House of Dragons (Royal Houses #1) - K.A. Linde Page 0,2

High Fae and much of the ruling class. Many believed that half-Fae shouldn’t even exist especially if they had even a hint of magic. She’d gotten used to hiding her true self. When humans and half-Fae were being beaten in the streets, it was best to remain anonymous.

It was one of the main reasons that she felt so comfortable in the Wastes. No one in this den of iniquity cared whether a person was human, half-Fae, or Fae. They were all too high, drunk, or broke. Unlike above, where she was ridiculed for being lesser, the Wastes had only ever drawn her in as their own. She fought here, she made friends here, and despite her past business with Dozan, he protected her within this bed of sin.

“Do you have my winnings?” Kerrigan asked.

“I do indeed.”

Dozan slid his hand into the inside of his tailored black suit. The cut accentuated his muscular build. He wore the white shirt with a black vest and jacket, complete with a Wastes red cravat at his neck. His hand was nimble, producing a red velvet bag heavy with gold marks, just like the ruthless pickpocket who had taken over the underground.

“Here you are.” He set the bag in her hand. It held way more than what she should have earned. His almost-golden eyes glittered with defiance, as if waiting for her to suggest that it was too much money.

She did no such thing. She pocketed the bag and ignored the way he ran a hand back through burnished hair that showed more red than brown in the light. Not at all like hers. Not that she would ever admit to paying attention.

“You should consider working bigger fights,” Dozan said. “Use more than one element.”

Using only one element in the Dragon Ring kept her safe. She did it to keep a target off her back. Half-Fae and humans were notoriously low with magic use, but not her. She had access to all four elements. And the last thing she wanted was anyone else to know about her elemental prowess.

“I appreciate the offer, but no.”

“I could make it worth your while,” he said silkily. His gold eyes practically glowed in the light.

She swallowed against his infuriating charm.

“I believe that you would,” Kerrigan said dryly. “But no.”

He stepped toward her. Close enough that they shared breath. She held her ground, tilting her chin in that defiance he so desired. Dozan only did this to unnerve her, and she refused to play his games. She wasn’t the same young girl who had landed at his feet five years ago. She’d never be that girl again.

“You know we could practice with… your other power,” he all but whispered against her lips.

Kerrigan narrowed her eyes. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Haven’t had a dream recently, princess?”

Her body quivered with barely controlled restraint. Her split knuckles ached to ram into his smug face. “I am not a princess.”

“Come on, Ker,” he breathed softly around the edges of her name. “I find your powers fascinating.”

“Just because you saved my life five years ago, doesn’t mean that I owe you a thing,” she hissed.

Dozan’s eyes dragged across her face, as if he were waiting for her to change her mind. But she would never change her mind. Twice in the last five years, she’d had dreams… visions of the future. She had never heard of anyone in all of Alandria ever possessing such a gift. She would know; she had thoroughly perused the library to be sure. Only children’s books spoke of such a gift, and in every one, the poor fairy tale child had been hunted down and slain for their sight. She wasn’t stupid enough to think she would be an exception in reality.

But Dozan had been there that unfortunate night and had never let her forget it.

“Fine.” Dozan shrugged once, returning to his overly cocky state of being. “What will you do with your winnings?”

“Same as usual.”

“Give it all back to me in drinks?”

“Not the worst way to spend the night.”

“Not the best,” he said, twirling a lock of her bright red hair around his fingers with a lascivious smile before disappearing up the stairs.

2

The Wastes

Dozan was… a problem.

He was definitely becoming a problem.

He didn’t like it when his things didn’t do as they were told. And she refused to be his thing or do as she was told. A conundrum that he rarely faced.

Five years ago, he’d saved her life and learned all about her magic and