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Imprisoned by the dark fae for crimes against her people, Tulip was left to rot in the palace dungeon. When she finally escapes, she wills her magick to take her to Ashton Grove, in hopes the wolf pack will help her. She never counted on coming face to face with the most intriguing male she’d ever met, or that he’d be growling and intent on making her pay for a crime she never committed.
Vaughn doesn’t trust the dark fae, especially ones who pop up out of nowhere, but it doesn’t take him long to realize that Tulip is different. His beast rumbles in pleasure when she’s near, and the wolf has never shown the slightest bit of interest in a female before. Claiming her for his mate was never part of the plan, but now that she’s his, he’ll do everything he can to protect her. Even if it means welcoming more fae into his home.
Tulip tentatively pushed on the door of her cell. It opened with a loud creak that made her wince and she checked the dungeon entrance for approaching soldiers. There had been a shift in the air, and for a moment, it felt like the magick of the dungeon had dissipated. Since Onyx had died at the hands of a wolf pack, she’d been confined to this cage, left to rot. The palace dungeons were spelled to keep even the most powerful fae under lock and key, but for whatever reason, the spells had failed. Tulip crept from her cell and to the large arched doorway that led to freedom.
Her body was weak, and her legs barely held her. Her hands shook as she felt along the dark, damp walls in her search for freedom, the slick stones scraping against her palms. The hair hanging in her face was matted and dirty, and grime covered the rest of her body. It had been months since she’d been put in the dungeon, maybe longer. Time had passed slowly, even for a fae. Taking away her freedom, and locking her in the dark, was cruel for someone who would live for thousands of years. She had little doubt they’d have left her down here for a few hundred years or longer, before remembering she was a prisoner.
As she pressed her back against the wall, Tulip opened her senses and tried to feel for any vibrations in the air that would signal someone’s approach. The dungeons remained cold and silent. Creeping around the corner, she stepped into the corridor and looked around for any signs of nearby soldiers. The place was empty. A shiver raked her spine as she took in the changes to the dark palace. The tapestries hung on the wall like specters and dust covered every surface. Had it been abandoned? Had she been abandoned?
Tulip didn’t dare breathe a sigh of relief just yet, and made her way through the palace and out to freedom. Darkness clung to the palace walls, shadows reaching for her. The air was damp and suffocating; the must from unused rooms surrounded her. She eased through the door and into the courtyard, a place once filled with life and now covered in death and decay. There wasn’t a living soul around, so Tulip closed her eyes and willed herself to the mortal realm, her thoughts on the Ashton Grove pack and safety––and ended up straight in the middle of a bar fight.
The force of a male body slammed her to the sticky floor, the floor hard and unforgiving beneath her slight frame. She cried out as pain rattled her from head to toe. She’d been without magick for so long that she didn’t know if she’d be able to heal herself or not, already feeling bruises form along her hips and back. She shoved at the brute on top of her when he was suddenly lifted and tossed aside. Tulip looked up into the gaze of the most attractive male she’d ever seen. Dark blonde hair fell across his forehead and stormy blue eyes peered down at her. Tattoos peeked out of his shirt and she felt the urge to trace them with her fingers.
Then his eyes flashed yellow, and his fangs lengthened. Tulip let out a small squeak as she scurried away from him, putting a table between them, and nearly falling in her haste. Her legs trembled from the effort of holding herself upright. What she needed was a bath, food, and rest. Lots of rest. She’d been too scared to sleep in the dungeon, for fear things would creep into her cell and nibble at her fingers and toes.
“Fae,” he snarled.
“I’m not here to cause trouble.” She put her up hands. “I need your help.”
He growled and two more wolves joined him, their eyes flashing with anger. She could understand why they wouldn’t trust her kind, after what was done to the alpha’s mate, but it hadn’t been her fault. She’d heard of the plot against Autumn and had done everything in her power to stop Onyx, landing her in the dark fae palace dungeon.
“Why would we help you?” one of them snarled.
“Please, if I could just speak with your alpha.” Her lower lip trembled and she fought back tears. The emotional and mental stress from the last few months was starting to take its toll. The last thing she wanted to do was fall apart in front of the wolves. She needed to be strong. She was strong! But there was only so much a fae could take without feeling a little bit broken. Tulip straightened her shoulders. She hadn’t come this far to fail now.
“You think tears are going to spare you?” the hunky wolf asked.
He snarled at her and leapt across the table, grasping her in a tight grip. Pain ricocheted through her body from his rough treatment and she couldn’t stop the whimper that escaped her lips. Tears pricked her eyes as she stared up at the handsome wolf. It hardly seemed fair that someone so attractive was so vicious. Or maybe it was only because she was fae. She’d hoped the wolves would be understanding, that they would hear her out. Now she wondered if she’d made a mistake. Perhaps she should have run to the light fae and begged for mercy. A swift death would have been preferable to whatever torture the dark fae had planned for her.
“I’ll call the alphas,” one of the other wolves said. “They’ll want to speak with her.”
The third wolf growled low. “I say we tear her apart. Her kind would have done worse to Autumn.”
Tulip’s heart raced as fear coursed through her veins. They wouldn’t really harm her, would they? She’d thought the wolves in Ashton Grove were civilized. Had she been wrong to come here? She’d willed her magick to bring her to the wolves and safety, and it had chosen this bar and the unfriendly wolves in front of her.
She stared up at the wolf holding her and willed him to see her for who she truly was, and not just an evil dark fae. Tulip had never done anything wrong a day in her very long life. It wasn’t her fault she’d been born amongst the dark fae. Her mother had protected her as much as she could, but Tulip had always felt like an outsider amongst her people.
“I’m not like the others,” she told the wolf softly. “You have no reason to trust me, but I honestly mean no harm to anyone in your pack. I have nowhere else to go and need your help.”
“Why would we help you?” he asked harshly.
She wiggled in his grasp. “Please. I’ll show you, but you have to release me.”
His grip loosened and she turned, lifting her hair. She heard his gasp a moment before a callused finger traced the ridges where her wings had once been. She hadn’t seen them, could only feel the pain, but she knew the puckered, angry skin had to look ghastly.
“This is what happens to a fae when she betrays her people,” Tulip said softly. “I did everything in my power to free the light fae, and tried to stop Onyx from coming after your alpha female. This was my reward, along with a trip to the dungeon, where I would have been left to rot until they got around to torturing and killing me.”
So, what did it take for this book to come into being? TONS of caffeine, some really good music, and a lot of patience from my family. I may or may not have burned dinner a time or two while working on this book. I think “in a minute” became my go-to phrase for a few weeks.
I’m often asked if there were particular songs or movies I listened to or watched while working on certain books. For me, a playlist doesn’t so much have to do with the lyrics as it does the beat. Looking at the song titles for my playlist of this particular book won’t give you much insight into what was going through my mind, but I’m going to share it with you anyway. As you can see, I have rather eclectic taste LOL
- Love Shack – B52’s
- Hello, Goodbye – Beatles
- Kokomo – Beach Boys
- Roam – B52’s
- Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
- Burning House – Cam
- Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
- Along Comes a Woman – Chicago
- Ready to Run – Dixie Chicks
- Hot Blooded – Foreigner
- Love the Way You Lie – Eminem
- Here It Is – Flo Rida
- Stand – REM
- Lips of an Angel – Hinder
- Wild Thing – ToneLoc
- Red Red Wine – UB40
- When Will I Be Loved – Linda Ronstadt
- Hold On – Kansas
- Work From Home – Fifth Harmony
- I Am Invincible – Cassadee Pope
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Looks great, Jessica 🙂