The Water Lands Book One
Available 24th January 2013 from Evernight Publishing
Randor is a Fae assassin. As the most feared military officer in the Faery Realm, he only got out by striking a deal with the late King to become an assassin for hire. Something he was only able to do because of his place as adopted family member. When he’s ordered to kidnap the Unseelie Faery Princess and deliver her to the Seelie Queen, he doesn’t think twice, until he sees his target. Adora. Unseelie Princess. Most beautiful being in existence and feared witch warrior and his soul mate. Disobeying orders is something he’s never done before. But when he brings her into the Human Realm; his home, he has no regrets. Until his Elvish friend, Kiel, disapproves and an unexpected attack raises questions about his loyalties. The only way that could have happened was if Kiel tipped off the Queen’s witch, Maleficent.
Adora was fearless, powerful and intensely unhappy. Until she was kidnapped by a mysterious stranger, who happens to be her half human, half Seelie soul mate. After being attacked, Adora, fearing she’d lose Randor, admits her feelings for her soul mate. The two of them just need to find a way they can survive together – away from the feuding kingdoms. Entering the Seelie castle, under a pretence of needing the witch’s help to bind Adora’s immense power, they ask for Maleficent, whom they plan to eliminate so she can no longer track them.
When all hell breaks loose, they’re involved in a fight including the witch, Kiel and the Queen. A fight that not all of them will survive.
“Lady Adora Belira, Princess of the Seelie Court, daughter of King Polara, and future ruler of the Water Lands.”
As the kingdom’s attendant announced her arrival in the court, Adora rolled her eyes. Stating her entire title each time she entered the room was so ridiculous and unnecessary. But Father had always been a stickler for rules. He was one of the last remaining old-school faeries, insisting his lands follow the ancient laws laid down by the Originals.
Adora had never followed the rules. Her mother was the enforcer of the family. Since she’d died, Adora had used her father’s obliviousness to her advantage and rebelled against him and the kingdom at every chance she got.
Father looked down at her clothing with a frown. She preferred to wear combat gear, consisting of a skin-tight top, pants, and versatile boots. The rest of the kingdom would prefer she conform and dress in something more fitting for a princess, a flowing gown that had no practical use whatsoever. She was a healer for the army. She needed to be prepared for anything.
“I do wish you’d wear something Kilip has prepared for you, even if only when dining in the court.” Father spoke with a slight wheeze.
“And I do wish you’d see someone about that cough you have,” she told him, sticking out her chin stubbornly. “It’s getting worse, Father.”
Adora sat by his side at the head of the royal dining table. Several heads turned and people gasped when she spoke to the king with a tone of disrespect. Once again, she rolled her eyes. She’d been doing a lot of that lately.
“Mind your business,” Adora snapped at the gawkers. All of them looked down and focused on their own conversations. She turned back to her father, filled with concern. “Please, Father. You’re becoming ill. You need to slow down.”
He waved a dismissive hand at her. “Oh, please. I’m Fae. We don’t get these illnesses you keep referring to. I’m twelve hundred years old. I’ve had a full life. Maybe it’s the Fates telling me it’s almost your time to rule the Court.”
A shudder spread through Adora’s very being. Although she’d been trained for it her entire life, she never wanted to be a queen. She hated politics and had also grown tired of death threats. Ever since she was born, there had been several assassination attempts. While the majority had some from the Unseelie Court and the Fire Lands, some had come from her own kingdom. Her parents had the traitors executed. She hated being royalty.
“You know how I feel about becoming queen, Father.”
The king picked up his fork and waited for a servant to place a plate of food before him. “We are not discussing this again. Especially in front of our guests.”
Guests. Adora scoffed. Those who shared the dining room were friends, followers and sexual slaves of her father’s. Faeries were very sexual beings. They partook in intimate acts in front of company just as they would eat or drink. While she was no prude, Adora definitely didn’t approve of women fondling and kissing her father while she sat inches away.
When a blue-haired vixen ran her hand up the king’s thigh, Adora stood so quickly her chair flew out behind her. “I’ll be in my quarters if you need me.” She almost growled the words out.
Father barely seemed to notice, too busy concentrating on his food and dick to pay attention to her hissy fit.
Adora stormed down the hallway toward her living quarters, angry at the vulgarity of the woman with her father. Crossing the bridge over the lake that separated her quarters from the rest of the castle, she came to an abrupt halt. She was acutely aware of the fact that she was by herself. She’d never been truly alone. Guards always followed her. No matter where she went, at least one pair of eyes watched her. She always sensed them.
But right now, she was completely alone. Adora called to her magic, feeling the water beneath immediately respond. While faeries were attuned to nature and able to control all four elements, most of them specialized in one area. As future queen of the Water Lands, she’d been born attuned to the element—but that wasn’t her only strength.
As the most successful faery assassin in the realm, Randor wasn’t surprised when the Unseelie queen ordered him to kidnap a member of the Seelie royal family. The two kingdoms had been at war for over ten decades. It began because of a simple territory dispute. Now, each just wanted to one up the other.
He left the Unseelie army to stay out of the fight he deemed “ridiculous and unnecessary.” Unfortunately he was labelled as a traitor after that. He struck a deal with the late Unseelie king to leave the faery realm so he could lead an anonymous life. The one condition was that he work as an assassin. After all, he’d been the most successful officer in the Unseelie army, rising to the highest ranks before his fortieth year, a feat that took most eighty-plus years to accomplish.
Very little surprised him anymore. He’d always thought he was immune to the emotion—until he saw his target.
Princess Adora. She was officially the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. Long, wavy blonde hair touched the small of her back and was highlighted with every imaginable colour. Her tall, curvy body was covered in a tight top, pants, and boots. She dressed like a warrior rather than royalty. For the first time in his life, he hesitated to approach a target. In two silent steps, he stood behind her, alert and ready. The moment he called for the air, the ability he used to knock out his victims, a wave of power washed over him. With wide eyes, he regarded the princess and reached for his sword.
Water from the lake where they stood whirled and surrounded him. His hair whipped around his head and a force of power held him completely still as the whirlpool closed in. Concentrating, he called his energy forth and the familiar heat of power rushed through his veins. An invisible shield formed around his body, encasing him in a cocoon that was virtually impenetrable. The golden aura spread from his body, pushing the water back a few inches so he could unsheathe his sword. It took more effort than it should have. She was far stronger than he’d expected.
The water dropped back into the lake but he kept his shield up as a precaution. Who knew what else had been kept from him?
“Who are you?” Princess Adora asked in a low, threatening tone. She’d also drawn her sword and stood in a defensive stance, a shimmering black aura surrounding her body.
He said nothing. That was his golden rule—never speak to the target. Do the job and get it over with. What happened to them wasn’t his concern. All he wanted out of the deal was money and anonymity—the ability to live away from both kingdoms.
“If you don’t tell me who you are and why you’re here, I’ll assume you’re hostile and deal with you accordingly.”
He couldn’t help but smirk. Though this woman looked like a warrior, she spoke like a royal. Still, he didn’t doubt she’d strike him. He’d have to use his gift of invisibility to capture her.
Without another thought, he concentrated on his inner core, the space beneath his ribs where his power pulled from, and made himself and everything on him disappear.
The princess’s face went blank and her stance became more wary. Funny. Most people blinked twice and ran. But this woman stood her ground.
“Whoever you are, you’ve picked the wrong night to piss me off.”
He moved around her, sheathing his sword as he did. Holding both hands just a few inches from either side of her head, Randor concentrated on entering her mind. This was how he retrieved his targets. It was also the part of his job he hated. It could be draining. The stronger the target, the more energy it took to enter the mind. And Princess Adora was strong.
He closed his eyes and saw her mind. The barrier her magic formed was thick and strong. Surging forward with his own power, he opened his mind to hers, melding the two of them together. The moment he pushed through the mental barrier, he felt a sharp pain in his stomach.
Shit. He’d been stabbed.
Hostility and triumph rang through to him from the princess’s mind. Then it weakened before she completely blacked out.
Adora awoke lying on a cold, hard, stone floor. Her head ached and throbbed. What happened to her? She left the feast, headed for her quarters and…nothing. Her mind was completely blank.
So what was she doing on a floor? Sitting up, Adora rubbed her head and found she was shackled. Both her wrists and ankles were bound in iron cuffs. The metal shimmered with green energy. They’d been charmed, no doubt with a captivity spell.
Good gods, what am I supposed to do?
It was no use trying to free herself. Captivity spells were almost impossible to break without the proper words. Wait, could she pull the chains out of the wall?
Jumping to her feet, Adora stepped back until the chains were tight. They were attached by one hook embedded into the wall.
This should be easy.
Grasping the cold iron chains, she gave a mighty yank. The instant she did, pain shot up her arms. Adora hunched and winced as the cuffs around her wrists tightened, digging into her skin.
“The more you struggle, the tighter they become.” A deep male voice cut the silence around her.
She spun to find a man she didn’t recognise standing at the door of her small cell. He was tall and lean with muscle that she didn’t doubt held immense strength. His sky blue eyes shone in contrast with his tanned skin and brown hair. While this man was obviously Fae, there was something different about him. Something else emitted through his aura.
A smirk spread across his full lips as he took a step toward her.
Refusing to back away, she straightened and stood still. She was Princess Adora, first in line for the throne the Seelie Court and fearless warrior in the Seelie army. People feared her. She feared nothing.
“So, Princess,” he spoke as he continued to slowly approach her. “I’m supposed to deliver you to the Unseelie queen.”
Adora’s breath caught in her throat. The Unseelie queen had tried, many times, to invade the kingdom. But her soldiers never made it past the gates.
“But,” the stranger continued, “I think I’ll keep her waiting. Just for a little while.”
Adora cocked her head. What kind of soldier disobeyed his queen? “Who are you?”
“Forgive my rudeness.” He approached her and bowed his head. “My name is Randor, The Assassin. Former leader of the Unseelie army.”
“Former?” To her recognition, soldiers weren’t granted leave from the army. The only way out was death. It was the same with the Seelie army.
“It’s a long story, Princess.”
Frustration built in her chest. “Apparently I’ve got a lot of time.” She gestured to her cuffs.
His brows furrowed and Randor’s eyes showed a flicker of regret. “I apologise for the shackles. I didn’t want you to wake and run.”
With a wave of his hand, the chains detached from the cuffs and the ankle manacles disappeared. Though the wrist cuffs loosened slightly, they remained. She looked at him with a questioning glance.
“I don’t trust anyone enough to leave them un-cuffed in my residence. Even beautiful princesses.”
Heat rose to Adora’s cheeks. He thought she was beautiful. As ridiculous as it was, she couldn’t help but be flattered by that remark. She was called beautiful on a daily basis, but Randor’swords held an intensity she hadn’t heard in…well, ever.
Randor closed the gap between them and raised his hand to her cheek, brushing it gently with his knuckles. “If you try to harm me or yourself, you’ll be struck down by a pain so strong you’ll wish you were dead.”
Adora shuddered, but wasn’t sure if it was because of the words he’d just spoken or the way he touched her.
His lips curved into a small smile and he withdrew his hand. “You may leave the room. I’ve bound your cuffs with magic so you will move no farther than five feet from me.”
“Five feet?” Most assassins held their captives in their cells. The fact that Randor was allowing her to roam freely rang alarm bells. That he wanted her so close to him just confused her further.
“If you’ll follow me, I’ll give you a quick tour of the premises.”
Without another word, he turned and walked out of the room. He’d taken less than five steps before Adora felt pulled toward him. She followed, her senses on high alert and her hands by her side, ready to strike out at any moment.
He turned to face her, his eyes crinkling when his gaze locked with hers. “Nothing will attack you, Princess. We’re alone here. In fact, there’s nobody around for miles. Literally.”
He swept two French doors open and Adora was hit with a burst of fresh salty air. She stepped out onto the porch and took in the stunning sight before her. Sand dunes, an empty beach and the ocean. That was it. No other houses, no people, not even a boat.
They weren’t in the Water Lands. They weren’t even in Fae territory anymore. That much she knew. Everywhere in the faery realm had a bluish tinge to it, even the black night sky. This was…clear.
Adora turned her head to look at Randor, who watched her with a keen eye. “Where are we?”
She gave him a puzzled look.
“The human realm.”
She couldn’t stop her gasp. She’d always been fascinated with the human realm and had studied it for decades. But she’d never visited it. As a member of the royal family, she wasn’t allowed to leave the faery realm without permission, something Father would never give her.
“You kidnapped me and brought me to the human realm?”
“I live here.”
He spoke as though it was no big deal. It was a huge deal to Adora. Very few Fae were allowed entry into the human realm, unless they had human ancestry. Something in her mind clicked, as though a light switch was turned on. That’s what he was. He wasn’t pure faery—he was part human.
She turned and looked him directly in the eye. “You’re part human?”
His blue eyes glistened as he smiled and nodded curtly. “My mother was human. Technically.”
She raised her brows, waiting for him to elaborate. He didn’t. He merely turned and walked away.
Frustrating freaking male.
Adora felt the magic pull her body toward Randor as he stepped farther from her. This was going to be irritating.