Beloved

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Summary

When Carina is selected to wed the Prince of Tredia, her world becomes far more complicated. Not only does her betrothed not seem to want her after the Choosing, but old powers and enemies awaken. Carina, desperate to get away from the Prince and his lies, flees her home in an effort to make her own life. In a border village, Carina finds a man who seems to have her best interests at heart. But with guilt weighing heavily in her mind and in her heart, Carina returns home to make amends and finds that not all is as it seems. Especially when she runs into the Prince again.

Genre:
Fantasy / Romance
Author:
Breann Hill
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
29
Rating:
4.0 6 reviews
Age Rating:
13+

Prologue

Estell watched her daughter, a soft smile pulling at the mother's lips. The chestnut-haired girl twirled around the family room, her pale pink dress fanning out around her. Estell turned her attention back to her sewing, listening to the little girl's humming.
The woman lifted her head not long after upon hearing the front door open. "Leon?" She stood, setting the fabric and needle down on her chair. "Is that you?"
"Daddy!" The little girl squealed, running to her father's outstretched arms as he walked into the small house.
Leon laughed, loving the time of day when he got to come home to his family. He scooped his eight-year-old daughter into his arms, twirling around her around. "Carina!" He smiled brightly. "How is my beautiful, little angel?"
Carina giggled, trying to tame her father's wild hair. "I'm good. Mommy and I made berry bread!"
Leon hummed, licking his lips. "Berry bread?" He set Carina down. "Did you save me any?"
She nodded her head quickly. "Mommy said we couldn't eat it until you got home."
Leon smiled. "Well then let's go get some!"
Estell walked over, kissing her husband on the lips. Carina squealed and ran out of the room, making her way to the kitchen. Estell laughed when her husband pulled away, only to lift Estell up and throw her over his shoulder, carrying her to the kitchen.
"Leon!" Estell scolded gently. "Put me down!"
Her husband only laughed. Carina sat at the circular table in the kitchen, attempting to be patient. But her swinging legs were evidence of her boredom of having to wait.
Leon set his wife down in a chair, bending to place another kiss to her lips. Carina's shout of disapproval had the couple breaking apart with laughter.
"Can we eat now?" Carina asked, frowning. "I want to eat. So stop kissing!"
Leon smiled. "Carina, you will be like this with your husband one day."
"Mhm..." Estell agreed, standing up. She slipped by her husband, grabbing the wooden board with the berry bread on it.
Carina's face scrunched up in disgust. "No, I won't!" She protested. "That's gross!"
Leon walked over to the basin in the corner of the kitchen, lathering his hands in soap. "Don't make claims like that, angel." He submerged his hands in the water, scrubbing the dirt off his hands and arms from working in the fields all day. "A lot of things change when you get married. Like your mother's cooking."
Estell glared at her husband who was hiding a smile. She huffed, setting the bread on the table with a knife. "My cooking is just fine."
"Of course it is." Leon smiled brightly, wiping his hands on a towel. "All I'm saying is that it improved."
Estell didn't say anything to her husband's statement. Instead, she turned her attention to her daughter. "Carina, one day you will fall in love, get married, raise a family... And you won't ask for such a show of affection to stop."
Carina didn't seem to hear her mother. She was much too focused on the knife slicing through the multi-colored loaf of bread. She licked her lips, green eyes lighting up when her mother set a slice in front of her. Carina tore it apart with her fingers, stuffing the colorful pieces into her mouth.
Leon walked over to the table, sitting with his family. "Where's Alec?"
Estell handed her husband a slice of the bread. "He's staying the night with Abel. Alec helped Abel's family stack bales of hay in their barn."
Leon nodded, feeling proud of his fifteen-year-old son. "Will he be home tomorrow?"
Estell nodded. "Yes." She sat down, eating her own slice of bread.
Leon turned to Carina, chuckling as he brushed the crumbs away from her chin. "Was that good?" Carina nodded in response.
Estell cleared her throat. "Get some stew from the pot." She ordered. "And then you'll need to go to bed."

Leon circled his arms around his wife's waist, kissing her head. "Carina is asleep."
Estell hummed, setting down her needlework. "How was work?"
"Long," Leon sighed, "Hard. We're rushing to bring in all of the crops before the first snow hits."
Estell nodded. "Maybe Alec can help you tomorrow."
Leon shook his head. "After helping all that hay, he'll be sore tomorrow. I'll let him rest."
Estell sighed, rubbing Leon's arms. "Did anything else happen today?"
Leon nodded, releasing his wife. "This was left by our door when I got home." He produced a sealed envelope from his pocket.
Estell took it from Leon, eyeing the royal seal suspiciously. "What is this? Did we do something wrong?"
"I don't think so." Leon replied. "But I thought it would be best if we looked at it together."
Estell bit her lip, tearing open the envelope. She carefully removed the expensive paper, eyes scanning over the elegant handwriting. She read it out loud for her husband who watched with anxious eyes.
By decree of King Lucas, letters are to be sent out to homes across the kingdom that contain at least one young girl between the years of six and nine.
Your daughter has been chosen as a possible wife for the Crown Prince of Tredian. In fifteen years, the Prince will visit each individual town in Tredian. He will choose one of the young ladies to take as his wife.
Estell stared at the letter, shocked. "Leon..."
Leon frowned. "I wasn't expecting that." He admitted.
"She's only eight!" Estell exclaimed.
Leon rubbed Estell's arms. "Calm down, my love. Carina is eight, yes. But in fifteen years, she will be a grown woman. And, besides, chances are that she won't even be picked. There are hundreds - maybe thousands - of girls her age in the kingdom. But we should tell her all of this tomorrow."
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