As I walked around and looked at Ella’s things, all I could smell was her. I had to force the thoughts of hurting her out of my mind. So instead, I concentrated on how much I loved her and how it felt to touch her smooth skin and hear her voice as she said my name. If only that was enough to break my father’s curse.

Ella’s bedroom was just down the hall, and I recalled the last time I was in there. It was the night I was going to kill her. And it was also the night I triggered our bond. The universe was surely one fucked up place to bind two people together, only for one to want to kill the other.

When I stepped through the door, I walked over to Ella’s bed, skimming my fingers over her silky blue sheets. I’d give anything to make love to her again. I didn’t give a shit about all the power I had. If I could get rid of it to be with her, I would.

The pain in my chest grew and I rubbed a hand over my heart. It was as if I could feel the poison of my father’s curse creeping through my veins, erasing all the good thoughts of mine and Ella’s time together. Sooner or later, it’d be as if none of that ever happened.

“Ella?” a voice called out from down the hall.

Anger spiked in my gut. What man had the right to walk into her house besides me?

Footsteps thumped on the floor, and I glared at the door, waiting to see who it was. I didn’t bother to blend into the shadows when the guy appeared. He was a Summer fae which surprised me. Luckily, it wasn’t the elvish prince. The thought ofhimbeing in Ella’s home pissed me the fuck off. However, I remembered Ella telling me about Merrick; only she was the only one who could see him.

The Summer fae’s eyes widened, but then he cocked his head to the side and glanced behind him.

“Who are you?” I demanded.

The guy turned back to me and waved a hand in the air. “Hold up. I think the question should be, how can you even see me?” ItwasMerrick.

Only Keepers could see the dead, but I was far from one of them. “I’m curious to know the same thing,” I said. When my father gave me the power of the Four, Ella’s Keeper abilities weren’t a part of that. I’d only inherited a small portion of her mother’s and three aunts’ powers. “You’re Merrick, aren’t you?” I asked.

His gaze narrowed. “And you must be the Shadow fae Ella’s fallen for.”

“Does that bother you?”

Merrick crossed his arms over his chest. “Only when it takes her away from her family and friends. Where is she?”

I looked out the window at the Ice Palace in the distance. “I don’t know. I think she’s in the Hereafter.”

“What did you do to her?” he snapped.

“It’s not what I did to her. It’s what Iwilldo to her if she doesn’t get away from me.” Then, sighing, I focused back on him. “I don’t know what Ella’s told you about me, but I know a lot about you. I know my father was the one who killed you.”

Merrick stiffened and I could see the hate in his dark brown eyes. “Yeah, he did. But I got to see the fucker get what he deserved in the end.”

There was no love lost between my father and me. It was apparent Merrick wanted a rise out of me, but he wasn’t going to get one.

“Before he died, he placed a vengeance spell on me. My duty was to go after the royals, and Ella was my first target. Being around her is taking its toll on me. I need you to tell her to stay away from me. I’m afraid of what I’ll do if I see her again.”

Merrick stormed closer to me. “So, you want to kill her? Is that what you’re saying?”

“I don’t want to kill her,” I argued. “The thought terrifies the fuck out of me. But eventually, I won’t be able to control myself. She needs to stay away from me.”

Merrick huffed and shook his head. “Do you know Ella at all?” I knew what he was getting at. She was stubborn and most likely wouldn’t listen to him. “Ella does her own thing,” he snapped. “You tell her one thing and she’ll do the opposite just to prove a point.”

I ran my hands through my hair. “That’s what I’m afraid of. The last thing I want to do is hurt her.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, Shadow fae, but we both know this isn’t going to end well. The people here hate what you are. Ella can never find happiness with you.”

It was the truth, and it hurt like hell to hear it. “I know. That’s why I need you to be her friend, herGuardian, and keep her away from me.”

Merrick’s expression softened and he nodded. “I can do that.”

“Thank you. And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry for what my father did to you.”

I was about to open a portal back to the mortal realm when the sound of horns blared from the palace. Merrick rushed over to the window, his eyes filled with panic.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Tags: L.P. Dover Fantasy
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