All of his life, Caden DeMott’s mismatched eyes have made him the target of superstition and scorn. Though he is the son of a nobleman, he’s been allowed to run free over the hills and moors, mostly ignored by his family. No one ever thought to inform him that he had been betrothed since infancy, until the day his fiancé, Prince Rhys Gwyther arrived to marry him.
Rhys is the prince of the small island country of Mauritania, a land rich in gems, rose oil, and pearls, but poor in skilled artisans and seeds to grow crops. In order to further cement the trade route to the mainland, he’s been sent to marry a man he’s never met, and bring him back to Mauritania. Unfortunately, an accident years before has left Rhys with a lot of emotional baggage and very little trust in strangers.
But trust is exactly what Caden and Rhys are going to need if they are to make a life together, and help unravel the mystery of who’s been smuggling valuable gems and pearls off the island. Add in the realization that Caden’s stepmother, Mildred and her island representative, Maxwell, have been importing inferior goods for years, forcing Mauritania to become more dependent on them, and trust becomes even more difficult.
Caden possesses the knowledge to finally allow Rhys’ father to unravel the plot to ruin Mauritania, but only if the king and his son are willing to put their faith in Caden’s loyalty to his new home. Something that is difficult to do after Caden is accused of cheating on his marriage vows to Rhys with his guard, Luc. Will Rhys believe him innocent? Or will their marriage be over before it truly has a chance to begin?
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Jackson growled with hatred in his eyes as he pushed past his wife. His steps were heavy with anger as he ascended the stairs to the second floor, fists clenched so tightly that half crescent indents were forming on his palms. Outside his eldest son’s chamber, he paused and took several deep breaths, desperately seeking some small measure of calm before delivering the life-altering news. If only there were a way to be certain Rhys would be kind and understanding of Caden’s odd, distracting behaviors, but sadly, few had ever truly given the young man a fair chance. If he could, Jackson would have spared his son the kind of bitter, miserable marriage he himself endured, but he held little hope that Rhys would be any different from those who had ridiculed Caden in the past.
Knocking on the door, Jackson mentally prepared his speech while waiting for Caden to answer. When he did not, Jackson pushed open the door and let his eyes drift around the dimly lit chamber until they came to rest on the figure curled upon the bearskin rug by the hearth, two large hounds on either side of him. Jackson couldn’t help but smile at the sight of the trio before a sudden thought abruptly wiped the smile from his face.
Would Rhys allow Caden to keep the animals, or would his son be forced to leave his two closest companions behind? Jackson crossed the chamber quietly, stopping near the hearth. When one of the hounds growled low and raised his head, the white splotch of fur around his left eye identified him as Titus. When Titus saw that it was Jackson he laid his head back on his paws and closed his eyes again while the other hound, Brutes, snored on.
With a sigh, Jackson knelt and placed a hand on his son’s shoulder, gently shaking him awake. Caden blinked sleepy, mismatched eyes up at his father, and as his son sat up, Jackson wondered what Rhys’ reaction to seeing Caden’s eyes would be and whether the prince was yet another superstitious fool who believed Caden’s one green eye and one white were a sign that he was devil-touched.
Fools, Jackson through to himself as Caden reached out and placed his hand on Brutes’ head, rubbing the dog’s ears. Caden’s head was cocked to one side, and he made a soft, clicking sound with his tongue that let Jackson know he was listening. While his son could speak, Caden used words sparingly and only after careful thought. It was one of the many things that made the boy so endearing in his father’s eyes. In another’s eyes, however, Jackson knew it was just another sign that Caden was different from others his age.
“I’m sorry I had to wake you. Were you up late wandering the moors again?”
Caden grinned and nodded, mismatched eyes lighting up and darting to the heavy curtains that were blocking out much of the sun and the moors that lay just beyond the window.
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.
Layla Dorine can be found at: