Chapter no 5

These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows, 1)

MY BACK TEETH CLANG TOGETHER as I slam onto my knees. Pain radiates up my legs, and when I open my eyes, a clear moonlit sky shines above me. I scramble to my feet and turn back to the river, but it’s gone. The forest beyond is also gone. The only trees are far in the distance. All around me, streams of women appear out of thin air, arriving from portals all over Elora.

This is it. This is Faerie. I made it.

An undeniable energy buzzes along my skin. As if the air is different here, as if it’s charged—an electric spiderweb waiting to trap humans like flies.

I scan the faces around me, looking for any sign of the woman who looked eager to turn me in for the reward. I can’t find her in the crowd—not that she could do much on this side of the portal. Instead, I see young

women rushing happily toward a golden footbridge that leads to a mammoth castle. Golden spires line the horizon, poking up into the night sky. The stone walls shimmer in the starlight. Mother described it just like

this in our bedtime stories—castle walls of crushed quartz, floors of marble, the night sky an endless blanket of shimmering stars.

When we were younger, Jas and I used to dream of this place. It was like a game. We’d imagine running away to Faerie through the solstice portal

and finding Mother. We’d describe how excited she’d be to see us and list the countless reasons that had kept her from returning. As the years passed and Mother never visited, when she never returned to free us from our

contract, the game held less and less appeal for me. I didn’t want to think of my mother, or the reasons she’d failed us. I didn’t want to talk about her

anymore, and imagining a reunion made my stomach hurt.

But now that I’m here, I can’t help but wonder if she is too, if she survived this dangerous land all these years, if she’s . . . happy.

I’m at least a hundred yards from the footbridge and castle gates, but

even this far back, swarms of women line up eagerly. I expected the crowd to be overwhelming, but I never could have imagined this. Women push

past one another to take their place in line. Their desperation makes me equal parts sad and on my guard.

“Oh, girl,” the woman behind me says. “You won’t get in like that.” I stiffen as I turn to her. “What do you mean I won’t get in?”

She frowns, looking me over, then pulls a handkerchief from her purse. I don’t know how I look, but she is radiant—a canary yellow dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt, her dark hair falling in perfect bouncing curls over her shoulders.

I look down at myself for the first time since Nik woke me. The silk dress she gave me is a bright red that nearly matches my hair. It sags at my chest and clings to the sharp angles of my hips before flaring out above my knees. The thin fabric exposes every underfed angle of my body, from my jutting hipbones to my sunken stomach. On Nik, its simplicity is probably sultry and seductive. On me, it looks a bit pathetic and ragged. Normally I

don’t have time to worry about things as superficial as appearance, but next to this glowing woman I feel self-conscious.

“Don’t worry. I’ll help,” she says, offering the handkerchief to me. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

My arms are streaked and smudged with dirt. When I pressed into the shadows in the alley, I was thinking of hiding, of surviving, not of

cleanliness. “Thank you.” I accept the soft fabric and gently wipe the dirt from my skin. “I guess I was in such a rush to get here, I didn’t even realize.” Beneath the filth, pink scratches—from running through the brush in the woods—crisscross up and down my arms. I’m not exactly a picture of beauty. “What do you mean they won’t let me in? Don’t they let

everyone in?”

She digs into her purse again and pulls out a small bottle of ointment. “Even as massive as the queen’s castle is, it isn’t large enough to hold all

the women who will show up for a chance at the prince’s hand.” She takes the handkerchief back and squeezes a bit of the opaque ointment onto it.

She dabs it on a particularly ugly abrasion on my shoulder, and I watch the skin heal and return to a healthy ivory hue.

“I’m so sorry, but I can’t pay you for this.”

With a smile, she continues the application down my arm. “I won’t need your money once I’m Prince Ronan’s bride.” She winks at me like it’s a joke and only I am privy to the punch line. “My name’s Pretha.”

I swallow, still not sure what I did to deserve this kindness. “Abriella.” “That’s a beautiful name.” She moves to my other arm.

“Thanks.” I scan the long line ahead of us. “How do they decide who gets in?”

“The majority of women will be sent home before they ever set foot in the castle. The guards at the door make the first cut on appearance alone.” She must see the disgust on my face, because she says, “I know. Shallow, right? But they’re looking for a healthy, beautiful human bride for their prince.”

The line moves slowly, and though I’m itching to get inside the castle

and start searching, I’m grateful for the extra time. I never considered that I might not get past the doors.

“There.” She finishes the last scrape on my wrist. “And now . . . may I work on your face?” She pulls out a small mirror and turns it so I can see myself.

My face is no better than my arms were, but worse than the dirt and scrapes are the circles under my eyes and the hollows of my cheeks.

Healthy isn’t the word that comes to mind when I look at my reflection.

Pretha dabs at my face with a clean cloth, then draws cosmetics from the endless depths of her purse. She lines my eyes with kohl, coats my lashes, brightens my cheeks with rouge, and paints my lips a deep red. When I look into the mirror again, my only familiar feature is my curly red hair. “You’re quite an artist,” I say, dabbing at my skin where the bags beneath my eyes used to be. “Are you sure you didn’t use magic on me?”

She laughs. “There’s nothing wrong with a little magic to enhance your natural beauty.”

I should expect the hairbrush that appears in her hand, but when she

starts to work on my hair, I burst into laughter. “If that brush can tame my curls, you might qualify to join Elora’s Seven.”

“I wouldn’t dare mute your wild beauty. It’s what will draw the prince’s eye to you.” She gathers my curls into a crystal barrette on top of my head and arranges them carefully around my face.

I try to smile like a girl who’s anxious to have a faerie prince’s attention.

The truth is, once I’m finally inside, I want the opposite.

When she’s done fussing with my hair, she steps back and cocks her head to the side. “Now the dress?”

The line is slowly creeping forward, and the moon is making its way

across the sky. At this rate we’ll be in line until the sun rises. Maybe even after. “I suppose you have a needle and thread in those pockets, and you’ll be sewing this into something fancier?”

“Pssh.” She waves a hand. “I’m no seamstress.”

The word is a punch to the gut, a reminder that makes my smile fall away. “Me neither.”

She frowns, not missing the change in my mood. “Did I say something?” “No, it’s nothing. My sister was . . . is a seamstress. That’s all.”

Her eyes soften. “I’m so sorry. What happened to her?” “She’s been sold into slavery.”

Something flashes in her eyes, and for a second I think she might roar in rage on my behalf, but then she blinks and it’s gone. “And is that why you’re here?”

I sigh. I need a friend, but I can’t risk telling this stranger my plans. “I imagine every girl in this line has dreams of what she could accomplish with the power and privilege of a faerie princess.”

“Hmm.” She opens her palm and shows me a fistful of pins. “May I?”

“I thought you said you weren’t a seamstress.” I watch as she places the pins side by side around my waist. I turn slowly, allowing her to continue behind my back.

“I’m not, but the woman who enchanted these pins is.” She slips a final pin in place, closing the circle, then snaps her fingers.

Just like that, the dress isn’t the one I slipped into in the forest. This is a ball gown, lovelier than anything I’ve ever worn, maybe even lovelier than anything Jas ever created. The full skirt sweeps the grass as I walk.

Rosebuds are sewn into it along the hem and up one side, as if the skirt itself were some sort of magical trellis. The fitted bodice has boning that makes my nonexistent chest swell above the sweetheart neckline. It just barely covers my amulet.

I’m busy admiring my new gown, so it’s not until Pretha taps me on the shoulder that I realize we’ve crossed the bridge. We’ve finally made it to the castle gates.

I don’t know what I expected to see, but there’s a party on the lush green lawn. Creatures of all kinds meander around the grounds. Faeries that look like butterflies with translucent wings and tiny, humanoid bodies flit

through the crowd, their wings humming like a flute on the breeze. Red-

skinned fire fae with glowing eyes dance around a bonfire, spinning human partners between each other so fast my eyes can hardly track their movements. The elven fae nobility meander throughout the crowd, and

were it not for their pointed ears and ethereal grace, they could almost blend in with the humans—not that they’d want to.

“Getting closer.” Pretha squeezes my hand, and I feel an unexpected rush of affection.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” “Maybe I need a friend too.”

How does she know need a friend? No one has ever thought that about me. If anything, I come across as cold and standoffish. A loner with no desire to change her stripes. “Well . . . thank you. For everything.” I bite the inside of my lip as I study my dress again. It’s beautiful, and with any luck it’ll help me get inside, but what about after that? I can’t sneak through dark hallways in this skirt.

“You don’t like it,” she says. She’s not defensive or pouting, just observing, almost curious.

“I’m not used to clothes that restrict my movement. I mean, I’ve been taught all my life to be on my guard in Faerie, and if I need to run or

something . . .”

She lifts her chin. “A smart girl.”

I cringe. “Or an ungrateful wretch?”

“The pins are still at the top of the skirt. Remove a single pin, and the spell is undone. The dress will take on its original form.”

I graze the top of my skirt with my fingertips until I feel one of the pins. “Perfect. Thank you.”

We make idle conversation for hours as the line inches closer and closer to the castle doors. The whole time, I take in as much detail as I can about my surroundings, ignoring my aching feet and growling stomach to study the fae in the yard and the sentries on patrol around the perimeter.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the easiest way into this castle is through the front doors, but my chances are looking more and more slim by the time we reach them. The sun is high in the sky, and I’ve watched dozens of women being sent away through the portal beside the sentries and very few being allowed entry into the castle.

“Good luck,” Pretha whispers as I step forward.

The male by the door has pointed ears and bright blue eyes. He looks me over, shrugs, and waves me inside. I turn back to Pretha. “How will I pay you back for all this?”

She grins. “Oh, I’ll think of something before we meet again.”

As I step inside, another elven faerie takes me by the arm and leads me down a sparkling hallway. I’m dazzled by the crystal chandeliers overhead and the way the light bounces off the shining floors.

I risk a glance over my shoulder to see if my new friend is following, but instead I see an unfamiliar face trailing several paces behind. Has Pretha been sent home? Guilt gnaws at me. After all she did to help me, it’s unfair that I was allowed in and she wasn’t. I should have let her go first—maybe persuaded the guards if they told her to leave through the portal.

“Straight ahead. Enjoy the celebration,” my escort says curtly. Before I can reply, he releases me and heads back the way we came.

I take several steps forward and gasp as I step into a ballroom as big as a square block in Fairscape. Late-morning light floods in from two-story floor-to-ceiling windows, and humans and faeries alike mill all around the shining marble floors. I slowly make my way into the room, merging with the crowd as I study the space.

“Why did she have to send Jasalyn away before she could finish my dress?” a familiar voice whines from somewhere behind me. Cassia.

My heart stumbles into a gallop. No. Please no.

“At least you had something appropriate,” Stella says. “I had to bribe one of the girls at the seamstress for this, and they nearly sent me away without anything.”

Of course Cassia and Stella came to the ball. That was probably why they insisted that Jas make them new dresses. They’re just the kind of idiots

who’d believe they could become faerie princesses.

I keep my head bowed and weave my way through the crowd and away from them. I don’t want to consider what will happen if they spot me.

They’d do everything in their power to get me thrown out of here, and they’d laugh about it if they knew I was trying to save Jas.

In my rush to get across the ballroom, I bump into a broad male figure. “So sorry. Excuse me.” I don’t look up, but keep walking forward.

“Are you okay?” His voice is deep and melodic. Something tugs in me at the sound, and I can’t resist turning back to him.

My breath catches at the sight of a tall male with light brown skin. This is no simple faerie. He’s stunning. His dark hair hangs to his angular jawline in a shaggy mop of curls. His silver eyes glow like moonlight and are framed by thick, dark lashes. If he were a human, I’d guess him to be in his early twenties, but there’s something about his posture and the hard lines of his face that make him seem much, much older. His full, lush mouth tilts in a frown as he studies me, then offers a hand. “A dance, milady?”

“What? No.” I have to stay focused. I don’t need this gorgeous fae male distracting me.

His eyes widen, as if he’s never been rejected before. With those looks, I wouldn’t be surprised. “Then perhaps a walk in the gardens?”

“Back off. I’m not interested in—”

The sound of my cousins’ laughter approaches, and I peek over my shoulder to see them coming closer.

“Fine. Let’s dance,” I blurt, shoving my hand into his.

His lips twitch, but he accepts my hand and leads me onto the dance floor. “It would be my pleasure.”

From a stage at the front of the room a full orchestra plays a heart-rending melody. The song isn’t one I’ve ever heard, but it makes my limbs ache to match the rhythm, to move with the beat.

The male I’m dancing with holds my gaze as he leads me across the floor. Chandeliers glitter above us, orbs of light floating on a soft breeze. Something about the dance—about the way we sway together—reminds me of how free I feel when I move through the dark. It’s relaxing and intoxicating all at once. It’s a high I don’t want to let go. And when he

studies my face and whispers, “So beautiful,” I can’t remember a single worry.

The song changes, and another faerie cuts in, taking my hand before the silver-eyed male can lead me off the floor.

Could it hurt? To indulge in another dance before I risk everything in my search for my sister? Could it hurt to give myself just a few moments to imagine a life where every day wasn’t a struggle, where I could live like these faeries—dancing and drinking wine, laughing over petty nonsense?

My body and the song become one, and as the orchestra picks up the beat

—as the bows move faster over the strings and the flutist’s fingers race over the keys—my muscles anticipate every note and rhythm. I’m passed from one partner to the next, and I feel as graceful as the fae. I dance and dance

and dance until I can hardly breathe, until my lungs burn and my feet ache. The faces of my partners are a blur. I don’t care who or what they are as

I’m lifted away from my problems and out of my wretched life by this magical movement and song.

Smiling and feeling lighter than I have in months, my hips swish to the beat, my shoulders rolling languidly. Before I know it, I’m in the center of the floor, dancing and letting faerie after faerie lead me. I lift my arms over my head and wave them in the air to the beat. The tremendous weight of all my responsibilities lifts from my shoulders. I’m free for the first time in years. Maybe for the first time ever. This dance is freedom.

Someone shoves a glass of wine in my hand, and I contemplate the liquid while I continue to move. I feel so good, and I know the wine will make me feel even better. All I have to do is drink.

Something nudges the back of my mind. Something about this wine. Something I’m supposed to remember. But . . . I lift it to my lips. I want more dancing, more joy, more delicious freedom. The goblet is yanked

away before it can touch my lips, and then I’m wrapped in strong arms and pulled off the dance floor.

I fight against him, trying to return to where I belong—to the music, the beat, the comforting sway of hips and blur of motion, the quickening


“Enough,” he whispers in my ear. “No.” The word is a plea.

He drags me away from the dancers and the lovely melody and into a quiet hallway outside the ballroom. At the end of the corridor, a window reveals the sun sinking into the horizon, casting the land in the yellow-orange glow of twilight.

The music loosens its grip on my mind, and I swallow hard as my senses return. Drop by drop, like water filling a cup, my thoughts fall back into order.

Jas. I need to save Jas.

I’m trapped in a faerie’s hold. My arms are pinned to my sides. He’s too strong. Too big. I can’t fight him.

“You need to catch your breath,” he says against my ear.

I yank out of the male’s arms and spin on him. It’s the silver-eyed faerie I first danced with. “Is that . . .” I force myself to draw in a deep breath and

stare dumbfounded at the window at the end of the hall. “Is that sunset?” He scoffs, narrowing his eyes at me. “Did time get away from you?”

I squeeze my eyes shut, cursing myself. I should’ve known better, but I let myself be drugged by their music. I lost hours that I was supposed to be using to search the castle—to get to Jas. And I almost drank faerie wine.

Fool. “I’m fine.”

“You are now.” He nods to my wrist. “That’s an interesting scar.”

My heart squeezes at the reminder of Jas. She always called my scar my “moon and sun.” One side looks like a crescent moon and the other a glowing sun. “I was caught in a fire as a child. I’m lucky I survived.” I snap my mouth shut. I don’t need to tell him anything, but his charm nearly unravels me. He can’t seem to take his eyes off the mark.

“But was it—” He snaps his gaze down the hall, tensing. “The queen is coming.”

I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a warning or if he simply doesn’t want me to miss it. I wave toward the ballroom. “Please, return to the party.”

His eyes flash. “Don’t let her see your scar.”

What? Why? I don’t have a chance to ask, because he bows from the hips

—a full bow from a fae noble, a gesture reserved for their highest ranks. Then he disappears into the crowd inside the ballroom doors. Part of me wants to follow him and demand that he explain what he means about my

scar, but I won’t risk returning to the ballroom and that music. I can’t waste any more time.

I pull a pin from my skirt, and the dress falls away, leaving me in the simple thin silk I arrived in. I back into the shadows, breathing a sigh of

relief that the encounter is over, even as I catch myself replaying what it felt like to dance in his arms and the look on his face when he whispered So beautiful. Did he mean the music? The dance? Why do I want to believe he was talking about me? Why do I care?

Then I hear it—heavy steps coming my way. A dozen sentries come into view, marching in step on either side of a robed elven female wearing a

sparkling golden crown.

Even I am awed by the sight of her, Arya, golden queen, ruler of the Court of the Sun. Her hair shines like spun gold, and her skin glows like

morning sunlight reflecting off the water. And her eyes . . . her eyes don’t match the rest of her. The blue should be stunning, but instead it strikes me as empty—lonely.

Once upon a time, a golden faerie princess fell in love with the shadow king . . .

Did the king break her heart?

Shaking my head, I force myself to focus. The silver-eyed male was right about one thing: I can’t let the queen or her sentries see me. I need to stay hidden so I can sneak through the castle while the rest of her palace is distracted by the ball.

I look down at my hands, and my breath catches. My hands, my legs, my body—there’s nothing but shadow. I wave my hand in front of my face, but it’s not there. I’m . . . invisible?

I stumble back into the wall—and fall right through it, into a flood of sunlight in a bustling kitchen.

“What do you think you’re doing in here?” a muscular dwarf in a chef’s hat growls at me. He has an enormous swine-shaped snout and curved ivory horns.

I scramble to my feet, staring at the wall I’m pretty sure I just fell


“You come to steal food from my kitchen?” He swats my back with a spoon, and my skin stings. “Get outta here, ya wildling.”

“Yes, sir,” I murmur. I find the nearest exit and rush out of the room,

emerging into a long hall different from the one where I spotted the queen. Candles flicker from sconces every few feet, but there are no windows, and the shadows are plentiful.

I reach into a shadow and watch as my shaking hand disappears.

Is this some strange reaction to being in Faerie? Does my skill for blending in the normal world become an actual ability to disappear in this one?

Voices float toward me from a room down the hall, and I step into the shadows, willing myself to disappear as I listen.

“They’re expecting the prince tonight,” a deep voice says.

“Yes, sir, I understand,” another male replies, this voice squeaky. “But Prince Ronan is still away. As you know, he isn’t keen to return home and is less keen to choose a bride.”

“Then find him,” the first says. “If you make me deliver bad news to our queen, I’ll be greatly displeased.”

The palace is overflowing with women ready to offer their lives to the Seelie prince, and he couldn’t be bothered to show? How typical of a faerie. Egotistical nonsense.

The males step out of the room and head toward me. They’re tall, graceful, noble fae dressed in yellow-and-gray uniforms—from the queen’s guard, perhaps?

I stay in the shadows, praying I’m invisible to them as well and not just to myself. They walk past me, and I hold my breath as one brushes my

stomach with his elbow.

When they turn around a corner, I allow myself to breathe again.

Carefully, I peek inside the room they emerged from. It’s an office that has two desks, stacks of books, and maps on the walls, but what interests me most is the window and the fading sunlight.

I need to find that wardrobe. I’ve already lost too much time.



I found it. Deep in the lower levels of the palace, in a far back corner of a

storage room, I found an oversize armoire with wings painted on the doors.

The queen’s castle is vast and filled with fae and far more light than is convenient for a girl whose skills revolve around shadows and darkness.

There are very few corridors or rooms that don’t have someone nearby, but I roamed through every space I could, searching. I could’ve saved myself hours if I’d thought to start in the storage rooms, but considering the size of the palace, it’s a miracle I found it at all.

It’s dark and cool down here, and I’m so tired I want to curl into a corner and sleep for a week. I’ve been awake nearly twenty-four hours, and my muscles ache from the hours I was sucked into the faerie dances. But I can’t

stop now. I need to get to the Unseelie Court. My sister’s name rings again and again through my mind, reminding me of what’s at stake and giving me the energy I need to keep going.

As I throw open the doors to the wardrobe, I realize that I don’t know what I’m looking for. It is—at least in appearance—an ordinary piece of

furniture, a place to store clothing. Although I didn’t expect flashing lights spelling out Magic portal! Step this way at midnight to find your sister! I thought there’d be some sign as to how I could use the thing.

Of course there’s nothing remotely obvious. Bakken described the wings for me, but perhaps there’s more than one wardrobe matching that description. What if the queen finally did destroy the portal, and this is nothing more than an ordinary wardrobe?

I open all the drawers and run my hands along the walls and back. No passageway, no hidden compartments or false back. Maybe this is like the portal at the river, and you have to enter and believe.

But enter where? How?

There’s a low, husky laugh behind me that makes me spin around.

I don’t see anyone at first, but then an orb of fae light appears, floating in the air toward me, and a tall, dark-haired male emerges from the shadows. I recognize his silver eyes immediately.

I reach for the dagger I don’t have on my hip. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get into the castle if I had weapons, and against my better judgment, I’d come into this dangerous realm completely unarmed. If I were wise, I

would’ve made my first stop at the queen’s armory and then begun my search for the portal. No—if I were wise, I’d have made Bakken tell me how to go directly to the Unseelie Court. If I don’t figure out this portal quickly, I’ll have to hide in this castle a full day before it opens again.

I’m running out of time.

“Did you follow me?” I demand.

“A fascinating human comes to Prince Ronan’s ball and somehow sneaks around the palace undetected—of course I’m following you.”

Not completely undetected, apparently. Not if he followed me here. “I’m wholly intrigued,” he says, but he doesn’t sound intrigued. He

sounds irritated.

I freeze, waiting for him to call the sentries, to lunge for me and drag me to the dungeon—something. But he doesn’t make a move, and I realize

belatedly that this male with his silver eyes and dark hair isn’t one of the golden fae nobility. Don’t make bargains or ties with the silver eyes. He’s from the Court of the Moon. “Who are you?”

He chuckles. “I’d ask you the same thing.”

I lift my chin. If he’s not one of the queen’s court, he won’t know that I don’t belong here. “I’m a handmaiden for Queen Arya, sent down here to retrieve something for her.”

Folding his arms, he cocks his head. “You don’t look like any of Queen Arya’s girls.”

“And you’ve met them all?”

“I suppose not.” He looks me over. “But I consider myself familiar with the humans in her court.”

“Perhaps you’re not as knowledgeable as you think.” I know better than to talk back to a faerie. I should run, not speak. And yet I’m drawn to him

—something about him calls me to move closer, not run away. Power purrs in my blood, a trace of the same high I felt when we danced.

Why did no one tell me that humans have powers in Faerie?

He smirks, stepping forward, and with just that step I’m too aware of how large he is. He’s dressed in fine black pants and a matching tunic that looks like it’s made of velvet, but his shoulders are broad like a warrior’s. And here I am without any defenses.

You can walk through walls, Brie. You’re not stuck.

And with that mental reassurance, I take a deep breath and let him study me. As if I have nothing to hide.

“If you wanted to pose as one of Arya’s handmaids, you should’ve at least bothered to learn what colors she dresses them in.” I can only interpret the shaking of his chest as a silent chuckle. “Or to know that she’d never take on a handmaiden more beautiful than she is.”

My cheeks heat at that, and I have to fight the urge to look down at myself. I’d half convinced myself that I’d imagined him saying those words when we danced. This gorgeous male thinks am beautiful? Of course, with Pretha’s magical cosmetics, anyone would look lovelier, but if he wants me to believe he thinks I’m more beautiful than the queen, he must be trying to flatter me. “What do you want?”

“I’d love to know who you are.” “I’ve just told you.”

“You’re no handmaiden, and I’ve lived long enough to know a thief when I see one.” He shakes his head. “But I can’t figure out what it is you’re trying to steal. What do you think she’s hiding in that wardrobe?”

I fold my arms, not bothering to answer.

“Maybe you’re looking for something we both want,” he says. “Maybe we can help each other. Tell me what you need, beautiful thief.”

My story nearly leaps off my tongue—there’s something charming about this male that would make it easy to tell him whatever he wants to know— but I bite it back. Of course he’s charming. He’s fae. Worse, Unseelie.

They’re born with charm and deadly cruelty.

He’s probably powerful enough to compel me to talk, and I can’t risk that. My chest goes tight, my breathing shallow. I feel trapped—pinned under that scrutinizing gaze that seems to miss nothing.

The palace bells ring, and the walls seem to shake with it. Bells.

“What time is it?”

“Nearly midnight.” He meets my gaze. “Somewhere you need to be?”

I look into his eyes, and for a moment I can’t remember why I need to rush away. I’ve never seen eyes like this—silver flecked with white.

They’re extraordinary, and they match the rest of him. Captivating. The kind of unexpected beauty that entrances. Dangerous.

The chimes continue. Six. Seven. Eight times.

I stumble back. “I have to go.” Nine. Ten.

His nostrils flare as he draws in a breath. “Let me help you.”


In a panicked rush, I hurl myself into the wardrobe.


I lunge toward the back wall, but I don’t walk through. I fall down—right into a massive ebony four-poster bed in an elegantly appointed bedroom.

Around me, half a dozen sentries stand with hands on their blades.

I look around in a panic. Where am I?

A single sentry steps forward. “Abriella Kincaid, come with us. King Mordeus awaits your arrival.”

You'll Also Like