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A Court of Blood and Void: a Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance (War of the Gods, #1) by Meg Xuemei X ~ Blitz & Giveaway
A Court of Blood and Void: a Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance
Why did he suddenly have a heartbeat? I purred, and the vampire’s heart started pumping.
The panther snapped his head toward the vampire lord and bared his teeth in a half-snarl. I hadn’t been mistaken. The panther heard the vampire’s heartbeat as well and he wasn’t thrilled.
The vampire stumbled back, clutching his hand over his heart. An instant later, he realized his own reactions and quickly removed his hand from his muscled chest.
His expression became unreadable once again. He stepped toward me aggressively and stopped a foot from my cage. I didn’t back down, but shock slammed me silent as heat rushed between my thighs as he entered my proximity.
His nostrils flared, as did the panther’s.
Intense heat materialized in both the vampire’s and the panther’s eyes.
What kind of freak show is this?
Despite my fatigue from being starved, I clenched my fists on my side to stave off the liquid fire that continued to twirl around my lady bits, teasing and taunting my awakened lust. I’d never experienced anything like this. My body was out of control, and I didn’t like it one iota.
“What the fuck did you do to me, vampire?” I hissed. “And why has your heart suddenly started beating? You’re supposed to be undead, just like any other bloodsucker, right?”
His gray eyes narrowed, flashing with dangerous light that concealed his increased interest in me. “I didn’t expect you to have such a foul mouth and horrible manners.” His voice was rich and stern; he was used to everyone obeying him. “That’s exactly my question to you, girl. What did you do to end up here? And who are you?”
On the other side of the bed from where I sat the air shimmered with magic as a man materialized. Merlin stood opposite me, his features wrought with concern. Each time I saw him he looked exactly the same, whether it was as a vendor in a Belfast market twenty years ago, or a patron in the museum on my first day of work a month ago. White-blond hair neatly styled and sharp ice blue eyes softened by a few wrinkles in the corners. He looked sophisticated and worldly, but at that moment he also wore compassion and grief.
Our eyes held each other for a long pregnant moment, long enough to further thaw my ravaged emotions. I had thought I would have nothing to say to this man who had set the events in motion that led me to the absolute lowest point in my life. However, seeing him stand before me, I had questions that needed to be asked.
“Why have you done this? Why me?” My voice was no more than a whisper.
“I spent years in that market, watching and interacting, knowing I had to find just the right child. Someone who was receptive to the magic, someone who lived far away where Morgan would not find them. When you approached my booth and were drawn instantly to the necklace, I knew you were the one.”
“Did you know it would make me Fae?”
“I wasn’t entirely sure, but I had my suspicions.”
“Did you think about the other impacts on my life, the effect it would have on my loved ones?”
“Nothing I could say or do will ever ease the burden of what I have forced upon you. There are some of us who bear a disproportionate degree of hardship in life, whether owed to circumstances of our birth or a course of events during our lifetime. There is never a reason adequate enough to justify our struggles sufficient to ease the burden. The only balm that will help you is that which comes from the acceptance of your circumstances. Once you let go of how you got to your current situation and look toward how you can improve your future station, then you will be enlightened in a way that is truly empowering.”
Princess of Draga
Nadyah made her way through the city streets. She stopped and glanced over her shoulder,
pulling her hood up further. She quickened her step and kept close to the buildings. Each circle
of Stella di Draga eased into the next. The houses of the nobility, the upscale businesses, to the
merchant class houses, and then the markets all transitioned smoothly like a painting.
She loved the capitol but she did not enjoy having to cross it on foot.
It was the only way she could make the trip to the House unnoticed from the palace. No one
could know of this trip, not even Adelina. Nadyah crossed the street with her head down as a
hov-carriage passed. Only one more city circle and she would reach the edge of the House’s
property. Then she would have to make her way to the secret entrance all the spiderlings used.
Nadyah had to be back at the palace in a few hours and she was already exhausted after
spending most of the day working with Adelina. They had run the length of the palace grounds
twice, and then did some ai-kuda sparring. Nadyah even taught her a few moves in the
courtesan’s fighting style. They still had a lot to cover, but she was convinced the princess could
handle herself well enough to keep an attacker at bay until help could arrive.
Nadyah skipped over a puddle that shone with the green of the moon Vekaza. Mala’s large
form hung to the west and was not yet full. The purple moon wouldn’t be full until the night of
Adelina’s party and the anniversary of her birth.
Earlier that night Nadyah sat at the royal table with Elara and ate with the royal family. The
honor they bestowed on her still dazzled. She had never anticipated such a rise in station even if
only by association. Prince Nash had been there as well, but she suspected it had more to do with
the king wanting to keep an eye on him than to embrace him with open arms into the family.
There was a definite spark between her princess and the lost prince. That Giselle would give
Adelina the assignment said a lot. There was so much to learn yet, and Nadyah knew she had to
tread a fine line between gathering information and betraying Adelina’s trust in her. The news of
Prince Nash was reason enough to report back to the Spider and Nadyah still hadn’t decided
what she would do with what she had found on the private shreve Princess Adelina kept locked
Adelina was a master at dissembling. The princess made herself into what she thought those
around her wanted or needed. Masks came and went until even Nadyah was unsure of who the
female truly was underneath them all. The skill required to confuse a courtesan astounded her.
Adelina was truly submissive, but she played with that nature so well she made herself invisible
to those around her, to those who only saw what they wanted to see.
Nadyah had seen the princess move through those masks like a fish through water, so
seamless the deception was beautiful in its simplicity.
She shook her head; Princess Adelina was a mystery she could not wait to solve.
A bony hand grabbed him on the arm and he jumped, tightening his grip on Maari.
‘Do you seek the truth?’ croaked the voice of an old woman.
The room filled with soft light and the Truthseeker began to take shape. She was small, maybe only five feet in height. Her back was crooked and her grey hair was wild. She wore a black cloak that wrapped around her shoulders and fell to the floor.
‘No,’ he said, trying to pull away. He wanted to get as far away from here as possible. But the Truthseeker’s grip was firm.
‘I seek the truth,’ said Maari, fire burning in her eyes. The Truthseeker let go of Nax’s arm and turned away, sliding herself through the interior door.
‘Are you sure?’ Nax whispered. Maybe the others who’d come before them were right. Sometimes the truth is better left undisturbed. ‘Let’s get out of here.’
Maari looked at him, her eyes filled with tears. She turned and slid through the door behind the Truthseeker. He went to follow her, but the door was sealed. He pulled at the rubber flaps, but they were sealed tight. He couldn’t get through.
‘Maari,’ he cried.
What was going on in there? The room plunged into darkness and he sank to the floor, shaking with rage, fear and cold. He hugged his knees to his chest and waited. He wouldn’t leave without her. He’d die here if he had to. Was this why the woman in his dreams had warned him to stay away from her? Had she known Maari would lead him into danger? Still, he didn’t care. He couldn’t leave her. His spirit was bound to hers.
The seconds ticked by as minutes. The minutes passed as hours. He waited. Would he ever see Maari again?
He kept his eyes focused in the direction of the door, waiting for her to emerge. It didn’t matter. His eyes may as well have been closed for all they could see.
A noise startled him and he stood, feeling the seal of the door with his fingertips. The cold rubber became soft skin. It was Maari.
‘Are you okay?’ he said, pulling her into his arms. She didn’t wrap herself into his embrace as he expected. She felt stiff. Uncomfortable.
‘What happened?’ he asked, wishing for a sliver of light so he could see her face.
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