Exclusive Preview: Paladin Published - Prologue

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It's one thing for me to tell you the published version of Paladin is different, better, worth your time re-reading (or in some cases, reading for the first time); it's another thing to show you. The version of Paladin I'm publishing represents the best of my writing and gives you new glimpses of this world and these characters that you haven't seen before. And to give you a taste of what the revised book has in store, I'm premiering the prologue of Paladin on Wattpad. Enjoy!

Sam paced anxiously outside the Duke of Haywood's solar. The duke, Sam's father, had not had the chance to properly scold her the night before since he couldn't very well scold her in front of all his esteemed guests. But before she'd gone off to bed, he'd instructed her to meet him on the morrow for, as he put it, a "brief discussion." Sam knew the conversation was bound to be neither brief nor a discussion. She was in for a one-sided rant.

Gathering her courage, she knocked on the great oak door to her father's bedroom. "Come in!" her mother, Duchess Tsalene of Haywood, called out in her thick Rhean accent.

Sam exhaled a breath in relief. The duke was infinitely more reasonable when his wife was present. Sam drew her shoulders back, pushed open the door, and stepped inside.

With its damask-covered walls, mahogany carved furniture, and massive double fireplace, the solar had a romantic elegance that reflected her mother's eclectic tastes more than her father's unimaginative aesthetic. As was customary, the duchess had her own suite of rooms in the western tower of the castle, but she rarely used them, choosing instead to share quarters with her husband.

The Duke of Haywood reclined in a throne-like chair by the mantle of the fireplace. "Samantha," he drawled, drawing out the syllables of her name as though to nettle her. He knew she preferred Sam.

She dipped into a curtsy. "Your Grace." Then she went to her mother, who sat on the edge of the canopied bed. "Mother," Sam said warmly, pressing a kiss to her mother's cheek.

The duchess made a clicking sound with her tongue. "La, daughter, show your father some affection. You wouldn't want him to get jealous."

Sam rolled her eyes. The duchess was the only person capable of inspiring jealousy in the duke. "I'm quite sure he prefers I don't," Sam said.

The duke cleared his throat. "He is standing right here and prefers not to be spoken for." He gave his wife a long look before returning his attention to Sam. "How did you sleep?" he asked awkwardly.

It was an olive branch, and Sam was smart enough to take it. "Well, father. Thank you."

"Excellent, excellent." He gave his wife another long look.

The duchess did not return his gaze, instead looking down at her turquoise-varnished nails. Sam began to grow nervous.

"Samantha," the duke said, "take a seat beside your mother."

Sam obliged, smoothing her skirts underneath her. The duke stared at her for a long moment, not saying anything. Even her mother began to fidget.

"I'm sorry!" Sam burst out when she couldn't stand the silence anymore. "I'm sorry about last night. I should never have provoked Lord Crawford."

"What's this?" asked the duke, his eyebrows narrowing. "You provoked Lord Crawford?"

Sam blinked. "He didn't mention it to you?" She had poured her drink down Lord Crawford's shirt when he'd gotten a little fresh, and she'd been sure he would blab to her father.

The duke glowered at her. "No he did not, but perhaps he should have." He turned toward his wife. "You see, Tsalene, this is exactly the sort of behavior I'm talking about."

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