Bite of Winter (Fae's Captive #3) - Lily Archer
(Author’s Note: If you haven’t read Book 1, Fae’s Captive, or Book 2, Road to Winter, you’re going to want to do that before starting Bite of Winter.)
“Release her.” The Vundi warrior astride Kyrin raises the obsidian blade and points at me.
I hold the Vundi leader in my grasp, her death only a whisper away. All I have to do is squeeze and her neck will break in my palm.
“I wouldn’t do that.” Gareth takes a step toward Kyrin, but the warrior brings the blade down to Taylor’s side, almost touching her with it. My mate.
Another blast of cold whips through the air around me, and the leader groans. The feral fae in my breast demands I kill them all and take back what’s mine. I want to agree. I’m almost there, my bloodlust welling inside me with a sweeping vengeance I’ve never felt before.
“That female?” Gareth risks another step. “Is Leander’s mate. And he hasn’t claimed her yet. Do you have any idea what he will do to you if you harm her?”
I lift the Vundi leader higher as she claws at my arm. Killing her will be a pleasure. And the one who touched Taylor? I will end him slowly. Tie him to Kyrin and drag him through the Red Plains as we make our way to the winter realm.
“Release Para.” The Vundi juts his chin toward me.
A few warriors rise from the road, their wounds not enough to keep them down. They should have stayed on the ground. I’m done talking, done negotiating, done with anyone or anything that tries to keep me from my mate.
“Easy now, Leander. We can solve this.” Gareth holds a hand out toward me, his entire posture reminiscent of a wince, as if he knows the murder brewing in my soul.
“Yes, we can.” I whistle a sharp burst of three notes.
Kyrin bucks hard. I throw the Vundi leader to the ground and rush forward. Taylor lands in my arms as the Vundi with the obsidian blade flies off the back of my horse.
Her eyes flutter open. “What the—”
The Vundi warrior must have bespelled her to sleep. Gareth backs to me, his blade in front of him as the Vundi warriors regroup. A tall red cloud grows in the distance, a sense of foreboding on the already-tense air.
“Are you hurt?” I kiss Taylor’s forehead.
“No.” She blinks hard. “I was riding away, but then I saw the Vundi. He has the strangest eyes. And then I … fell asleep somehow.”
I put her on her feet and keep her behind me as I turn to face the Vundi leader. She’s grasping her injured neck. I should have snapped it. There are too many Vundi warriors, and now that Taylor is in the thick of it, there’s no way for us to get out without risking her. But I can’t give her up.
The leader, Para, straightens her shoulders and grabs one of the blades from her slain brethren. Her soldiers advance. Hooves catch my ear as Beth pounds up on Sabre, but she slows as she approaches the fray.
“Stand down, proud Vundi.” Though it takes every bit of self-control I have, I lower my blade—but not all the way. “If we continue like this, more of your people will die. I don’t want that. But you must know that I will kill you all to keep my mate safe.” I motion to Gareth, and he holds his hands up, a maelstrom of wild magic swirling between them. The red cloud behind the Vundi grows, the sun turning a shade of crimson as dust rises high in the air.
Para winces and holds up her hand. “We can’t let you go. Not with her.”
“Seems we’re at an impasse.” Gareth lets his magic expand, but not too much. If it gets any bigger, he won’t be able to control it.
Ice builds in my veins, choking my thoughts, the feral fae ruling me and demanding vengeance against anyone who would harm my mate.
Para’s eyes widen as she looks at the two of us, but she doesn’t back down.
“Wait.” Taylor tries to step from behind me, but I don’t let her. She growls a little, and my cock hardens despite the circumstances.
She leans out a little so her voice will carry. “Can we at least talk about this? If we can’t solve it, then fight after, okay?”
“There’s nothing to talk about.” Para coughs, her throat no doubt raw. “I can’t let this opportunity go. If I give you to the king beyond