Through the Ether (Force of Nature Book 5) - Amber Lynn Natusch
“You already know where you have to go—what you have to do. But you fear it—fear this fate.”
“Because my friends…they might die.”
“They will die if you do nothing, will they not? Will the wolves not be retaken? Will the vampires not be beheaded and burned? The warlock lord who calls you daughter, will he not perish like the rest of his kind, taking your guardian along with him?” His voice moved closer, and my body went still. “They are your charges; your people. Is this not the difficult choice of a royal? The decision of a queen?”
“But I’m not the—”
“You will be if you succeed, Piper. You will reign here, because Faerie must always have a ruler…”
The implications of his words settled like broken glass in my mind, carving its reality into resistant matter. I didn’t want to rule Faerie. I didn’t want to be my mother. But usurping her would create a void that would beg to be filled, and I was heir to the throne.
“There has to be another way—”
“And yet there is not.”
A frustrated scream rose in my throat, and I fought to hold it in.
“Can I do it without them? To protect them?”
“Can one being stop the world from turning?” he asked, shifting closer still. “Your strength is not inside of you, but rather expressed through those you lead. Those you command. Just as your magic needs nature, so too do you need them.”
“But at what cost?” I whispered, thinking of what was to come. Of the battle between the fey and us.
The wind shifted, its warmth wrapping around me in comfort. “War has a price that must be paid in blood, Piper. For Faerie to be freed, it first must be fed.”
“Then give it my blood,” I said softly. “Let my blood put an end to this madness.”
A breeze tickled down my spine. “Your blood would only fuel it further. Shedding yours will not secure theirs, and you know this.”
I took a deep breath and stared at the nothingness surrounding me. “Then what do we do?”
The wind danced around me in a circle, its giddiness palpable.
“Simple, silly princess,” it said, voice breathy and full of amusement that bled away before it spoke again. “You follow me to the king.”
“He will know we’re coming,” I argued as the pulse of revenge in the air around me pressed against my skin. “He’ll be waiting.”
“No,” the voice whispered, “he won’t.”
“How can you know this?” I demanded.
“Because,” it said plainly, “I am the forgotten one. The castaway. The blind spot in the king’s land. And it will be I who brings the army that ends him, for I cannot wait to see the look in his dying eyes when he realizes that it was me who betrayed him—just as he did me.”
A macabre smile tugged at my lips. “I think I’d like to see that as well.”
The wind tugged my hand and drew me forward a step.
“Then come with me...”
I snapped awake at the kitchen island, so disoriented from the lifelike dream that I didn’t realize where I was, when it was, or what had just happened earlier that night. Breathing hard, I raked my hands through my tousled black hair as realization settled in. We’d just returned from a showdown with not one, but two fey royals, and we were avoiding the fact that they’d be coming for us soon.
We just didn’t know how or when or where.
With a dramatic exhale, I hauled myself over to the fridge and stared into it while my stomach roiled in protest. I wasn’t actually hungry; I’d only come down under the guise of getting snacks for the others. The dread growing in my chest and belly made eating a no-go for sure, but I had to get away from everyone for a minute, and making a snack run seemed like the easiest way to do that in a house full of werewolves that ate 24/7.
“What a fucking mess,” I sighed, thinking about the impending doom that Faerie was certain to bring down upon us when it best suited them. Suddenly, rifling through the fridge for food seemed even less appealing.
I pushed the door closed and found Kat looming on the other side of it.
“What do you expect when you live with wild animals?” she said with a smile that, though full of mischief, didn’t quite reach her blue eyes. For all Kat’s ability to bring humor to the most humorless situations, she couldn’t quite fluff over the fact that the fey