Enjoy an excerpt from Hidden Passion, historical saga
He had stepped back, she remembered, to make it easy for her to face him. The dark eyes looked at her, so calm, yet so compelling. Somehow half her anger deflated under his appraisal.
‘What taking over are you talking about? You have nought to begrudge me with. All of your family is alive and well, princess.’ he said.
‘Alive but for what? To bear the insult of squirming under your thumb? It would have been better for us to have been destroyed in the battle than live to be your servants!’
His eyes flashed with emotion at her outburst but he didn’t respond to her impetuous words immediately. The pause lengthened and then he said quietly but firmly, ‘I have no interest in ruling over you or your people. The sole aim of the battle was to keep the regents and their atrocities in check. The erstwhile Samrat of Campavati had set a precedent that all the other rulers had started following. The royals had become used to treating farmers as dirt, all because a farmer works with the dirt. The war will serve as a lesson to them. They will remember for a long time that when dirt gets into the eyes, it can make tears flow. Even a farmer can wrest power from those who abuse it.’
Then she had realized why people called him krsaka jayant that literally meant farmer-king. It was rumoured that once he had been a farmer. He had not come to the throne by birth. From his words it seemed it was true.
She had gazed at him, despite herself drawn to a certain magnetism that he exuded. He didn’t look like other royals but he didn’t look like a labourer either. There was a refinement in the way he spoke that made you listen even when you didn’t want to…
He added with a trace of mockery, ‘As for the flowers, I wasn’t tearing them, rajkumari. I don’t pluck flowers. You can see for yourself the roots would have got exposed in rain.’ He pointed and she saw he had been putting soil to anchor the stem of the plant more securely.
Stunned, she stared at him. She was so rarely at a loss for words. But right at that moment she was. A king who was bothered about saving a plant when he should be enjoying his wins? When he was expected to be plundering the spoils of war as he went about proclaiming his victory?
He continued, ‘The details of the treaty will be charted out soon. I can tell you this though. Your life will continue as it was. I will hold the royals accountable for their behavior. That and a certain form of financial reimbursement is all I will require from them.’
That he was discussing state matters with her surprised her even more. But she couldn’t talk to him about it. He was the enemy. The consciousness made her confused as to how she should react. She turned away, not wanting to give in, yet defeated by his arguments. Her swift movement made the wind catch her uttariya and threw it over the branches of the rose bushes nearby.
In her mind, she could still see how tenderly he had untangled it. The thin cloth came off with not a single hole or tear from the thorns.
He’d stepped close to drape it on her. She felt the warmth, the strength of him, felt the light touch as he settled it on her shoulder. For some reason, her heart was beating fast, not with anger but an unfamiliar excitement.
Later the same evening she met him again.