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This I read with great interest.
It didn’t have Apollo’s name in it so I was guessing it was dated. But it did have a rather long forward that gave a lot of history of Lunwyn (including dragons and elves!) as well as an explanation that a “House” in Lunwyn was a line of aristocracy. Some were richer than others, some held more land, some more power (power went hand in hand with money and land, by the way), but all of them had been around for centuries.
Reading it I learned the Ulfr House was very powerful, and according to the book, very respected. This wasn’t exactly a surprise (perhaps the respected part was, considering the head of it was a jerk). I could tell Apollo of this world had some serious cabbage and my guess was money in any world meant power.
Further, the day before, after my fittings, the maids had excitedly given me a newspaper that was in English. It was dated, but it shared the joyous news that the beloved Black Prince Noctorno of Hawkvale and ruler of Bellebryn, and his bride, Cora, the Gracious (kickass nickname) had successfully delivered upon “the Vale” another heir to the throne, Prince Hayden.
Good news for the Vale, as the birth of a child always was, but an heir to the throne meant a whole country got to celebrate (and they did, with festivities planned for a week).
And last, I was having my second horseback riding lesson, and although not doing well with it, it was fun.
I knew I should pull back on the reins and call “whoa,” but I just couldn’t. It didn’t feel good on my ribs but that didn’t mean it didn’t feel good.
So instead, I held on, endured the pain, bent forward over the horse’s back, allowed the beauty all around me to fly by and let my mind go.
That was, I did this until I heard the beat of horse’s hooves behind me.
I turned to look and saw one of Apollo’s men racing after me.
In the last two days I’d seen all of Apollo’s men, though I hadn’t spoken a word to one of them (still, not to be rude, if they caught my eye, I smiled and they usually smiled back). I did this on purpose and took great pains in doing it. I was building happy mojo and a reminder of the other Ilsa, and mostly Apollo, might be a blow to that effort.
I wasn’t ready. We’d be “away” sometime probably soon, and since I’d be traveling with them, I’d have no choice but to do it then.
So I’d do it then.
But this one (dark hair and features that told me he could very well be related to Apollo) clearly thought I was in trouble and was coming to my rescue.
That was nice and all but the only thing I could think was, Crap.
I pulled back on the reins. The horse slowed but not fast enough. I knew this because suddenly the dude chasing me was right beside me.
I gasped aloud when he wasn’t beside me but on my horse with me.
Somehow, in the blink of an eye, he was seated behind me, his arm snaking across my belly to hold me to him. He pulled the reins from my hand and yanked back. I also felt his thighs squeeze the horse and it slowed to a stop.
Without delay, he swung off and once he had his feet on the ground, he reached up to me. His hands spanned my waist and he pulled me down with him. He was gentle but that didn’t mean I didn’t hit the ground with a thud that sent pain through my midsection, enough to make me wince.
I heard incoming hooves beating but I couldn’t turn to look because he was addressing me.
“Are you all right?”
I looked up at him.
A strong brow, much like Apollo’s and his hair was exactly the same as Apollo’s, though cut shorter (however, it was not short).
But his eyes were a rich chocolate brown.
Pol had a big family, this I knew, though I’d never met a one of them. They didn’t like drug dealers either, apparently. Then again, Pol had shown signs of going to the dark side early on in life. I knew this because, in a rare moment of honesty, he’d shared he had a juvie record and by the time I’d met him he’d long since been disowned.
This made our wedding a lonely affair that I’d lied to myself was just fine. I had him and he was all I needed (that was a lie too, then and more so much later).
Looking into the kind, intelligent eyes of the man with me, I wished I’d met some of Pol’s family.
They might have warned me.
Then again, I wouldn’t have listened.
“Fine. I just got my ribs jarred a little,” I answered, his head cocked and I quickly went on. “Thanks for coming to my rescue.”
“My apologies, madam. I was too rough pulling you from the steed,” he replied. “You’d lost control and I didn’t want you on him by yourself with me on the ground. When a horse senses it has control, it can take advantage.”
I shook my head. “It wasn’t you who hurt me. It’s…before I got here, to this world, I mean, I…” I trailed off when his eyes dropped to the fading bruise on my cheekbone.
I heard some “whoas” around me and knew we were being joined by several someones but again he spoke so I couldn’t look.
“Of course, Apollo had told us.”
“It’s okay,” I assured him as I felt others joining us.
“It is not. And it’s also not a good idea for you to be on the back of a horse in your state. Especially if you don’t know how to ride, precisely due to what just happened. You could have been injured worse.”
“You need to use your legs.”
This was another voice and I looked to my left to see burnished-haired hot romance novel guy who spoke with the prostitute and the boy I’d noticed around the last couple of days. Though, he wasn’t exactly a boy, more like a boy-man. I was guessing he was sixteen or seventeen years old. He had dark blond hair and dark blue eyes and I knew he’d grow up to be a looker because he already was one.
“And your mouth,” the voice went on, that voice coming from the boy-man.
“My mouth?” I asked.
One side of his lips twitched up. “To say, ‘whoa,’” he instructed then continued. “It’d also be a good idea to use your reins.”
I pressed my lips together but didn’t succeed in suppressing my smile before I replied, “I’ll remember that next time.”
“Her ribs are injured,” the man who saved me informed the burnished-haired man.
“Then why is she on a horse?” the burnished-haired man asked him then his annoyed gaze slid to me. “Especially if she doesn’t know how to ride one.”