Everything in my life was wrong, but I didn’t want to burden her with my problems.

“No,” I lied, smiling at her. “Besides, I want to hear about you and Owen.”

Her grin widened and she squealed. “There’s so much I have to tell you.” Finally, we arrived at the creek, and I took the blanket, spreading it over the snow. “But first,” she said, sitting down and opening the basket, “let’s eat. I’ve been dying to get into the cake.”

My stomach grumbled with anticipation. Unfortunately, I’d been so busy the past few days that I’d barely ate anything.

Marin set out all the food and I enjoyed every bite. Even the two large pieces of cake didn’t last long. In the end, we finished with a glass of faerie wine; it was the perfect picnic.

Marin grabbed a handful of snow and let it filter through her fingers. “Owen’s family is super sweet, Ella. I’ve had an amazing time with them this week.”

“I’m glad,” I said, reaching over to place a hand over hers. She looked at me and bit her lip nervously. “What is it?” I asked. She stared at me for a few more seconds, obviously wanting to say something but scared to. “You can tell me, Marin.”

Sucking in a deep breath, she let it out slowly. “Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it. I know you’re going to say it’s too soon, but Owen and I have been talking about the marriage bond.”

That was the best news I’d heard all week.

“Marin, no, that’s not what I want to say at all.” I threw my arms around her neck. There was so much joy in my heart it felt as if I could explode. “This has truly made my day.”

Marin deserved to find happiness, and Owen was an excellent match for her. She squeezed me back and started crying.

“I don’t know why I was so scared to tell you.” She let me go and wiped away her tears. “I guess it’s because Owen and I haven’t been together long.”

I waved her off. “That doesn’t matter, Marin. If you know you’re supposed to be with someone, you can’t put a time limit on it. Whether you’ve been together for five days or years, it doesn’t matter. Finding true love is a gift.”

A gift I didn’t know if I’d ever get to experience.

Marin glanced up at the sky, her face beaming. When the snow landed on her cheeks, it melted against her shimmery Spring skin.

“I love him, Ella. I honestly don’t know how I’ve made it this far in life without him.”

“And it’s crazy to think he’s been right here this whole time. I’m shocked you never noticed him before.”

She looked at me and laughed. “I know, right? Maybe we weren’t ready to find each other until now.”

Was that how it was between Kai and me? In a way, it was good timing because if Kai hadn’t come into my life, I’d be one step closer to bonding with Iston. I knew that wasn’t an option now, not after how I felt and what I’d done. I just hoped it didn’t cause a rift between my people and the elves.

“So, have you and Owen talked about whether you want to live in Winter or Spring?”

A mischievous grin spread across her face. “You’re seriously going to ask that? You should know the answer.”

Excitement bubbled in my chest. I’ve always wanted her to switch allegiances to Winter, but she didn’t want to leave her family.

“I know I should be salty that you didn’t choose Winter for me, but I’ll take what I can get.”

She flung her arms around me, hugging me so hard I could barely breathe. “It’s going to be great, Ella. Now all those childhood dreams we had can finally come true.”

I let her go and took her golden hand into mine. “Are you going to miss your Spring skin? You’ll be as pale as me when you switch courts.”

Marin giggled. “I love the snow, and I love your creamy skin. I’m looking forward to it.”

That was one of the extraordinary things about the Land of the Fae. If someone were to switch courts, their body would change to adapt.

Winter was who I was.

Marin smacked my arm playfully. “Oh, and with you and Iston possibly getting married, it’ll give us a chance to have children at the same time. So, if we have girls, they can grow up to be best friends. That’s also the same if we have boys.” She waggled her eyebrows. “And if we have one of each, maybe they’ll fall in love one day.”

We used to talk about that all the time when we were little girls. Our dream was to unite our families and pass down the bonds of friendship. I didn’t want to tell her that wouldn’t happen anytime soon, but I did need to tell her about my decision not to bind myself to Iston.

Tags: L.P. Dover Fantasy
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