OUR STORY CONTINUES
Last time, Alice realized her true feelings for Vlad at Gwendolyn’s pediatrician appointment. Vlad designed a playroom as an unhinged confession of love. Caleb and Titania were NOT on a date, but they did discover what Johnny was getting from Darrel Charm, and now, the witch hunt has begun.
Strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, sexual situations, partial nudity, depictions of grief, trauma, severe depression, and references to sexual assault.
“Introducing His Royal Excellency, Prince Akira Kibo of the Fae Court, known to outer realms as The Rushlight, brother of the Queen of the Fae, and recognized sovereign in her absence.”
Akira barely managed to avoid rolling his eyes during the speech. The Sages didn’t need a royal crier to announce him, but they knew it pissed him off.
Passive aggressive motherfuckers.
As he entered the room, Summer looked up from her desk, a wicked smile on her lips. “Have you come for a performance review?”
Akira chuckled. He was dressed in full regalia, but already he was wishing it was just the two of them so he could chuck off his boots and this heavy cloak. Of the three Sages, Summer was his favorite. They’d had a fling in the early 19th century—short-lived but enjoyable. Over 180 years later, he still found her beautiful. They’d never had anything so intense as love, but it was an honest friendship while it lasted.
“Are you in the habit of subjecting royalty to a formal review?” he asked, lifting a brow.
“Oh, I reckon we could be,” she smirked.
It was hard to know if that little colloquial slip was real or put on. Their interactions were far more complicated now than when Summer was simply running for the position of Sage with her siblings.
Rory cut into their playful flirting. “When a member of royalty works for us, yes, we do expect to give them a review.” His voice continued to rise in volume. “We have real responsibilities, real work, and you are wasting our time. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“Respectfully?” Akira asked.
“Specifically. In regards to your most recent case.”
Akira sighed. Being seen as an errant aristocrat on an internship was advantageous, but it riled every bone in his 2000-year-old body. “What would you like me to say?”
“We’d like you to account for your work and take this job with a modicum of seriousness.” The potion bottles on the shelf rattled in a display of the Sage’s power. “You flounce around like the rules don’t apply to you because you’re quick with a sword, but I am a Sage of the Realm, not some wayward witch.”
Violence was not the only reason to fear the Fae. Hell, it wasn’t even the worst reason.
“Then, by all means,” Akira cracked his knuckles. “Let the performance review begin.”
“If he thinks for one second he can escape the wrath of a queen, he’s wrong!” Titania marched down the road towards the Charm Estate while Caleb barely managed to keep up with her.
“What are you doing? Can you please wait?”
“No. So help me, Caleb Vatore. If you want me to pull my punches—”
He sped up until he was beside her.
“—or if you plan to give me some lecture about not killing him when it’s apparent that I owe every woman—“
“—every creature, Darrel Charm’s head, then you can go fuck yourself. I am a sovereign. A queen. And I will use every ounce of my power to—“
“Titania!” Shouting finally seemed to get her attention, and she paused. Caleb drew in a deep breath and released it. “I’m not going to tell you not to kill him. In fact, I will join you. But the way you’re storming over there with guns blazing means you are missing the thrill of the hunt.”
“The Fae don’t hunt,” she replied flatly.
Suppressing the urge to argue with her, Caleb flexed his fingers. “Well, vampires do. And it is worth the trouble, I assure you.”
Titania shook her head, bouncing on the balls of her feet. Everything in her expression said she was ready to disagree with him, and Caleb found it increasingly difficult not to smile. Arguing with her was more fun than he wanted to admit.
“Right now, Darrel Charm is holed up in his mansion, heart pounding while he reviews the numerous traps and protective spells he’s cast.”
He leaned in close until his mouth was by her ear. “He’s too proud to call for help, too enamored of his own skill. So he’ll be sitting there, stewing in terror, while we peel back every one of his defenses.”
Her head snapped up, and Caleb bemoaned the scarf that hid the fluttering pulse in her neck. “You really are Vladislaus’s son.”
“Anastasia’s,” he corrected with a smirk. “My father enjoys killing, but I get the love of the hunt from my mother.”