Page 62

Dylan blew out a terse breath and it puffed into a misty cloud. “Is it just me or did the temps just drop by twenty degrees?”

“It’s not just you,” Ren replied.

Ice formed over the doorframe and seeped over the walls as a soft, highly feminine giggle rose from downstairs. A bone-cold wind whipped through the room.

“They’re here,” Jackie whispered, tendrils of her hair lifting.

A horrible sense of déjà vu slipped over me as I heard the pounding feet and creaking floorboards. We’d been here before. It all started here, and it had been a bloodbath.

I looked at Ren.

His gaze met mine.

He winked.

One side of my lips kicked up. “I love you.”

“Prove it to me later.”

“I will,” I promised as the air caught in my throat.

The Summer fae stepped forward, lifting crossbows as the Queen’s fae reached the hallway, and then they were here.

The first through the iced-over doorway was an ordinary fae, and Kalen caught it in the chest with a quick, clean strike. And then there was another, and Jackie took out that one next.

And then they just kept coming, spilling through the open doorway like a plague of locusts. There were so many that they filled the room, and the floor rattled like dry, angry bones under the weight. The wave of Queen’s fae swallowed ours, taking them down. Screams ripped through the air as daggers and teeth tore through flesh.

I forced my lungs to inflate and then I let go of the fear and dread that always came with this kind of battle. I sprang into action, like I’d been trained to do—born to do. I caught the nearest fae, slamming the dagger home. Instinct took over. I spun, extending my arm and catching another fae just as Ren launched forward as the first Knight appeared.

They wouldn’t be as easy to kill.

Dipping down, he caught the Ancient in the stomach with his shoulder. The force of the broad blow flipped the Ancient over. He landed on his back with a grunt of surprise. Ren spun skillfully, thrusting the thorn stake deep into the Ancient’s chest. Ren whirled, shoulders tense, mouth nothing but a slash of a line.

I turned at the sound of pounding feet. An Ancient was gunning for me, eyes full of hatred. My muscles tensed liked they always did before engaging in battle with an enemy that wasn’t going to be taken down easily. I waited for the perfect moment, knowing I had to be smart about this. He had a ton more muscle on him than I did, but I was stronger than the last time I stood in this house. He reached for me, and I darted under his arm. Springing up behind him, I slammed my foot into his back. He let out a roar of pain as I dragged the iron dagger along the back of his neck, using everything in me to cut through bone and tissue. Blood sprayed, dotting my chest and face. His roar ended in a gurgle as the dagger punched through the other side. Jerking my arm to the right, I severed his head. His body fell forward and his head went straight down, landing in a splat that turned my stomach.


So freaking gross.

A harsh shout drew my attention, and I spun around. My heart dropped like a stone. Ren was surrounded, two Ancients at his back and three fae at his front. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth as he ducked a blow that would’ve most likely knocked him out or worse. He was pushed back and a fae jumped on his back. Literally. Like a freaking spider monkey.

I shot forward and gripped the back of the fae’s shirt, yanking him off of Ren. I threw it to the floor and swooped down, jabbing the dagger deep into its chest. That fae was no more by the time I straightened and looked over my shoulder.

Ren had taken out one of the Ancients based on the headless body next to him, but he was still surrounded and there was an ugly gash along his forehead that stole my breath. I started toward him just as I caught sight of the Princes. The brothers were tearing through the fae like they were nothing but paper. I couldn’t see Kalen or Faye or anyone else in the mess. I hoped that they were still standing.

Grabbing the fae closest to Ren, I spun her around. The fae’s eyes widened in shock as the stake cut through her skin like a hot knife through butter. I jerked the weapon out, my gaze already swinging toward—

A body slammed into me. Knocked off balance, I fell onto my side. A burst of panic hit me as I rolled onto my knees. I started to get up, but pain exploded along my back as a boot came down, knocking my legs and arms out from underneath me. I didn’t even know how I managed to hold on to my weapons as my chin knocked off the wood floor.

Grinding my jaw through the pain, I grunted as hard fingers dug into my shoulders, roughly flipping me over. I didn’t even have a chance to react. A heartbeat later, an Ancient was on top of me, hands encircling my throat.

My oxygen was cut off as he squeezed down, putting pressure on fragile bones. He was going to snap my neck like a twig! Panic exploded in my stomach. I reacted without thought. Lifting both of my arms, I jabbed the stakes into either side of the Ancient’s neck. The fae’s hands left my throat, but it was too late to stop me. Screaming, I cut through, severing the spinal cord. Blood spurted as the Ancient trembled and then fell to the side.

Rolling away, I sprang to my feet and spun back to Ren. I came up behind the two fae, slamming my stake into the back of one. The other whirled on me, screeching.

“Hi!” I chirped, dipping down as it swung at me. I launched up, kicking out and swiping the legs out from underneath her. “Bye!”

Thrusting the dagger down, I took out the fae and then popped up. Slipping under Ren’s arm, I went straight for the Ancient sneaking up on him. Flipping the stake, I swung my arm out just as the Ancient’s body jerked in front of me. His eyes widened and then flames erupted from his sockets. His mouth dropped open and fire crawled out, licking along his cheeks and down his throat. He tipped forward—

I jumped out of the way as he fell and my gaze swung to where he’d once stood. The Prince stood there.

“Fire?” I said stupidly. I’d seen what Fabian had been capable of, but that—that was something else.

The Prince’s gaze flickered over me. “You have blood . . . everywhere.”

“Yeah,” I whispered under my breath, stumbling back a step. “That nifty trick would’ve been helpful about a minute ago.”

“Sorry. Been busy.” He spun toward the door.

I turned, finding a female fae charging me, practically impaling herself on my dagger. I blinked as she imploded. “Well then.”

Then I spotted Faye.

She sprang onto a chair nimbly and spun like a dancer. Aiming the crossbow, she fired off several shots, one after another. Each arrow found a home, striking down three fae. As they fell, I finally saw Miles. He was bruised and bloody but still standing. Relief filled me.

“Get down!” Fabian shouted.

I whipped around just as Ren popped up beside me. Circling an arm around my waist, he dragged me down to the floor just as the air around us exploded with ragged shards of ice.

“What the hell?” I gasped as what appeared to be icicles shot overhead. They hit the walls, shattering wood. Some hit the flesh of fae and mortal, those who hadn’t been fast enough.

I cried out as Kalen went down, a thick icicle embedded in his thigh. Ren cursed as his fingers curled into the back of my shirt.

The soft, almost childish giggle echoed off the walls as I stared up at the entrance and then there were words, ancient words in a language I had never heard before. They flowed over us like a rush of cold water, sending a chill down my spine.

I twisted, pressing into Ren as a tall, thin shadow appeared in the doorway, and then there she was. The Queen.

She drifted into the room, her sharp eyes darting around and stopping on the Prince. She did not hold the Crystal. The Ancient behind her did.

It was about the size of a basketball, white and frosty looking, but as he stepped into the room, it began to glow an iridescent blue.

Fabian reached the Queen first, his body starting to glow the color of a summer sunrise. The Queen flicked her wrist, and then he was flying backward, pinned to the wall—pinned with jagged icicles, one in each of his shoulders, snagged there like a pinned fly.

“Good God,” Ren muttered.

The Prince charged her, but all she did was flick her wrist once more and he was skidding backward across the floor.