HEARTBREAKER FOR HIRE
Twenty-year-old Kaia Featherfoot is a professional heartbreaker. Turns out, there are plenty of scorned maidens eager to send ex-lovers a taste of their own medicine for a reasonable price. (Some clients even throw in bonuses for public humiliation.) Not that she can complain about steady business, but she doesn’t understand why women bother with love. Men use, abuse, and move on. In fact, imitating them has been her undying key to success.
After stumbling into the Kingdom of Zagar, she places her ad with the local sewing circle. Almost immediately, she receives a reply from clients unlike any she’s had before: a group of men, led by the local innkeeper, Ronan Greenly. They want her to win the heart of the tyrant King Lance—to lure him from the castle while the rebels search for the key to his undoing.
Seeing the huge sack of gold they’ve offered, Kaia draws up contracts. But she begins to realize the project is more than she can handle. The king isn’t some self-absorbed flirt like the men she’s played before. He’s a powerful man who’s becoming dangerously obsessed with her. And her secret romance with Ronan only makes the charade more difficult to pull off.
Should the king uncover the conspiracy brewing under his nose, the rebels will hang. Should he catch Kaia kissing Ronan, she’ll beg for death.
Kaia managed to dodge a flying chair and a pair of patrons toppling over a table as they threw punches. Shards of glass crunched under her boots as she slunk through the tumultuous tavern, searching for a clear path to the backdoor. Despite her hurry, she stopped to take a swig of an abandoned beer before making a beeline for the exit. Mr. Bowman and his brother had sparked the brawl—swinging fists at one another like children—and now bottles of lager sailed through the dim room amid profanities and blood splatter.
In truth, it was Kaia who started the fight. But she took comfort in knowing the men were too preoccupied to keep her from escaping. And by the time they noticed she was gone, she would already be on her way to another town, where well-woven secrecy would keep her safe as it always had.
Once she made it to the door, she looked over her shoulder one last time. And a wicked smile played on her face before she slipped from the frenzy.
Part of her knew she could kiss the Kingdom of Kegsley goodbye forever, because there would be no going back. But most of her didn’t care. She was going to miss the harbor where the men tied off heavy shipping lines and the masts bobbed, slow and hypnotic, in the water. She’d miss that kitten that followed her for walks along the emerald green hillside in the morning.