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A Royal Engagement

A Royal Engagement

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A Royal Engagement

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Länge:
309 Seiten
3 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Sep 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781310853494
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Ann Kerwin never expected her life would be anymore exciting than the boring routine of going from class to class at the local college in pursuit of her degree. Then one day, a handsome young man tells her she's destined to be ruler of another planet. And more than that, he's going to be her husband unless he fails to protect her along their journey. In that case, she is free to choose someone else.

Of course, it’s ridiculous and she refuses to believe him. Until...he whisks her away from Earth. Then it suddenly becomes very real.

Being destined for greatness has never been more exhilarating...or overwhelming.

Books in the Enchanted Galaxy Series
Book 1: A Royal Engagement
Book 2: Royal Hearts
Book 3: The Royal Pursuit
Book 4: Royal Heiress

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Sep 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781310853494
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Ruth Ann Nordin has written seventy romances, ranging from Regencies to historical westerns to contemporaries. She plays with other genres from time to time, but her first love is romance. She has been happily married for eighteen years to a sweet and funny guy, and they have four sons, who are all taller than Ruth now that they're 14, 15, 16, and 18. The good thing is she doesn't need a ladder, and there's always someone to take care of a mouse that squeezes its way into her Montana home. She considers herself very lucky to have led such a charmed life. Being able to play with characters and create stories is just icing on the cake. Hopefully, she'll get to keep doing this many years to come.


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Buchvorschau

A Royal Engagement - Ruth Ann Nordin

Nordin

Dedication: To my husband who is the Hathor in my life.

Chapter One

North Dakota

United States of America

Planet: Earth

With a sigh, Ann Kerwin pulled her dark hair into a ponytail and looked at the blank page in her notebook. Nothing. No matter how hard she tried, the story wouldn’t come. She thought writing would help her forget, that it would temporarily take her away from everything. But it didn’t. The echoing loneliness still hovered around her, threatening to pull her deeper into the sinking sensation that her life really didn’t amount to anything.

It hadn’t always been that way. She closed her eyes, letting the old familiar song on the radio take her to another place…and another time…

William reached for her hand and gave her that smile that always made her weak in the knees. This is my song for you.

Her heart melted when he kissed her. It was with that kiss—the very first kiss they shared—that she realized she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. And everything was wonderful. For a time.

Then her parents moved to Florida, and being seventeen and a senior in high school, she had no choice but to go with them. Had she been in college, she could have stayed in Ohio. But it wasn’t meant to be, and she ended up moving. It was a hard and emotional good-bye for them, and they promised each other they’d remain together despite the distance.

But time passed. It was too painful for him to keep holding on, and it was too painful for her to let go. He assured her they would always be friends, but she just couldn’t seem to deny any romantic attachment to him.

Now it was four years later. She was twenty-one. She could have returned to Ohio and gone to college there, but deep down, she knew it wouldn’t be the same. So instead of going back to a painful memory, she decided to try somewhere completely new: Fargo, North Dakota.

She opened her eyes and glanced around the apartment. Besides the music coming from the radio, it was quiet. Too quiet. She thought leaving Florida would be an adventure, that maybe it would fill the void in her life. But it didn’t seem to be turning out that way.

Maybe things would get better once the university classes started. Her gaze turned back to the notebook with its blank page. This is useless, she muttered and shut it.

She placed the notebook and pen on the small table by her bed and turned off the lamp. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow things would be better. Closing her blue eyes, she fell asleep.

***

The Royal Palace

Planet: Raz

Galaxy: Enchanted

I must step down from the throne on my next birthday, Queen Basilia said during breakfast.

Hathor paused as he lifted the fork, full of pancakes, to his mouth. When he saw the pain in his mother’s eyes, he set the fork down on the plate. He knew the day was quickly coming. He’d just hoped she could prolong the inevitable a little bit longer.

I can’t be the queen forever, she softly continued, setting her hands in her lap. Life is a cycle. We all have our moment for a time, but then we must pass the responsibilities to the next generation.

Have you spoken to the Great Magician about finding the next queen for Raz?

Not yet, but I plan to do that once we’re done eating. Smiling, she added, I wanted to let you know first.

You don’t owe me any explanations.

I know, but you’re my only child. You’ve been a great asset to me as I’ve ruled this world. You know more about running Raz than anyone else. If only…

You don’t have to say it. It is what it is. There’s no changing the past. All we can do is move forward.

And that meant finding which young lady on Raz would be the next queen. It would be a difficult transition for Hathor to take on a different role. Ever since he came of age, he’d assisted his mother, doing his part to protect her. Now another would take her place, and that left him at a loss. His mother would retire in a quiet part of the countryside, but he was only twenty-five. He couldn’t retire when he still had work to do. But he didn’t think anything would give him a better purpose than that of serving the queen of Raz.

Taking a deep breath, he picked up his fork and resumed eating his meal. What he wanted wasn’t important. What was important was that the planet would continue on and everyone living on it would be happy and at peace.

After breakfast, he sat down in the gardens to carve into a piece of wood, a pastime of his that he’d acquired from childhood when his father would sit down with him. It was something his father loved, a hobby of his. And when something was troubling him, he took solace in the activity.

Hathor’s brown hair fell over his eyes, so he brushed the errant strands back, realizing the sunlight had passed the tree branches and was hitting him directly in the eyes. He shifted so he was back in the shade and worked for a good half hour when he heard footsteps approach.

With a glance over his shoulder, he saw his mother approaching and rose to his feet. Did you talk to the Great Magician?

She nodded. I did.

And?

He assured me there will be another to take my place.

Noting the hesitation in her voice, he frowned. Is something wrong?

No, not wrong. Just strange. He said that you will need to bring her to Raz.

She’s on another planet?

Apparently. He wouldn’t give me any details. He said he’ll do that at an assembly. Sometimes it’s downright irritating that he can be so stubborn. Given that his life expectancy is for another three hundred years, I’m afraid the next queen will have to bear with his quirks.

Though he understood her frustration, he couldn’t help but chuckle. No one but the Great Magician would dare be so obstinate to the queen. But the Great Magician was born into his role on Raz and had a permanent place as long as he protected her, so his flaws had to be overlooked.

He did, however, she said with a hint of teasing in her voice, disclose something you’ll be particularly interested in.

Oh? he asked.

When you bring the new queen safely to Raz, you will have the high honor of marrying her.

He dropped the piece of wood but quickly stooped to retrieve it. Looking back at her, he asked, He said that?

He did. But you must make sure no harm befalls her on her way here or else she can choose another man to be her king.

A smile grew wide across his face. The king. He’d get the high honor of being the one who worked side-by-side with the queen, protecting her and ensuring Raz’s future by being the father of the next queen. He couldn’t ask for a better job than that. When will the assembly be?

In a week. We have much to do to get ready for her arrival.

Excited, he hurried to put his things away so he could help his mother get started for welcoming the next queen.

***

Alpha Head I

Planet: Pale

Galaxy: Enchanted

Omin paced back and forth in his metallic gray office, his hands clasped behind his back, his jaw clenched. All Palers were completely white, slender and tall. None had hair on their heads, and their eyes were as dark as coal, so Omin didn’t stand out because of his looks. He stood out because of the evil that lurked inside of him.

For once, his thoughts were on his people rather than himself. His people were starving, and it was his duty as the leader to find a solution. He paused in front of the large window that overlooked the white buildings that marked the biggest city on the planet. He worked hard to get where he was, and if he wasn’t careful…

No. He wouldn’t think it. Once he thought of the possibilities, he was doomed. He would not even give place to weakness, especially his own.

Leader Omin, his secretary called as she opened his office door. First Commander Paff is here.

Good. He turned his back to the window and directed his gaze at her. You may leave, Jaz.

She nodded but didn’t close the door until Paff entered the room.

You requested my presence, Leader?

Yes. Have a seat. Omin gestured to the chair in front of his silver desk and waited for him to sit before he continued. As you know, the queen of Raz is about to step down from the throne. Without an heir, all the inhabitants of Raz are vulnerable.

I see, Paff slowly replied, fidgeting slightly in his seat. Without the queen, Raz dies and if Raz dies, we can eat all the creatures we want.

We’ll be set for at least a year if we preserve the corpses. That will be plenty of time for the Laxes to remember their place on the food chain.

The Laxes are so lazy they’ll give up their resistance soon enough. There’s no need to involve Raz.

Omin glared at him. Who is the leader?

With a gulp, he gestured to him. You are.

You will do well to remember that. Pulling himself to his full height, he added, Go to Raz. Use magic to make yourself look like one of their hideous creatures. You must find out who this new queen will be and where we can find her.

And when I find this out?

Tell me. Then we’ll take care of her.

Take care of her?

Kill her.

***

North Dakota

Planet: Earth

Galaxy: Average

A week passed by and Ann felt even more isolated and alone. She thought once the university classes started, she’d become a part of something bigger than herself, something that would help give her meaning—a purpose. But being surrounded by other students didn’t do the trick. She was in her second to last year of getting her degree, and even that didn’t seem to amount to anything.

One afternoon, she spent nearly an hour staring out her apartment window. Snow graced the parking lot, streets and houses in the area. She watched cars come and go. People walked by—some alone, some with others. A squirrel ran from one tree branch to another. Sunlight peeked through the clouds once in a while. Everything was normal. Life was going along as it always did.

But she didn’t feel any connection to it. It was as if she was a stranger who was only invited to look into the world around her but not allowed to be a part of it.

She turned from the window and rubbed her eyes. This was crazy. Absolutely and utterly crazy. It was the loneliness. It was getting to her. Her parents were no longer alive. All of her friends had gone on to do their own thing. Even her conversations with other students at the university left her feeling hollow. She had tried to reach out to others, but something was missing. There was only one person she felt any connection to anymore.

She bit her lower lip as she glanced at the cell phone on the kitchen counter. She had promised herself she was going to leave the past behind. North Dakota was a fresh slate, a new start. Even as she reminded herself of these things, her fingers itched to call him.

Don’t be stupid, she whispered and turned back to the window.

It wasn’t the same. William Nichols wasn’t the same person he used to be. She wasn’t the same person she used to be either. What they had was in the past, and no matter how much she wanted it, there was no going back.

The phone rang, and she glanced over at the counter.

She retrieved the phone and saw it was William. If she’d been smart, she would have changed phone numbers before she moved here. That was the only way to cut the whole thing off permanently.

Her thumb went over the button that would stop the call, but then she relented and put the phone up to her ear. Hi, William.

Hey there. I hadn’t heard from you in a while.

Yeah, well, I’ve been busy. What with moving and school and all.

That’s right. You were going to finish up your degree in another state.

North Dakota.

Right. I knew it was somewhere ridiculously cold in the winter. You should have moved here to Ohio.

Oh? A flicker of hope sparked inside her. Maybe he realized he wanted her after all.

I’d love for you to meet Carol. You know, meet her and tell me what you think of her. You always had good judgment when it came to people.

She rolled her eyes. It was one of those calls. She never should have picked up the phone. When would she ever learn?

Carol’s my new girlfriend, he rambled, and I think she’s the one. We’ve only been dating for a month, but I don’t think you need to know someone for a long time in order to know you’re going to marry them. Do you?

I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe not. She used to think that, but who knew for sure? She thought he was the right one, but it hadn’t turned out that way. Pushing aside her conflicting emotions, she said, It sounds like you’re happy.

I am. Carol is perfect. For the first time in my life, I feel complete.

With a sigh, she went to the small living room and sat in her chair. She picked up her remote and turned the TV on, keeping the volume on mute so he wouldn’t realize she would be reading the captions on the screen instead of listening to him go on and on about Carol’s virtues. She was sure Carol was a lovely person, but she didn’t want to hear it.

It was just like the same thing he’d said with the other girlfriends he’d had since she moved to Florida. They were all wonderful. At one time, she’d been wonderful, too. At one time, she’d been the one he wanted to marry. But that was four years ago. Now, she was stuck with what she had. And that wasn’t much of anything.

Chapter Two

Throne Room in the Royal Palace

Planet: Raz

Paff, disguised as a unicorn, entered the grand palace and marveled that the planet was full of lush vegetation. If Pale had been so fortunate, he wouldn’t be here right now.

Why did Omin pick him to be the First Commander anyway? It wasn’t like he enjoyed this task. Not that he enjoyed any of the assignments Omin had given him, but this was more unsavory than most. All the beings, who inhabited this world, didn’t know what great danger faced them. His gut tightened. Maybe he should warn them.

And face the wrath of Omin?

He inwardly shuddered. No. He didn’t dare.

Finally! a centaur told the elf nearby. It’s about time we got to know who our next queen will be.

Indeed, the elf agreed. My wife was starting to worry there wouldn’t be one.

That’s silly, a fairy argued as she flew around them. Raz always makes sure there’s a queen.

Maybe, but why did it have to take so long? the elf asked. Queen Basilia’s birthday is in two months. That doesn’t leave much time to find a new queen.

Just be happy you’re finding out today, the fairy replied then flew away.

Paff watched the exchange in interest. These creatures were so different from each other, and yet, they got along remarkably well. Why couldn’t Palers learn to do the same thing with Laxes?

Everyone in the crowded room grew silent, and Paff turned his attention to the throne where Queen Basilia stood with her son. Paff recognized both of them, though he hadn’t had an occasion to talk to them. He shifted around a goblin so he could get a better look at her.

The Great Magician is ready to tell us who our next queen will be, she said.

The crowd murmured in excitement, some wondering which of Raz’s creatures would take the throne, but Paff’s attention went to the old man who moved with youthful grace toward the queen. He bowed before her then faced the crowd.

He lifted his crystal ball and peered into it. For a moment, nothing happened and Paff would be lying if he didn’t admit his disappointment. He’d heard Raz was a planet ripe with magic and was curious about how it worked. Just as he assumed he’d see no evidence of magic, the ball projected an image of Raz into the air. Then the image expanded to their galaxy. The Great Magician’s eyes grew wide as the image continued to expand, showing more and more galaxies until a small red dot on one of the small insignificant planets in the center of the image blinked.

I don’t understand it, the Great Magician said. This has never happened before.

Where is she? a goblin called out.

Paff leaned closer, his ears turning toward the Great Magician so he wouldn’t miss his reply.

She is not from our galaxy, the Great Magician slowly replied, as if he couldn’t believe it. She’s from a small planet called Earth in the Average Galaxy.

The Great Magician zoomed in on Earth, showing everyone trees, mountains, deserts, valleys, and other landscapes foreign to Pale’s flat wasteland of endless white sand. Paff marveled at the variety on Earth. And the creatures living on it were just as varied as those on Raz.

Her name is Ann Kerwin, the magician continued. She has a birthmark under her left wrist in the shape of a crown. That is how we will identify her.

Must we search all of Earth to find her? the elf called out.

No. I can send someone to Earth to bring her here, he replied.

Who will go? a human asked.

My son Hathor will go, the queen replied.

The crowd’s attention went to the 5’8" young man whose brown hair reached the collar of his white shirt. Paff studied him. Just what kind of opponent would he be for Omin? Hathor didn’t seem strong nor did he look threatening. Why not choose a grander being? The husky centaur nearby would have been a better choice.

Tomorrow, Hathor will go to Earth, Queen Basilia continued. We can expect the new queen soon.

Not if Omin had anything to do about it. Lowering his head, Paff turned and headed out of the assembly, maneuvering his way around the excited creatures who were cheering and wishing Hathor luck. Given what Paff knew about Omin, Hathor would need all the luck he could get.

***

After the crowd left, the Great Magician approached Hathor, something that Hathor didn’t expect. And if the old man was heading in his direction, that could only mean trouble.

I sense one of the creatures here today wasn’t one of us, the Great Magician told him.

Hathor’s mother stepped over to them, concern in her eyes. Which one?

I don’t know. But someone doesn’t want our next queen to make it here safely. He looked at Hathor. You’ve assisted your mother on some adventures, and you’ve practiced your entire life for combat. But up to now, you’ve had nothing this serious come your way. The new queen will be under a serious threat. I’m not exactly sure what kind, but this is your chance to prove yourself worthy of her hand. Should you fail to protect her at any time, you will lose the honor of being the next king.

Taking a deep breath, Hathor nodded. Despite the task looming before him, a part of him looked forward to the challenge. I understand.

You can do it, his mother said. I raised a hero.

The Great Magician patted him on the shoulder. You are young and inexperienced, but you are quick and smart. I’m sure you’ll do well. To help you on your journey, I’m going to give you my book. A swirl of white mist formed in front of him and the Book of Spells appeared in his hands. He handed it to Hathor. Make sure you study this before your departure tomorrow.

I will.

Hathor examined the book with its solid wood cover. He’d heard of the book, of course. It was handed down from one Great Magician to another, only used by the king when necessary. And now he had the responsibility and privilege of using it to help the next queen. He couldn’t help but wonder what the next day would bring.

***

North Dakota

Cognitive Psychology Class

Planet: Earth

As the teacher droned on and on, Ann yawned from the back of the large classroom. She had two more years of her undergraduate study before she could get her master’s degree, but she had yet to decide what to get that degree in. Did she want to spend her days listening to people talk about their problems? Or did she want to go into the more scientific area of psychology where she’d have spreadsheets of data to analyze? No matter how much she struggled to figure out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, she kept coming up blank.

Pushing aside the ever-ending question about her future career, she focused on what the teacher was saying.

Cognitive appraisal theory is a theory of emotions, he said in monotone as he clicked the projector to show the definition on the screen. This is the official definition, but in a nutshell, it states that the way a person perceives something contributes to his or her emotional response to it.

She stretched the kink in her neck then wrote down the definition in her notebook. Yawning again, she glanced at her watch. When would class be over? She continued writing what he was saying, but it was getting harder and harder to keep her eyes open. In fact, at one point she had to blink several times and straighten up in her seat.

But in a couple minutes she yawned again. A swirl of purple smoke drifted around her, and her mind drifted off into a fog-like state. She slumped forward and fell to the floor face first. Startled, she jerked.

What the…?

She blinked and assessed her surroundings. She was in her apartment, face down on the floor. But how in the world did she get here? She was just at school for

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