Rebel Prince

Rebel Prince

Justine Davis

January 2015 $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-5-560

Book 3 of The Coalition Rebellion Novels

 
Our PriceUS$16.95
Code978-1-61194-5-560
 
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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

Back Cover Copy

 

The Coalition has not given up on the jewel that is Trios, and this time they are determined not to conquer, but destroy.

A new generation will be tested.
Lyon—the son of a legendary Trios king.
Shaina—the daughter of an infamous skypirate.
Rina—a survivor haunted by the losses of the first rebellion.

Prince Lyon would rather strip naked in the square than allow Shaina Silverbrake bragging rights for rescuing him from anything, much less would be prince-nappers on Arellia. But what he wants and what destiny has planned for him are about to collide when a dark plot is uncovered by Rina. Lyon’s last adventure before royal duty claims him for life becomes a race for a powerful artifact, and the fate of two worlds hangs in the balance.

Author of more than sixty books (she sold her first ten in less than two years), Justine Dare Davis is a four-time winner of the coveted RWA RITA Award, and has been inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. Her books have appeared on national bestseller lists, including USA Today. She has been featured on CNN and taught at several national and international conferences and at the UCLA writer’s program.

Find out more at her website and blog at justinedavis.com, Facebook at JustineDareDavis, or Twitter @Justine_D_Davis.

 


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First two books in trilogy recognized as Romantic Times 200 BEST OF ALL TIME!


Excerpt

 

Prologue

"I’M GOING AFTER her. I’ll take the next transport.” Dax Silverbrake was pacing the floor of the Triotian royal palace’s private quarters, covering the same twenty feet of floor time and again. Barely suppressed energy nearly crackled around him.

King Darian of Trios watched his best friend in obvious amusement. "Are you sure confrontation is wise just now?”

The pacing continued. "What I’m sure of is she has no business scarp­er­ing off like that. Off world, without even a word of explanation.”

Dax half expected a reminder he himself had done much, much worse. But Dare looked as if he were considering his next words so carefully that Dax knew what was coming, and hastened to forestall it.

"I know, this is my doing. Perhaps it wasn’t the best decision, but I only wished her safe, and free of pressure, for as long as possible.”

"Lying to your child is rarely the best decision,” Dare said.

"I didn’t lie,” Dax said. "I just... omitted something.”

"Spoken like the skypirate you once were.”

Dax winced. And there it was, he thought, stopping in his tracks.

Dare pressed the point. "You omitted something indeed. The biggest thing of her life. Her destiny. And she is, in fact, an adult now,” Dare added.

Dax spun around then, glaring at his oldest, closest friend. "You are not being any help, Dare.”

"I am a father too,” he said.

"But not of a daughter. They’re... different.”

"That I cannot argue with,” Dare agreed with a grin. "Women are thank­fully different.”

"Califa’s too damned calm about it,” Dax muttered.

For the first time Shaylah, Dare’s mate, spoke. "That’s because she’s not worried about Shaina’s welfare.”

"How can she not be?” Dax spun around to look at the queen he so ad­mired, the woman he loved like a sister as he loved Dare like a brother. She was smiling so serenely that Dax felt a spark of irritation.

"Because she knows Shaina is safe.”

Dax blinked. "What? How can she know that?”

"Shaina was upset, furious really, and feeling betrayed.”

Again Dax winced, but this time the feeling went clear to the bone. He was beginning to realize the scope of the mistake he’d made.

"Califa knows because she knows her daughter. She knows where she would go. Where she always goes when something goes wrong in her life. Which is why she will be safe.”

Dax frowned. "Are you saying... ?”

"Of course. She went to Lyon.”


 

 

Chapter 1

AS LONG AS THEY didn’t know who he was, he had a chance of staying alive.

Lyon held to that hope as he sat in the darkness of the tiny room they’d thrown him in. His head ached where the cudgel had caught him, and his shoulder ached where he’d gone down on the taproom floor, but nothing ached quite as much as his pride. He’d been taken like a green cadet, by one of the oldest ruses of all time.

But the worst part was that when Shaina heard about it, she’d be able to say, "I told you so.”

And say it she would. She’d hold this over him until they were both old and gray, and for Triotians that was a very long time.

All this assuming, of course, that he was alive for her to say anything.

Instinctively he checked the chain around his neck. The heavy ring bear­ing the royal crest lay safe against his chest. He’d taken it off before he’d arrived. The ring was too recognizable, and he’d wanted this bit of anonymity before the rest of his life began.

How long had he been out? Minutes? Hours? It had been daylight when he’d risen to wander Galatin, the capital city of Arellia, his mother’s home world. And now it was—

His thoughts broke off at the sound of approaching footsteps. The door rattled. He leapt to his feet, ignoring the pain that shot through his head at the swift movement. He’d already felt around in the darkness, knew they hadn’t left him anything to fight with. This was going to be hand to hand.

So be it,he thought.

He backed up against the wall. He raised one knee, bracing his foot against the wall. Light poured in as the door swung open, and he blinked reflexively as it stabbed at his eyes.

"Awake, are you? Good. I was afraid you were out permanently.”

The cheerful voice didn’t fool Lyon this time, as it had when the jolly-looking round-faced man had approached him asking directions. That had been just before the man’s unseen companion had bludgeoned him sense­less. He’d awakened to find his money pouch gone and a lump on his head the size of a whisperbird egg. So much for being the pride of the Triotian War College.

"Not feeling talkative?”

He could make him out now, an unprepossessing man with a tendency to wear an absurd grin. Lyon contemplated making a run, and tensed the leg braced against the dank wall, ready to push off, thinking he could bowl over the rotund man and be gone before he could recover. Except for one little problem. He didn’t know where the second man was, the tall one who was altogether too handy with his cudgel.

"Well, that’s fine, you just stay quiet, and when the man with the coins ar­rives, we’ll just be on our—”

A hollow thump in the corridor was followed by the thud of something heavy falling. The man in the open doorway looked toward the sound.

"Rickel,” he called. Silence. "Eos, that man,” he muttered. His voice rose a notch. "Rickel, don’t play any of your silly games now.”

The man took a step in the direction the sounds had come from. Lyon knew he had to take this chance—he might not get another. He shoved away from the wall, lowered one shoulder, and ran for the light.

The man wasn’t nearly as soft as he looked. Lyon heard a grunt as his shoulder took the man at kidney level, but he didn’t go down. His hands wildly clawed back at Lyon. Grasping fingers tangled in his long mane of hair, and yanked fiercely. Lyon winced. Twisted away. Struck out at the round man’s face.

Lyon heard another thud, just like the first. The round man jumped, yelped explosively. He glanced down the dark hallway, as if facing a secondary attack from the rear. The glance was only a split second, but Lyon didn’t waste the opportunity. He drove a precisely aimed foot sharply into the man’s ample gut. Air whooshed out of him. Lyon swept the man’s legs out from under him with a swiping kick. Swiftly, he grabbed his own blade from the man’s belt and used the hilt to send him to sleep.

One down. Now for the other. I’ll relish paying him back for this headache.

"Cub! Over here!”

He froze.

No. It was impossible. She had sworn she wasn’t coming. She was home, on Trios. There was no way in Hades that Shaina Silverbrake could be here.

But he knew that voice too well. And no one else dared use that child­hood nickname any longer.

"Come on! These skalworms will be coming around any minute—you’d better get moving!”

He spotted her the instant she spoke the second time, from the shadow of the large archway. She was grinning at him, that insufferably taunting grin he’d seen directed at him all too many times in his life. She’d always seemed more vividly alive than anyone he knew, and now she was fairly crackling with life. She was fire and spirit and beauty afoot. She took his breath away.

She doesn’t want you except as her loyal companion, so stop even thinking about it.

"Will you move, Cub? I’m out of rocks to throw. Don’t mess up my chance to rescue youfor a change.”

He’d deal with her unexpected appearance here later, he thought. In the meantime, she was right—as she so often was—and he’d better get moving.

She led the way unhesitatingly, and just as unhesitatingly he followed. She wasn’t the exact navigator their beloved Rina was, but she knew the way and he didn’t, given he’d been unconscious when they dragged him in here.

They ran until they reached the alley behind the taproom. And that, too, brought back memories. Shaina had always been quicker, and able to outrun him, until a growth spurt had given him the height and stride to beat her. And their instructors in the warrior arts hadn’t been above using their competitive natures to get the most out of each of them.

And of course his father had advice.

Don’t get cocky. A smart woman doesn’t need muscle or strength to get the better of you. And Shaina is very, very smart.

The words had been delivered in a wry voice, interrupting Lyon’s crow­ing over his first-ever victory over her in a footrace. The comment had been followed by a teasing comment from his mother, and then his parents had exchanged That Look that told him they’d be disappearing into their chamber for a while. He’d been just old enough by then to realize what that meant, and had quickly gone back to his crowing to hide his embarrassment at his par­ents’ lovesickness.

And his father had been proven right in their next race, when Shaina had distracted him at the start and gained herself a ten-stride lead he hadn’t quite been able to overcome. Their race now was to get clear of this dark, rather dank alley—he’d swear he’d seen a fanged flymouse hanging upside down in that high corner—and it ended at the street. A street that was full of rowdy Arellians, reveling in remembrance of their declaration of independence from the Coalition.

They merged into the crowd, thankful the celebration seemed to still be go­ing full speed. As they worked their way down the street, Lyon watched celebrants who clearly gave little thought anymore to the years-long war that the declaration had caused, a war that left many dead and more wounded, some permanently. Judging by the people he’d talked to since his arrival, looking forward, not back, was the Arellian wont. He had the odd thought that he, only half-Arellian, probably knew more about their history than they did, thanks to his parents’ insistence.

But this was not the time to be thinking about history. Or even the fu­ture, that distant time when he’d be dealing with the burden his father now carried. Life was interesting when your father was the man who saved worlds and you were set to follow in his footsteps.

But right now he should be focused on saving his own backside. And Shaina’s. Not that her backside was something he wanted to even let into his mind. It was enough to deal with the fact that she, the very person he’d come here to get away from, was walking beside him, apparently completely una­ware of his turmoil.

To her you’re just the big brother she never had, he told himself.

And you’d better remember it.

"HERE, CUB,” SHAINA said, pulling her long, dark hair free of the cap she wore, "stuff that mane of yours under this.”

Lyon was sitting across the small fire from her, on the folded thermal cloth he’d pulled from the pack he’d retrieved from his hired room once they were sure they’d eluded his captors. They’d escaped to the high ground above the city, at the base of the ancient mountain, camping as they had often done at home while exploring the slowly healing face of their world.

He caught the cap she tossed. Frowned.

"I don’t need it.”

It came out more sharply than he’d intended, but he was on edge. Not so much from the narrow escape as because that nickname was beyond wearing on him. But he knew if he said anything, she’d just use it more often. She liked being the only one who could really disconcert him.

"Wrong. I’m the one who doesn’t need it. I blend in here.”

She had a point, he thought. With her dark hair and pale skin, she looked as much Arellian as both their mothers. It was he who stood out. His father’s genes threw true.

"Unless, of course,” she added, "you’d rather keep walking around as a tar­get.”

"It’s not as if anyone knows who I am,” he said, grimacing as he put the cap on, shoving long strands of Triotian gold hair out of sight under the heavy blue cloth, taking care not to touch the still very tender lump behind his ear.

She scowled at him across the fire. "Have you been drinking too much ling­berry, Cub?”

"Have you been bitten by a bark-hound?” he retorted. Damnation, he didn’t know if he could take much more of this. She treated him as if he were indeed that cub—perfectly safe, utterly tamed—while he felt anything but tame right now, fighting urges she clearly didn’t feel in turn.

No wonder the nickname was starting to slice at him.

"I could be any Triotian,” he said with an effort at calm. "You know there are lots of people traveling between here and Trios since the MIP was signed.” The Mutual Interest Pact had been a triumph of his father’s negotiat­ing skills, even if there were doubts on Trios that Arellia would hold up their end.

That all this would someday be his responsibility was a knowledge he’d grown up with. Yet somehow the coming changes in his own life and posi­tion, which had once loomed huge over him, seemed less important right now than the change in his feelings toward his best friend.

Shaina ignored his words. "Of course they know who you are. You look just like your father. You know, the guy whose face is right next to your mother’s on all those placards all over the planet?”

He signed inwardly. She was right. Of course his father was everywhere. As was his mother. The Graymist family was as famous and revered on Arellia as his father’s was on Trios. Many had died heroically during the first Coalition invasion, and had been secretly venerated even as the Coalition became the way of life. The rest of the Graymist family on Arellia had been wiped out in the rebellion. So when a surviving member of a most beloved family bonded with a king and became queen of the most revered planet in the sys­tem, he supposed the fame was inevitable. Especially when together they had waged the battle that had ended the Coalition’s evil on Trios, which in turn had inspired the rebellion here on Arellia.

But two of the biggest heroes of that rebellion were Shaina’s own par­ents.

"Look who’s talking,” he said. "Your parents are right next to them on practically every sign.”

"Yeah,” she said, rather glumly. "And before you ask, yes, I saw the statue.”

Lyon managed not to laugh at her tone. His edgy mood faded. He’d seen it, too, that larger-than-life sculpture commemorating the flashbow warrior of Trios and his remarkable weapon, the gleaming silver crossbow that could only be used by him, firing bolts of incredible power. The new statue was the reason this year’s celebration was even bigger than usual. It made sense, he supposed. This had always been a tribute to the warrior as much as to the decision to fight.

That warrior also happened to be Shaina’s father, the near-mythical Dax Silverbrake, former skypirate, now Defense Minister of Trios, a title he ignored for the most part, saying being the flashbow warrior amounted to the same thing.

"Quite a party,” Shaina said, looking toward the glow of lights and the faint sounds of celebration still coming from the city. "You’d think they’d just signed the declaration this morning.”

"My father says it’s important that they remember. If you forget, you get soft—and ripe for the picking all over again.”

Shaina grimaced. "My mother says the same thing. She says the Coalition, or people like them, will never, ever give up, not really. Even if you wipe them out, more like them will reemerge, somewhere, and take the same path all over again.”

Lyon didn’t say, "She would know,” although it went through his mind. Shaina’s mother, also Arellian and the former Major Califa Claxton of the Coalition Tactical School, had been both famous and honored in the Coalition before she committed the unpardonable sin of betraying the High Com­mand for a friend—his mother.

Like everyone on Trios, Lyon knew the story inside out: A prince be­come king and his new queen working with the prodigal flashbow warrior and his tactically brilliant mate, standing together in a way that inspired them all. The Coalition, which had expected to crush the upstart rebellion easily, had instead been driven out of its most prized conquest.

He was incredibly proud of them. The responsibility of being their heir was heavy at times—hence his desire for anonymity on this trip—but he wouldn’t trade being their son for anything.

"—stay here. I may never go back.”

Lyon snapped out of his reverie at Shaina’s words, and the edge that had come into her voice. "Never go back?” he said, afraid he’d missed something crucial.

"Well, maybe not never,” she amended, "but come on, Cub, you have to ad­mit living out from under our parents’ legends has... a certain appeal.”

Since he’d just been thinking something similar, he couldn’t deny it. Nor could he deny the tense undertone he was still hearing as she spoke. As al­ways, she used the bedamned nickname, which he’d only allowed because it had pleased him to have at least one person eschew the royal deference.

That at twelve she had refused to allow him the same privilege with her own name had amused him. Now he only used the shortened "Shay” in his mind, when his thoughts strayed into territory he tried to avoid. When some­one thought of you as their brother, thinking of them as something much different than a sister only made things worse.

And taking off for another planet hadn’t helped much, even before the source of his disquiet had turned up in person.

"Do you really think it would be different here?” he asked, feeling his way carefully, not knowing what was eating at her. "They’re as celebrated here as they are at home. Especially your father.”

She grimaced. "If they only knew.”

There it was, Lyon thought. Whatever was eating at her was surfacing now. He’d grown up with her, and he knew her expressions almost as well as he knew his own.

"Knew what?”

"That my father, their vaunted, adored hero,” she said, her voice now nearly dripping with a bitter note, "is a liar.”


 

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