Cupid’s Favor by Michelle M Pillow
Naughty Cupid Series Book 3
Paranormal Historical Romance
‘Beware of trolls bearing favors’
When Lord Malak saves him from a sandpit, Cupid is honor bound to settle the lifedebt or risk being called upon later–even if the lycan noble insists he doesn’t want any reward for the deed. Simply breeding the man’s goats isn’t enough to repay such a price. No, for this he needs something more. Knowing the perfect gift to be revenge, Cupid delivers the one thing that seems to aggravate Lord Malak the most–Lady Sophia.
After being kidnapped and drugged by the horrid troll, Cupid, Lady Sophia just wants to go home–to a place where magic doesn’t exist and there’s no chance of being eaten by a dragon. But most of all, she wants to be rid of her escort, Lord Malak. The charming lycan swore to protect her and see her safely home, but it seems fate and a little troll have other plans.
Rating: Contains graphic sexual content, adult language, and violence.
Bah! Accursed luck!
Cupid brushed sand off his arms, mumbling to himself. He frowned, not liking what he had to do, but a debt was a debt. His beady, black eyes flashed with an inner fire. He might be many things, but a troll who reneged on a life debt wasn’t one of them.
Lord Malak had pulled him from the quicksand and saved his life. Now Cupid owed him a great favor in return, even if the lycan noble insisted he didn’t want it. If Cupid didn’t give it to him now, he knew that someday Malak could come back to call upon him, and that was something he refused to accept. It was bad enough he’d be forced to help a lycan, but to be in Malak’s debt? No, that would be worse.
So, what to do? No small feat would repay a life debt. He couldn’t simply breed Malak’s goats for this one. He needed something big. He needed something grand.
Cupid nearly gagged as the thought popped into his head. He hit himself on the ear to get it out. A gooey clump of sand fell out instead. Love? Why in all the realms would he think of love? He hated love! He hated the way people looked while they were in it. The way they talked, acted, swooned.
Cupid hacked, spitting sand on the ground. The grains were everywhere, rubbing into every crease, chaffing his flesh. Worst of all, the sinkhole had cleaned him of his most glorious stench. He hadn’t bathed in decades. It would take him forever to get that smell back.
Damn King Larus for throwing him in and Lord Ilar for letting him! So what if the two were bitter about what he’d done to them? The trolls still teased him about helping Lord Ilar and Lady Rhiannon fall in love, and now he’d be teased for King Larus and Lady Mina as well. Could he really allow another blemish to surface on his name?
No, love was no way to repay a debt to the lycan who saved his life. Ah, but hate. Now there was a real idea. Hate was much better than love. Hate made your blood boil and your heart race. It made you feel alive and gave you purpose. Aye, hate! He’d just have to watch Lord Malak very closely and figure out whom he hated the most. Then, Cupid would bring that creature before Lord Malak to destroy.
Hate. Cupid rubbed his gnarled, wrinkled hands together. A smile spread over his flat, wide lips. Now this was a good idea. Besides, what better way to squelch his undeserved reputation as a matchmaker?
Lycaon Castle, Realm of Magic, 1407 AD
Lady Sophia of Aucester looked at the guard, feeling nauseous. He was very tan with dark hair and eyes, and was smaller of build than some of his brethren. His words were a low growl as he said her name, causing her to shiver in revulsion. All the lycans’ words were a low growl. It was as if they were all just on the brink of attacking.
But, it wasn’t only the way the lycans talked that bothered her. They dressed indecently in draping tunics that fell to the tops of their knees. Like the guard before her in the large square piece of brown material that wrapped the waist and was held over one shoulder with a brooch, leaving his muscular calves, arms and a shoulder bare. On his feet were a pair of short boots with leather cross lacing winding up his legs. Even the lycan women wore a floor length version of the garb. There was no mistaking the fact that they could part from their clothing at a moment’s notice.
Even though the man looked human, Sophia knew he wasn’t. He was a lycan, a man-beast, a nieten. It didn’t matter what word she used, they all meant the same thing–men who shifted into horrible, unholy wolves. They were magical creatures in a magical realm. She hated them, hated the realm of immortals and magic. She just wanted to go home to her human world, where men stayed men and animals were hunted for food.
Sophia couldn’t help being bitter. A horrible little troll named Cupid had kidnapped her and her sister, Mina, and brought her to the realm of all things magical. At first glance this realm wasn’t so different from the human world, from her home in Wessex. The landscape was the same, though the sky was a little too purple and the trees were a little too red.
Sophia looked around Lycaon Castle’s inner courtyard. The castle was a lot different than her dilapidated home. Lycaon was a grand palace, rich and fine. The battlements circled around the bailey, disappearing in the distance. Square turrets were built in intervals along the outer face, standing tall as lookout towers. A stone house encased the gated entrance. The gate was up so people could walk through it freely. If she were in her world, she would’ve killed for a chance to live in such a place. It wasn’t as if she had a lot to go back to. Since her father had been murdered for going against his king, she and her sister had been left to ruin.
The lycan palace might look undaunting, but the people of this realm were another matter altogether. The lycans were beasts. Their castle might be nice, but it couldn’t hide the primitives dwelling within the walls. Every time she saw one of them she shook with fright and if they came too close, she had to suppress tears of desperation and outrage at what had been done to her.
“Tal,” Lady Rhiannon acknowledged the guard when Sophia did not. She blinked, realizing the beast man still stood before her, staring as if he would like nothing more than to devour her whole.
Their hostess, Lady Rhiannon, was human. She’d been enchanted by Cupid and brought to the Magic Realm before Sophia and Mina’s kidnapping. Rhiannon’s enchantment was said to have brought all the lycan men howling to their knees in desire for her. Lucky, or unluckily to Sophia’s thinking, Rhiannon had fallen in love with the very lycan she was meant to punish. Lord Ilar, Commander of the Lycan Guard had mated to Rhiannon and they were now living happily ever after.
Sophia glanced over at the woman. Rhiannon was beautiful, with long curly blonde hair and blue-grey eyes. She looked so…normal. Sophia didn’t know why the woman chose to stay in this world.
Next to Rhiannon was Sophia’s sister. Mina had been brought to the realm the same time Sophia was. Cupid, seeking to avenge himself against the lycan king, had kidnapped them. It was a fact Sophia was still bitter about. When Cupid took Rhiannon, he enchanted the lycans to pursue her. When he took Sophia and her sister, Cupid did the opposite. He struck Larus with a magical love dart and Sophia had fallen hopelessly in love with the king. Mina had been unaffected by the whole affair–unless you counted the fact that she’d had sex with the lycan king and was now lovesick over him.
Sophia wished she would’ve been as lucky as the other two as to have kept her wits about her. But, no. She’d been utterly in love with King Larus, mindless and blind to anything else, until every breath she took was for him. Then, to make matters worse, she was kidnapped by a vampire named Devlin and had fallen in love with him as well, mesmerized by his powerful, magical eyes to do so.
Sophia shivered. Twice she’d been in love, neither time her will or her doing. After the enchantment ended, she was left heartbroken. She swore that there would never be a third time. No man would ever touch her heart again.
All three human women were seated on a bench trying to enjoy the afternoon weather–that was until the lycan guard tried to talk to them. All simple pleasures in the day had fled with his presence.
Both sisters were dressed as Rhiannon, who’d adopted the look of the lycans. The undertunic, meant to protect the women’s delicate human skin, was the only difference to the lycans’ garb. The sleeved undertunics were much like the ones they wore back home, but the long rectangle of the overdress was like the female lycans. It loosely wound around the body, pinning at the shoulder. Though Sophia would never admit to it, the gown was comfortable.
Sighing, Sophia turned to look at her sister. Mina could well have been her twin, though she was a few years older and had locks as black as night instead of her own golden waves. Their faces were nearly identical, down to the shape of their pale blue eyes and the tilt of their noses. They were the same height and the same slender build, and even shared the same fullness of lips that had garnered the interest of many men. The men who’d wanted to marry them before their father had been executed by King Henry now wanted the sisters to be their whores.
Sophia frowned. Was she a fool to long to go back to the human world? It wasn’t like it had been kind to her. Lycan or mortal, all men were the same. Rutting pigs. The only reason she preferred mortals was they didn’t possess the added threat of magic and fangs.
“We’d like to tournament to be Lady Sophia’s lover,” Tal stated, bringing her attention back to him. Sophia gagged, unable to help the natural reflex. Mina instantly put a protective hand on her arm. Rhiannon’s smile faded.
“No,” Sophia croaked, pushing to her feet. The sooner she left Lycaon the better.
“But…?” Tal looked confused. His eyes bore into her and Sophia couldn’t meet them, didn’t want to. He looked at her like all the man-beasts looked at her–like she was a piece of meat ready to be torn apart. Rhiannon had said she could have her pick of any of them for a mate. But Sophia didn’t want the lycan men, didn’t want any man. Tal continued to speak, not taking his greedy eyes off her, “She said she wished to judge for the position. It has been decided. Only those with good teeth will compete.”
Sophia stiffened. They’d heard that? She’d been joking, bitterly spouting off at the mouth to shock Mina who’d slept with the lycan king. Mina was enamored with King Larus. Any fool could see it well enough. The idea that her sister had fornicated with the man just made her sick.
Sophia saw the man eyeing her and tried to remember what exactly she’d said. She was pretty sure it had something to do with choosing a lover like she would a good stallion–good teeth, decent bloodline, a fine gait and superior form. Someone wild and strong, but also someone she could bend to her will. Then, when she controlled them, she’d get herself a new one.
It might have been a joke, but the idea had merit. Men used their bodies all the time in battle and for what? Fortune? Glory? Power? Why should she not use her body to survive? At least then it would be on her own terms. Only, it wouldn’t be with a lycan but a human. None of these man-beasts were going to touch her!
“Come Sophia, let’s go,” Mina said.
Sophia nodded in agreement. As they walked away, Sophia heard Tal say, “Did she not say she wished to pick one out?”
“It’s, ah, flattering they wish to tournament for you,” Mina said when they were alone.
“To be their whore.” Sophia walked toward the stairs that led their shared room. She was fed up with it all, tired of being wanted for her body. Mina moved to follow her. Sophia stopped and held up her hand. She needed time alone to collect herself. “No, Mina, let me be alone for a moment.”
© copyright September 2006, Michelle M Pillow
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.