We will not fulfill any book request that does not come through the book request page or does not follow the rules of requesting books. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Comments are manually approved by us. Thus, if you don't see your comment immediately after leaving a comment, understand that it is held for moderation. There is no need to submit another comment. Even that will be put in the moderation queue.

Please avoid leaving disrespectful comments towards other users/readers. Those who use such cheap and derogatory language will have their comments deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked from accessing this website (and its sister site). This instruction specifically applies to those who think they are too smart. Behave or be set aside!

A Thousand Heartbeats: Part 3 – Chapter 93


As the light soaked in, forcing me to wake, I was instantly aware of a searing sensation across my torso. I went to stretch a little, and it burned even more.

I winced, putting my hand down to the ache.

“Nu-uh! That’s healing. Don’t touch.” My eyes jerked open, unable to believe that Escalus was here. But there he was, sitting beside my bed. “Trust me when I say that recovering from a wound like that is nothing to laugh at. You need to take it easy.”

I didn’t even try to fight the tears.

He looked down, shaking his head. “I know. I know, and you have every right to hate me for what I did. I never should have—”

“I just need you to answer one question for me,” I interrupted. He looked up at me, eyes guilty. He nodded. “Do I finally have a sister?”

His lips trembled as he nodded. He looked over, and Noemi came back from her place by the window. She was wearing a sunny-yellow dress, ruffles all up the front, bows on the ends of her sleeves. It had the earmarks of her handiwork, and I wondered if she’d worked on this dress quietly over the years, hoping one day she’d have cause to wear it.

I held my hand out for hers.

“When did you get back? How did you even know to come home?” Home. I shook my head at myself. I’d have to stop calling it that.

“We hadn’t traveled very far in the first place. We were married in a small church a few miles away. We’d settled into an inn for the evening, but in the middle of the night, Lord Lehmann came barging into the building, shouting for everyone to arm themselves. He said an army took the castle overnight, that the entire royal family was missing, and that it was likely these intruders were coming for the land. He was in such a state, he didn’t even recognize me.

“Well, I went back for Noemi and told her what he’d said. It seemed no one knew that Father had died or that I had left. The thing that scared me was that no one knew where you were, either. I didn’t know if you’d died in the battle, and if that was the case, I needed to defend the throne, no matter what my plans,” he said solemnly. “Noemi just wanted to find you.”

He smiled up at her from his chair.

“We came up to the palace to find the gates broken and the walls crumbling. There were a shocking number of bodies, and it looked like one whole wing of the palace had gone up in flames.” He shivered at the memory. “I couldn’t believe this had all happened in a matter of hours.”

I swallowed. He didn’t even know the half of it. “What else?” I asked. “Did anyone stop you?”

He shook his head. “No. We walked in cautiously, but it seemed the fighting had already ceased by the time we got here. My only concern at that point was to find you. But a young man who was in the Dahrainian Army found me first. I pulled my sword . . . Annika, when I tell you I barely had the strength to hold it up . . .” He let out a long, tired breath. “Anyway, he asked me my name, and I told him. He said I was safe and to follow him. I had my doubts, but he took me to a hallway that wasn’t completely demolished. Officer Palmer—you know him, right?”

I smiled tiredly and nodded.

“Officer Palmer was sitting on the floor with two books spread out in front of him. Beside him was that Officer Au Sucrit”—he eyed me at that, knowing everything about his identity now—“and he was studying every page like he’d found a hidden treasure.”

I pushed myself up, my body hating me for it. “Lennox! Where is he?”

He watched me, astonished. “So, it’s true, then?”

I swallowed. “Which part?”

“He told me many things I could barely bring myself to believe—things about our history, things about his bloodline—but the most shocking of all was his adamant insistence that he loved you more than anything in this world.”

I was blinking away tears, clutching my hands together. “He said that?”

Escalus nodded.

Noemi was fighting a playful smirk. “He spoke in words sweeter than any of those books you ever read. If I wasn’t already so happily married myself . . .”

Escalus looked up at her in mock anger. “Too late. You’re mine now.”

She giggled, looking absurdly happy.

“So, you know, then? You know that the kingdom is his.”

My brother sighed heavily. “If I hadn’t seen the books, I wouldn’t have believed it. For my part”—he looked down, thinking over his words—“I was happy to abdicate for your sake. I don’t need the position or the prestige. And I can accept abdicating in the name of righting a terrible wrong.

“The only thing that gives me pause is that I know nothing of this Lennox besides the fact that he killed our mother. And I don’t want a crown that suits you so well to be taken from you. It breaks my heart to see you pushed from the throne, from the palace, and likely from the country, considering your blood. Our blood.”

I nodded. “I’ve thought of all this already. I know that you don’t know Lennox, but I hope you will trust me when I say that I do. He won’t deny his part in taking Mother’s life, but he regrets it in ways that haunt him. Do you know how many times he’s spared my life?” I chuckled weakly. “Beyond that, do you know how many times he’s intentionally saved it?

“You have nothing to fear. I . . . I’m sad to see it go, too. Escalus, the second I knew the crown was mine, I was in love with it. Not the power, exactly, but the responsibility. I thought of all the work I’d been doing, and how it was exhausting but fulfilling. I thought of how much good I could do.

“But if the only good thing I can do with the crown is make sure it sits on the rightful head . . . then that’s what I’ll do.”

“Must you always speak so poetically?”

Lennox’s voice once again washed over me with the crashing sound of a thousand heartbeats. He’d cleaned up, and someone had given him a change of clothes. He looked like a proper gentleman now, except that he kept his hair down . . . which I liked, if I was honest.

“It only happens when I’m talking about you,” I admitted.

“Ugh! And that is my cue to leave,” Escalus said, picking up a cane I hadn’t noticed and looping an arm through Noemi’s.

She laughed. “You realize you sound the same way about me, right? Only worse.”

“Of course, I do,” he replied. “And I intend to do much more, but it’s another thing entirely to hear it. So help me to our room.” Escalus paused by Lennox’s side. “Whatever you have to say, be gentle. She’s only been awake for a few minutes.”

Lennox nodded, and I watched with joy as Escalus and Noemi left the room arm in arm. But it was only as they left that I realized I wasn’t in my room. Looking around, I had no idea where I was.

“Sorry,” Lennox said. “I don’t know what Escalus told you, but the majority of the palace is in shambles. We took you to one of the few untouched rooms. You’re in the east corridor on the third floor, if that helps you at all.”

I considered this, walking through where that would be in my mind. “Yes. It very much does.”

I noted that Lennox was holding both of the books I’d salvaged from the fire. I nodded in their direction. “Ignore my brother. Tell me everything. Whatever it is you need to say, I’m strong enough to take it.”

He lifted an eyebrow at me. “Are you sure?”

No, I thought. I’m not prepared for the moment you tell me we’re parting ways forever.

But I was determined to be a queen until the very end.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode