BONUS SCENE ~ Luck of the Draw

I’m posting this bonus scene here a little ahead of schedule since it was included in my August newsletter, and I like to wait at least a full month before re-sharing those on my website. But, I had an open day, and nothing to post, so here we are!

This scene is between Dukan and his brother, Novak, as Dukan grapples with his feelings about how to handle his upcoming “date” of sorts with Obren. In the book, Chapter 5 processes Obren’s tumultuous feelings about recent revelations between himself and Dukan, so this little scene is somewhat the parallel of that.

ALT POV Scene from Dukan’s POV to Parallel Chapter 5: Not Dishonorable


Dukan groaned despite the warm, comforting hand on his shoulder. His brother, Novak’s hand. His stomach churned as he tried to settle his emotions, which vacillated between hope at Obren’s words, “We’ll be all right. I’m committed to that,” and despair at the desolate expression of a broken man that had graced Obren’s face despite his reassuring words.

“I think you should focus on his words,” Novak said. “Of course he was going to be overwrought in that moment, considering what you’d just told him, but all indications are that he’s a reasonable man. Give him a little time.”

“Time doesn’t heal all wounds.”

“You got over your loss. You don’t hold Obren in contempt for it.”

“Yes, but I’d already moved on from Vidan’s death, and yes, time helped me get past the grief, but it’s not the same. Vidan was older. He’d experienced more of life. And though I will always remember him with love regardless, and I will always think of his passing with sorrow, I’ve been able to add perspective.”

“Charm Obren.”

Dukan blew out a frustrated puff of air. “You can’t charm someone out of strong emotional feelings.”

“No, but you don’t need to do that. His grief will continue on its normal course. And he’s in a unique position to be able to see both sides of the coin, so he can reason with himself to absolve you of true blame. What you can do is charm him into seeing you as someone worthy of being alive and happy. Make him realize that you are someone who, had he known you better before the war, he would have grieved for you had you been the loser in that fateful battle.”

The spark of hope ignited by Obren’s earlier words burned a little brighter, and a grin twitched at the corner of his lips. “I can do charm.”

He already had a leg up on that since he knew his and Obren’s personal servants, Janko and Zeko, were loading saddle bags with the makings of a picnic as Dukan stood here wavering on how to proceed. Perfect setting for a charm offensive.

But the budding grin faded as another thought occurred. “That’s assuming he would welcome that. I have no idea what he wants out of our marriage. Friendship? Companionship? Romance? Or just getting along and not hating one another while we live our separate lives.”

Novak’s typically stoic face relaxed as he cupped Dukan’s face in his hands and forced Dukan to meet his gaze. “Ask him. As mother always says, clear the air and get it all out there. Just come right out and ask.” Novak patted his cheek. “I think you’ll get the answer you’re hoping for.”

Novak dropped his hands, and Dukan stood a little straighter. “You truly think so?”

As good as Novak was at reading people, Dukan shouldn’t question his opinion. Besides, Dukan was too close to the situation to be a good judge himself.

Novak simply quirked an eyebrow, to which Dukan rolled his eyes. “All right. I’ll ask him, then respond accordingly.”

With a decisive nod, Dukan thanked his brother, spun, and strode toward the courtyard to meet up with his fiancé.

Drawing the short straw is bad luck…isn’t it?

A treaty between three warring realms calls for a mass wedding ceremony amongst their eligible princes and princesses to solidify the peace. But since the number of males and females differ, one of the marriages must be between two of the princes.

Prince Obren of Canna draws the short straw, sealing his fate, and Prince Dukan of Butari volunteers to be the other half of the nontraditional marriage. The two princes fought nobly in the years-long war and are willing to do whatever it takes to finalize the treaty, ending the conflict that took the lives of their loved ones…Obren’s brother and Dukan’s lover.

Each harbors a dark secret, and King Rogan of Canna has long nurtured a deep hatred of Obren, blaming him for bringing home the deadly virus responsible for the untimely death of his much-adored wife. Obren and Dukan can’t deny their chemistry, but can they overcome the ugly truths complicating their path to a friendly, respectful, and—dare they hope—loving relationship? Will King Rogan stop at nothing to dash Obren’s chance at happiness, or does that short straw represent good luck, after all?

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