When he rescues a half-human orphan, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to topple the powerful Thieves’ Guild he once led.
Multiple layers of conspiracy unfold, reaching all the way to Luc’s immortal ex–the king. Behind each solved mystery looms an unseen foe, undoing the good Luc accomplishes. For the sake of this child, Luc must postpone his own freedom and master his desire for revenge or he will violate an ancient vow. Worse, he’ll put the toddler at risk.
At war with his compassion for the vulnerable child, loyalty to the king, duty to the Guild, and the bright lure of freedom he’s coveted for centuries, Luc seeks the right path. Will he choose liberty and unparalleled success, or restore the Thieves’ Guild to its former glory while overseeing the child’s training?
A hard choice for any man. For an immortal whose inner monster can destroy on sight? Impossible.
A pirate with a monstrous past can never be trusted with an innocent child. Luc must ensure the child is protected, safe, nowhere near danger. Nowhere near him. Even if this little boy has already stolen his heart…
A Sen’dai is a teacher in the Thieves’ Guild, and a Deshai is a student. In this scene, the immortal Luc Saint-Cyr is waiting impatiently in an office at the Guild when he hears a thump behind him.
Chest heaving, a toddler garbed in the dark gray of the Academy had flattened himself against the wall as if escaping a monster.
The boy looked up at Luc and went breathlessly still.
Children shunned Luc. At six feet five Tradestandard, he was big, built like a warrior, and his black eyes gave them nowhere to focus, making him as unreadable as a snake. Not that he disliked children, but the less involved he was, the better. He made no attempt at friendliness and children got the message.
This little one, however, looked right into his eyes without a single flinch. “Hello.” The boy took two steps toward him and cocked his head. “Are you a Sen’dai?”
Luc turned, but no one stood behind him. Had he missed something? He gestured to himself.
The boy stood there, head back, gazing up at him, waiting.
Why did it feel as if Luc were the student? “Yes. I’m a Sen’dai. And who are you?”
“I’m a Deshai.”
“I see.” He didn’t. “What are you doing in here? Shouldn’t you be in class?”
At the sound of heels clicking on tile in the hallway, the child trembled, hands flying to his mouth, eyes filling with tears.
This must be the monster.
What was Luc thinking, getting involved like this? But he motioned to the boy, directing him to hide behind the door.
The child dashed behind it and squatted, making himself smaller.
Luc clasped his hands behind him and lifted his head. When a woman in the black robes of a teacher stepped through the doorway, he regarded her like an intruder.
“Oh, Mr. Saint-Cyr.” She took a half step back. “I didn’t– I’m sorry to intrude. Did a child come in here?”
He measured near his knees. “About this tall?”
Behind the door, big blue eyes grew round, spilling tears. The lower lip trembled.
“That’s him. Where is he?”
Unlike Pietas, Luc had no quarrel with lying. He pointed. “I saw him run past the door, heading toward the front.”
After she left, Luc motioned to the boy. “It’s safe to come out now. She’s gone.”
Sticking one finger into his mouth, the boy crept forward, peeked around the door, and burst into tears.
Even Luc, whose experience with children could be recorded on his palm, could tell his cry reflected genuine relief. The boy had been terrified.
Monster chasing him, indeed. What had that woman done?
The little one ran, but instead of heading for the door, he made a beeline for Luc and threw both arms around one of his legs, sobbing.
Children didn’t run to him. They fled.
Imperturbable, Pietas had called him. Seeing him now, his king would guffaw. What did it matter what Pietas thought anyway? Could he not excise that man from his thoughts for a single day?
How did one coax a child to cease crying? Luc bent at the knees only enough to pat the boy on the head. “There, there.”
The child cried harder.
What if the headmistress showed up and found him with a sobbing child? What would she think? Worse, would she accuse him of some misdeed?
Her office held no toys or amusements. This room was for business, a showcase for prospective clients, not children.
“Stop crying, little boy.” He tacked on, “Please.”
Wailing harder, the boy looked up at him, blue eyes red-rimmed.
Heart in his throat, Luc took stock.
A terrified child. Him.
That ratio was supposed to work only one way.
He showed up. Children ran.
Why didn’t this one?
An adult with issues, Luc could handle. That was territory he knew. When one lived with Pietas, one became an expert at adults with issues, as a matter of necessity.
Training, both military and in commerce had taught him three steps.
Identify the problem.
Acknowledge the problem.
Solve the problem.
He knew the problem, so he must acknowledge and solve it. First order of business was not to stand there like a dolt, but instead treat this child with respect.
Like a tiny Pietas.
Luc went down on one knee. “You’re afraid,” he acknowledged. “It’s okay.” He brushed the mass of curly hair away from the boy’s tear-soaked face. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
Hiccupping, the boy reached up to him.
What was Luc supposed to do? He couldn’t pick the boy up.
But this little one looked at him with such plaintive eyes. How could he ignore the unspoken plea?
About Kayelle Allen
Kayelle Allen writes space opera with larger than life, unforgettable characters. Come walk in her worlds and meet her misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, immortal gamers, and warriors who purr.
At the Mercy of Her Pleasure: Antonello Brothers
For Women Only: Antonello Brothers
Bro: Antonello Brothers
Lights Out: Bringer of Chaos
Origin of Pietas: Bringer of Chaos
Forged in Fire: Bringer of Chaos
Tales of the Chosen (boxed set)
The Last Vhalgenn
The Tarthian Empire Companion
An Immortal’s Guide to Tarth
A Romance for Christmas
Interview with Jamie for The Romance Studio
Jamie: Kayelle, thank you so much for talking with us at The Romance Studio. What can you tell us about your featured book, A Stolen Heart.
Kayelle: Here’s what this story is about in a nutshell:
Pirates. Thieves. Toddlers. What could go wrong?
Is it funny? Lord, yes. Is it about adorable toddlers? Oh, my, is it ever! Does it have action and suspense? Gobs. Anyone who loves SciFi and has a soft spot for kids will love this book. Remember the movie Despicable Me, with the Minions? Well, we have minions (they’re toddlers) and a former-villain for a daddy who is trying to go legit.
Why did I write this book? Well… I wrote A Stolen Heart because of a scene in another Antonello Brothers book that begged for more detail. In Bro, Senth Antonello is training to be a professional thief. On their world, if you have a contract, you can’t be prosecuted if caught. He’s a member of the Thieves’ Guild, a powerful organization that has its fingers in pies all over the Tarthian Empire, and the guild has just gotten an upgrade to their most used tool — a cloak.
Because of what Senth refers to as “nano-whatevers” the cloth appears to be see-through. The nano-cams on one side reveal what’s on the other, making any thief invisible. When Senth first gets his cloak, he tries it out and has a bit of fun pickpocketing and then putting back what he stole. He is an honorable thief, after all. But, when Senth tries on his cloak to show his adoptive father, Luc, he’s unaware that Luc has one too. They play hide and seek for a moment and Luc ends up scaring the wits out of his son. It’s a funny scene, but it’s also poignant, because Luc recalls playing this game when the young man was three. It was such a touching scene that I decided to write a short story about it.
A Stolen Heart tells how Luc came to adopt Senth, and includes that sweet, playful scene. Stolen started out as a short story. But then I realized I needed to add this detail and that detail… 120k words later, I had a full-length novel. This book is the perfect origin story for the Antonello Brothers series. If you’ve never read any of my books, start there. All the books are standalone, but read as a series, you get a much bigger picture. The immortals manipulating things in the background are revealed to the reader a bit more in each book.
Jamie: This is part of your Antonello Brothers series. What can you tell us about that?
Kayelle: The brothers are Senth and Khyff, half-brothers of the same mother. They have no idea there’s an older brother with still another father. Their mother’s story is a tragic one, and her boys were all reared without her influence. Khyff knew her for three years, but they were not pleasant ones for either of them. Because she died shortly after the birth of Senth, he never knew her. Her oldest son was taken from her at birth. A Stolen Heart is how Luc came to rescue the boy when he was three. Bro is a short piece where the brothers meet in a dramatic and angst-filled fashion when Senth is eighteen. At the Mercy of Her Pleasure is a romance between Senth and NarrAy, who is an enhanced (and addictive) human. For Women Only is Khyff’s tale, who hates the Kin people, a feline race responsible for the death of his mother. His brother Senth is half-Kin. So of course, I had to match up Khyff with the honorable and powerful Mehfawni, a warrior princess among the Kin. Khyff’s story is nothing short of tragic also, and heartbreaking. When Mehfawni decides this gorgeous human male needs looking after, she sets out to do just that, being her usual large-and-in-charge warrior self. It was great fun writing an alpha female with a beta male. And Khyff was so wonderful to redeem. I adore his story. Crystal Clear Truth will reveal the third brother. I’ve been promising this book for a long time, but I’m finally close to the timeline where I can tell it.
Jamie: What can you tell us about Luc and why will readers love him?
Kayelle: Luc is the right hand man to Pietas, the immortal king. He’s been Pietas’s general and has led his armies. He’s been the king’s closest friend and confidante, and he’s been the man’s lover. In fact, not just lover, but the love of Pietas’s immortal life. However, an incident occurred (you’ll find out what in A Stolen Heart) that separated them. Luc serves Pietas with his whole heart, but he will never go back to an intimate relationship. Pietas, being one who never accepts no for an answer, is determined to win him back. The book I’m working on now will give Luc his forever love — and just might reveal a new future for Pietas. Luc is always honorable. Always caring. He’s compassionate, ethical, and goes the extra mile. His unusual psychic gift is that he can kill you literally by looking at you. He’s danger on two legs. In A Stolen Heart, he’s still at a point in his life where he doesn’t trust himself and refuses to have anything to do with children. But when the adorable kitten-like Senth walks into the room and looks up at him, Luc is hooked. The boy is in danger, and Luc can’t let him suffer. What starts out as a temporary shelter for safety ends up a forever home. You’ll fall in love with Luc because you’ll watch him fall in love with one humongous realization: this pirate-gone-legit wants to care for an innocent child, and even more, he longs to be a dad.
Jamie: What can you tell us about the child at the center of this story?
Kayelle: Imagine the playfulness of a kitten wrapped up in body of a toddler who’s three years old. Big blue eyes, a sharp mind that can understand how locks open as if he’s done it all his life, a personality that loves to play and ask questions, and then top it off with a little boy who’s been taught to be polite and kind. Senth says please and thank you, and because he’s half-human and therefore not a “real” Kin, he keeps his head down. He shows Luc his very human hands and tells him he doesn’t bite and doesn’t have claws, and promises that he’ll be good. Well… that does it for Luc. Discovering that the Thieves’ Guild is planning not to train this brilliant mind but to sell him as a slave infuriates Luc. He decides to foster the boy temporarily and then Luc takes on the guild to protect other non-human children as well. And all of it because of this one very small little boy.
Jamie: What is the Thieves’ Guild?
Kayelle: In the Tarthian Empire, the guild has as much power as the central government. At times, it steers the government. My story universe is rich and layered, and I have more stories than I can ever tell. The Guild figures prominently in this book, and also in several others.
Jamie: Will there be more in this series in the future?
Kayelle: Definitely. I’m already plotting one. My Bringer of Chaos series and the Antonello Brothers series are one-way crossovers. The immortals in the Chaos series are frequent “guests” in stories about the brothers. The Chaos series takes place far in the past, thousands of years before A Stolen Heart. I already have three other Antonello Brothers books published and immortals are in all of them: Bro, At the Mercy of Her Pleasure, and For Women Only.
Jamie: What are you working on now?
Kayelle: I’m plotting a long-awaited book, Surrender Trust, the sequel to Surrender Love. It features Luc from A Stolen Heart (the single dad), finding his forever love.
Jamie: You’ve created wonderful, elaborate worlds for your stories. What started that?
Kayelle: I always thought if I was going to create a universe for a book, why throw it away when I wrote the next one? So I set about creating a huge universe first, and then peopled the various worlds with stories. I literally mapped out the galaxy so I can go anywhere to tell a tale. When you join one of my reader groups, you’ll get a map of the galaxy you can download and zoom into.
Jamie: What are you writing now?
Kayelle: I’m working on a new setup for my reader groups (newsletter). When it’s finished (mid July) members will get a chance to opt in to a series of emails, each with a unique look at people, places, or things in my story universe. I’m excited to get it started. I’ve worked on this for months. I’ve commissioned art, created videos, and even written mini-stories.
Jamie: What can lucky fans look forward to from you in the future?
Kayelle: Plenty of books — I’m focusing on producing more stories. Plus I blog at least once a week and I’m a monthly guest at numerous blogs online, including The Romance Studio. Keep up with me on my website, www.kayelleallen.com and be sure to check the Specials page. I regularly partner with other authors to bring great books at low prices, plus many opportunities for free books. You’ll also see more videos on my YouTube page.
I had developed extensive world-building boards on Pinterest, and used to tell people to go there and see all the images. But for some unknown reason (seriously — they don’t tell you) I’m suspended from Pinterest (after 12 years and thousands of pins). They’ve done this in the past too. I later get an email saying basically “My bad — oopsie–my mistake” (eye roll) and restore everything. How about a warning if something doesn’t fit “community standards”? How about not allowing that one single pin? But no, they kick you off completely and won’t even tell you which pin it was. Sometimes, they are looking for keywords to flag accounts, and if you have one of them (which taken in context would be allowed), out you go. No chance to correct anything. You know what? I’m through dealing with such nonsense. I have better things to occupy my time than fighting to keep a bunch of pictures.
Bottom line — readers can expect me to be writing things for them to read. Best use of my time, right? Right.
Thank you for letting me come and share today.