Every year each king finds the most beautiful man in his kingdom and crowns him their kingdom’s jewel. Jewels then must live with a rival king as a gift. An orphan sent to the most ruthless king, Keir has no power and little protection. Keir is used to doing what it takes to survive.
Cord is not happy to be a jewel but is delighted he met Keir. Cord knows they are destined to be together if they can end the reign of their kings. He has to confront a world he has never been exposed to, one where he has little power and everything is corrupt.
Adin is the most prepared for this adventure, or so he thinks. He was born to topple a king, and it’s his dream to do so. He thinks he’s better than everyone. Now he’s confronted by the fact his worldview is wrong. Everything he thought he knew about the other kingdoms is a lie. It isn’t helpful that the king he lives with maddens and delights Adin, as he should be trying to topple him.
Can the three jewels change their world and end the tradition that binds them to their kinds while falling in love?
Adin looked confident and unphased. King Damian returned to his throne as the audience waited in suspense. Cord looked at Keir whose gaze was now at the floor. If Adin ended up with the elves, it would mean Cord by default would go to King Wren. If Adin chose King Wren that meant Cord would be forced to be with King Damian.
Adin allowed a guard to blindfold him. He reached into the gauntlet. A leaf emerged forcing an audible sigh from Cord. Adin would live with elves. That meant Cord would live with the fairies. He looked over to King Auberi to find him frowning looking displeased. King Wren looked euphoric and winked at Cord. Keir's stoic stone face had broken. Cord could see he was upset. It was Keir who would be with King Damian. That struck guilt into Cord for feeling relieved. The crowd applauded Adin, who for some reason looked angry.
"You're next," Adin hissed at Cord. Cord stood as Adin took his seat, sitting next to his new king. Cord walked quickly to the gauntlet and reached in. Cord could feel two jagged objects but could not pick up one. It must be fairy magic that prevented him from lifting the human kingdom's symbol. He grabbed the one that would allow itself to be pulled out and to no one's surprise he held a diamond.
The fairies and elves erupted in cheers and grinned at him. This was a success he told himself, he would likely live, and King Wren had been nothing but kind to him. He made his way to where Keir sat next to King Wren. King Wren was smiling at him and bowed his head. Keir offered him a smile. Keir stood gracefully; his stoic face had returned. Cord wanted to say something but knew he couldn't. Everyone would hear and there was nothing to be said. Cord sat and looked at Keir who had made his way to the gauntlet. He didn’t put on a show. It took less than a second for Keir to pull out the human's sword which caused the humans to cheer.
Keir sat next to King Damian who looked gleeful and had already moved his hand to Keir's hip. "The ceremony has concluded. The kings will celebrate with their courts tonight while the jewels make their way to their new homes tomorrow," King Damian explained still grinning.
The guard that had escorted Cord and Keir returned ushering for the jewels to follow him. “I’m sorry,” Cord whispered to Keir.
“There is nothing to apologize for.” Keir’s tone was chilly and his gaze downcast. Cord and Keir returned to the room they had been earlier when preparing for the ceremony.
“Cord, you may stay in a guest room tonight. Fairy, this is your new home. Gather any belonging’s you left in the dressing room. Make your way to the slave’s rooms when you are finished. King Damian requests you stay there,” the guard said.
Keir looked as if someone had slapped him. He didn’t respond to the guard. He walked back with Cord and shut the door behind them, not allowing the guard to stay. Keir grabbed the clothes he must have arrived in, a torn shirt and ripped pants.
“Keir? How are you?” Cord asked hesitantly.
"No one has asked me that and actually cared about the answer. I’m awful. Are you okay?" Keir was at the door ready to leave. Cord moved to him and hugged him. The hug jolted Keir but he didn't move away. Cord took a breath and told himself to be honest with Keir.
“What are you doing?” Keir asked.
"I’m not well either. You deserve to live. Others, including you, may tell me I'm supposed to please King Wren. I want you. We will see one another at diplomatic events and balls. It is custom for jewels to accompany their kings." Cord was unsure of what he was trying to say or even accomplish but Keir seemed to loosen as he said it.
"We've only shared a few minutes. We don't know one another," Keir said breaking the hug.
“We can share more. We have the night,” Cord encouraged. Cord knew relationship customs and culture were different between fairy and elves. Fairies preferred long courtships while it was not uncommon for elves to marry suddenly. Elves believed hearts knew when they were in love and traditionally did not wait. His own parents married after one date.
“I have heard elves are romantics.” Keir glanced at Cord, a faint blush reddening his cheeks.
“I want us to have a night together. If you would like that?” Cord asked again.