About the Book
Author: Shona Husk
Released: January 7, 2014
What was taking so long?
Had the King coaxed her into a dance? Was she now gladly in his arms thinking of ways to get her father’s pardon while the Queen watched?
He curled his fingers as if remembering the warmth of her hand against his, the light in her eyes as she’d danced – she needed to learn how to hide what she was feeling better. Too many people would see too much.
The white dog came strolling cross the grass a moment before Verden saw Taryn emerging out of the gloom. He straightened as she approached, his heart beating faster, as if it were him being hunted. The dog dropped at his feet, tongue lolling. Verden bent down to scratch its ears then dismissed the animal. He wouldn’t need it in in mortal world. Where he was going, there would be no other fairies.
He gave her a half bow. “I’m so glad you were able to join me.” There was only the lightest touch of sarcasm. He wasn’t used to being kept waiting.
“It took me a while to work my way out.” She paused and he knew she was deciding what to tell him. She was learning, but in that heartbeat, he didn’t want her to learn; he wanted her to remain uncorrupted by the Court. “I had people to speak to.”
“Lots of people will want to talk to you. You are new.” And he wasn’t the only man watching her with interest. But unlike a fairy, she wasn’t throwing herself at the King – not that many had done that in recent years. The Queen had a habit of making would-be mistresses vanish. “In the coming days, you will need to work out your alliances. You need people who will help you.”
“Like you,” she said with one eyebrow raised, as if she didn’t entirely trust him yet.
He smiled, but he knew it held no warmth. Did she have any idea how quickly he could destroy any hope she had of getting that pardon? One word from him to the King and that would be it. He doubted even Felan could fix that damage, but that would help no one.
While he could pretend he was doing this just to help her, that wouldn’t be true. He wanted to be alone with her and it had nothing to do with Court. “You shouldn’t be seen with me too often.” She needed to hold the King’s interest and she couldn’t do that if she were on Verden’s arm all the time at Court.
She nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
But she was here in the garden with him, ready to cross the veil. A few moments of being caught in their dance had him wanting to steal more time with Taryn – away from the prying eyes and greedy gossip of Court. He wanted her to himself.
“Shall we go?” Before he changed his mind and decided the risk of this game wasn’t worth the reward.
She hesitated. “Are you sure I won’t get found out?”
“I will do nothing to jeopardize your chances.” That was almost a lie. They were outside the castle in the dark about to sneak away; getting caught would be disastrous. “I cross the veil all the time. No one will suspect we are together.”
Taryn let out a breath, the tension in her shoulders easing. “I really need to speak with my mother.”
Verden looked at her. He knew the old doorways across the veil, but they didn’t act like the main doorway. “That could be a problem.”
“You said you could take me across, that there were hidden doorways.”
“Yes. But they are the old routes, the ones forgotten at the edges of Annwyn. The ones not destroyed by humans.”
“You can’t take me to Charleston?”
“No. But I can take you to the forgotten wilds of the mortal world.” The places he sometimes visited when he wanted to get away form the politics and enjoy the untouched beauty of the mortal world where there were no fairies to police and no rules to enforce.
“Damn it.” She crossed her arms and looked back at the castle. Was she retreating stepping outside to meet him? She spun back to face him, her features half masked by shadows. “Then what is the point?”
Ah, she wasn’t here to be with him. He wasn’t used to rejection; he was the one usually turning down advances. But it didn’t put him off. He liked to hunt. And Taryn was something unique. “We get time alone without being watched. Plus…” He reached into his pocket and produced the cards. “I can teach you to play.”
Her lips parted, and her gaze darted between the cards and his face as if torn. “And what do you expect in return? Nothing is free here.”
“The pleasure of your company.” That was the truth, and tonight he could determine just how far he was willing to play or if this was a distraction from the current chaos and nothing more.
She laughed. “I am not that naïve. You could have any woman here. One with standing and power.”
“I could.” But they were boring and they sought only to elevate themselves. Taryn was different, and not just because she was a new face at Court. She was here to save her parents and he admired that. He touched her cheek and a shiver ran through his blood. “But then I wouldn’t be standing here with you.”
“What do you want, Verden?”
She used his name, not his title. It had been a long time since anyone had done that and not meant it as an insult.
You, even though it goes against my better judgement.