Gia knows she is luckier than most. When she was purchased by the king of Atvia as a child, she wasn’t turned into a slave. Instead, she was cherished, and when she came of age, she became the king’s most trusted knight – as well as Hora. As such, she is responsible for training the potential brides and keeping up the morale of the men. Sure, any wrong deed may land her in Discipline Plaza with her bottom in the air, but even that is for her own good.
When a foreign prince arrives, the king asks Gia to fulfill another task; to determine the honesty of the outsider. It is an assignment she readily accepts.
Prince Corbin can’t wait to exit Atvia the moment he arrives there. It is hot, unforgiving land – that is, until he catches sight of the sexiest woman he has ever seen. She gives him the night of his life; one he unfortunately can’t fully enjoy, as the drug she slips him causes him to pass out. The next morning, he is furious and demands retribution. He soon discovers that they do things a little differently in Atvia…
Can he really spank this beautiful woman in public? And, more importantly, once he starts, will he ever be able to stop?
This is the fourth book in Sadie Dane’s hugely popular ‘Loving the Knight’ series.
Gia knelt at the feet of her master. As a child he had been her protector and world. Now, as a grown woman, he was her father and her king. There was nothing sexual in the way she rested her head against his knees, but there was love and trust. He affectionately patted her dark locks once before gesturing that she should rise.
"My sweet oasis, I feel as if it has been forever since I spent time with you." He spoke to her in English, as he often did when they were alone, instead of his native Atvian.
"I’ve found myself very busy with my hora duties these days. Though, if it displeases you, I can stop," Gia replied.
"No, no, no. I would never ask that of you." He leaned in and whispered like he was telling a secret. "I fear the men may revolt if I tried to. They sing songs immortalizing your skills."
Gia couldn’t help the smile forming on her face. She’d heard the songs, but it was the source of the compliment that really pleased her. "I take all of my duties seriously. My task is an important one, preparing the herd for you."
The king frowned, forming a wrinkle between the eyebrows on his ageless face. "You know I don’t like you referring to them as animals. Not even in jest."
Gia dropped her head, immediately chastised. "I do care for them, Father. Please, forgive me."
The king sat down on a thick rug woven with dark reds, browns, and greens. He reclined back, surrounded by plush pillows that complimented his darker coloring. He was a man that enjoyed the finer things. Soft cloths, beautiful women, and exotic foods.
?His taste had been her saving grace, so many years ago. When she’d been dropped at his feet as a small child, spitting and swinging at whatever came near, the young king had been drawn to her fair skin and the way it had shone against her dark hair and eyes. She had been a rebellious, wild child and for many in her position that was where her story could have ended. A life of servitude if she was lucky. But Gia had been purchased, renamed and treated as much like a princess as was possible without actually holding the title.
Now, she held not only the highest position a female could hold, save for the king’s wives but also held the only title of knighthood offered to women in Atvia. A knighthood of one. As Hora of Atvia, she governed the training of potential brides as well as the morale of the Atvian soldiers.?
Known to some as the seducer, to others as a friend and to most as the night you will never forget, Gia excelled in making men believe and feel what she needed them to believe and feel. She had learned most of her skills observing the beautiful, bronzed man in front of her. He radiated power, had an army large enough to justify his arrogance, but the weapons the king used more frequently were his charm, wit and intelligence.
"I do have a favor to ask of you." He managed to sound contrite while also confident that she would not refuse him. Indeed, he did not even wait for her consent to continue. "The foreign prince that arrives today, Prince Corbin of Ceravique. Pay close attention to him."
Gia tensed. "Do you suspect he’s come to harm you?"
The king patted the pillow beside him and Gia went to him, sitting down at his side. "Nothing like that. But, I am wary. My newest bride was supposed to be the one arriving today. Instead, I receive word that the foreign prince is coming in her stead with his tale as to why." He grabbed her hands, holding them in each of his.
"Watch him, dear one, with your eyes that miss nothing."
"And if he is lying?"
The king smiled. "Then you will have a chance to do what you are second best at."
From the arched doorway came a knock. A dusty messenger entered. The king made no attempt to move away from Gia, their embraces were not something he hid or felt shame about. They kept no secrets from each other. "You asked for first word," the messenger began apologetically. "They’ve been spotted on the main road. All those who departed, minus the two men lost and your intended, Princess Lotte."
"He is with them."
The king nodded and the messenger departed, leaving the two of them alone again.
The king lovingly squeezed her hands. "I believe it is time for you to prepare," he said as if he wished she could stay longer.
Gia was already getting to her feet, eager to please him. "Do not worry, my king," she said with determination.
A few hours later Gia waited behind a thick canvas. She heard the rustling of many bodies inside the tent. If her orders were obeyed, and they generally were, Prince Corbin would not be escorted directly to his room. Instead, he would have a front row seat. And so would she.
A warm breeze lifted the soft fabric of her costume.
"Hora, I have the item you requested," said a potential bride, her pleasant face barely illuminated by torchlight. Gia let the potential affix a ruby and sapphire studded circlet to the sides of her head. It was her favorite piece, given to her from the king because he said it reminded her of her eyes, like endless wells.?
"Thank you," Gia said. The potential blushed, curtsied, and left her, returning to her position at the side of the tent. Gia recognized the potential from training. She was fairly new, normally soft-spoken, until she reached orgasm and then she would scream like a banshee.
Inside the tent, the drummers began to pound their beat that indicated her show was about to begin. She didn’t need a formal introduction. Her performances were fluid and meant to blend into the night. Gia enjoyed her time on stage, more so in her earlier teen years, but now as she was in her twenties she found her dances were more rote movement than improvisation. They were meant to entice, to spark or fuel existing desire. Tonight she danced for a far greater purpose, the safety of her savior. The safety of her king. If this Prince Corbin had any notion in his mind of harming her king, than he would indeed witness that thing at which Gia was second best.
All Prince Corbin wanted after finally arriving in Atvia was a glass of something cold and a bed. He’d managed to get a glass of something, what it was, he had no idea. He knew it wasn’t cold and feared nothing in this kingdom would be. So far what he had seen of Atvia was beautiful in its barrenness. Judging from how blisteringly hot it was now, in what the High General had called winter, he could only assume the summers were unbearable. That life had continued to persevere in a climate as harsh as this one impressed him.
Despite Atvia’s fighting spirit and Corbin’s desire to clear up the issue of the king’s missing bride, he was more exhausted and in great need of a bath. The moment they’d crossed into Atvia it seemed like sand had crept into sensitive parts of his body that were not used to chaffing.
And yet, from the moment they’d arrived, he’d been corralled around, no sight of the king or mention of him planning to greet him. He’d been all but shoved into a large tent lit by shirtless men holding torches.? The red and orange canvas rippled as the wind Corbin only wished he could feel, whipped past.
The other soldiers he’d journeyed with sat around him on plush, dark purple pillows. They drank happily, speaking with each other in Atvian, unconcerned by how stiflingly hot the inside of the tent was or by the overpowering scent that seemed to waft from the torches.?
A drumbeat began to vibrate through the tent like a pulse. Half the shirtless men extinguished their torches as the other half moved to a circular stage area in the front of the tent. Corbin took a long swig of his mystery beverage and sighed, settling into his cushion. Hopefully, whatever little show they’d prepared would be short.
She appeared on stage as if she’d always been there, disrupting so little of the world around her it took the men a few extra moments to realize she was there at all. Not Corbin. The moment he’d seen her, covered from head to toe in a vibrant blue silk robe except for a slit at her eyes, he felt a silence in his mind. As close as he was to the stage, he could see her heavily lined eyes shining, dark, somehow familiar and altogether endless.
The pounding of the drums continued, somehow matching the beating of his own heart as the woman began to move. The men in the tent fell silent as every pair of eyes followed her every sway. She seemed unfazed by how she was being ogled. In fact, Corbin got the distinct impression that she didn’t even realize they were there at all, more like they were the ones who had stumbled upon her and sat now, crouched behind a tree taking peeks as she danced to the rhythmic, naturally seductive sounds of nature.?
With her arms out, she spun in circles. At some magical point her robe was flung from her body, though he hadn’t seen her hands work any fastenings. However it happened, Corbin was happy for it. She had a body that inspired poems and started wars. She was everything that was woman, curves, softness and strength. Her skin was pale for an Atvian, creamy instead of tan and it shone under the torchlight. Her silk brown skirt sat low on her hips with high slits up each side. As she spun, whipping her long dark hair around her, Corbin caught naughty glimpses that made him feel even more like a teen boy spying on the maidens bathing in the river. Her stomach was bare, not flat or sunken in as he would’ve expected of a slave or servant. A turquoise halter covered her breasts. Corbin wished he was that halter. Finally, she stopped and faced her audience head on.
It was as if she stared only at him. Her stomach rose and fell as she breathed quickly, deeply. He noticed then the way her face was perfectly framed by a jeweled band across her forehead.
He wondered if it had been a gift, perhaps from a lover. A wave of unfamiliar jealousy swept over him as the drumbeat quickened. Now, it was his heart’s turn to speed up and match the pace. The woman began to dance in earnest, writhing and undulating like a flame in a roaring fire. She lifted one leg straight up, performing a sort of vertical split. Corbin thought he heard the men in the crowd groan.
He looked down, surprised to see that not only was his drink empty, but that a new one had silently replaced it. He sipped the strong beverage that burned a trail down his throat as he swallowed.
His eyes had been away from her for too long and his mind screamed that he fix that. Her arms rose up to the canvas top, as if she could see through the cloth, as if they were not in a tent watching a woman dance but rather they were all privy to a sensual sacrifice to the gods.
The drums stopped abruptly. A shirtless man hollered and pointed at the dancer’s feet. Slithering along the stage with purpose, the cobra quickly made its way towards the dancer’s feet. She screamed and Corbin jumped to his feet, ready to protect her. She stumbled back, fear radiating from her every movement, away from the snake. The dancer fell and the snake rose, poised and ready to strike.
It was as if every man in the tent pulled their swords free at the same moment and pounced on the poisonous intruder. By the time the chaos had cleared Corbin couldn’t even see the snake. He didn’t know if it had slithered away or had been cut into so many pieces it was now invisible.
The woman silently got to her feet. Her shoulders rose and fell rapidly as she looked at the crowd of men with a heavy, new expression. As if all of the fear she had felt had been replaced with lust. Her eyes fell on Corbin and his cock immediately hardened. There was no time to analyze how he had grown so ready so quickly from a single look.
The drum beat began again, slow, steady, urging. The dancer leapt on the man nearest to her and unapologetically kissed him, his hands holding her at her ass. The man explored her body freely as she rubbed herself against as much of him as she could touch. It was not long before another soldier came up behind her. She was passed off to the new man and made the transition to the new arms seamlessly, like she was looking forward to it.
Corbin watched all this transpire as if in a trance. He longed to be one of those men with their hands on her breasts, stomach and face, but his head felt odd, like he was drunk. Not exactly drunk, that he could handle. This felt different, more than drunk. His body felt heavier than normal. He took a step towards the sexual frenzy transpiring on the stage and his world began to spin.?
Soft, feminine hands steadied him from behind and Corbin got his first glance of what was going on around him. So concerned with his dancer, as he thought of her now, he hadn’t noticed the tent had more guests. A handful of young women dressed in ivory dresses, older women in brightly colored clothing much like the ones the dancer had worn, and some young men now walked among the soldiers.
Nobody spoke real words unless one counted grunts and moans. This dance was one they all seemed to know the steps to, except for Corbin who watched it all unfold with stupid wonder. Just in front of him an older woman was on her knees sitting on a man’s face, her face fixed in an expression of pure pleasure as she ground against him.
Corbin looked upward to where he thought his gaze would be safe, only to see a woman suspended from the top of the tent, with ropes tied around each of her ankles. She held onto another rope that was intricately wrapped around her middle and she stretched her legs open lowering her pussy to the man who waited below, with his mouth open like a baby bird eager for dinner.
Corbin stumbled back into fragile arms that guided him down so he sat at the edge of everything. Gentle hands tugged at his pants and Corbin looked down in near detachment, to see a woman he’d never seen before handling his erect penis. She stared up at him with greedy, blue eyes as if looking for permission. Corbin hadn’t thought he’d given any, he didn’t think he could make any coherent motion at all while in his rapidly deteriorating state. All the same, her lush lips opened and she attempted to take his entire length in her mouth. She gagged; Corbin was larger than most men. But, she had an eager, expert mouth.
It was exquisite. She licked at him fiercely, her other hand cupped his balls and kneaded them with just enough pressure to make him moan out loud. Corbin didn’t have to worry about making too much noise; every man around him was just as preoccupied.
The inside of the tent seemed to vibrate a cacophony of groaning and skin slapping against skin. Just to the right of him a little black haired woman whimpered with her lips around a cock as another man mercilessly rammed into her from behind. She looked over at Corbin with an expression that seemed to say, ‘You’re next.’
But even as his dick was being serviced, Corbin had his mind set on another woman. His hand absently settled against the back of the head of the woman sucking him and he found her, the real object of his desire. Still on the stage, lying on her back, she wailed. It was easy to see why with one man burying his face between her legs, two more sharing her breasts and another kissing her lips. Corbin watched, unabashedly, knowing this surreal event was unlike anything he’d ever see again. At that point, he figured he’d been drugged. It was the only thing that could explain his spinning head. He didn’t know by whom and at this precise moment, he didn’t care.?
All too soon, he felt himself nearing his peak. Not only was the woman at his front an absolute expert but it had been a very long time for Corbin. He closed his eyes and tried to talk himself down.
"Not yet, potential," the soft order came from in front of him. Corbin looked up at the gloriously naked, dancing beauty, wondering when she’d had the time to walk across the room. Her absence had no effect on the actions of those in the room. They continued chasing their desires, unperturbed. The girl at his front released his cock immediately and settled back on her knees, with her gaze down.
"Enjoying yourself?" His dancer’s question seemed to come from very far away.?
"I…yeah," he replied, surprised he could still form words with his mush mouth.
She crouched down and examined him. He kept her gaze, unable to look away even as she looked at him with such scrutiny.
"Do you want her mouth back, to finish the job?"
"I’d rather it was you."
The woman smiled at that and bent down. She whispered but he could hear her clearly. "Lucky for you, so far you seem like an honest man."
He felt like she was going to kiss him. Corbin wished he didn’t feel so incapacitated. He wanted to touch her with his full strength. Garbled noises came out of his mouth when he tried to speak. The sounds echoed in his ears. With difficulty, he extended a wobbly arm out to her.
"Calm down, foreign prince," she said, soothingly. "You’ve been an open book. So far you seem an honest man, so I’ll return the favor. Take the potential’s mouth. She is really quite good and you’d probably end up falling in love with mine." She trailed a single finger up his still erect penis. "Even with such a generous offer, I am not the type to fall in love."
His world blurred even more. He didn’t want that other woman; he wanted his dancer, but before Corbin could work up the strength to say that, the inside of the tent began to spin like a child’s toy. His last thought was that he might be sick, but then the room went black.?
Corbin awoke the next morning with a raging headache rivaled only by his stiff and persistent hard-on. He immediately pictured the night before and was hit with a renewed wave of lust, but that was quickly replaced by anger. Pure and raging. He was a prince. He’d only traveled to this god-forsaken kingdom in order to keep peace and promote diplomacy. He did not appreciate being tricked and drugged.
With chagrin, he realized he had no idea how he came to be in this room. After splashing his face with tepid water he’d found in a wooden bowl by his bed, he noticed his belongings stacked in a neat pile in the corner. He could only assume he was in what would be his room during his time in Atvia, which would be a very short time, thankfully.As it was, he had no idea what corner of the palace he was in, or if he was even in the palace. If it weren’t for the blistering heat and the bright, vibrant colors of the stone, he wouldn’t know that he was even in Atvia.
Generally, Corbin was a reasonable, level-headed man. He enjoyed logic. He did not jump to action or let his feelings and biases rule his behaviors. He was angry now, but still racked his mind for a possible reason the girl would have to drug him. With this thought in mind-and perhaps the image of her perfect breasts- he left his room on a mission to find the young woman.
If any of the other soldiers he’d traveled with thought the events of the previous night were odd, they gave no impression of it. They greeted Corbin when he found them on an outside path as they had the entire trip, with a short grunt.
High General Cordveen approached him with a warm smile. "My friend, you are well rested?"
The High General chuckled. "My apologies, prince. I heard you were escorted into the tent. I was shocked to hear it. Foreigners are not generally permitted in the Welcoming Tent. When I heard you had been there, I assumed you had pulled a few favors to get such a great gift."
Corbin understood what he meant, even if he didn’t agree while in his current state. "I find the drink was a little stronger than I am used to."
At this the High General laughed so loudly Corbin was sure there was a joke he had missed. "Oh Prince Corbin, you are amusing. They served the ale we brought from Ceravique at last night’s welcoming party." He patted him on the shoulder, jovially. "I assume you are hungry. The dining hall is just that way." The High General pointed in the direction he had just been walking from before leaving Corbin fuming on the path.
He grabbed the first servant he could find. "Where can I find the female dancer?"
The servant looked at him with a blank expression.
"The woman." Corbin felt his frustration growing and forced himself to take a long, calming breath. "The entertainer in the Welcoming Tent."
Something in his question registered with the servant. His face lit up. "Oh, Hora, in garden," he responded with a thick accent while pointing in the direction of the garden.
Corbin had to flag down a few more people for directions. By the time he reached the gardens he could only assume the area had been named ironically. The only green thing in the space was the blanket the dancer, Hora the servant had called her, had lain out on the sand. She sat with her back against a barren, ash colored tree. There were several stone pillars that fashioned an arched entrance as well as a short stone fence surrounding the garden. The dancer sat with her back to Corbin, looking out onto the giant expanse of golden sand.
She looked different than the woman from the previous night. With her back against the tree and her face toward the desert, she seemed smaller and gentler, a ghost of the woman he’d watched dance. Her legs were tucked up and under her body and her hands were folded loosely in her lap. This sweet little beauty did not at all resemble the hedonistic seductress he had implanted in his memory.?
His angry steps slowed and he stopped completely just at the entrance. The dancer picked up a thin twig and used it to doodle in the sand, an action he’d seen his younger sister perform many times when they were children. She looked even fairer now, sitting in the early morning sun. Immediately he felt guilty. He should’ve brought a blanket or something to help shield her fragile skin. A movement to the right of her caught his eye.
Corbin drew in a quick breath when he recognized the type of snake slithering towards her. Was this kingdom infested? he wondered. As he charged forward to protect her, he witnessed the tiny dancer extend her right hand. The snake slithered forward and stopped, nearly resting on her palm. Corbin froze, mid-heroics, and watched the dancer lift the poisonous snake up and towards her face, then gently kiss its docile head. She tenderly deposited the snake back onto the sand and it slithered away peacefully.
Who is this woman? Corbin wondered. At that moment, as if to truly prove a point, the dancer stood and with rapid, precise succession threw three blades into the trunk of a tree on the other side of the garden. Each knife lodged into the wood in a perfectly horizontal line.
As soon as Corbin spoke the woman whirled around with a snarl. He could see her transformation the moment she saw it was him. Her face softened, her gaze fell to his feet as if she was not able to look him in the face, a picture of subservience with her tiny hands clasped in front of her body. Corbin felt much of his control dwindling. This look of hers was an act, one that he would not allow. "Stop it," Corbin demanded.
She peeked up at him. "Stop what, Sir?" Even the tone of her voice was as soft as the gentlest breeze. Not at all the husky voice he remembered from the night before.
Corbin found he was halfway toward her before he even had the chance to command his body to move. He froze. What was this woman doing to his calm demeanor? He had sought her out only so that he could get answers. At least, that’s what he had told himself.
"Hora, what did you drug me with last night?" he asked with as much control as he could muster.
The woman smiled. "Hora is my title, Sir. My name is Gia, though you may call me whatever pleases you."
"Which would you like to be called?"
Gia frowned, perhaps the first display of emotion Corbin believed was genuine.
"Gia is fine," she responded slowly.
"Fine. Gia, what was in my drink?"
She smirked. "Nothing, Sir."
"Then what did you give me to drink?"
"Just tea, Sir. Blue lotus tea."
Corbin didn’t have to know what a blue lotus was to know you probably didn’t drink its tea on a Sunday afternoon.
"Why was I given a different drink than the other men?"
"Because I thought you needed to relax." Her reply was flippant, almost bored. Corbin didn’t know if he preferred this attitude over the other. Neither felt real.
"Why was I even escorted to the tent?"
"Because I wanted to see you."
Corbin closed the remaining gap between them. He gripped her arms, fighting the desire to shake her.
"But, I can’t imagine the damiana incense was something you are used to either," Gia continued, speaking as if she didn’t notice Corbin holding her so tight she would likely bruise.
"Just tell me why." Corbin worked at keeping his voice level. Even so, he was louder than he would’ve liked.
Gia looked up at him. As close as they were it looked as if she were offering her lips for a kiss. Corbin thought about it.
"I have been telling you why. Perhaps you need to listen better."
Corbin crushed her mouth with his own. This was by no means his first kiss, but it was the first of its kind. He had no tenderness in his heart, only an unfamiliar urge to dominate. She was purposefully being sly and telling half-truths, and she needed to know that type of behavior would not be tolerated. Neither would sneaky behavior like the show she’d put on the night before.
?He did not expect her reaction, that she would kiss him back with as much ferocity as he put into the brutal meeting of their lips.
Corbin heard someone clear their throat and he jumped away from Gia like she was a burning ember.
The two of them were surrounded by a handful of Atvian soldiers and a haughty man that Corbin guessed was the king. He viewed them with a guarded expression, but Corbin saw curiosity in the haughty man’s eyes.
He spoke with a light accent, "Am I interrupting something, Hora?"
Gia searched her king’s face for a sign that he was upset. At times, she could see anger in the shape of his lips where others saw only curiosity or perhaps no expression at all. However, he was still a subtle man and there were times when his anger was sudden and unexpected.
As he’d asked a question, a response was expected of her. "No, my King." Her face must have flushed red, for she felt the burning at her cheeks. That was nothing compared to the tsunami of lust that the foreign prince’s kiss had caused. She’d been surprised by her response, and more so by the way she still felt.
"Do I have to ask what is going on? Or will someone just simply tell me?" the king asked. Gia winced. He was angry, though she doubted anyone else was able to tell.
She opened her mouth, but no words came out.
"I came here to confront Gia."
Corbin stammered and looked a little embarrassed. "Your hora."
"I know who Gia is, Prince," the king said coolly.
Gia felt like she should save the prince somehow. That was, until he spoke again.
"Do you also know that she drugged me last night? Is that how you generally treat your foreign diplomats?" It sounded as though the prince had recovered his anger.
"Is this true, Hora? Did you drug the prince?"
"My King, I?"
"Did you or didn’t you?" He didn’t raise his voice, he didn’t have to. Gia felt herself shrink inward.
Even if she had been acting on the king’s orders to observe the foreigner, it was her own fault for getting caught. She’d been too easy on the foreign prince. She should’ve brewed the tea a bit longer. Now, there would be no avoiding what was about to come. She lifted her head proudly. "Yes."
"Then you must be punished," he said not unkindly, simply as a matter of fact.
"Punished?" Corbin repeated.
The king rose a single eyebrow. "Unless you are not feeling aggrieved and this was all just a pretense to molest my hora?"
Gia recognized the kings words for what they were, a manipulation tactic. When he put it that way, he gave the prince no way of backing out.
"Of course not."
"Since she has confessed, we ha