Hushed, Tales of Ryca, Book 2
By Shereen Vedam
EXCERPT from opening scene
“Put your clothes back on!” her mother said.
Eighteen-year-old Princess Tamara’s ears still rang from the door slamming shut. Left alone with her daunting mother in this torch-lit chamber, a tremor of dread swept down her spine.
How could her first time in a man’s bed have ended up with castle guards carting off her would-be lover and leaving Tamara at her mother’s mercy? And where were they taking Thyel?
Buck up! She straightened her spine. This was no time to show weakness. She defiantly dropped the bed sheet. Retrieving her shift, she dragged it over her head. Then put on her discarded amber silk gown that Thyel had passionately flung off not fifty heartbeats ago. Her fingers fumbled with the ties at her back. It was hard to focus when she wanted to rip the gown to shreds. She controlled her temper before speaking.
“How did you find me?” Was that her voice, sounding so flippant? Well done, Tamara.
Mamosia, Queen of Ryca, slowly raised one elegant eyebrow. Tamara’s mother was not fond of flippancy. Then again, she was not fond of Tamara at all, lately. “Do you realize what almost happened, child?”
“I’m not a child.”
“Your actions suggest otherwise.” By torchlight, her mother looked every inch the royal monarch. Her red velvet gown formed a close v-shaped bodice, extended over wide sleeves, and fell in a full skirt. The circlet of gold over her burnished blond hair finished an attire that was simply elegant.
Tamara usually admired her mother’s casual grace. However, since the queen set her ultimatum a week ago, only fury burned up Tamara’s insides. Yet, like vanishing mist, all her machinations to counter that challenge had dissipated. She took a deep breath. “I almost found myself a husband by the deadline you set.”
Her mother came around the bed and plucked the loose cords at her back out of her fingers. “It is beyond me to understand your thinking. Or perhaps thinking is too much to ask of you these days.”
“I was trying to protect myself. If you hadn’t forced me into this situation, I wouldn’t have had to resort to such a tactic.”
“Do not blame me for your sad lack of comportment, young lady.”
“Your ultimatum ends in days, mother. What did you expect?”
“If you wanted to marry this fool – and I’m not saying I would have agreed, for he is too ambitious for my liking – why not simply tell me you favored him?”
That was rich. The man her mother picked, vile greedy and intolerant Gideon, only saw Tamara as a gateway into the royal family. Her mother seemed oblivious to his true nature. So, Tamara tried to explain her thinking in choosing Thyel instead. “I couldn’t tell you. Not until…”
The moment stretched. Finally, unable to stop the words that gnawed away deep in her heart, Tamara said, “You decreed no man may touch me until my wedding night. That gave me the perfect way to test Thyel’s character.”
Her mother’s cool fingers stilled on Tamara’s warm back. “How?”
“To see if he had the strength to oppose your will. He did! That suggests I can trust him to bend to my wishes above all others, even you, which makes him the best choice for my husband.”
“Tamara…why do you distrust my judgment?”
“I’ve learned otherwise to my peril, mother. Or have you forgotten your time spell?”
“That saved our lives!”
“I would gladly have given mine up to have avoided those horrible decades.” Shut up. Too late.