Forbidden Fae is LIVE! Read the first chapter here

It’s been an intense ride, but this fae fantasy romance is LIVE, exclusive on Amazon and in KU! I have grown attached to the story and the characters as I wrote it, and it’s safe to say often I got lost in them. Here is the first chapter, I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and feel free to leave a comment, or share it with people you know might enjoy an intense fae romance for Christmas : )

BLURB:

A fae prince made of shadow and smoke whisked me off to another realm—with dark intentions.

We humans are nothing but lowly creatures to the fae. They’re arrogant and cruel, and who could blame them? They’re formidable beings, and they consider us nothing but mortal bundles of flesh, worthy only of the dirt under their feet. Only that this particular bundle of flesh—Yours Truly—is the shadow fae’s only chance of survival as a race.

Salazar Shadowthorn, their prince, needs me in order to rise to former glories. He’s deadly and feared, but his enemies are as many as his admirers. And they’re after his most valuable possession—me. I may be his slave, but it turns out I’m special. I have magic, and Salazar needs to help me scale it in order to use me for his purposes. Still, we were never meant to become more than master and slave. In his world, it shouldn’t even be possible. But as enemies emerge from the shadows, both Salazar and I are faced with a truth we can’t deny—if we want to win this, we have to give in to that dark, dangerous calling that we feel towards each other. Problem is, it comes with a huge price.

CHAPTER I

Neveah

Hutchinson, Massachusetts, is a cursed place. With the ocean waves crashing against its dark cliffs, and thick forests surrounding it, this town has always had a foreboding air about it. I think it was this very gloom fit for a mystery movie setting that drew all the rich and famous to buy holiday estate here, though I’m sure its secluded location played a part too. As did the expensive private school.

Almost the entire population of Hutchinson consists of rich kids abandoned by their high-flying parents at the Ivy League Anne Hutchinson High, living under the meek supervision of their staff. Many seniors used to throw wild parties at their mansions, but the partying has died down now.  All gates and doors are locked after dark, and the most expensive alarm systems switched on, because some seriously weird shit has been going down.

Two people went missing in the past month, and nobody has a clue what could have happened to them. It’s like they vanished into thin air, and neither police nor press, not even private investigators have gotten a single lead so far. Both of these people were from my school, and both of them female. The first was Georgia Hathaway, head cheerleader and wet dream of the entire male population at Anne Hutchinson High. The second one was Josephine Norman, a Scandinavian cold beauty with straight As in science and serious abandonment issues. She’s also my best friend.

If we’re looking at a crime, the victims are two people who couldn’t have less in common.

Josie’s disappearance has left behind two picture perfect parents, probably not as devastated as the media portrays them to be. Her father runs a film-making company, her former model mother does charities, and both of them always dreaded having to spend time with their child. There wasn’t ever any real emotional connection between them, Josie said. A child was a box that needed to be ticked before her mother turned thirty-five, so they adopted her from Scandinavia. But the glamor of being a new mom faded for the former model rather quickly, which means that Josie was mostly raised by maids and nurses.

She’s had to deal with some serious bullying at school, too, and if anyone understands bullying, and how far it can go, it’s me. As a working-class kid who’s gotten into an Ivy League high school through a scholarship, I’m nothing but a parasite to the high-flyers. One they take great pleasure in torturing. I can barely walk the hallways without being called all sorts of names, and my locker gets vandalized so often it’s not even funny anymore. A-hole Lachlan Vallar, popular jackass with a face crisscrossed by chicken pox scars but a frame big enough and a proclivity for violence steep enough to scare all the other guys shitless, never runs out of ideas. He’s the reason I always try to close the distance from school to the dorms as quickly as possible on my bike. I don’t want to give him a chance to drive after me, calling out all the things he’d do to me if I just joined him and his mates in his car.

“Neveah McKinney, you little tramp, no point hiding those perky tits behind that oversized sweater. We all know you’re dying to have cum squirting all over them,” he’d yell after me in front of all his mates, window down. ‘Tramp’ is his favorite word to use on me. I can almost taste his pleasure as he rounds the word in his mouth, and it disgusts the hell out of me. He likes painting it on my locker, and he’s threatened it’s only a matter of time until it’s tattooed on my ass, too.

I really can’t afford to stop until I get to the dorms, but a street lamp with a large Missing Person sign stops me in my tracks. I dismount my bike and hook my fingers tighter around the straps of my backpack as I stare into Josie’s face, her spectacles fitting her bone structure perfectly, but barely hiding her ever-gloomy expression. Tears come to my eyes, along with some of the most painful memories we shared.

“There she is, Hutchinson High’s sweetest little tramp.”

I spin around. Damn it, the bastard is approaching on foot, and I’d been relying on the loud rumbling of his sports car to announce his presence. I back away towards the street light as he and his friends close in on me like hyenas. Lachlan is the biggest of them all, always in the spotlight, while the others lick their snouts, anticipating the show. Josie said they might be getting off on watching Lachlan torture a skinny girl in oversized clothing. My mousy brown hair and unassuming pale face that I never apply make-up to doesn’t seem to cock-block him either. On the contrary, it seems this helpless school-girl look only turns on his dirtiest fantasies.

“Now I’m getting it, Neveah McKinney,” Lachlan says, grabbing my sweater loosely. “The baggy clothes, the gypsyish hair. It’s all a part you’re dressing up for. You know it turns me on, and it’s why you do it.”

“I’m not trying to stand out to you,” I spit out, but Lachlan’s grin gives me the chills.

“Come on, you know that’s not true.” He traps me against the street light as my backpack hits the pole. I’m shaking, my eyes feel hot, and I’m hardly blinking. He grips my face, forcing me to look up into his. It distorts with a larger grin, the chicken pox scars tightening on his skin. “Why don’t you let me feel those tits.” He pushes one hand under my oversized sweater.

“You mother—” I try to hit him, but he slams me against the pole.

“Get that backpack off of her,” he orders the others, who hurry to do his bidding and rake the backpack’s straps off of me. I struggle, desperation clouding my vision and making me wonder who this is happening to, because it can’t be me.

Lachlan’s lackeys hold me still, enjoying the show as he pushes his hands under my sweater, grabbing my breasts over my bra so harshly that I yelp.

“The more you struggle, the more difficult you’re going to make this on yourself.”

“Are you crazy, you can’t rape me! The police—” But then it hits me. What if he did the same to Georgia and Josie, and then did away with their bodies? My lips seal as the scenario runs before my eyes. No, it can’t be, Lachlan is a bastard, but he can’t possibly be a killer. Can he?

“And who do you think the police would believe?” he says. “You’re a nobody. No one in Hutchinson has ever heard your last name, which makes your family pretty much shit. Whereas mine…” He wriggles his hairless eyebrows, a gesture that finishes the sentence for him. He’s someone, I’m no one. He pushes his groin into me, his engorged member pressing like a gun into my lower belly.

“I’m gonna give you this dick, you little tramp.”

I scream and struggle like a lunatic against the other goons’ hold. They might beat me to a pulp to get me to quiet down, but it’s worth it if it draws someone’s attention, anyone’s. Only there is nothing but the great expanses of gardens between the gates hidden behind trees, and the rich mansions they belong to.

The street lamp behind me starts flickering as if some electric field were messing with it. Lachlan’s goons’ hold slackens enough for me to shake myself free of them, but that only prompts Lachlan to yank me closer. I knock against his meaty body, his beefy arms closing around me. They choke the air out of me as the light goes out completely.

Such complete darkness takes over that I wouldn’t even be sure whether the world still existed if it weren’t for Lachlan’s very real body against mine, the side of my face pressed into his chest. He whispers something above my head, his breath on my hair. To my surprise, it’s not something threatening. On the contrary, it’s monotone and calm, like some kind of magic spell. I still, listening as the darkness thickens. I’ll be damned, I would recognize those words anywhere. I know them, I’ve read them before, in my favorite books.

Legends of the Fae.

The books have been passed down through my family for generations, and I’ve been obsessed with them since the first time I read them. I have them in my dorm, on the upper shelf along with a few framed pictures and a music box, some of the few things from my childhood that I’m fond of. I used to find refuge in those books, take comfort in their fictional world, which is why I remember whole chunks of them. But that doesn’t explain how come Lachlan is whispering spells from Legends of the Fae. Dark spells, spells that are supposed to invoke shadows and smoke. The more he does it, the tighter he squeezes me as if he wants to suck me into himself, and the more I panic, rummaging desperately through my own mind for a solution. My mind gets stuck on the light spells that I know by heart from the same books, spells that dispelled shadows in the series.

Computing with a speed that I never thought it capable of, my brain plucks the words from the recesses of my memory. I breathe them into Lachlan’s chest, my eyes closed tightly. It takes a monumental effort to calm myself down enough to do it, emulating the characters from my favorite book series. If Legends of the Fae is the answer, then I must be completely calm for the spells to work, like the characters in the series had to be.

Run the moonglow through my veins,

Take the shadow by the reins,

Blind it with the silver light,

That shall carry all my might.

The street light starts flickering again. I try not to rejoice, but keep myself in that steady low frequency, and continue whispering the spells. ‘There’s a fine line between feeling the right thing and feeling nothing’, Legends of the Fae, Book One, said. But I lose the frail balance when Lachlan lets me go, and I catch a glimpse of his face—utter surprise and anger are imprinted on  it.

“H-how is this possible?” he breathes, but I’m not gonna stick around to find out what he means. I take advantage of the fact that he let me go and break into a run, feeling his stricken eyes on my back as I give it all I have, heaving and forcing myself to go as fast as my legs will take me.

I should probably wonder why they aren’t coming after me. Maybe because they’re big and heavy, while I’m small and light on my feet, yet by the time I reach the expanse of lawn and snaking alleyways in front of the dorm building I hear them behind me, calling out my name. I keep saying the spells under my breath, and lights flicker on along the alleyway leading to the red brick dorm building. It seems the light causes Lachlan and his goons to fall back like vampires hit by sunlight.

I always keep my key card in the back pocket of my jeans, so I manage to take it out in time and swipe it through the entrance device. As soon as I’ve leapt inside, I force the door shut again, the system being too slow, my whole face scrunched and red from the effort. I succeed at the last moment, expecting my chasers to slam against the frosted windowpanes the moment the door falls into its locks.

I take a few steps back, eyes on the fuzzy white light that makes it through the frosted windowpane. The only sounds I can make out is the sound of my own breathing and the slow shuffling of my steps. Seconds feel like minutes as my eyes keep stuck to the windows. I’m not even blinking. Had this happened last month, it would have been surprising that no one’s on the hallways, no boisterous students disregarding some disgruntled teacher on night watch. But since the disappearances, an air of doom has been hanging over this town, and now all those daredevils prefer to keep out of the spotlight.  Muscular heartthrobs and alphaholes with black belts keep their doors locked. There’s never any sign of a girl in the hallways at night, and I don’t want to hang around here for too long either.

I find my way back to my room, holding carefully onto the banister. Those goons could be thinking of something as we speak. The sensors should have picked up my presence on the hallway, for example, and turned on the lights, but that doesn’t happen. I might be falling down the steep slope of paranoia, but I can’t help thinking that maybe those bastards outside did something to cut the power off. But they wouldn’t go this far for a bullying job, would they? Or maybe this turned out more serious than they planned, and now they have to go all the way. Threatening a woman with rape in the street has consequences even for the big and powerful these days, no matter how insignificant the victim. Could they be dangerous just because they panicked?

I take the last few steps to my room at a run, slide my key card through the device attached to the knob, and storm into what I expect to be the warmth and dim light of my matchbox dorm room, but something’s wrong. The lamp on my desk by the window is off, and the heavy curtains apparently drawn, casting the room into total darkness. I stop in my tracks, the door still open behind me. I need a few seconds to make sense of this. I’m sure I let the lamp on—it has an energy-saving bulb—in order to make it look like someone’s home. There has been some breaking-and-entering going on lately. I’m pretty sure I didn’t pull the curtains shut either.

The wheels in my head turn faster as I start walking backwards, re-considering the safety of the only place I’ve ever really felt safe in. I turn around, ready to break into a run, but the door slams shut. In shock, I don’t even scream. I stand here in the darkness as it starts wrapping around  me like the arms of a man.

A very strong man, because his arms don’t give in an inch as I struggle. I scream in panic, but the darkness thickens, swallowing the sound.

“Jesus fucking Christ!”

I return to the one thing that worked when Lachlan and his goons got me in the street.  I take a deep breath, even though what fills my lungs is smoke, and not air. Maybe there’s a fire somewhere close, but then again, if there were fire there would also be light. Not to mention the alarm would be tearing all through the dorm building, and other students would be running out of their rooms, trying to save themselves.

With my fists clenched and my back against something that feels like stone, I say the spell again. I can hear the lamp fuse buzzing on my desk, and the man holding me whips around, turning me in the process. The lamp keeps spewing out silver light, as if struggling on its own. My captor no longer holds me, but he’s not gone either. I can feel his presence so heavily that I can’t breathe.

A face begins to take shape from the swirling smoke, and the more I see of it, the lower my jaw drops. It’s a horned man with angular cheekbones, square jaw and completely black eyeballs. I was never much of a believer in good and evil as the religions serve them, but this must be a vision from hell, and this guy must be a demon stepping out of a portal of smoke. Probably the same one that took Georgia and Josie, too.

“No, this can’t be real.”

“Neveah McKinney.” His voice sounds as demonic as his eyes look, raising the finest hairs along my spine. “Daughter of Leah McKinney, born Silverstone, only female descendant of the Silverstone family. I’ve been looking for you for a long time.” There are leather pads on his broad shoulders, and those horns look more and more like a crown. He’s obviously strong, stronger than any human could be, and his face, even though masculine and aggressive in its lines, has an ethereal kind of beauty to it. Long black hair frames his face, and his skin has the color of moonlight.

“You wield magic. You use spells from books you shouldn’t possess,” he continues. “Now, where are those books?”

I don’t have to ask what he means. Legends of the Fae, the trilogy  mom gifted to me on Christmas Eve, ten years ago. Back then, I thought she only gave me the books with their chipped covers and old illustrations because she couldn’t afford to buy something new. She was already drinking heavily at that point, and Dad had started down the same path, having failed to save her. That’s where all their money went.

“You’re gonna have to let me turn on the light to find them.” My voice trembles as I point in the general direction of the shelves where I keep them. The demon smiles in the corner of his mouth, a knowing, almost seductive smile. His silence feels like an invitation, so I turn on the lamp, this time with my hand.

I walk carefully to the shelves, rise onto the tips of my toes, and slide the cased omnibus set from the upper shelf. I keep my back to the demon for a few moments, clutching the trilogy to my chest and wondering whether I should try and make a run for it. But maybe I can negotiate with him.

“If this is what you’re after, you can take them,” I say. “You can have them with my blessing. But I’m gonna want Georgia Hathaway and Josephine Norman back.”

“Oh, I will take the books.  And I will take you as well.”

“What? Why? All I remember from these books is that spell. You came here for the books, and you have them now. What could you possibly do with me? I mean look at me!” I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore, I’m babbling like an idiot, backing away towards the closed door until there’s nowhere left to go. The demon—or shadow fae, it occurs to me as I start remembering the stories inside those books—stands still, wisps of smoke swirling around him until they spread over the entire room. They crawl over the ceiling and the walls, my bookshelves and my bed, exuding so much power that I can feel it crawling over my skin.

It’s magical power. I desperately try to free myself from the wisps that curl around me, pulling me closer to their master, but not even the light spells can help me now. The desk lamp goes out, and now the only source of light is this fae man’s frosty face, its natural glow that resembles moonlight.

“I didn’t come here for the books. I came here for you.”

***

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Owned by the Cruel Prince CHAPTER I

The time has come! Owned by the Cruel Prince is going to hit the Zon by the end of this month! It’s been a few good months since the title was supposed to come out, which is why I decided to share the first chapter here with you. You’ve waited enough, and I thank you so much for your patience! Okay, so here we go. Let me know what you think, I’m always glad to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Blurb:

Sandros

It’s true, what they say about me. I am half fae and half demon, which to the fae kind means that I have a predilection to evil. If they didn’t need me as desperately as they do now, they’d try to f*cking lynch me.

And they’d f*cking fail.

I’m a centuries-old warlord, I’m not easy to kill. I’ve been bred for war, and now that the Antichrist is ready to take over the world, I could destroy the fae, or I could save them. So I’m faced with a choice—join the devil, or fight against him.

A choice that would be easy to make if it weren’t for her—Edith Snowstorm.

My fated mate, and the woman who betrayed me.

I came to the human realm for her, determined to get her back.

For months I’d been fantasizing of subduing her again, of owning her, of doing to her the things she hates to love.

But I found her with another man.

Don’t f*cking ask how I resisted the urge of slitting him open right in front of her. But that would have been too little of a punishment for the two of them.

Edith opened Pandora’s box, and now she’s gonna pay for it.  I’ll enslave her, watch her fall apart under me, I’ll make her tremble with guilty pleasures, and hate herself for it. I’ll have her know the taste of sin, I’ll have her writhe for it, because I know this one thing—she might not love me, but she sure as hell wants me. She always has, and she’s not even trying to deny it.

So I might as well chain her to me for the time I have left, since chances are, the fires of hell are gonna consume my soul anyway. But there is also a small hope, that she might save it. And, along with my soul, the world.

CHAPTER I

Edith

Here we are again, Sandros Nightfrost and I. Right back where we started, with my puppy brown eyes raised to his beastly golden irises as we face each other across the table. He’s as heartbreakingly unattainable as he was years ago, when I was first placed “under his wing”. Or, better yet, in his power. After all, he was the “master” and I his servant, even if it was on a battlefield where we acted as one, telepathically bonded.

Things have changed since then. A lot.

Now I’m the lady of a French castle, the trophy wife of Lord Durion Mithriel for all the town’s high society is concerned. To them, I’m an ethereal blonde with waves of white-blonde hair cascading down her back, always designer dressed and a bit drunk. I play the part best with a glass of champagne in my hand at social functions. I never actually drink it, but no one ever notices. As long as it suits the image they’ve made of me, my true identity is safe.

The opulence of my dresses and jewelry is also necessary. The physical appearance of the fae is unusual for humans, and believe it or not, the best way to keep suspicion at bay is by flaunting it. People often refer to this effect as ‘surreal beauty,’ even though I personally don’t consider us more beautiful than humans. We’re just more like what they desire for themselves. So Durion and I freely display the luxury we live in, our expensive clothing, the cars, the chateau. This way, people just assume we ‘bought’ our looks too—good crèmes, the best pills, the right surgeons, some even consider bioengineering. I heard them whispering at the last function we attended.

We also have to display a relationship that doesn’t actually exist. Though we play the married couple, in the months Durion and I have been exiled here in the human realm I’ve come to loathe him. He treats me like his possession, and there’s always an undertone of menace in his communication toward me. But I have no choice but to put up with him, otherwise I know he’s got ways to hurt me.

Sandros doesn’t know all this, of course. He doesn’t know that the closeness between Durion and I is a ruse. He didn’t give me the opportunity to explain, neither the first time we saw each other at the mayor’s birthday party two days ago, nor during the two minutes we had to ourselves in this room before Durion stepped in, stiff and square-shouldered like a royal rooster with his full head of golden curls and his chest pumped forward. He’s come to take this charade of the two of us being a married couple of noblemen dangerously seriously and now, as we sit here across from Sandros, more so than ever.  The possibility of his sliding his hand under the table on my thigh hovers like a dark cloud over my head. It’s a possibility that Sandros feels, too.

Despite Sandros’ hostility towards me, our bond is still there. It’s an inescapable connection, one that he obviously hates being tangled in. He doesn’t love me, while I always have loved him, ever since the very beginning, even as he treated me like shit.

Because I’m an idiot like that.

This time Sandros doesn’t face us as the army general that everyone used to fear, the beast in studded leather armor that every woman at the winter court secretly wanted to fuck but would never dream of admitting it. No, this time he’s sitting across from us in a fitted suit that wraps his amazing body in a mouthwatering way, classy but also wild with his sharply chiseled face and long black hair. No wonder the plates clatter on the server girls’ trays as they scurry around with starters and drinks.

“So, you’re telling me that Nessima sent you here to speak to her benefactor on her behalf,” Durion says, his face filled with suspicion.  “I’m sorry, but I find that highly improbable.”

“And why is that?” Sandros rumbles, his voice like low, distant thunder.

“You stayed back at her estate as her prisoner. Two months later you emerge her right hand? I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make sense.”

“I found a way into her heart, and from thee, into her trust zone.”

I fidget in my seat. Bastard must know he just plunged a knife into my heart.

“We’re together now,” he twists the knife. “I’m sure that, if you think about it, it’ll make sense that she’d let me handle some of her more serious affairs.”

“As I am sure you understand my reservations. This isn’t some Shanghai CEO that she sent you to meet, it’s not Bill Gates or the President. It’s the fucking Antichrist.” Durion’s last word makes me flinch, which isn’t lost on Sandros. His golden eyes move between Durion and me as Durion places a hand over mine.

“It’s taken Nessima centuries to gain access to him,” Durion continues. “It seems unlikely to me that she should share that power, no matter how in love she is. Especially after what happened with her first husband.”

“Officially, Eldan Blackfall is still her husband.”

“So you and her can’t really be together?” Durion says. “And yet she’s given you more power than she ever even took for herself?”

“She actually asked me nicely to take it,” Sandros rumbles, his golden eyes glinting like honey and hellfire. “As a warrior, I have a reputation. She wanted that reputed skill and influence on her side.”

That sounds so true it cuts yet deeper.

My pulse rises to the point that I can’t breathe. It’s hard to put up with the tension between the two men, and even harder to withstand the waves of hostility that hit me from Sandros. I’m painfully focused on his presence, and I can’t shake it. Everything seems to fade around him, even this chateau with its paneled walls and luxury fittings. There’s no comfort in the expensively holstered chairs or the intricately carved ornaments of the great fireplace, not even in the intimate light of the candelabra, or the statues and expensive art surrounding us.

The flames from the fireplace cast a golden light on the sharp angles of Sandros’ face, licking his caramel-bronze skin. Maybe I’ve lived among humans for too long, and gotten so used to their appearances, that this fae warlord now seems as surreal to me as he does to them.  Even looking at him hurts.

“Suppose we believe you, Edith and I,” Durion tells him. “Say we accept that Nessima sent you here to act on her behalf. Did she give you his identity then? Because we’ve been here for months, and still haven’t got the slightest clue. It could be anyone from the town mayor to the baker.”

“Yes. I do know who it is.”

My breath stops, my eyes enlarging in shock.

“You do?” I whisper.

“Unfortunately I cannot share that information with you.” His gaze brushes unwillingly over to me. “Either one of you.”

A server enters, awkward on her feet, the china clattering on her tray. It must be Sandros’ handsomeness that’s gotten her all flustered, because it couldn’t be the topic of our conversation. We’re speaking winter fae language, which resembles human English, but she doesn’t understand that one very well either, and even if, she still couldn’t know what we’re talking about.

“I’m here because Nessima needs more of his support, and she thinks he would grant it to me easier than to her. There are things that I can offer him, and she can’t. Things are also becoming urgent because, ever since her husband Eldan came out of the coma, the King has been planning an invasion of the North, meant on crushing her forces. She will rely on her benefactor more than ever.”

“And may I ask how Eldan has been cleansed of the evil that kept him unconscious?” Durion pushes. “We all know that Nessima implanted it into him, and only she could get it out of his system.”

Sandros raises his square chin.

“I persuaded Nessima to retract it from him.”

Durion throws his head back, letting out a fake laugh. “Really now? And all that only through your talents as a lover?”

“I offered her my complete allegiance in return. My unwavering loyalty.”

“And she believed you?” I chime in, pressing the lid down on my boiling feelings.

Sandros stares at me out of those golden eyes, and it feels like a damned train crash.

“That’s where my talents as a lover came into play.”

And, with that, the knife tears deeper into my flesh.

It’s obvious that Sandros isn’t here only a mission, he’s also back to torture me. It seemed surreal that he should have turned on the King of Winter, his own half brother that he served for centuries upon centuries until this woman Nessima came along and screwed up our lives, but apparently it’s true. So true that the blood drains from my head.

How could he? How could he betray the king, and more yet, how could he betray me? We’re bonded mates, and that’s something almost impossible to break. But this bond must feel different for Sandros than it does for me, and if I’m completely honest with myself, deep down, I always knew. When he first took me in that storeroom under the stairs at Nessima’s estate, I knew I was doomed. I’ll always want this warlord, while he’ll always find reasons to despise me. As intense as our sex was, as deep our connection, it was about love to me, and about possession and power to him.

“Now here’s how things are going to go down,” Sandros says, broadening his shoulders. I’m a sucker for his powerful build, and he knows it. “I’m going to contact him, but that will have to be in a crowd, because a crowd is what best confers anonymity. So let’s start by making a list of upcoming events and, if there aren’t any, we’ll set up one ourselves.”

“Why would we help you?” I bite out, defiance balling behind my eyes. “You’re betraying your brother the King of Winter, and everyone you professed to care about by doing this. All this means we’re not on the same side anymore—doesn’t it, Durion?”

Durion blinks and babbles a little before he replies, “Why yes, yes, of course, yes.”

It must come as a shock to him that I’m putting us in the same boat, him and me, but he likes it, I can tell. It softens him toward me and the entire situation, which is good, because even though I loathe him, I need all the allies I can get right this moment, since I feel like I’m going to hell.

The hint of this new alliance isn’t lost on Sandros either, who assesses us for a few moments out of those golden eyes before a wicked grin quirks up his chiseled, forbidden-fruit of a mouth. He leans forward, slowly, placing his elbows on the table, seeming even bigger, his shadow growing over the curtains behind him in the firelight. Durion stiffens in his seat, his shoulders and jaw clenching as he tries to hang on to his resistant attitude.  

“The two of you make one hell of a pair,” Sandros slurs.

I don’t respond. Let’s see just how far Sandros’ rotten opinion of me can go.

“You will help me because you have no choice,” he eventually says, pushing his chair back. When he rises, he does it like a gliding python.

I watch him as he prowls over to the fireplace. The sleek suit doesn’t do anything to mask his feral nature, on the contrary, it works as an enhancement. He picks a red rose from a gilded holder on the mantelpiece, pushing his free hand into his pocket. The suit tightens on his arm, sending a flash of memory involving those arms around me, subduing me.

I shake my head to cast out the memory that threatens to spread through me like a disease.

“These look like they are more than just decoration.” His voice is as controlled as ever, but I can feel the veiled irritation behind it. I hold back from probing his mind telepathically, because he would feel me there, and I’m not sure I want to know the full extent of his resentment. “Are red roses a regular gift in this place?”

“I’ve spared no effort to make Edith’s exile in the human realm as pleasant as possible.”

“Oh, but being in the human realm has hardly ever been torture for her,” Sandros rumbles, his tone lashing. “Let me remind you her illegally crossing over into the human realm and screwing human boys was the reason she got thrown in the Ice King’s dungeon in the first place.”

“Come on, Sandros, that was ages ago,” I bust out. “I’ve paid for my mistakes, I was locked down for years, and then I served you in the war against the Lord of Fire. Sure, the stigma never went away, it might never go, but I won’t have you judging me, not anymore.”

Durion places a long-fingered hand on my shoulder, and this time I don’t shake it off. Two servers enter with the last of the tableware and make to take positions by the door, standing in expectation to wait on us, but Sandros has other plans.

“Thank you very much for everything,” he tells them in a deep voice that makes the blood surge into the women’s cheeks. They’re so affected by him their thoughts are senseless clamor in my ears. “You can leave now. Take the night off. Actually, take tomorrow too. Tell the rest of the staff, it’s three free days for everybody.”

The two women look at each other, and then at Durion and me. I can feel his thoughts, he’s furious that Sandros should take upon himself to give our staff orders, but he knows that clearing the chateau of personnel is the right thing to do. The safe thing to do. We nod at the women, and watch them reluctantly leave. Their thoughts still echo inside my skull, and I can make out some sense in them—they’d love to stay, find out more about the mysterious visitor. One of them particularly likes having his eyes on her, it stimulates her sexual fantasy in which he’s forcing her down to her knees, fist clenched in her hair. She wonders if he’s married, but doesn’t seem to care even if that’s the case.

“I quit judging you a long time ago, Edith,” Sandros addresses me as soon as the servers have cleared the room. “I think by now we know each other well enough to know what to expect.”

“Believe it or not, I would very much prefer to return to the Winter Realm,” I say. “To the Queen, who I’m honored to call my best friend, and to the King, who happens to be your half-brother.” I stick out my chin. “I guess I don’t know you as well as you assume. I would have never expected you to switch sides. To cross to Nessima Blackfall’s side, no less, who tried to kill your best friend Eldan in punishment for having found the love of his life in a man instead of her. You’ve turned your back on all the centuries that you and the King have fought side by side? And for what? Pussy?” I scoff.

It’s satisfying to hold the words on my tongue like that. He sure didn’t expect that kind of reaction from me, and on the one hand it felt hood. But on the other it feels like I’ve just drunk poison because I’m putting things into a perspective that’s hard as Tartarus to bear. But since he’s determined to think the worst of me, I might as well return in kind.

Yes, years ago I found a way to slip into the human realm and have fun at frat parties. I had my first lover there, but I wasn’t doing it with ‘boys’. It was only one boy, and Sandros knows that. When we connected, current running through us, creating the mates’ bond, he saw the guy with the number eight on the back of his jacket.

“I’m not here to explain my motives to you.” His tone is flat as if my words had bounced against a wall. “I’m here to let you know how things are going to go down. So—”

“We don’t need to make a list of events,” I cut him off. “There’s enough high society in this town that there’s always something going on. There was the mayor’s birthday two days ago, and there’s the engagement of Count Guerin’s son on Saturday. He’s celebrating at the same restaurant as the mayor—the medieval tower on the hill, the best place in all the region.”

“Not going to have every person in town there, though,” Durion argues. “It’s only going to be the high society, so the person you expect to meet there—”

“The high society is all we need,” Sandros declares.

“So then we know the Antichrist is a member,” Durion says under his breath.

“Not surprised.” I pick up the bottle of champagne and pour myself a drink, refusing Durion’s attempt of helping with one forbidding look that he doesn’t challenge. He hasn’t seen this side of me before, and that takes him a little off balance. Quite frankly, I don’t know myself like this either. “Who would imagine the devil’s very son wandering the world in a state of poverty or even merely as someone mediocrely well-off?”

“The Antichrist came here to enjoy the good life, that’s for sure,” Sandros says. I feel his eyes on me as I keep pouring champagne into my glass. I do it slowly, watching the liquid glisten and the foam swell, tilting the glass to prolog the process.

“Who’s on the guest list?” Sandros goes on.

I leave the replying to Durion, downing my champagne and letting my eyes wander over Sandros’ frame.

Will I ever be free from his spell, or am I doomed to die under it, like all the other disposable women that came before me in his life? When Sandros Nightfrost chooses to unleash his masculine talents on a woman, it’s not long until she becomes his emotional slave, just like I’ve become. No doubt in the months we’ve been apart he’s made an adoring idiot out of Nessima. By Tartarus, I wish that the champagne could give me the slightest high, I’m in desperate need of it. But nothing but a particular kind of fae nectar is going to do that trick.

 “Listen, Sandros,” I interrupt. “Any chance you brought along some nectar?”

He cocks an eyebrow inquisitively.

“It was the last of my concerns, but I’m sure I can arrange something for you, if you work with me now. Let’s get back to our business at hand, and talk contraband later.”

So the bastard’s going to make me work for it.

“All right, so the engagement party,” Durion resumes, probably deciding it’s better not to antagonize the warlord any further. Everything about him screams we better not try to stand in his way, or things are going to get ugly.

But I’ll be damned. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that Sandros is here to betray his brother the King of Frost after so many centuries in which they’d been so close one could have sworn they were Siamese. I can’t believe he’s aiding Nessima and the Antichrist in taking over the Winter Realm.

Durion pushes his chair back, the wooden legs scraping the floor, and walks around the table to Sandros, who watches him with hawkish eyes.

“There are a few people of note in this town, and they like to be around each other, you know, they feel safer that way. The rich don’t despise the poor as much as they fear they would feast on the crumbs from their tables.”

“I didn’t come here for philosophy,” Sandros cuts him off, but Durion doesn’t seem bothered by the humuliation. I scoff under my breath.  Now that it’s become clear where the real power lies, he’s sucking up to it again. I’ve tried hard not to despise him, but look at him now.

“The mayor isn’t the most important person in this place,” he continues, picking up an oyster and slurping on it, while Sandros leans with his shoulder against the fireplace, the flames dancing in his golden eyes.

“Guerin the Count de Auvergne is the oldest and most respected citizen here. A number of mayors showered him with distinctions over the years. From what I gather he played a huge part against Hitler, but he’s too old now to play a part in anything remotely challenging. He’s extremely well connected though, and he’s trying hard to pass his connections on to his son, Antoine. Except skill and life experience isn’t passed on as easily as money, and Antoine’s turning out a good-for-nothing that’s squandering his father’s inheritance before the old man’s even in the ground isn’t making it any easier. He’s a drunk, an addict, and a womanizer.

“Guerin has started to see that Antoine has anything but a bright future ahead of him once the old man’s dead, so he’s trying to save the situation through an arranged marriage. The engagement party between Antoine de Auvergne and Simone Carrera is thus based on anything but love. She’s not a noblewoman, but she’s rich, an heiress. Used to be a great beauty, and she’s still attractive, by human standards, even though she’s got her best years behind her. So she could still have her choice of men, easily, so old Guerin has to make the union interesting for her, and especially, profitable. They must have struck a good deal. She’s very savvy in the business area, I’ve heard.”

Has the champagne started to have an effect, or is Sandros glancing at me every other sentence?

“So these three will be the main people at the engagement party on Saturday, but there will also be the mayor, Jean Dubois. He’s a cliché-ish middle aged politician pervert that won’t miss a chance to hover around Giancarlo Botini, a fashion designer who’s not entirely cliché.” He glances at me with hidden meaning. “He’s extravagant, dark sunglasses at midnight and such, but he’s as into women as it gets. Most of all into Edith.”

Sandros’ eyes fly over to me, the complete mirror of Durion’s, except there’s also some sort of reproach in there, as if I’m to blame for the attention.

“Come on Durion, what he wants is for me to model for him,” I counter, even though I hate it that I want to set Sandros’ opinion straight. “To him, I’m the stereotypical trophy wife with an alcohol problem and good legs. He just thinks I’d look good on a catwalk.”

“Which you most certainly would,” Durion says. “But the truth is, Sandros, it’s not only the pretty trophy wife that Botini sees. As a fae, I have no doubt Edith is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Unless, of course, he is the Antichrist, and he’s seen this kind of supernatural beauty before.”

Sandros walks around him as if he’s heard everything he needed to hear. “So all these people are going to be at the engagement party.”

“Them and more.” Durion spins on his heel to face Sandros’ back as the latter takes distance. “The mayor’s connections, high-flying politicians and corporatists, also the more important part of his extended family will be there. The mayor also has two sons from a surrogate mother, but I suppose they’re irrelevant.”

“Now why would you suppose that?”

“What do you mean why? They’re toddlers. Twins.”

Pretty weird looking twins, if you ask me, but I could still kiss and pinch those doughy cheeks. They’re chubby, and sweet, and yet I can understand people’s reluctance to go anywhere near them. They have disturbingly wiry copper hair and uncomfortably piercing blue eyes that would make the night unsettling for the most settled of minds. Human minds. Not used to facing demons and dragon shifters in battle, oblivious to the incredible worlds existing around their own.

“It’s decided, then,” Sandros states matter-of-factly, placing the rose slowly on the table right across from me. “We’ll be attending that engagement party on Saturday, and you will be introducing me as your distant cousin.”

Our eyes meet, and his eyes nail me to the chair. Durion can’t catch the look between us, since Sandros is with his back at him, and I manage to suppress any reaction that threatens to move a muscle on my face.

“And by what name should I introduce you?” Durion says. “Because I can’t possibly use your real one. These are generations’ old noblemen and politicians and corporate moguls, they’ll know—”

“They’ll know I’m someone they’ve never heard of, and yet someone with enough power to infiltrate their ranks. Someone that looks different enough to raise their curiosity. When these things awaken curiosity, respect tends to follow. It will open all the doors that need to be opened.”

Silence falls over the room, only the fire’s rustling filling the air, the flames bathing the place in a timeless light. I like it because it reminds me of my old world, of my true home in the Winter Realm. The Snowstorm estate, the abandoned fortress of my family. It’s now probably infested with Nessima’s dark power, since her evil has gaped to swallow the entire territory beyond the Northern forest.

“I’ll be staying in the east wing. Tell the staff not to venture there. I understand it’s still undergoing renovation anyway,” Sandros declares, turning to leave.

“The renovations have only just started,” Durion corrects him. “It’s actually in a pretty bad state right now, it’s hardly a proper lodging for—”

“I’ve had worse. I spent half of my life in war camps. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”

“Can’t say the betrayal wasn’t expected,” Durion says when we’re alone again, his eyes still fixed on the archway through which Sandros has just exited. He pours himself a glass of champagne, and downs it in one go. Alcohol doesn’t have an effect on either of us, but the prickling, fine taste of French booze can be soothing. “You should have known, too. He’s the son of the former winter king and a powerful demoness from Hell. Evil has always coursed through his veins, that’s why our people have always been instinctively wary of him.”

“You’re right.”

For a moment, Durion looks like he’s about to slap himself. “Wait, you actually agree with me for once? What’s the catch?”

“No catch. It’s the way it is. Pour me some, too.” I wave my hand to the bottle, slouching back in my seat. I must look like a heart-broken mess. My dress is off the shoulder, which I guess adds to my overall desolate appearance as I let a man I loathe fill my glass instead of the one I want, who left the room without giving me another glance.  I keep staring at the rose he placed in front of me, which has already started to wilt, as blackening under his dark power.

“I don’t think you’ve ever agreed with me on anything before,” Durion says as the champagne gurgles into the glass.

“I’d be an idiot to not agree with you on this one. But agreeing isn’t going to get us anywhere.” I meet Durion’s eyes as I re-run the evening in my head. “The realms are in mortal danger again. The Antichrist is here, in the human world, the centerpiece that holds all the worlds together. And now, the darkest prince of the Winter Realm has joined him. If these two come together, the worlds are going to collapse, and evil is going to swallow us all.”

Durion nods, dread starting to spread in his large brown eyes. “We have to do something.”

“First of all, we have to find out who the Antichrist is.”

***

UPDATE Release Schedule – The next book in your favorite series

The Summer of 2020 has been unconventional to say the least, which has given many of us authors time to write more, and organize and re-organize our schedules in new ways. At a certain point I had more books scheduled for this year than I could actually write, I mean write like I mean it, immersing myself in the books’ worlds properly. So, without further ado, this is the new schedule my awesome editor Tami and I came up with. Acquiring covers we fell in love with at first sight may or may not have had to do with our planning new stories *wink*. Anyways, some of these titles are already backed up with pre-orders, and there’s a link to them wherever that’s the case. We will go adding links as we add more pre-orders. So here we go 🙂

(Fae Romance, Vampires and Shifters by Ana Calin)

Prince Michael the Bad (Book 7 of the Dracula’s Bloodline series) – 24th of August

Wicked King (Book 3 of the Fae of Fire and Ash series) – 24th of September

Vicious Fae (Book 2 of the Hiddeen World series) – 22nd of October

In Sin with the Wolf (Book 4 of the Magnificent Beasts series) – 24th of November

The Dragon Lord’s Fated Mate (Book 1 of the Dragon Chronicles series) – 22nd of December

the NEXT BOOK IN THE MAJOR ARCANA ACADEMY SERIES WILL BE RELEASED LATER IN 2021

Dragon’s Prisoner (Book 2 of the Deagon Chronicles series)24th of Feburary 2021

The Devil’s Son (Book 8 of the Dracula’s Bloodline series) 05th of March 2021

The schedule for March – December 2021 follows.

But until then there’s so much more that’s available for you right now. Check out all the available books and series here.

Release Schedule – This is when the next book in your favorite series is being released

These past few days have been wonderfully busy. I have been working on a new fae romance (I’m obsessed with all things fae/elven lately), but I’ve also been working on the next books in my ongoing series. So this is my new release schedule, with the release dates for the next book in each of my paranormal romance series, including the bestselling ones 🙂

***

May 14thThe Darkest Fae (new standalone, prequel to the Fae of Darkness series)

May 28thDark Desires (Book Two in the Dangerous Warlocks series)

June 2020 (June 22nd)King of Flames (Book One in the Fae of Fire and Ash series)

July 2020 (July 21st)Kingdom of Fire (Book Two of the Fae of Fire and Ash series)

August 2020 (August 20th)Prince Michael the Bad (last book of the Dracula’s Bloodline series)

September 2020 (Date follows)In Sin with the Wolf (Book Four of the Magnificent Beasts series)

October 2020 (Date follows)Fall of the Red Veil (last book of the Major Arcana Academy series – reverse harem)

November 2020 (Date follows)Title follows (Book Three of the Fae of Fire and Ash series)

December 2020SURPRISE Christmas Pranormal Romance 

And this isn’t even all. I have three other novellas scheduled for this year , which will be sprinkled among these official releases, so stay tuned for more surprieses. Thank you for all your love and support, for keeping me so inspired and motivated! It means the world!