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A Marriage of Necessity

by Lisa Oliver

A Marriage of Necessity - Lisa Oliver - Another Arranged Marriage
Part of the Another Arranged Marriage Series series:
Editions:Kindle
Pages: 207

I owe my mother everything.

Jasper, the youngest Prince from Lowenthorp, had one driving need - to get away from the castle. After being abducted, abused, and having lost an eye, Jasper believed his only chance of keeping his Mother safe was to be as far away from her as possible. Which was why, when his Mother suggested a Marriage Contract, Jasper agreed. He didn't care who he married, so long as he could keep his Mother safe.

I can’t believe I’ve just agreed to marry a man I haven’t met. Maybe there was something in those mushrooms.

Avalon, Crown Prince of Cijan, never wanted to marry. He'd lost his fiancé many years before and determined a life filled with duty and travel was enough. Until he heard Jasper's story. Deciding he could be a friend to the young prince, if nothing else, marrying Jasper would at least put a stop to the endless Marriage Contract suggestions his father had been dealing with.

A marriage of necessity could work for them both...

Magic, whales, and ships that pass in the night. Somehow Avalon and Jasper are drawn together and when Jasper jumps overboard... The heart knows what the heart wants.

As an author I rarely include trigger warnings - I rarely write stories that include anything triggering. However for readers sensitive to discussions of abuse, there are two paragraphs in the book where this is alluded to. While I promise this story has a very sweet and happy ending, if this is a trigger for you, then this might not be the story for you.

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Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Arranged Pairing, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Marriage of Convenience
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Excerpt:

From Chapter One 

“Father, no.” Avalon leaned back from the table as if the paper smelled bad. “Father, you promised, after what happened… you said you wouldn’t do this.”

“And I’m not breaking my word now. Listen.” His father reached over the table with his hand, and after a long moment, Avalon took it. “This could work for both you and Jasper, can’t you see?”

“No, I can’t see.” Avalon didn’t get stubborn very often, especially with his father, but there were some boundaries he would not let even his father cross. “Getting married isn’t compulsory unless the World Council have made law changes since the last time I was there.”

“It’s not compulsory, no, but you have to admit people talk when people get to a certain age and they aren’t attached to someone, even on paper.”

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“If what I do for this country already isn’t enough, then I don’t know what else I can do.” Avalon stopped himself, just in time. His father should never and would never be the target for the vomit of anger in his gut. The anger that seemed to erupt every time he thought about what he was missing as a single man. He lived by his decision – it had been his to make, but it hadn’t always been easy.

Inhaling slowly, Avalon let out his breath and said more calmly, “Please explain yourself. After what you promised me - you gave me your vow you’d never change your mind or go against your word – tell me why this stack of papers…” he poked at them angrily. “How could this work to mine and Jasper’s benefit? I’ve never met the man. I haven’t got a clue what he even looks like or what type of temperament he might have.”

“What he looks like it hardly going to be an issue, is it?” At least his father had let go of his hand so he could pour more tea. “This would purely be a marriage of convenience, a contract that could be advantageous to you both. Jasper would get the protection of your position and resources, something his dear mother is desperate for.”

“If he refuses to divulge what happened during his abduction he’s not likely to ever be considered for a marriage contract by anyone of similar or higher rank than himself.” Avalon picked up his fork, tracing random patterns on his napkin where it had been discarded on the table. “There is always going to be a suspicion that something untoward happened to him, leading to all manner of speculation about him.”

“That’s already been happening.” The King tapped the papers. “These were drafted in haste last night after Fiona contacted me via dragon courier. Her letter was filled with tears and concerns over what she could do. Four separate Marriage Contracts have been received since it was known Prince Jasper had returned.

“None of them are from respectable people Fiona would ever consider in normal circumstances. They were all aiming to secure a connection to her throne and resources through Jasper, provided certain conditions were met. Indeed one of the contracts mentioned bluntly that they would give ‘the reject’ somewhere to hide his disfigurement in exchange for regular payments of gold.”

“By the Goddess of Wind and Steel.” Avalon jumped to his feet. “Who dares present themselves in such a way to a victim’s mother? Someone who ranks as Queen. Have they no compassion for what this man or his mother has been through?”

“There are always going to be opportunistic beings who are quick the grab hold of any slither of attachment to a royal family. It’s the same the world over, you know this, my son.” Although the King didn’t sound happy either.

“Yes, but one of those opportunists could be the person responsible for Prince Jasper’s abduction in the first place. The man is deeply traumatized. You said Queen Fiona was so worried about him. Disfigured and possibly violated in all manner of ways, no one with any reputation worth having is going to consider him as spouse material. How do we know one of the marriage contracts isn’t from the person who committed the deed in the first place, doing so safe in the knowledge that Jasper is too terrified to ever say anything?”

“I don’t know how much Jasper may or may not be disfigured through his injuries,” the king continued. “I have no idea of what horrors he might’ve gone through during his capture, and how that might have impacted him mentally or physically. By all accounts, and yes I did check, but from what is reported about him Prince Jasper functions, albeit quietly, and he struggles to hide his nerves. He responds when someone speaks to him unless they ask him about his time with his captors, in which case he just shuts down and walks away. He dresses soberly, is always tidy. It’s not like he’s become a maniac or a mad man.”

“Queen Fiona wouldn’t have approached you at all if he was ill from what he’d been through.” Avalon strode over to the wide windows overlooking the private garden at the back of the castle. It was more his mother’s taste than his own, but the manicured lawns and intricately laid out flower beds were what people expected to see in castle grounds. “There are plenty of quiet houses he could’ve lived in, in relative peace and surrounded by supportive persons. Why does the Queen believe a marriage is the best idea for her son in the first place?”

“She may rule a country, but at heart Fiona is still a mother. She wants Jasper to have a life. He’s still young. He’s never stepped foot out of Lowenthorp before.” Avalon’s father left his chair to stand beside him. “First and foremost is her maternal instinct to worry about him, grieving for the horrors she can only imagine, because her son won’t alleviate her concerns. I’m not saying Jasper is wrong in that regard by not talking. Whatever rendered him in the state he was left in when he was returned is not for idle gossip, nor likely fit conversation for a lady, not even his mother.”

“First and foremost?” Avalon shook his head slightly. “There is more you’re not telling me. Why has she now approached you about me as a valid spouse for her son? Especially when she has to have known I have turned down every other possible marriage partner in the known world over the past ten years.”

“Fiona trusts you would not hurt her son any more than he already has been.” The King was staring out of the window at a point on a distant horizon. “She said when Jasper found out about the other marriage offers, something she had never intended he would ever hear about because they were so awful and insulting, he said…” The king broke off and Avalon could tell his father’s upset was genuine.

“Apparently Jasper told his mother that she should sell him to the highest bidder. That now his worth as a royal was completely stripped from him, he would submit to whosoever bid the most among the low ranking social climbers who thought they could capitalize on his misfortune.”

“My gods, that poor misguided soul.”

©Lisa Oliver 2024

 

 

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Lisa Oliver's first fiction book was The Reluctant Wolf, book one in the Cloverleah series. Since then she's written more than ninety other titles spanning a number of different series including Bound and Bonded, Stockton Wolves, Balance, The God's Made Me Do it, City Dragons, The Necromancer's Smile, and the Alpha and Omega series. A huge fan of the true mate trope, Lisa's books are all paranormal, all M/M (although a few M/M/M have crept in too) and all have an HEA.

When not writing, Lisa can be found with her nose in a book. Her adult children and grandchildren have found the best way to get her off the computer is to offer her chocolate.