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Authors: Stein Willard

Phantom of the Heart

BOOK: Phantom of the Heart
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the Heart




Stein Willard

Phantom of the Heart

By Stein Willard


Copyright 2016



All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form other than that which it was purchased and without the express permission of the author or publisher. Please note that piracy of copyrighted materials violates the author’s rights and is illegal.

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.




Editor: Dan

Editor: R. Lee Fitzsimmons

Editor: Raven’s Eye; CK King

Cover Design: DEPE

Back of the Book


Born into the modest legacy of a blacksmith grandfather and chambermaid mother, Orla was happy with the way her life was panning out. That was until an age-old legacy, potent and all consuming, snatched her away from everything she knew and loved. Love, and only love, could guide her back to her soul mate.

Young and powerful, Sterling commanded the army of the most prestigious kingdom in the realm. She too had her future mapped out for her. Win back the Wastelands, find a mate and succeed her mother to the throne. But between a loyal horse, a woman and formidable, mystical beings, she lost sight as to the order in which she needed to accomplish her dream. Love, and love alone, was her beacon in this cluttered quest.




I had to start somewhere and ‘somewhere’ for me was right at the beginning or the bottom, depends on how you would like to look at it. I would like to think that I have grown a bit as a writer since writing Phantom, or PoTH as I like to call it, in 2011.

My sincerest gratitude to my readers for their patience and loyalty. I’m your biggest fan!



To you.


Chapter 1


“You look troubled, Daughter.” Lima Peron's blue eyes were tender as they rested on her daughter's bowed, dark head. She loved her daughter with all her heart and would do anything to ensure her happiness. But she had never felt as helpless as she did these past three days. Since the return of the Royal Army, her daughter had been in a constant state of dejection. Lima asked her about it every morning before they left for their positions at the royal palace, but her daughter remained tight-lipped every time.

“I am well, Mother,” Orla managed with a forced smile. Whereas Lima worked as a chambermaid, Orla was employed as the blacksmith and temporary stable master. It was evident that Orla enjoyed her work, the exertion and the sense of completion she got after a long day was what made it all worthwhile. She had said so herself too many times to count. But it all seemed to have changed suddenly. Orla seemed almost fearful of the stables now.

“You are a poor liar, Orla. I know something has been bothering you since the return of the Royal Army. What is it that happened, my child?”

“It is really nothing, Mother. Now, hurry up or else we will be late.”

Lima shook her head and quickly finished her tea. She knew her daughter well enough to know that Orla would only talk when she was ready. She would give her a rest for now.




“We can NOT afford to lose her, Sterling, so please, I beg you to not get involved this time.” Her Royal Highness, Queen Mesmeria, sternly looked at her daughter. Watching as Sterling circled the small pond, Mesmeria knew that what she had just said surely went in one ear and out the other. She studied her daughter closely, noting the tall, svelte frame as she intently stalked the fish in the pond. When she gave birth to her daughter, twenty-five years ago, she and her partner were ecstatic when they found that they were now the proud parents of a gorgeous, redheaded, baby girl. Sterling was a quick study and even before her seventeenth birthday, she was the best archer and tactician in the whole kingdom, a feat that earned her the position as Commander of the Royal Army. Mesmeria smiled. It was really good to have Sterling back at the palace after an absence of six years. As Commander, Sterling left home, at age nineteen, for the Northern Wastelands where the army had been battling to keep the Hurians, a bloodthirsty, pagan tribe, from crossing over into the kingdom of Karas. During her daughter’s six year absence, the queen had experienced some nervy moments. On more than two occasions, her daughter had been severely injured in the line of duty. Each time, Mesmeria had tried to lure Sterling back to Kemble, the seat of the royals, but her stubborn girl had refused to desert her post.

About three months ago, Mesmeria’s biggest desire was fulfilled. Sterling’s messenger had arrived from the Wastelands with the news that the Hurians had been defeated and driven far into the arid depths of the Hurian Desert. Leaving a smaller, but well-armed, contingent behind, the princess had finally decided to return home. Mesmeria had three months to arrange a victorious homecoming for her daughter. Dignitaries from far-off provinces traveled to Kemble to welcome the Royal Princess and to congratulate her on ending a war, which had been raging for close to fifty years.

No one was prepared for their first sight of the Royal Princess, including her own mother. Gone was the blushing, gangly teenager and in her place was a tall, flint-eyed warrior. The square was packed, as the lithe princess swung out of her saddle and walked over to where Mesmeria waited. Engulfed in an achingly familiar embrace, she had heard a soft chuckle escape her daughter's lips.

“It is great to feel you so near again, Mother.”

Mesmeria stared into the hard eyes of her daughter and it was then that it struck her. In the past six years, Sterling had seen enough death and pain to last her a lifetime. The silver eyes were hardened by what the fragile soul had to experience, but hiding behind the coldness was an acute sense of loneliness too. It was clear to her that Sterling had returned home for a reason, but what, she could not tell.

Sterling was cool and somewhat distant throughout the celebrations, smiling when expected, but Mesmeria could see that her daughter, although happy to be back home and in the presence of her mother, was still looking for something…someone. Mesmeria watched, dismayed, as her daughter slipped out of the Great Hall. A servant informed her promptly that the princess was in the stable looking in on her horse. She knew how important a horse was to a warrior; she let her daughter be to visit with her beast.

When after two candle marks, Sterling had not returned and Mesmeria was ready to send her partner in search of their daughter, Sterling walked through the large doors. Even from where she was seated, Mesmeria noticed the change in Sterling. Her eyes were bright and her step visibly lighter. The princess then proceeded to partake in the feast, particularly the wine, as if she was dying from an eternal thirst.

Stunned by the sudden change in her daughter, Mesmeria tried to corner her partner to enquire about their daughter's sudden good disposition. But with the party in full swing, mostly due to the princess’s good mood, she did not get a chance to speak to her partner. It was only later, when the palace had quieted down, that she turned to stare into silver eyes so like Sterling's. Using all her womanly wiles, she skillfully coaxed the truth from Cybralle.

Sterling, it seemed, had met the blacksmith in the stables and was instantly drawn to the quiet, shy woman. Mesmeria had met the blacksmith on a few occasions, but the large, muscled woman was so painfully shy that it had been difficult to engage her in conversation. One thing she knew about the woman, was that she was a master at manipulating steel, as well as the best sword maker in the kingdom and beyond. Aside from her skill, she was also very hardworking and honest. Cybralle always spoke about the woman with great admiration. Mesmeria trusted that her partner was a great judge of character and because of that, she did not want Sterling to upset the woman's life. She could not let her daughter use and hurt the daughter of her most loyal servant, Lima. Mesmeria was well aware of her daughter's exploits over the past six years. Rumors had reached her ears about how many women Sterling had taken to her bed and then discarded without a second thought.

A sudden splash startled Mesmeria out of her reverie, and she saw her daughter clutching a medium-sized fish in both her hands. The silver eyes shone bright with triumph. Before she could speak, a deep voice sounded.

“Those fish were a gift from the King of Arnat and are very difficult to capture in the wild.”

Mesmeria turned toward the speaker and felt a warm glow start in the pit of her stomach at the sight of her life mate. The sharp, silver eyes found and held hers in a tender look. With an inaudible purr, Mesmeria raked her eyes over the tall, muscular body of Cybralle, the love of her life.

She had met the warrior while attending a wedding celebration of another princess in a neighboring kingdom. At age eighteen, she was still so unsure of who her parents expected her to choose for a mate and had temporarily put her search for a suitable partner on hold. As soon as her entourage had crossed the border into the kingdom of Arnat, they were met by a welcoming party sent to escort them safely to Erfolk, the royal seat of Arnat. She was immediately taken with the dark warrior who quickly came over to introduce himself. As he went down on one knee and bowed low, his silver eyes held her spellbound. It was love at first sight for Mesmeria. Throughout the wedding proceedings, she could not keep her eyes off the stoic warrior. Much later, she questioned her friend, Liblet, the newlywed, about the dark warrior and found out that
was in fact a
. Even with that knowledge, Mesmeria still could not rein in her heart. Slightly tipsy from the spiced wine, she had followed the warrior out to the balcony of the palace. There she had blatantly seduced the stunned warrior. That first kiss had left her head spinning for hours afterwards. Exactly five weeks later, her parents had traveled to Arnat to ask the king for his most illustrious warrior's hand in marriage.

Three months later, at the Circle Moon's Fertility Dance, her warrior had come to her in the dead of night with the mythical Spear of the Gods. Their union had been fruitful that night. Twenty-five years later, they were still madly in love…no…passionately in love.

Cybralle slowly walked over to where their daughter stood, grinning as she looked at the wiggling fish.

“Unless you want to take me on in a swordfight at daybreak tomorrow, you had better put my gift back into the pond, Daughter,” she said with twinkling eyes.

Mesmeria looked at the two most important women in her life. Oh, how similar they were. Not so much in looks, but in everything else. Cybralle had short, graying, raven locks, whereas Sterling's were long and a dark, coppery color. But their personalities were a sure match.

With a soft splash, Sterling released the fish and turned to look at the dark warrior.

“Even at your age, you are still the most formidable swordsman in the four kingdoms, Umah.”

Mesmeria grinned. Sterling preferred to always call her mother by the ancient name to distinguish between her two mothers. When she was younger the sound of it always melted her warrior's heart. By the look of it, it still did. Cybralle's eyes were tender as they looked at their daughter.

“I came looking for the two of you because the noon meal will be served soon. Come on, let me escort you.”

Mesmeria felt her mate's lips brush over her hair as she pulled her toward the open balcony doors. She quickly stopped and turned around to face her daughter.

“Our conversation is not over, Sterling. We will continue this while we eat.” She almost smiled at the sour look that came over her daughter's face.




Pushing sweaty locks out of her eyes, Orla dropped the spade and reached for the water skin to take a long draught. She closed her eyes as the clear liquid rushed down her parched throat, spreading its coolness. Hearing a soft sound coming behind her, she turns quickly. The water skin dropped to the ground, relinquishing its cool, liquid treasure as it soaked into the packed dirt of the stables. Her eyes were wide as they stared at the newcomer.

“Greetings, blacksmith.”

Remembering who was standing before her, Orla quickly dropped to a knee, her eyes averted.

“Your Highness, how can I be of service to you?”

There was a short silence.

“Please, rise. I wish to talk to you.”

Orla quickly stood, but kept her eyes fixed on the dirt floor. She waited patiently for the princess to speak and when after a few minutes the princess had not said anything, she slowly raised her head to look at the tall redhead. She swallowed hard when she saw the silver eyes looking at her warmly.

“Your Highness?”

“Sterling. Call me Sterling.”

Orla felt herself blush as she fidgeted with her hands. How could the woman expect her to call her by her name? She could get twenty lashes for doing that.

“Would you like to go for a walk with me, Blacksmith?”

Orla bowed low. She knew she had a load of work to get done today, but she could not refuse the future queen of Karas. “As milady wishes.”

She heard a loud sigh and found the princess giving her an exasperated look.

“Have you thought about my proposition?”

The silver eyes were intense as they looked at her, making Orla squirm at the unblinking stare. The princess had strolled into the stables on the night of her return. Orla had been busy grooming the warrior's horse, fascinated by the magnificent, intelligent beast. She had been so absorbed in her task that she had not heard the princess enter and lean in the doorway to the stall.

Sensing the change in the horse, just before he pushed forward, she had looked up to find the princess staring at her with an odd look in her silver eyes. Orla had quickly fallen to a knee, waiting for the princess to issue her demands, but nothing came forth. Instead, the princess had gently patted her horse and whispered something in his ears. The horse sniffed and took a slow step backward and nudged Orla with his head, prompting her to come to her feet. She was surprised by the stoic beast's sudden playfulness, but before she could ponder more about that, the princess had come to stand directly in front of her.

The royal was tall, but Orla still topped her by a head and outweighed her by far. Yet the woman’s bearing made Orla feel so much smaller than she really was. Not sure what was expected from her, she had kept her eyes averted, but a fingertip under her chin had slowly lifted her head until her pale-blue eyes met intense, silver ones. The look had not left the princess's eyes as she stared into Orla’s eyes. Instead, they had traveled over Orla’s face at a leisurely pace as if trying to burn her features onto her memory. After a few minutes of complete silence, Orla could hear her own heart beating loudly in her ears. The princess's eyes darkened until they were a stormy grey. With a soft sigh, the princess had almost stumbled away from her.

“At last.” The princess had reached out, but not far enough to touch. Her fingertips stopped a few centimeters away from Orla’s cheek. “You will not escape me ever again.”

With that, the Warrior Princess had left the stables, leaving Orla utterly confused by her cryptic words and anxious to be home with her mother. She had heard enough rumors about the princess to know that she had just become another potential conquest for her raging lusts.

BOOK: Phantom of the Heart
13.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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