Page 2

Those corners were straight now, forming a somber line, and there were definitely no dimples.

Before everything with the Prince happened, Ren had slept shirtless or nude and we hadn’t been able to keep our hands off each other. Seriously. Even when we were injured with our bodies aching, we couldn’t ignore the chemistry sparking between us. But since I came back—since we were reunited—he wore a shirt to bed, along with boxers or sleep pants.

All we’d done was kiss.

Three times to be exact, and they were chaste, sweet kisses that tasted of a deeper, restrained need.

I think the nightmares were why Ren was sleeping in clothes, because those nightmares started the first night and had occurred every night after that.

And those nightmares felt like premonitions. A warning of what was to come, and I couldn’t shake that feeling, not even when the sun rose and I was surrounded by people who hadn’t given up on me—who cared enough to go back into hell and drag me out.

I suppressed a shudder.

“Please.” He extended a hand toward me. My eyes tracked up the vibrant vines tattooed onto his arm that disappeared under the white shirt he wore. “Come back to me and stay with me.”

My breath caught around the expanding knot in my throat. I wanted to be there with him. Desperately. But I . . . I needed space and I needed . . . I don’t know what I needed. I just couldn’t be here.

“Maybe later,” I said, finally moving. I made my way to the small dresser where some of my clothes had been stashed away. Guilt crawled up my throat like bile. “If you’re still awake when I get back, we can watch something.”

“You didn’t come back last night.”

I pulled out a pair of leggings. “I wasn’t able to fall back asleep, so I didn’t want to bother you.”

“You know you’re never a bother to me. Ever.” There was a pause. “And I didn’t go back to sleep. I waited for you.” The kind of patience I didn’t have kept his voice level. “I can go with you to the gym. Just give me—”

Whipping around, I saw that he already had his legs off the bed. “No!”

Ren froze, his eyes widening slightly. “No?”

I clenched the pants in my hands. “I mean, I don’t want you to get up and feel like you have to keep me company. I’ve already woke you. You should go back to sleep.”

His shoulders rose on a deep breath. “It’s not a big deal. I can go with you.” He stood, lifting his arms above his head and stretching. “We can have a race on the treadmills.” He dropped his arms. “Whoever loses has to go to the kitchen and steal the box of beignets they have shipped in every morning.”

My heart was pounding as he took a step toward me and then another. The room wasn’t very large, so it took no time for him to be right in front of me.

“I just need to get changed. Or I could go like this? What do you think?” he teased with a small grin. “Might not be the most comfortable run.”

Blood buzzed in my ears as my gaze dropped to his mouth. My stomach dipped as Ren reached for one of my curls. He’d pull it straight and let go. It was a favorite pastime of his, and then, if things were normal, he’d lower his lips to mine. Anticipation swirled as a tight shiver curled its way down my spine. Pleasant warmth invaded my veins.

But did I want to kiss him? Or did I . . . did I want to feed from him?

The fact that I had to even ask myself was terrifying.

I took a step back and bumped into the dresser, rattling it.

Ren went still as a statue. Terse silence filled the space between us as I stared up at him with wide eyes. “I’m not going to hurt you, Ivy. You know that, right? You’re safe with me. Always.”

Oh God, did he think I was worried he’d hurt me? Of course he would. How could I blame him for thinking that when I was as jittery as a coffee fiend when he was around me?

My face burned as I looked away. “I know you wouldn’t hurt me. I’m sorry—”

“Stop apologizing, Ivy. Dammit. Just stop saying you’re sorry.”

I opened my mouth and closed it when I realized I was about to apologize again.

Ren stepped back, giving me space. “You have nothing to apologize for.”

Didn’t I, though? It sort of felt like there was a list as long as my arm to apologize for, starting with the fact that I hadn’t recognized the Prince masquerading as Ren right off the bat. And there was more—God, there was so much more, and when my head was running in a million different places, it was hard to remember that Ren wasn’t holding any of this against me.

But how could he not? How could he sleep like he did at night? I wanted to ask him how he was moving on from this, because he’d been captured too. He’d been fed on—fed on in the worst way, and there had been this female fae. Breena. She’d claimed that her and Ren . . . She claimed a lot of things, but I knew if any of it were true, Ren hadn’t been a willing participant.

Rage replaced the warmth. I wanted to gouge her eyes out again, and I planned to. Right before I killed her. Slowly. Painfully.

Ren was watching me in a way that made me feel like he saw right into my head, and if that was the case, then he probably wouldn’t like what he saw. His shoulders tensed and then he exhaled roughly. “Okay.”

Relief swept through me.

His gaze flickered over me, and I thought that he may have seen the way my stance loosened in response to him backing off. His jaw tightened. “I’ll be waiting up for you.”

I knew he would be.

And I knew that deep down he realized there was no point.

Chapter 2

My sneakers pounded off the treadmill, shaking the whole thing like a herd of cows were trampling on the contraption, but I ignored the sound. My hands balled into tight fists pumped at my sides. The curls that had escaped my twist now clung to the nape of my neck and temples. Sweat ran down my throat and pooled in areas I didn’t want to even acknowledge.



I hated running—hell, loathed all physical activity on most days, but being a member of the Order, destined at birth to hunt down the fae who were feeding off mankind, I kind of had to be in shape.

But I wasn’t on this treadmill at the moment because I was some kind of predestined protector of mankind. I was just running, because there was nothing else for me to do. I was stuck here, basically on house arrest at Hotel Good Fae. Since the Prince of the freaking Otherworld could sniff me out like some kind of bloodhound, it was too risky for me to be out roaming the narrow streets of New Orleans.

My nails dug into my palms.

Faye, who had been working undercover at the Prince’s mansion, had explained that the glamour surrounding Hotel Good Fae would hide my presence from the Prince. That was the kind of power the fae who had descended from the Summer Court had.

A court that the Order had told us didn’t exist any longer.

My lips thinned as I picked up speed, literally going nowhere. The Order had lied about so much. They knew that there were good fae out there—fae who chose not to feed off humans, who lived normal lives, and aged and died like humans. The Order had worked alongside them at one time.

Had Daniel known?

Being the leader of the New Orleans sect, Daniel Cuvillier had to know the true history of the Order and the fae. So that meant he’d also lied, and for some reason it stung like a bitch. Daniel was the closest thing I had to a father since I was shipped off to New Orleans. He was an ornery SOB and spent more time criticizing me than he did complimenting me, but he was . . . he was Daniel and I had trusted him.

All of us in the Order had trusted Daniel—we trusted the Order itself.

I didn’t even know why I was stressing about this, because at the end of the day, did it matter? I doubted I was still an Order member.

After being missing in action for the last month or so, and with the Elite—the super special and secretive group within the Order—scouting for the Halfling, I was sure they either thought I was dead or that I was the Halfling they’d been searching for.

That Ren had been sent here to find.

I swallowed past the sudden rise of nausea as I gave my head a little shake. Sweat flung out, dotting the control panel. The problem was that we needed the Order to open the doorways so we could send the Prince back. I had no idea how we would complete the act, the so-called blood and stone ritual. It had to be done in the Otherworld. How in the hell were we supposed to get the currently missing Crystal inside the Otherworld with the Prince’s blood, along with mine, on it? Just thinking about that made my brain hurt and I wasn’t about that kind of life right now. My brain simply didn’t have the space for any of that.