Page 24

I knew immediately what had provoked his reaction.

Sitting in one of the wingback chairs was a stranger who looked like a . . . well, a Viking. Not the historically accurate kind, but like the ones that graced the old romance covers I read. He was tall and broad, his thighs wide and like tree trunks. His hair was a glorious mane of blonde waves, reaching far past shoulders that stretched the plain white T-shirt he wore.

The stranger was stunningly beautiful and he was definitely no ordinary fae. The fae had the air of an Ancient, one of the most dangerous fae. Up until recently, we’d believed that there were no Ancient fae left in our world.

We must have been wrong.

I had a feeling we’d been lied to by the Order.

But there was something uncomfortably familiar about this fae’s features—about the angular cheekbones and expressive mouth. It was the brow, too. Something about his face and his shape reminded me . . .

A chill ran down my spine.

He looked like Drake—a warmer version of the Winter Prince. I glanced at Faye, but she looked unperturbed as she took a seat on the couch by the window. She had to see the similarities. A warning that the stranger could pass for the cousin of Drake would’ve been nice.

Air stirred around my left arm. My head whipped to the side. Ren was there, as quiet as a damn ghost. Our gazes met, and my heart stuttered. Breaking contact, he focused on the stranger. The only emotion he showed was the tightening of his jaw.

Did he see what I saw?

“Who is this?” the stranger demanded, staring at me like an insect under a microscope.

Tanner rose from behind the desk, but before he could introduce me, Tink stepped forward, coming to stand next to me. “She’s Buffy with the bad hair.”

Slowly, I turned and looked up at him. “Buffy with the bad hair?”

He nodded eagerly, glancing at the stranger. “Yeah, like it’s a combination of Buffy and Beyonce, the two greatest females of all time. You’re like Buffy. Bad ass. But you’re not Becky with the good hair. You have bad hair. We all know that.”

I stared at him. “My hair isn’t that bad.”

“Oh, it’s bad.” Tink’s eyes glimmered. “You definitely aren’t a Becky.”

“I think it’s a compliment to not be a Becky,” Ren chimed in, and when I looked over at him, amusement danced in his eyes. “But I’m pretty sure that being a Becky isn’t just about hair.”

I hated all of them. Seriously.

The stranger lifted his chin and then rose, his nostrils flaring. “You’re the one who belongs to the Winter Prince.”



Ren tensed.

Did he really just say that?

Hearing that ranked right up there with hearing you had air cabin pressure issues while on a plane, thirty-some-thousand feet in the sky.

“I don’t belong to him.”

One blond eyebrow rose. “You are the Halfling.”

“And you are a fae five seconds away from getting throat punched.”

He chuckled a low, soft, almost sensual sound. “Is that how you greet someone who is here to help you?”

“You demand to know who I am and then tell me that I belong to Drake—”

The fae hissed—bared sharp teeth and actually hissed. My brows lifted as his lip curled in distaste. “Do not speak his name.”

“Why? He’s not Voldemort.”

“Voldemort?” Confusion filled his expression.

I stared at him for a moment and then shook my head. “Never mind. Who are you?”

The fae inclined his head. “I am Fabian.” The air around him shimmered like a hundred fireflies had taken flight. “Prince Fabian of the Summer Court.”

My mouth dropped open. Prince Fabian? Faye and Tanner sure as hell hadn’t mentioned that one of our guests was a prince.

A prince.

A prince that could impregnate a halfling.

I sucked in a sharp breath.

Ren realized the same time I did, because he was suddenly beside me.

“Relax,” Fabian said. “I have no interesting in impregnating you.”

I blinked.

Well then, that was one blunt way of putting it.

“I am happy to hear that.” Tink’s smile reminded me of when it was Prime Day on Amazon.

Tanner cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. I know this must come as a shock that our guest is a prince.”

“Damn right it’s a shock,” Ren growled. “You never once mentioned that we were waiting on another damn prince.”

“Or that our guests were really just a guest,” I added.

“I did not travel alone,” Fabian explained, sitting down. “My consuls are not needed in this meeting. They are resting.”

“Consuls. How fancy,” I muttered.

The Summer Prince cocked his head.

Faye shifted in the beam of sunlight streaming in through the window. “We did not know Fabian would come. We assumed he would send—”

“His consul. Got it,” I cut in. “I didn’t know that there was still a prince of the Summer Court, alive and well.”

“Up until recently, you didn’t know the Summer Court still existed,” Tanner gently reminded me, his tone level. He was right. We’d believed that the fae courts had been dismantled. Obviously, we’d been wrong or lied to. “Our Court had all been destroyed in the war with Winter. The safety and location of the remaining royals is not something we take lightly. Forgive us for not telling you such, but our Prince has no interest in fulfilling the prophecy.”

“Even if I was, you wouldn’t be my type.” Fabian leaned back, folding one leg over the other. “Unlike the Winter Prince, my obligation to our world is not worth lowering myself to breed with a halfling.”


I was relieved to hear that, but I was also kind of offended. He made it sound like I was a stinky, single-celled organism.

“That’s good to know.” Ren leaned against the wall, appearing relaxed, but I knew better. He was coiled tight. “Forgive us for not rolling out the red carpet. We don’t exactly have the best impression of Otherworld princes, especially since you look like the Winter Prince.”

There. Thank God I wasn’t the only one seeing it.

Fabian frowned. “I look nothing like that bastard.”

“Well,” I drew the word out, “yes, you kind of do. Doesn’t he, Faye?”

She nodded. “I see a resemblance.”

“I’ve seen the Winter Prince.” Tink frowned. “He doesn’t look like him.”

I shook my head. “The hair color is different. Some of the face is, but yeah . . . he does.”

“I don’t know,” Tink mused, his brow knitted together.

The Summer Prince’s gaze landed on Tink, the look appraising. “A brownie. I haven’t seen one of your kind in over a hundred years.”

Tink smiled widely. “And you’ve never seen a brownie like me.”

I rolled my eyes. “You’ll have plenty of time to stroke Tink’s ego later—”

“And hopefully other parts,” Fabian replied smoothly.

Oh dear.

Ren choked on what sounded like a laugh.

“Yeah, sure. Um, okay. So, you’re a prince. How many of the royal court are here, in our world, and do all of them feel the same way as you?”

“As in having no interest in ever seeing you naked enough to have intercourse?” he asked.

My eyes narrowed. Jesus. “Yeah. That. Thanks for putting it so kindly.”

“Those of the court that are still alive, and there are few, have no desire to fulfill the prophecy. Just as Tanner stated. We came here to escape Winter’s rule, to live out our lives. We understand what his presence will do to this world. He will destroy it, just like he and his Queen have done to our world.”

“Queen?” Ren asked.

“Mab?” I turned to Tink, recalling how he always said her name.

Tink’s eyes widened. “Mab picked no sides. She’s neither Winter nor Summer. She’s not as petty as Titania or Morgana.”

“Wait. I thought they were all the same person with just different names?” Ren said.