Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Enchanting Raven, Page 6

Jessica Sorensen

  “Not into the party, huh?” Kingsley appears beside me and rests his arms on the railing.

  “You know I’m not big on parties.” No matter how much I want to, I can’t seem to look away from Rhyland and Nadine.

  Look away, Raven, look away. It’ll hurt less.

  “No, you never were, were you? Neither is my brother. In a lot of ways, you two are very alike. From your boring tastes to your virgin statuses,” he teases, tugging on a strand of my hair. Then he freezes before gliding his hand downward to the side of my neck. “Or maybe not.”

  Yanking my focus off the happy-looking couple down below, I blink at him. “Huh?”

  The rough pad of his finger skims along the bite wounds on my neck. “Did someone lose their virgin biter status tonight?” The playfulness in his tone doesn’t match the worry in his eyes.

  I shrug, tears stinging my eyes as memories of Rhyland sinking his teeth into my neck overpower me. It feels like forever ago. Another time. Another place. Another life. “Yeah, so what if I did? I’m eighteen years old; I’m allowed to be bitten and bite if I want to.”

  He rubs his lips together. “And who was the lucky creature who got to sink his fangs into that pretty neck of yours?”

  My gaze involuntarily flicks to where Rhyland and Nadine are dancing, just in time to see him tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear, a move he often does with me.

  Kingsley tracks my gaze and a small smile tugs at his lips. “So, my brother finally vampired up.” A huge smile spreads across his face, but then vanishes when he meets my gaze. “Rave, you know Nadine means nothing to him, right? He’s only dancing with her because he has to.”

  I lean against the railing, staring at the floor below. “He seems happy.”

  “Trust me; he’s not. He’s only playing the part to avoid you getting hurt.”

  I already feel hurt. And stupid.

  The queen’s warning rings inside my head. Don’t worry; I’m not going to hurt the girl or your future king. No, they’re going to hurt each other.

  Sucking back tears, I move away from the balcony. “I have to go. Tell Rhyland congrats on getting crowned. I forgot to mention it earlier.” Earlier when we were kissing and biting each other.

  Kingsley captures my arm. “Rave, don’t do this. Rhyland cares about you more than you even realize. Things are just complicated right now, but if you give him some time, he’ll figure something out.”

  Things will always be complicated. The truth rings clearly through my head.

  Incidents like tonight will always happen. Because, when it all comes down to it, Rhyland will always choose Nadine over me. And if he doesn’t, we’ll both end up dead.

  I sigh as I wiggle my arm from his hold. “There’s no real future for Rhyland and me. Not a painless one, anyway.” I dodge around him and start down the hallway, calling over my shoulder, “You might want to keep an extra eye on things tonight. The fey queen was here earlier.” Then I speed off into the night as my heart splits apart and agonizing pain splinters my chest. Pain. So much pain.

  How can heartache hurt this much?

  As I reach the edge of the forest, I collapse to my knees.

  The queen was right. We will hurt each other.

  “I just want the pain to go away,” I whisper as tears spill from my eyes.

  “Soon,” I swear I hear the wind whisper. “Very, very soon you won’t remember the pain at all.”


  As cliché as this is going to sound, I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. Maybe make better, rational choices. The night of my very first crowning ceremony would be where I’d start. Instead of leaving the balcony to do my kingly duty of dancing with the queen, I would’ve stayed outside with Raven. Kiss her longer, drank more of her blood, let her devour me.

  But that stupid banging noise ruined everything.

  At the time, I didn’t realize it was the fey queen. I thought it was a guard. He was outside my chamber doors when I went to investigate the crashing noise and informed me that I needed to get downstairs for the king and queen’s first dance. Stupidly, I just assumed it was him and had panicked over how close Raven and I had been to getting caught. The last thing I ever wanted was for her to get hurt. So, in order to avoid raising suspicions, I immediately went downstairs and left Raven alone in my chambers.

  My plan was to return to her after the dance, but then she saw me dancing with Nadine and thought my fake smiles and touches were real. Never in a hundred decades—which I can legitimately say—have I ever liked Nadine. She has always been a bitch. Even back then, I couldn’t stand the sight of her. But as her betrothed, I had to pretend I did. Pretend I liked the bitch.

  That is the one consistent thing—no matter how many times our lives reset, Nadine is still a bitch I have to pretend to like. When Fate chose her as queen before this curse started, a lot of vampires questioned if it was a mistake. But all the Eternal Readers insisted it was true. Even now, I still wonder if perhaps her being chosen queen back then was a mistake, or something messed with our destinies.

  Whether it’s true or not, Nadine getting chosen as queen sparked this everlasting fire of hell we all continue to burn in. But it was me who dumped gasoline on the tiny flame and set our lives ablaze. Now we’re all trapped here, most creatures unaware.

  Sometimes, I envy the rest of the population who doesn’t know about the repetitive hell that is our lives.

  “You seem distracted,” Kingsley remarks from across the tent.

  I pull myself out of my thoughts and tear my gaze off Raven, who lies in bed, fast asleep. She didn’t fall asleep this time because I doped her up with a sleep spell. No, the reason she’s sleeping so soundly right now is the curse paid the castle a visit last night.

  “I am distracted,” I admit. “The curse almost reset today, and it’s still a handful of days before the crowning ceremony. That’s never happened before. Her death has always been during the crowning ceremony. Never before.”

  “I know.” Kingsley stares off across the tent, the wind outside howling against the fabric walls. “It doesn’t make any sense. Unless there was some sort of fine print in the contract you signed.”

  My chest tautens at the mention of the contract, the catalyst to the curse. Well, I guess not. The real catalyst was dancing with Nadine.

  The night all our lives erupted in flames.

  “There was no fine print.” I recline in the chair and prop my foot up on my knee. “That doesn’t mean she can’t change things. She does all the time. And she said something to me early last night before the smoke showed up that has me wondering if she’s about to change all the rules.”

  His brows elevate. “She visited you last night?”

  I shake my head. “No, she spoke in my thoughts.” I stare down at my hands. “I hate it when she does that. It’s too intimate. That’s supposed to be mine and Raven’s thing.”

  “That’s probably why she does it—to fuck with you.”

  “I know.” I rub my lips together. “There’s not much I can do about it, other than get this damn curse broken. But, according to what she said last night, we’re all going to lose, even if we break the curse.”

  Kingsley’s mouth curves into a frown. “Did she say why?”

  “Does she ever?”

  “No, but … Shit. This can’t be good.”

  “Nothing ever is with her. The creature is straight-up crazy.”

  “Fuck crazy. She’s a straight-up evil bitch who gets her entertainment from other creatures’ sufferings.”

  I rub my lips together. “Sometimes I wonder if the curse is more than just about entertainment for her. That it might just be the start to something bigger.”

  “I’ve often thought that, too.” Kingsley plops down on the ground and stretches his legs out across the floor, his gaze briefly straying to Raven. Part of me wishes he would leave, but the other part of me knows he has to stay and do his duty to protect the king. “I have a few
theories as to why.”

  As Raven lets out a soft whimper, I reach out and brush her hair away from her face. I pretend not to notice the way Kingsley tracks my movements with a drop of jealousy in his eyes. If I called him out on it, he’d deny it.

  I haven’t forgotten his role in this curse.

  “And what are your theories?” I relax back in the chair after Raven settles down.

  “That even if we break this curse, we’ll still be cursed, which would explain why the queen said that to you.”

  “Maybe. But the question is: how?”

  He shrugs, staring down at his hands. “I wonder if the rebellions and the reconstructed creatures that keep multiplying every time the curse resets are going to be the ones who control the lands after the curse is broken.”

  I arch my brow. “How would that work? If Raven does break the curse, she and I will still be queen and king. That was what got me to agree to the curse to begin with. Well, that and hatred. Although, if I would’ve known the entire truth, I wouldn’t have agreed to it.”

  “Maybe you would’ve, though. You weren’t thinking very clearly that night. I don’t blame you.” He rubs his hand across his face with a weighted sigh. “You know I regret what happened, but I can’t keep apologizing when you refuse to let it go.”

  “I can’t let it go,” I choke out. “Not until this fucking curse is over.”

  “You might need to try so that it can end.” He lowers his hand from his face and sighs. “Maybe none of this even matters. Maybe, even if Raven does break the curse, we’ll still end up cursed.”

  “And what is your basis on this theory of the rebellions? Or is it just one of your hunches? Generally, those usually aren’t accurate.”

  He rolls his eyes. If he wasn’t my twin, I’d think Kingsley wasn’t remorseful for his role in the curse. But ever since we were kids, he’s covered up his feelings with sarcasm and indifference, except for that one damn night.

  “This isn’t a hunch. I …” He hesitates. “I’ve been talking to a fey servant.”

  Rage flares through me. “Are you fucking nuts? A fey servant? A faerie?”

  “She’s trustworthy,” he insists. “I swear she is.”

  “Yeah, says every faerie ever.”

  “This one isn’t like other fey.”

  Now I’m the one to roll my eyes. “Since when have you been this stupid over a female?”

  “I’m not being stupid. She did a Blood Oath with me.”

  I restlessly drum my fingers on the armrest. “I still think you shouldn’t trust her. Fey … they have a way of twisting things around so you can’t see clearly. Trust me; I know.”

  He lifts a shoulder. “You may not trust her, but I do. And she’s given me some useful information.”

  “Which is?”

  “That the queen gains something each time the curse resets, and that, when the curse ends, she’ll gain even more.” He kneels then pushes to his feet. “And while I can’t be certain, I have a hunch”—his lips briefly quirk—“that it has to do with the rebellions. Because, every time the curse resets, the rebellions and created vampires in Mystic Willow Bay multiply. And at the rate we’re going, by the time Raven does break the curse—if she ever does—almost the entire population of Mystic Willow Bay will be created vampire and have all sorts of crazy powers. And if she is the one controlling them, even if you and Raven are king and queen, you won’t have enough power to fight them. Not without help from other lands, anyway.”

  “You make it sound like we’ll have to go to war.”

  “We might, if the curse is ever broken.”

  “Why does she keep upping her antics to end the curse sooner if she gains something out of it not ending?”

  He steps toward me. “Probably because her army isn’t ready yet. And neither is ours.”

  “What army? All we have are guards, and not that many.”

  The corners of his lips kick up. “We don’t have one yet. But we are in the Land of Moonlight where the most powerful creatures reside. Even more powerful than her.”

  “How do we get them to fight for us?” I rake my fingers through my hair. “They’ve got their own war going on.”

  “They might now, but we have someone who can end their war.” He gives a pressing glance at Raven.

  “Only if she’s not cursed and can completely remember who she is.” I brush my fingers along her cheekbone. “And since the curse just about reset only hours ago, my bet is we’re not going to conquer the curse this time.”

  He quirks a brow. “Now what kind of attitude is that?”

  I frown. “The kind that’s stemmed from years and years of living the same miserable lie.”

  Kingsley crouches in front of me. “Don’t get discouraged. You’re our only way out of this.”

  “No, she is.”

  “No, you are,” he insists. “That’s what you’ve never understood.”

  “You know I have no control over half the things I do,” I growl out, my fingers curling into fists. “And half the damn time, I’m not even sure if it’s supposed to end with me.”

  His brows dip. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

  I carry his gaze, letting the drop of hatred I sometimes feel for him shine through. “You know what happened. You should be able to figure it out.”

  He smashes his lips together, his gaze drifting to Raven and causing my blood to boil. “I don’t really think this is about me.”

  “It’s the only thing we haven’t tried,” I snap, rising to my feet. “So maybe it’s time to find out.”

  I start to storm out of the tent into the snow when he calls out my name. Despite how much I don’t want to, I freeze. I have too much pride to turn around, though.


  “I was just going to say that you need to be careful. I’m not positive yet, but I think there is a traitor in our midst.”

  I turn around, the wind hitting my back. “The guards or someone else?”

  “I don’t know yet.” He lingers in the doorway of the tent, his gaze sweeping the land around me. “Whatever was creeping around Raven’s room didn’t leave any trace evidence behind, which means—”

  “That it was someone we welcomed into the castle.” I let out a string of curses. “Maybe it was her.”

  He shakes his head. “She was never welcomed into the castle. She forces us to let her in. Now, I’m not saying whatever it is isn’t working for her, but something was definitely in Raven’s room.”

  “What do you think it was after?”

  “Honestly, it might not have been after anything. It could’ve been doing something to help speed up the curse. The smoke did show up right afterward.”

  “Yeah, but she can do that whenever she wants. She doesn’t need a reason.” I rub my scruffy jawline. “Maybe it was after Raven.” That idea doesn’t sit well with me at all. “Or something she’s hiding in her room.”

  He peeks back at Raven, then his gaze settles on me again. “What could she possibly be hiding?”

  I shrug. “I have no idea, but maybe something that explains why she’s so different this time around.” Worry rises inside me as my gaze drifts over his shoulder into the tent where Raven sleeps. “We need to keep an extra eye on her. Summon Harper to look after her while we have our meeting.”

  “Why Harper?”

  “Because she’s half-fey and can detect when other fey are around. And we’ve never welcomed her into the castle, so we know it wasn’t her who was sneaking around Raven’s chambers.”

  “Good point.”

  “We need to be careful around everyone else, and keep this between us. You know how this curse works. We can only trust each other and Raven. That always stays the same, no matter what.”

  He nods. “I know.”

  “Too bad trust didn’t work that way in our first life.” I walk off without so much as a glance back. This isn’t the first time I’ve left Kingsley and Raven behind in a room together with roaring fury bu
rsting through my body. The last time was right before this madness started.

  Only moments before the curse began.


  Groaning, I roll onto my side as my eyelids flutter open. My head feels like it’s been run over by a hearse, my throat is on fire, and my stomach clenches.

  Thirsty. I’m so fucking thirsty.

  Pushing up onto my elbows, I peer around, expecting to be in my queen chambers. Nope. The walls around me are made of thick, dark purple material that stretches upward into a peak, and a thick wool rug covers the grassy floor. There are no windows, no solid wood doors, only areas where the material is bunched and fastened with silk ribbons. The air smells of smoky, charred wood, a hint of magical, soft, iridescent light filters through the material walls and roof, and wind chimes ring from someplace close by.

  “Where the heck am I?” I mumble as I unsteadily roll out of bed and wobble to my feet.

  My knees knock together as I stumble toward one of the flaps of the tent with dizziness spinning in my head. Thirst pains pierce my throat more potently than I’ve ever felt, making me question how long I’ve been unconscious. Or did Rhyland cast a sleep spell on me again? I can’t recall much, other than smoke funneling down the castle hallway, Rhyland taking off with me in his arms, then me passing out. And then that dream—no, that memory—of Rhyland and I on the balcony and everything that happened afterward. I can almost still taste his intoxicating blood on my lips and feel the blinding heartache that possessed my heart when I saw him dancing with Nadine.

  I still can’t wrap my head around it. That Rhyland once broke my heart. How can that be real? How can I have ever loved him enough for my heart to be broken?

  And then there’s the fey queen. She had to have played a part in the curse. Perhaps she was even the creature who cursed me. According to my journal, even in my past lives, I suspected she did. Now, I’m nearly certain. But the question remains: why? And why was she even in Rhyland’s chambers that night, trying to make a bargain with me?