Relena wants freedom, depending on herself and not having to answer to anyone, but a betrayal takes that away. The last thing she expected was the incredibly handsome Marren to free her. The catch? She has to fall in love with him, fulfill a prophecy involving their heart song, and rejoin the two realms. But Jiren, the last Ancient of his kind, isn’t convinced and will stop at nothing to maintain his throne, even if it means breaking their most sacred law.
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Something fell on my shoulder, jarring me from my relaxed state. I shrugged off the weight and then a painful groan fell on my ears. I turned to find Marren picking himself up off the floor in front of the cracked door that hung half off its hinges.
“Oh no, Marren! Are you—how did I do that?” I was caught off guard as soon as the realization I was responsible dawned on me.
“The change has been coursing through your body before you actually turn. Your strength has already evolved.” He stood, stretched his shoulders and neck then took a fighting stance.
“Seriously, you want to spar? Now?”
His lips pulled taut, revealing bright white teeth, the thrill of his intentions gleaming in his eyes.
“Marren,” I said, pleading to no avail.
He lunged at me. I jumped out of the way before he reached me, sending him sliding into the fireplace, chipping a piece of the marble off.
He picked himself up. “Come on, Relena. Don’t you want to play?”
“Any other day maybe, but I’m in pain, I’m scared, and the last thing on my mind is trying to break every bone in my body before I change.”
“You won’t break anything.” He ran at me, this time much faster, tackling me to the floor. A loud crack and a sharp pain entered my ribs, and I hit my head hard against the floor, leaving a spot filling with blood, despite a lack of pain. I kicked him off me and tried rolling to my side to get up. He overpowered me, pinning my legs in between his and my arms above my shoulders. “See?”
I panted, trying to push the wave of desire back, not wanting to change in the middle of that above all. I tried to struggle from under him. He held me in place, chuckling under his breath at my feeble attempts to break free. A light shone in his onyx eyes that I didn’t catch before. His smile faded as his gaze softened, and he gently touched his lips to mine. Slowly, his kiss deepened, becoming harder, more feverish. He released my hands, sliding his down the length torso to my waist. In one thrilling swoop, he lifted me to my feet.
“Something has you in a lighter mood tonight,” I said.
“I’m simply experiencing the euphoric effect you have on me.”
“I hate you,” I teased.
“Why?” It came out in his chuckle.
“You have a beautiful world, a beautiful language, such amazing, beautiful things to say to me, and that makes me feel inadequate. I don’t have a beautiful world to give you or a beautiful language, and my words are plain compared to yours.”
“Relena, you gave more than you can ever possibly understand. You don’t need fancy words, a different language, or a different world to be adequate for me. I’m the one who should feel that way. I’m the inadequate one. I say those things not just because I mean them but also because anything less would not be worthy of you. What you gave me is beyond what words can say. Your gift is the rarest beauty, the most sacred of all . . . You gave me yourself.”
As he spoke, his words touched me. My heart fluttered. I focused through the tears filling my eyes as I reached eager fingertips to his lips. I slid my hand along his face to the back of his head, closing the space between us. I paused before my lips connected to his and whispered, “I love you.”
He squeezed me, bringing my lips to his. Our emotions, for the first time, were aligned. With the way it seemed, I was sure a light shone between us, like a sun, that filled the room and flowed down the hall, over the balcony, and into the world, spreading the light of our love.
But the dark side of our love shadowed our moment in the form of a painful cramp, like a dozen blades slicing across my torso, coursed throughout my body. My skin seared red hot as though layers were peeled off. I couldn’t move. The hurt was too much. I was forced under the weight of the pain and held under as the change ripped through me.
When my skin seemed to no longer cover my bones, the sensation of acid poured on me took over. The fire coursed through my veins until nothing remained but ash and bone. Even then, the pain didn’t stop as every section of bone was shattered by boulders. Once I had no more to be consumed, the pain ripped through me again, starting over from the beginning, with the sensation of peeling muscle and skin, taking the layers one at a time, and as slowly as possible, so that the pain turned bittersweet.
Marren said I wouldn’t die, but I wished I would. The pain was incomparable to anything I had ever experienced before. I wanted it to end, to never experience pain again. Yet, it kept coming. I endured the continuous sensation of being consumed, piece by piece, for what I thought lasted like hours. Then an ease in the intensity. Until the pain ebbed, leaving me afraid to move for fear it would rush back through me again.
About the Author
A Kansas native, Samantha LaFantasie spends her free time with her spouse and three kids. Writing has always been a passion of hers, forgoing all other desires to devote to this one obsession, even though she often finds herself arguing with her characters through much of the process. She’s primarily a fantasy writer but often feels pulled to genres such as sci-fi, romance, and others. Samantha became a bestselling author with the Pandora Boxed Set (which includes Made to Forget: Nepherium Novella series--Part One) on both Amazon and USA Today. Samantha loves to take time to enjoy other activities such as photography and playing her favorite game of all time, Guild Wars 2.