Griffith’s heart broke when he lost his wife and infant son during childbirth, and he’s kept his feelings locked away from the world—until he meets Kallen. He soon learns her dark secret—that she sees auras around people—which allows her insight into their actions and personalities.
Now Quentin, bastard brother to the king, decides to harness Kallen’s gift in a plot to win the throne. Will Quentin successfully use a kidnapped Kallen as his political pawn, or will Griffith be able to stop him before Kallen changes the course of England’s history?
A native Texan, Lauren is an avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan who manages stress by alternating yoga with long walks. She plans to start a support group for House Hunters addicts—as soon as she finishes her next piece of dark chocolate.
“We will commence with the peeling,” Lady Katharine carried over the giggles that broke out across the room.
“Each unmarried female is to receive one. Distribute them quickly,” the noblewoman ordered.
A servant came by and handed Kallen an apple, winking as he did so. The gesture surprised her.
“Gentlemen, please hand over your eating knives to any nearby ladies. Ladies, you may begin peeling when you are ready. And don’t forget, you must peel in one long strand and recite the rhyme for true love to avail itself.”
Kallen turned to Lord Griffith. His scowl frightened her as much as the angry red band now surrounding his body.
Lady Katharine appeared before them. “Are you ready to peel your apple?”
Kallen shook her head. “I am not familiar with this custom, my lady.”
“I shall help you.” Their hostess turned to Griffith. “Your paring knife, my lord?”
Griffith handed his knife to Kallen, his jaw set as if in stone.
“Begin to peel your apple’s skin and recite after me. And mind that ‘tis in one long strand.”
Kallen’s fingers shook. She took a deep breath to steady herself.
”I pare this apple round and round again, my sweetheart’s name to flourish on the plain.”
She began peeling, repeating after her hostess.
“I fling the unbroken paring o’er my head, my sweetheart’s letter on the ground to read.”
Kallen absently repeated the words but concentrated more on removing the peel. Fortunately, the knife did not slip, and soon she’d sliced till she had one long swirl.
“Excellent, Lady Kallen,” Lord Percival told her as he came to stand next to his wife. “You peeled accurately and with remarkable speed. What other hidden talents have you kept from us?”
She felt her face flame. “’Tis not hard to peel an apple, my lord. I’m even more talented with potatoes,” she added glibly.
“Toss it over your left shoulder,” he said.
She did as instructed and turned to see that the peel had fallen directly upon Lord Griffith’s left boot.
“Don’t move, Lord Griffith,” Lady Katharine commanded.” She bent to the ground and studied the shape.
Kallen knelt beside her. “What are we looking for?”
“The peel should form a letter and tell who your sweetheart is.”
She glanced at the peel. “’Tis no letter that I recognize, and that makes sense. I have no sweetheart nor plan to acquire one any time soon.”
The older woman sniffed. “’Twould have been easy to read had it not landed upon Lord Griffith’s foot. We cannot determine your true love this way, Lady Kallen.”
Kallen’s blush ran up her neck and spilled onto her cheeks. “Nay, my lady. I tell you I have no sweetheart.”
The noblewoman studied her. “You may not know, but the apples always do.” She smoothed her hands along her surcoat. “We cannot try this test again tonight. ‘Twould be bad luck.”
Lady Katharine thought for a moment and then smiled. “We shall use a snail instead.”
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