Preview of The Sanctuary of Eldon, Book Five in the World of Samar
Shara sat on the blanket across from Talar and watched him fill her glass with wine, then he handed her a plate. She took the plate and began eating, more to fill the silence, than from hunger. She’d agreed to this picnic, but she still wasn’t sure she understood what she was feeling. She missed her husband, but this calm, confident man sitting across from her wasn’t him. He had shocked her the night before with his confession. At the time, she’d been ready to relent.
She’d had an entire day to reconsider and decided that giving herself to this new Talar might prove more costly than the old one had. In the last year and a half, Talar had taken her on a never ending ride, one filled with ecstatic happiness and much pain. Now he was proposing an even more confusing life to her and she wasn’t ready for it.
She sipped at her wine and shifted uncomfortably. Why wasn’t he uncomfortable in this silence? “Talar, aren’t you going to say anything?”
He lifted his head. “What would you have me say, Princess?”
The pet name, spoken with his new placid quality, sent a shiver through her body. For a man who had changed so much, his physical effect on her hadn’t altered. He could still make her want him with a simple look or a word or a touch.
She forced her eyes away. “How long before you prepare for the journey to Sarkisian?”
He raised his glass to his lips and took a drink. “I’ve already begun preparing. I’m just waiting for your decision.”
Shara’s eyes flashed back to his face. “My decision? Do I have a decision? The way you tell it, it’s a foregone fact and I have very little choice in the matter.”
“It is a foregone fact. Time is only an illusion.”
Shara bristled and drew a furious breath. “Stop saying these insane things, Talar! You can’t possibly know any more than I do. You can’t have everything you want, you just can’t. I’m not a servant or a slave, and you don’t own me!”
“I don’t want to own you.”
Shara exhaled in frustration and her eyes lit on the Nazarien guards all around them, trying to appear unobtrusive. “Do they always have to be here?”
Talar lifted his head in surprise. “I’d forgotten they were here. Do they bother you?”
“Yes, they bother me and they would have bothered the old Talar, too. What has happened to you, Talar? Where is the man with the fierce pride and freedom who allowed no one to control him?”
Talar’s brow furrowed. “I don’t understand...”
“Look at all of this, Talar! Look around you. What has happened to you? Do you really think you can buy me with gems and clothing and fine foods? Do you think all this wealth will make me accept you again?”
Talar shook his head in confusion. “Shara, I’m not trying to buy you...I...”
She struggled to her feet, cutting him off. “You want me to be your wife again, but I don’t know you. I don’t know this passive, compliant man! The man I loved hated all of this. The man I loved would have thrown away all these elaborate trappings.”
Talar rose swiftly and moved close to her. For a moment, she saw a flash of his old passion. “Shara, the man you loved was a tormented man, filled with bitterness and pain and anger. The man you loved was a coward, running from himself and everyone else. I hated that man, I hated the cowardice, the selfishness, the unhappiness.” Shara stared at him, unable to believe what he was saying. He ran a hand through his mane of hair. “The man you loved was empty, trapped inside his own denial.” He caught her by the arms and pulled her closer to him. “Shara, I’m full blooded Stravad. Stravad need to be happy and content and comfortable with themselves. For once, I’m fully Stravad. I was dying before, but I’ve been set free and given a second chance at life. And I intend to take it, Shara...no matter what, I intend to take it.”
Tears streamed down Shara’s face. “Maybe, Talar, but maybe this man is the one that’s dead...and maybe my Talar was killed in Mt. Askar.” She broke his hold and hurried away. She didn’t even allow herself to look back at him.