I knew how my maids would’ve warned me against bathing in the creek. Knew they’d be upset I’d wandered so far into the woods by myself. But I enjoyed the slight sense of adventure. My father had even taught me to hunt, which had only fed my desire to always be out here.
There’s something mystical about the peace of the woods.
I caught another handful of the sun-kissed water and let it drizzle coolly over my skin. Washing away the heat and sweat of the morning spent entertaining other ladies in the gardens of Millen Manor.
I felt the cool touch of the water dancing around my ribs and occasionally sloshing up to brush the underside of my breasts which hovered just above the surface when I stood in the water. My small, hard nipples tightened against the breeze that wafted through the trees, teasing them.
I heard a branch crack and I ducked into the water. Peering at the border of the trees, I glimpsed the shadowy cloak of someone standing just beyond the dense branches at the border of the far side of the creek. I saw brown eyes looking back at me from between a few lower branches. I made long eye contact with the stranger.
A man who was watching me bathe.
“What are you doing here?” I queried in the boldest voice I could muster. Wondering if he’d soon be dragging me out onto the bank to force his way into me. Holding me down while he rode me. I’d seen it happen to the maids often enough. Though they didn’t object, the act itself seemed unduly violent.
“What are you doing in my woods?” He moved further along the trees.
“This is Millen Land, Sir.”
“Not hardly.” There was a low chuckle. And I could feel his eyes roving over me as if he touched me. Though I could only see the shadow of the top of his head. “I’ve owned this land since long before any of your kind existed here.”
“Who are you?”
“Who are you to intrude in my woods, in my water?”
“It is none of your affair who I am. As I said, my family owns this land.”
“You’re a Millen gel then?” His voice was husky. Feeling almost like velvet across my skin. In a way it made me yearn to throw back my head and feel that voice rumble along my vulnerable flesh.
“I am a bathing woman, and you have no place here.”
“I could haul you out of that water.”
I grimaced, his threat hitting far too close to where my own fears had lain just a short moment ago.
“And I’d scream loud enough to rouse the house out to your pretty woods.” I threatened venomously.
He laughed. “Full of fire, aren’t you, Sweet Thing?”
“You’ve no idea.”
“I plan to though.”
“Oh, and how might you manage that?”
“I’m a hard man to resist.” He said simply.
Then I heard leaves and branches cracking. Sensing he was leaving.
I slipped from the water and caught my nightdress from the branch dangling over the water. Where it let the hem just brush the swaying surface. I tossed the billowing garment over my head. Cinching the laces that tightened the waist as I rose from the water.
I looked down and saw where a bare foot had stood on the grass watching me. His foot.
I couldn’t resist following the trail a little ways. Seeing his tracks marking the path he’d taken. I put one of my bare feet into the mud where his had been and saw a flash of a dark castle. Festively lit by endless candles. Cheerful laughter filling the room and the most delicious scent of roasted duck billowing around me like a foggy cloud.
His words echoed in my head.
I’m a hard man to resist.
I brought my feet to a screeching halt. I envisioned my Jason’s face.
My precious fiancé.
The man who loved me no matter what.
I’ll not betray him by wandering into the woods after another man.
But turning around was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Every fiber of my being was screeching for me to follow the man’s footsteps.
Discover where he’s gone…Who he is.
But I didn’t. I began walking back toward the creek. Toward where I knew there was a small crossing bridge that lifted over it.
But just as I reached the fragmented land bridge, I heard the pounding of thudding hooves. I glanced sideways in time to catch sight of a giant stag lurching from the trees.
02 Castle of the Fey
His great antlers jutted out like wild tree branches. Twisting like ancient twigs.
It was by far the biggest deer I’d ever seen.
Something that can’t exist.
He was bigger than a horse. And stampeding toward me.
His cloven hooves tearing through the moss and foliage along the forest floor. Throwing up clods of dirt around his shoulder as he rushed.
I knew I should run but I was frozen where I was. Unable to move. My feet had suddenly sprouted roots that wouldn’t let me go.
“No!” I shouted, tossing my arms over my face to protect myself.
The stag didn’t even slow. Just lowered his head to scoop me onto his antlers.
I shrieked and balanced amidst them. My hands pricking on the sharper points. Tiny bits jabbing into the back of my legs as he carried me at this roaring pace.
My voice became one long resonating scream.
I didn’t know how long he’d run because I’d been too busy clinging to him and trying not to fall before him to be trampled underfoot. But hanging on was like clutching the top of a rushing carriage.
Little to hold on to.
The trees became strange as we went further. The leaves turning a gilded shade. Shimmering gold as each shined like a precious stone.
We brushed under them but didn’t dislodge them. As if these trees weren’t alive.
They’re something else.
Permanent centurions guarding this place. As we drew near, their lower branches lifted like arms rising to let us pass. They rattled and clattered like made of armor.
As they peeled open, I was stunned to see what was revealed.
A towering white castle. Made all of shining marble.
It was the most gorgeous structure I’d ever seen. With tall parapets and gold rooftops. White balconies framed by gold rails.
It looks like something from a dream.
An unreal place.
Soon the stag reached the drawbridge and it lowered before us for him to cross. Then the massive gates to the bailey swung wide and even the double doors of the castle flew open. Their black ringed handles thudding along the wood as we ran by.
We slowed as we entered a grand banquet hall. The click of wooden cups on tables ceased. And gowns of every shade of spring swept over the room. Beautiful women with heavy curls piled atop their heads hung on the arms of silver-eyed men.
The way they moved was ethereal. Slow and somewhat disinterested as they turned to watch the stag entering the center of their Banquet Hall.
As if it is the most natural sight for them to behold.
Every piece of furniture I saw was embroidered in gold. And upholstered in rich red velvet or dried furs.
Everything is beautiful.
Every woman, man, bit of furniture, chandelier or tapestry is stunning.
I was paralyzed by the sight.
And somehow as the stag lowered me the great antlers became arms that set me on my feet.
I turned to look and found myself face to face with the man that’d watched me bathe.
“Now, Sweet Thing, ask me who I am?”
I licked my lips and tried to gather my composure. Realizing that the room had silenced the moment he spoke.
“Who are you.”
“I’m king here. King of these woods. King of this land. King of all things Unseen. And you, Sweet Thing are in my court now.”
“What does that mean?” I asked nervously.
“It means that a single taste,” He lifted his finger pointedly. “of anything within my hall and you become mine forever.”
“And if I taste nothing?”
“If you can resist the temptations of my Castle, for one night, then you may return home.”
“How many people have left your Castle?”
“None so far.” He took a step back to gesture at the number surrounding us, proudly. “But I must warn you, you will end up in my bed.”
I was already shaking my head. Thinking of my fiancé. My Jason.
But the Fey King leaned forward and pressed his lips to my ear. “Oh, you will. And I’ll be buried to the hilt in you.”
I shook my head with my mouth gaping but was afraid to deny it for fear that he’d only become more adamant. I could feel I was on tenuous ground already.
He’s all powerful here. I didn’t have to see the way those in the court watched him to know. I could feel his power everywhere here. It was all consuming. Like a flavor on one’s lips which touched from every direction you turned.
Like his fingers could stretch from any corner.
This was the sort of place where hands would reach from walls to caress you while you slept.
The Fey King turned my shoulders and faced me toward the endless table.
And I instantly wished he hadn’t.
There was any tasty little morsel that a woman could desire laid out before us. On a platter next to me where the ripest red strawberries I’d ever seen, still heavy with fat droplets of dew as though they’d only been plucked moments ago. Next to them were pieces of dark chocolate chunked into squares.
Beyond that was sugared pastries. Drizzled with icing and stuffed to brimming with blackberries and apples.
Glazed vegetables glistened in the center, as if covered in a layer of wax. Beyond that was the roasted duck. So aromatic that its rich buttery flavor was already caressing along my tongue. And surrounding it were tiny baked quail.
There was a boar which had been slowly cooked over flames hours ago perched at the other end of the table. A ruby apple looking crisp from its mouth. Bits of yellow fruit strung over its back.
Wine and steaming tea filled pitchers along the table.
It looked like enough food to feed all of Millen house for a year.
I’d never seen so much to eat in one place in one night.
“What is all this?”
“It is the sweetest food you’ll ever taste. The most satisfying meats you can imagine. The ripest fruits to ever cross your lips. If you don’t take a bite, you’ll regret it for the entirety of your life…If you do…” His voice dropped meaningfully. “Then you stay with me, forever.”
“I have someone back in the city.” I said slowly. Trying to rip my gaze from the food and blinking hard to resist staring at it. My hand was lifting without conscious thoughts to reach for a pastry. I had to push it aside with my other to stop myself.
“Is this fey magic?”
“Call it fey magic. Call it human temptation. Whatever you wish to define it as, it’s the same thing.” His low, rumbling voice, sent goosebumps coursing over my flesh. Making me shiver as his merest touch brushed along my skin.
I wanted to lean back against him. Drop my head to his shoulder and feel every inch of his length pressed along mine. To learn his body as well as I know my own.
I’d never felt something so overwhelming. I was nearly dizzied with the sensation.
“I won’t touch any of it.” I said. My voice weak even to my own ears. Already I was less sure than I’d have told myself an hour ago, I would be.
“Why wouldn’t you want to?” He teased. Turning me to face him.
I found myself staring up at magnetic brown eyes. Eyes that when I looked into, I noticed tiny green and gold flecks. Irises which seemed to swirl in a hypnotic way. Perfectly symmetrical features. A square jaw and a straight nose, dark brows beneath a few loose curls of dark brown hair.
Everything about him seemed to exude life.
But these people are trapped here for an eternity. I told myself. Looking back at them and wondering how many of them might’ve been the same as me.
A simple girl bathing in the woods lured here by the Fey King and his dark magic.
At some point the King had begun swaying me side to side and now had me fully dancing in his arms. Far closer than was appropriate. My body molded to his as we moved as one.
I noticed that everyone else was dancing in slow intimate movements around the banquet table. The same as we did.
As if they are bid to mimic his every movement.
He twirled me and I realized that my billowing white nightdress had now turned a shining red velvet. Etched in green vinery across the low bodice and winding around my waist to send curling vines over one hip.
I gasped at the sight of the fine garment.
“You’re a beautiful creature.” He brought me against him again.
His hand linked tightly with mine. As if I might try to escape. He held our hands aloft above our heads as he tilted me to walk sideways with me to the steps of beating music that had suddenly begun somewhere in the hall and now echoed off every wall until it became a rising crescendo.
Humming along my flesh and vibrating my most intimate places.
I gasped and my head fell back as I felt quaking between my thighs as if an earthquake shook me with its ferocity.
“So beautiful.” He leaned forward to palm my throat and caress a slow hand down it’s column to span the top of my chest below my collar and sliding further until his long fingers brushed the rise of my breasts. And lower.
Suddenly he caressed a fingertip and a thumb over the distended nipples. Rubbing them in quick short movements that matched the vibrating low in my body. Everything in me tightened and I blew a long breath. My next tone caught and I stumbled a step in the dance as I tried to clutch my thighs closed. My back arched and a vicious climax tore through me like a whirlwind. Ripping from my core to wind through me. Like wild currents that didn’t stop until they crackled from my nipples to reach his fingertips.
I was almost shrieking in pleasure. My hand clutching his overcoat to hold myself up.
He gave a deep chuckle as he turned me again. Somehow making my feet lift in step to the dance despite that I was suddenly so weak I was clay in his hands.
04 Not the Last
When my body stopped shuddering and my back was able to bend from the rough curve it had clenched into, I found myself staring at him helplessly.
“What was that?” I queried.
“That, Sweet Thing, was only the first of many I’ll give you.” He looked over my head as he spun me again. “So, many…”
And as he turned me again, I stared at him in horror because despite my certainty that I could keep from plucking up even the merest bit of food in honor of my sweet Jason, I was now very sure that I had no hope of keeping the Fey King from possessing me until the morning.
He grinned and his gaze brightened on my face. “Ah, there it is…Now you know.”
“The surrender is there, in your eyes.” I noticed there was some heavy accent to his words. As if the human language was foreign to him. But it wasn’t any accent that I knew.
He’s utterly exotic. Inhuman.
He dipped me backward in the dance and there was an explosion of bedding as I fell into his giant bed. Nearly spanning an entire room.
Though I was sure he’d catch me anywhere I landed on it.
“I can’t.” I objected wanly. “Jason…”
“Jason isn’t here.” His face was between my breasts. Lathing his way down my sternum and kissing wetly along my ribs as if he were tasting me.
Like I’m the precious morsel.
He licked the underside of my breast and trailed it up to latch his mouth over my nipple. Tossing the blankets back around his shoulders.
I couldn’t even remember him taking off my dress. But I recalled the sound of ripping fabric.
Was that him tearing my clothes or me, his? I was almost too terrified of the answer to remember. But I was so dizzied by his touch that it was nearly as if I was intoxicated. What was happening to me seemed to go in and out in fragments. The haze of pleasure was nearly overwhelming.
My hands had wound through his dark hair. Feeling the silky thickness and tangling in it as I clutched him to me, desperately. As if I was afraid he might stop.
Please, please stop. I thought. Because it was becoming increasingly obvious I couldn’t gain the willpower to stop him.
His hands were everywhere. Touching me in slow swirling caresses that left me panting.
The more sounds I made, the more fevered his touch became.
“I’m going to possess every corner of your flesh.” He kissed up my neck. “Fill your holes until every part of you is yearning for me.”
The truly terrifying part was that I was certain he was right.
“Jason...” I murmured.
“Your ‘Jason’ isn’t here, Sweet Thing.” He showered kisses from one side of my neck to the other and down my body.
His lips felt like satin. His hands followed the curves of my hips to reach beneath me and scoop my buttocks. Guiding my thighs open as he drew me to him.
I’d never felt so many sensations at once. Heat, his hands which seemed to be everywhere, smooth lips touching my most intimate places.
His knowledge of my body exceeded my own. He knew every place to kiss or caress that set me on fire.
He leaned his pelvis forward and I felt the heavy weight of his member dragging along my crease.
I gasped and gripped along the bedding. Searching for something to hold onto.
To anchor me to reality.
His fingers slid from beneath my ass cheeks to touch along my entrance, rubbing in circular motions.
“Please!” I begged.
“Please, what, Sweet Thing?”
“Stop! Please stop.” I gasped.
“The wetness of your body tells me you want otherwise.” He continued his ministrations. Working his nimble fingers as he looked at me steadily. “Is that really what you want?”
I wanted to nod. But despite all my commands, my body wasn’t cooperating.
“Could you imagine...” He caught one thigh and guided my leg with a sweeping caress to fold over his hip. Flattening his palm on the outside as he dragged it more roughly back up the length to reach my hip, side, ribs and breast. Palming it as he pressed me down.
He did the same with his other hand on my other leg as he slowly, methodically leaned over me to whisper near my forehead. “if I stopped now. If I left you like this, walked away before you were filled, left you yearning and wanting.” He kissed my bangs lightly. “I could you know, if that’s what you really want.”
He moved lower so he could look in my face, waiting.
I was mesmerized by his green flecked, brown eyes and perfect features. His skin was smooth. Shimmering nearly gold in the flickering light of the nearby fire. Which danced over his flesh. His lips were swollen and hungry. His gaze nearly starved as it roved over me.
I could physically feel how ravenous he was. His deep desire to take me. To feel my wetness wrap around him and my body suckle his as I took him in.
I was panting in short breaths. Just trying to breathe. I was drowning in sensations.
In his need.
And I could do nothing other than fulfill it.
I lifted my hips to him as an offering. “Take me?”
He grinned, slow and evil. And he jerked forward and glided into me in one smooth thrust.
I yelped. Reaching to grab his shoulders with biting nails as I felt my body abruptly open for him. Swallowing him in. Tiny fragments of me giving way to make a path for him until he wholly filled me.
Entering me before I could object.
Before I could think.
My poor Jason.
“There will be others.” He whispered against my cheek as he rhythmically moved into me. “Other men who will,” he groaned in pleasure. “want you, feel you. And offer themselves to you. Jason will not be your first.” He leaned up to grin at me.