“Maya, you can’t go near the vampire prince. He’ll know it’s you,” my grandmother, Delina, says, as she presses a peacock feather into my skin. Possession of anything from the human realm is illegal in Rornia, the light fairy realm, and I stole these feathers from one of the Queen’s warriors after he crossed back into our land. The feathers store magic, and a skilled magic user such as my grandma can transfer some of her magic to me via the feather. The quill burns through my skin. I wince and watch the feather imprint on my arm.
She presses the last feather to my neck, then sits behind me on her rocking chair. The spell ignites, and magic from the imprints on my skin slithers up my face, down over my middle, and ends in my toes. It shimmers, turning me from a (former) fae princess into a human woman with white skin, dark brown hair, and blue eyes. Looking into the mirror, I grin at Grandma. “The warriors who trespass into the human realm call it a glamour.”
“What does a glamour do?”
“It turns me into a human woman.”‘
She closes her eyes, then opens them again. “It’s not working.”
“Well, that’s because you’re a fairy. You can see through glamours.”
“What if the prince can see?”
I swat at the empty air. “Nah. He’s a vampire, and fairies have been infiltrating vampire courts for years using glamours.”
“How do you know this?” Most fairies aren’t interested in other realms. Grandma is one of them.
I shrug. “I hear about it here and there.” In reality, I actively spied for any information coming from the human realm.
I slip on my shoes. My appearance is totally human. I can’t stop staring at myself. Much more acceptable than a purple-skinned, pointy-eared, green-eyed, twenty-five-year-old virgin. I feel every bit as virginal as I did nine years ago when the vampire prince requested my hand in marriage in exchange for peace with the fairies. The marriage never happened, the peace treaty was nullified, and the portals between our two worlds shut down. I smile, checking out my blunt teeth.
Behind me, Grandma chants a spell and flutters her yellow and black wings. Yellow fairy dust rains over her, then her eyes widen and she gasps. “Ahh, I see you now.” She rises from her chair and walks to stand behind me. She traces the tip of my round ear. “You’re so cute,” she says.
I shimmy into a lightweight, white, knee-length dress.
“Like a baby troll,” she adds.
“Troll? Why, I’m the prettiest human of them all.”
Grandma makes a sour face. She’s not convinced.
“Never mind what you think,” I say. “The prince needs to pick me to be his sex slave.”
Grandma’s wings flutter. “Child, you cannot mean to become his sex slave.”
“I need my wings back, and he has them. Warriors reported Sevile’s court is recruiting, so this is it. If not now, I have to wait another decade.” After I refused the vampire prince, the Queen, my evil stepmother, ripped off my wings and gave them to the vampire, thereby cursing me to live in shame in Rornia for the rest of my life. I have no access to my magic. Both my deceased parents were of the highest magical fairy order, and stripping away my magic worked in her favor. She killed my dad and became a queen. Without wings in a fairy court, even a fairy princess becomes nothing but a household helper, much like a brownie, who actually lives to serve in fairy courts.
“How does he pick his slaves?” Grandma asks.
“I don’t know. By looks, I suppose.”
“You will let him drink from you?”
“If he must.”
“But he will know you’re a fairy by blood.” Grandma grabs a fan, unfurls it, and sits back down to fan herself. “I’m going to stroke out.”
With a sigh, I sit on her lap. “I don’t have a choice. I’m stuck in Rornia with an evil queen who shames me at every opportunity. Once I steal my wings from him, I’ll get my magic back. I’ll have the glamour, and with it, I can live in the human realm. There, I can be anything I want to be.”
“I don’t like this plan.” Grandma hugs me tight, and I pat her wrinkled hands. My heart swells. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see her again. But time’s ticking, and I need her help.
“Maya!” my stepmother shouts. “Where is that lazy girl?” She huffs as she climbs the stairs.
I leap off Grandma’s lap and fist my sweaty hands.
Grandma is powerful. She’s one of the rare fae who can create portals, and I need one. Now.
“Coming!” I shout over my shoulder. “It’s now or never, Grandma. Help me, please.”
Stepmom knocks. “Delina, is Maya in there? I ordered scrambled eggs an hour ago. I’m still waiting for my breakfast.”
Grandma stands, and her yellow-and-black wings unfurl, raining fairy dust all around her. The dust hovers in the air, awaiting her command. Grandma points at the mirror. “A fairy heart seeks one true love,” she says.
Huh. The dust gathers and slams into the mirror, making it ripple.
I kiss my grandma and step through the portal.
* * *
“Prince,” the head of my brigade, Salvatore, says and lands next to me. He’s grinning like an idiot because tonight is an exciting night for my people. After a decade, we’re getting fresh pets, descendants of humans from families in our service. Salvatore tosses a human female over his shoulder and slaps her ass. “After you,” he says to me with a wink.
I wave him off, and he chuckles as he walks inside.
Some nights, I want to strangle him. Other nights, I want to strangle everyone. Today is a strangle-everyone night as I stand on the edge of my mountain-carved home and stare at the hiking path below. Most of the humans climbing the path are coming from Snarl, a werewolf-owned bar in our cozy little town of Forestvilas, where they’d spent the day with the family member released from service this very morning. The old pet tells the new pet how my court works and passes on the duties. Most of the newbies get drunk, especially when they hear they are also expected to provide my males with their bodies and their blood. Not sure why their families wait till the last moment to impart that bit of information. As if sex is some sort of taboo compared to bloodletting. Humans are strange.
They are welcome to return home, and yet they rarely do. Nobody makes them come into service. That’s for one. For two, at the end of the decade, they’re sent off with ridiculous amounts of money. And we guarantee they will leave alive. Unless they betray me to the fairies, of course. Then they lose their minds and wander the earth thinking they’re a pumpkin. Fair is my middle name.
The hiking path leads to the left and curves, but another path is open and visible only to those of us in the know. At great expense to my well-being, I’ve secured brownie servants who loyally pull their magic together and cast spells on my court so that it appears as a mountain. My vampires are picking off humans from the path and ascending into my court. It’s the only way one can get into my home—by flying.
Salvatore returns and throws a hand over my shoulder. He squeezes. “Ever heard of the Judases?”
“It was an old TV show.”
“That’s the Joneses. I mean the Judases, as in the family who serves us.”
I frown and mentally run through the list of families. “I don’t recall that last name.”
“Me either, but they could be from up north and moved here.”
“Could be. Why?”
“Because I can’t wait to sink my fangs into the pet I carried.”
Blood was blood. Food was good. Pussy was pussy to all but me. Without a mate, I eat and exist, occasionally descending to Snarl and hanging out with the werewolves because at least they give my brain stimulation in the form of verbal sparring.
“You still looking for fairies?” Salvatore asks.
I hiss. A sore subject to bring up. “I told the wolf packs to report if they sense a portal.”
“You really think more fairies are gonna breach the realm?”
“I’m certain.” I’d drained one of their warriors last month. I hope that’ll teach the rest of them a lesson. Nine years ago, the little fairy princess refused to mate me after I sank my fangs into her throat and tied my soul to hers for life. She fucking refused me. Me! The Prince of Rothingham House, one of the most powerful vampire houses in the country. So yes, I drain every one of her kind who comes here seeking pleasures of the human realm. Fuck the fairies.
As the last of my brigade flies up the last of our new pets, I spin around and walk into the tunnel, my sight perfect in the pitch-black. Salvatore follows. I almost feel him grinning at my back while I drag my ass up the stairs and emerge into our reception hall, where I take my seat at the throne, a plush red chair with gold trim. The chair’s for show. We don’t use thrones except for special occasions such as introducing our new pets to their new owners and our way of life in general.
I survey my court. Humans don’t interest me. They are food. I don’t fuck either, so I bypass the humans and smile at my people. It’s a good night for them, and I aim to spread the fucking cheer. The buzzing energy around me makes me hungry, and my claws extend and my face takes on a more sinister look, the one I use for hunting. My teeth grow, pushing out my jaw and slightly elongating my face. Blood rushes into my eyes and covers their natural color. I’m a red-eyed motherfucking monster.
I sniff. Fear.
Fuck, I love this. My heart beats steadily as I say, “Welcome to Rothingham House. I’m Prince Sevile, your host. You were raised to serve me and my house’s members, and you’re expected to follow the rules at all times. Failure will result in your family being removed from our service, which, by the way, means they’ll lose all their wealth. Nobody wants that, and believe me, your family will make you suffer for it more than I care to know. In fact, you are welcome to walk away right now or hold your peace for a decade, after which we will alter your mind to ensure life-long agreement. You will bleed from your ears and die if you mention vampires to anyone besides your family. Anyone unfamiliar with the rules?”
No hands went up.
“Anyone want to walk out?”
Murmurs as humans consult the vampires who brought them here. The trust is a beautiful thing to witness. Because their first contact with us was when my members carried them up and chatted with them a bit, humans already feel companionship. They’re such a cute breed of creatures. I love owning so many of them.
I leave my throne, dreading this part because I truly don’t give a rat’s ass which one of them will donate their blood for me. Sadly, even the prettiest human is not as beautiful as my fucking fairy mate, and while vampires own their pets for blood, they are also interested in sharing a bed with them. I sleep alone.
But I need to eat. I make my way from my right to my left as if I’m searching for a pet. My people understand I can pick and choose anyone I want and however many humans I want. I walk to a girl who looks like she comes from Hyun’s stock, our only Korean family. Their men and women eat well, making their blood sweet. Plus, the girls we’ve had since my dad was a boy were naturally submissive, perfect obedient creatures.
Like a female fairy.
Except for mine, of course. Mine tried to stab me with a hairpin as I drank from her. Then she proclaimed she’d rather lose her wings than marry me. So she lost her wings. Nine years later, I am just as bitter as I was the day she rejected me.
Salvatore stands at the other end of the row, murmuring sweet nothings at the new Judas girl, whose giggles pierce the silence. He’s practically tucked her under his armpit. Bypassing the Hyun girl, I head straight for Salvatore. Ah, nothing makes my night better than fucking with him. Of course, I won’t take his new pet. But he doesn’t know that.
I stand before him and clasp my hands behind my back. “Whatcha hiding there, my friend?” He’s hating me. The look in his eyes pleads for the girl. Now I’m curious. “Let me see,” I tell him.
Salvatore groans and nudges the girl toward me. As she steps closer, the scent of her fear overwhelms my senses. And not just mine, judging by the male groans in the room. They’re horny, and they need to feed.
I love the smell of her fear. I change my mind. “I’m keeping this one.” I lick my lips. “Dismissed.”
“Fuuuuck,” Salvatore says.
I grin at him. “I’ll share.”
He spins on his heel and flips me off.
Heheheh. I enjoy evil deeds.
I’m left alone with my new part-time pet, clueless as to why I ignored the Hyun girl, who leaves, sniffing on her way out. Her family likely told her she’ll be pleasing the prince, an honor for any human in a vampire court.
This girl’s dark hair obscures her face, and I hook a finger under her chin and lift. Her eyes are blue, same color as mine. Our resemblance is freaky. In fact, if my parents could have another child, she’d look like this. My mother would dote on her. “Hello, what’s your name?”
Her fear is palpable, and I didn’t feed last night or this morning. I sniff near her neck and lick her pulsing artery. She tastes divine. My fangs throb, and all my blood rushes into my dick. It awakes from nine—long—years of slumber and tents my pants. My cock cannot work for a female who is not my soul mate.
Surprised, I step back and examine the girl thoroughly. She stands like a statue, her heart beating loudly. I can almost hear it. She’s pretty, to be sure, a girl version of me, really, but that shouldn’t awaken my sexuality. Nothing can awaken me unless the fucking fairy princess came here on her knees begging to suck my dick as a way to compensate for her trespasses.
I round the girl, sniff her hair, lift her hair to sniff her neck, and brush her ear by accident. It twitches. Huh. I sniff her neck again. She’s so scared that I can’t smell anything besides her fear. Fearing me is nothing unusual. Many humans and supes alike fear me, especially when I’m hungry.
“A name,” I bite out.
I make a mental note to look into her paperwork. It should be in my office. “Nancy, where are you from?”
“N-New York,” she stutters.
“There are other courts there. What brings you to mine?”
“We live in the mountains,” I point out. “It’s five degrees outside at noon.”
She bites her lip, and I glimpse a pointy tooth. What the fuck? Now, my father is a vampire, but not too many people know my mother is a soul collector, a kind of demon who sees inside souls—among other things. My body senses my soulmate in the room with me, but I can’t see her. Yet. I call out the demon part of me, one I often have no need for. It clears my vision, and a female with purple-tinted skin stands before me, feather imprints on her arms and neck, likely on other places on her body too. Her forest-green eyes are too big for her pixie face and framed in long deep-purple lashes. She wears her abundant chestnut-brown hair past her shoulders, a few tiny braids fastened with beads and leather strings decorating the front. Fairies love pretty things. She decorates her hair, but I’m surprised there’s not a single shiny precious stone on her. They love shiny shit.
I bare my teeth.
Her green eyes widen and lock with mine. When tiny yellow dots of magic dance in her eyes, my whole body readies for nights to come. How the hell did she glamour herself without the wings? I have her wings, but with fucking fairy magic, I’m unsure if she can grow another pair. I round her again to check for wings. Nope, no wings.
Behind her, I take a minute to appreciate this perfect creature who’d rejected me. If you didn’t like petite, you wouldn’t be impressed. I like petite. I wasn’t so picky before I’d met her, but now I’m the pickiest motherfucker on the planet. Another thing she ruined for me. Variety.
I tap my foot, finally understanding why he got taken by this girl. Fairies are caviar, sinful dark chocolate, water for the man who’s crossing the desert. They smell like prey, walk like prey, and taste like fucking heaven. I’m not gonna eat; I’m gonna feast. It’s not gonna be a strangling night; it’s gonna be a hugging night.
The doors open, and Salvatore enters. His footsteps click on the marble floors, and when he arrives, I order, “Escort this one.”
He stands there with a smirk on his face. “To my room?”
Got me. Now that the princess is in my possession, I have to decide if I’ll tell her I can see through her glamour or pretend I can’t. And I need to figure out where to put her. Pets congregate either in their wing of the court or with their owners or both.
I can’t let her out of my sight, and our side of the royal wing isn’t ready. Decisions, decisions. “Take her to the pets’ wing.”