Fear pulsed within Mila’s veins as she pulled her long brown hair over her shoulders. She passed the servants harvesting the grapes of Vasily Castle.
It was a cool autumn morning, yet sweat beaded on her forehead and in the crease between her bosom as she hurried past the servants harvesting the grapes.
“Good morning, my lady,” one of the workers said, bowing her head, her crisp white cap gleaming in the sun.
She smiled weakly, her heart pounding.
Be brave. Mila wrung her shaking hands.
"Kellan,” she whispered to the wind. “Please, get me out of here. I need you. I fear this time I have no choice.”
Speaking of time, it was running out. She could no longer live the life of a concubine. Life would be forever changed. No more hiding. No more wasting her life to a duke who cared nothing for her or the other women of his harem.
The fact that her own mother had sold her off like cattle broke her heart.
No, it was to save her life. It was the only way to ensure survival in a world ruled by High Fae.
Leaving the protection of her master would have consequences—ones that could mean life or death.
Today, she chose freedom.
She began to run toward the stables, no longer caring who she vexed by her sudden action. She knew Lord Vasily would never let her go—he collected human women like precious jewels—and used them to sate his feral desires.
She must escape.
She must reveal her secret.
The sun warmed her cold cheeks as she looked to the sky. During daylight hours she might actually have a chance.
Come on, Kellan. Hurry.
She fisted bunches of her dark blue skirts so she could run faster, her feet aching as they pounded down the stone path that led around the edge of the vineyard to the massive front gate of the estate. Heavily-armed soldiers stood guard on either side of the locked gate.
Shouts of alarm drifted menacingly on the cutting breeze, and Mila yanked the golden collar that marked her as a concubine from her throat, and tossed it into the bushes that lined the road.
Her vision pulsed in time with her racing heart as one of the soldiers glanced her way. He narrowed his eyes. “Where are you going?”
She ignored him, staying focused on that gate.
Her heart fluttered, and she grinned despite the tears that trailed down her cinnamon-colored cheeks as a tall young man appeared outside of the gate.
His pale skin was almost translucent against the stern black and silver armor he wore. He held his hand out to her, ushering her forward, giving her strength.
Black hair covered his eyes. Clean shaven, and handsome, Kellan was her greatest friend, one that would risk his life to save hers.
“Oy!” the guard shouted, drawing his sword. “Stop right now. We don’t want to have to hurt you.”
Mila ignored them. She had been hurt enough. The bruises on her neck were proof of that.
She gritted her teeth and with a burst of energy shot outside of her body, a blue aura encircling her as her magic ignited. The surge of power filled her from the inside out, making her gasp with euphoria as it rippled throughout.
A death sentence under High Fae rule.
Kellan cracked a grin, his eyes crinkling behind the black hair that fell over his brows. “Good girl,” he whispered, a black mist shooting from his hand and reaching for her like a raging wind.
The fae soldiers stumbled backward, having never seen such a display of raw power.
Mila’s entire body went cold as she rose up, leaving the ground behind, hovering before the magic-bound gate.
Nothing could pass through that gate without permission from the master of the castle.
But, a dragon could fly over it.
She cheered as her eyes lifted to the sky. Kellan shed his clothes, his arms and abs free as he leaped into the sky. Before everyone assembled on that sunny day, he shifted into a sleek black dragon that nearly blotted out the sun.
Running toward him, she used her magic to lift herself into the air, where he caught her in his silver talons, and flew them far away.