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Claimed : A Paranormal Fantasy (Stories from the Realm Book 1)

Claimed : A Paranormal Fantasy (Stories from the Realm Book 1)

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Main Tropes

  • Bear Shifters
  • Reluctant Fated Mates
  • Reincarnation

Synopsis

A warrior princess sent on an impossible mission, the prince who decided she was worth saving, and the evil that will tear their world apart...

To punish me for being born with the gift of foresight, my father ordered me to invade bear country, knowing I would never return. The frozen forest took every one of my men, leaving me clinging to life. Still, Prince Joseph embraced me, forcing me to live amongst his people to give me a fresh start.

When the long-gone king returns from his quest to save this world from evil, Joseph honors him by instituting an ancient rite...the mating chase.

Now a citizen of this backward land, I'm forced to run with the other unattached women. With twenty minutes to get as far away as possible before they release the men, I can taste my freedom just beyond the horizon.

But just as I step foot past the territory border, a force from out of nowhere knocks me to the ground.

Gold eyes, like the sun coming over these mountains, stared down at me, and The Mighty laid his claim.

Intro into Chapter One

The thunderous pounding of our horses’ hooves echoed through the forest as we raced against the dying evening sun.

Tall with the last of summer’s sharp blades of grass, the scorching plains on the other side of the treeline opened up for us at last to run full measure.

Far too many years passed since His Majesty summoned my men and me back from the outland post he banished us to so long ago, and our hearts longed to be with our families again.

So, when my father’s courier arrived four days prior, we made off at once for the Westland palace.

Yet, if this cursed gift of mine only warned me that my own pitiful destruction awaited my return, I would have ignored the call and remained blissfully unaware that true love existed on the warm beaches of my homeland instead.

The last of the sun’s warmth left the sky, alerting us the city’s curtain wall would close until the following morning, and we crossed the stone bridge just as the chains engaged, lowering the gate.

Not once did we stop for rest or food on our journey, and the scent of tonight’s feast ripped my guts out when we rode through its cloud.

Another scent brought a flood of saliva, though.

Beyond the roast boar and the sweet, warm aroma of butter-brushed bread straight from the baker’s oven, something so familiar and frightening hung in the air. Though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, every long-neglected nerve in my body tingled with the ancient spark of magic again when I inhaled the cloud.

Waiting at the smithy’s shop, the brother I’d not seen since father stationed me in the most Southern post waved off the young maidens he entertained himself with while the stable boy lowered his head to me and said, “Welcome home, Your Highness.”

Peeling myself from my saddle, I uncurled my leg from my steed while the boy firmed up his grip on the harness to keep the old war horse steady. “I thought you’d never return.”

Now a head taller than me, the child from my memory, hidden behind his hair-lined face, smiled as I pinched his cheek. “Have I been gone so long that this boy is now a man?”

Two hands and a scruffy blonde beard came to his shoulders from behind as my brother rescued him from my hold on his face when he shook him. “You’ve been gone so long that the boy sired his own boy last winter.”

Sporting the leather armor I commissioned for him before he left on his last adventure, Eason lifted his chin as he crossed his arms over himself. “Didn’t you, Silas?”

From ear to ear, this white-haired stable boy who tended to my horse since the day he found out he was strong enough to wield a shoe hammer grinned at me. “Aye.”

A dirty hand missing half a pointer finger came to his knee. “He’s this tall now. Just took his first steps not even a day ago.”

I yanked my riding gloves away and slapped them at Silas’ chest when Eason laid his hand on my back to urge me to the castle. “Well, come find me at dinner so I can see this lad. I cannot wait to meet him and the missus.”

Placing a kiss on my temple, Eason wrinkled his nose at the stench of me after half a week on horseback. “I have your handmaids waiting at the baths for you.”

Though our father meant to shame me with his punishment, each time these warrior children returned home again, we became a bit more legendary.

The awestruck faces of the townspeople parted for us as they whispered and clutched their chests, and I met each one with a bow of my head as I passed them. “Thank you for that.”

Born with a wandering spirit, the rambling prince spent less time in our ancestral lands than I did, and I nudged him with my elbow as we came up the staircase. “Have you any clue why we’ve been called back, though?”

Sweeping his arm aside for me to go through the front doors first, Eason smirked at me as his sun-bleached hair blew away with the wind. “The king was desperate to be reunited with his favorite children, of course.”

When I laughed at him, he spun out to walk before me and tossed up his shoulder. “Also, the bear king’s diplomats are here to negotiate a treaty, and His Majesty wishes to show the true strength of the West’s armies lest the treaty fail.”

In the foyer, he brought his hand across his heart and bowed to me as he backed toward the map room. “So, put on your prettiest frock, dear sister, for we have dancing and ass-kissing awaiting us tonight.”

Red carpet squished under my boots while I rushed to untangle my sword from my back, and the pleasing, musky essence that seduced me when I entered the city grew stronger.

Little by little, my feet slowed until I peeked up to find the stranger also coming to a wide-eyed standstill.

That rush of sorcery in my blood that abandoned me in childhood rekindled, stealing my breath. Frozen in place by his heavy foreign tongue and icy blue stare when he tipped his head. “Good evening, my lady.”

In my scuffed-up leathers and chainmail, with my officer’s shield and sword affixed to my back, it was reasonably clear to anyone with a working set of eyes I was not one of the kingdom’s fair maidens.

Looking down over my filthy uniform, I had a good chuckle as I tossed up my hands and answered him with a nod. “And to you, my lord.”

Both his hands twisted behind his back, and his eyes narrowed at my chest emblem when he stepped closer. “You’re an officer?”

I lifted my finger to him, leaning away to tilt my chin at the matron, motioning for me at the bath’s door. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll be right with you.”

I returned my gaze to him to find him studying my face, and I shoved my hand between us to stop him. “I am Moya. High Commander of His Majesty’s Southern forces.”

Women soldiers were unheard of outside my father’s lands, and his mouth hung open for a moment before he bent down to kiss my knuckle. “Meeting you is a tremendous honor.”

Twisting my fingers out of his, I tilted my head to check out the fine silken blue tunic he wore.

Among my people, such displays of vulgar luxury would get a man hung by his neck, and I nodded as I flicked my fingertip at the gold tassel hanging from his shoulder. “And you must be one of King Volodar’s envoys?”

The corners of his lips ticked up as he smoothed the bit of curly, pale blond hair back from his eye. “I am the Mighty’s loyal servant, yes.”

Covering his heart with his palm, he doubled his eyes at me. “And yours, of course. But it would please me if you called me Joey.”

Flailing hands down the hall waved for me again, and I gave him a nod as I stepped away. “I will do that. Thank you. I hope you enjoy your stay,” — making an L with my thumb and finger, I pointed at him and winked — “Joey.”

One leather boot dug into the crimson runner lining the hallway, and one bare foot traipsed through the chilly forest in my mind while the world around the right side of me warbled.

It seemed Joey steeped in his own old magic, and his voice in my head commanded my gifts to end the slumber they had hibernated in for too long.

In the smoky mist that closed in around the edges of my vision, the animal’s roar that haunted my childhood nightmares made me flinch.

Always the same massive white bear sitting on his throne of light when I opened the cabin door.

As if he were walking beside me through the illusion, I heard Joey’s most private thoughts as he tested our connection. “Your kingdom awaits you, Moya sestra.”


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