Mari and Ki’s story began in the Royal Vow Series, Sweet Surrender. As I finished what I thought to be the last book of the series, Sweet Temptation, I discovered Mari and Ki had another story to tell. I hope you enjoy this two part story of their sweet destiny. Don’t worry, as a thank you treat I’ve included both parts of this story in one book, Sweet Destiny.
The King’s Sweet Revenge
Mari and Ki are just as much in love today as they were seven years ago when they first fell in love. As the King and Queen of Tanistan they’re faced with many of the same issues as most married couples. Their time is not their own and commitments and work keep them apart much too often.
After three children Mari is beginning to feel as if she doesn’t measure up to the expectations of her husband or of her country. When Ki cancels yet another private dinner to go out of town with his very attractive and size two assistant Mari overfills her schedule to keep the silly voices in her head silent.
The Queen’s Sweet Return
Mari and Ki are faced with the challenge of rebuilding their marriage. Would they fall in love a second time? Were they really destined to be together?
While Mari and Ki still have the same explosive chemistry, Mari can’t help but wonder which woman lay in his arms and in his heart.
NOTE: While Sweet Destiny is a very sweet read this book has steamy hot sexual scenes and is written for 18+ readers. If you don’t like sexy time in the ocean, in the shower, in the kitchen …well you get it. Then this story isn’t for you.
Mari finished her last mile on the treadmill in the palace gym and guzzled a bottle of water, not even caring that most of it spilled down the front of her sweat-drenched t-shirt. As she tried to catch her breath, she used the bottom of her shirt to wipe beads of perspiration from her face, a very unqueenly thing to do. She looked around cautiously, hoping none of the council elders were lurking nearby.
She grimaced as she walked on wobbly legs by the wall of mirrors on her way to the dressing room. Her baby was almost a year old, and Mari couldn’t lose the last ten pounds of baby weight. No matter how much she dieted or worked out, those pesky pounds refused to leave her.
Pushing open the door, she was instantly greeted by Gena, her secretary and the group of people that transformed her into Queen Mari for palace appearances. Gena followed her into the shower room and updated her on her schedule for the day. Mari only half listened as she quickly washed and pulled on a robe. Once she sat in the make-up chair, Gena opened the door and allowed Kevin and Dalia in.
Usually, she enjoyed sitting and planning her day while they worked their magic with her hair and make-up. Today, all she could focus on was the way Ki had kissed her good-night and then rolled over and had gone to sleep. Normally, she wouldn’t have thought anything about it. After all, he was king and had been working long hours lately on new ecommerce contracts for their country. But, he hadn’t even noticed the new peignoir set she was wearing. She was just being silly. He’d been so busy that they hadn’t been able to have any alone time in over a month, and she was missing her man.
An hour later, Mari’s hair and make-up finished, Keshia, her dresser, entered pushing a rolling closet filled with Mari’s outfits for the day. No matter how much she insisted, the publicity committee wouldn’t allow her to wear the same outfit at different functions. That seemed like a total waste to her. What did it matter if she was photographed wearing the same outfit twice?
She checked the time; if she hurried she could get one more hug from her children before she left for the first appointment of the day. As the residing queen of Tanistan she missed not having time to devote to her children. Ki had insisted she cut back her schedule after Janel was born, but with Kaden and Shayla in school now, taught by their aunt Kassie, Mari had increased her workload accordingly.
Keshia held out a tailored black skirt for her to slip into, zipped it up, and then pulled the matching coat from the rack.
“Oh, Keshia, you missed a tag.” A garment tag was pinned to the bottom of the skirt. Mari looked at it and her bottom lip began to tremble. “Keshia, this says a size ten. I wear a size six.” She stared at those double digits, willing them to be the incorrect size but so afraid they weren’t.
“Well, ma’am,” Keshia began to fidget. “Perhaps the sizing is off.”
“How long, Keshia?” Mari looked from the tag to the woman who had been dressing her for years, the woman who would do anything to keep from hurting her feelings.
“Ma’am, you’ve just had a baby.”
“A year ago, Keshia. I had a baby a year ago.” Mari slumped down in a chair. “I just don’t know why I can’t lose those last ten pounds.”
“If I may say, ma’am, your curves are very attractive. My mother says a man likes more of a woman to love.” Keshia’s smile turned into concern as she grabbed a tissue for the queen, “Please don’t cry, ma’am. Your makeup; remember your makeup.”
“Have all of my clothes been replaced with larger sizes?” Mari asked tearfully, but she knew the answer when Keshia was much more concerned with the clothes remaining on the rack than answering her question. “Never mind. I’m just going to have to work harder.”
The rest of her day was busy but, thankfully, uneventful. When she finished for the day, she couldn’t wait to shower and change into Mom instead of Queen Mari. She first checked on the baby in the nursery and was disappointed when she found her napping. She knew she had responsibilities as queen, and she took those duties very seriously, but she missed her children. Ki had insisted she hire nannies for the children after Janel was born, and she hated it.
Shayla and Kaden met her at the schoolroom door, jumping with excitement to see her.
“Mommy, come see my drawing,” Shayla giggled as she took her hand and led her back to the work table. “This is Daddy, and this is you!”
Mari admired the picture, “I see Daddy has his crown on.”
“Yes, this is his crown, and this is a soccer ball,” Shayla proudly pointed out.
Mari smiled; she couldn’t ever remember seeing Ki play soccer with a crown on. The picture was pretty good; her daughter may actually have some drawing abilities.
“And what’s this? Why is Mommy wearing a mask?” Mari pointed to the picture of herself.
“No, Mommy, that’s not a mask,” Shayla giggled and pointed to Mari’s eyes in the picture. “That’s those lines around your eyes.”
Mari’s hand went instantly to her eyes and she tried to give her daughter a proud smile. Did she really have crow’s feet? That’s what her mother always called them, but older people that had them, not her. After spending a few moments more with her children, she left so Kassie could get back to their lessons.
Her first stop after leaving the schoolroom was the bathroom down the hall. She peered into the mirror and gasped when she saw the start of a few lines around the corners of her eyes. When did those happen? She wasn’t a vain person, but realizing her body was beginning to change and mature was unsettling at best.
And then a small little niggle of a thought started forming in her mind. Was that why Ki hadn’t kissed her last night? No, absolutely not. Ki loved her just the way she was, but what if he wasn’t attracted to her any longer? Her new gown from last night was in his favorite color, and it was see-through in all the naughty places. A year ago he would have taken one look at her and the gown would have ended up on the floor within thirty seconds.
No, she absolutely refused to allow any thoughts like that into her head. What she needed was a visit with her husband, and that was exactly what she was going to do. Ki would tell her she was silly, and then maybe they could do that thing she liked so much on his desk. Her insides felt all shivery at the thought.
Mari made her way to the office wing of the palace and stopped when the woman sitting behind the assistant’s desk wasn’t Rima. In fact, the woman sitting behind the desk would have looked at home on the cover of Sports Illustrated. “Who are you?” Mari asked, as she straightened her blue button down shirt, which suddenly made her feel very dowdy.
“I’m Benita, Your Highness. Rima moved to the States to be closer to her grandchildren.”
Had she been so busy that she didn’t even remember Ki telling her about Rima? “I see. How long have you been working with my husband?”
“Almost a month now. It’s a very rewarding job, and Ki is so wonderful to work with. He has been very patient and understanding while teaching me.”
Mari’s ears perked up at this causal reference to her husband, “Ki?” Her eyebrow raised in displeasure.
“Oh yes. Ki asked me to forgo his royal title since we would be working so closely.”
“I see.” But she really didn’t…or maybe she was beginning to.
“May I help you?”
“Yes…” Mari pushed her shoulders back and straightened herself to the full potential of her five-foot-four-inch frame. “I’m here to see my husband. Is he available?” Ki hadn’t mentioned he had a new assistant. Why would that be? That little voice was back, and she didn’t like what it was saying one little bit.
“Yes, Your Highness. Shall I announce you?”
“No, that won’t be necessary.” Mari took one more look at the picture perfect Benita and made her way down the hall and into Ki’s office.
Mari pushed the door open and paused. Ki smiled and motioned her in while talking on the phone. He held up one finger letting her know that he would only be another minute. From listening to his end of the conversation, things weren’t going well with the ecommerce committee. Just as she always did, she scooted on top of the desk right beside Ki. Usually that was an open invitation for his hand to wander, no matter who he was on the phone with. But today, he pushed her hip over to get at a piece of paper beneath her and then began to take notes.
Mari’s gaze ran appreciatively over her husband. If anything, he had only grown more handsome through the years. There wasn’t a single gray hair anywhere in his thick, dark hair. Shayla couldn’t have drawn lines in his picture because there weren’t any to be found. His jacket was thrown over a chair, and his white dress shirt was unbuttoned at the collar exposing that small triangle of skin that always drove her crazy. It was always her favorite place to cuddle. His body hadn’t changed either; he was just as tall and muscular as ever. He didn’t even wear glasses. Mari frowned, at her last doctor’s visit she’d been prescribed glasses—only to read with, of course. Mari sighed. It didn’t seem fair that men aged more gracefully than women.
When his one minute turned into ten, she decided to wait and talk to him at dinner. She jumped down from the desk and kissed him on the cheek. She turned back around before she went through the door, and Ki never looked up. Did he even know she had left?
Mari chided herself all the way down the hallway. The thoughts running through her head were preposterous, and she refused to give any credence to them. Benita was a lot younger and firmer than she was. Mari even bet her breasts were perky, something that Mari’s stopped being around child number two.
She didn’t get to talk with Ki at dinner because he sent a message that “they” would have something sent to his office and he regretted he would be unable to attend dinner. Mari didn’t want to dwell too long on who “they” were. Often-times Ki needed to work late. Her appetite gone, she pushed her food around on her plate and finally gave up the pretense of eating. She spent time playing with the children, tucked them into bed after their bath, and read them their favorite story.
After a quick shower, she dressed in Ki’s favorite shorty nightgown and settled in on the couch in their sitting area with a new romance novel she was reading on her ereader. She must have dozed because she woke with a sore neck, with the room in darkness, lit only by a small lamp on the end table. She checked the time and couldn’t believe Ki was still working at three in the morning. Her steps faltered when she found Ki sleeping soundly in their bed. Never could she remember a time, in all the years of their marriage, when he hadn’t carried her to bed after finding her asleep on the couch. Never.
He was tired. That’s all it was, she said to herself as she closed the bathroom door and flipped the light switch. Her lower lip began to tremble when she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.
She ripped her gown off, and there it was staring back at her. Her breasts were no longer perky and firm. She picked them up in her hands and moved them up to where they used to be. Dropping them back down into their new deflated position, she ran her hands down her body and over her fluffy stomach. Turning sideways, she saw the once-flat area between her hip bones was now rounded over and … she peered closer to the mirror and squinted because she wasn’t wearing her glasses. Where were her hipbones? They were still there; she just had to push on the bone to find them.
Her lower lip began to tremble again when her eyes moved lower to her bottom. Ki always loved her bottom. Now her butt was just a great big mass sitting on the top of her legs. This was how Ki saw her. No longer did she have the body he first married. Did he no longer find her attractive? Was that why it had been almost a month since the only thing they’d done in their bed was sleep?
A month… hmm. Mari tapped her finger against her bottom lip, deep in thought. She remembered the conversation she had with Ki’s new personal assistant. Benita said she had started working with Ki about a month ago. No, Ki would never cheat on her. That was a preposterous thought. If there was one thing she knew about her husband, she knew he would never turn to another woman. But the woman gazing at her from the mirror wondered if he still desired her.
She refused to allow those thoughts into her head. Instead, she pulled on her workout clothes and headed to the palace gym. If she hurried she could put in a couple hours on the treadmill before the children awoke.
Who is Liz Scott? A voracious reader, full-time writer wanna be, wife, mother, and PA to two terrier terrors, Powder & Moxie. Liz is the author of The Royal Vow and Hearts of Gold Series and a Carolina girl who loves sand between her toes as frequently as possible. Liz is also known as GumShoeMom on the Geo-Caching circuit.
Join Liz and friends, for the Sweet Destiny Release Party & Birthday Bash tomorrow (April 2nd).