Rosalind sat in the corner of her cell, staring blankly at the wall opposite her, her focus turned away from herself and her surroundings. She had fixed it on the man when the guards had dragged her back to her cell and dumped her into it, leaving her to curl up on the cold stone floor and fight the pain pulling her to pieces. Threatening to shatter her completely.
The moment she had thought about him, some of that pain had faded. He kept it at bay together with her fear. She didnâ€™t know how, or what power he had that allowed him to do such a thing, and she didnâ€™t care. All she cared about was shutting out the pain while she healed and the memories of the whip. She flinched away from thoughts of it and focused on the man again.
He was handsome, despite his gaunt appearance. His tall body was too lean, as if ravaged by hunger, leaving his bones on display beneath his dirty skin, but there was strength there still, a hint that he would outshine the incubus if he fed and put on muscle and fat again.
But he also held darkness within him that outshone the darkness in any male she had met before him, even the cruel demon king of this realm. He was violent and dangerous. A wild beast in the form of a man.
And the whole cellblock had heard it during her punishment.
The thunderous bellows of rage that had echoed around the dungeon as the guards had cut her back to ribbons with the whip had been his. He had gone into some sort of rage. Because of her?
Her last moments with him offered her little in the way of understanding him. He had snarled â€˜witchâ€™ at her as if it were a curse word, and the vilest one available to him.
She hadnâ€™t liked how he had looked at her either, cold and detached, yet calculating, as if he had been plotting terrible, painful things for her. Things far worse than the guards had done. There had been a wildness in his steel-blue eyes, a dark malevolence that promised pain and suffering. But all the while his expression had remained calm, placid, and unreadable. Only his eyes and his aura had given away his dark intentions. The steady current of danger he constantly radiated had reached startling heights and her magic had wanted to rise to protect her.
She had wanted to run from him and never look back.
But when the guards had come to take her, he had been a different man. He had turned all of that violence and darkness on the demons instead, and had looked at her with eyes that left her feeling he had wanted to protect her.
Mother earth, the whole affair confused the hell out of her, but she did feel certain of one thing.
He despised witches.
Rosalind hugged her knees to her chest and winced. One of the demons had busted a few ribs. Bastard. She felt them and wished she could heal them, but the demon king had made sure that she couldnâ€™t use her power on herself. She had discovered that after her first beating. If she tried to use it on herself, she only experienced agony, fire that burned her bones to ashes and left her even weaker than before.
He had also put a stop to her rather poor attempt at escaping. She had been healing one of his warriors in the infirmary when she had accidently lost her connection to the spell, leaving the demon in crippling pain. She had then touched every demon she could before they realised what was happening, unleashing a healing spell into each of them and then severing her link with it. It had been working, demons dropping like flies around her, and then she had discovered a massive flaw in her brilliant plan.
She had turned to escape through the arched doorway and found herself facing a dark witch.
The witch had gone to town on her, battering her with spells that she had no way of countering or protecting against. Before Rosalind had lost consciousness, the blonde witch had loomed over her and told her it was payback for her sisters.
Rosalind had slipped into nightmarish replays of killing the witches on the side of the Fifth King, seeing their deaths over and over again in gory detail.
She shuddered and weakly rubbed her arms, her manacles clanking with each sweep of her hands.
If the black-haired man despised witches, he wasnâ€™t going to be very happy when he discovered the Fifth King had a whole harem of them living in the castle above.
Rosalind crawled to the bars of her cell with effort, each shuffling inch forwards causing agony to ripple through her. She collapsed into the right corner and leaned her head against the cold bars, breathing hard as she stared left along the corridor towards the manâ€™s cell.
Her head swam, pain and hunger combining to turn it light and spin her thoughts together into a blur. She tried to focus on the man again, letting everything else drop away.
Why did he despise her kind so much?
Heavy footsteps sounded along the corridor at her back, coming from the direction of the dungeonâ€™s torture chamber.
The thick leather boots stopped outside her cell and she managed to tip her head back and look up the towering height of their owner. The dark-haired demon stared down at her, his emerald eyes devoid of feeling, filled with cold indifference.
â€œYour healing is needed,â€ he said in a gruff, deep voice, and opened her cell door.
Who needed to be healed? One of the demons? She was too afraid to mention to this man that she was too weak from her punishment to be of use to him. She doubted she could muster the power to heal anyone right now.
The demon grabbed her roughly by her arm and hauled her onto her feet. He dragged her from her cell and along the dank corridor, moving too swiftly for her legs to keep up. She gave up trying to walk and let him pull her along, her bare toes bouncing off the gaps between the stone flags and her body hanging limp from his strong hand.
Only one guard. If she could channel her healing power into him, she could take him down. She might be able to escape. She almost laughed at that, the flicker of hope in her heart quickly dying. She couldnâ€™t walk, let alone run. She was never escaping this hell.
She wasnâ€™t powerful enough without her magic. These demons were one hundred times stronger than she was on the best of days. In a physical fight against one, she would last less than a second.
How strong would the man be when he healed?
He should be better by now. She had flooded him with all the healing spells she could manage, and the highest level ones available to her. It struck her that they were heading in the direction of his cell. She could sneak a glance at him on her way past to the infirmary at the end of the corridor.
Rosalind stared ahead, her eyes fixed on his cell to her right as they approached it.
The demon stopped outside it and her eyes widened in horror.
What had happened to him?
The manâ€™s injuries were worse than ever, and his wrists bore a new set of cuffs, heavier ones that had been bolted to the end of the stone slab where he lay. They had shackled his ankles too.
And was one of the steel bars of the cell bent?
Her demon escort opened the door to the manâ€™s cell and shoved her inside. Rosalind looked around it, unable to believe her eyes. There were deep bloodstained grooves in the stone walls beside the bars. Her eyes darted to his fingers. His nails were gone, broken off, leaving scabbed tips behind.
He had attacked the walls of his cell when they had taken her and during her punishment. Why?
A soft noise reached her ears and she stared down at him. Not unconscious as she had thought. He muttered things in an unknown tongue.
â€œYou will stay until the moonrise. The king wants him lucid for questioning. Do not fail this time.â€ The guard slammed the cell door and stalked away.
The moon in this realm was the weird light that emanated from the portal the elves used to bring sunshine into their kingdom. When that light shone in the seven demon realms, it meant it was daylight there, but the demons in this realm thought of it as the moon. It meant night to them.
She had most of the day to heal him.
Rosalind ran an assessing gaze over him. His injuries were extensive, and all self-inflicted, but she didnâ€™t think they were the reason he was in this strange state of limbo between unconsciousness and consciousness. It wasnâ€™t a physical problem. It was a mental one.
He writhed on the slab, his muttering growing darker, vicious sounding snarls that barely resembled words. What language did he speak? It wasnâ€™t the fae tongue.
She ventured a step closer to him and he lost his restlessness, growing very still. Could he sense her?
Was he lying in wait to attack her when she came close enough?
She kept some distance between them as she rounded the slab, her gaze fixed on him the whole time, monitoring him for a sign he might attack her. He began writhing again, fitful jerking movements that rattled the chains that held him pinned to the slab with his arms above his head, stretched out like a piece of meat on a butcherâ€™s block.
The male snarled low in his throat, as if he knew her thoughts and seconded them. He looked so savage coated in dried blood and dirt, and felt more dangerous than ever. She flicked a glance at the bent steel bar and the grooves in the solid stone. More dangerous than she had thought possible.
Rosalind kneeled beside him on the stone flags.
He snarled again, his eyes rolling back in his head as he sniffed, inhaling deeply. He rocked his hips and her cheeks heated. He was growing hard in his wrecked black trousers. She averted her eyes, pretending she hadnâ€™t noticed, and diligently kept her eyes away from that area of his anatomy, not wanting to ponder why he had reacted in such a way to her scent.
She reached out to touch his bloodstained hands. He growled and grew more restless, twisting on the stone slab and pulling at his restraints.
â€œShh,â€ she whispered, unsure whether he could hear her and whether speaking to him was wise when he was in this condition.
Would her presence and the sound of her voice make him better, or worse?
He hated witches. He had looked at her with murder in his eyes.
She couldnâ€™t leave him though or let him continue to suffer, and it wasnâ€™t because she was a captive in this cell with him or the orders the demon had given her. The sight of him suffering, lost in whatever strange place had hold of him, caused an ache in her chest that compelled her to help him.
â€œI wonâ€™t hurt you. I swear it.â€ She reached out to touch his hands and he hissed at her, flashing fangs. She barely dodged his attack, falling backwards as he launched his head forwards, his teeth clacking as they struck each other and not her flesh.
He grew wild, bucking off the slab and yanking on the manacles that bound his wrists. She wanted to reach for him but instinct held her back, warned her to let him wear himself out. He had tried to bite her. Mother earth. She covered her mouth with her hand and stared at him, her heart developing a new ache. What dark power gripped him that he would attack her when she was only trying to help him?
He began to settle again, his movements becoming less frantic, weaker as his strength faded.
â€œI will not hurt you. I know you can hear me. I am only going to heal you.â€ Rosalind moved back to her knees beside him and swallowed hard.
He slumped onto the bench, the tangled threads of his black hair sticking to the sweat on his brow.
He looked fragile, but she wasnâ€™t going to let that deceive her. This man was deranged.
What sort of male could have not only moved with her healing spell ricocheting through his body and all the injuries that had remained, but managed to find the strength to bend thick steel bars and rake deep grooves into solid stone with only his nails?
Not a sane one.
Many of the dungeonâ€™s residents had been here long enough to have gone mad and were normally noisy at night, but last night they had been silent while this man had raged.
They had feared he would escape. The guards had feared too, exchanging meaningful glances as they punished her.
She had feared too.
This male had come here insane.
Did you enjoy today’s tease?
Tempted by a Rogue Prince
An elf prince on the verge of losing himself to the darkness, Vail is maddened by the forty-two centuries he was under the control of a witch and forced to war with his brother. Now, he roams Hell seeking an escape from his terrible past and the heads of all who bear magic. When demons of the Fifth Realm capture him, he sees a chance to end his existence, but when he wakes in a cell to a beautiful female, he finds not death but his only shot at salvationâ€”his true fated mate.
Captured by the enemy of the Third Realm when the war ended, Rosalind has spent months in the cells of the Fifth Realm with her magic bound, forced to heal the new kingâ€™s demon warriors, and haunted by the lives she has taken. When sheâ€™s brought to heal an unconscious man, she discovers her only hope of escape has come in the form of her worst nightmare and the first part of a prediction that might spell her doomâ€”a devastatingly handsome and dangerous dark elf prince.
Unwilling to fall under the control of anyone ever again, Vail must escape before the Fifth King can use him as a pawn in a deadly game of revenge, but he cannot leave without Rosalind, the woman who looks at him with dark desire in her stunning eyes and awakens a fierce hunger in his heart. A witch who drives him mad with need even as the darkness within whispers she will enslave him too.
Can Rosalind escape her fate as they embark on a journey fraught with danger and resist the temptation of her rogue elf prince? And can Vail overcome the memories that madden him in order to seize his chance for salvation and the heart of his fated female forever?
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the books in the Eternal Mates romance series yet, they’re all available at major ebook retailers and in paperback, and you can find the links and samples of the books at my website: