on October 25, 2016
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Cyrene Strohm is a Queen’s Affiliate, a high-ranking official of the court of Byern, with power and privilege to spare. But she’s also a keeper of dangerous secrets: like the fact that she holds the heart of the King, and that she possesses magic in a world where magic no longer exists.
Determined to discover what this means and how to use her newfound abilities, Cyrene sets off for the distant land of Eleysia. An island nation where Affiliates are strictly forbidden from entering.
But the journey is perilous, and the destination may mean utter ruin, as Cyrene comes to learn that everything she’s been told her whole life – about her court, her homeland, and even herself—are bound in a beautiful lie.
Staggering down the hallway, she didn’t even look up when she heard her name.
“Hmm?” she asked.
“Cyrene, there you are!”
Someone grabbed her shoulders, and she tipped her head to look up into the most beautiful face. She smiled and felt a renewed burst of energy flow through her.
“Hey,” she whispered.
“Hey,” he said, threading his fingers through hers. A shiver ran up her back. He glanced around the empty hallway and then tugged her away from the main corridors. She turned a corner, and he pressed her back into a darkened alcove. His mouth was only inches from hers.
Her exhaustion was wearing off from the excitement of being with him.
“I was really worried about you,” he breathed.
“You don’t have to worry about me,” she said, trapped in his gaze. She teetered on her tiptoes and nearly brushed their lips together. Her heart was racing ahead of her. This felt almost better than reaching for her magic. Definitely better than moving one drop of water at a time all day.
“You’re wrong.” Then, he softly dropped his mouth down on hers. His lips were tender and slow as they caressed hers. “I will always worry for your safety.”
Cyrene’s cheeks heated, and she sighed, leaning back against the hard stone of the alcove. “I didn’t mean to worry you.”
His hands pushed up through her hair and tilted her head back up to look at him. She closed her eyes and sighed. She was so tired, and just the feel of his fingers was lulling her to sleep.
“That feels good.”
His mouth found hers, and despite her exhaustion, she pushed back against his lips with more force. She refused to let the fact that she was tired get in the way of her time with him.
“Whoa,” he said, pulling back from her. He rested his forehead against hers, and she could tell he was breathing heavily. “As much as I want this, and I do, I want to make sure you’re okay. This didn’t scare you away?”
She shook her head. “This, most certainly, does not scare me.” Then, she kissed him again for good measure.
He laughed. “Good. Because I’ve been wanting to kiss you since I first met you.”
“You have not!” she insisted.
“Are you kidding? A gorgeous, feisty woman who wasn’t afraid to put me in my place the first time she met me? I mostly certainly have.”