Authors: Honor James
The Royal Wolves
To the Edge and Back
Janos Farkas is one of the Princes in hiding. His parents were murdered in a revolt that was brought about because of greed. It isn’t until he meets Mina Tremayne that he realizes that sometimes accepting the help of the Packs that swore their allegiance to the Crown and his family isn’t such a bad thing.
Mina was completely alone in the world, her every action carefully taken into account so that there was no misstep that would send her failing miserably and landing on the streets, or worse. It is by total happenstance that she walks into Janos’s world, a cracked keg of beer being the catalyst that will send her carefully shaped world into complete chaos.
To him she is a thing of beauty, pure in her mind and soul. To her he’s the man of her dreams and is the only one that can shake up her well-ordered, if poor, life.
Contemporary, Paranormal, Vampires/Werewolves
The Royal Wolves
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
TO THE EDGE AND BACK
Copyright © 2013 by Honor James
E-book ISBN: 978-1-62242-364-4
First E-book Publication: March 2013
Cover design by Viola Estrella
All cover art and logo copyright © 2013 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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To the Edge and Back
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TO THE EDGE AND BACK
The Royal Wolves
Copyright © 2013
Her name was Maria and she was a maid. For the last six years, ever since she was but fourteen summers, she had worked as a downstairs maid in the east wing of the Royal Palace. Her mother was the personal maid to Her Royal Highness and had proudly gotten her daughter the coveted position within the Royal household.
In those six years, Maria had learned a lot, both of her position and of the family she happily helped to serve. The ruling couple was warm, kind, caring, loving of one and all, and very dignified. Their five sons were definitely the first four descriptions plus very rambunctious and mischievous. Dignified…well, that didn’t really come into the picture except when the need arose and only when the need arose.
They would sneak about, either avoiding one boring tutor or another. They were too smart for their own good, and everyone agreed on that point. Or they would pull pranks or try to put the scare into the staff, but oddly enough, never Maria.
She’d guessed that she was just old enough to earn their respect but young enough to still be considered a co-conspirator. She’d helped them out of several precarious plights over her tenure at the Palace. But those had been of the boys’ own designs. The plight now was not one she’d wish upon her most hated of enemies. Patricia was the name of Maria’s most hated enemy. She had unmercifully teased Maria for too many years to ever be forgiven.
“Quickly now!” Even said softly. The words sounded overly loud in the close confines of the long, dark passageway of the secret tunnels. It was damp and quite cold, extremely frightening with the sounds of violent fighting coming from just the other side of the walls. Once a favorite place for the boys, one and all, to play, it was now acting as their precariously fragile escape route.
The soft glow from their one lantern bounced off the stone walls, throwing shadows wildly about. Peeking around the next corner, the young maid waved them forward. Her fear was a near-tangible living and breathing entity in the air and not without very good reason. If she and the boys were caught, death would be the only thing awaiting them all.
For her it would be brutal in its approach, but likely quick in the end. For the boys, sons of Royalty, it would be slow and extremely painful in coming when it was their time.
Once again she wondered what she was thinking in taking such a risk as sneaking the boys out of the Palace. But one look into those deep blue eyes that all had inherited from their mother and she felt her beliefs reinforced. No matter what anyone else said, they had to survive. They were the hope for the future for not only their people, but likely for all of mankind.
Touching the youngest one’s hair lightly, she continued to hurry down the long corridors. Their luck at being undiscovered wouldn’t, couldn’t continue forever. Once the rest of the family, all there to celebrate the ruling couple’s anniversary, were dead, those attacking would go to the nursery for the boys. Finding them gone, they would go after the staff to find out where they could possibly be and, out of fear for their lives, she knew one would betray the secret passages behind the thick stone walls.
After what seemed to be forever, they reached one of the outer wall access points. Handing the lantern off to the oldest boy, Maria eased the door open slowly and peered outside. Lights from lanterns and torches were weaving across the grounds but none were close to where they hid.
Breathing a small sigh of relief, she stepped back in momentarily and put out the lantern and, setting it aside, took their hands with one final warning to remain quiet before leading them out into the night. Shutting the entrance to keep any from discovering their disappearance before they were away, she quickly guided them across the field toward an empty hunting cabin on the land.
Keeping low so as to not create a silhouette against the night sky, she got them all to the tree line quickly before letting them pause to rest. Turning, she looked toward the Palace with a hand pressed to her chest as she tried to calm her breathing slightly. She was worried about the boys. They were too calm, too quiet, and just acting too much like little adults. Glancing at them, she worried that they might be in shock over what was happening, and yet, the eldest looked to her with an understanding in his eyes that said he knew just what was going on.
Looking over the other four boys, she let out a weary sigh as she rested her back to a tree and watched them all sit together to stay warm. They were a unit, always together despite the age differences between the first and last. It was the one thing she knew would get them through what was happening, what may be coming, and whatever the future might hold. Together they would be an indomitable force, one to be reckoned with should someone ever be foolish enough to cross them. God help the fool dumb enough to try and ever hurt one of them.
Ten minutes later she moved once more and signaled them all to stand so they could move on again. Taking the youngest one’s little hand, she guided them through the trees along the path she always took toward her home. She would take them where she felt safest and then return to see if she could find any others of the Royal family to take care of the boys. She knew they would be safer with a family member than with her. She was willing to care for them, but those attacking the children of the Royal family and those of that same family had a definite edge.
Soon enough they were at her little home, and she guided them inside to the safety and warmth of the four walls. Moving quickly, she started a fire and gathered blankets, encouraging them to all sit before the flames. Taking her time, she got them something to eat and then crouched before the oldest boy. “Laszlo, I need to head back to see if I can help any others and let your family know where you are. Will you watch over your brothers until I return?” she asked softly.
Nodding, he looked to her and smiled faintly. “You won’t find anyone else,” he predicted in a much too calm tone.
Shivering at his words, she stared into the dark blue eyes that were too old for the young not-quite-man’s face. “We will see,” she murmured, disconcerted ever so slightly. “Stay inside and bar the door after I leave,” she told him. Straightening, she moved to the door and paused to look at the boys, one and all so brave and looking for all the world like young adults. Shaking her head, Maria slipped out into the night and waited for the sound of the bar being dropped to keep anyone out.
It was two days later that she returned to the little house and, knocking quickly, stepped in when the bar lifted. Her eyes met Laszlo’s and she saw in them the knowledge that the boy already had known. Laying a hand on his shoulder, she moved him away from the secured door and to the tiny table in her little kitchen.
Sitting with him, she looked to the others, all asleep thankfully, and then let out a shuddering breath. “They are all…” She couldn’t say it, but knew she didn’t have to. “You and your brothers need to leave the country, Laszlo. They are searching for you even now. They have taken over residence in the Palace and are putting in a temporary leader to move things according to their agenda.”