Mirror, mirror in my abyss, who is truly the Darkest Fae in our midst? Renaud may taste my blood on his lips, but I have his son’s blood on my hands.
The time for secrets is coming to a close. We must both step onto another killing field—far from Everenne—but fields soaked in lies turn into mines to destroy us all.
Perhaps resistance is futile. . .I have never heard of a halfling who repudiated a bond of a High Fae Lord, especially a mad Prince who is willing to kill to keep.
But I will brace my feet in the sand and hold my weight. I will not be swept away in the storm between the Old One at my back and the Ancient approaching my front.
Resistance may be futile, but my mother’s strength forms the marrow in my bones. I am the blood of an Ancient, after all.
You will not tame me easily, my Prince.
. . .I weary of this, Lady Aerinne. Of your resistance, of your rashness. Do you think my patience infinite? Have I inadvertently taught you I would stay my hand because I love you?
Your secret is finally mine, the shadow in your mind you have kept hidden from me—you are learning to navigate the board, halfling.
Learning to seduce a Prince.
You will feel the weight of my wrath. The force of my want. Bend, or break. . .I care not. You are mine. I have ensured it already. I have welded us by blood and seed, and when the flower bears my fruit. . .
Checkmate, my Princess.
An Heir for our Court.
You think I play the long game. Now you understand I play the eternal game.
HEIR TO HIS COURT is a high heat fantasy dark romance, Book 3 in the Fae Prince of Everenne series. This is not a standalone and ends on a cliffhanger. Night In His Eyes and Blood On His Lips must be read first. For readers of Jennifer L. Armentrout, Michelle Sagara, Kathryn Ann Kingsley, N.K. Jemisin, and Laura Thalassa, & Anne Bishop.
CW: Dubious consent, coerced conception, violence, mental/emotional abuse
. . .You did not heed our words of caution in the first and second parts of this tale—you are still here, Mortal Reader. We are merciful, so we will offer warning again.
Our Prince does not constrain himself with petty mortal morality. He takes what he claims, whether what he claims wills it or no. He will make his bonded strong, or he will break her. There is no other course. Our Lady of Faronne is slowly succumbing to her darkness. She is a mate for the Prince, after all. There will be blood and dark deeds and we care nothing for your tears.
Flee the High Court now if you do not have the stomach to enter.
We will offer no more warnings. Fools are made to submit.
“Come here,” he commanded softly, and held out a hand.
I stood. His gaze, widening pupils and paling skin except for a faint blush of color on his cheekbones, traveled down my body along with rivulets of water. I waded towards him, sliding my hand into his. Raniel’s fingers clasped mine, too tight for a second, then he pulled me into his arms, settling my back against his chest. His arms wrapped under my breasts, trapping my arms at my sides.
“You’re trembling,” he murmured, kissing my shoulder.. “Do you fear this? Fear me?”
A rhetorical question. He felt anything I felt if he so chose, but he wanted my response.
“I’m not afraid of sex.” It wasn’t the physical act that frightened me. It wasn’t even intimacy I dreaded.
He filled his palms with my breasts, his fingers pale against my flesh. Long, graceful, flowing into tapered wrists. Deceptively pretty hands—I’d seen them wield a sword, I’d seen them tear out a throat.
“I will not hurt you.”
“That is almost a lie, Prince.”
He did not demur. Renaud, earlier, had looked like he had a number of plans that involved hurting me. In any case, it wasn’t physical pain I feared either, or the abuses he could inflict on me for our pleasure. I did not fear teeth or tongue or cock, or chain or whip or delicate blade. I did not fear being restrained or gagged, or put on display.
I was Fae. Nothing about sex frightened me.
With this male, I feared I could not control him, or myself. He held more power in his pinky than I did in my entire body and I was used to rule, to commanding the wills of others because I was certain no matter how flawed my judgment, at least my desperate intent was pure. I only wanted safety for my family, and to avenge their deaths. Everything I’d done had been toward that goal. Safety was not the Prince’s goal. Almost the exact opposite, in fact, and I could do nothing to stop him.
“That is. . .not entirely accurate,” he said.
I could not stand against him. My will, if he willed, would be dust under the force of his personality. We had chosen each other, by fate or happenstance, and it was so unequal a choosing. An Old One, the son of Ancients, and the halfling girl. Would my mind ever be my own? What volition I retained was by his permission.
“That is also not entirely accurate.” Raniel sighed. “I did not choose you only to break you. Perhaps Renaud craves nothing more, but he is only one aspect of the whole. There are ways to keep him sated.”
“Who am I speaking with now?” As I asked the question, I shifted my mind towards his, merging the outer edges of our consciousness, tasting his thoughts, his emotions. Tasting him.
Tasting them. Raniel and Renaud I was unsurprised to find, but the remnants of Darkan’s presence took me aback somewhat. The General was nowhere.
“You are speaking with your bonded,” he said, fingers digging into my breasts. “We are separate, but one, Aerinne.”
Raniel released one, and his free hand traveled down my middle to cup me between the thighs. He kissed my shoulder again, and this time he released his fangs, the tips scraping against my skin as he nudged my head to the side to expose my neck.
I inhaled, and the tremble I’d been ignoring increased. No, I didn’t fear being broken.
I feared I wanted to be broken. By him. Remade and broken all over again.
For years I’d used war and wine to drown out my need for him, even when I hadn’t remembered it was he I craved. I’d teetered on the edge of different addictions and managed to pull myself back in time.
There would be no pulling back from Raniel. Once I had him, I would be lost.
“You are already lost, my halfling,” he whispered against my skin.
His hand on my breast tightened, massaged. Fingertips moved between my thighs, sliding up and down between my folds. Light, taunting. Waiting for me to voice a demand we knew hovered on the edge of my tongue.
“You are already mine. Already bound.”