We’re very pleased to bring you an excerpt from the novel Unintended, by Justine Alley Dowsett!
The rolling hills and grasslands of Ismera were strange to her in the beginning. Now, after nearly a month of riding through them, they had begun to seem commonplace. What the High Clan Chief’s daughter was not prepared for, however, were the high turrets of the palace she was headed towards and the sprawling city of Ismer that surrounded it. Even more surprising than all that was the fanfare that greeted her when at last she reached the city’s high-walled gate.
A handsome man atop a white horse rode boldly out to greet her, without so much as a weapon drawn or a friend to watch his back.
They are much more trusting here of strangers than they are back at home, she noted. Unless, it’s only that they don’t consider me a stranger.
Mackenzie en Shareed of Haldoram straightened her back, instinctively preparing herself to make a good impression. She felt her breath catch in her throat as he came closer and she realized that the man before her, with his sunny hair, tanned skin and bright blue eyes, could be none other than the man she’d ridden all the way here to marry. She felt her usually flawlessly tanned skin flush an uncomfortable shade of red as she watched him dismount and walk the rest of the way to her side, a wide grin spreading across his face at the sight of her.
I didn’t expect him to be so handsome. Kenzie found that as much as she might want to, she couldn’t deny the pounding of her heart or the fluttering in her stomach. I’m very fortunate to be attracted to him so easily.
If he took notice of her discomfort he didn’t show it, bowing over her hand and kissing it lightly. “Princess Mackenzie, let me be the first to welcome you to the City of Ismer.”
Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Kenzie reached for the marriage bracelet she’d woven herself for this very occasion. Unhooking it carefully from her belt, she caught his hand before he could take it away and swiftly wrapped the small, white-flowered wreath about his wrist, tying it with a practiced motion.
She could see in her husband-to-be’s eyes that he was confused, but she didn’t have time to explain it to him now. That would come later, after they were entwined together in their marriage bed. Right now, only the ritual mattered.
I have to do this now, she affirmed silently. Once I enter this city of theirs and am completely surrounded by Ismeran culture and politics it will be too late to marry him in my own way, in front of my people and by our customs. It’s the only way I will feel comfortable with his arrangement. I can marry him in the Ismeran way afterwards. (more…)