by Aislinn Kerry
Amber Quill Press
As prince and heir to the Samari throne, Luke puts nothing before his duty. While sailing to wed a foreign princess he’s never met for the sake of a desirable alliance, his ship is beset by pirates and Luke is taken captive. The pirates and their charismatic captain, Conall, throw Luke’s carefully ordered life — and his emotions — into turmoil. Conall is charming and seductive, and Luke’s iron will softens in the heat of his kisses.
Getting back to Samar should be a straightforward matter, but there’s trouble brewing in his absence and not everyone in his court would be pleased to see Luke make it home safely. In the end, Luke must choose — will he put duty before love, or relinquish his crown in order to have what he most desires?
Or can he somehow find a way to cling to both?
He rose from his chair and closed the distance between them. Luke pressed back tighter against the wall. Conall’s proximity made his chest tight, made the air feel thick as syrup in his lungs. He couldn’t help but stare, straining back, trying not to think of Conall, shirtless on the deck of Luke’s ship, or Conall’s hands running roughly over him as he tore Luke’s clothes open. It’s fear, he told himself as he fought for breath. That’s all it is.
“So tell me, Luke,” Conall murmured, bracing a hand against the wall beside Luke’s head. “What was so terribly important as to justify sending a Samari prince through these treacherous waters?”
Conall stood too close, his body caging Luke in. The first time Luke tried to answer, his voice wouldn’t work. He cleared his throat and dragged his gaze out over the pirate’s shoulder, where it was safe to look. “I sail to meet my betrothed.”
“Ah. For love,” Conall mocked. “People always do the damnedest things for love.”
“No. Not for love.” Luke tried to sidle away, to put distance between them so Conall’s presence would stop stealing all the air from the room. “For duty. My father desires an alliance with her country. They could provide access to trade routes–”
“You don’t love the girl?”
“I’ve never met her.”
Conall rocked back, frowning at Luke as though he were an entirely new and incomprehensible breed of man. The corners of his mouth turned up in a wry smile, and he tugged on a lock of Luke’s hair. “You’re handsome enough. I suppose you’ve left a string of heartbroken maidens trailing behind you as you go off to woo your princess?”
Luke jerked his head to the side, freeing his hair from Conall’s fingers. “Sorry to disappoint you, but no. My country needs an heir, not a litter of royal bastards.”
“A string of boys, then?” Conall mused.
“No!” Luke cried, appalled. He tried to shove Conall back. “Gods.”
Conall grinned as though Luke’s reaction had revealed something. “Celibate as a monk, are you? What a paragon you are, young princeling.” He leaned close again, though Luke braced his hands on the pirate’s shoulders and tried to hold him back. “Luke, my boy, I think it’s high time you had an indiscretion or two.”
Luke tried to duck beneath the arm Conall had braced against the cabin wall. “What are you going to do, throw me at the first disease-ridden doxy who greets us at the next port-of-call? I am not interested.”
“No.” Conall smiled faintly. He planted a hand on Luke’s chest, pinning him to the wall, bringing his body in closer. “That is not quite what I had in mind.”
Luke froze. It was entirely unfair, he thought, for a pirate to have a voice as smooth and comforting as warm milk and honey. A man so ruthless and violent ought to have a voice that scraped and grated and was harsh on the ears. But Conall’s made a shiver slide down Luke’s spine.
“I have a confession to make,” Conall breathed, so close that his lips brushed Luke’s cheek as he spoke. Luke shivered again, and forced himself to stay still. “When I said that you were not my type… I’m afraid that I was quite mistaken.”
“And what precisely is your type, Captain?” Luke asked through the tightness in his throat.
“Young.” Conall’s hand slipped to Luke’s side, fingers dragging over flesh protected by only fine linen. “Innocent.” He ventured beneath its edge. Luke sucked in his breath, his stomach jerking beneath Conall’s touch. “So pretty it hurts.”
Conall laughed quietly. “No. I prefer my bedfellows to want to be there as much as I do.”
Luke curled his fingers around Conall’s wrist and tugged it away. “Then I am not your type at all.”
“Is that what you think?” He pressed closer. Luke’s clothes did little to mask the weight of Conall’s hips against his, the hard press of his legs against Luke’s, or the undeniable evidence that confirmed what Conall thought about Luke. “I doubt you’d take much persuading, young princeling.”
“I should like to see you try,” Luke scoffed, and realized his error a moment to late…