Fate’s Call: A Novella from the world of the King’s Riders.
Ebook & Print
A runaway daughter, seeking escape from abusive hands.
A journeyman tanner willing to risk safety to aid her.
When Jarek steps into the alley to toss out the trash, he finds Erron and can’t look away. Even when her father roughly jostles her out of sight, claiming she’d made a wrong turn.
He should leave well enough alone, but those desperate eyes haunt him. And he’s never been one to turn his back on someone in trouble, especially the most beautiful lass he’s ever seen.
He just never imagined it’d be his life in jeopardy, and his heart that needs saving.
Cover for Fate’s Call by Sayara
Tears streamed down her face, blurring her vision, but still she forced one foot in front of the other. Moving forward.
I have to go. I have to get away.
Her chest heaved and her lungs burned, aching as she pushed air down and forced her muscles to work harder than they were used to.
Most likely, she wouldn’t get away.
He’d probably punish her for trying to flee but…she had to try.
She couldn’t deal with her father anymore.
Erron was done with his flippant moods, his heavy hand…and his rapes.
Move. Go. Faster!
Sweat beaded her brow, dripped down her cheeks and even into her eyes, but she didn’t pause. She had to go.
Since she’d turned eleven or so, and even before developing breasts or starting her monthly cycles, he had…taken what only a wife should be expected to give willingly.
Making it into the market center, she continued on. It was busy and loud. Perhaps she could really disappear.
But where would she go?
Erron glanced over her shoulder, then skittered around shops displaying their wares outside open doors in the warm spring morning. The sun was high in the cloudless clear blue sky, welcoming and bright.
It belied her urgency. Her terror.
Stalls and tables were crowded as people perused or bartered over their items. A man cursed as she bolted around him, then another small group of three, making them jump apart.
She ignored them, keeping her legs in motion though they burned, calves throbbing as her muscles flexed.
Erron dashed through an alley and down an almost empty street. She was moving toward the outskirts of town now, nearing Lower Dalunas—not the best part of the Province. But the prospect of brothels and less than reputable taverns didn’t scare her more than her father did.
What will he do when he catches you?
No. She couldn’t think like that. She didn’t regret taking this chance, and needed to make the situation the best she could.
Exhaustion was settling over her bones, begging her to stop, rest. Collapse. She panted puffs of air.
No. Keep. Going.
Her chest burned and her heart pounded, but she couldn’t stop now.
She turned into another alley, risking another glimpse behind her. Was her father there? Did he know she’d run? Erron didn’t slow, but the movement made her feet falter and she stumbled. Her line of vision wobbled and the edge of her shoe caught her skirt.
Down she went, throwing her hands out just in time to avoid landing on her face. Pain shot up her wrists as they absorbed the impact of her body, and her knees smarted because her dress wasn’t padding enough on the hard ground.
“Oomph,” whistled from her mouth. Her breath was gone now; she had to concentrate to get any air down. Her temples pounded with rushing blood, but she couldn’t muster the strength to push herself off the ground, let alone to her feet. Her head swarmed with dizziness, but Erron refused to pass out.
“Are you all right?”
She startled and tremors rushed down her spine. The voice was male, and she fought a full body shudder.
Where had he even come from? She’d not seen anyone when she’d entered the alley.
Oh. Right. He’d spoken to her and awaited an answer. Erron tried to nod. Had her head even moved? Her thick blonde plait fell forward. Escaped wisps tickled her cheek and forehead.
“Here, let me help you.”
Brown hide boots entered her line of sight, then a hand. It was large and calloused, but something made her want to take it. She lifted an aching wrist and placed shaking fingers into his.
Warm. His touch was warm and firm.
She looked up as he pulled her to her feet without effort. Her eyes scanned his face and locked onto his. Brown. All Erron saw was a dark gaze that made her stomach flip.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
Dark brows drew together as he studied her; Erron couldn’t find her voice. He was so handsome, with high cheekbones and clean-shaven cheeks. He was concerned for her, too; it was all written over his expression.
Erron’s heart stuttered. No one had ever looked at her like that before. Tears pricked her eyes.
He was tall and lean, dark hair shaggy and in need of a trim. He wore a dark leather apron over his tan long-sleeved linen tunic and brown breeches. Whatever his trade, he was a hard worker.
She yanked her hand from his grip and looked away. “I’m fine. Thank you,” she whispered. Erron jumped as his fingertips brushed her jaw.
He gripped her chin, guiding her face back to him.
I need to get away.
Erron didn’t know this man; why was she letting him touch her? But when she met his deep brown eyes, she fell into their depths. She froze in place.
He wasn’t hurting her. She wasn’t afraid of him.
His touch sank into her skin, warmth spreading down her neck and into her shoulders. The gesture was casual and comforting…and wholly unfamiliar. It left her wanting more of his…gentleness.
“Why are you crying?” the man whispered.
Erron blinked. Her tears were still flowing? How did I not know?
“Are you injured?” he repeated.
His gaze raked up and down her body, those brows still tight. Like he didn’t believe her.
“Erron.” The barked demand in her name made her tremble.