About the book
Zoey thought she would never have to choose, but to save one husband, she will have to betray the other…
As Zoey Donovan-Quinn first sets foot in the faery homeland of her beloved Devinshea, life is perfect. Her enemy is defeated, her heart is full, and Neil and Sarah are at her side. Daniel and Dev are happy, so their visit to the sithein should be a pleasant honeymoon full of wonder and joy. Well, except for the part where Zoey needs to steal an ancient gem from the Queen of Faery in order to prevent Louis Marini from killing Daniel.
Reunited with her whole crew, stealing the magical artifact should be relatively easy, but unknown to Zoey, Dev, and Daniel, there are dark forces gathering against them. As her search for the Blood Stone gets underway, Zoey makes a startling discovery that will change her life, and Dev and Daniel’s forever.
When her new enemy finally strikes at Zoey from the shadows, her newfound happiness is shattered, and to avenge the horrific attack, Dev prepares his mother’s kingdom for war. Recovering from the attempt on her life, Zoey and Daniel desperately search for the stone and in the process unmask the real monster behind the assault.
Stopping the real threat, and saving Daniel, will force Zoey to choose sides in an epic war between the Seelie and Unseelie Fae, even if it means betraying Dev and his people.
The warmth of the midday sun shone down on the village in Faery. The sun didn’t look different from the one I was used to seeing, but I was no longer on the Earth plane. I hadn’t been for the hours it had taken us to walk from the sithein door to the village located close to the white palace, the home of the Seelie royals.
I let my face drift up, closing my eyes and pretending I was back in Dallas, standing on the balcony with Dev, waiting for Daniel to wake up.
“Zoey.” Neil looked at me with big blue eyes from across the table. “They wouldn’t call them brownies if they didn’t taste good.”
“Did you learn nothing from the pixies?” I shot my werewolf a nasty look, remembering the day not too many weeks ago that I scrubbed his scalp raw getting rid of the fleas a certain ruby red pixie had left him as payment for trying to make her a little snack.
I looked over at the next table and saw my other bodyguard. Lee wasn’t even paying attention to the little brownies who were shyly watching the festivities from the doors and windows of houses. Lee and his brother, Zack, were drinking ale and guarding the coffin they'd carried into the sithein. Sarah’s husband, Felix Day, was talking to Zack and looking around the town square with a ready smile.
Neil nodded his head vigorously, looking at both Sarah and me as we sat at a table in the middle of Dev’s hometown. “Yes. I totally learned something. I learned not to eat the pixies. Those brownies look mighty tasty and easy to catch.”
Sarah let her head fall to the table, and she groaned heartily about Neil’s fondness for faery creatures. It didn’t bode well for our stay in Faery that my best friend thought most of the inhabitants looked tasty.
I took the time to stare at my husband. Well, one of them anyway. I couldn’t exactly stare at Daniel, and looking at his coffin only made me wonder if he was hot in there. So I stared at the husband who was up and walking around and wondered when I could go home. I’d been in his homeland for approximately half a day and I already wanted to be back at the penthouse. It was selfish, but I was in that kind of mood.
I like to think of myself as a fairly simple girl. I wouldn’t call myself normal, of course. When a girl is married to two men, she can’t consider herself normal. When those men happen to be a faery high priest and a vampire king, she can wave any thoughts of a nice, normal life good-bye.
I’ve gotten used to the fact that my life consists of a whole lot of subterfuge, plotting, and a liberal dose of violence. I live firmly in the supernatural world. My home might be a condo in Dallas, but I’m more likely to come into contact with werewolves than some nice accountant. Since I’m a thief by vocation, most of my human interactions involve the police, but I try to keep that to a minimum. All in all, I have a healthy tolerance for weirdness, but this was beginning to push it.
“I love you, Prince Dev!” a girl with ridiculously long hair called out to my husband. She looked like she was dressed for a medieval fair, but then we all did.
I rolled my eyes for the three hundredth time. I’d stopped keeping count or noting the hair color of the girls who screamed his name as we paraded by. It was like being married to a rock star. Maybe I could have handled that if he was being adored for his ability to play a guitar or his amazing vocal prowess.
That wasn’t what Devinshea Quinn was good at. Nope. My husband was part fertility god.
It had been this way all day. We’d gone through three towns on our way here, each one greeting the returned Green Man with pomp and circumstance and a whole lot of propositions I wish I hadn’t heard.
Dev looked for me across the center of town that was now filled with all manner of curious faery creature. This village was the largest we’d visited and the closest to the palace. Dev and his brother, the future king, had walked me down the main street in a little parade of sorts, but when we reached the center he was bombarded with well-wishers and gawkers.
An officious woman who introduced herself to me as Mara, a member of the queen’s staff, had met us. She was currently directing traffic around the royal twins. She had pushed or pulled the brothers this way or that in an attempt to make the most of their time in town. My group had been told to take a rest break and shoved to the side.
“He has groupies, Z.” Sarah watched the proceedings with an air of shock. “This is worse than a bunch of preteens at a One Direction concert.”
“There’s no comparison, Sarah,” Neil snorted. “Those concerts are filled with screaming virgins. There are no virgins here, thank god.” Neil glanced around, his eyes taking in all the tall, good-looking Seelie commoners mulling about trying to get a word in with the newly returned priest. “Why did I have to go and make up with Chad? I could be having ridiculously hot revenge sex with some glorious slab of man. Look at them. They’re all gorgeous.”
They were. As a race, the sidhe won points for hotness. The men were all tall and well built. Their faces would grace the walls of a male modeling agency, and they didn’t understand the meaning of the term pot belly. The women were tall and lithe. Their lovely bodies were made to fit into designer gowns and walk runways. And everyone was serious about their hair. It ranged from almost shock white to that deep, midnight black of Dev’s. Everyone’s hair was long and straight.
I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was the only redhead in the town and they were probably mistaking me for one of the aforementioned, probably-tastes-good brownies. I’m that short.
“Z, you need to tell Daniel to make a new rule.” Neil pulled me out of my self-centered revelry. “Anyone who dates a vamp is also allowed one faery. It’s the Zoey rule.”
“Yes, I’m sure Daniel will get right on that.” It had taken Daniel a long time to get used to Dev. Their first encounters had been violent and Dev almost hadn’t survived them. The boys had settled into a nice friendship with some brutally hot sexual chemistry they chose to ignore and I dreamed about at night. Despite all Daniel’s newfound comfort in his sexuality, I still didn’t think he was going to use his power to get Neil laid.
Sarah let her head drop to her palm as she watched the crowd thoughtfully. “They seem happy to have him back.”
“Yes,” I murmured, watching as Dev stopped looking for me when a lovely blonde tapped his shoulder and requested a moment of his time. Dev seemed to know her but then he probably knew all of them. Biblically. Being a priest in Faery was something completely different than our world. Apparently the Fae believed their bodies were temples that should have lots and lots of visitors. “I’m remembering all the time we spent talking about how much of an outcast he was. You wouldn’t believe the stories he told me. Everyone hated him because he was all mortal. If that’s hate, I suppose love would be a big old orgy.”
“Heh, we regular folk never had a problem with Prince Devinshea,” a voice said.
I found a squat little gnome peering up at me from beneath his red cone cap. It’s nearly impossible to tell age on a gnome because they get wrinkly fast, but if I had to bet, I would have said he was decades my senior. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of travel tips he could give me.
“Because he was the Green Man?” That was the reason his twin brother, Declan, had given me. Dev was an outcast with the royals because of his mortality. His status as part Green Man had made him popular with the peasants. They were the ones who had to farm, so being able to make crops grow was undoubtedly a bonus to his status among the commoners.
The gnome nodded as he looked out over the crowd. “Yes, he was a good Green Man. You have to understand that we went without for many years after his grandfather died. When the prince was found to have powers, we all rejoiced. It was more than that, though. Prince Dev, I guess I should call him High Priest now, was always a kind one. He never looked down on a single creature, not the way the other one did.”
I wrinkled my nose in agreement. He was talking about Declan, Dev’s twin and the future King of Faery. “The other one is an arrogant prick.”
The little gnome looked shocked for a moment but then threw his head back, laughing. His voice boomed and echoed across the courtyard. It was so much deeper than one would expect, but then there were many surprises in this odd land.
“Yes, he is, Your Grace,” the gnome agreed.
My fingers went straight to the gold chain around my neck that marked me as the wife of the High Priest of Faery. It was a dead giveaway. The way I was dressed didn’t exactly help me blend into the crowd. I was dressed as a royal with rich fabrics. It made a stark contrast to the working folk of the village. My husband and his brother had carefully orchestrated my introduction into Fae society. This afternoon was the parade through town, but there was also to be a series of balls and parties welcoming the newest member of the royal family. I doubted it was going to be anything as fun as a barbecue with a nice keg of beer. Of course, if it was anything like this reception, I would be able to slip out with no one noticing I was gone.
“Is there anything I can get you, Your Grace?” the gnome asked.
“Please call me Zoey,” I offered, holding out my hand. I was happy to be nice to the first person who had done something other than gawk at me. The gnome was the first member of Faery to say hello.
He looked at it not quite knowing what to do. “Your Grace?’
“Oh, it’s called a handshake,” I explained with a friendly smile. “You put your hand in mine and we shake. Then we know each other and can be friends, though you should probably tell me your name first.”
The gnome stared at me for a moment and smiled gamely before putting his small hand in mine. “I am Loran. I run the gardens in town and sometimes help out my friend with this pub of his.”
Sarah grinned, as enchanted as I was to be talking to a gnome. “If this is a pub then the owners probably know Dev well.”
“That boy can get his drink on,” Neil threw in.
Loran laughed again. “Yes, His Grace can drink with the best of them and often did. He wasn’t welcome with the nobles so he spent his time with us, as much as he could. Queen Miria tried, you know. She tried to force the nobles to be kind, but when she wasn’t looking they treated that boy something awful. Now, of course, the joke is on them.”
“What do you mean?” I had assumed they still hated him. He was still mortal, after all.
The gnome shook his head as if the truth were so obvious. “His ascension. He bonded with an ancient god and now he has power beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. He can bring us back. He can give us children again. Before he left he managed to help a few have children but not many. Now we can be fertile again. We can be great again. Thanks to you, sweet lady.”
The gnome was looking at me with the greatest of hope in his eyes, and it both warmed and terrified me. These people were expecting so much from this trip, and I wondered exactly what it was going to cost us.
Dev had already taken the ancient god, Bris, into his body. On the night we married, his magic had flared, an invitation to the ancient non-corporeal Irish deity to come and sit a spell inside my husband’s body. I’d become well acquainted with the fertility god on the night of my marriage to Dev.
It was the night Bris might have gotten me pregnant.
“Ah, Loran, ’tis just like you to be lazing away talking to pretty girls when there is work to be done,” a deep voice intoned from behind me.
As I turned, I noticed Neil’s jaw drop and his eyes widen. I tried to keep from doing the same as I came eye level with a large piece of unclothed masculinity. I wasn’t sure what shocked me more, the sight of a guy’s junk just swinging in the breeze, or the fact that said junk seemed to be attached to the lower half of a big goat.
I forced my head up and the chest was a nice specimen of human male hotness. Nice pecs, broad shoulders, arms that looked acquainted with gym equipment. I studied my first satyr. He was disarmingly handsome. His eyes looked almost violet in the gauzy midday light and they were set off by the darkness of his hair and beard. Unlike the sidhe, his hair was short.
“So this is Devinshea’s goddess,” he said in a way that made me think he approved on every level. I stood up because it seemed more polite than talking to his penis. He caught my hand in his and brought it gallantly to his lips. “I’m Ross. I own this tavern. It’s such a pleasure to meet you, Your Grace. Your loveliness surpasses anything I could have imagined.”
That was laying it on a bit thick, but I would take it. “You must not have much of an imagination then, Ross.”
His sensual lips split in a smile of pure pleasure showing even, white teeth. “Has the little prince finally followed my advice and dumped the simpering idiots he used to prefer?”
“I don’t know about what he liked here,” Neil said just a little breathless as he studied the gorgeous satyr. “But I don’t think Zoey’s ever simpered in her life. I’m Neil, by the way. I’m her bodyguard.”
Ross looked unimpressed with what I considered a bodyguard.
I knew what he was thinking. He was wondering how a boy who probably had fifteen pounds on me was supposed to protect me. I grinned because it was one of the reasons Neil was so effective. “Don’t underestimate him. Appearances can be deceiving. Do you know what a werewolf is, Ross?”
“I’ve heard the tales, though we have no lycanthropes here,” Ross murmured, casting his eyes Sarah’s way. “And what do you do, gorgeous? Tell me you don’t turn into something hairy.”
Sarah shook her purple pixie bob at him. She’d visited her salon right before we left because she never kept one color for long. “Nothing so energetic. As for what I do, pray you never find out. Just understand, we might look all sweet and soft and human but we can handle ourselves.”
“I hope you don’t have to,” the satyr said quietly but then he smiled again and returned to his roguish self. He’d never actually put down my hand. Now he took it between both of his and looked deeply into my eyes. “I was so happy to hear the prince had married. He is a good man. We felt his loss when he left. All of Faery is grateful to you for accommodating his ascension. It is said you performed heroically and his taking of the god would not have been possible without you.”
Heat went through my body, and I was pretty sure I turned a violent shade of pink because that act he was referring to wasn’t something I wanted bards singing about. Neil slapped a hand over his mouth and Sarah covered up her guffaw with a weak cough. I decided to change the subject.
“So I take it you knew my husband when he was younger?” Dev had told me about his life in the sithein but it was mostly tales of his life in the palace or in his temple, and I got the feeling even what he’d told me was a highly sanitized version of the truth.
Ross and Loran laughed, looking at each other, and I knew they probably had a ton of stories I’d love to hear.
“I’ve known the prince since he could hold a mug of ale and let a woman sit on his lap,” Ross declared. “I know everything and everyone in this town. You ever want the dirt or the truth about something, my tavern is the place to come, Your Grace.”
I kept a smile on my face, but his words reminded me I had a job to do while I was here. There was a folder tucked away in my luggage that contained the information about the work I had to do while we visited Faery.
I’d only been in Faery for a few hours and yet my world already seemed so far away. Just this morning I’d sat in our condo in Dallas reading through the materials Louis Marini had sent for me. He’d sent me all the information he had on the artifact he wanted me to track down while I was in the sithein. He also sent a cell phone with instructions to call him when the job was done. I was worried I would never be able to make that call because, as clients go, my current employer sucked. His info was crappy and he only had the vaguest idea where the Blood Stone might be. Everything he knew was based on vague rumors. He was expecting a miracle, but I needed to pull it off if I wanted Daniel alive. My payment for this job was the client not killing my hubby.
Louis Marini ran the world my husband lived in. He was the head of the Vampire Council. He was also the man who had attached a device to my husband’s heart and had the detonator on a remote he carried with him. One push of that button and Daniel would be gone.
So I was going to find that stone.
“Well, Ross, I might have to take you up on that offer.” I said, flirting just a little. “I think I’ll definitely be spending some time here. There’s nothing I like better than a good tavern and some hot gossip. I’m interested in the history of this place. After all, it’s important to Dev.”
“We can help you there,” Loran offered with his gravelly voice. “I’ve forgotten more about this sithein than most people remember. I remember when we left the Earth plane.”
Loran just might be my new BFF. I knew the gemstone Marini was interested in had disappeared around three hundred years before. According to Marini’s intelligence—and I use that term lightly—I was searching for a medium-sized, blood-red jewel. It once decorated the crown of the last Vampire King and had gone missing from the vamp stronghold in Paris. He’d tracked the stone down to the sithein through some earthbound faeries who had seen the stone at the palace, but that was years before. “Well, I would love to hear some of those stories. I’m married to a Fae now. I should know something about the sithein.”
“Come by anytime.” Ross winked my way, a gleam in his eyes. I was certain he would love to entertain me with stories and perhaps ply me with ale. I wondered how close Ross was with my husband.
“Aye,” Loran agreed. “You can find me in the gardens most of the time.”
“I would love to visit with you.” Sarah got to one knee to get eye level with the gnome.
He nodded with a knowing grin. “Aye, I thought you would. Ross might only see that lovely face of yours, but I know a witch when I see one. Come by and I’ll teach you how to grow herbs that will make your spells spark.”
“Very nice,” Mara was saying as she joined us with a shake of her blonde head and a condescending stare she leveled at the group. “It’s nice that you are greeting the local color, Your Grace, but if you would not mind, there are some others who would be interested in meeting Prince Devinshea’s new bride.”
I could totally read between her lines. There were people with more money and power and we should be talking to them. I didn’t like Mara but I suspected the feeling was mutual. When she’d first gotten a look at the lot of us, she assumed Sarah was the new bride. I guess I shouldn’t blame her. Despite her eclectic choice of hair color, Sarah was much closer to what Mara would have expected. Sarah was tall and lithe with an angular face that belonged on a magazine cover. I shouldn’t blame Mara for the mistake but I did.
“I think Dev’s handling things just fine,” I replied, looking back at him.
He was laughing at something the woman in front of him said, and I was sure he just oozed charm. He was the nerd who got to go back to his class reunion as a multimillionaire playboy. He was enjoying playing the conquering hero. I wouldn’t have been quite so bitter about it if he’d included me. The minute we’d marched into this impromptu welcoming party, I’d been sent to the sidelines, watching him like a lovelorn teenager.
It made me realize how used to our ménage I’d gotten. If Daniel hadn’t been relegated to his coffin, I would be sitting in his lap and wouldn’t even notice that Dev was ignoring me. Danny and I would be talking about everything that was going on and I would more than likely be happy. I was completely spoiled, and I tried to remember that Dev had a job to do, too.
“I was just about to get Her Grace and her friends a mug of my finest ale,” Ross offered with a flourish.
“Thank god,” Neil said. “Bring on the booze. We could use it.”
“Amen,” Sarah seconded.
My face flushed, but I nodded and tried to look happy. I wouldn’t touch the ale but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. I looked at Neil and he winked. He would make sure my cup got emptied. He would do it on the sly and maybe no one would ask those questions I wasn’t ready to answer.
“I do not think this is the best idea, Your Grace.” Mara looked down her patrician nose at me. “This is not the most reputable of establishments. You are a member of the royal family. I understand that you grew up outside Fae society, so you must allow me to lead you. You should not be associating with bar owners.”
“Yeah, I’ll mention that bit of wisdom to my husband tonight.” My favorite place in the world was Dev’s nightclub, Ether.
Ross and Loran walked off to get us drinks, and Mara took a moment to look at our little group. We had dressed the part of a royal retinue.
Well, not all of us. Lee had told Declan to stick it, and he was wearing comfy jeans and a T-shirt. My boobs were practically falling out of my dress, so I admired my wolf’s bravado.
It was Lee who got the brunt of Mara’s disappointment now. “What good are you? I was informed you are the head of Her Grace’s security and yet you allow strange men to accost your charge?”
“If I beat up every weird creature who hit on Zoey, I’d never get any rest.” Lee never actually opened his eyes. His head was back, with his Rangers ball cap pulled over, shading his eyes. His feet were in scuffed-up boots he’d propped on the table. He appeared to be the perfect slacker, but all I had to do was whisper and my wolf would be at the throat of whatever threatened me.
Mara huffed and turned back to me. “I was surprised to hear you do not have a social secretary. I will make sure one is assigned to you as soon as we reach the palace. You will have two hours before your meeting with our glorious queen. Please make sure you wear the dress Prince Declan has chosen for you. He took time out of his busy schedule to ensure that his dear sister-in-law will look her best. I will send a maid to help you.” She said that last bit like she wasn’t certain I would be able to dress myself.
I shook my head because I could feel the noose tightening. Every extra person they put on me was someone I would more than likely have to shake later. “I have a maid. There’s no need to send anyone.”
“I’ll make sure she’s properly covered,” Sarah promised, sitting back down at the table. “I’ve been dressing Zoey for a long time.”
It was true. She often picked my clothes when Dev didn’t do it for me.
“See that you do.” Mara looked back down at the notes she was carrying. “I will consider you to be in charge of her wardrobe. She has fittings arranged with the best dressmakers in the kingdom. Prince Declan set them up himself. Please see that she makes the appointments.”
Sarah frowned because she knew that getting me to stand still while someone poked me with needles might be difficult.
Neil was up and standing in front of me before I registered that someone was coming our way. He placed himself strategically in front of me but kept his body relaxed. He wouldn’t give me a reason to panic unless he thought the situation was serious, but he also wouldn’t let anyone he didn’t know get too close to me.
“Trouble?” Lee asked, yawning.
“I’ll let you know,” Neil replied.
Neil and Lee had settled into a nice partnership. Neil did all the energetic running around with me while Lee paced himself, waiting for something bad to happen before interrupting his nap. I was happy they seemed to get along well since the two were polar opposites. Neil was a flaming homosexual and Lee was a manly lone wolf. It could have been a combustible concoction, but Lee treated Neil like a little brother and Neil lapped up the attention. It was a good thing since Neil’s own brother was a nasty bastard who Daniel had killed earlier this summer.
“Your Grace.” A young man with dark hair and a paper and quill greeted me with an arched brow. “I am with the Royal Examiner. I have a few questions for you.”
Mara shook her head and tried to shoo the reporter away. “No, no, no. Her Royal Highness was clear. Any interviews with Prince Devinshea’s new bride must go through the palace. Her Grace does not speak our language and needs a translator.”
“Of course I speak the language.” Were they so worried I would screw up a few simple questions that they were willing to lie about my language skills? I was almost certain Declan was behind that particular royal edict. He didn’t seem to have a ton of faith in my abilities, but then I had given him trouble every chance I got. I turned back to the reporter, my stubbornness threatening to get the best of me. How hard could it be to answer a couple of questions? “What do you want to know?”
The reporter gave Mara a triumphant smile, and I guessed they were old adversaries. He turned back to me and he was all business. “The rumor is that Prince Dev finds himself in an unusual ménage a trois with you and a vampire. Could you please give us some details on how you manage to keep two men satisfied?”
I felt my face heat as Mara leaned in. “The Royal Examiner is a tabloid. We tend to avoid commenting,” she explained in a condescending tone.
I said the only thing I could think of. “No hablo Inglés.”
Copyright Lexi Blake 2014