3# Awakened by the Vampire Prince

By: Charlene Hartnady


Part 3

Chapter 1

Birds fluttered from branch to branch and crickets chirped. A light breeze played with the shorter hair on her temple causing it to blow lightly about her face. It was cool and pleasant beneath the shade of the trees. Esral loved the outdoors. At least, she normally did.

York threaded his fingers through hers. Esral had to fight the urge to pull her hand away. In two days’ time they would be mated. It was perfectly reasonable to allow him something so small as to hold her hand, yet the need to pull away only increased as they continued to walk through the forest. It irritated her because York was a sweetheart. He could’ve had his pick of females here as well as back at the castle, but here he was with her.

She took a deep breath, enjoying the scent of crushed grass and the rich soil. Esral had needed to get away from the hustle of Pulamor. She needed the type of calmness that only the outdoors could bring. York had insisted on accompanying her even though Gideon was on shift as her guard. The big, brooding male trailed about twenty feet behind them. Right now, she wished she’d just stayed in her room but she couldn’t hide from the world or from her future. It was best that she make peace with it.

As much as she wanted to allow hope into her heart, she knew that finding a way out of this was impossible. She needed to try and close herself off to Xavier and accept her fate. The pain and heartache would be so much worse otherwise. She put a hand to her chest. She couldn’t take much more.

“Why are you so quiet?” York gently squeezed her hand, reminding her of how sweet and kind he was.

Esral shrugged, she glanced up at York noting the concerned expression on his face.

He sighed heavily while halting. His hand was still firmly locked with hers, forcing her to stop as well. He turned; she could feel his eyes on her. “I have seen the way you look at Xavier. I know that you would have preferred him as your mate.” He kept his tone low.

Esral took a deep breath and looked up, she worked hard to keep her expression neutral. York frowned. “I’m sorry that things have not worked out the way you would’ve hoped. You came to me and implored me to agree to become your mate.” He took a deep breath. “After much thought, Esral”—he squeezed her hand and even smiled down at her—“I decided that we would make a good team. You need to know that I waited…” His eyes became serious as they narrowed on her. “I gave Xavier a chance to claim you and he never did.”

Pain squeezed her chest causing her to hold her breath for a second. She nodded urging him on. Not ready to respond yet. Her throat was too constricted with the emotion she felt.

“Although this was not your desired outcome, please know that I will do my best to be a good mate. I am sure that in time we will grow to love each other.”

Esral forced herself to smile. Her eyes burned and although her throat was less constricted, a lump formed. She nodded, squeezing his hand back. “I know you will do your best. You are a good male, York. Know that I am grateful for all you have done and I will do my best to honor you once we are mated.” Guilt churned inside her belly.

York gave her a half smile. He was a very handsome male. She only wished that she felt even a smidgen of attraction for him.

“You speak as if I have made a huge sacrifice to be with you. That is not true, princess. The truth is”—his eyes flared with interest and they dipped to her lips—“I am very attracted to you.”

Oh nuts!

Oh good, sweet petunias!

York looked like he wanted to kiss her. Esral lowered her gaze. “Thank you,” she managed to mutter.

The big vamp took another small step towards her, putting him almost chest to chest with her. He slid a calloused hand under her chin, tilting her head up. “I would like to kiss you now, princess. Are we permitted to kiss?”

By all that was green! No!

Esral had to fight to keep from running away, as fast as her nimble, elf feet would take her. She shook her head. “Yes, but I would rather wait until we are mated. I can’t right now…I just can’t.” Her thoughts were of Xavier. His silvery eyes, his endearing frown, the rare moments he smiled. Especially when he smiled for her. Her heart ached for something that could never be.

Confusion caused the creases on his brow to deepen and his eyes to darken. “I don’t wish to scare you, but you do know that I will rut you in two days right? As soon as we finish with the ceremony, I will take—”

She put a hand to his chest and gave him a small push. The big male took a step back of his own accord. There was no way she could’ve actually pushed a big male like him. “I know how it works. I will be ready but would prefer to wait until then.”

York’s expression softened. “I will not force myself on you, princess. Not now and not then.”

“You won’t have to force yourself. I will willingly give you my thorn. It is customary to rut right after the ceremony. We will go into the forest, both of us will wear white. The dirtier our clothing when we attend the celebration afterwards the better. It is considered good luck.”

Top Books