sci-fi romance book
genre: sci-fi romance book
length: 132000 words / long novel
released: December 2012
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Daughters of Lyra
Daughters of Lyra is an anthology of five science fiction romance stories.
In Heart of an Emperor, beautiful Princess Sophia has had it with suitors. When the latest one turns out to be the emperor of Varka, a species known for their lack of emotions, nocturnal lifestyle and bloodlust, Sophia wants little to do with him. But when she greets the emperor and his two attendants, Sophia realises that a Varkan might just win her after all. Only, it isn’t the emperor who has caught her eye.
In Heart of a Mercenary, Princess Miali is an ambassador for Lyra. Her true identity is kept secret to protect her but it's her beauty that puts her in danger when slavers attack her ship. Heading for the slave market, her only company is the ship's handsome young Minervan doctor. Kosen makes Miali's body react like no man before him and she can't help wondering if she might just be falling for her captor.
In Heart of a Prince, Princess Renie loves exploring space with her twin brother, Rezic, but when they venture too close to the Black Zone things turn from exploration to a fight for their lives. Captured by Vegans, Renie isn’t sure what she's going to do... until she meets a man in the cells, the most unusual and gorgeous male she has ever seen, a man who seems to be willing to do anything to protect her.
In Heart of a Commander, Lieutenant Amerii wants nothing more than to prove herself to her captain and the army without her father's help... except maybe one thing. Van, Count of Aeris and attendant to Emperor Varka. Meeting the Varkan first fleet at Varka Two, Amerii is pleasantly surprised when the commander turns out to be Van, and he invites her onto his ship to sign the contract between Varka and Lyra.
In Heart of an Assassin, Princess Natalia has spent her whole life on Lyra Five behaving just as a princess should, except for one thing. After her daily duties she sneaks out at night to sing in the bars of Lyra Five, pretending to be someone else. Natalia loves to sing, more than anything else in the galaxy, until the night that Ixion, the handsome commander of the royal assassins, comes to the bar to bring her home.
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Daughters of Lyra: Heart of an Emperor
Sophia stood in the expansive white square in front of the palace and watched the biggest and blackest fighter ship she had ever seen descend into the royal port of Lyra Prime. It wasn’t just the colour of the sleek curvaceous craft that made it black to her. It was what it contained. Another black cloud to mar her perfect blue Lyran sky. With a sigh, she tossed her long dark hair over her shoulder and ran her fingers down the twin braids that started at her temples and flowed down the front of her pale blue empire-line dress. Her eyes tracked the ship and she toyed with the braids as she always did when nervous or angry. How was she going to get out of this one? She glanced at the palace and then back at the ship as it landed, sending a plume of white dust up into the air as the thrusters fired.
Her father had gone too far this time.
It had been bad enough when he had brought a Minervan suitor to the palace. At the time, she had thought it had been a joke and the man had been a friend of her mother’s. No. A suitor. As though she couldn’t find her own husband. After she had dismissed the Minervan, things had only taken a turn for the worse. So far, her father had brought a new suitor every month. Dazkaran, Sekarian, Terran, Sirian, and several other species that she didn’t care to remember had sent suitors to court her. She had turned them all away. Her father might be the king of Lyra now that her grandparents had gone to Iskara, but he had definitely gone too far this time.
In the heat-hazed distance, three black-clad figures shimmered, striding towards her.
Sophia swallowed her trembling heart and straightened her back. They didn’t frighten her. She had been reading up on them. At least, she had read what she could find, which wasn’t much. There hadn’t even been a picture of the royal family in the computer or the books. They were one of the most technologically advanced species in the universe, creating things that everyone had heard of, yet they had somehow remained the most mysterious. It was that mystery that frightened her, not their apparent bloodlust.
Her father and mother stopped beside her. Her mother was still as beautiful as ever. As always, she wore her long black hair in an elaborate bun, drawn away from her pale face. Her eyes were as dark as her father’s, but seemed blacker with the makeup surrounding them. Her parents did look so very regal when they stood together like this, King Sebastian and Queen Terea of Lyra.
The confident click of heels on the white stone of the square ceased. Sophia took her place beside her mother and turned to face the Varkans.
It seemed she would still have to wait to know what they looked like.
Stood before her were three tall, slim males, all dressed in black high-collar knee-length jackets, black trousers and polished knee-high boots. Silver embroidery decorated two of the men’s jackets, three columns of bright buttons down their fronts that shone like full moons. The third man, stood between the other two, had gold embroidery on his jacket and a deep red and gold sash that cut across from his left shoulder to right hip. The emperor she presumed. She wished that she knew what he looked like.
It was impossible to tell when they were all wearing black visors that covered the top of their heads, the two curved sides coming to meet in a point in front of their noses. All she could see were their mouths, jaws and necks. All of them were pale. The man on the left had lips like her father’s, curved and hinting at beauty. The emperor’s lips were a thin compressed line that made her wonder what he was thinking. She couldn’t sense his feelings as she had been able to with her other suitors. The man on the right.
His lips were perfect. Curved, full, and intensely kissable. She dragged her eyes away from him and back to the emperor.
Her father stepped forwards.
“Emperor Varka, may your species flourish and may eternity be within your reach,” her father said and Sophia noticed the emperor’s lips tilt slightly into a smirk, as though her father’s words amused him. Eternity. Apparently, it was something that Varkans already held within their grasp. They flourished rather well too. Perhaps her father should have chosen a better Lyran greeting. “May I introduce my daughter, Princess Sophia of Lyra.”
Sophia stepped forwards past her father to greet the emperor and instantly the other two men were in front of him, both holding one arm out to block her path, their other hand on a weapon at their waists. They looked like swords. She frowned.
“You must understand, little one, it is not wise to approach our species so flagrantly,” the emperor said, voice deep and edged with an eerie echo. She glanced at the small black triangular device attached to the left side of his throat. Did the translator make his voice echo, or did all Varkans sound this way?
“I apologise. I had only wished to greet you.” She bowed her head, already wishing that the Varkans were gone. If she couldn’t go near him, how was he supposed to court her? Out of the corner of her eye, she glanced at the male with the perfect lips. Maybe she didn’t want them gone just yet, not until she knew his face. “I am Princess Sophia of Lyra. May I enquire as to your guests’ names?”
She could feel her father’s eyes on her, and her mother’s. None of the suitors had brought company with them before. It wasn’t such an unusual question to ask.
The men moved back into their positions and then the one on her left stepped forwards.
“Attendant Second to Emperor Varka, Count of Aeris.” He bowed very stiffly and then stepped back. Her right eyebrow rose. She didn’t catch a name in there unless she was supposed to call him Count of Aeris.
The man on her right stepped forwards, an aura of confidence surrounding him. She watched his perfect mouth as he spoke, mesmerised by the movement of his lips and the deep echoing timbre of his voice.
“Attendant First to Emperor Varka, Count of Sagres.” He bowed with grace and when he was rising, the sun hit his visor and she swore she caught a flash of his face.
Her heart pounded.
If she had, then he was handsome enough to rival any Lyran, even her father.
She curtseyed and then fixed her attention on the emperor so she didn’t appear rude. It was difficult to keep her eyes off the Count of Sagres but she managed to make it through the rest of the greeting ceremony without looking at him. When they were walking to the palace, she reached out a little to try to read him. The area he occupied was there and she could feel it, but she felt nothing from him. It was as though he wasn’t there.
“Sophia, dear,” her father whispered as they led the way into the palace, accompanied by four Lyran guards. “You seem tense. Do relax. If you are worried about the rooms for the attendants, then you need not. They are already being arranged.”
Sophia wasn’t worried about rooms at all but she didn’t correct her father. It was probably better that he presumed she was fretting over tiny details rather than battling her desire to look at the Count of Sagres again. She felt drawn to him, under a spell that commanded she look at him. Keeping her face forwards, she walked under the grand archway that led into the darker interior of the palace and smiled as the cooler air hit her. There was a collective murmur from the Varkans and a shuffling noise. Had they removed their visors? Suddenly, not looking at the Count of Sagres seemed impossible.
One of her attendants, Caria, hurried over to her and Sophia stopped to see what she wanted. Tiptoeing, the dark haired girl whispered in her ear, curtseyed and then stood to one side. Sophia glanced at her parents before slowly turning to face the Varkans, her heart thumping in her throat. Her gaze fell on the Count of Aeris first, her nerves and the anticipation of seeing whether the Count of Sagres was as handsome as she thought making her take the long route. The Count of Aeris was handsome, his beauty exactly as his lips had promised. The emperor was also handsome, but there was a cruelty about his features, a darkness that she didn’t like. She knew that in terms of wealth and power he was a good match, and that marrying him would advance relations between Varka and Lyra and strengthen the peace, but for some reason he made her wary. Her gaze shifted, finally falling to rest on the Count of Sagres.
He was stunning.
His moon white skin was a stark contrast to the chin length tendrils of his black hair. It hung in ribbons, parted down the centre and caressing his cheeks and the defined straight line of his jaw. The sensual curve of his lips drew her gaze and she imagined how they would feel against hers—soft but strong, caressing hers in a kiss that she knew would be commanding, passionate and consuming. She dragged her eyes away, up over the fine aristocratic line of his nose to his eyes. They met hers and the deep red colour of his irises shocked her for a moment. Blood. They were the colour of blood. All of their eyes were dark crimson.
Regaining her composure, Sophia stepped forwards and curtseyed to the emperor.
“Your room is ready, your highness. Rooms have also been prepared for your attendants. One of my attendants will show you to them,” she said and intimated for Caria to come forward. The young girl did and curtseyed so low that Sophia wondered if she would be able to get back up.
With a smile, Caria turned and started walking up the hall. The Count of Aeris led the way, followed by the emperor. He looked at her, his red eyes briefly meeting hers before he turned away. She had felt as though he had been assessing her with that glance. It made her nervous. In a few hours, she would have to sit and talk with him. Normally her research into the species helped the conversation but she still knew little about the Varkans. Perhaps she could ask him, at the risk of looking ignorant. The Count of Sagres passed her and her eyes followed him, studying his noble profile. Why couldn’t he have been the emperor? She would gladly spend hours shut in the drawing room talking to him.
When the Count of Sagres had disappeared around a corner, she noticed that her parents had also gone. Behind her, excited chatter burst into life, shattering the silence in the hall.
Sophia sighed and turned to face her other two attendants, Alexa and Zalina.
“What is it now?” she said, relieved that she would have a few hours peace before yet another courtship began.
“Nothing, miss.” Alexa curtseyed, holding the skirt of her corseted deep blue dress and lowering her head. The equally dark blue veil covering her hair fell forwards to mask her face. She pushed it back and rose.
“Nothing?” Why didn’t she believe that? She looked at Zalina, knowing the younger girl had no skill at lying.
“Nothing—the Varkans are handsome.” Zalina covered her mouth, her tanned cheeks darkening and ringlets of her brown hair falling down across her face when she shook her head.
Sophia laughed and looked along the corridor in the direction that the Count of Sagres had gone.
“They certainly are.”
* * * *
Sophia smoothed her black hair back into the bun that her mother had helped fix it in and then toyed with the two long braids she had insisted on keeping. She hadn’t been able to find the peace she had wanted before the meeting. Her attendants had insisted on getting her ready early, plastering her face with pale make up that she abhorred and painting her lips ruby red. The colour of blood. Blood. She frowned as she remembered the Count of Sagres’s eyes. Against his dark lashes and pale skin, they had been startling. Perhaps his species truly had a bloodlust as the books said.
She straightened her dress out, pulling the top half about so it covered her ample breasts a little more and making sure that the high waistband sat underneath them. Her attendants had tried to make her wear black, but she had changed out of the dress the moment they were gone and had put her empire-line sky blue one back on. She was a princess of Lyra. She was going to wear the colour of Lyra.
Minutes passed and she fidgeted on the long deep blue couch, wondering if the emperor was planning to make an appearance. She glanced around the expansive cream room and then at the rich dark wooden door. Perhaps it was still the fashion to be late on Varka. On Lyra, it was rude.
The door opened and she shot to her feet. Her eyes widened when she saw it was the Count of Sagres. He stood on the threshold of the room, his hand still on the door handle. Her heart leapt and pounded. There was no denying the attraction she felt to him. Her mind had been constantly on him from the moment they had met and now that he was before her again, she wanted nothing more than to look at him, to drink her fill of his handsome face and those stunning red eyes. She blinked, looking into his eyes, wondering what he was thinking as he stared at her. He looked at her a moment longer and then stepped to one side. Emperor Varka passed him and paused.
“You may leave. I will report in before retiring,” he said and the Count of Sagres nodded before closing the door, leaving them alone.
Her shoulders slumped. For one happy moment, she had thought the Count of Sagres would be staying.
She forced a smile for the emperor when he took her hand and kissed the back of it. Sitting back down, she held her hand out, intimating the couch opposite hers and fearing that he would choose to sit next to her instead like some of her suitors had.
Thankfully, he took the desired seat. She smiled again, unsure what to say to break the dreadful silence. By Iskara’s wings, her father was going to pay for this torture. Hadn’t he learnt anything when his parents had arranged his wedding? Perhaps she could run away as he had. She grinned inside. The shock and worry would probably kill him.
Perhaps she could run off with the Count of Sagres.
Her eyes widened again, that thought shocking her. Did she want to run away with the count? The idea flustered her enough that her cheeks burned.
“Is something the matter?” Emperor Varka said with a slight echo to his words. Sophia stared at him, shaking her head. “You look ill.”
“No, I am fine, thank you.” She straightened up and smiled again. “A little too much sun today perhaps.”
“It is dreadful,” he said, voice droning enough that she clearly got the message that he didn’t like her sunny planet.
“It’s beautiful,” she countered, ready for an argument if he overstepped the mark. Emperor or not, she wouldn’t let anyone insult her home world.
“You must understand, little one, that Varkans are not accustomed to such strong sunlight. I merely meant that it was painful for me, not that it is not beautiful, in short spells.”
Short spells? She could spend the entire day lazing in the gardens under that strong sunlight. It did explain the visors though. She had read that none of the planets in the Varka system rotated like hers. On one side of each was permanent daylight. On the other side was permanent darkness. She was beginning to get the impression that Varkans were from that side.
She could ask the emperor, but for some reason she didn’t want to. Her gaze drifted to the door and her thoughts to how handsome the Count of Sagres had looked. Shocked too. He had hidden it well, but something about either the room or her had surprised him. It was probably the awful make up she was wearing. It dawned on her that she didn’t want to talk to the emperor.
She wanted to speak to the Count of Sagres.
“You are as beautiful as your planet,” Emperor Varka murmured, his voice so low that it sent a shudder down her spine. She dragged her eyes away from the door and smiled at him, taking his flattery even when it revolted her. As a princess, she had grown accustomed to disgusting men fawning over her and seeking her attention. “Although I hear that you have had many suitors in the past, I can assure you that none of them can offer you what Varka can.”
A frown threatened to crease her brow. She held her smile. Did he honestly think that he could haggle for her hand in marriage? She wasn’t interested in how many planets her future husband had, or how rich and powerful he was. The only man she would marry was the one who loved her, and whom she loved.
Relaxing a little, she settled in for a conversation that she knew was going to feel like an eternity rather than a few hours.
There was only one thing keeping her remotely interested in the emperor as he told her of his wealth and the might of the Varkan Empire.
He knew the Count of Sagres.
Her gaze drifted to the door.
She wanted to know him too.