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"We should have made the wedding this week," Dokia said, lacing her fingers through Vasco's. "Waiting eight more days is torture."
"I call it delicious anticipation," Vasco replied. "Besides, if we got married this week, we wouldn't have a house to live in. Tomorrow I'll make a start on the roof, so that when you become my bride, we'll be able to spend our wedding night under a roof."
She lifted her gaze to the sky and sighed. "Right now, I would be perfectly happy with the stars as my roof, the night I become yours. If I have you, I will have everything I ever wanted."
"Right up until it rains," Vasco said.
Dokia laughed. "And that is why you're my lord and provider, or you will be, after next week. I cannot think of rain while the sun still shines."
"Ah, but the sun is setting now. And once the sun is gone, I'll make sure that all you can think about is you and me." Vasco raced into the trees, pulling her along until they reached the clearing they had claimed as their own.
Kissing Dokia was like air – he couldn't get enough of her. Their kisses grew more heated, and their clothes began to loosen before they started removing them entirely.
Vasco laid her on the soft grass by the stream, where she gazed up at him with eyes full of love.
"With all the practice we're getting, you will be perfect at this when our wedding night comes," she teased.
"Only because you are already perfect, my Eudocia," Vasco said, kicking off his boots.
"Flatterer," she replied, undoing the lacing of her gown to expose most of her chest. "What about these? Perfect enough for you?"
"Too perfect for me," Vasco replied. "Much like the rest of you. I don't know what madness made you accept me, but before you recover your senses, I will accept anything you offer me."
She parted her gown completely, laying herself bare. "I offer you everything I am, and everything I have. Take me, Vasco."
Vasco opened his mouth to respond, but another voice cut in, "That's a mighty pretty morsel. Too pretty for some peasant boy."
Something crashed into the side of Vasco's head and he fell lifeless to the grass. He never heard Dokia's screams pierce the air, or those from the village as it burned. When he awoke, there was nothing but silence and death to greet him.
For hours he walked the ruins of his home, looking for hope where there was none. So he did what any young man would after everything he had known was dead and buried: he joined the army, figuring that death would find him soon enough.
But fate had a different plan for Vasco.
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Twelve princesses. One wounded soldier. A mystery that must be solved.
Once upon a time…
Princess Bianca is sent with her sisters to the summer palace, a place no maiden has ever returned from. While her sisters seem perfectly happy, she has only one desire: escape.
Vasco, a wounded soldier on his way home from war, stumbles across the summer palace and sets out to solve the mystery no man has managed to yet. If only they let him live long enough…
Can the fair maiden and the wounded soldier uncover the sinister secret before it’s too late?
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