J is for Joshuan – the hero from my Markham Library novella Eclipse of Her Heart for the Spanking A to Z Challenge.
When I originally wrote EoHH, I waffled back and forth between making it all from Seri’s POV, or in adding Joshuan’s. While I ended up with the former, I do have one chapter that has sat on the back burner forever – never before seen except by me. It’s the one chapter I wrote from Joshuan’s POV about what made him go in search of the woman destined to become his wife.
This has never been edited. And it is a whole chapter, so it’s long. Just warnin’ ya’ 😀
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Swiftly, Joshuan walked along the wall, his head filled with so many thoughts he did not consciously wonder where he was going. He already knew. This maze had been a game as a child, a mathematical problem he learned to solve easily. There were many such mazes in his world, though this was by far the most complex. It used to contain good memories.
Now, it was his escape route.
Being in the main city had been a gambit he took against the will of his best advisors, including his nephew and his uncle. It was a strategy that had paid off big…if he got out of here alive. Hearing footfalls to his left, he slid into one of the many hidden pathways and hunkered down, watching as four sets of boots ran past him on either side. His cousins were so sure of themselves, but they had never come to know this spot as well as he had. There was a fear in them and their most trusted advisors of the maze; hints of ghosts and of getting lost and never making it out again. A fear Joshuan had never shared; not even the first time he stepped foot inside the elaborate hedge maze.
That might be why it showed him as many secrets as it had, though he knew there were more he had not come across yet. He hoped he lived long enough to dig out all the wonders it knew.
As soon as the footfalls disappeared into the distance, he slipped out the other side and began the path that would take him to the forest. Once he reached it, he would slip away unseen for Garun and the rest hated the forest and would not set foot there unless they were being chased by someone or were sure of their success in battle.
His feet nary made a sound as he moved quickly, pausing before each intersection to listen before continuing. When he was only fifty yards away, he once again slid into a hiding space as he heard voices.
“We cannot find him, my lord.”
“That is because you do not try hard enough! You have one day. If you have not found him by then, we will burn the infernal thing down!”
It was a barren threat. Nobody, not even Dronin would dare to burn down the royal maze. It carried with it an immediate death sentence and he knew it.
The problem was that this placed Dronin and his guards right where Joshuan needed to go and while the guard rushed away, Dronin did not. Damn. Joshuan would need to find another route.
“My lord, how long do we wait?” another guard asked.
“As long as it takes.”
Taking a deep breath, Joshuan slid deeper into his hiding place, moving inside the hedge rather than along it, taking a path that would take him further away from his intended target, but maybe, if he let himself be seen far away from where Dronin stood, he could get his enemy to move. Hearing several guards to his right, he moved in that direction. The trick was to get them to spot him far enough away that the hedge wall would have disappeared before they found where he vanished. They would assume he had taken off in the opposite direction and chase that way, hopefully calling out to others as they did so.
It took over half an hour to reach the stretch he needed. Stepping out, he paused, for once hoping to hear an approaching step. It took ten minutes before he heard them. Standing straight, he watched the two soldiers come into view, both of them looking haggard, scared, and quite disjointed. Perfect. As one of them looked up and saw him, he did a double take. “There!” he yelled. “Lord Joshuan is over here!” Both men ran forward, as exhausted as they were they never saw him duck within the hedge. So they ran around the corner, still yelling to anyone who could hear that they had found him.
Grinning in satisfaction as he heard a bevy of heavy boots running in this direction, Joshuan took off again through the hedge toward the forest. It was difficult, almost painful to pause when he heard others running his way, but he forced himself to do so. It would not be good to have someone notice the hedges move; though of course more than likely they would take it to be a ghost; still, the last thing he wanted was for anyone to find the maze’s secrets.
Once he returned to the spot he was before, he climbed out of the hedge and swiftly and silently made his way to the turn before the opening. He did not even need to look to see his cousin and one of his guards standing just outside the maze. Neither of them were much a match for him. Dronin spent most of his days eating and sitting, so his round stomach precluded him from being much of a problem. The guard? It was difficult to tell considering the fancy getup Dronin had him wearing. His sword was sheathed, which would give Joshuan a headstart, which was all he needed. Nobody wanted to enter the forest. Of course, nobody wanted to enter the maze either, so Dronin might order the poor man to follow him.
If so, the soldier would die today. Joshuan’s senses were highly acute and he could smell his nephew a short distance away, possibly even waiting with their most skilled fighters, though he hoped Rushta had not left their camp undefended. His life was not worth that.
Soundlessly, he moved to the entrance and without pausing, broke into a sprint, half way to the woods before Dronin finally noticed. “Catch him!” he screeched. As Joshuan moved between two trees and slid smoothly through the curtains of bright green moss, the heavy sound of boots hitting grass were silenced by a grunt and the sound of a heavy body hitting the ground.
“Let’s go,” Joshuan hissed and felt more than saw four people taking up flanking positions around him as they ran straight through the greenery that surrounded them, taking the long, windy path that would lead them back to their temporary home, a small makeshift village in the middle of the Frienmar.
When they arrived, Joshuan looked neither left nor right, but went straight to his tent, not having to wait before Rushta, Harkin, and two others walked in behind him. Turning he glared. “I told you to stay away.”
Rushta glared back. “Sire, we were not about to leave you to it.”
“And what if someone had attacked our people?”
“They would have been met with our soldiers. Sire, I told you once and I will tell you again. I will follow all orders except for one. I will never leave you to die.”
Joshan stared into his nephew’s eyes, getting the message clearly. On this one thing, Rushta would not budge. “Hard-headed,” he grunted, pouring himself a glass of wine.
“Of course,” Rushta replied, a small grin spread across his face. “Mom says I got it from you.”
“Sire,” Rholah, a thin gaunt woman said, walking into the tent and kneeling down. “You’re back! Might I help you relax?” There was no doubt to any male in the room what she meant by relax. Rholah was a very common courtesan. She just wasn’t very subtle.
“Harmed at all?” Harkin asked calmly as Joshuan waved her over. She scrambled in front of him, quickly reaching in and pulling his cock out of his pants. There was never any teasing or waiting with her. Instead, she gave him what he required; a warm, moist, open mouth.
“No,” Joshuan grunted, his eyes closing briefly in pleasure before reopening. Rholah had been doing this for years and he had no time to dawdle. “Make it fast, Rholah.” Her wet lips slid down his shaft and a moan left his lips as he entered her throat. Grasping the sides of her face, he pulled out and thrust back in, using her in just the way she loved, slamming the tip of his dick into her throat several times before thrusting all the way in and grunting as he came, her muscles clamping around him as she swallowed convulsively. Sighing as some of his tension was relieved, he stroked her head and pulled out. “Thank you.”
She beamed at him before turning and scrambling out of the tent.
“You should not encourage her,” Rushta said. “She is not to be trusted.”
“You are being narrow-minded, nephew,” Joshuan chided, putting himself to rights. “Just because she enjoys giving pleasure does not mean she is going to tell anyone anything.”
“Stop thinking with your cock.”
Joshuan’s eyes narrowed and he took a step forward. “You forget yourself, Rushta.”
“Stop!” Harkin ordered, stepping between them. “This argument can be saved for another time. For now, I would like to hear what you have found out, my lord.”
Staring at his nephew until he finally bowed his head, Joshuan slowly turned toward Harkin. “It is worse than we thought. They do not intend to allow us to live in peace here. They are already trying to figure out a way to get us out of the Frienmar so they can attack and kill us all.”
“How can they do that? They won’t even enter the forest,” Rushta spat.
“They won’t,” Claren, one of the more quiet of his advisor’s spoke. “But there are others they might recruit to do so. We must be alert for the first sign of treachery.”
Grunting, Harkin shook his head. “Nay. We should be looking for the new queen. That, alone could save us.”
Barking a laugh, Joshuan finished drinking his wine. “I think it would be easier to turn ourselves into Archirian beetles than it would be to find our queen.”
Shaking his head, Harking began to back up. “Nay, my lord. We have been told for decades what it will take to bring her here. Plus, you promised my sister. Come,” he said after a long pause to the others. “Let us take our leave of Joshuan. He needs time to think.”
Turning, three of them left with Rushta following them a little more slowly. As he reached the tent opening, he turned. “Uncle, please do not take this the wrong way, but that old prophecy is devil’s play. It was created to give us hope, but I do not know that it will save us from anything.”
“I agree, but what else do we have? Do you think I enjoy the thought of marrying some simple woman who is not of our blood and making her our queen? There must be something else we can do, nephew. I will do everything that needs to be done to save our people; if need be I will search for our next queen. Just hope I can find something else first, hmm?”
Chuckling, Rushta nodded and left the tent, leaving Joshuan to his chaotic thoughts.
There had to be another way to save his people than to go looking for some girl to impregnate with their next king. Taking a few pieces of food from one of the trays, he lay down on the long sofa and stared unseeing at the top of the tent. Maybe he could at least check and see if this portal existed. That would at least let him know if it was even possible. He hated for his people to get their hopes up if the whole thing was a lie.
Thinking of the prophecy, his mind instantly replayed words he had heard as a child from Jara Hoga, one of their strongest seers.
“She will be known by her name, a symbol to all of us of pure and utter happiness and will utter the most solemn of words as the sun goes dark. Kava will anoint her with a screech and a sign and all within shouting distance will know she is the one.”
“But where will she come from, Jara Hoga?” he had asked.
“Deep within the Frienmar, my dear boy, there is an entrance to another world. It is from that other world wherein she will come to us. Now, you have asked enough questions. Go play in the maze.”
Smiling slightly at the memory, he sat up, quickly swallowing the last of his food. Well, he had nothing better to do; he might as well go check it out now. It was the least he could do for his beloved aunt whose death had been an incredible blow to both him and Harkin. His aunt and uncle had been married for close to ten decades.
“Guide me, Jara Hoga,” he murmured as he slid out of the back of the tent, making his way into the woods quickly. “Guide me to the portal.”
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Eclipse of Her Heart
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Series: The Markham Library, Library Tales
Thrilled to be spending her summer interning at the world’s largest erotic library, Serendipity Jones feels it cannot get any better than sun, sand, and the beautiful castle the library is housed in. Within days of her arrival, strange things begin to occur that only she knows of. Erotic sounds come from within the library when nobody else is around, the books won’t open, and a strange man seems to be plaguing her steps.
At first annoyed by the imposing taciturn man, she finds herself attracted and quickly falls in love with Joshuan even though he is meant for another. On a quest to find the woman foretold in a prophecy from his world, he is at first annoyed at Seri who keeps getting in his way before coming to enjoy her company and falling in love with her. But their short love affair must come to an end. For the woman foretold will be found as the sun goes silent and the solar eclipse comes quickly.