The Warrior Prince

The Warrior Prince

by Michelle M Pillow

 

                       

 

                 

 

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Dragon Lords 4

Futuristic Romance

 

The Survivor…

Though no one could ever command her, this warrior would try to conquer her heart…

Physically scarred in childhood in an act of betrayal, Pia has never been considered an attractive woman. One horrible mistake and she is on the run. Desperate to hide her identity, she makes a deal with Galaxy Brides—in exchange for a new face, she’ll marry anyone they put in front of her. Never did she realize her future husband would be the most handsome warrior of the Draig.

The Warrior…

Though no man could thwart the brave Draig leader, a woman would be his undoing…

Zoran of Draig is a man who knows what he wants. He has to. Being a Prince and the Captain of the Draig Guard, he has to make swift decisions, be ready to battle at a moment’s notice, and most of all, he always has to be in control. When his wife, the one person who should obey him refuses to, Zoran discovers the battle for his heart’s desire is fiercer than any he has ever waged before. Could the conqueror become the conquered?

Rating: Contains graphic sexual content, adult language, and violence.

 

 

 

EXCERPT

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Dragon Lords:
THE WARRIOR PRINCE

By

Michelle M. Pillow

 

Chapter One 

Pia Korbin gasped, sputtering as she jerked back from the blood spraying across her scarred hands. The knife slipped from her fingers to land on top of the man bleeding to death beneath her. Gradually, her drunken mind sobered. His pants were around his ankles, the evidence of his intent lowering as the artery next to his groin bled out onto the snowy black ground.

"You ... ugly ... bitch," the man growled at her, his throat gurgling in pain, his eyes glaring with hatred. Even as she stood above him, she smelled the foulness of his breath. He weakly reached his hand to his bleeding thigh, but then let it fall lifelessly to the side. Those words were the last he ever said.

Pia took a deep breath, looking desperately around from behind the industrial dumpster to the end of the alleyway to make sure no one saw her. Swallowing nervously, she reached down to search the man’s pockets, not bothering to check him for a pulse. She knew he was dead. Pulling out an ID card, she froze. It was as she feared. He was the mayor’s son.

Behind her, fire burst from the tops of industrial smokestacks. The city of smog, metal and stone was no place to trifle in. She coughed. Even the snow here was as black as death.

Looking down, she knew she’d really done it this time. They wouldn’t care that the man had attacked her, thinking to have a bit of morbid sport. On a planet like Rayvic, the mayor’s son had every right to take whatever he wanted--including an unwilling woman. They ran their city like the medical mafia ran its mob. One look at her ugly face and they’d kill her--slow and painful like.

Grabbing her knife, she wiped the bloody blade on the man’s shirt, grabbed a wad of cash from his pockets, and buried the body beneath a pile of refuse. Taking a deep breath and one last look around, she took off down the alleyway. Daylight would be hitting the cold planet soon. Then all the goons in the city would be looking for her. She had to get out of there.

Pia sprinted, taking the back streets she’d memorized like the back of her hand. She climbed down to an old, abandoned space dock nestled on the grey shores of the lapping black river. Going to a pile of rubble, she uncovered the personal transport that would take her off the desolate black planet of ice.

 

* * * *

 

Two weeks later...

The doctors of Galaxy Brides Corporation eyed the patient before them. The pristine white of their walls matched the white of their jackets and even the white of one doctor’s beard. As they searched, they couldn’t see the woman’s face beneath the heavy fold of her hooded cape, but they’d seen her hand--a wrinkly, scarred mess of variegated flesh.

"Miss Korbin," one of the doctors said delicately. "I’ve brought a specialist to speak to you. Your blood tests have all come out fine. But we need to see your face to see if we’re going to be able to correct it."

Pia lifted her scarred hands. Her hazel eyes were hard as she pulled back the hood. Instantly, she saw the doctors flinch as they took in her face. She refused to show a reaction. It was the same every time--horror, fascination, repulsion, a rush of unasked questions.

One eyelid drooped with a covering of flesh, pulling it down at the corner. The lashes and brow were long since melted away. Her right eye always watered and she dabbed it with a tissue. Part of her hair no longer grew, except in splotchy patches, which she kept cropped short like the rest of her locks. The burns continued down her skull to the left side of her face, burying an ear, over her neck and shoulder, down her arm, to cover over sixty percent of her body. The scars no longer hurt her when she moved and she’d gotten used to their tight feel.

The doctor with the white beard cleared his throat. "Yes, well, Miss Korbin, you’re in luck. The burns haven’t affected the structural ... integrity of your face."

"So you can fix it?" she asked with emotional detachment.

"Yes," the woman doctor answered. Her eyes strayed to the side, trying not to stare at the patient. "But it will be an expensive procedure. With no Medical Alliance insurance ... "

"So long as you agree to sign a contact with Galaxy Brides, it will be covered completely," the bearded doctor said when the lady hesitated. "We have a shipment--forgive me, a load of eager young women just like you going to Qurilixen next week for their Breeding Festival. I can give you a brochure on the planet if you like. I’m told royalty might be there."

"That won’t be necessary." Pia had been over all of her options. The Rayvikians were looking for a scarred woman with her description. Soon every lowlife in the galaxy would be trying to collect the price on her head. No, a scarred woman was too easy to see and remember. It wasn’t like she could just change her hair color and blend into oblivion. She had to change her face and, thanks to the Medical Alliance jacking up every medical service in the galaxy, this deal was the only way she could afford to do it. "I’ll sign right now."

"Wonderful," the doctor said, claiming the company commission for himself. The others looked at him, knowing they were in for a lot of work. "I’ll order some uploads brought down for you so you can learn of the Qurilixen while we perform the surgeries. It might take your mind from the procedure."

"Miss Korbin," the lady doctor said pensively. The bearded man walked to the intercom to call for the contracts. "We want you to understand that, due to the nature and advanced age of your scars, it will be a painful procedure. We won’t be able to put you out all the way for the entire time."

"It’s fine." Her eyes shone forward. "Let’s just do it."

"Very good. I’ll go set up. If we only have two weeks, we need to get started right away." The bearded doctor smiled. He pushed the intercom again. "Dr. Charles, ready room twelve, please."

Pia nodded. She touched the scars she’d grown used to. There was a strange comfort to their familiar pattern. She was almost afraid of what she would look like underneath them.

"We also need a waver from you so we can document the procedure," the woman doctor said, going to get an electronic clipboard from the wall.

"No," Pia said, stopping her. "I evoke the right of privacy. I don’t want anyone knowing I was here. And I don’t want any pictures taken of me before, after, or during the procedure."

"But, think of all the people who will be inspired by your story, Miss Korbin," she insisted.

"Don’t worry, Miss Korbin, if you don’t want pictures there will be no pictures. Our lawyers will even put a privacy clause into your contract if you like. I’m the best in my field, so you have nothing to worry about." The bearded doctor gave the woman doctor a look of displeasure. The compensation for finding brides was great, as there was a shortage of willing women in the galaxy. He didn’t want to scare the prospective bride off. "We’ll have all your scars removed in no time. Soon it will all be a bad dream. You’ll be very pleased, Miss Korbin, I promise."

"All but the gash on my ribcage," Pia said calmly. This doctor knew nothing of bad dreams or the nightmares that could haunt a person even in wake. "Do what you can with the others, but that scar stays."

 

* * * *

 

Six weeks later...

Pia stared at the mirror. No matter how much she looked at herself, she didn’t recognize the smooth face or wide hazel eyes that stared back at her. The doctors had worked miracles with her. All her burns were gone, her cheek had been reconstructed, her hair follicles stimulated to grow so she again had a full head of hair. The doctors swore she looked exactly like she would’ve if she hadn’t been burnt.

It was like they scraped off the top layer to reveal what lay beneath. The scars were also gone from her body. Her left breast was made to match the right, both of them lifted and reshaped. She saw muscle definition where before the flesh had been so tight she hadn’t been able to see the form beneath it.

Oh, how it had hurt! It was worse than she could’ve ever imagined. Sometimes her limbs still ached with the memory of it. She’d never complained, not once during those two weeks of surgeries. The doctors had done their job. The Rayvikians would never find her now. How could they? She couldn’t pick her own face out of a crowd. When she imagined herself, she still looked as before. In her dreams she was scarred, running away from a stranger that looked like her.

Pia spent most of the voyage alone, getting check-ups from the robotic doctor on the flight. She couldn’t find common ground with the other women on the ship. They were nice, but they talked of things she knew nothing about--cosmetics, men, marriage. They all seemed fixated with marrying one of the four Princes rumored to be at the festival.

Thinking of the festival, she frowned. She had to find a husband. Because of her extensive work, she was forced to sign an exclusive contract that said she would go on any voyage Galaxy Brides had until she was married--whether it was this one time, or a hundred times. But, in the end, the result was the same, she would be a wife. Until she said ‘I do,’ she was their property to be shifted around. Pia didn’t relish the thought of making more of these trips and she couldn’t risk a delivery possibly taking her to Rayvik or one of their affiliated districts.

Besides, she thought, Qurilixen doesn’t sound so bad.

The planet was inhabited by primitive male types similar to the Viking clans of Medieval Earth. They were classified as a warrior class, though they’d been peaceful for nearly a century--aside from petty territorial skirmishes that broke out every fifteen or so years between a few of the rival houses. They kept to themselves, had a simple religion, favored natural comforts to modern technology, and even prepared their own food.

It would be better than being on some high-tech planet run by dimwits. Pia liked the idea of warriors and combat training. She’d be in her element in such a place. She’d have a better chance of finding herself a job.

Qurilixen suffered from blue radiation and over the generations it had altered the men’s genetics to produce only strong, large, male, warrior heirs. Maybe once in a thousand births was a Qurilixen female born. Since Qurilixen women were so rare, Pia wouldn’t be surrounded by housewives all day, being forced to plan dinner parties.

Well, she thought with an unamused look around her, no women but these and others like them.

Pia was so used to standing off by herself and being rejected that she’d been unwilling to make a move toward friendship with any of the other women. With men, you just had to prove yourself in a fight and they would allow you into their ranks. They treated her just like one of the guys. Women were generally much more fickle.

The spacecraft was outfitted with the best accommodations and services the star system had to offer. Personal droids were assigned to each passenger. There were cooking units in each of their quarters that could materialize almost any culinary desire. Even the doctor Pia had spent all those hours with finishing her treatment had been mechanical.

The women aboard the ship weren’t all bad and a few Pia even liked. They were the only company she’d had in the last month of travel, being as they were quarantined from the ship’s crew to insure nothing unseemly happened.

The brides were being prepared for the Breeding Festival that night on Qurilixen. It was the one night of darkness on the otherwise light planet and considered the only night the men could choose a mate. It was a primitive ceremony, but Pia thought simple was good. She didn’t fancy wearing a large white gown and standing in front of an audience in her new body. She wasn’t comfortable in it yet and even missed the protective, familiar comfort of her old scars.

Pia hated to admit it, but she was nervous. She didn’t know anything about marriage. From what she’d been told, her parents had been happy before her mother died. As to having children, she knew even less.

Gena, one of the women Pia absolutely couldn’t tolerate, laughed. Her voice was abrasive and harsh, as she announced, "Rigan finished her Qurilixen uploads first. It would seem she is most eager to please her new husband."

"Or to be pleased by him," someone added from across the circular room.

Pia rolled her eyes, knowing it wasn’t likely she would be chosen for those reasons. Perhaps there would be a nice blind man in need of a wife--a nice blind man who was sterile and couldn’t have children.

Well, a girl could always dream.

Pia sat still as the beauty droid worked. She’d refused its services for most of the trip. But now, seeing as it was her best option to get married, she let the robot tend to her. Feeling it pull on her overly long blonde locks, Pia frowned. The miles of hair on her head were going to be the first thing to go.

"I wish I could be so ambitious. I’m afraid I didn’t watch a single one of those boring uploads," another woman said.

Pia had used the uploads while in surgery before she’d even boarded the ship. They’d taken her mind off the pain and made her feel more productive. She was sure she knew more about the planet than most of its inhabitants did. Qurilixen was on the outer edge of the Y quadrant. The planet’s surface was plagued by a soft green haze of light because it had three suns--two yellow and one blue--and one moon.

"I tried on my gown this afternoon," Gena said, much to Pia’s annoyance. She glanced to see the woman holding her own breasts and closed her eyes so she wouldn’t be subject to the scene. Unhampered, Gena continued, "They are gorgeous, but I think I’m going to go get my breasts enhanced again--just a little bigger--and I’m going to have my nipples enlarged. Those Princes won’t be able to resist me. Maybe I’ll marry all four of them just for fun."

Unable to resist poking holes in the annoying woman’s logic, Pia said sarcastically, so everyone could hear, "How will you know who the Princes are? I’ve heard that all the men wear disguises. You could end up with a royal guard."

"Or a gardener," a brunette offered with a laugh, joining in the fun.

Gena’s face fell. Pia closed her eyes to her. Mission accomplished.

"I hear they wear practically nothing at all."

Pia shot Olena Leyton an amused grimace, not liking to be reminded of that little fact. Good thing they couldn’t have sex that first night. She was sure she didn’t want anyone touching her.

"Except the mask and some fur," Olena finished.

Pia could take no more. She blocked them out of her head as she turned to look into the mirror. Again, the stranger’s face was there in place of hers.

When she turned back around, breaking from her own troubled thoughts of getting married, she noticed that most of the women had already left and that her beauty droid was long since finished with her. Nodding kindly at Olena, Pia said nothing as she went back to her suite to get dressed.

Lost in thought, she trailed down the long metal corridor to her room. She startled in surprise to hear the medical droid’s voice say, "Miss Korbin, this way. It’s time for your last treatment."

Pia stopped walking, embarrassed. Seeing the reserved blue eyes of Nadja on her, she knew the woman had heard. Nadja turned quickly away.

Pia changed her course, glad that the treatments would finally be over with. Slipping her ID card over the wall scanner, the medic room door opened and she stepped inside a machine. Dropping her white cotton robe, she stood naked as the medical droid closed her in. Instantly, a bright green light shot all around her body. The rays tingled on her naked flesh.

Closing her eyes, Pia swallowed nervously. It was almost time to meet her future husband. She just hoped that one of the Qurilixen would want to bring ugly little Pia home with them.

 

* * * *

 

Pia’s heart stopped in her chest and tears came to her eyes. This was never going to work. She’d spent the last six weeks resigning herself to a Qurilixen husband and now that she saw them, she knew she was going to have to go back and start the journey over again. When the uploads had said large warriors, Pia assumed they were politely meaning fat, potbellied fighters. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Before her were two rows of Qurilixen bachelors. They were large, fighting men. They were warriors. And, to Pia’s everlasting horror, they were all in incredible shape and exceptionally handsome. A few had battle scars on their flesh, but nothing so dramatic that it took away from their beauty. If anything, it only added to their dangerous allure.

The Qurilixen were nearly seven feet of pure bone, muscle, and sculpted flesh. She could tell, since they were practically naked. Pia was no out of shape marshmallow, but even she was dwarfed by their thick arms and chests.

Fur loincloths wrapped around their fit waists to leave bare their powerfully built legs and upper bodies. The fire glistened off their smooth, oiled skin. Jewelry clasped around sinewy biceps in golden rings of intricate design. From their solid necks hung crystals bound with leather straps.

Pia knew she looked ridiculous in the outfit the droid had given her to wear. Her shoulders were bared, as the gown only came up to cover her breasts. She could fill the gown out, thanks to the doctors. But the silk and gauze material didn’t make her feel beautiful, only self-conscious.

The silk was of the darkest of reds, crimson against her tanned skin. The surgery lasers had given her a soft, all-over bronze color that wouldn’t fade. The doctors said it would help protect her sensitive skin from ultraviolet rays--something that would be particularly useful on a planet with three suns.

Pia sighed as a wave of her long hair hit her forehead. Trying to lift her arm, she frowned when she couldn’t brush the annoying lock off her face. A belt looped across her back, tapering out to the sides, only to lock onto her wrists instead of heading around the front. The strands wound up to her elbows like chains.

The dress fitted to her waist and hips, only to flare out in strips of material when it reached her upper thighs. The wind whipped the skirt against her legs, chilling her. She might as well have been naked for all the coverage the thing afforded her. On her feet were soft, pretty slippers. She missed her combat boots.

Pia ignored the laughing men behind the bachelors, cracking good-natured jokes about the brides and the lucky grooms. The rowdier men posed, trying their best to playfully gain the brides’ attention. The bachelors, however, stayed deadly silent and still, barely smiling as they looked at the women standing on top the docking plank in a straight, orderly line.

Pia’s heart broke as she looked around the wonderful campground. It was perfect, so basic and simple in its untamed, untouched elegance. The colossal trees of the forest were thick, with large leaves that canopied overhead--the shade would be perfect for camping once she got used to the hours of light. She imagined that such a gigantic forest would be great for hunting and fishing, even hiking.

This is a place where she could have gotten lost. It was homey, earthy, and exotic in its smell of burning wood. It was rustic, yet colorful, in its sights. Music played, primal and earthy in the background, hypnotic and enticing at the same time.

In the distance there was a mountain range. Pia squinted, barely able to make it out in the darkening skies. Stars sparkled overhead. The moon was large and gave off a brilliant light. It shone over a valley of pyramid-shaped tents, whose walls were lit by torches and whose tops were decorated by waving banners.

Looking back down, Pia swallowed painfully, trying not to feel so disappointed. The bachelors still stood like bronzed Vikings. Maybe the next planet would be just as good, only the men would be ugly and attracted to ugly things.

The Qurilixen all had shoulder length hair. Black leather masks covered the groom’s faces, hiding them from forehead to upper lip. Their eyes shone bright from the eye slits, like probing liquid metal. Behind them, Pia could see the others were more fully dressed. With such a blatant difference in wardrobe for this ceremony, Pia knew that they would be a sexually charged race. Even now she could see the married couples boldly stroking and touching each other as if it were only natural they did so.

The line slowly moved, jerking her from her thoughts. She dutifully walked down an aisle made up of hot flesh on each side. Her lips curled, though not in pleasure, as she bit the corner of her mouth. She glanced to one side and then the other, knowing full and well no one would look at her for too long with so many other beauties to gaze at. One by one, she saw the men’s eyes alight with lust--lust that wasn’t for her.

Almost to the end of the line, feeling dejected and ready to go back to the ship and change her clothes, she glanced at one of the warriors toward the end. He was staring at her, his crystal shining from the leather strap on his neck. He was a handsome specimen with light brown hair a little longer than the others and matching brown eyes that seemed to shine. He was taller and had broad shoulders, which bulged with a rocky play of muscles. He didn’t smile and there was a commanding nature to his stance.

Pia expected his eyes to move on as everyone else’s had. When he continued to stare, she frowned, glancing over her shoulder.

How rude! she thought in growing ire when she turned back to see that he was indeed still watching her.

Taking his look for one of abhorrence, she shot him an angry scowl. She might not be beautiful, but she didn’t need this man pointing that fact out to her.

The man bowed his head in her direction. Pia leaned a little away from him as she passed by. Her mouth curled in disgust of his manners. He might be the most handsome of them all, but that didn’t give him the right to judge her.

Without a backwards glance, she continued on, following the throng of women to a feasting table. She took a deep breath, glad the worst was over. Now that she’d met with rejection, she could eat, get back to the ship, and prepare for the long flight home. At least the spacecraft wouldn’t be full of women for the second leg of the journey. That would be something anyway.

© copyright Michelle M. Pillow, October 2004

This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.

 

 

 REVIEWS

4 STARS!

RT BOOKreviews

"This story, the fourth in the Dragon Lords series, is just plain fun to read. The focus is definitely on the romance, with plenty of intimacy that doesn't get overly graphic. The characters are well fleshed out, and the plot has plenty of interesting alien conflicts." Bunny Callahan, RT BOOKreviews, July 2006

 

 

 

Michelle M. Pillow has done a fantastic job ...I loved this series from the first page of the first book to the last page of this one. At the end of Warrior Prince there is the beginning of another book. Lords of the Var: The Savage King, I can't wait to see what life is like on the other side of this coin. I highly recommend Dragon Lords: The Warrior Prince, actually this whole series, to all lovers of romance."  Summer Lasaire, In the Library Reviews June 2006

 

 

 

Ecataromance

"5 STARS! THE WARRIOR PRINCE is a spellbinding tale of passionate romance and deep emotions, which are intertwined with humorous and sometimes dangerous escapades...The stories by Michelle Pillow are always inventive and unique, and the characters are consistently memorable with their passionate and caring personalities....THE WARRIOR PRINCE is the perfect conclusion to a superb series, where the characters will fill your dreams and touch your heart." ~ Amelia Richard, EcataRomance Reviews

 

 

 

The Romance Studio

"5 HEARTS!  I had to make myself stop reading this one so I could go to bed. It was a great story that kept me from getting a whole lot of sleep because I ended up staying up late to finish it anyway... I'm definitely going to be on the look out for more from Michelle Pillow, and put her on my auto buy list." Reviewer: Julia February 1, 2005

 

Love Romances

"5 HEARTS! Ms. Pillow has certainly delivered an action packed story full with emotion and romance. A wonderful read, this reviewer highly recommends this entertaining story. Fans of this series will certainly be satisfied with Book 4 of The Dragon Lords." Valerie, loveromances, April 2005

Additional Book Information

Amazon ASIN:B0042P5GQM

Electronic ISBN:978-1-4524-5748-2

PRINT ISBN-13: 978-1460959725
PRINT ISBN-10: 1460959728

Release Date: Sept 2010

 

Series

The Barbarian Prince

The Perfect Prince

The Dark Prince

The Warrior Prince

His Highness the Duke

 

 

World continues with Var Series

 

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Michelle M Pillow

Michelle M Pillow has always had an active imagination. Ever since she can remember, she's have had a strange fascination with anything supernatural—ghosts, magical powers, and oh…vampires. What could be more alluring than being immortal, all-powerful, and eternally beautiful?

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