Releases October 24, 2023!

When a Dragon Falls

The Embraced Book 7

When a Dragon Falls

Kensington Publishing

Princess Lenushka of Norveshka prides herself on her courage. She’s faced down the doubters who think a woman dragon shifter is worth less than a man. She will marry to secure the support of her nobles—and ensure she’ll hold the Norveshki throne. A battle-hardened soldier, she’s prepared to destroy the Brotherhood of the Sun, who threaten all Aerthlan. But she can barely look at Bran Morris, the Raven. His dark, brooding beauty is off-limits for a princess who must wed for advantage. And he has far too many secrets of his own for Lennie to trust him with hers.

Bran’s quest is for vengeance, against the Brotherhood monsters who killed his brother and abused his sisters. He can’t dream about the sharp-eyed woman warrior whose memory haunts him, not even when she appears to rescue him from an unknown dragon shifter. But when Lennie and Bran discover they’re Aerthlan’s last defense against a powerful, murderous mastermind, they can no longer afford to deceive each other—or themselves. And when a dragon’s passion is freed, anything is possible . . .


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Early spring, year 721
Lourdon Palace, Tourin

Princess Lenushka of Norveshka was tempted to breathe fire on one of the awful gowns and set it ablaze. Could she claim it was an accident? Brought on, perhaps, by an unfortunate hiccough. A touch of convenient heartburn.

Or could she be overreacting? After all, she wasn’t accustomed to wearing a gown. Her years of military training had left her with a natural preference for breeches. Even now, she was wearing the dark green uniform that indicated her rank of captain in the Norveshki army. But it only took a quick glance at the stricken faces of her cousins, who were all habitual gown-wearers, to confirm that her first impression had been correct.

The bridesmaid gowns for Princess Roslyn’s wedding were absolutely hideous.

Lennie sucked in a deep breath. What could she do? If she burned one gown to a crisp, the five other bridesmaids would be annoyed that she hadn’t relieved them of their equally horrible gowns. Besides, she wasn’t sure which one was actually hers.

Should she set them all ablaze? That would risk setting the room on fire, or even the entire palace, putting numerous people in danger. Not a great move the day before a big wedding. And she suspected none of her friends or family would believe it was an accident. They all knew how hard she had worked to gain complete control over her flying and fire-breathing capabilities.

As the first female dragon shifter in the world, Princess Lenushka was viewed by some as a miracle, but by others as a dreadful aberration. There were many Norveshki, mostly men, who were always watching for any sign that she was inferior and unworthy of being a dragon. And especially unworthy of inheriting the throne.

“Well, what do you think?” Roslyn asked, her face flushed with excitement, just a shade lighter than her carnation pink gown. “You seem quite speechless, so I can only assume that the gowns are as stunning as I planned them to be.”

Lennie exchanged a wary glance with the other bridesmaids. Even though they referred to one another as cousins, Lennie was related to only two of them: Kendall and Glenda, the elfin princesses from Woodwyn. Lennie even resembled Glenda a bit, since they both had the white-blond hair of a River Elf, whereas Kendall’s hair was dark red like a Wood Elf’s.

Now that Lennie thought about it, there was another set of actual cousins in the room: Princess Julia of the Isles and Lady Faith. They looked quite similar with their black hair and blue eyes.

That left the last two young ladies present: Princess Roslyn of Tourin, who would be wed tomorrow, and Princess Eviana of Eberon, who had surprised everyone by suddenly getting married five months ago.

Related or not, all seven considered themselves cousins, and so, it had come as no surprise when eight months ago Princess Roslyn had asked the six of them to be her bridesmaids.

All the members of the royal families had originally intended to come to the wedding, but a month ago the Seer, Queen Maeve, had dreamed of an ominous cloud seeping out of Eberon to cast a dark shadow over the entire mainland. With this elevated threat of danger, each king had made plans to safeguard his country.

In Eberon, Prince Eric and General Nevis Harden had remained behind with the army on alert. In Norveshka, Lennie’s father, King Silas, had left the capital in the hands of his cousin Annika and her husband, Dimitri, a powerful dragon-shifter and general of the Norveshki army. Silas and his children, Lenushka and Pendras, were all dragon shifters, so if an emergency occurred, they could fly back to Norveshka in less than two hours.

That was not the case for the elfin kingdom of Woodwyn, from which the journey would take at least five days. So, King Brennan and his son had remained at Wyndelas Palace. Queen Sorcha and her daughters, Kendall and Glenda, had made the journey with three troops of soldiers and, guarding them from above, the dragon-shifter Aleksi Marenko.

On the Isle of Moon, the crown prince had stayed behind while King Brodgar and his wife and daughter sailed across the Great Western Ocean to Tourin’s capital, Lourdon, situated on the Loure River.

Tomorrow afternoon at Lourdon Cathedral, the big event would finally take place. Princess Roslyn would wed Earl Freydor, the owner of a huge estate that spanned several hundred miles of Tourin’s northernmost mountainous area and jagged coastline.

From what Lennie had heard, the earl was not only young and handsome, but the wealthiest nobleman in the country thanks to the gold mine he owned. About nine months ago, he had journeyed to the royal court to beg King Ulfrid to rid his coastline of some pesky pirates who had been raiding his precious gold supply, and that was when he’d successfully courted the king’s daughter.

But as far as Lennie could tell, Roslyn had not spent any time with the earl since that initial courtship, so she hardly knew him at all. She was much more interested in producing what she called the “wedding of the century” than in becoming better acquainted with the groom.

Lennie had hinted at her concern this morning over breakfast, but Roslyn had simply waved a dismissive hand, claiming that she and her future husband would have the rest of their lives to develop a closer relationship. After rushing all the bridesmaids through breakfast, Roslyn had whisked them off to the large parlor adjoining her bedchamber so each one could be fitted for her gown. The group had been happily chatting when they’d entered the room to find a line of six dressmaker dummies draped with white sheets, each with a maidservant standing nearby. With a dramatic wave of her hand, Roslyn had ordered the six servants to whip off the sheets all at once.

And the room had become deathly quiet. No one wanted to be the first to admit what they really thought.

The design for all the gowns was the same-an overabundance of lace, ruffles, fringe, flounces, and general puffiness—but each one was a different pastel color. Yellow, pale pink, rose, green, blue, and lavender. If that wasn’t enough, each gown boasted a feathered bird in a matching color, perched on the right shoulder with its talons clamped onto a nest of sparkly ribbons.

Lennie suppressed a shudder. The wings of each bird were spread wide as if the creatures intended to take flight, presumably in an attempt to escape the horrendous gowns that held them prisoner. From the way the birds’ black eyes were glaring at her, she imagined they were even more revolted by the creations than she was.

“You may go now.” Roslyn waved the servants off. “Bring us some refreshments and tell the seamstress to come in case we need to make any adjustments. Oh, and let me know immediately if there’s any news about my father.”

“Aye, Your Highness.” The maids curtsied and filed out of the room.

A befuddled expression came over Roslyn’s face as the silence stretched out, and she nervously tucked her long blond hair behind one ear. Then, with a quick breath, she apparently reached some sort of conclusion for she gave them all an amused smile. “There’s no need to look so shocked. I know the birds appear very lifelike, but they’re not real. I can assure you that no animals were harmed in the making of these gowns.”

“What a relief,” Julia muttered.

“Indeed.” Roslyn skipped over to the lavender gown and patted the hawk-like lavender bird on its feathered head. “But you must agree they look incredibly real. The artists who made them did a fabulous job.”

Her smile faded as the room became silent once more. “Ah. I feared this would happen. You’re all afraid you won’t receive your favorite color.” With a dramatic sigh, she sauntered down the row of gowns to the first one. “I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I endured, worried that you would end up in a terrible argument over who would wear which color. I finally decided that the most sensible course of action was to proceed according to age.”

She stopped by the first gown and fondly stroked the oversized yellow canary perched on the shoulder. “That means this lovely yellow one belongs to the eldest, Eviana.”

Lennie glanced at her best friend, Evie, whose pallor was rapidly becoming an even sicklier shade of yellow than her new gown.

“Of course, I’m the second eldest.” Roslyn chuckled as she strolled toward the next gown. “But we have to skip me because I’m the bride.”

Lennie tensed. Goddesses, no. Not the pink. The pink bird’s beak was open as if it were laughing at her.

“The pale pink gown will go to the third eldest, Lenushka.” Roslyn sighed as she fingered the pink lace. “How lucky you are, Lennie, to be wearing my absolute favorite color.”

Lennie’s hands curled into fists. She couldn’t do this. Over the years, she’d endured far too many jests regarding the pinkish tint of her underbelly when in dragon form. Girly scales, her detractors called them. She’d also taken jabs over being smaller than the male dragons. Size is important, they would say, snickering at their not-so-subtle innuendo. More than once, she had been tempted to shorten the root of their masculine bravado with a not-so-subtle, well-aimed burst of fire.

“Relax,” Kendall whispered in her ear. “There’s smoke coming out your nose.”

Lennie exhaled slowly to quell the heat simmering in her chest.

Oblivious, since her attention was focused entirely on the gowns, Roslyn continued down the line of dressmaker dummies. “Julia will wear the rose. Kendall, the green. Faith, the blue, and Glenda, the lavender. I do believe, Glenda, that this one will look fabulous with your lavender-colored eyes.”

“How...convenient.” Glenda’s smile of gratitude looked more like a grimace. “Is there a reason why we have different colors?”

“And birds?” Eviana asked with a pained expression.

Lennie figured Evie was particularly uncomfortable at the prospect of wearing an ornamental bird since her newly wedded husband was an eagle shifter.

“Of course!” Roslyn grinned. “I was hoping you would ask. It all has to do with the theme of the wedding: A Most Glorious Day. My gown is a shimmering gold, so I will resemble the sun rising in the east as I walk down the aisle. And all of you will become my living rainbow.” She waved a hand dramatically in the air as she gazed into the distance. “And just as the birds fly over the rainbow, I will take flight into my new and glorious future.”

Eviana suddenly covered her mouth as if she were about to lose her breakfast.

“Are you all right?” Faith asked.

“Sorry.” Eviana eased into a chair. “A bit of morning sickness.”

“I feel the same way, and I’m not even expecting,” Julia grumbled.

Roslyn huffed, frowning at Eviana. “I was quite shocked by your news, Evie. How could you even think about getting with child when you knew my wedding was just around the corner? I had everyone’s gowns made according to the measurements you sent me four months ago. I’ll be terribly upset if your gown no longer fits!”

“I’m sure it will,” Eviana replied dryly. “I’m only six weeks pregnant.”

“And I’m fairly certain you don’t become that way by thinking about it,” Julia added with a wry smile.

Lennie snorted. “True. You do realize, Roz, that after your wedding night, you might be with child, too?”

With a grimace, Roslyn shuddered. “Don’t even say that. I refuse to have anything to do with such nonsense. Freydor will have to wait a few years before I’ll feel like giving him an heir.”

There was a collective gasp, and then Kendall asked, “You don’t intend to sleep with your new husband?”

Roslyn huffed. “We’re here to try on these beautiful gowns, not talk about nasty things.”

Eviana sat back with a stunned look. “Why would you call it nast--You don’t love him, do you?”

Roslyn shrugged. “I’m expected to marry, so I picked the best option available.”

“Oh, this is romantic,” Glenda muttered.

“I’m sure I’ll love him with the passing of time,” Roslyn protested. “He’s young, handsome, and rich. What is there not to love? Besides, his estate has the best clay in the country. And he’s promised to build me a marvelous studio where I can devote myself entirely to my pottery.”

“So you’re marrying him for his mud?” Lennie asked.

Roslyn’s turquoise eyes flashed with anger. “Don’t make light of my decision. I may not be Embraced or a shifter like most of you, but I do have a talent, and I intend to make the most of it.” She turned away with an injured look on her face. “Do you think I enjoyed being the only princess at Benwick Academy who didn’t have some sort of magical power? Whenever a new student arrived, I could hear the whispers: Look! There’s the powerless princess.”

Lennie winced. Why had she never realized how difficult it must have been for Roslyn? Because you were too focused on your own problem of being accepted as a female in a male dragon world. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Eviana sighed. “Honestly, Roz, there were many times when I was envious of you. I would have given anything not to have the terrible power I possess, and I would have loved to have attended Benwick with all of you.”

Kendall nodded. “None of us can help the way we were born. And no one has ever thought any less of you, Roz.”

“True,” Glenda agreed. “Everyone thinks you’re beautiful and clever.”

“Very clever.” Faith smiled. “There were many times when you had the highest score on the written exams.”

“And you were the best on the archery field,” Julia added.

“Because I practiced until my fingers bled, and I stayed up all night studying.” Roslyn’s eyes filled with tears. “I hated being called the ordinary one, the normal princess. So I always worked extra hard to stand out. And my wedding will be the same way. It will be the most stupendous ever.”

“Aye, it will.” Lennie exchanged a resigned look with her cousins. They would have to wear the hideous gowns. “I was just concerned that you were getting married for the wrong reasons.”

Eviana nodded. “We want you to be happy.”

“I am happy,” Roslyn insisted. “I’m going to have the most fabulous wedding ever, and then I’m going to make the most marvelous pottery you’ve even seen. Did you see the dishes I made for the wedding reception?”

“Yes, they’re quite beautiful,” Lennie conceded. Roslyn had designed the pattern to artfully merge the Tourinian royal colors of blue and gold with the earl’s colors of maroon and gold. So why hadn’t Roslyn’s excellent taste extended to the bridesmaid gowns?

Roslyn gripped her hands together. “I’ve been working on the wedding for eight months now. I didn’t even let Aunt Maeve’s scary dream slow me down. I finished making all the dishes. The flowers and food are progressing on schedule. The musicians are here. The royal guests have come. The groom and his party arrived two nights ago, and he brought me those lovely flowers.” She gestured impatiently to a nearby table where a large vase sat, filled with three dozen red roses.

“I haven’t seen him since then because there’s so much to do!” As Roslyn paced back and forth, her voice became louder and more and more shrill with agitation. “I have to make sure everything is perfect, but now it’s all in jeopardy because of my father! The wedding is tomorrow, and we haven’t heard from him in a week! How could he do this to me? What if he doesn’t make it here in time? Surely, this is the most dreadful thing that could ever happen in the entire world. Do you think this is the reason for Aunt Maeve’s terrible dream? Is there a dark cloud of doom hanging over my wedding?”

“No, no, of course not,” all the bridesmaids assured her.

Roslyn’s father, King Ulfrid, also known as Rupert, had taken a small fleet of ships to eradicate the pirates who had been attacking the northern coast. He’d left three weeks ago, expecting the mission to last only a week or so, but apparently something had gone wrong.

“Don’t worry, Roz,” Lennie told her. “My father and Aleksi left at the crack of dawn. I’m certain they’ll locate your father. And they can contact me, my mother, and my brother telepathically, so we expect to hear from them any minute now.”

“Aye.” Kendall nodded. “Everything will be fine. Silas and Aleksi are two of the most powerful dragons in the world. I’m sure they can handle whatever problem may have occurred.”

Roslyn wrung her hands. “I hope so. I’m not the only one upset. Mother is beside herself with worry.”

“Don’t forget your father has the power of the wind,” Faith reminded her. “Even if he’s out in the middle of the Great Western Ocean, he can blow himself here in a few hours.”

Roslyn sighed. “You would think so, but-” She paused when a knock sounded at the door. “Come in!”

The seamstress, with her sewing basket in one hand, opened the door to let in two maids, who were carrying trays filled with a pot of hot tea, cheese, bread, and some of the new dishes Roslyn had made. The maids bobbed curtsies, then hurried over to the table to set up the refreshments around the vase of roses.

“Good morning, Your Highnesses,” a lady-in-waiting said as she peeked into the room.

“Lady Milena.” Roslyn greeted the pretty, dark-haired young woman who served her mother, Queen Brigitta. “Is there any news of my father?”

“Not yet, I’m afraid,” Milena replied. “But your mother sent me ahead to warn you that she’s on her way here with Queen Luciana. They’re very excited to finally see the bridesmaids’- Gah!” Milena’s eyes widened as she finally spotted the dressmaker dummies. “I mean, the gowns.”

“Your mother hasn’t seen them yet?” Eviana asked Roslyn.

“No, I was keeping them a secret, so she wouldn’t interfere with my plans. For months now, she’s been looking for any excuse to call off my wedding.” Roslyn heaved a weary sigh. “Mother can be overly dramatic.”

Like mother, like daughter, Lennie thought.

“She keeps insisting that Freydor is hiding some sort of nefarious secret,” Roslyn continued, her voice laced with annoyance. “And all because she happened to touch his hand briefly nine months ago when he first came here to the palace.”

“Detecting hidden things is your mother’s Embraced gift,” Lennie reminded Roslyn. “If she saw something, you should believe her.”

Roslyn scoffed. “I asked her to explain, but she said she only felt a hint of something wrong. Was I supposed to reject the earl over that? Don’t we all have something in our past that we regret?”

As the cousins fell silent, Lennie wondered what each one of them was regretting. As for herself, her thoughts went back to that fateful night at Draven Castle when a group of stubborn old Norveshki noblemen had cornered her in a dark passageway to voice their objections and make their demands. Had she made the right decision then, or would she regret it for the rest of her life?

“Their Majesties are coming now.” Lady Milena stepped back and bobbed a curtsy while the happily chatting queens, Brigitta and Luciana, sauntered into the room, followed by Luciana’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Olana.

“I’ve been waiting for months to see these—” With a gasp, Brigitta jerked to a stop.

Luciana stepped back in shock and bumped into Lady Olana.

Lennie winced. Anyone who touched Lady Olana was compelled to blurt out the truth. The poor woman’s Embraced gift had made her famous throughout Aerthlan as The Confessor.

“They’re appalling,” Luciana said, then slapped a hand over her mouth. “I meant—” She glanced at Brigitta for help. “They’re...appealing?”

Brigitta winced. “You were right the first time.”

“Mother!” Roslyn cried.

“Whatever were you thinking, my dear?” Brigitta asked her daughter. “These are far too...elaborate.”

“That was the point!” Roslyn huffed. “For the most spectacular wedding of the century, everything must be extravagant. I want people to remember these gowns for years!”

“They certainly will,” Julia muttered.

With a hand pressed to her chest, Brigitta heaved a sigh. “This is too much. First, your father has gone missing. And now, these awful gowns. I fear we must postpone the wedding.”

“Don’t say that!” Roslyn cried. “The wedding will be perfect. It has to be. I’ve worked on it for eight months!”

“I am sorry, my dear.” Brigitta gave the young ladies in the room an apologetic look. “I seriously doubt your cousins want to be seen wearing these atrocities.”

“To be honest,” Lennie admitted, “I was contemplating setting them on fire.”

“To be honest,” Julia added, “we were hoping you would.”

“What?” Roslyn’s eyes widened with horror.

One of the maids stifled a giggle, while the other one fumbled, dropping a stack of dishes onto the small table. Roslyn’s saucers remained intact, but a teacup fell over and rolled toward the table’s edge.

“Careful.” Lady Olana rushed over to keep the cup from plummeting to the floor. As the maid grabbed it, their hands collided.

“I slept with Earl Freydor last night,” the maid confessed, then gasped, dropping the cup so that it shattered on the wooden floor. “Oh, I—” She stepped back, grimacing at the sound of gasps reverberating around the room.

“You what?” The second maid spun angrily toward her. “You slept with him, too?”

Another round of gasps circulated.

The first maid lifted her chin. “Why shouldn’t I? He promised to take me to his castle, where I would never have to be a servant again!”

The second maid huffed. “That’s what he promised me!”

“You can’t have him! He’s mine!” The first maid threw a saucer, but it bounced off the second maid’s arm and fell to the floor, shattering into a dozen pieces.

“Not my dishes!” Roslyn cried.

“What about your groom?” Lennie asked.

“Out!” Queen Brigitta ordered the maids as she pointed to the door. “Go to your quarters. I will deal with you later.”

The maids fled the room.

“Please go and don’t speak of this to anyone,” Brigitta told the seamstress, and the woman curtsied and dashed off.

Lennie exchanged a dubious look with her best friend, Eviana. There was no way to keep this sort of news from leaking out. The wedding of the century was rapidly turning into the scandal of the century.

Lady Milena closed the doors, then hurried over to Brigitta, who had collapsed in a chair. “Are you all right, Your Majesty?”

“No.” Brigitta rubbed her brow. “I wish my husband was here. He would give that nasty earl the thrashing he deserves.” She glanced sadly at her daughter. “I cannot have you marrying that scoundrel. The wedding is off.”

Her face pale with shock, Roslyn swayed on her feet, then stumbled back a few steps. “” Her voice was filled with anguish. “No.”

Brigitta winced. “I am sorry, my dear.”

“But...” Roslyn’s gaze wandered aimlessly about the room, then finally settled on her broken dishes.

“Are you all right, Roz?” Lennie asked.

“The dark cloud of doom has destroyed my wedding,” she whispered.

Lennie scoffed. “It wasn’t a cloud of doom. It was the groom.”

“Aye,” Kendall agreed. “And it’s better to find out now that he’s an unfaithful dog.”

“Don’t even call him a dog,” Julia grumbled. “It’s an insult to canines.”

Lennie nodded. Julia would feel that way since her shifter father, King Brodgar, had spent most of his youth as Brody, stuck in the form of a dog. “Aye, we can safely say the earl is a complete bastard. So, don’t give him a second thought, Roz.”

Roslyn staggered toward the table and dropped to her knees next to the shattered pottery on the floor. “Two hundred plates and soup bowls, two hundred saucers and teacups, all for nothing.” Tears glistened in her eyes. “I might as well break them all. They’re completely useless now.”

“We could take them to Benwick to use for archery practice,” Faith offered.

Kendall snorted. “I’d rather shoot at these birds.”

A tear rolled down Roslyn’s cheek, and her mother and everyone else rushed over to hug her. As they each attempted to comfort her, Lennie heard some words seep into her thoughts.

Gwennore, Lenushka, Pendras, do you hear me?

Aye, Silas. His wife, Gwennore, was the first to answer.

“Shh!” Lennie quickly hushed everyone at the sound of King Silas’s voice. “My father is contacting me.” I hear you, Papa.

Me, too. Pendras added.

As far as Lennie knew, her younger brother was spending the day in the library with Roslyn’s older brother Prince Reynfrid; Julia’s father, King Brodgar; and Evie’s father, King Leo, her younger brother Prince Dominic, and her new husband, Quentin.

Did you find Rupert? Gwennore asked, calling King Ulfrid by the name his close friends preferred. She had remained in the breakfast room with Princess Elinor and the other queens, Sorcha and Maeve.

Yes, Silas replied. You can assure his family that Rupert is safe and sound. A few nights ago, an armada of pirates made a sneak attack on him during the night. Some of his crewmen were paid handsomely in gold to betray him while he slept, so the pirates were able to take him prisoner. We have rescued him and will bring him home tomorrow.

Thank the goddesses, Gwennore answered.

“King Ulfrid is fine, and my father will bring him home tomorrow,” Lennie reported, and Brigitta’s eyes filled with tears as she made the sign of the moons to give thanks to the moon goddesses.

We will remain here for now, so we can question the prisoners we’ve taken, Silas continued. So far we have learned that it was the pirates who paid Rupert’s crewmen to betray him. And the pirates were funded by the Brotherhood of the Sun.

Lennie winced. “The pirates causing all this trouble were paid by the Brotherhood of the Sun.”

A series of gasps echoed around the parlor.

“Is the Brotherhood attempting to take over my country?” Brigitta asked.

Luciana huffed. “They failed to destroy Eberon, so they moved on to Tourin?”

“This must be what caused my mother’s bad dream,” Julia added.

Lennie held up a hand to quiet all the comments so she could hear her father.

When we asked where the Brotherhood was getting the money to pay the pirates, we learned some disturbing news, Silas reported. The one who financed this mission was Earl Freydor.

With a gasp, Lennie staggered back a step.

“What’s wrong?” Eviana asked.

You mean Roslyn’s betrothed? Gwennore’s telepathic voice sounded brittle from shock.

So this was an attempted coup? Pendras demanded.

Lennie swallowed hard when her father confirmed it. With a heavy heart, she turned toward Brigitta and Roslyn. “The pirates managed to take King Ulfrid prisoner for a while, and the one who paid them to do it was Earl Freydor.”

Brigitta collapsed into a chair as everyone else stood still, shocked and speechless.

I’m with Reynfrid and the other men, Pendras reported. We’re going after Freydor.

You need to catch him before he finds out that his plan failed, Silas warned.

We’re headed to his bedchamber now, Pendras replied.

I’ll alert the Captain of the Guard in case the earl tries to escape, Gwennore added.

As Roslyn snapped out of her shock, rage simmered in her eyes. “So my fiancé was behind the attack on my father?”

Lennie winced. “I’m afraid so.”

“Then he’s more than a bastard. He’s a traitor.” Roslyn leaned over to pick up a broken pottery shard with a pointed end. “This may not be so useless after all.” As her hand curled around it in a tight grip, she appeared oblivious to the trickle of blood dripping from her palm. “It’s sharp enough to kill, don’t you think?”

Lennie stiffened. Who would reach the earl first, Roslyn or her brother Reynfrid? She wasn’t sure, but a few things were for certain.

The wedding was off.

And the groom was about to die.