Authors: Daniel A Roberts
|Passion of the Different|
|Passion Trilogy |
|Daniel A Roberts|
Amnesia robbing him of all identity and found by Myra, it's clearly evident he isn't of her people. As exotic to her as she is to him, will culture differences be too much for their growing passion? Or will Queen Darya successfully steal what no peasant should have?
Torn by subterfuge and conflict, his choices may have little bearing as the forgotten past catches up.This is Volume One of The Passion Trilogy, where romance, action and humor are in abundance. Discover the fascinating lore as the Elerians encounter their first human. Meet their hostile Sanego neighbors and watch the mayhem explode as our hero's wrath is unleashed. Experience it all with your own eyes and immerse yourself in a new realm.
Passion Of The Different
Daniel A. Roberts
Copyright © 2011 Daniel A. Roberts
All rights reserved.
To my father, William L. Roberts who made me promise on his deathbed to never stop writing. I honor that promise to this very day.
To my brother, James R. Roberts for being there for our mother during her time of need. For sparring with me when I was little and teaching me martial arts. For other things as well, too many to list here.
To my best friend, Nancy Hubbard, who has a large heart and wonderful disposition. Her contributions and kind feedback will never be taken for granted.
As always, to my wife and four children, two whom are grown and on their own at the time of this novel's release. I can only hope they're proud of this accomplishment.
Chapter One - Amnesia
The pale morning light accompanied the soft kiss of cool fresh air. The tall white bark trees stretched towards the sky with a majestic strength, their dark green leaves loose enough to make dancing shadows on the forest floor. The rustle of the grass had a calming, tranquil effect on the naked man who laid there on his back, staring up at the world in confusion.
His bronze skin was a testament to years of being in harsh sunlight. Bright light blue eyes remained unfocused and wandered, his muscular limbs did not move. The wind increased its announcement, stirring the long wavy brown hair that spilled around his head in a wide swatch. Unseen birds gave him a sweet song, their voices almost unnaturally accurate in their harmony, laced with beauty and a touch of happiness.
He knew his memory was gone. Despite the serene setting, a knot of sheer panic untied itself and roamed his mind while looking for an identity. It is hard to examine one’s self this way. What is a part of you is there and only answers when you call to it. He simply didn't know what to call for.
An eternity of self-examination later he decided to directly try for his name.
Who am I?
More uncomfortable time passed and he frowned slightly. There was no answer from the center of his being. No rush of knowledge that begged to give even the slightest relief from the situation. His thoughts whirled and then resettled. It was time to try for something a little simpler.
Where am I?
An immediate answer rushed forward and presented itself, but he was instantly unhappy with it. He knew he was lying on his back in the grass of a forest floor. His mind searched for locations, names for landmarks, the type of trees and point of arrival. None of these got found, his conscious keenly aware that his brain was only reporting back absorbed information from when his eyes first opened. It was time to focus on the immediate situation since his personal history remained stubbornly dark.
While there was no bodily discomfort, the fact that naked was not good danced across his conscious with deliberate slowness. That almost made him happy. It was amazing how good it felt for a mind to recall something, anything, even as rudimentary as the fact that being naked was not proper. He felt the beginnings of a smile. Emboldened by the small successes for even that low-level of self-knowledge, he braved his own intellect and decided to speak.
“Hi,” he said carefully. There was no need for volume, but he did not want to whisper. His own voice was new and fresh to his ears, a deep sound that had an interesting timber to it. At the point he decided that he liked his own voice, a wholesome world shattering shock coursed through his entire being as he got an unexpected answer.
“Well, hello there,” a much lighter, higher pitched musical reply reached him from off to one side.
This was so unexpected that it unnerved him for a moment. He knew he had not replied to himself, more than sure he would have noticed somehow. He froze, held his breath. Even his eyeballs stopped moving. He saw a piece of white tree bark and focused on it for a point of reference. What was he supposed to say now? Who had spoken to him? Then the melodic voice spoke again, this time with concern.
“Are you hurt?”
“No,” he replied honestly, his own voice surprising him again. His eyes still on that piece of bark, he had no idea what to do but to resume breathing. Then a previously entertaining thought came back to haunt him like a tattle tale child.
His heart started to race and his breathing increased for a moment, then his thoughts found truth and acceptance happily having a party with the urgent need to provide an explanation with the few facts he had to work with. “I don’t have any clothes.”
“I can see that,” the pretty voice returned, still filled with concern. “Who are you?”
She picked that moment to walk into his line of sight. Her footfalls made no sound as she moved, a wicker basket with a cloth over the top hanging from an arm. Green silk and golden thread made up a simple dress that swooped low over an ample bust line and complimented her long light blue hair. Large almond shaped lavender eyes sparkled with kindness and perfect rose colored lips sat below a slightly turned upwards nose. She was petite yet shapely. He found her highly beautiful.
Yet something didn't seem right. His eyes roamed again and settled on the high points of her ears. This seemed odd to him and he could not place why even as she moved with natural cat-like grace to get a little closer. When he did not reply right away, her head cocked slightly to the left. This increased her beauty and he started to bite his bottom lip, mind racing to deal with what little he had to go on.
“Something is terribly amiss,” she observed accurately, then repeated more slowly, as if she needed him to understand that this was important, “Who are you?”
Finally, an inner voice popped into his head that he knew to be his wiser side and advised of complete honesty. As there was a serious shortage of reliable advice on the virtues of a lie thanks to amnesia, he decided to follow his instincts.
“I don’t know who I am,” he explained, a matter of fact reply softened with regret. “My eyes opened here, looking up towards the trees. Forgive me for not knowing what to say. I don’t even know how I arrived.”
While he regarded her, he found her regarding him right back. Those lovely lavender eyes of hers took in his entire naked frame. She even noticed the slow blush that climbed his cheeks from her inspection and her own gaze jumped upon realization that
stare. As the blush to her pale cheeks arrived, she pulled back the cloth from her basket. Slender fingers reached inside and pulled out a larger square of thicker material and offered it to him.
“Here,” she advised kindly. “Unfold my sitting blanket and wrap it around you. Follow me and I’ll see about getting you something to put on.”
He reached up and almost marveled at the amount of muscle on his arm. His mind wrestled with the thought that this couldn't be the first time
he had seen
himself, yet that is exactly what it felt like. His gesture felt weightless. The feeling of movement in his body was the announcement his brain needed to start-up the reflexes, as if he had lain dormant for a long time. That puzzled and intrigued him as he sat up. He almost jumped at the feeling he got from his long brown hair as it fell around his muscular shoulders. Unexpected and strange yet hauntingly familiar. His fingers started to unfold the square and he quickly learned that the sitting blanket was much larger than it first appeared, enough to wrap around his middle more than once.
“Thank you,” he said, grateful with a touch of smile. He stood and wobbled and he really didn't care for the awkward moment of being a stranger to himself. It took him a moment to catch his balance on seemingly brand new athletic legs. Her hand shot out to steady him by touching his forearm. Those long and slender fingers were cool against his skin. In addition, he noticed she was much paler than he was, as if she had been made of silky cream.
“You’re welcome,” she replied, her eyes grew wide as she looked up at him. She realized just how tall he stood when on his feet but it didn't seem to intimidate her. The top of her head came up to his chin. She took a step back and got a better look at him as he steadied his balance and got used to his legs.
“Please lead the way,” he suggested a few moments later, his best friendly grin reaching his light blue eyes. “I’m lost out here, where ever we are.”
She inhaled deeply, returned an understanding nod and started to walk. Her legs were powerful, quick and soft stepping. He had to strain his ears to hear her footfalls, making his own seem loud and clumsy. As he followed her through the forest, he focused on her back and kept his thoughts deliberately silent. He would have to take everything one step at a time and hopefully get his memory restored before he would be too much of a burden on her good will. It would be several years before he would realize just how nice it would have been to remain ignorant.
Chapter Two - Home Sweet Home
Her cottage seemed large for one person even after his girth filled it. The bold architecture was intricate, each line giving a delicate curl near its end which spoke of high artistry and skill. Candles in small glass pillars stood in each corner, the buttery glow a smooth blend from one area to the next.
“You have a very nice home,” he remarked, his deep voice loud but respectful. He had to keep his volume high while clinging to the cloth he had wrapped around himself, his sense of his modesty intact even if his memories were highly flawed. She was seated at a large table, foot pumping a pedal on a contraption that had lots of circular parts, thread from various spools along one side and a gyrating metal ball of various needles in the middle. The contraption rapidly stabbed the material from a bolt of dark blue cloth with different threads as it passed through a slot underneath the device, making a significant amount of noise.
“Thank you,” she replied over the racket, both of her hands busy while she fed more of the dark blue cloth into the weird sewing machine. “It took me almost a full year to build it the way I like it.” She casually flicked her long light blue hair to one side as she leaned her shoulder into the push, revealing the side of her slender neck and pointed ear. Her focus was so intent on working the device, she didn't see his own eyes grow wide. He couldn't help but notice her elegant lines, the delicate beauty she radiated by her mere presence.
“I’m impressed,” he admitted, knowing she would take the compliment for her construction skills. While her natural beauty continued to stand out and affect him, he realized she was serious about her work capabilities. He tried to picture her small form swinging a heavy hammer or using a large saw and it almost made him laugh. He wore a silent smile instead and watched as she pushed the final pieces of cloth through the machine and down into the slot.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t build closer to town,” she explained, good intentions riding her voice over the clacking machine. “Or you would have freaked out everyone with how tall and different you are.” Her volume had been lowering along with the sewing contraption as it wound down its moving parts to a standstill. “There, all done. Let’s see how these turned out.”
He was momentarily speechless when he realized she was pulling actual clothes out from a receiving basket under the table. She had been pushing the cloth into the thing for only ten minutes or so, and out came a pair of comfortable looking pants with an elastic waist band and a pullover short sleeve shirt. She beamed him a happy grin of accomplishment and his mind created sweet comments he felt too shy to voice.
You industrious pretty little thing. Look what you did in no time at all
, his more well grounded thoughts yammered quickly.
“I don’t know what to say,” he confessed after the moment of embarrassing silence had passed. The material was soft as silk with a slight velvet texture as he accepted them from her. It was obvious she had used expensive materials for the sewing. He wasn't sure what her goal was at first, but only to make something while he stood around covering his parts. He didn't realize it would be for him right away and made from scratch so quickly.
“Say my name then,” she offered, still smiling brightly up at him from her chair. “I’m Myra.” She held out her hand and offered a clasp of friendship.
His own much larger hand engulfed hers and gently shook as he replied with as much kindness as he could muster, “Myra. That's a pretty name. It fits you well. You have my deep gratitude and honest thanks.”
Her cheeks got a slight rosy glow as she gestured to the bundle he held. “I hope that fits you. If not, I'll make adjustments. Please try them on?”
“Sure,” he replied, looked around quickly. She started to giggle and he gave her a puzzled look.
“I’ve already seen you naked,” she explained, lavender eyes giving a playful flash. It was there and gone again before he could blink. “Put them on here so I know where to make corrections if I have to redesign anything. Go on, I have no dressing room.”
“All right,” he replied neutrally, tried too hard not to appear modest. As he quickly got dressed, he tried not to notice her eyes roaming his form. Was that in concern for the fit of the clothes, or because she found him attractive? He wasn't sure and wouldn't mention it even if he was. The fit was excellent and the clothes were extremely comfortable. He held up his arms and did a slow turn. When he was facing her again, her eyes were wide and innocent with hands clasped together on the tabletop. “Well?”
“Perfect,” Myra said, and it wasn't the word so much as her tone that put a warm feeling down the back of his neck. He would have given a lot to know if she was talking about the fit or about him personally. She continued in a more casual voice, “I can’t make the boots, that's a skill I don’t have. I’ll go to the boot maker after I measure your soles and we eat. You’re lucky I picked enough for two just before I found you.”
“You’ve done quite a bit for me already,” he stated with only a touch of self complaint in his deep voice. “I don’t have any money. I don’t even have a name.” Then the solution rushed forward in his thoughts and he seized it. “I’ll work for it.” He gestured towards the white wood door where the sunlight streamed through the small stained glass window, giving the hearth a rainbow warm quality. “I noticed your small farm, barn and fence when I followed you here. Some of it needs work. Repairs. I could help out in payment for everything you’ve done, for a start.”
He regarded her reaction carefully as it was not what he expected. He could have understood better if she gave a satisfied look and accepted. There wasn't anything in his mind that said things were free. He expected to have to do something in payment. He could have argued if she refused his offer, letting her know he didn’t take charity. She wore an expression way different from anything he could have imagined.
Her mouth opened and closed several times, trying to talk but nothing was coming out. Her whole frame shifted back into the chair, one hand coming to rest on her upper chest as her eyes roamed about the room, a thunderstruck look crossing her sharp features. Finally, some sound started to eek out in her musical accent. “You would do that for me?”
“Myra, how could I not?” he asked, surprise swelling his deep voice. “I’d be glad to work for what you’ve done. How else could I repay you? Look, don’t even bother measuring my feet. I’ll go with you to the boot maker so he can do it.”
Her head snapped back up and her rich lavender eyes locked with his immediately. What he had suggested refocused her with an important urgency. The change was so quick and just the opposite of what she had been doing, the switch made him blink several times as he heard the first sounds of a lecture infusing with that sweet musical accent.
“No you’re not, don’t even think about walking to town with me,” she mildly scolded. The news of a town perked his ears, he realized with interest there was indeed a bigger civilization beyond her cottage farm. He internally cursed his darkened memory over the lack of providing critical facts and continued to listen. “You hear anybody coming, you duck into this house and don’t show yourself until they're gone. If
saw you now, there would be a ruckus and a crowd and possibly danger. It might take me a long time to break the news about you. I have to get them acclimated to the idea, then maybe invite one at a time… but until then,
stay here and out of sight.”
“Why?” he asked, more than a little bewildered. As he listened to her and carefully considered her body language, he realized there was more to this than a mild scolding. She was concerned for his safety, as if there was something about him that would make people afraid or angry. While his memory was terribly dark, there were common sense basic feelings he still found reliable. He had no sense of why people should be afraid or angry with him.
“Come here,” she answered, quick to her feet and stalking across the room to the far wall where a tapestry hung, the weave making it appear to be a sunset with a mountain in the distance. As he approached, she tugged on a corner and it partially fell to reveal a long and wide mirror. Their images were sharp and the quality of the reflection high in detail. He stood next to her slender form and noticed his hard chiseled face coupled with a body that spoke of strength and height. With his broken memory refusing to share information, this felt like the first time he had seen himself.
That bothered him on several levels but he didn't let it show in his expression. Being no judge of men, he didn't know if he would be considered handsome or not. At least he didn't look ugly to himself. The outfit she made him looked comfortable while hugging his frame, a V pattern stitched from the right side of his chest down to the left side of his waist. His wide chest muscles pressed through the material as it clung to him, as well as his leg muscles. Not super tight like stockings. Just noticeable. He started to shake his head when she frowned, the first time he had seen her unhappy. He didn't like that look on her face but there wasn't much he couldn't do about it at the moment. Her level of suspense in the mirror didn't go away either as she put all of her concerns into one word. “See?”
“I’m afraid I don’t…” he started, but she cut him off.
“You look nothing like anybody I‘ve ever seen,” she pointed out. Her finger addressed every part of him in the mirror. “Your long hair is dark and wavy. Your eyes are the color of a summer sky, which has
been seen before. You have
muscles. I have never seen muscles so big in all my life. Your skin is like bronze. Look how tall you are. I was always teased for being the tallest girl ever among my people. Men are actually unhappy with having to look up at me. You… even compared to me you’re a giant. Your voice is so low, I can't even begin to describe the effect that has. Your ears are rounded and short and somehow it fits you instead of looking like a defect. Nobody in my town or whole world for that matter, as far as I know, looks or sounds
like you. Is your memory so far gone that you don’t realize this?”
Now it was his turn for his mouth to open and close several times before he got out his one worded reply. “Yes.”
out loud,” she exclaimed, the realization of his condition being more serious than she realized had loaded more stress on the word than she intended. He staggered and almost fell. He put a hand to his head and his vision clouded, cleared and re-clouded in mere seconds. It wasn’t anything in her tone or expression. It was that one
“What?” he muttered to her, astonishment robbing his deep voice of much of it’s volume, making it almost a whisper.
Her slim form attached to him instantly, her shoulder going under his arm. She supported him with the quickness of thought and helped him stagger to a lowlying couch. Concern and surprise chased itself across her pretty features as his weight made the white wood frame creak. She detached herself but sat close, her hand going to his head to feel for a fever. He didn’t have one, but his eyes weren’t focused. “What’s wrong?” she asked quickly.
“You said a word,” his voice staggered out. He leaned his head back and put both hands on each side, his long brown hair spilling over the back of the couch.
“For crying out...” she tested slowly, and her hands shot out to steady him as she realized the word 'crying' had done something to him. He writhed as if in agony and she had no idea what to do. “I’m sorry!” she added louder, hoping it would reach him as she started to feel responsible for his pain, and also frustrated in not knowing what or why this was making him thrash.
He gave no notice he heard the apology. He couldn’t. Something about the word thundered through his mind, something close. There was no physical surface pain, but a horrible shifting pressure as if something wanted out, a deep pulse pushing forward from the center of his head. A mental squeeze that was high in pressure. He knew what that something was, and even as he fought it, he hoped it would win.
It was a lost memory trying like hell to break out.
A deeply buried and powerful memory was drilling through the cold black barrier in his mind. Hands pressed each side of his head and they tried their best to squeeze it out. Realization set in that they were his own hands, as he thought for a crazy moment that is was Myra who was doing the squeezing. He barely felt her long cool fingers on his chest, pressing him back and trying to steady his thrashing.
Crying. That word was so close to the front of his thoughts. Why? What was special about it? He mentally repeated it to his striving mind again, and the barrier in his head heaved again. A damn common word as far as he knew. What was it? What! There was an internal popping sound only his ears could hear, as if he was adjusting to a different altitude. A
The pressure was off instantly and he felt better than normal. He found himself sitting on the couch with hardly any recall as to how he sat down there. Then he became aware of Myra and her beautiful eyes, filled with fright now and a small tear about to fall from one corner. Her light blue hair was in disarray around her pale shoulders and her hands remained palm down on his wide chest, as if expecting him to start thrashing again without warning.