His Twisted Fantasy – First chapter

Hello, people! As some of you may know, I’m working on a new book, under a new pen name, since I’m starting a series of contemporary dark billionaire romance novels and novellas. His Twisted Fantasy is going to hit the Zon at the end of Feburary, and this is the first chapter. Let me know if you are interested in an ARC (a reader e-copy you get a week before release) so that you can post a review on Amazon on the day of release. Comment on this post, leave your e-mail address if possible, and let me know.

Please keep in mind this is the first draft.

Blurb:

I go into tycoon Jax Vaughn’s office looking for a job. When I come out, it’s with an offer I should definitely refuse.

But the most powerful man in America doesn’t give choices. He twists arms.

The Devil

Not everybody has a price. But everybody has a weakness, and I’ll dig up Adalia Ross’s, if that’s what it takes to make her mine.

The curvy little angel refused my proposition and my money, but we both know, it’s only a matter of time until I’ll have my twisted way with her.

From the moment I saw her, dirty thoughts flooded my brain. Blood raged through me, making me rock hard. It’s been a long time since a woman affected me like this, too long.

This little angel opened up Pandora’s box, and there’s no closing down that lid again.

I’m a ruthless, relentless bastard, and now, I’m obsessed. 

But then, she uncovers something that should have stayed forever hidden.

This changes things–it changes her contract. If she ever dares break it, someone will end up in pieces. Most likely any man whose attention she invites.

So welcome to the devil’s den, little angel. One way in, no way out, if that’s what it takes to keep you. Because who would choose to stay with the broken, wounded monster you’re about to discover in the dark? 

The Angel

The only thing harder than Jax Vaughn’s perfectly sculpted face and bulging muscles is his heart. It’s cold, and impenetrable for any feeling that might stand in the way of his success. 

But on the rare occasions when he desires something, there’s no scenario in which he doesn’t get it. And now what he wants is me, doing things with him that would have any decent lady clutching her pearls.

Except I’m not a decent lady. I’m a far cry from the innocent girl that came with big dreams to New York five years ago. Those dreams shattered, and now I have dirty secrets, bad habits, and an eating disorder. By the look of it, I’m also developing an obsession with a man way out of my league. A predator that wants nothing more than to consume me, and break me. In the end, he will succeed.

But I sure af won’t make it easy on him.

Chapter I – First Sight

Addie

Vaughn Corp Tower is one mean, impressive motherfucker. My neck hurts as I stare up at the monolith of glass and steel that scrapes the clouds. Even though it’s standing in the heart of Manhattan among others of its kind, it still dominates the landscape, demanding special attention and respect. 

Which it kinda sorta deserves.

In the last few years, the V.C. Tower has become as much a symbol of this city as the Empire State, and all because Jax Vaughn, the man who runs it, is a whole new level of mobster. A dangerously smart one. He emerged from prison onto the stock market ten years ago, and bulldozered through everything in his path. Soon, organized crime bowed to him, and politics was quick to follow. Yes, I’ve done my homework, seeing that I’m now applying for a job at one of the crook’s companies.

Don’t judge. It’s a job I can do well–social media marketing–and one of his start-up brands is paying a banker’s wage for it. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to quit my nightclub job, and pay back all of mom’s debt, too. Practically a fairy tale, but with work. I can’t afford not to grab this chance.

I take comfort in the idea that Jax Vaughn must be old, ugly, and probably bald to make up for his money. Nobody knows for sure what he looks like, because there are no pictures of him online, but who builds something like this in their thirties, right?

I prance towards the building, trying to look confident in my two-piece suit and high heels, but as soon as I step through the rotative door, my jaw drops.

Fuck, how many people signed up for this?

I let my eyes run over the crowd in the lobby. Men and women, all looking crisp and competent, the kind of people with their ambitions forged in Manhattan, are stepping on each other’s toes.

What was I thinking? I should have expected hellish competition for this. Not many people are truly good at social media marketing, but everybody thinks they are, so it’s only logical they’d try for something this well paid. 

“Ma’am,” a dry voice reaches me. My eyes find a tall lanky man in a suit, glasses down on the tip of his nose. Salt and pepper hair, in his fifties, high-brow. He holds out a device. “Your name and registration number.”

“Of course.” I pull out my phone, transferring the information by holding it to his device.

“Thank you.” He motions to a line I can now make out snaking through the crowd. Apparently, the people clustered together have already taken the interview, and are now exchanging notes. From what I hear, there are a number of openings on this job, not just one. I breathe out in relief. Maybe there actually is a chance.

“It will be around fifty minutes,” the man says.

More like five hours by the look of it. 

I join the line.

“Also,” he adds, “No pictures, no matter what. Keep your phone tucked away at all times. When you hear your name, you walk up to that door.” He shows me a large black door across from the elevators and walks away, moving on to the next people entering the Tower. 

I wonder why he didn’t demand that I give up my phone, but I guess it would be too much trouble collecting the gadgets from everyone here. I haven’t seen a lobby this packed since Jason Momoa stayed at the Crowne Plaza. Plus, there are cams in every corner, at the top of every marble column, so whoever breaks the rules sure won’t get away with it. 

Half an hour later, there’s barely any progress, the crowd only getting thicker, the air hotter, and my feet are killing me. I’m shifting from one leg to the other, cursing under my breath. I better get this job, because it will be days before I can go back to dancing in my cage at the nightclub.

The red-head in front of me flips her hair for the hundredth time, whipping it over my face. The space between us has tightened so much I can smell her sweat mixing with Chanel No. 5. Why the hell did they have to put us in a line when we’re being called in by name? Maybe Jax Vaughn likes it this way. I imagine the heartless bastard watching us mere mortals through his cameras, swarming like cockroaches for the crumbs under his table, taking sick pleasure in it. 

“Yeah, sure, no problem,” I bite out when the red-head fails to excuse herself. She turns around, arching an eyebrow. She’s got so much fill-up in her glossy lips that it must take a huge amount of effort to move them when she speaks. She gives me a once-over before her features distort in arrogance.

“Excuse you,” she says, waving a hand with pointy, black-polished fingernails like I’m trash standing too close. “Some distance would be great, thank you.”

“No, can’t do.” I throw my thumb behind me with a wink. “Peer pressure. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a tsunami back there. So why don’t we just be considerate of each other?” She glances over my head at the sea of people behind, but it doesn’t seem to faze her. 

Narcissistic much?

Every piece she’s wearing is designer made, and expensive as fuck. She scoffs and turns her back to me again, giving me the chance to measure her up and down, noticing she’s wearing only V.C. owned brands. Of course she’d try to impress like that. I would have done the same, if I could afford it.

Except maybe she doesn’t either. Shit, I should have rented, too. There is a place just down the street. Now here I am, dressed in my room-mate’s best two-piece suit that’s too small for me, wearing the most uncomfortable heels that ever existed. The suit jacket didn’t reach over my bust, so I had to leave the lapels open, enabling a view of my breasts that always borders on indecent no matter how hard I try to cover them. I don’t have the breasts of a porn star, but I do have those of a wet nurse, and they did get me my job at the nightclub. There’s no hiding them. It’s been five years since I dropped out of Julliard, and I’ve put on more weight than any ballerina would ever tolerate on her bust and thighs, so it surely wasn’t my dancing skills that got me into the cage. When Snake hired me, he said that I looked like a MILF at twenty-five, which was what his clients liked to watch. 

And he was fucking right. None of the bastards drooling around my cage with drinks in their hands is right in the head, you can tell that much by midnight. They have crazy eyes, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the glittery Swarowsky mask that permanently covers my face, ensuring anonymity. If I took it off and went with them to the hotel, I’d probably have paid off all of mom’s debts and the mortgage by now, but I’d also be a suicidal alcoholic, and I can’t afford that. Let’s be honest, mom’s problems are never over, and she’ll never stop needing me.

With a little luck today though, we both will gain some stability.

I glance at my fuzzy reflection in the glossy marble column, clear enough for me to check my hair-do. It’s anywhere but in place. It’s too hot and too clammy in here, so there’s hardly anything left of my chignon. Blonde strands have rebelled everywhere, making me look like a secretary that just got fucked. 

Who am I kidding? I’m so not ready for this, and I don’t stand a chance anyway. I mean, come on, how many people are in here? A hundred? Two? I should freaking go. This is a waste of time.

I turn to leave, but a piercing ‘ding’ makes me spin around. Elevator doors open, and men in black pour out of it. One of them holds his hand up, his face dead serious.

“No pictures,” he croaks.

When the last man steps out of the elevator, the others line up to flank him. 

Even among his bodyguards–because that’s what they are, since the last guy is clearly the boss–he is seriously massive. He arranges the cuffs of his Brioni suit with a sleekness that is both refined and dangerous. Damn, his elegance could rule both the jungle and the city.

Which it actually does.

No doubt, this is him. Jax Vaughn. There’s no other reason why every member of staff should freeze in the straightest posture a human could take, or why dead silence sweeps over the entire room. And fuck me, he’s not old, ugly, or bald. In fact, he runs a hand through his thick brown hair as he prowls towards the exit, and the side of his face that I can see is so perfectly sculpted, it’s not fair to the rest of mortal men. 

My jaw slackens, and so do my hands, a loud whump following–My bag, all of its contents spilling onto the floor. The sound echoes through the silence, causing the bodyguards to stop, and Jax Vaughn’s head to snap right to me.

One second, and the world tips.

Our eyes lock. 

The wildest green I’ve ever seen pops against the backdrop of skin like caramel.

What a beautiful animal…

And he’s staring right at me, fully aware that I exist. My heart pounds crazily, heat flooding my cheeks until annoyed huffing rips through the magic. The red-head, arms crossed under her tits in a way that pushes them up, stares at me like I’ve just pooped on the floor.

“Clumsy much? Or just desperate for attention?” She sneers. 

I look down at my stuff, and shame grips my guts. Not only have a few tampons spilled from their package, but my new battery-operated friend that Mia gifted me during lunch peeks out, too. One glance at Jax’s eyes, and I know he’s seen it. Good God, he’s seen it.

I drop to my knees, scooping my stuff quickly back into my purse, the red-head’s laughter so shrill that it echoes against the luscious walls. All the attention weighs like a boulder on me, even though it’s obvious she’d rather hi-jack it for herself. I can only hope that this is all too unimportant for Jax Vaughn, and that he’s already moved on, his schedule way too tight for him to waste another thought on either me or the red-head, but no. 

I meet his eyes again the moment I look up, except this time there’s more than just surprise in them. He seems angry, his masculine face bristling with aggression. He doesn’t like this, not one bit, but then why isn’t he leaving? He should be out by now, people like me are nothing but ants to him.

Sweat runs down my spine while all sorts of thoughts plague my head. Is he thinking about having his men throw me out? No, why would he do that, I mean, only over a few tampons and a dildo? 

Holy shit, he saw my dildo! Is this how I’m going to stay imprinted in his memory? On my knees, desperately trying to conceal the thing?

On the other hand, there’s no shame in single girls having their fun with their battery-operated friends, is there? Even though I would do anything to turn back time, and make sure Mr. Fucking Universe doesn’t find out I use one.

I should get up and bolt out the door right now, minimize the damage, but I can’t move, not under Jax Vaughn’s cold scrutiny. He pins me down with those green eyes like a wild animal does prey in the jungle.

Barely anyone in the room dares breathe.

It feels like an eternity until he finally signals his men to follow with a jerk of his head. But even as he exits the building, I can’t help feeling that he’s still aware of me.

Judging me. Despising me.

Probably laughing at me, like the red-head. I turn to stare daggers at her, but it doesn’t faze her any more than the competition did before, when she ran her eyes over the crowd. She’s just glad she used me to catch his eye.

Delusional bimbo. Jax Vaugh has a dozen like her lining up to suck his dick at a snap of his fingers, she’s nothing special to him. None of us are. Men like him are so spoiled for choice, only the sickest things can still arouse or interest them–I dance in a cage at a nightclub for a living. I should know.

“Really?” the red-head shrills. “Staging yourself in a pornographic position to get the billionaire’s attention? Come on, I’m sure you can do better than that.”

Anger shoots up to the tips of my ears.

“I didn’t stage anything.”

“Sure you didn’t.”

How satisfying it would be to punch the sneer off of her face, but I don’t need any more trouble at Vaughn Corp. I’ve had enough for a whole fucking lifetime. Making sure my purse is firmly shut, I prance out of the building in my heels with completely fake confidence. On the inside, I’m dying.

I wish I could block out the crowd’s whispering as I walk by, but my senses are only sharper. The adrenaline worked like a radioactive spider, so there’s no protecting myself from all the, “I’ve heard chicks do some crazy shit to get the guy’s attention, but this?” “How fucking lame.” “Stupid broad.” “Come on, it was funny.” “Who cares about the hoe, have you seen him? Oh. My. God.” Hand slapping chest. Giggling takes over before I even step between the glass blades of the rotative door, smoothing the hair off my face, leaving the swooning over Jax Vaughn to the girls who still have some dignity left.

I take a deep breath in an attempt to tell myself that life goes on, but the moment I step out, the tall man from before blocks my way. He looks down at his device, double checking my information, then at me.

“Miss Adalia Ross?”

“Y-Yes?”

“Follow me.”

Oh shit. Is it that bad?

***

Jax

She stared at me like a deer in the headlights, and my cock stood up to attention for the first time in what? Months? Years? It’s been so long since a woman turned me on that I lost count. 

But the moment I saw her, I could barely keep my cock down.

Women have been throwing themselves at me for years. I’ve seen and experienced literally everything, and I was sure nothing could impress me anymore. Yeah, I can fuck, rough and hard, if a bitch insists, but I never initiate. I’m never the first one horny.

Until the woman on her knees inside the lobby of my Tower.

I stare out the dark window of my car with my jaw clenched. My boxing-roughed knuckles rest against my mouth as I focus on keeping my cock in check, and on taming my bristling. 

I thought myself immune to this kind of shit, yet here I am, falling for the cheapest scheme a woman could pull. Dropping her bag with the dildo, and then pretending to gather her things by going down to a doggy style position, who does that? But ah, how her top stretched over her bouncing tits as she moved her arms to gather her things back into her purse…

I can’t get those messy blonde strands out of my mind, hanging over a perfectly plump mouth that looked ready to suck cock, her tits inviting jizz to spill all over them. Sweat glistened on her flushed chest as she stared up at me out of those milky blue eyes, making me wanna unzip for her.

I imagine those eyes on me while she masturbates with that dildo that slipped out of her purse.

My cock rages in my pants, this is insane. 

Against all odds, I’m alive again, awakened by an onslaught of twisted cravings.

So twisted, like a sickness rising. 

On an impulse, I reach for my phone, and text the chief of staff. ‘The girl that dropped her purse. I want her in my office when I’m back. Don’t let her leave even if you have to lock her in. I’ll deal with the legalities, if it comes to that.’

I tuck my phone back into my chest pocket, and rest my fist against my mouth again, trying to think about my upcoming meeting. It’s the first one with a secret group of underground tech rebels from the Middle East, and it took hell to arrange it. Yet here I am, thinking about fucking Ms. Clumsy’s mouth while she writhes on her dildo, instead of focusing on national security. 

Fuck.

I straighten up, and pull at the lapels of my jacket, sharpening my focus.

She wanted my attention. Well, now she’s got it. She opened Pandora’s box, and there’s no fucking way that lid is closing again, not until all that darkness has spilled over her, and consumed her. 

NEW RELEASES

Today, he is my protector. Tomorrow, he could be my ruin.

The abuser from my past has returned, bent on getting me back in his power. Now only a shadow of my former self as a cheerleading team captain, I know I won’t survive abuse at his hands again.
Enter Sinai of the Yces, winter fae and badass academy star boy with a grudge against my tormentor. He offers me protection, but his reasons don’t stop at our common enemy, and he’s not exactly my friend either. I’m not sure I want him to be, not with that perfectly chiseled jaw, those bulging muscles and the smoldering way he looks at me. He’s feared, nasty and dangerous, and yet I want him all over me. I feel that his rough lust can heal me.
But Sinai is sweet poison that could lead me to my doom. I should run away from him as fast as I did from the other one, except this time I’m hooked. Hooked on the deadliest man I’ve ever met.


TRIGGER WARNING. This book deals with themes of abuse (physical and emotional, NOT between hero and heroine), stalker, forced proximity, jealous/possessive hero and related tropes. This is NOT a bully romance. There is a HEA.

The affair between fae prince Salazar Shadowthorn and me, a human witch, is three things – toxic, destructive, and forbidden. Now, it might become deadly.

Salazar is a prince without a crown, a tragically beautiful force of night. Shadow and smoke are deadly weapons in his hands, and even demons have learned to fear him. Yet now a mysterious power is closing in on him and his people, and Salazar can’t beat it alone. He needs to awaken the shadow fae king. Only that awakening the king is no less problematic than the dark power seeking to gain control of his kind. Because of me.

There’s a big fat chance that I’m the king’s fated mate, which means that Salazar and I would have to stop this toxic thing we’re doing. He likes toying with me, making me beg for him in basements, and pleasuring me in public in order to humiliate me. Perverted delights, to which I’ve secretly become addicted. We’ll have to kill this sick chemistry between us, if we want to stand a chance against this new power. A rising menace that can lead us both, ruthlessly, to our deaths.

A cursed beast lurks in the woods outside my village, and it wants one thing—me.

I learned to fear the Scorpio Beast many years ago. He is the most dangerous thing out there, brutal and cruel, so when he takes me captive in exchange for my brother’s freedom, I know to expect the worst.
Yet deep into the ruins of his ancient castle, I discover there’s more to Ares Amberson than his ruthless reputation. There’s a tortured soul behind his mask, and a sensual touch behind his iron fist. There’s also more to my own past than I ever knew, a secret buried in my bloodline that Ares wants to use me for. But in order to unlock my dormant powers, he needs to teach me.
Train me.
Seduce me.
Ruin me.
The pull I feel towards him is wrong on all levels, but I’m hooked on the devilish pleasures he’s giving me. I must fight against it, or die trying. The secret of our bloodlines makes it impossible for us to be anything but rivals, polar opposites, enemies. In the end, there can be only one on the throne of the kingdom that we were both born to rule.

Note: This book offers you a strong female lead and a tortured villain, so brace yourself for dark themes and possible triggers related to past trauma. These two go to work on each other. Yes, there’s a HEA.

When you’re destined for each other – as sworn enemies.

With a common rival sitting on the throne that was meant for one of us, the Scorpio Beast and I are forced to work together – as a fake couple. We must fight against the evil usurper that brought misery upon our kingdom. But, in the end, there can be only one on the throne of Celestia. In the end only Ares or I can survive a terrible prophecy – that one of us is destined to kill the other.

Throne of Lust and Ruin is Book II of the Court of Scorpio series, telling the story of a passion that can only lead to ruin. Beware of triggers and dark themes. This is an enemies-to-lovers romance.

Desired by the Fae Prince – Excerpt

Okay folks, so this month I intend to release two books. One of them is a fae novella, Desired by the Fae Prince, and the second one is the third installment of my dragon shifter series, Dragon Chronicles, a book titled The Dragon’s Game. While The Dragon’s Game might take until the beginning of February to hit the Zon, Desired by the Fae Prince is going to come out at the end of this coming week! Here is the opening excerpt. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

***

Runar Hauldron is a fae prince in glimmering armor, but behind all that, he’s nothing but a monster. Yes, he’s a starlight fae, outrageously handsome, and he’s the ruler of this kingdom. And yes, he’s the one who made Fort Solar into what it is today, namely one of the most vibrant kingdoms in the realm. But he built all that on a pile of bodies.

Including the bodies of my family, and it probably won’t be long until I disappear down that deep black hole, too. Still, the ‘Why’ needs a bit of a backstory.

Perched on the highest mountain and overlooking the ocean, Fort Solar is one of those gems crisscrossed by winding streets that brim with magic, and bustle with business. There are stands overflowing with precious silks and gems along the roads, while special shops hold the rarest magic items. If you’re after something rare and valuable, you’re sure to find it here, which is why people travel to Fort Solar from all over the world.

The dark side to all of this abundance is that it’s procured by the blood and sweat of those like my family. Of metahumans, namely humans born with some magical abilities that we’d be better off without because all they’re doing for us is make us useful to oppressive royalty like Runar Hauldron. In Fort Solar, and all over the realm, really, we’re the lowest class. Only fit to be servants, and even slaves. No task is too low and no work too hard. Half of us die in the colonies, extracting magical gems and metals from the rock. Being traded among the rich and powerful is what happens on a good day. Surely it’s obvious there’s no breaking from that social class, no chance at higher education, no opportunities.

Which is why I am here now, at the old wine cellars that have been closed to the public for decades, meeting with the closest thing we metahumans have to a secret society. One that’s been built to break the social order, and bring down evil princes like Runar.

“We’re not nearly strong enough to strike now,” Cary blurts out—one of the prince’s servants, and my closest friend. He jumps up from his chair with wide eyes and a scared pale face. “It’s a handful of us, against one of the most powerful men in the realm!”

“It’s now or never, Cary,” the old sage replies. He’s the leader of our group and the person who made the proposition. When he speaks the rest of us hardly dare breathe, but this is a hard pill to swallow for all of us, which is why Cary grows hysterical.

“I work for the prince’s inner circle, I know what we’re up against,” he argues. “You can’t imagine the kind of security the man has around him at all times. And even if, by some absurd chance, anyone got close enough to assassinate him, he’s fucking Runar Hauldron! The slayer of the Great Unseelie King, he’s the man who defeated the Unseelie armies. Some say he’s the best swordsman in the entire realm, and I’ve seen him in close combat. Trust me, the guy is a weapon!”

“And yet we must find a way to kill him!” voices rise from the other side of the table.

“Before his dark mist kills every single metahuman outside his castle,” someone else chimes in desperately, murmurs of approval rising.

The old sage remains quiet.

“We don’t stand a chance,” Cary insists, exasperated. “Not like this. We need a plan, and we need someone strong to do it. It needs to be a supernatural, a powerful one, like him.”

“The boy is right,” a plump maid says, wringing her hands over her apron. “I work close circle, too. And we’re not ready to attempt an assassination, we might never be, not during our lifetimes. It’s just a handful of us, while there’s an entire world of them. I am fully committed to our cause but, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think any of us can do it. I don’t think we can do it even if we all attack as one, together. This kind of mission needs a few generations’ preparation.”

“And it needs military training, years of it,” another man puts in.

“Or a skilled, experienced mercenary,” another one cries from the back.

“I will do it,” I say.

All faces at the table turn toward me, surprise slapped onto them.

But the old sage doesn’t seem thrown off at all. He opens his mouth like a man with a vision, his white eyes seeming to stare at something compelling.

“The high spirits have spoken,” he muses. “It will be Sandra of the Ray.”

“What do you mean? She’s just a girl, an orphan you took under your roof. She doesn’t look like she can survive a storm, let alone the prince,” the man next to the maid says. I strain to remember his name. Oh yes, Goran Dukovnic. He and the maid—his wife—keep to themselves a lot. Her name is Lativia, if I remember correctly. Goran is a reserved guy who looks like a dependable handyman, complete with a square jaw, scruffy stubble, and a grey shirt with rolled-up sleeves that reveal strong forearms.

“You have to give us more than that, oh Wise One,” Lativia adds, giving me an appraising side-look. “Because the only idea that seems crazier than attempting assassination at this point is to send a child to do it, because that’s what she is, basically.”

“I stopped being a child the day that bastard took my family away from me,” I spit out through gritted teeth, reliving in my mind the dark mist seeping into our home and taking them away, cold and indifferent to my desperate screams. I kept trying to claw at it, but there was nothing I could grab onto, only black air. My knuckles show white as I tighten my fists on the table. “He made me an orphan! Prince Runar sent that mist, as he always does when he needs to feed the dark power that fuels him. I will stop him, or die trying.”

“Pace yourself, my child,” the old sage says in his raspy and yet soothing voice. “That you would offer yourself tonight was foretold by the high spirits. I was waiting for you to say the words. And now that you have, destiny is sealed. Still, it won’t be easy.”

“The high spirits spoke to you about this? They announced it should be me? Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because it had to come from you. What you did is a willing offering to the high spirits. Your intention sends precious scents towards the sky, like burning incense.”

“But why would the high spirits want it to be me?” I look up at the sky, holding up my palms. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful. I’ve dreamt about this for many years, ever since—” Since the only people who ever loved me were sucked away by that dark mist as if they’d never existed, and I had to go live with my uncle. But I clench my jaw before the words leave my mouth. After all these years, I still can’t talk about it. My uncle was the best baker in Fort Solar, and a kind man, yet his wife was another story. She beat me daily, bruised me, her bestiality growing until she broke my ribs. Even then, she had me keep wiping the floor, while she kept kicking me.

That’s when I ran away, hunched over and holding to my side until I collapsed at the old sage’s door. He took me in, as he often took orphans. Still, he probably saw my arrival as sent by the high spirits, because he always treated me as if I was something special, even though I’m not.  I’m just a twenty-one year old wretch, without any special magical abilities except my relationship to plants. I can feel their roots, and their magical powers. Also, I’m not particularly pretty, despite Cary’s insistences on the contrary. I’m too skinny, with high cheekbones that used to look skeletal when the old sage first took me in, and small grey eyes. My hair is a heap of sand-colored hay, and my lips are thin because I made a habit of keeping them tight, giving my face a forever tense look. Still, that didn’t stop unwanted advances from men, especially when the old sage sent me to get herbs from the market or get water from the well. They’d never marry a wretch like me, but they’d sure fuck me on the edge of the well, or behind a market stand. Cary says they’re attracted to my vulnerability and femininity, but I think that’s bull. They’re attracted to how easy it is to prey on me and then dump me. The only man who ever truly cared about me that way is Cary. But no matter how badly I wish I could return his feelings, I just can’t.

Cary is also an orphan who grew up in the old sage’s house, and he’s the closest thing I have to a brother. We grew up as family. But then he started opening up to me about his true feelings since he got that job at the castle, arguing he’s got enough money now to feed another mouth, but I can’t do this to him. Not with the bitterness and anger that have been living inside me for ten years like coiling serpents.

“Who can say they can decipher the mind of the high spirits,” the old sage says. “There’s not a wise one in the world who can claim they’ve had more than mere glimpses of its divine essence. But those glimpses are priceless, and they reveal a whole world of meaning. They foretold it could only be you, my child. Only you can discover Prince Runar’s weak spot. And only you can bring him down.”

“What if he doesn’t have a weak spot?” the maid inquires. “I’ve been at the castle for a long time, and I didn’t discover any.”

“Neither have I,” Cary says.

“The high spirits have a plan, and it will be revealed to us as we go,” the old sage muses, his sightless white eyes directed at the sky, as if he were receiving answers from the high spirits as we speak. We can all feel his connection to the higher planes, to something divine and timeless that yet needs us, creatures made of flesh, to put its divine plans into action.

“We would be risking Sandra’s life,” Cary argues, shaking his head in refusal. “I can’t let that happen.”

“Then help me,” I reply, making eye contact, which gives him pause. I’ve been avoiding looking at him directly for weeks. “Help me get in. Help me get close to him. And when the time comes, help me end the bastard.”

***

Sandra

I can’t remember the last time I felt as light in my chest as I do now, emerging from the old wine cellars. I pull my hood over my head, making sure to stay inconspicuous as I round the corner into a side alley, and then weave my way through the crowded market. Right in the middle of it there’s a statue of the starlight prince that a secret society has just agreed—however reluctantly—that I’m going to kill.

I shield my eyes against the sun to stare up at a prince Runar made of gold and precious gems. The statue depicts him in motion on a mighty stallion, sword raised high above his head, his long golden hair blowing in the wind. His armor, encrusted with precious stones, is built specifically to showcase his athletic body which is, at least in this statuesque depiction, a fantastically beautiful thing. I scoff to myself. Pretty sure he doesn’t look like that in reality. I mean, he is fae and all, but this is fucking perfection, and I’m not buying it.

Needless to say I’ve never seen the fae prince up close. But in only a few days, Cary hooks me up with a job at his court. On Wednesday, I finally get to lay eyes on him.

The first sight is from afar, of course, since the castle is humungous, and filled with nobility and military all day long. There’s less activity at night, but the corridors are never empty. The prince is always surrounded by a bunch of generals and advisors, and he seems to be working a lot, from early morning until late at night. If he’s ever alone, one can’t know when and where, yet Cary says he often spends his nights in the castle library.

But the doors are never open, and I can’t roam the castle too much at night. I might get lost if I do anyway, not only because of the winding corridors, but because of all the magic this place is imbued with. Magic meant to protect and to kill. So I have to work my way closer and closer to the prince, which I finally succeed at a Friday dinner that he throws for his closest staff. Cary made sure that I got a serving slot here, and it wasn’t easy. When I finally approach enough to get a good look at the prince’s face, I freeze with the tray of starters in my hands.

In person, Runar Hauldron is even more majestic that the statue I saw of him days ago. He’s so large that that statue of him might as well have been real-size, even though I know that’s just an illusion. He’s big, yes, as all fae are, especially the warrior types, but the larger-than-life impression he makes is something that comes from the inside. His face is milky white, his features so beautiful he’s compelling to look at, and his blonde hair falls in flowing waves down to his waist. I never thought I’d find a pretty boy so attractive, but there’s an inherent masculinity about Runar despite his ethereal beauty. He’s not wearing his armor, but a white linen shirt that’s almost see-through, and that reveals contours of his powerfully built body. He sure looks like a prince descended from the stars, which is what starlight fae are. Compared to him, I’m a blade of grass with eyes.

“Close your mouth, your jaw dropped,” Cary says as he brushes by me. I stir from the enchantment of prince Runar and make eye contact with Cary long enough to catch the jealousy in his gaze. He walks away, placing a tray of steak and one of side-dishes on the table. I manage to make my way close to the prince so that I have to lean in and place my own tray on the table right next to him. My arm brushes over his in the process.

Current runs through me when it happens, sending a shudder all through my body. And when the prince’s ocean-blue gaze meets mine, I freeze in place. The world seems to tilt around me. Is this a special power of his, making humans feel dizzy in the head just from looking at him?

“How dare you touch the prince?” one of the men at his table reacts. The hostility of his voice tears me from the enthrallment of the prince’s gaze, and my head snaps to him in time to see one of the generals reach out and grab my wrist with the look of a mad dog on his face. “So typical of metahuman filth, to think you can rub yourself in the face of royalty just because you serve at their table.”

The fae general has already started to drag me towards the exit before I even realize what’s happening. My feet skid on the polished floor, making a squeaking sound, and my face heats up as the general’s grip tightens around  my neck. It’s like an iron vise, inescapable. It’s like I’ve been literally grabbed by a machine.  I claw at his hand, desperate to free my windpipes, but he’s too strong. The last thing I see before squeezed-out tears blur my vision is Cary’s stricken face as we pass him by. He’s unable to react because, I realize, this must all be happening too fast for him, but a voice as strong as thunder stops the general in his tracks.

“Harthuil, let her go!”

The man stops abruptly, but it’s seconds before he drops me. I hit the floor, coughing, not even trying to come up to my feet. I know it would be a futile attempt. I take my hand to my throat to make sure nothing is broken, since part of me wonders how come I’m still alive. There’s an exchange of lines around me, two men talking, the thundering voice giving orders, while the other accepts them meekly. It takes some time until enough oxygen finds its way back into my head so I can make any sense of it. When I do, I understand the kind of trouble I’m in, and my eyes pop out of my head.

***

Enjoyed this? Plenty more where it came from. Check out some of my other fae books here and here, so you have something you can binge until this one comes out. I love to hear from you. so leave me a comment and tell me how you liked this excerpt, and what you’d like to see in this new book. I always take your suggestions to heart.