Captured by the enemy of the Third Realm when the war ended, Rosalind has spent months in the cells of the Fifth Realm with her magic bound, forced to heal the new king’s demon warriors, and haunted by the lives she has taken. When she’s brought to heal an unconscious man, she discovers her only hope of escape has come in the form of her worst nightmare and the first part of a prediction that might spell her doom—a devastatingly handsome and dangerous dark elf prince.
Unwilling to fall under the control of anyone ever again, Vail must escape before the Fifth King can use him as a pawn in a deadly game of revenge, but he cannot leave without Rosalind, the woman who looks at him with dark desire in her stunning eyes and awakens a fierce hunger in his heart. A witch who drives him mad with need even as the darkness within whispers she will enslave him too.
Can Rosalind escape her fate as they embark on a journey fraught with danger and resist the temptation of her rogue elf prince? And can Vail overcome the memories that madden him in order to seize his chance for salvation and the heart of his fated female forever?
They entered a cavernous hall lit by torches mounted on the great gleaming obsidian pillars supporting the vaulted ceiling. Ahead of Vail, at the end of a long wide aisle, stood a black throne on a raised stone platform.
On that throne sat a huge demon male, his grey horns curling from beneath his jagged green helm, their painted white tips bright in the low light. They were extended, curling around themselves and flaring forwards into dangerous points, a sign of the anger that flowed from him.
His broad bare chest bore the scars of war, both recent and centuries past, and a thick braid of black hair lay down one side of it, curling over his shoulder from under his green helm. As Vail approached, his dark eyebrows drew down, narrowing his green eyes and lending a grim edge to his expression.
“King Bruan, we have brought the elf prisoner as instructed.” The biggest male pushed Vail forwards with such force he almost lost his balance again and he had to fight to stop himself from turning on the inferior wretch.
He kept his focus locked on the male several metres in front of him. King Bruan.
The demon king shifted in his seat, his left arm remaining dangling over the edge of his obsidian throne.
In it was a green and black thick metal torc.
The male had lost a loved one?
Vail knew of the demon tradition of wearing a torc to signify the loss of a mate.
King Bruan lifted it, drawing Vail’s gaze up with it, and stared at it with a faraway look in his eyes.
“My brother wore this,” he murmured in the demon tongue, his deep voice rumbling through the room. “He lost his female centuries ago, and honoured her for all that time, upholding his vow to make the Fifth Realm the most powerful all Hell had seen.”
The immense male rose fluidly to his booted feet and glared at Vail, pinning him with green eyes blazing with fury and pain.
“Frayne would have succeeded in carrying out that vow had it not been for your prince and his part in the war.” The demon king lifted the torc and tightened his grip on it, his knuckles burning with the force. “Now this is all I have of him. This…”
He tossed the twisted curved piece of metal at Vail. It clattered across the stone flags, the sound loud and jarring in the cavernous room, and stopped a few inches short of his bare feet.
“And the oath I swore to my warriors when their king fell.” The male prowled down the steps towards Vail, his powerful body shifting with each step, making Vail aware of the vast difference in their strength. In his current condition, he was no match for this king of demons.
Bruan stopped in front of Vail, grasped his metal collar, catching his neck with his claws at the same time, and hauled him off his feet by it, bringing Vail’s face closer to his. The sweet scent of mead rolled off his breath.
“I will avenge him,” Bruan snarled down at him, flashing emerging fangs. “You will tell me all you know of the locations of the elf army along their borders.”
Vail held his gaze as calmly as he could manage when what he really wanted to do was claw the demon’s eyes out and then dig a hole in his chest to extract his black, still-beating heart. A heart he would crush before his eyes so he could see the fear and the light of life drain out of them.
“I know nothing of troop movements,” Vail stated, sure that the king wouldn’t believe him even though he was speaking the truth.
Demons were thick-headed. He had learned that the moment he and his brother had set foot in Hell to build their new kingdom. Vail had wanted to take three legions of their army to teach the First and Second Realms of the demons to respect the elves. Loren had suggested a more diplomatic approach of venturing into those kingdoms and speaking directly with their kings. It had almost got him killed. His older brother had always been painfully obstinate and irritatingly diplomatic, wanting to see the good in everyone, even those who held only darkness in their hearts.
Vail closed his eyes.
He didn’t understand why his brother fought so hard for him. Could Loren love him still, after everything he had done to his kingdom and his people?
His strength faltered, his fight leaving him for a heartbeat of time before he dragged himself back to his present location and away from the past and his brother.
Bruan was studying his face with a shrewd eye, one that Vail didn’t like and that set him on edge. He had underestimated the intelligence of this particular demon and had to tread carefully if he was to convince the male he was of no use to him.
The demon king lowered him to his feet but retained his hold on Vail’s collar. “You are not a soldier?”
Vail shook his head. The king eyed him closely, looking him over from head to toe and back again.
“I admit you are scrawny and weak, but you do not look like a civilian. There is a little too much pride in those eyes and a little too much courage.” The demon released his collar and stepped back, as if needing to view all of him in one go in order to make a decision about his profession and whether he believed him. He eventually shook his head. “You fought well against my men. You are a soldier.”
“I am no soldier, although I have done my share of fighting and killing as one of them. I left that life behind long ago. If you see pride and courage, it is born of that period of my life and nothing else. I have wandered the earth since leaving my homeland and have not set foot in it in many centuries.” Vail straightened his spine, standing as tall as he could manage while the demons behind him held his neck and waist under their control. “I have no allegiance to the elves or Prince Loren.”
“An elf with no allegiance to his kind, who has done his share of killing…” The king moved a step closer again, a glimmer in his eyes that Vail recognised. Madness. The loss of his brother had driven him mad, crazed by a need for vengeance. The male narrowed his green eyes on him and smirked. “I thought you a soldier we could question for intelligence on the prince and perhaps the Third King.”
Bruan moved so quickly Vail wouldn’t have had a chance to shift backwards to evade him even if he hadn’t been held by two guards. He grabbed Vail’s jaw, his fingers pressing into the left side while his thumb dug into the right, and shoved his head back. He stared down into Vail’s eyes, his smile growing.
“Forgive me… your highness… I did not recognise you at first.”
Vail tensed and barely bit back the growl that curled up his throat. He hadn’t expected the demon to know him. He had never seen this male in his life, had never ventured this deep into the interior of the Fifth Realm, and the male was young. It wasn’t possible that they had met.
The king’s smile held. “You are thinking in there… calculating… you do not hide it well, Mad Elf Prince. You wonder how I know you.”
Vail did growl now. The demon didn’t flinch.
Vail knew of his nickname, of the things whispered about him in all the realms, the horror stories people told of him and the threats they used on their offspring. Go to bed or the mad elf prince will come for you. He knew of what they called him and he despised them all for it.
If he were mad, it was not by choice, and it was not something he wanted. He wanted… something far beyond his reach. He wanted the impossible, and that made him weak. Vulnerable. Forgiveness would never be his, and neither would salvation, but no matter how many times he had tried to purge the tiny fragment of light that remained in his soul, the small seed of hope, it had refused to die.
“You see… I got a good look at the man who helped King Thorne kill my brother,” Bruan said over Vail’s rumbling growl. “I was fighting Prince Loren at the time the Third King took Frayne’s head… and you look too much like him to be anyone else. So your charade ends here, and I have devised a new plan. I will ransom you to your brother in exchange for the assistance of the elves in my new war.”
Vail laughed at him, wiping the smile off his ugly face and replacing it with confusion. “My brother will not pay for my return… he despises me. Did you not know that I have been at war with him since long before you were born? The prince you desire to gain assistance from would sooner see me dead than align his army with yours.”
Bruan’s expression turned flat and unreadable, his green eyes impassive and giving nothing away.
“It is not so.” The demon king bent and picked up the discarded green and black metal torc, rolling it over in his hands. “I have heard your brother is searching for you. Do you not know your brother hunts for you even now?”
“To kill me.”
Bruan laughed, the booming sound echoing around the hall. “Foolish male. If I have learned anything about the older brothers of this realm, it is that they would never kill a younger sibling, one which they would have sworn to protect from the day of their birth. If your brother hunts you, then it is for no other purpose than reuniting with you.”
Vail shook his head.
“You forget, we are not born of this realm.” He narrowed his eyes on the demon king and smiled, gathering every ounce of his anger and pain into a tempest within him, one that the demon would see in his gaze. One that would tell this fool that his plot would end in ruin.
Vail would never play the role assigned to him. His brother would never set foot in this kingdom and he would somehow make sure of it. He would keep his brother safe, even if he had to take his own life to achieve it. Loren would feel the connection between them die. He would know what had happened to him and he would not be fooled by this mad demon king.
“Loren would see me dead, and the feeling is mutual,” Vail spat at the male and snarled, flashing the tips of his fangs as his ears grew more pointed, a physical sign of the aggression surging through him, the darkness that coaxed him into goading the demon into killing him. He would ensure his brother’s safety and deliver himself into death’s embrace. “I would see my brother dead before he could raise a hand to harm me. I would act to defend myself and then what alliance would you have? If you even so much as send word to my brother of my location… if you interfere in our war… in my fight… I will kill every single warrior in this castle and then I will kill you.”
King Bruan growled at him, his powerful body rippling as his eyes blazed green fire and his enormous black dragon-like wings burst from his bare back.
“You dare to order me? You dare to threaten me?” The huge demon male grasped Vail’s collar and dragged him off his feet, leaving them dangling above the dark flagstones. He was growing, his muscles expanding as his true form emerged, turning his visage dark and demonic. “A male such as you needs to be taught humility with an iron fist. You will learn to hold your forked tongue. You will learn your place. I will have submission beaten into you and then we shall speak again.”
Darkness welled up inside Vail, thick and inky, violent like a tempest swirling through his blood and igniting his fury. He snarled at the demon king, the thought of being taken back to the torture chamber shoving him over the edge into the abyss.
The beast within him rose to the fore, baring his fangs at the male who dared to threaten him, who sought to control him just as Kordula had done—with pain and punishment, stripping him of his pride and his strength. He would not let this male do such a thing to him. He would not submit to anyone.
Vail roared and fought to lift his arms, his broken nails becoming claws as his muscles strained against the bonds that held him. The demon king dropped him and shifted back a step, signalling to the guards at the same time. One struck him across the side of his head but it didn’t stop him. He arched backwards, using every drop of his strength on the cuffs, and unleashed a victorious snarl as the chain snapped free.
He turned hard, throwing one guard off balance, sending him toppling to the ground, and lashed out at the second one. The larger male struck him again, the blow coming faster than he could evade while the magic in his restraints dampened his powers.
Vail growled, baring his bloodied fangs, clasped his hands together and swung them up in a brutal diagonal arc. They smashed into the side of the male’s face and he staggered sideways, towards the other demon now back on his feet.
He prepared himself to attack him.
Pain splintered across his knees, the force and speed of the thick pole slamming into them shattering his kneecaps and fracturing the joints of his femurs. An inferno blazed up his bones and he cried out his agony as he dropped to his knees on the flagstones. He bent over, his face buried in his cuffed hands as he fought the pain, struggling to catch his breath as it overwhelmed him, threatening to shut his body down and send him tumbling into unconsciousness. He had to remain awake.
He had to fight.
Not only for his sake, but for his brother’s.
He needed to kill the demon king.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.
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