Enchanting raven, p.1
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       Enchanting Raven, p.1

         Part #2 of Curse of the Vampire Queen series by Jessica Sorensen
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Enchanting Raven


  Table of Contents

  Raven

  Rhyland

  Kingsley

  About the Author

  Also by Jessica Sorensen

  Enchanting Raven

  (Curse of the Vampire Queen, #2)

  Jessica Sorensen

  Enchanting Raven

  Jessica Sorensen

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2017 by Jessica Sorensen

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  Any trademarks, service marks, product names or names featured are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms.

  For information: jessicasorensen.com

  Cover Design by MaeIDesign

  Created with Vellum

  Contents

  1. Raven

  2. Rhyland

  3. Raven

  4. Raven

  5. Raven

  6. Raven

  7. Raven

  8. Raven

  9. Rhyland

  10. Raven

  11. Raven

  12. Rhyland

  13. Raven

  14. Raven

  15. Kingsley

  About the Author

  Also by Jessica Sorensen

  Raven

  My skinny legs shake as I sneak out into the trees. If my parents discover I’ve snuck out, I’ll be banished from going to Nadine’s nineteenth birthday party tomorrow. While I’m not a huge fan of Nadine, and rarely get to go to parties, this one I’ve been re-dying to attend. Not because I’ve suddenly developed a desire to hang out with my older sister and her stuck-up vampire friends. No, I want to go because he’ll be there. Just like he’s out here in the forest, waiting for me. I want to latch on to any excuse to see him before we say our goodbyes.

  Pulling the hood of my ankle-length velvet cloak over my head, I creep farther into the trees as the sunlight glistens from the sky, announcing daybreak.

  Most vampires are heading to bed by now, or are already fast asleep. Still, I worry someone will spot me and inform my parents. While I’m almost eighteen and old enough to wander off on my own, I’ll be in a lot of trouble if I’m seen having a secret rendezvous with him, my sister’s betrothed and the future king of the vampire species.

  While I’m not technically doing anything wrong—just sneaking out to see a vampire who’s been my friend for ages—my sister won’t see it like that. Normally, Nadine’s opinion isn’t even a blip on my concern radar, but now that she’s in line to be the future queen of the vampire world, she’ll soon be able to punish me whenever she wants and however she sees fit. Since Nadine has never liked me, I can imagine how awful of a punishment she’d give me if she caught me spending time in secret with her betrothed. I’m taking a huge risk being out here, but spending time with the soon-to-be king before he becomes forever tied to a vampire who despises me is important.

  Sucking in a breath, I quicken my pace, my thick, buckled boots crunching against the dry leaves and twigs covering the enchanted forest that surrounds Mystic Willow Bay.

  My family’s cottage is a few miles from the border of the enchanted woods, which required me to take a path through several quaint neighborhoods. If the wrong vampire is up this late, my mom will for sure hear about my journey away from my family’s cottage at such a late hour. But my cloak and hood should be enough to hopefully conceal my identity from any neighbors that are up late, along with the pixies who sometimes roam the woods.

  The farther I hike into the trees, the more relaxed I become. For various reasons, ranging from the risk of getting lost to running into a forest demon, hardly anyone comes this far into the forest. I’ve spent plenty of time here, though, and I know my way around. As for the forest demons, my hiding skills are above average. Sure, I may suck at most vampire abilities, like super speed and strength, but I’ve always possessed the ability to hide well when needs be. And I’ve had my fair share of times when I’ve needed to hide.

  “Where are you?” I mutter as I arrive at the towering rock where we normally meet.

  Usually, he beats me here, since he’s one of the fastest vampires in town. Perhaps he’s hiding? He’s done that a couple of times so he can sneak up and scare the shit out of me.

  After scanning the area and not seeing any sign of him, I decide I must’ve made it here first. That revelation makes me smile.

  Ha! I’m so going to tease him for being slower than one of the slowest vampires in town.

  Grinning, I clumsily climb up onto the rock and plop down on the flat top, stretching my legs and resting back on my hands. The rock is almost as tall as the trees, so I have a good view of the forest, but the trees are too thick to see much of anything besides leaves and branches.

  “Dang it, I was hoping I’d be able to see when he showed up so I can pay him back for all those times he snuck up on me,” I mutter with a sigh.

  “That sounds like a lot of fun to me.” The voice comes from right behind me, so close their breath tickles the back of my neck.

  Startled, I let out a high-pitched squeal that would put even the cry of a Banshee to shame and whirl around, nearly smacking my head against his. Luckily, his super speed and coordination registers quicker than my clumsiness and he slants back before we end up clanking skulls.

  “Holy evil demons, you scared me.” I press my hand to my chest as I narrow my eyes at the vampire in front of me. Dark hair, playful eyes, and dressed in black slacks, a matching loose shirt, and thick silver-strapped boots. Not the vampire I was supposed to be meeting, but I’m not surprised he’s here. “That wasn’t very nice.”

  His eyes glint wickedly. “Since when have I ever claimed to be nice?”

  “Never. And if you did, you’d be a liar.” I flash him a sassy smirk.

  He mirrors my smirk. “I am that, too.”

  I roll my eyes. “Oh, Kingsley, what it must be to live not caring about anything.”

  “Hey.” He presses his hand to his chest. “I take that as an insult.” His eyes sparkle mischievously. “I care about a lot of things.”

  I crook a brow. “Like what?”

  His grin broadens. “Women, sex, a good blood boost … Did I say women and sex?”

  I roll my eyes, trying not to smile, which would encourage him more.

  “Don’t pretend like you don’t find me amusing,” he teases, tugging on a strand of my long, raven black hair.

  “I don’t,” I tease. “In fact, I think you’re the most boring vampire I’ve ever met.”

  He juts out his bottom lip. “How you wound me so. Seriously, I came here to declare my undying love for you and this is how you treat me?”

  I snort a laugh. “You’re such a liar.”

  A grin lights up his pretty face. “I think we already established that, didn’t we?”

  I can’t stop the smile from rising. Kingsley’s own smile magnifies.

  We’ve done this so many times—bantered back and forth—that I can predict what’s coming next.

  “I win the game,” he beams, sitting down on the rock beside me.

  I twist around and stare out at the forest, the sunlight stinging my eye. “Just because I smiled doesn’t mean you won that argument. And we weren’t playing a game.”

  “Yes, we were. We always are.
He nudges his shoulder against mine. “Don’t worry, though; I’ll let you win the next round.”

  “Gee, thanks,” I reply dryly, to which he laughs.

  I pretend to be annoyed when I’m not. This is how Kingsley and I are toward each other. Have been ever since the day we became friends. He pushes my buttons, and I push his, but in a playful way. And while I’ll never admit it aloud, he’s right. It is sort of a game. I also secretly enjoy our time together, another thing I’ll keep to myself forever.

  Part of me worries, though, that everything will change when the crowning ceremony takes place. That my friendship with Kingsley and Rhyland will never be the same. That our time hanging out in the forest, joking and playing and causing all sorts of trouble will be no more.

  “Why are you here, anyway?” I shoot Kingsley a grin, pretending I’m more okay than I am. “I’m supposed to be meeting Rhyland.”

  He shrugs, amusement dancing at his lips. “Rhyland invited me. Thought it’d be good for the three of us to spend some time together before … Well, you know.”

  I get what he’s saying, and I usually don’t mind the three of us spending time together, but the strangest drop of sadness rises inside me. I wish I could’ve spent a little time with Rhyland alone.

  “No offense, Kings, but I sort of thought the whole point of Rhyland and I meeting here today was so that him and I could have some alone time before he gets hitched to the bitch.”

  He chuckles, but the humor doesn’t reach his eyes. “That was the plan, but …” He presses his lips together. “He thought it might be better if I tagged along to keep an eye on things.”

  “What sort of things? Wait. Was he worried someone would find out we were sneaking out here?” I guess it sort of makes sense. If someone did find out Rhyland was meeting me in the forest, it wouldn’t seem as bad with Kingsley here. Not that Rhyland and I would do anything bad if Kingsley wasn’t here. We’re just friends. Close friends. Have been since we were little. But Nadine wouldn’t see it like that. She’d think I came out here to have sex with Rhyland and feast on his blood. Wouldn’t be the first time she’s accused me of such a thing. She once thought I was secretly hooking up with her boyfriend just because I laugh at his joke. That night, she’d tiptoed into my room while was asleep and cut off my hair.

  Now that she is going to be queen, she’ll more than likely cut off my head.

  I frown at the memory, wishing Nadine had never been chosen as queen. A lot of vampires shared my feeling the day Fate chose her. Nadine was known around town as selfish, mean, stuck up, and completely vain—none of the makings of a good ruler.

  “Rhyland’s worried about a lot of things,” Kingsley mutters, tearing me out of my troubled thoughts.

  “That’s understandable. He has a lot of responsibility heading his way. But I’m sure he can handle it.” Sometimes, I wish he didn’t have to. Sometimes I wish he’d never gotten chosen, so I wouldn’t have to lose my friend. Selfish, I know. But I can’t help how I feel.

  “Having to and wanting to are two different things,” Kingsley mutters, staring out at the trees.

  “Rhyland wants to be king. He’s dreamt about wearing the crown for as long as I can remember.”

  He sighs tiredly. “That’s not what I’m talking about.”

  “What are you talking about, then? You’re being very confusing, even for you.”

  His lips pull into a grin, but then his smile fades quickly as he sniffs the air. “What the …?” He tenses, rising to his feet, his eyes fixed on the trees before us. “Something’s wrong.”

  The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I stumble to my feet and try to track his gaze, but all I see are trees. That doesn’t mean that nothing is out there. Kingsley is an emperor, one of the best, and has already been chosen to guard the king and queen, another reason I worry everything is about to change. If he senses something is wrong, then something is.

  “What is it?” I ask, squinting against the sunlight.

  He holds up a finger then inches toward the ledge of the rock and peers down. “Well, this isn’t good.”

  Panic flares through me as I rush to his side to see what sort of trouble we’re about to get into. When I peer over the edge, however, all I see are trees, dirt, and more trees.

  “I don’t see anything,” I whisper, glancing up at Kingsley.

  Only, he’s no longer at my side.

  I whirl around, my gaze tracking the top of the rock. He either took off somewhere or vanished into thin air. Since vampires aren’t known for their stellar teleportation skills, my bet is the first.

  “Kingsley.” I inch toward the opposite side of the rock. “Quit messing around.”

  The whisper of the breeze is my only answer.

  I shudder. This is so bad.

  “This isn’t funny—”

  As the tips of my boots reach the edge of the rock again, a swish of air rushes across my skin as a figure breezes past me.

  “Kings?” A nervous edge creeps into my tone. “Please stop. This isn’t funny anymore.”

  A soft giggle travels up from below. A giggle way too feminine and faerie-like to belong to Kingsley.

  Sucking in a breath, I lean forward and peer over the—

  Lips touch my earlobe as fingers splay around my waist. “Be careful. If you fell, my heart would be crushed forever.”

  I let out a Banshee of a squeal for the second time today, fear pulsating through my veins and sending me tripping over my feet. My stomach twists into knots as I start to tip off the ledge. Sure, the fall wouldn’t kill me, but knowing me, I’d land awkwardly and probably break a bone. Luckily, the fingers on my waist tighten, holding me in place. Then a very familiar chuckle touches my ear.

  “Relax, Rave, I’d never let you fall.”

  Shaking my head, I wiggle around until I’m facing a very smug-looking Rhyland. “You know, when I became friends with both the Midnitegale brothers, everyone said I was crazy, that you guys were trouble and would get me into trouble. I’m really starting to believe they were right.”

  His pierced lips curve into a smile, strands of his blond hair sweeping across his forehead as the wind picks up. “Right or wrong is beside the point. Trouble or not, you still love us. Or well, me. I’d hate to think your heart belongs to Kingsley, too.”

  I dramatically roll my eyes, ignoring my stupid, fluttering heart. It’s been doing that for the past several months, every time he smiles or teases me, or tucks a strand of hair behind my ear, as if it’s somehow forgotten that Rhyland and I are just friends. Or that I made a vow to myself a long time ago that I’d never fall for either of the Midnitegale brothers. And I refuse to go back on that vow.

  Besides, not only does Rhyland see me as just a friend, he’ll soon be the king and my sister’s husband. And while he may not be a fan of Nadine, he’ll eventually fall in love with her. That’s how the rules work. Although, I’ve often wondered how love can come with rules, but what do I know? I’ve never been in love before.

  My heart dances in my chest, as if laughing at my denial.

  “Aw, you’re so cute when you pretend you don’t love me.” Rhyland lightly kisses my nose, eliciting another stupid flutter from my heart.

  Damn heart really needs to shut up before it gets me into trouble. The little kiss on the nose doesn’t mean anything. Rhyland’s been doing that sort of stuff to me for a few years now.

  I roll my eyes at him to play off my nerves, and he laughs at me.

  I sigh in defeat. “Fine, I might like you guys just a little bit.” I hold up my finger and thumb a sliver of an inch apart. “Maybe about this much.”

  Removing one hand from my waist, he adjusts my thumb and finger farther apart. “No way. Your love for me is at least this big.”

  I snort a laugh. “You’re such a vampire nerd.”

  “If I am, then what does that make you?” he questions with a smirk.

  “The poor vampire who felt sorry enough for you that she sacri
ficed her entire life just to be your friend.”

  “Wow, she sounds pretty amazing.”

  “She completely is.”

  We stare each other down then bust up laughing. All jokes aside, Rhyland is anything but a vampire nerd, and I’m lucky he’s been my friend for so long. Kingsley, too. Speaking of which …

  “Where’d your brother run off to?” I question. “I’m guessing someplace far away, so I won’t kick his ass for the little stunt he pulled.”

  “Aw, Rave, please don’t tease me like that.” Kingsley zips up onto the rock, grinding to a stop behind Rhyland. “Always joking about kicking my ass.” He steps toward me, his eyes sparkling wickedly. “Yet you never actually do it.”

  “Be grateful I don’t. I’d totally win.” I’m so full of shit. I couldn’t even kick a bat’s ass if I tried.

  Kingsley chews on his bottom lip. “Maybe I want you to win. The idea does sound pretty appealing now that I think about it.” He gives me a look that makes me blush. “We could get down on the ground and roll around a little bit. Maybe even take our clothes off.”

  I keep a neutral expression, despite my flushing cheeks. “How many times have I told you, in your dreams, pretty boy?”

  “Aw, did you hear that, Rhy?” Kingsley teases. “Rave thinks I’m pretty.”

  “Yep, as pretty as a pixie.” My smile is sugary sweet. Vampires loathe being compared to pixies.

  Kingsley wets his lips, his eyes darkening. “Well, you look like something I’d like to take a bite—”

  “Kingsley, knock it off,” Rhyland warns, his fingers twitching on my hip.

  Huh? Since when does Rhyland get irritated when Kingsley and I joke around with each other?

  “I know you’re stressed, but you need to fucking relax.” Kingsley shakes his head at Rhyland. “I’m just teasing her like I always do. It’s kind of our thing. Always has been.”

 
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