Rosalind 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.
What was he?
She had thought vampire before, but now she wasnâ€™t so sure.
Rosalind reached slowly towards him. His lips were bloodstained too, a dark spot of it gathered by the corner of his hard mouth. Had he tried to bite the bars, or had the guards struck him to subdue him?
His eyes flicked open and locked on her.
She tensed, her heart pounding, fear pressing her to withdraw her hand before he attacked her. She kept it hovering in the air between them, refusing to let him bully her into shrinking away from him.
â€œHello again,â€ she whispered, keeping still and giving him time to adjust to her presence. He continued to stare at her, deep into her eyes, his blue-grey ones flat and dull. Lifeless. â€œThey brought me to heal you. It seems you, um, hurt yourself.â€
He exhaled softly and blinked. A good sign? Mother earth, she hoped so.
She hadnâ€™t expected him to remain calm on hearing her voice. She had expected another replay of him attempting to break free of his bonds, most likely so he could kill her.
â€œI need to touch you to heal you.â€
During her time alone in her cell after her punishment, she had mulled over their entire first encounter, and had concluded that he hated anyone touching him. She had been entertaining theories about it all day. It wasnâ€™t because she was a witch. He hadnâ€™t known that at the time.
â€œCan I touch you?â€ She wasnâ€™t willing to risk her limbs by attempting to do such a thing without his consent.
He clenched his fists and gave a curt nod.
Rosalind took it as a green light, noting that he had steeled himself, mentally preparing for her touch.
She shuffled closer, biting down on her tongue when her ribs protested and each mark on her back burned beneath her black dress.
â€œHarmed you?â€ he croaked, his voice gravelly and deep. His eyes searched hers. â€œHeard youâ€¦ cry. You hurt?â€
The stilted manner of his speech spoke to her of the incredible pain he endured, agony that she could see in his eyes, yet he was asking about her instead.
She swallowed the lump in her throat, stifling the memories of her punishment, and forced a shrug. â€œNo worse than usual.â€
â€œUsual?â€ Black eyebrows dipped low, narrowing eyes rapidly gaining a dark edge and obsidian blotches amidst the stormy blue-grey of his irises. What was he? â€œBeatâ€¦ often?â€
He grated the words out from between clenched teeth and she saw his fangs were down. Maybe he was a vampire, or another form of fae. There were many in the world and a lot of them could take on a human appearance.
â€œIt no longer bothers me.â€ She plastered on a false smile, one she hoped would stop him from asking about it. â€œButâ€¦ they do it often.â€
He growled so low that she only felt it as a rumble through her chest and then strained against his manacles, becoming so agitated that she feared he would hurt himself again. His face screwed up, his enormous fangs on display, and he threw his head back and roared as he arched off the dark stone slab.
â€œYou need to calm down.â€ Rosalind reached for him.
She froze when his eyes snapped open.
Her breathing accelerated.
She shook her head.
He couldnâ€™t be.
He stared at her, vivid purple eyes flashing wildly as his lips peeled away from his fangs again. Fangs. Purple. Mother earth, she was going to hyperventilate.
His overlong black hair parted to reveal the pointed tips of his ears and she almost passed out.
Rosalind shot backwards away from him. Pain erupted in her side, searing her ribs and stealing her breath together with him. Not a damn elf. He couldnâ€™t be a bloody elf.
She shook her head and huddled into the corner, holding her knees and staring at him as he wrestled with his manacles.
Anything but an elf. Why couldnâ€™t he be anything but an elf?
She went back seventy years, to a magical summerâ€™s day when she had been having tea in the garden with her grandmother. It had all been so peaceful and perfect. Endless blue skies. Flowers in full bloom. Butterflies and bees going about their business. A perfect moment.
Until her grandmother had turned sombre, staring at her in silence and worrying her. Rosalind had asked her what was wrong and her grandmother had looked right into her eyes with ones that swirled like a silver storm and had spoken words that had changed her forever.
In Rosalindâ€™s future would be an elven prince, and after meeting him, she would die.
Did you enjoy today’s snippet?
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: