The Du Lac Chronicles
Mary Anne Yarde
Young Adult, Historical Fantasy, Romance
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Free on Kindle from the 25th November to the 29th November 2016
“An evocative, timeless saga of love and betrayal, it has rivalry and treachery enough for any ‘Game of Thrones’ aficionado.” Tony Riches, author of The Tudor Trilogy
“It is dangerous to become attached to a du Lac. He will break your heart, and you will not recover.” So prophesies a wizened healer to Annis, daughter of King Cerdic of Wessex. If there is truth in the old crone’s words, they come far too late for Annis, who defies father, king, and country to save the man she loves.
Alden du Lac, once king of Cerniw, has nothing. Betrayed by Cerdic, Alden’s kingdom lies in rubble, his fort razed to the ground and his brother Merton missing, presumably dead. He has only one possession left worth saving: his heart. And to the horror of his few remaining allies, he gives that to the daughter of his enemy. They see Annis, at best, as a bargaining chip to avoid war with her powerful father. At worst, they see a Saxon whore with her claws in a broken, wounded king.
Alden has one hope: When you war with one du Lac, you war with them all. His brother Budic, King of Brittany, could offer the deposed young king sanctuary—but whether he will offer the same courtesy to Annis is far less certain.
“I just need to stop for a few moments.” Alden lifted his arm off Annis’s shoulder and leant against the wall. He was sweating profusely, the salt of his sweat stinging his wounds and his eyes. He honestly didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. At least David had been right about the soldier’s barracks. It was empty. There was no way he could have fought anyone feeling like he did now.
He had always felt that he was fated to die young, but he had hoped he would at least make it to twenty ¾ so much for hope.
The acute pain passed, and he took a moment to watch Annis. He saw the way she rolled her shoulders, how she moved the heavy torch to her other hand. She must be exhausted, yet she didn’t complain. Her hair was damp and it had curled into soft ringlets. He reached forward and touched one of her wayward curls. The curl wound its way around his finger and he felt the softness of her hair. It was beautiful. The pain must be making him delirious, for he had the strongest urge to pull her closer, to learn the taste of her lips, to feel her body against his. He lowered his hand and closed his eyes, willing away the temptation.
“Thank you for not leaving me behind,” Annis said, her voice coming out a little breathless. She had not dared to move as Alden played with her hair. She knew it was not the proper thing to allow a man to touch her, but she could not bring herself to stop him. In fact, she wanted more than a gentle fondling of her hair, although what her body yearned for she did not really understand. All she knew was that he made her feel flustered and hot, excited and nervous, all at the same time. Her knuckles still tingled where his lips had brushed against them earlier, and she wondered if they would ever feel the same again.
“I will keep you safe.” He found himself promising the most ridiculous thing. He couldn’t defend himself at this moment in time, let alone her.
“I just want you to live,” Annis answered. “Thank you for what happened with David. I don’t know what would have happened if I had been left down there.”
“I wouldn’t have left you there and nor would have David. He would have worried that you would drink his wine,” Alden said solemnly.
Annis smiled softly at his teasing. “I thought about it! How long have you known him?”
“A long time.”
“Long enough.” Alden smiled.
“Has anyone ever told you that you are infuriating?” Annis asked.
Alden’s smile widened. “It has been mentioned.” Another wave of pain washed over him and he closed his eyes.
He had held his breath again; he hadn’t realised. He felt Annis’s hand on his arm and he breathed deeply of the stale, rodent-filled air. When the pain passed, she let go of his arm and stepped back.
He watched her as she looked away from him. She raised the torch so she could see a little farther down the tunnel, which looked remarkably similar to what they had just walked down. They could be walking in circles for all they knew.
For a moment neither said anything and then after a long awkward pause, Alden said, “David’s father was my father’s groom, here in Briton. David was only a boy when Arthur fell to your father’s sword. Cerdic slaughtered David’s mother and his two older brothers, but he enslaved David and his father. His father continued to spy for us and then when he died, David took over the role. That was also when David turned to drink. He didn’t handle his grief very well.”
“My father has ruined so many lives.”
“Well, he did one thing right,” Alden allowed.
“He had you.”
Annis blushed at his words and she couldn’t hold his gaze. “We should really try and keep walking,” she said, raising her face to catch his eyes before lowering her gaze again.
He moved himself off the wall and put his arm around her shoulder. “It wasn’t luck that saved me. It was you. I asked you before, but you didn’t answer. Why did you do it?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” she mumbled in embarrassment.
“You would be surprised by what I can understand.” He tried to keep his voice conversational and light, for he saw the way her body had tensed.
She turned slowly back around and looked at him. “I did not want to see you lose your head.” She quickly looked away from him, so that he would not see her face and she would not have to look into those all-knowing eyes. How could she possibly reveal what she felt for him?
“And why would that matter to you if I did?” He challenged softly. “I am nothing to you, Annis, but another player in the dangerous game of kingship and power.”
“I apologise for saving you,” Annis said, annoyed with him for questioning her about something she could not explain without humiliating herself.
“I’m not implying I am ungrateful. I just want to know the truth. I’m having a little issue with trust at the moment.”
She stopped and sighed heavily. She could tell him part of the truth; there would be no harm in that. “My father has arranged for me to be married,” she stated.
Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.
At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions.
Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking—so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!
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