Desired Hearts [Three Hearts 1] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Tonya Ramagos
eBook Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica
eBook Description: [Menage Amour 18: Erotic Fantasy Menage a Trois Romance, M/F/M, Mythological] It's custom in the goddess land for a mating celebration to be held when a royal heir comes of age. Aithne is the first of the three demigoddess heirs to reach her joining night, the night she will meet her destined heart. She knows not whom he might be, only that she will feel a pervasive tremor--the sign of destined love--in her heart and body when their eyes meet. When Aithne spots Dustin, everything inside her quivers with desire so intense it leaves her breathless. She has found her true mate in the tall, blond, muscular Fae warrior. But when Hakan, heir to the throne of Tolynn, steps in, her desire spreads to him like a creamy wave. Is it possible to have two fated loves? If not, how will she choose between them? [Erotic Fantasy Menage Romance: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Menage Amour, Published: 2008, 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2009
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18 Reader Ratings:
"4.5 CHERRIES: This was a fascinating story and a bit different from what I expected, but I really enjoyed it. Aithne is conflicted over her feelings for both men. Once she accompanies them to their homeland, she struggles with her decision between the two and also faces threats to her safety. Hakan and Dustin also struggle as they face jealousy over sharing Aithne. I felt for these characters as they dealt with the complications that arose from their attraction. The unexpected ending of the story was an interesting surprise that I didn't see coming, but it was handled nicely. I enjoyed this story and I look forward to learning about Aithne's sisters as they deal with the curse that haunts them."--Lilac, Whipped Cream Reviews
Aithne studied her reflection and felt the sizzle of excitement as it moved through her, an echo of the wide grin that unfolded on her lips. She would dazzle all this night for tonight was meant for her. As would be the man she found, her intended, her destined.
"I wonder how he shall look." She covered her belly with her hand and could all but feel the fluttering of nervous butterflies through the flesh and thin material of her gown. She looked beyond her own reflection to that of her sisters' behind her in the bedchamber.
"He will be handsome," Calliope stated in a voice of absolute certainty. The youngest and most beautiful of the three sisters rolled onto her stomach on the canopy bed and propped her chin on her balled fists. Her long hair spilled around her trim shoulders, the blond strands encasing a delicate face of smooth angles, a perfect nose and naturally rosy lips. Her eyes the color of cornflowers turned dreamy as she continued. "Tall, I think, for you are not as short as most and a man is meant to be taller than his woman. He will have chestnut hair to match the darker streaks of your own. Or maybe a brilliant yellow instead to blend with your red. The flame to compliment the fire."
Aithne's attention returned to her reflection, to the tumble of fiery strands framing her face. Her own hair was that of reds, browns and gold, some darker while others nearly gleamed. Yes, she thought, a man of chestnut curls or glistening sunflower waves would be her perfect match.
"I was unaware, little sister, that you possessed the power of prophecy or vision." Karan turned from her spot on the far side of the bedchamber to glance at Calliope, one brow raised and an expression of intrigue and sarcasm in her lavender eyes. She wore a dress of pale purple, not quite matching the color in her eyes but close. It fit snuggly around her shoulders, her well-rounded breasts, her trim waist.
She looked, Aithne thought, uncomfortable and utterly miserable.
"I do not," Calliope said, a pout in her tone. "We are demigoddesses. We have no powers of which to speak." She sat up, mindful of her own soft pink gown. Where Aithne's and Karan's dresses matched their eyes, Calliope's did not. Though a contrast to her cornflower eyes, the pink far suited Calliope more than any blue. She was the dainty one, delicate and tender of both heart and body.
"But for the power to love," Aithne reminded them and watched herself smile in the mirror once more. Her own gown was the color of grass in the middle of a field with golden flecks of accent much like the sparkles of gold that rimmed the green in her eyes.
"Yes," Calliope agreed with a wistful sigh. She fell back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. "Love, it is the greatest power of all."
Karan scoffed. "Surely there is a power more useful than love."
"Nothing can be better or more useful than love. You will see," Calliope predicted. "When it is the time of your joining celebration, you shall see."
"I will not have a celebration," Karan informed her defiantly. "I do not wish to be joined."
Aithne turned in her seat before the mirror and gazed at her middle sister. Uncomfortable and utterly miserable, she thought again. That appeared to be an understatement tonight. "Sister, how could you not wish to find your heart's desire?"
"I know my heart's desire, and it is not found with any man," Karan said stubbornly. She held out her hands in front of her and looked down at them. "I wish to design, to build, to create. A man will only take away such pleasures. So I will not have a joining celebration." Her chin jutted into the air, another defiant gesture.
"Mother and father will not agree." Aithne turned back to the mirror but her gaze instantly found Karan's reflection to the side and back of her own. "Such celebrations are the way of our people, our land and now that we have reached out time, I cannot see them allowing either of us to pass it unrealized."
"It has been this way for as long as time. It was such when mother took the throne of Goddess Queen," Calliope chimed in. "And her mother before her. There is no avoiding what must be done. Tonight, this night of the new moon, is for Aithne. You shall have yours in one phase of the moon's time and then at last I shall have mine."
"Tonight is for me," Aithne repeated and felt her heart fill with excited anticipation. "Tonight I will find my handsome protector who will plant the sweetest of kisses upon my lips." She grazed a light finger over her slightly parted lips. "And I shall feel the effects of such a kiss through my body and between my legs."
"Aithne!" Calliope's exclamation was followed by a fit of laughter as she rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling.
"Go big sister," Karan laughed too.
"Go big sister." Aithne shook her head and grinned. "You say some of the strangest words." Still, she thought about those words, considered them. "However, tonight I shall go straight into my husband's arms, into his bed and we shall dance." She stood, held out her arms as though they were folded around a lover's body and began to spin around the bedchamber.
Karan chuckled. Calliope giggled.
"It is good to see my daughters in such fine spirits this night."
Aithne whirled at the voice, beamed when her gaze landed on Ina, and gracefully glided to her. "Dance with me, Mother, for tonight we celebrate." But something in the goddess queen's face made her stop. Alarm filled her veins, mixed with her blood, and sped her pulse until she heard the rapid beat of it in her ears. "Mother? What is it? Something troubles you."
"Is someone hurt?" Karan rushed to Aithne's side, her shoulders squared, chin high, and eyes piercing and ready for battle. She would have drawn a sword had she had one at her side, Aithne thought in a flash of admiration. "Will someone be hurt?"
"Is it father?" Calliope's velvety soft voice trembled with fear. She had sat up on the bed once more and turned to face their mother, her own beautiful face creased with concern. "Has some harm befallen our father?"
"No," Ina answered quickly. Her tone in that instant was carefully reassuring. "Andrew is well and safe."
"And you, Mother?" Aithne asked, though she knew the answer. It took much to bring such a look of dread, of pain and worry in the eyes of the goddess queen.
Ina reached out, the backs of her knuckles grazing lightly down Aithne's cheek. It was a loving touch, a tender contact, and yet the hand shook almost imperceptibly with it as if she feared it might be her last look upon her daughter's face. "I am frightened, my precious."
"Then something has happened." Though Karan spoke more softly, her tone continued to hold the edge of battle. "Tell us, Mother, so we may stop it."
"My warrior." Ina smiled in a way that held both sadness and pride of her daughter. She touched Karan's face with her other hand in the same way she had done Aithne's. "You would have been a warrior no doubt had you been born a son. And a good one too. Of that I am sure."
Karan frowned, a hint of a pout etching its way between her brows. "I still do not see what difference my sex makes. I have strength and skill to rival many man."
"Yes, if you are not watched, you will put that strength and skill to test too, my daughter."
"I will." Karan nodded, a grin tweaking the corner of her lips now. "And pity the man who tries to stand before me."
"But that is not what frightens you, Mother." Calliope scooted on the bed as if to climb off but stopped when Ina's gaze fell on her.
"Tell us, please." Aithne felt the dread, the fear stronger now, like a weight of lead in her bones. "Will you tell us?"
"The time has come. I can avoid the truth no longer." Ina's hands fell to her sides, and she nodded. "Come, my daughters. Sit with me and I shall tell you." She moved to the bed more gracefully than Aithne's dance with fluid steps that shown of a Queen's confidence and control even as her aura spread through the chamber and grew dark, heavy, saddened. They sat together, Aithne on one side of her mother, Calliope on the other, Karan curled on the floor at her feet. "You ask if some harm has befallen Andrew."
Calliope visibly stiffened. "And you said he is well and safe."
"And he is. It is not your father I fear to be harmed."
"Who then?" Aithne asked.
"You, each of you."
"Us?" Karan sat up straighter on the floor, her lavender eyes flashing with the light of battle, her brows arching over them in question. "What harm? How? Why?"
Ina reached for Aithne's hand, laid it to rest on her thigh, and then repeated the gesture with Calliope's and Karan's hands. She covered the three hands in her lap with both of hers and sighed. It was a sound Aithne could never remember hearing from her mother, a sound of indecision, a sound of defeat.
"I cannot say precisely what or how, but I can answer the why." She took a deep breath as if to steady herself, then said, "It is because of me, because of what I am, because of choices I made, because of love."
"No harm can come to pass because of love." Calliope's words were barely above a whisper though the denial and defiance that laced them sounded clear.
Ina leaned toward her, rested her head on Calliope's shoulder for the briefest of moments. "My precious daughter, I wish that were so."
Aithne watched her mother and felt the weight in her bones grow heavier still. Whatever harm the queen feared was true and dire. Of that, she was confident. Yet, even as she struggled, Aithne could not make sense of her mother's words. "You are the goddess queen. Any in our land who wished to defy your rule could cause us harm. Yet, in all the millennia since you have taken the throne, no one has dared utter a word of protest. Who would go against your rule, your decision, and threaten such a fate for your daughters?"
"Daria." Ina paused as if to allow her daughters time to digest the name before she added, "And it is not simply a threat of harm but a spell she has cast upon you long ago."
"Your mother put a spell on us?" Karan shifted until she sat on her knees before Ina, shock and outrage battling for paramount expression on her face.
"Why would she do such a thing?" Calliope asked. Though her voice remained the soft wave of music upon the air, confusion and surprise rang in her words.
Because she is Daria, Aithne thought. Because she has never liked us, never wanted us, never wished any of us to rule.
"Settle back, daughter." Ina put a hand on Karan's shoulder and guided her to sit once more upon the rug beneath their feet. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes as if to gather her thoughts then opened them. "Let me begin at the first for to simply skip about will not help you fully understand the story nor the fate I have put upon you."
"Stop blaming yourself, Mother." The words spilled from Aithne's lips before she could stop them. She reached for Ina, her arm closing around her mother's shoulders, drawing the queen against her. "I cannot stand this sadness in you, this fear."
"Nor can I," Calliope said, her arm finding its way around Ina's lower back so that both daughters held her tight.
"We do not blame you." Karan laid her cheek on Ina's knee.
"You have every right," Ina said, her voice thick, cracking. "This you will soon understand. Allow me now to tell the tale." She pulled back from their embrace and Aithne eased away, put her hands in her own lap and readied her ears, her mind, and her heart to listen.
"You know of other worlds, other places, other times," Ina began, her voice once again steady, almost as if she were telling them a bedtime story. "Many moons ago, before you or even I, all worlds coexisted not as one but of one. As such, beings from all the lands and times mingled. Yet, there was but one governing law. Mating among different races was forbidden." She paused and let out a heavy sigh. "Still, those of a lesser station than ours chose to defy this law. They took as lovers those who were not equal, who were not the same."
"What did they become?" Aithne whispered the question. She had heard stories, more like nightmares, of long ago times, of monsters and darkness, of an Otherworld, even an Underworld. Was this how such worlds came to creation?
"Nothing so hideous as that you fear, daughter." Ina gave her a comforting smile though it failed to reach her worry-rimmed eyes. "It is how our Faeries and Sprites came to be as well as the Fae and others."
"Father is part Fae," Calliope said.
Yes, Aithne remembered. Their father was part Fae. Not a monster, not a being of Underworld, but a handsome god king. She relaxed a bit at her mother's side and continued to listen.
Ina nodded, frowning. "Though it gave us much beauty and many wonderful creations, this defiance of the law brought with it much discourse as well. Wars broke out among the lands. There were battles for power and dominance, for thrones and royal houses. Doors between worlds were either sealed or destroyed, barring transport between lands and time, trapping people in the land they occupied at that moment."
"But what if it wasn't their true home?" Calliope sounded heartbroken, and when Aithne glanced at her sister she saw the glimmer of tears in her cornflower eyes.
"The land in which they were trapped became their new home," Ina answered. "They learned to thrive and be in their new permanent land and those lands began to grow, to flourish with new lives and happiness. Peace settled over the lands, the worlds once more. Our own land returned to a semblance of what it had been as well. We embraced our new people, new races and the goddess royals' enveloped traditions forgotten for a time. Celebrations in our house had always been anticipated and they were so again. Our mating banquets much like that you will have tonight were attended by all in our land."
"And yours?" Aithne asked. She had found it strange in her life that she heard little of the queen's mating celebration. It was almost as if it were an event not to be talked about or revered in their history. "What of your celebration, Mother? What was it like when you set eyes on father for the first time? What did you feel? How did you know?"
"So many questions," Ina gave a small, quiet laugh. "You are nervous about your own time tonight." She drew Aithne into the curve of her arm, hugged her tight. "And I am here to ruin this blessing, to turn that lovely jitteriness into fear. Forgive me, my precious."
Though it was said as more order than request, Aithne answered. "There is nothing to forgive, Mother. I am not afraid. How could I be? Please continue. Tell us of your banquet so I may know the joy of spotting my true love before it happens this night."
"The mating celebration was not always as it is now."
"How was it different?" Karan asked. She remained on the floor at the queen's feet, on her knees now, sitting back on her heels, her skirt carefully spread around her.
"Celebrations by our court have always been anticipated and the banquet for my joining was no exception. Beings from all our land, full and half-breed, were in attendance to watch as I, their future goddess queen, accepted the hand of Prog of Verhailey."
"Prog?" The daughters spoke in unison.
"But Father's name is Andrew," Aithne said. She had never heard of anyone in their land named Prog.
"It is for he is not the man I was promised to wed."
"Promised to wed?" Karan looked horrified.
"Yes. You see, my daughters, before I took my place as goddess queen, the joining of people in our court was decided upon by the parents. They were arranged with only the good of stature and power in mind."
"But what of love?" Calliope asked. "How can two join who do not share love?"
"It was done, and love mattered not. The banquet held for me on that night was to be the commencement of my union to Prog, a full-blooded and powerful would-be god king. It was a joining meant to see that our courts thrived, to see that our land prospered."
"Yet you did not join with this Prog," Aithne said, trying to make sense of it all. Another man in her mother's life, a man not her father the queen had been promised to without regard to love. Her head spun with it all.
Ina's eyes turned dreamy, reminding Aithne so much of Calliope in that moment when her sister spoke of dreams of her true love. "It was that night, at my banquet, I first saw your father. I knew at that moment I could never join with Prog for it was Andrew the guardians meant for me." She turned slightly to face Aithne and grazed her fingertips down Aithne's cheek. "You ask what it was like, how I knew."
"Yes," Aithne whispered. Her heart thudded in her chest as she lost herself in her mother's powerful gaze. The queen was a goddess of love. How could anyone ever thought to couple her with a man not her true heart?
"It is a feeling in your belly, a pervasive quake. It is a tremble that possesses the heart and the mind. It is a quiver down to your toes of a power the likes of which you have never before felt nor will ever feel in the presence of any other. It hurts and excites, terrifies and pleases. You will know, my precious, when you feel it, you will know, and you will never again want for any other."
Goddess in Summerland! Aithne did not know if she wanted to experience love if it would make her feel all of that. Pain and excitement, a quivering to her toes! She knew of true pleasure, knew of the joys of being a woman. She had dreamt of the wonders of love but to feel all of that, ladies, the idea was truly overwhelming! She splayed a hand over her belly, felt it jump in nervous expectancy. "Wow," she exhaled on a half-laugh.
"Better you than me," Karan muttered.
Ina looked at her, a small grin on her lips. "You have such a strange voice at times, my middle daughter. But you must remember your time will come next."
Aithne caught the spark in her sister's lavender eyes, almost like an explosion of a star. Karan was nothing if not determined in her ways and she had set her mind never to join. Aithne supposed when Karan's time did come her resistance and the battle it would surely cause might be quite entertaining.
"I cannot wait to feel such wonder." Calliope gave a wistful sigh.
"And wonder it is daughter. The moment you feel it and every moment after as it has always been between me and your father."
"What happened to Prog?" Karan wanted to know. "What did everyone say when you chose father instead of him?"
"Prog returned to his land, his people and later married well to a woman both worthy of his heart and his station. Together, they now rule the land of Verhailey."
"King Prog," Aithne gasped. "I know who he is now. You and father have spoken of him, his court, and his people many times."
"We have." Ina nodded. "That night, it came to pass that he wanted our joining no more than I. He wished your father and me the highest of blessings and turned away wearing a smile. His court, his family, his land were disappointed not to be joining with the court of a goddess queen, but it was Daria, my mother and reigning queen, who objected most strongly."
"Why would she object? Did she not wish to see you happy?" Even as Aithne asked, she knew the answer. No. Queen Daria cared of nothing above power, above rule. She cared not for happiness and love.
"She wished for more power to be brought to our court. Nothing more," Ina confirmed what Aithne had been thinking. "Though ours is the most powerful of courts in all the lands, she has never stopped at wanting more."
"What of father's family?" Calliope asked. "Did he not bring some power of his own to our court?"
"My union with Andrew prevented our line to flourish in the ways of Daria's wishes. More than any, our union hindered those wishes."
"How?" Karan asked. She sat so straight now that Aithne saw every ounce of tension in her sister's body.
"Your father is part Fae. You know this, but what you do not know is that he is part mortal as well."
"Mortal!" The sisters gasped in unison.
"He is a half-breed born in our world but in part by another."
"You defied law," Aithne realized, remembering what the queen had explained of the law among races and especially that of the goddess court.
Ina nodded. "We did. Even after the passages between worlds were closed for all time, trapping half-beings not of our land in our land, the court of the goddess was deemed never to mix with a lesser being, a half-being. This was but another reason I was promised to Prog. I feared Daria might slay Andrew in her anger, for I refused to join with any but him. She did not, of course. What she did instead was curse us all." Her voice dropped with the last, and she bowed her head, a gesture done before a queen but rarely by a queen.
Aithne sucked in a breath. "Cursed?" she repeated and glanced at Karan and then at Calliope. Both sisters stared at the queen open mouthed, eyes wide.
"What kind of curse?" Calliope finally asked, the words soft and trembling with fear.
"What was the spell, mother?" Karan asked.
"We were never to breed, the king and me," Ina whispered, her head still bowed. "I was to never be with child for to do so would produce beings lesser of our station. Half-breeds like Andrew."
"Like us," Aithne added and felt all that she was and all she had ever been begin to weep in the deepest depths of her soul. To be considered lesser simply because she was not of full royal line, she had never considered how badly it could hurt to know that.
"If we, your father and I, chose to defy this law," Ina continued as though Aithne had not spoken, "grave events would befall our children."
"Daria would rather our court, the reign of our goddess power to end than to be carried on by half-breeds." Karan sounded venomous, the combatant gleam returning like bright swords in her eyes.
"Yet you had us." Aithne pointed out the obvious. "You defied law a second time and bore three daughters."
"Andrew and I resisted. Year, by century, by millennia, we obeyed Daria's law. We ruled as goddess queen and king of our land to never have heirs of our own. Still, I dreamed." She covered her belly with her hand and sighed. "So much I dreamed of you, wanted you, pined for you." She raised her head, met each daughter's enthralled gaze in turn. "What is a woman, any woman, if not a mother? I longed to feel your lives in my womb with such grieving desire that your father could bear to see my pain no longer. It was then that we defied Daria for our final time. We had each of you."
"Is that why you watch us so closely?" Aithne asked, realizing for the first time in her life why her parents had always been so protective over her and her sisters. She had always thought them overprotective, too loving even, to keep her and her sisters under such a watchful eye. She knew now that act had been out of fear.
"Because of the curse," Karan chimed in. "You are afraid a grave harm will befall us because Daria deemed it so."
"It is my greatest fear always," Ina admitted. "Still, I have thought you safe before now, until now. You have been watched, yes, protected, yes, but I have always believed your own celebrations to be the time of true danger. I have thought to delay them, struggled with conscience and mind to postpone them indefinitely but I cannot. I know I cannot."
"It would not bother me at all," Karan stated firmly, almost happily.
"It would. In the end, it would," Ina disagreed.
Calliope lifted her head from where she had let it fall to rest on Ina's shoulder. "You think us to be harmed at our joining celebrations?"
"It is when it all began," Karan said softly, and her words drew a nod from the queen. "Do you not think Daria would find it a fitting thing for the curse to continue at such a time?"
"She thought exactly that, I believe. The spell she cast upon you says as much."
Aithne's blood chilled, causing goose pimples to rise on her flesh. Though her heart began to pound wildly once more she had to ask. She had to know. "What was the spell, mother?"
Ina turned to her, took her hand and held her gaze. "One of you will suffer at the hands of desire so greatly it will bring you death from the inside out. Another shall suffer a heart so divided that fear shall bring her death. Lastly, one shall be engulfed by a world of darkness to reside in terror and face a monster that will bring a death of no end."
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