After saving her love, Princess Elyne returns to the Otherworld by order of her mother. But it’s not the homecoming she expects. Furious Elyne has meddled with humans, the queen imprisons her and strips away her magic. The only way Elyne can get it back is to perform one selfless act.
When Queen Maeve sends Derron to find the Guardian of the Sword of Light, he can’t leave without releasing Elyne. After all, she altered time to save his life. But freeing the princess comes with a steep price—he must take her with him on this dangerous quest. And the two must deal with feelings of past hurt and the love growing between them.
Their search becomes more than a pursuit for the missing Guardian as Lord Kieran rises to dominate the Unseelie court. He will stop at nothing to gain control of both the Otherworld and the human realm. Even with the help of Elves, dragons and their human friends, the odds are stacked against Derron and Elyne.
“I’m sure it was because I’m so charming.”
This made him laugh out loud, showing off his deep dimples on either side of his kissable mouth. It sent her stomach plummeting to her shoes to see the joy in his face. Something he hadn’t had in far too long. As least since his last joust in the human realm when he nearly died…twice.
Derron slid an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close as they walked. She stumbled, falling into him a lot closer than he probably intended. She could feel the warmth of him pressing through to her skin, delighting every sense she had. Her pulse quickened as he leaned toward her and kissed her on the cheek. Disappointment quickly followed when that was all she got. A sisterly peck.
“You are truly delightful, your highness,” Derron said.
“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.” Irritation clawed through her. Mostly because he didn’t take her in his arms and kiss her thoroughly. As though she were the last Fae woman worth kissing.
“Why not? Isn’t that your rightful title?”
“It is, but it’s unnecessary for you to continue to use ‘your highness’.”
“You don’t seem to mind when the others call you that.” Before she could answer, he asked, “Would you prefer ‘princess’, then?”
“No.” She pouted, clenching her jaw tight and trying not to pucker her lips. Still, she was incensed. And he still held her so close she could literally feel his pulsing heart. Or maybe that was her imagination.
Now he was teasing her. She flushed to the tips of her pointed ears, her face burning hot.
“Not that either, I gather. How about ‘your grace’? I suppose I could bend the rules of address this once and call you that. Would that do?”
“No.” She punched him in the ribs to get away but he still held fast. “Let me go.”
He stopped walking so suddenly she stumbled again. This time he turned to her, grasped her arms and pulled her close. So close, her hands rested on his chest and she knew for certain she could feel his heart pounding through his tunic. Their eyes locked, his searching hers. Heat flooded her. Something she’d not known…well, ever. And especially for Derron.
It had been much too long since he’d looked at her like that. Ages, in fact. When he had tried to court her and all she wanted to do was run away from him. She’d wanted nothing to do with him. She had been such a fool to reject him. And why had she? She thought she hadn’t been in love with him. How wrong she was.
“Elyne, then. How about I call you Elyne?”
She liked the way her name sounded on his tongue. Oh, he’d said it before. But usually with princess attached to it. Rarely her name. And never looking at her like that.
Her gaze focused on his lips, perfect for kissing. The deep-set dimples on either side. The scruffy blond whiskers shadowing his jaw and cheeks. Neither of them wore their glamour here in the Otherworld to hide their true Fae features. His ears were tipped like hers, his blond hair fell over his forehead in thick waves and she longed to run her fingers through the silken strands.
“You may call me Elyne.”
His gaze landed on her lips, paused, and then lifted back to hers. He wanted to kiss her but he was afraid. Mayhap as afraid as she was for him to kiss her. That would mean they had deep feelings for each other and since they’d made such a mess of things with the broken betrothal, she wasn’t sure where that would leave them.
“Then ’tis what I’ll call ye.”
She blinked in surprise as he released her and resumed walking. For that brief moment, his Irish lilt came out so clear it took her aback. In fact, she couldn’t recall ever hearing it. He masked it so well.
“You coming, Elyne?” he called over his shoulder.
Elyne picked up her skirts and fell in step beside him. “Shouldn’t I be armed as well?” She steered the conversation as far from the two of them as possible. She didn’t want to acknowledge the need and desire Derron had managed to stir inside her. All she wanted to do was ignore it.
“You? Armed? Why?”
“All of you are armed,” she said. “You have a sword and a dagger. And I have no magic.”
“Fear not, dear prin—Elyne. I promise to keep thee safe.”
She snarled at him. Mocking me again. “Are you denying me a weapon?”
“Can you shoot a bow?” he asked, giving her a sideways glance. Even though he tried to keep his face passive, she could see the underlying smirk.
“Wield a sword?”
Derron chuckled. “Then, pray tell, what sort of weapon do you wish for?”
She’d never laid her hands on a weapon before but it seemed silly to be traipsing through the Woodlands Forest with nothing but her wits. She would feel much better if she had something within reach. Mayhap some sort of blade she could keep on her person. Something that could replace the fact she had no magic. She may as well be running around naked.
She looked over Derron, noticed the sheath tied to his thigh and knew that’s what she wanted.
“A dagger.” Aye, that would make her feel better to have one. “I know how to use that.”
“A dagger?” He splayed his fingers. “You have any ideas on where to get one? I don’t see Thuluke’s Weapons Shoppe here.”
Her gaze landed once again on his dagger. He put a possessive hand on it. “You want mine. Of course you do.”
“You could spare the dagger.”
“I could, couldn’t I?” Smiling, Derron unsheathed his dagger and handed it to her. “I expect you to take good care of that. It was a gift from my father.”
“It will be safe with me.” She ran her finger along the pearl hilt, admiring the iridescent colors dancing along it.
“Have any idea how to use it?”
Elyne blinked. “Not exactly.”
Grinning, he stepped behind her, wrapped his long fingers around her thin wrist. “Allow me to demonstrate.”
Derron’s body pressed against her back, molding to her easily. With her wrist in his hand, the delicious warm skin pressing hers, it was difficult for her to concentrate on his words.
“Thrust like this.” He pulled her arm back and then pushed it forward. “Aim for the heart. If you miss that, then the neck.” Heated breath cascaded over her nape. His woodsy scent filled her nose.
“Why?” she asked.
“Best way to kill a man, princess. How does it feel?”
Splendid. Though she was certain he meant the dagger in her hand. “It feels like a dagger.”
He chuckled and released her. “You’ll need this too.” He untied the sheath from his thigh. “But a lady, nay a princess, shouldn’t keep that in plain sight.”
“She is more lethal with a hidden weapon.”
A mischievous light twinkled in his eyes, making her heart do a quick ka-thunk in her chest. Derron knelt at her feet, his gaze still on hers. When his hand went up her skirt and rested on her calf, she nearly came undone. Slowly, he slid his hand along her leg, pushing up her skirt to reveal an expanse of creamy white skin. Her heart throbbed, pounding wildly in her chest and ears. Her breath caught in her throat.
Elyne watched as he tied the sheath to her thigh in the same manner. She’d swear she could still feel the warmth of his skin on it as he secured it in place.
“There. The dagger?” He held his hand up for it.
She placed the pearl hilt in his palm and he deftly slid it into the sheath. All the while keeping his hands in constant contact with her leg.
“That should do it.” Derron rose to his full height.
He had two inches on her, his hair brushing his forehead as he gave her a wicked smile. He knew what he was doing and he liked doing it. She liked him doing it. Why did he touch her so intimately when they’d been at odds for so long? He’d gone to the court to have their betrothal broken and now this?
“Feel better, princess?”
But that was as far as she got when an arrow went zooming between them and buried in the ancient oak beside her head.
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