Ignoring the warnings of her village elders, Raven McArren ventures beyond the Veil on All Hallows’ Eve, becoming trapped in Faery. Cold and alone, Raven manages to survive the harsh eternal winter and the cruelty of the fae with no more than her wits and will to live.
But she’s not alone. She’s being watched by the winter prince, and he has an offer for her that she can’t refuse. In exchange for his protection, and safe passage out of Faery, she must give him an heir.
With no other choice, she accepts. Little does she know that the prince’s bed chamber and the politics of the Winter Court might prove just as dangerous as the wilds of Faery...
Be Warned: bondage, public orgy
Heaving a sigh, I suppress a shiver. The festivities of Dol Mortagh are not meant for me. Turning my back on the bright lights and merriment of the village to return home, my evening suddenly takes an unexpected turn.
“Going somewhere, pretty bird?”
I gasp, my hand flying to my heart in shock as a fae of breathtaking and soul-stealing beauty stands before me, squarely blocking my path. “I-I…” I lick my lips, mind racing. This is no common fae. I know it in my bones. He looks like royalty. One of the High Fae. Bedecked in finery from head to toe, he wears jewels on his fingers so exquisitely ornate that I can’t even begin to guess at their value. And he is beautiful. So very heart-achingly beautiful. With long, gleaming silver hair like a waterfall of moonlight, sharp cheekbones, and eyes like deep blue ice—I imagine he could tempt even the godliest of mortals to sin.
“You are mortal,” he says, ignoring my stuttering attempt at communication. “So, why are you here? Faery is no place for your kind. You are far too soft to survive here. Our worlds are kept separate for a reason.”
“I am trapped,” I whisper, feeling stupid and ashamed. “I have been here since All Hallows’ Eve, and I do not know how to get home.”
The icy fae closes the distance between us, scenting my neck like a wild, primal animal. He gazes into my eyes with a frightening intensity, unnerving me further. “You cannot return until the Veil lifts next All Hallows’ Eve,” he says. “That is the better part of a year you will need to survive the cruelty of the outskirts of my realm.”
The fae smirks, his allure rolling off of him in cool, intoxicating waves that make me feel drunk. “I am Kyren,” he says elegantly, his lips perilously close to my own. “And I am the prince of the Winter Court.”
Despite my failing lucidity, my eyes widen in immediate understanding. “It is you,” I whisper as the stars begin to spin around me. It all makes sense now! “You have kept the wolves at bay … they are beholden to you.” A sleek, approving smile lets me know that I have figured out the truth. Then, without warning my legs give way, and I fall into the quixotic, icy oblivion of Kyren’s allure.
Softness and warmth welcome me as I awaken. I sit up hesitantly in a grand bed made of smooth, twisting ice enchanted into the likeness of branched trees with glittering crystal leaves.
“Good evening,” says Kyren, smiling at me from a frozen chair across the room.
I swallow my fear and beg my heart to be calm. “Where am I?” Stupid question.
“In my bedchamber,” he says with a seductive lilt to his voice.
An unexpected ache blooms between my thighs, hot and insistent. I catch the gasp that wants to escape behind my teeth and take a deep, steadying breath. “Why am I here?”
“I have a proposition for you,” he says simply, his eyes burning like blue stars. “Be my mistress for the next nine months, and in return I will keep you safe, fed, clothed, and in a manner of luxury the likes of which you have never known.”
My heart hammers in my chest, stubbornly refusing to be calm. “And when the nine months have passed?” I press.
“I will take you to the tear in the Veil on All Hallows’ Eve, and you will be free to leave Faery forever.”
I scrutinize the devastatingly beautiful fae prince with a wary gaze. “Is this a trick? It is said the fae never speak plainly, that you talk in riddles and tell half-truths. We mortals are warned from a young age never to enter into bargains with your kind because of it.”
“You mortals are a distrusting lot,” retorts Kyren with a languid smile. “But you are cannier than I gave you credit for, pretty bird. What is your name?”
“Never, ever, give your full name to the fae, or they will have control of you.” My grandmother’s wisdom echoes in my mind. Night terrors of stolen babes and missing souls flood back to me, heavy like an avalanche of snow. “You may call me Raven,” I answer as firmly as I’m able.
Kyren rises from his chair, sauntering across the chamber toward me with all the grace and confidence of a predator. “I desire a child, Raven,” he whispers. “And the child will remain here with me when you leave. Those are my terms.”
Eyes wide, my lips part, but I find myself speechless. Several breathless moments pass until I find my voice again. “And if I refuse?”
“I will let you free—back into Faery—to survive on your own. If you can.”
“I have already survived three months on my own,” I reply.
“Have you truly?”
I swallow the solid lump in my throat as I am reminded of the brutal truth of my situation. “You kept me safe this whole time.”
“Your efforts to get by have been most valiant; I will give you that. I wanted you to have a clear comparison in mind when I made my offer, so I thought it fitting to give you a thorough taste of what surviving on your own might be like,” he drawls. “But, yes, the shadow wolves answer to me. And were I to release you from my protection … well, I cannot help but wonder how well your humble ruin of a cottage might hold up against their hunger, then?”
“Are you threatening me?” I breathe, a flicker of cold fire burning in my chest.
“Hardly, my pretty bird. I am merely presenting you with a warning. Whether you choose to pay it any mind is entirely up to you.”
Glancing at the lavishly appointed royal chamber around me before settling on Kyren’s sharp-edged smile, I sigh. What choice do I have? “I accept,” I say, my heart desperately trying to escape its cage. Thankfully, unlike the fae, mortals can lie.
The winter prince’s smile is as delighted and cruel as it is unsettling. My insides squirm in response, and to my shame, the heat between my thighs only burns hotter. It is in this moment I realize that the confines of Kyren’s bedchamber might prove just as dangerous as the wilds of Faery. Dear God. What have I done?