I’ve decided not to talk extensively about the pandemic here. It is, of course, at the foremost of everyone’s minds, and I think it was important for a while to express that, but now, I’m personally trying to focus on bridging the gap to the other side--because there is another side waiting for us all. This too shall pass. It’s hard to imagine right now, but these weeks and months will one day be reduced to memory. I only wanted to briefly bring it up so I can offer to lend an ear, if any of you feel like you do need to talk about it more. Please don’t hesitate to click the reply button and send me an email if you want to vent. I’m always here to listen. 💖
This too shall pass.
- Caleb’s First Birthday: As of March 6th, 2020, my baby boy is ONE YEAR OLD. 😱
He had a “Wild One” themed birthday party complete with jungle animals and squishy dinosaur favors. We hosted his event literally the week before New York started to shut down, and I’m extremely grateful for the last minute opportunity to see loved ones in person. I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that I’m a mommy to a one-year-old boy! That once-tiny little nugget who couldn’t even lift his head is walking now! (Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom if you want his birthday tax 😅).
I’M NOT FREAKING OUT YOU’RE FREAKING OUT. 🙃
- Prepping for Beta Readers: I’m happy to report I’ve completed all my spot edits, begun implementing early CP feedback, studied ancient Sumerian language (it’s relevant, I swear 😅), and now, draft 4 is nearly finished! I still have two days before the first 10 chapters will be in my beta readers’ inboxes, and I know I should relax, but I’ll probably obsessively work on my book up until the last second.
There’s more left to do than just edit. I’ve drafted the questionnaires for week 1, but I still need to put them into Google Forms, upload and divide the actual chapters into segments, then make folders for each beta and a spreadsheet to keep track of who has what. It sounds like a lot, but I’m weirdly calm about it; I think because I realize it has to get done, so it will--somehow.
I’ll be honest, I’ve cried over the beta process quite a few times already, and it hasn’t even started yet. Seeking approval from others is a deeply ingrained habit of mine, so all my fears of rejection are wreaking havoc on my heart right now. I have this irrational concern that every single one of my beta readers won’t like the first chapter enough to bother reading past it, and they’ll all drop out together, and then, I don’t know, I’ll die or something. 🤷
Dramatic fears aside, here’s the thing: not everyone will like my book. It’s just not possible. Maybe some people will drop out after this first week, because it’s not what they thought it would be, and I’m genuinely okay with that! So it’s time to also be okay with the more positive voice in my head that assures me, odds are, someone is going to like it, too.
We have to let go of our books in order to grow. And we have to admit that we want to share them with people, even if it’s hard and vulnerable--otherwise, we’d probably be writing as a hobby (which is also wonderful), not a career. We can be both afraid and excited, humble and confident. We can brace for the worst and still be proud of what we’ve written.
Besides, I’ve also cried happy tears already while reading through my excellent beta applications, and the encouraging messages so many of you have sent me, whether you’ll be reading for me or not. I’m sure the beta process will come with even more tears of ALL varieties, but I’m ready for them. I might say that I’m not, I might feel like I’m not, but deep down, I am. I know this is the right next step for my book, and the right time. And damnit, whatever it brings, I can’t wait for April! 💕
I swear, I reread certain segments of my own book so much to prepare for beta readers, they should count for something here. 🙈
Because I had to buckle down and focus on my own work this month (and judge for #FantasyQueensLove), I read for others at a more casual pace. I squeezed in some alpha reading for another adult epic fantasy writer (more on that once I finish), and I’m about to pick back up with my critique partners after a long hiatus.
Please, can someone remind me next month to let myself read a book strictly for fun? 😅 I’m going to have my own WIP out of my hands (mostly, if I can resist the urge to continue to tweak each batch of weekly chapters before I send them), and I should really allow myself time to make a tiny dent in my personal TBR. It's been a hot minute.
Congratulations to everyone who entered the #FantasyQueensLove short story competition! We’ve hosted three contests of this style so far, and I think my fellow judges would agree that this was the closest call we’ve had to make, yet. The quality of entries was outstanding, providing us with so many submissions worthy of prizes. Thank you for taking the plunge and sharing your work with us. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed reading every single entry. 🥰
“The Prince and the Nymph” by Erin Dale Darling placed third, and it was one of the most entertaining short stories I’ve had the pleasure to read. She expertly maneuvers a large cast within the limited word count, keeping each and every character distinct.
“Rewind,” by Jennifer Ridge, took a unique twist on the challenge, with her story that had more darkness than romance at times, complex characters, and an exceptionally clever plot. She earned second place in the competition.
And first place went to Rowan K. Wright, with “Beneath the Horizon,” a tale about a human trapped in turmoil between Seelie and Unseelie fae courts. The writing sings and the romance is palpable...you can read it for yourself, below! Content warning: this featured short story includes brief scenes describing sex and attempted sexual assault.
Without further ado, the featured romantic story:
Beneath the Horizon
By Rowan K. Wright
The palace was quiet except for the sound of Cora’s bare feet hitting the floor as she sprinted down the hall. Her breaths came in ragged gasps that clouded the air as she flew around a corner and down the steps of the stairwell. It was always cold here, and no light came through the tall stained glass windows that marked every few feet of the exterior wall because there was no light. Darkness shrouded the sprawling castle beneath the mountain in a cloak of eternal darkness.
Except for one room.
Cora ran to that room now, her heart in her throat.
Emotions battled one another in her chest—excitement, righteous anger, fear, and hope all fought with swords as sharp as the shards of a broken heart. She knew what she had to do, she knew and despaired at the thought of what it would mean.
Finally, after crossing half a dozen empty staterooms and parlors and descending yet another spiral staircase, Cora made it to the atrium—the one room under the mountain that had access to the light above.
She was almost too late. The sun was already sinking toward the horizon, and the light that filtered through the opening high above was the faint gold of a perfect summer afternoon. In a few short hours, the light would completely vanish, and night would descend upon the Court—a night darker than any ever seen above where the sun and the moon chased each other across the sky. Once the sun set, the silent castle halls and the empty, endless labyrinth of tunnels of the underworld would fill with the inhabitants of the Unseelie Court.
And Cora didn’t know whether that excited her or scared her.
The young woman paused just outside the greenhouse, her fingers on the ornate golden handle. She took a deep breath and shook her long, dark curls behind her freckled shoulders. She would not lose her nerve. She would not let him undo the resolve she had built up these past few, lonely hours. She would not kiss him.
Cora pressed her lips into a thin line and pushed the door open. “Ah, there you are. I’ve brought something for you.”
Just the sound of his rich voice was enough to melt away some of the fury flowing through Cora’s veins.
Some of it.
The man stood across the small space, his broad shoulders facing her as he fiddled with something on the workbench before him. He had tossed aside the formal tunic he was forced to wear when he ventured to his brother’s Court, leaving him in a crisp, white undershirt. Cora could see the muscles of his back move as he shifted slightly, and she could not help but imagine closing the distance between them and pulling his shirt loose from his pants to run her hand over the masterfully sculpted planes of his shoulders.
The man turned as if sensing her thoughts, and Cora stared into the face that was at once her ruin and her savior.
Caebrum. The Unseelie King. He was devastatingly handsome, so much so that Cora’s heart hurt just looking at him and the breath caught in her chest, just the way it did the first time she saw him. The light from the overhead cast midnight blue highlights along each of his unruly curls, the pointed tips of his ears just barely visible. His ever-changing blue eyes sparkled with delight as he looked upon her. Even with the scar that bisected the corner of his lips, his smile was that of poems and ballads and tragedies—a smile that set hearts on fire only to watch them burn.
Caebrum had rolled his sleeves up to his elbows, revealing powerful forearms and graceful hands that were streaked with dirt. There was even a smudge across the sharp curve of his jaw. “There has to be at least a dozen different kinds here,” the king continued as he showed Cora the seeds he held cupped in his hands. He held them out to her as if he were offering her handfuls of gold.
“I think I must have given one of Byern’s servants quite a fright when he caught me rustling about in the bushes of the castle gardens. I wanted to bring you something that you didn’t yet have in your collection.”
Cora clenched her fists and her teeth, willing herself to stand firm. He brought her seeds. Judging by the stains on the knees of his breeches, he had crawled around on all fours searching for seeds for her.
The king’s dazzling smile faltered. “Cora? What’s wrong?”
Cora had promised herself earlier that she wouldn’t cry, no matter what happened. But like hearts and porcelain plates, promises often break despite the greatest care.
A tear slipped from her eye and ran down her cheek to plummet to the ground. This room was the only place in the castle with life. The dirt beneath Cora’s toes was warm and comforting after the coldness of the stone floors inside the king’s castle.
A sprout, its singular leaf brighter than any other thing in the palace just beyond the atrium, rose from the dirt where Cora’s tear had landed only seconds ago and stretched toward the sunlight.
Caebrum’s eyes, now as dark as a field of larkspurs during a storm, flashed from Cora’s face to the seedling at her feet. Quickly, he set the seeds in his hands on the workbench and went to her.
His hands went to her face to wipe away the next tears already sliding down her freckled cheeks, but he pulled himself up short, just inches away from her tanned, sunkissed skin. Cora eye’s fluttered shut as her heart screamed for her to lean into his touch, but her mind held her back. The warmth from the light shining down through the glass ceiling was yet another reminder of what she came to say to the king today.
“Cora, what is it? What’s wrong?”
The greenery in the room shifted as flowers began to bloom and new leaves unfurled from their planters, reaching for the woman in the center of them all. Cora glanced at the evidence of her Gift all around her and let out a sad laugh. How ironic was it that she was trapped in the one place where nothing could grow but in a room no bigger than a closet?
When Caebrum first brought her here, this room was empty, barren. The ground had been the same unforgiving slate that lined every other floor in the king’s home.
But then he brought Cora dirt. Bags and bags of it, dark and rich, and the smell of freshly turned earth filled every corner of the atrium. That was the first day Cora didn’t cry since she came to the Unseelie Court.
Then he brought her seeds—sunflowers and roses, peonies and wheat, grass and apple tree seeds, vines and ivy. Anything he could get his hands on, the king brought Cora. He had watched her plant them, and his eyes had widened in amazement as each seed grew to full maturity before Cora even finished patting the soil around its stem. He told her that it was like watching time pass him by as he remained still. It was the first time she heard him laugh.
All of this he did for her, and she still didn’t know if it was enough.
His voice, so low and raw, brought her back to the present. The way he said her name sent goosebumps crawling across her skin. Cora wanted him to call her name again and again, to have him say it against her mouth as her lips moved against his.
Cora shook her head, remembering what she had practiced saying in the mirror in the bathroom that was bigger than the entire house she had lived in before...before Caebrum took her.
A white-hot stab of pain lanced her heart.
Cora could only imagine what her mother must be feeling. It had been nearly a month since Cora said those terrible words to her mother and stormed out of the home they shared. Little did she know that that would be the last time she saw their cramped, one bedroom home, for that was the day that Caebrum took her
She had to go back and explain why she never came back. She had to tell her mother that she didn’t mean what she said. She had to apologize.
“I can’t...” Cora began, her voice as fragile as a cherry blossom. Cora clenched her fists, her nails digging into the soft flesh there, and found the obduracy that so often got her in trouble at the market and began again. “I can’t stay here, your Majesty.”
Caebrum frowned, his brow pulling together. “Please, Cora. Call me Caebrum. My brother cares about his titles and formalities. I do not.”
Cora swallowed the knot in her throat and tore her eyes away from the king’s penetrating gaze. “I owe you my life...Caebrum. And that is something I will never be able to repay, but I cannot stay here beneath the mountain. I don’t belong here.”
He gestured to the atrium surrounding them, the pots overflowing with flora that hung heavy from the wooden beams above their heads, the shelves and shelves of plants in all sorts of containers—tea cups overflowing with succulents and vases of lilies, daisies and roses sprouting from buckets and wine bottles. “But...I thought that this would make you happy.”
Cora’s heart squeezed painfully in her chest at his words. She rushed to him in a moment of forgetfulness, and touched his cheek.
“It does make me happy!” she said to him as her fingertips brushed across the stubble shading the strong lines of his jaw. “But this atrium is only one small room in this immense space. Of all of the dozens of rooms in your castle, this is the only one I feel free in, and it’s the smallest room of this beautiful cage you’ve put me in.”
Caebrum, seeming to forget his role as well, caught Cora’s delicate hands in his. “No,” he told her. “It was never my intention for you to feel like a prisoner in my home, Cora. I only sought to keep you safe from harm.”
“I know,” she replied, her voice hoarse. Cora found herself getting lost in the blue of the king’s eyes, now the color of forget-me-nots glowing in the new light of dawn.
Caebrum leaned down to rest his forehead against Cora’s. “If it is your wish to go back, I will take you,” he said with a sigh. “I will not keep you here against your will. Just know that I cannot protect you in the human realm.”
Cora could feel his warm breath on her lips, and her mouth parted as the heat in her core urged her forward.
The back of his fingers brushed her cheek. “What do you want, Cora?”
Caebrum’s hands drifter lower and danced over the tops of her shoulders, fingertips tracing the constellations made there by the light dusting of freckles that seemed to adorn every curve of Cora’s body. His touch continued down her arms and to her hips. “Yes?”
“I want...you,” Cora said, voice barely louder than a whisper. “I want you, Caebrum.”
“I am yours, Oria’lai.”
Caebrum’s hands pulled Cora’s waist closer to him, and he leaned down to meet her lips as she planted her palms on his broad chest. Cora could feel the pounding of his heart beneath her hands as she summoned every ounce of willpower within her...and pushed him away.
“I want you...and my old life. Why can I not have both?” A range of emotions crossed the king’s face—first hurt, then sadness, and finally confusion.
“Cora...everything up there, all of it, is Byern’s. The Unseelie are not permitted to cross over except for the summer and winter solstices. We must remain here beneath the mountain. You know this.”
“But I am not Unseelie. Nor am I Seelie.”
“But you are Gifted—”
“Gifted, yes, but Unclaimed.”
Although it was rare, sometimes humans like Cora were born with magic in their veins. This magic, called a Gift, could manifest in so many different ways. After years of peddling her wares in the market square, Cora had heard of all kinds of Gifts. She learned of a man that could breathe underwater and of a woman who made it rain when she cried. Cora heard a merchant tell of a child that could speak to animals and understand them. The Gifts that were bestowed were not always pleasant, however. Cora once overheard a farmer talk of a boy that could bring the dead back to life but not in the way most people would think. She even once heard a woman speak of a man that could reopen every wound that a person had ever received, allowing him to kill a person without so much as touching him.
Because Gifts were rare and not much was known about them, Gifted people were often ostracized or even killed in fear of what they could do. That was why Cora’s mother made her promise never to use her Gift in public, to never share her secret with anyone in the village. And while humans feared the Gifted, the fae sought them out. It was common knowledge that the fae would come steal away Gifted children at night and leave a changeling in their place. Most parents would keep the changeling until it died rather than look for the child whose Gifts could potentially have even worse consequences.
The stolen Gifted child, or even a Gifted adult who happened to stumble upon the world of the fae, would then be claimed by either the Seelie or the Unseelie Court. They would be adopted by the fae and would become a member of their Court.
Cora was honestly surprised that the fae never came to take her away, and maybe they did. It would explain the cautionary tales her mother used to tell Cora and her mother’s strange habit of salting the threshold and window ledges.
Now that Cora was in the Unseelie Court, it would make sense if Caebrum Claimed her, yet it was clear that Cora’s Gift wasn’t best suited for the dark and cold Court beneath the mountain.
With the gentlest of touches, the king took her stubborn chin in his hand as the smallest, sweetest of smiles tugged at the corner of his mouth where the pale scar marred his otherwise perfect face. “I know that this Court may not be what you imagined—or maybe it is— but I would gladly Claim you, should you deem me worthy.”
Cora blushed and turned away. This was not the first time he had brought up the issue, but she was still unsure of what to say. Caebrum, himself, was worthy, but the creatures and monsters he ruled over beneath the mountain made her hesitate to accept his offer.
Caebrum truly had saved her life that day in the meadow, and may have done so a dozen more times since then as far as Cora knew—she didn’t like to think about how many attempts on her life had been made since she broke the spell.
That early summer day that had changed Cora’s life had started out like any other. Cora had risen at dawn and tended to the animals. She had milked the cow and fed the chickens and had gone on to collect the eggs and let the goats out of the pen. It wasn’t even noon when Cora had gone back inside to get the basket that she used to collect the plants and herbs she would make into salves and ointments to later sell at the market.
But instead of finding her mother mending the townspeoples’ linens or cooking lunch, Cora had found her mother at their rickety old table with none other than Gannon sitting across from her.
Gannon had come to ask for Cora’s hand. She had known for months now that he had his eye on her, but Cora could not bring herself to feel anything for him. She had tried at first when he had begun to court her. But try as she might, her heart did not beat for him the way she knew it would for the man she would someday wed.
Her mother had once again—in hushed tones—reminded Cora of the debt they were slowly drowning in. After Cora’s father had died several years earlier, it was all that the women could do to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. Gannon wasn’t wealthy, but his family was well enough off. He and his family lived in town in a nice, three story townhome, and they owned their own horse and carriage. A life with Gannon would not be a terrible life...but Cora could not marry a man she did not love.
So she let her emotions get the best of her, and she had yelled at her mother, accusing her of caring more about money than her daughter. Cora said such awful things to her before grabbing her basket and rushing out of the house and into the forest.
She had walked for what seemed like hours until she found a meadow filled with purple and yellow wildflowers. Cora threw her basket across the small clearing and screamed loud enough for any nearby birds to flutter away in fright.
It was only then that she saw the man watching her.
She didn’t know how long he had been there, but he stood across the meadow, leaning against a tall oak tree. The way he looked at her made Cora’s skin crawl. He was a fox, and she was a wounded rabbit cornered in the bracken. The man looked innocuous enough with his fair hair pulled back from his long face. She couldn’t see any visible weapons on him, but still, Cora could not shake the feeling that she needed to run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.
The man began to walk toward her, and Cora had scrambled back. She didn’t see the log hiding in the grass until she tripped over it. She fell to the ground hard, her heart jumping in her throat when the man suddenly appeared over her. Up close, Cora could see that he didn’t look...quite right. His features were too sharp, and his eyes were slightly too large for his face. Then when he smiled, Cora saw that each of his teeth tapered to a sharp point. “Hello, sweet,” the man purred.
He had pounced on her at that moment, taking advantage of her shock. There was a struggle as the man pawed at her chest and thighs in an attempt to tear away her dress and undergarments. Cora screamed, but she knew she was much too far away for anyone to come to her aid.
So Cora did what she had never done before and used her Gift. She called to the plants and the trees that surrounded them, and they answered. Roots as thick as her arm burst through the soil and shot toward them, wrapping around the man’s legs and dragging him away. Vines snaked through the meadow and wound around his throat, and try as he might, the man could not wrench them away.
Cora pulled up her shredded dress and watched in horror as the man thrashed about on the ground as her beloved plants killed the man who attacked her.
When it was over and the man lay still on the ground, Cora gathered herself and got to her feet. She knew that she had to get out of there. She had to find her way back to safety. She had to go home.
But when she turned around, another man stood in her way. He was so tall that he blocked out the sun, leaving Cora in his frigid shadow. Cora once again fell to the ground. “Please,” she begged. “Let me go.”
“Kael—the fae you just killed—was one of my brother’s most trusted advisors,” the man told her, matter of factly with no emotion in his voice. “In killing him, you have broken an ancient fae spell that will bring every Seelie creature in the area here to eke out revenge for their brethren.”
Cora blanched, confused and afraid at once. “The f-fae? But he attacked me first....”
The man had frowned. “Even so, you have broken our oldest and most sacred creed.”
Cora peered up into the beautiful stranger’s face. He didn’t look like the thing that had just tried to assault her. “You’re fae?”
Cora’s mother had often told her stories of the fae—tales of the beautiful and cunning Seelie Court and the mysterious and malevolent Unseelie Court—but she had never believed them to be more than that.
“Will you kill me then?” Defiance straightened Cora’s spine and lifted her chin. If this man tried anything, she would fight back. Viney tendrils crawled up her bare legs, ready to come to her aid.
The man had smiled and shook his head. “I wasn’t planning on it, no.”
“I am not of the Seelie Court.”
“This is all just a big mistake,” Cora said, changing tactics. “Just let me go, and I’ll never breathe a word of what happened today.”
“You will not make it out of this forest alive.” The man with the striking blue eyes had paused. Then he offered Cora his hand. “Come with me, and I will protect you.”
Faced with a loveless marriage or a violent death at the hands of creatures she had thought only moments ago to be myths, Cora chose the unknown and took the man’s hand. It seemed insane, but for some unknown reason, she trusted him.
He told her his name was Caebrum, and he brought her here to the castle beneath the mountain. It wasn’t until her second or third day that Cora realized that not only was Caebrum high fae, he was their king. Cora saw no one but her savior the first night as she threw herself onto the massive four poster bed in her new quarters. She didn’t see anyone the next day either, not even the king. It was almost as if the castle had been abandoned. Cora began to wonder if she really was insane.
Caebrum explained later that the Unseelie were mostly nocturnal, preferring to sleep during the day even though next to no light made its way under the mountain. When Cora finally did meet other Unseelie fae, she was shocked at many of their grotesque and peculiar forms. However, the members of the Unseelie Court—as fearsome and bizarre as they were—had been polite enough to their king’s guest. Even so, Cora still felt like an outsider among them.
Caebrum had done everything in his power to make Cora feel at home. He helped her bring the atrium back to life and had even been to the Seelie Court several times on her behalf to ask his brother to break the spell that still hovered over her.
It was during these eerily quiet days and long, loud nights that Cora began to see the Unseelie King for who he truly was. Caebrum was nothing like the horrible tales she had grown up hearing about as she cowered under her blankets. He was kind and fair. He had a laugh that made her heart swell and a smile that stopped her in her tracks. He woke up early and sat with her at dinner even though the rest of the castle was barely stirring. He listened to her silly stories and saw beauty in her Gift. He encouraged her to use it, and Cora found that she savored the way his eyes crinkled at the corners when she got carried away and flowers began to bloom in her hair.
Cora had come to almost love the king beneath the horizon…
It still wasn’t enough…
But it was enough for tonight.
Their eyes met once more, and Cora decided to stop thinking and just feel.
Shaking, she lifted her hands and placed them again against his chest. But this time, her fingers tightened around the loose fabric of his shirt, and she pulled the king closer. Cora stood on her toes, Caebrum wrapped her in his arms, and their lips found each other in the last few moments of glorious sunlight.
The kiss was gentle and careful at first, leaving room for one or both of them to pull away...but neither one of them did. Caebrum pulled Cora even closer, the lines of their bodies pressed so tightly against each other that it was difficult to know where Caebrum began and Cora ended as the kiss deepened into something more.
Cora’s mouth opened under Caebrum’s as their lips moved together in the afterglow of the day. Her tongue danced with his to a song only they could hear. They explored one another with their lips and with their hands. Caebrum fingers tangled in her thick hair as Cora’s found where his shirt tucked into his pants. She pulled the fabric free just as she had envisioned earlier, and she caressed the hard lines of his muscled stomach and chest. He shuddered under her soft touch, his lips trailing along Cora’s jaw and down her lithe neck. The pounding of Cora’s heart was a drumbeat echoed by Caebrum’s own heart as he lowered them to the ground.
The floor which had been bare dirt moments ago was now covered in a blanket of moss as soft as down. Thank sank into it as Caebrum’s hand swept across the curve of Cora’s hip and up along her waist to her ribs, sending shivers down across her skin and causing a soft moan to escape her throat.
The strap of her dress slipped off her shoulder as Caebrum’s kisses traveled along her collarbone to her freckled shoulder. Using the hand that wasn’t supporting him, Caebrum caressed Cora’s breasts. Another moan slipped between her lips as her back arched beneath her. She wanted more of his touch—needed it— but he chose that very moment to pull his hand away.
“Is this what you want?” he asked against the warmth of her skin.
“Yes,” Cora replied, breathless.
His teeth grazed the sensitive skin of her neck. “Are you sure?”
Cora found his lips once more with hers. “Yes,” she said again. “Very sure.”
Afterward, they lay together on the bed of moss as the sweat cooled against their skin. Above them, they could see the distant twinkle of stars in the night sky. Caebrum’s arm curled around Cora’s curves, keeping her close to him, as his fingers traced lazy circles over the freckles scattered across her hip.
Cora sighed, nestling into the crook of his shoulder and chest. He smelled like leather and soap despite the sheen of sweat across his naked torso. Cora had made another blanket of moss that now draped over their legs and kept them warm in the cool air of under the mountain.
The steady beat of Caebrum’s heart in her ear made Cora’s eyes heavy. She was almost asleep when Caebrum spoke. “Cora?”
“Tomorrow...I’d like to bring you to visit your mother, if that’s something you would like to do.”
Cora sat up, suddenly wide awake. “You what?”
He smiled, setting Cora’s heart fluttering. “I want to take you to your mother’s. I know you miss her terribly, and I figure you will be safe if I accompany you.”
Cora’s vision swam with tears. She buried her face in his neck and squeezed him tight. “Oh, Caebrum...Thank you! You don’t know how much this means to me.”
She pulled back to find him smiling at her again. Caebrum tucked an errant curl behind her ear. “I would do anything to make you happy, Oria’lai.”
“You keep calling me that. What does it mean?”
The king kissed the tip of Cora’s nose. “It’s a fae word that doesn’t easily translate to the common tongue.”
Cora playfully pressed her lips to his. “Well, then, your Majesty, what does it most closely translate to?”
He seemed to think for a moment. “My dearest one or my beloved would be the closest thing in your language to Oria’lai.”
Red blossomed in Cora’s cheeks as exquisite golden flowers began to bloom along the crown of her hair, giving away her happiness like a beacon in the night. She didn’t mind like she once did when she saw the awe in Caebrum’s expression. He reached up and lightly ran his thumb over a petal, only to have several more bloom beside the first. Caebrum laughed and so did Cora. Through their joy, their lips found each other anew.
There was a knock on the door, interrupting the lovers and their plans.
A goblin—a small, low fae with a long, hooked nose and pointed ears—stood at the door, not even trying to avert his gaze as Cora pulled the moss blanket up to her chin. “My apologies, your Majesty, but the matter is rather urgent and could not wait.”
“What is it?” Caebrum asked gruffly, clearly not happy with his subject’s intrusion.
“Your brother, the king of the Seelie Court, is here,” the goblin said with a disdainful glance in Cora’s direction. “He awaits your arrival in the grand hall.”
Caebrum’s brows pulled down. “Byern is here? Why?”
The goblin shrugged. “He said something about collecting a life payment for a human who broke our creed.”
Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this email. I’m so endlessly grateful for all of your love and support as I forge my own rocky, forked path toward publication. My inbox, DMs, P.O. box, etc. are always open to each of you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Upcoming fantasy author, new mom, D&D addict, Gemini, Slytherclaw, lover of raw dough, wants to be your friend. 💗