“Neither was I,” I spat. “I was hoping to have my dagger in your heart, not at your neck.”
He lifted his eyes to mine, and I refused to look away. He wasn’t at all what I expected from a Shadow fae. His skin resembled that of a Winter fae, and I could smell the hint of snow on him. His mother had to have been one of my kind. However, underneath all of that was pure evil, just like his father.
His grip around my waist tightened, and the blade dug into my neck some more, but so did my dagger at his. Blood dripped down his neck, and I could feel mine doing the same.
“You obviously know what I am,” he said.
I scoffed. “I could smell your stench over a mile away.”
His eyes searched mine. “Then why didn’t you alert your guards?”
It was my time to smile. “BecauseIwant to be the one to kill you. I know who you are and what you want.I’mgoing to end you.”
A dark chuckle escaped his lips. “We’ll see about that.”
He released me and stepped away, his hungered gaze roaming up and down my body. It was the first time I could see him fully, dressed in a black tux with perfectly coifed brown hair. On the outside, he looked to be in his mid to late twenties, but I knew he was older than that. He bowed his head slightly.
“It was a pleasure, Princess. I look forward to our next meeting.”
Seething, I gripped my dagger. “The next time you come here, you won’t be leaving.”
He glanced down at the blood on his blade and smiled. “Oh, I’m not coming back, Ella,” he said, meeting my eyes again. “Youare going to come tome.”
Stunned by his words, I stood there and watched him disappear into the darkness and through a portal, taking his evil with him; I couldn’t feel him anymore. However, there was one thing he was right about. Iwasgoing to go to him.
I was going to hunt him down.
Blood was on my fingers when I pulled them away from the cut on my neck. I was going to kill that son of a bitch. But, before I could transform myself into someone else so I could sneak away to my place, Merrick appeared in front of me, his smile disappearing when he noticed my wound.
I could hear voices and laughter edging closer. Not wasting any time, I used my magic to make myself look like a Winter fae woman with long dark hair, wearing a dark green gown.
“Walk with me,” I said in a low voice, moving toward the stone stairs. Once we were off the veranda and away from the palace, I transformed back to my usual self. “Why aren’t you at the ball?” I asked, trying not to sound impatient and failing.
Merrick huffed. “It gets a little lonely when I can see everyone, but they can’t see me.” He grabbed my arm, and I had no choice but to stop. “Stop evading my question. Tell me what happened to you.”
I glanced around quickly but saw no one. “We can’t talk out here. Let’s get to my house. The last thing I want is Iston seeing me right now.”
Nodding, he let me go and followed me down the icy path to my cottage behind the castle. Once we were behind closed doors, I hurried to my bedroom and Merrick followed me. I had to get changed and back to the ball, but Merrick stepped in front of me and lifted my chin.
“Did you cut yourself on something?”
I stayed silent until he released me, his face full of concern. I couldn’t lie to him. “Yeah, on a Shadow fae’s blade,” I confessed.
His brown eyes darkened. “You can’t be serious? There was one here?”
“Yep,” I replied, rubbing a hand over my neck. The wound had already healed.
Merrick threw his hands in the air. “Then why aren’t you telling anyone? This is serious, Ella. Their father killed me for fuck’s sake,” he shouted, his anger palpable.
Not only could I hear the pain in his voice, but I could feel it. It was as if someone had a vice-like grip on my stomach, twisting it in opposite directions. His death had been one that no one in the Land of the Fae had forgotten. He was killed a couple of years before my mother sought out the dark sorcerer to end his evil once and for all. Alasdair had captured my aunt Calista and hid her away in the Dark Forest, hoping to steal her power and make her his. His goal was to take over the Land of the Fae with her by his side. During the rescue mission, Merrick and my uncle Ryder stormed into Alasdair’s camp and fought to free her. Merrick knew Calista loved Ryder, so he took the killing blow meant for Ryder. Merrick had sacrificed himself to save their love.
He turned away and shook his head. “I was there with your mom when she drove her dagger into his heart. I was also there when she died. I can’t go through that again, not with you.”