Living in the catacombs, Rook is known as the Lord of the Underworld as he raids the king.
But when Lady Calliope stumbles into his lair with sunshine and kindness in her heart, he starts to question his way.
Can a lady bring one of the bastard sons of the king out of the darkness and back into the light, realizing love is more powerful than vengeance?
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Excerpt from Ruthless Knight:
While the catacombs were dark, morbid, and filled with death, this room looked to be light, warm, and full of life. That confused her because when she’d heard from Everad that the Demon Thief lived in the crypts, she pictured him as some monster that thrived on flesh and blood and would shrivel up and die if he ever came into the light.
Ignoring her common sense that warned her to retreat, her desire to know more about this mysterious, dangerous man gave her the courage to move forward.
The raven shrieked from behind her, almost as if it were warning her about walking right toward her imminent death.
Reaching the humongous stone that had been moved aside, she realized there was a wooden door hidden behind it. Opened a little, she could see furnishings inside the chamber. With her dagger clutched in one hand, she leaned forward and pressed one eye up to the crack to get a better look. Oddly enough, it seemed more like the chamber of a noble than the abode of a killer. Silently and cautiously, she reached out her shaking hand, her fingers skimming the gnarled wood of the door. It felt thick and dense and took more than just a slight movement of her wrist to push it open further.
Just one better glimpse of the room and she’d be on her way, she told herself. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears, and her mind scolded her for being so stupid. Still, she did not retreat. Bravely stepping one foot over the threshold, she took shallow breaths as she pushed the door open a little more.
She should have called out and made her presence known since it could be Everad inside. But once she got a better look at the furnishings, she decided to stay silent. Everad may have gone down the wrong path when he teamed up with the Demon Thief but, needless to say, he was still a monk. No monk would be living like this. It would be best to take a quick look and leave without making her presence known.
Three stairs led to a large four-poster bed with ornate designs carved into the wood. It perched atop a small dais in the center of the room. Long, purple velvet curtains hung from black iron rods around it, dressing the bed as if it wore a cloak of protection. Next, her gaze was captivated by a scene painted on a whitewashed wall just beyond the bed. She pushed the door open just a little wider, stopping in mid-motion and holding her breath as the rusty hinges of the door squeaked loud enough to raise the dead. When she was sure no one heard her, she stepped inside the room with both feet to inspect her surroundings. Her eyes scanned the area quickly to make sure no one was there. She released a breath of relief. The room was vacant.
The difference in the warm, dry atmosphere of this chamber compared to the wet and dank passageways of the catacombs was amazing. One lantern and also a candle lit up the spacious area in a warm glow, enabling her to get a better look.
Colorful woven tapestries lined the walls, giving a royal air to the surroundings. Thick wooden beams overhead opened to what looked like vents leading upward in small stone tunnels. She could feel fresh air brushing past her face. A little light from the sky came through the vents as well. The floor was made of wood and felt warm beneath her feet. So unlike the damp earth floors of the village huts.
Candlelight flickered, causing shadows on the walls. When she smelled cinnamon and cloves, she realized it wasn’t a tallow candle made of animal fat that was commonly used. Instead, it was of the highest quality, made from scented beeswax. Beeswax candles were expensive and usually only used by nobles or the high clergy.
She glanced back over her shoulder to the darkness of the crypt from which she’d just come. The bird had stopped making noise and she wondered where it went. Holding her dagger in front of her for protection, she padded across the floor toward the whitewashed wall with the mural on it. Calliope marveled at the fact that it looked like the painting was outlined in places by gold leaf.
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered, reaching out and slowly dragging her fingers across a colorful depiction of two knights jousting at a tournament. In the background of the scene was the castle. In the lists sat a few nobles and some men of the clergy. Oddly enough, she didn’t see the king in this painting anywhere. In front of the painting sat a wooden table and two chairs that were carved with intricate patterns and swirls, just like the posts on the bed. Most commoners sat on benches or stools, but these were chairs with backs on them. Her fingers ran over the intricate design, tracing the swirls up and down.
Then she spotted a warrior’s chain mail tunic and weapons on another chair. This had to be the abode of a warrior. The Demon Thief! Calliope’s eyes darted back in the opposite direction where she saw a basin of water atop a table near the door. She had been so mesmerized by the beauty of the chamber that she hadn’t noticed it when she’d first entered. Even from where she stood, she could see the water was red with blood. A shiver ran up her spine and she realized she’d made a mistake. She should never have entered. A sudden need filled her to get out of the room and back to the castle immediately where she would be safe.
Hurrying back toward the open door, the toe of her mud-soaked shoe kicked something across the floor. Her gaze flashed downward to see the pieces of a chess game scattered across the floor.
Curiosity gnawed at her insides and was the only thing that kept her from running. She hurriedly scooped up a piece with a pointed top, realizing it symbolized a bishop. It was made of a beautiful swirled marble of the finest quality. Her thumb trailed over the top of the jagged, broken stone that had chipped when it hit the floor.
Before she had a chance to inspect it further, a hand clamped over her mouth from behind. She dropped both the chess piece and her dagger as her hands involuntarily rose to try to push the big hand away. She was pulled backward, hitting what felt like a hard chest as the sharp edge of a cold blade pressed up against her throat.
“Make a move and I’ll slit you from ear to ear,” growled a male voice in her ear.