haughty expression—although I was sure my tear streaked face lessened the royal stoicism that I was going for—so I added a firm voice. “I am the Her Royal Highness Princess Elena Elizabeth Maria of Garius. You will not touch me.” My voice broke and I took a breath to give the words more power. “You. Will. Not. Touch. Me. Is this clear?”

None of them met my eyes except for Liam. His stare was just as dark as mine and just as defiant.

“Yes, your royal highness,” the men finally said with little conviction.

“Liam,” I said in a stern tone. “You think yourself exempt from my commands?”

He rode his horse next to mine so that our knees were inches apart. “I will do what I need to do to fulfill my duties, Princess. You would do best to refrain from issuing limitations that might impede our jobs and put us all in danger.”

Being this close to him was driving my pulse rate higher along with my libido. “If you were a smart man,” I said in an even tone, “you would send me to Leonardo and be done with it all.”

His eyes narrowed. “I’m one of the smartest men you will ever meet, and I will die before that happens. I heard your promise to Finn, and I’m counting you to refrain from breaking it.”

The thing, deep in my chest, took joy in being so close to him. It made my hands itch to reach out and touch him. It was taking everything in me to ignore my base instincts. “Maybe I’m demon possessed,” I wondered out loud. “Perhaps I’m a danger to you all.” I paused. “Perhaps you should tie me to a stake and burn me.”

His eyes darkened even more and he looked like he was about to wring my neck. “There will be no witch burning tonight or ever. We will find out what is wrong with you and we will fix this.”

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