Happy Release Day to Elise Marion!!
I am so excited to be a part of this fantastic Release Day Scavenger Hunt for The Lady Knights of Barony, the third novella in the King's of Cardenas.
Be sure to scroll down and read the excerpt which has a clue to the scavenger hunt question that needs to be answered in the Rafflecopter provided below for a chance to win some great prizes.
He’d been expecting her, the fiend, and was delighting in her discomfort as Isabelle introduced her to Kiyoshi Taka, the husband she’d drugged and abandoned years ago. He smiled and asked her to join him in a dance. In the presence of Serge and Isabelle, Hanako had no choice but to accept without appearing rude. Cursing him in her mind, Hanako accepted his hand and allowed him to lead her to the dance floor.
Kiyoshi sneered down at her as they moved in time to the music, but Hanako refused to look away from his assessing gaze. She met him full on, disguising her turbulent fear with anger.
“I am surprised to find you here, wife.”
“You are not. And do not call me that, I am not your wife.”
“No? I seem to remember exchanging vows.”
“You seem to have forgotten that it was not consummated.”
Kiyoshi’s grip tightened at her waist, nearly cutting off her air supply. His mouth trembled as his jaw clenched.
“A matter than can be rectified,” he said, his voice lowered and wavering with rage.
“I am not going anywhere with you.”
“Oh, but you will. Once I’ve written your father and informed him of your whereabouts, you will have no choice.”
Hanako stifled a gasp and felt her heart beating in double time. Her parents in Barony? She could think of nothing more disastrous than her father invading her comfortable life. It wasn’t even worth the small pleasure of seeing her mother again after so long. Tadao Kiyomi was not likely to be happy to see her, or at her life’s new course.
“Your threats are meaningless and your reappearance into my life means nothing.”
“You are my wife. It means everything.”
“Our marriage is not binding without consummation and after all of these years without it, no court in any country of the world would deny me an annulment. As far as I’m concerned, our marriage never was and never will be.”
Kiyoshi’s hand tightened around hers painfully. “You are mine. Your father promised you to me and you left, shamed me with your defiance. I intend to have you again, Hanako, whatever it takes.”
“That is impossible. You see, I…” Hanako paused, scrambling for a reason, any reason she could give Kiyoshi for not being able to marry him. Her lips formed the only excuse that came to mind at that moment. “You see, I am already wed.”
“What?” Fury caused his voice to waver. The single word chilled her to the core but she lifted her chin and looked him dead in the eye.
“Yes,” she said, her voice filled with false confidence. “My husband and I are very recently wed and...” she arched a brow, unable to resist the urge to jab at his ego, “fully consummated.”
“I do not believe you.”
“I do not have to prove anything to you.”
The music faded but Kiyoshi’s hold on her did not slacken. The predatory gleam in his eyes increased and the bite of his fingers against her skin was brutal. Hanako thought of the dagger hidden beneath her dress but knew that it would only cause a scene were she to draw it on Kiyoshi in the middle of the ballroom. As if aware that they were not alone, Kiyoshi finally released his hold on her and stepped away. His hands trembled at his sides and Hanako knew that he itched to strike her.
Instead he brought his hands to the lapels of his plain black evening coat and straightened it with a dignified tilt of his head.
“I do believe I will write that letter to your father after all,” he said with a malicious grin. “I’m certain he will be delighted to meet your new spouse.”
Rage clouded her vision and fear clogged her throat until Hanako had no choice but to flee from the room, Kiyoshi’s chuckles following her.
Her hurried steps had taken her from the ballroom and down the corridor to a row of doors that were unfamiliar to her. As she pulled at the locked knobs of first one, then another, Hanako’s mind whirled with chaotic thought. What was she to do now? It would take a few weeks for her father to receive the letter and then what would he do? He would arrive in Barony, that’s what he’d do, and while Hanako had no qualms about defying him, she wondered at Kiyoshi’s plans. Obviously, he intended to make her his bride again and this time more force might be used to get her to the altar, as well as the marriage bed. Tadao would do whatever it took to aid him. Hanako had to doubt of that.
Repressing a shudder, Hanako moved on to a third door, grateful to find it unlocked. Oh, why had she gone and told such a blatant lie? Not only was she unmarried, she was not even betrothed. She had not even danced with a single man at the ball before Kiyoshi appeared. Hanako hardly ever did. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d exchanged flirtatious glances with a man. She certainly had never been intimate with one.
At a loss for what to do, Hanako retreated into what appeared to be the king’s study, deciding to use the time alone as a chance to think and come up with some kind of plan.
That was when she heard the movement of another person in the room. Resisting the urge to reach for her hidden dagger, Hanako whirled and searched the room with frantic eyes. They came to rest on the man that had been staring at her earlier from across the ballroom.
Lord Garrick Overton.
He was staring at her now as he always did, with hunger and curiosity in his eyes, as if she was some great mystery that needed solving. Hanako felt her heart hammering and her pulse throbbing against her throat as she stared back at him.
Lord Overton was tall, at least five or six inches taller than her, with legs that seemed to go on forever. He was slender, but wiry and fit with a form that suggested he spent his time doing something physical when not seated in the Hall of the High Council. Dark blond hair was cropped close to his head in a style what went against what was fashionable, but Hanako found it suited his angular features. Blue eyes were sharp and assessing, fading to a pale gray just a bit at the center, framed with fair lashes beneath beautifully arching eyebrows. His lips were full and pouting; his chin sporting a shallow cleft that lent his features a rugged air along with the light dusting of stubble sprinkling his jaw. His form was flattered by nude-colored breeches and a form-fitting waistcoat of black and gold brocade. A black cravat was tied in a clean and simple style at his throat and jewels glinted at his hands and against the dark fabric of the necktie.
As their eyes locked an idea began to form in Hanako’s mind. While she had never been of a mind to wed—she’d enjoyed her freedom too much after running away from home—it seemed that there was no avoiding it now. She was not well acquainted with Lord Overton but knew him to be a kind and fair sort of man, as well as generous.
His eyes lit with concern as he asked her what was wrong and Hanako felt the last few details of her plan falling blessedly into place. Without second thought, she launched herself against Garrick’s body, grasping the lapels of his waistcoat tightly. His body reacted instantly, hardening against her with a swiftness that left her breathless. As he stared down at her, anticipation flickering in his gaze, Hanako pulled him down toward her and murmured the first words that came to mind.
1. (1) Autographed copy of The Lady Knights of Barony (Paperback)
2. 1 ‘Warrior’ Beaded book mark
2. 1 ‘Warrior’ Beaded book mark
Head on over to Close Encounters of the Night Kind at 4 p.m. for more clues: