Damien is an assassin, a man with no home and a tortured past. Sold into slavery as a young boy, he is trained to kill with cold calculation, without remorse. As a reward for his ruthless success, he is given a chance to earn his freedom from his cruel master. One last mission. One final person to slay…
Lady Aurora of Acquitaine is the epitome of purity and goodness, beloved by all her people. She lives her life trying to atone for her mother’s cruelty by being a fair and just ruler. Secretly she fears that one day her mother’s murderer will return for her.
When Damien enters Aurora’s life, tempting her with promises of dark passion and forbidden lust, he threatens to tear her peaceful world apart.
Can Aurora’s light heal Damien’s dark spirit or will his evil consume her? The eternal battle of good versus evil, love versus hate, dark versus light, all come to a shattering climax in this historical romance set in medieval England.
Aurora interposed herself before Damien, almost as if protecting him. “Damien’s skills are very adequate. I have seen them in action.”
“But the rest of us have not,” Harold exclaimed. He opened his arms to the group of knights who stood about them now, the armored men looking like the bars of a cage, intent on keeping Damien confined within their perimeter. “Isn’t that right? How many would like to see Damien’s sword skills?”
The crowd around them exploded with applause and “ayes.”
Harold slid from his horse with an easy dismount. He ducked the fence to stand before Damien. “After all, you are protecting Acquitaine’s greatest treasure. I would be betraying my oath to Acquitaine if I demanded any less. I would like to know your skills are impeccable. What do you say, bodyguard? Care to share your secrets with the rest of us?”
The men around them mumbled in agreement; some sneered with open hostility.
Every one of Damien’s senses demanded he attack. His self-preservation instincts told him this knight was a threat. The beast inside him burned through his veins, demanding release, demanding action. But Damien had learned long ago when to keep the beast reined. Now was not the time, nor the place. He placed his hand on Aurora’s back and began to steer her away, moving through the crowd.
The crowd opened grudgingly before them.
Harold dogged their steps, taunting, “Coward. What kind of bodyguard are you to turn your back on a good fight?”
Aurora stopped and spun on Harold. “That is quite enough, Sir Harold.”
“My apologies, my lady,” he said, bowing. His judgmental stare remained fixed with acrimony on Damien. “But I believe we do not need an outsider to protect you. We are able knights, worthy of first consideration.” He stepped past her to Damien. “Tell me why he is afraid to fight me, if he is so good. Tell me why he will not raise a sword to prove his worth.”
Aurora opened her mouth to reply, but Damien answered instead, “Because I would kill you.”
Hatred glared from Harold’s eyes. Damien had seen the look many, many times before. He stood still, his body relaxed, ready for anything.
Aurora’s hand surrounded Damien’s. Tingles shot up his arm, replacing his readiness to battle with something warm and soft and… dangerous. Dangerous because he should be concentrating on the menace before him. Her tiny tug moved him forward because he let it.
“We must go,” she said.
Damien remained still for a moment longer, facing down his adversary. He would have loved to show Harold just how capable he was. Aurora’s insistent tugs begged him to leave. He chanced a look at her. Her eyes were wide with concern, her lovely brow creased with worry as she stared at Harold. Damien couldn’t stand seeing her so frightened. She looked at him then with imploring eyes, and Damien knew exactly what he was going to do. Nothing. The anguish on Aurora’s face was not worth the price. He wasn’t here to fight this conceited knight. He wasn’t here to prove himself to these people.
He saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Harold’s punch landed hard against Damien’s jaw, rocking his head, forcing him to take a step back.
Damien never once relinquished his hold on Aurora’s hand.
“Damien!” Aurora called in alarm.
Damien pulled her behind him, rage swirling inside him. The coppery taste of blood seeped into his mouth, but he ignored it.
“An adequate bodyguard would have seen that coming,” Harold mocked.
“Damien,” Aurora repeated, half begging, half gasping.
Damien spared her a glance. The tears in her eyes only fed the stirring beast inside him, demanding revenge. “Stay here,” Damien commanded.
With no indication, he suddenly rushed Harold, catching his tunic in curved fists, and slamming him hard into the fence. The wooden post bent beneath the impact, but Damien didn’t let go as he pushed himself close to Harold. “An adequate bodyguard would never have risked hurting Aurora like you just did. Had I ducked, you would have hit her.”
Harold pushed forward, but Damien smashed him back against the fence again, holding him immobile. “Aurora is my responsibility. Go near her again and you will not live to see the sun set.”
Meet the Author
Laurel O’Donnell has won numerous awards for her works, including the Holt Medallion for A Knight of Honor, the Happily Ever After contest for Angel’s Assassin, and the Indiana’s Golden Opportunity contest for Immortal Death. The Angel and the Prince was nominated by the Romance Writers of America for their prestigious Golden Heart award. O’Donnell lives in Illinois with her four cherished children, her beloved husband and her five cats. She finds precious time every day to escape into the medieval world and bring her characters to life in her writing.