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LUNAR COURT - Sneak Peek!




From Middle of Chapter One


Chris


“Do you or do you not want to save Cosette’s life?”


I inhaled, and the hot sand felt like embers in my lungs, but I barely felt it. All I could think was that Cosette was in danger, and I had to get to her. But I was in the Sahara, thousands of miles away.


I felt the shift start deep in my soul. Fur rippled along my skin as I battled for control. The human side of me wanted to ask Eli questions, but the wolf didn’t give a shit. He wanted to fight.


Pain drove me to the ground, and it felt like every muscle in my body was ripping and tearing and reforming into its new shape. The wolf was clawing its way free, driven by his need to find her—to get to her—to be with her no matter the cost, no matter how impossible it was—and it hit me in that moment as I screamed in pain what an idiot I was.


Only one thing could make my wolf this powerful. And with that realization, I was able to take control again.


I laid flat on the ground, trying to catch my breath. My wolf finally settled down, as if he were glad I was finally paying attention.


“You done?” Eli sounded bored, but he could be bored. I was in the middle of a fucking revelation.


I’d thought I could get over Cosette with a little distance, a little distraction, but nothing was going to change what I felt for her. It was way too late for that. The bond between us was tiny and weak and unacknowledged, but I could feel it now. So fragile. So, so faint. I hadn’t noticed it, but my wolf knew. He fucking knew. That’s why he was going to claim her this morning.


Shit. I needed to track her down, and that meant going back to where I’d seen her last. I stood from where I’d fallen, sand raining down from my clothes. “Take me back to campus now.”


“I will if that’s what you want, but she’s not there. She left as soon as you did.”


I willed myself to hold onto my shit while I figured out what the hell Eli was saying. “She’s not there?”


“No.”


“Then take me to wherever she is.”


“No. She’s at the Lunar Court.”


Fur rippled along my skin as I closed the distance between us, ready to tear his throat out if he didn’t tell me what I needed to hear. “Is she okay?”


“So dramatic.”


I growled and he rolled his eyes, effectively taunting my wolf even more.


“She’s alive, for now. But she won’t be for long if you don’t keep heading east.”


I paced away from him for a few steps so that I could think. I knew she didn’t like being at court, but she never told me why. It never occurred to me that it was dangerous. Her mother’s the queenand she had Van and a ton of other guards to protect her. She should’ve been fine.

Something had to have gone wrong.


“Something has gone wrong.” Eli was reading my mind again, but this time I didn’t care. I wanted the answer. “The Lunar Court is destabilizing, and there’s been a hefty reward for Cosette’s head. One that’s too tempting to them to ignore.”


Motherfucker. “Then you should’ve grabbed Tessa or Dastien or someone Alpha.” I hated that I had to say it, but it was the truth. Even if it burned in my gut hotter than the fires of hell. I was alpha—little a. Little power. “I won’t survive there. I’ll be a slave. Worse than a slave. I’d be no help to her, and she can’t—”


“Not if you go to the Court of Gales first and gain more power. Or—more accurately—lose your tie to the moon.”


Everything stopped—the wind, the heat, the feeling of exhaustion that had been beating through every muscle in my body—and all I could hear were his words echoing in my mind.


Someone in the Court of Gales could change my lunar tie?


This was huge. Mind-blowing. Seemingly impossible.


But if it were true, then Eli wasn’t just going to help me save Cosette’s life. He was offering me a chance to have a future with my mate. I would be able to survive in the Lunar Court without fear of being controlled.


No. There had to be a catch. Power always came with a cost, and that level of magic—untying my werewolf from its link to the moon? That was a sell-your-soul kind of a bargain.


“If it gives you a shot at being with Cosette, what price wouldn’t you pay?”


My annoyance at Eli and his shitty, patronizing tone hit me first, but was quickly obliterated by complete and all-consuming fear. Fear that made my vision speckle and gray and narrow until my knees grew weak and I knew if I didn’t get air into my lungs soon, I wasn’t going to stay upright for much longer. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t fucking believe I was considering entering the Court of Gales alone. But that’s exactly what I was going to do. I would give up everything I was for her, and that scared the shit out of me.


But Eli was right. Even if I was tricked into exchanging my soul for the releasing of my lunar tie, it would be worth it. If Cosette was in trouble, then there wasn’t a price I wouldn’t pay.

From Middle of Chapter Two


Cosette

The walls of my mother’s office brightened as we stepped inside. Gold and white marble filled the room. We walked across a rich deep blue carpet, flecked with gold and silver—like the early night sky—covering the floor. An ornate gold-framed mirror hung behind her desk—one she took calls on, for those who knew how to reach it and dared to try. A sitting area was off to one side, with a large black velvet couch. It was piled with pillows in rich purples, teals, and magentas. A galaxy of pillows fit for the queen of a celestial court.


My mother strode to her desk, leaned back against it, and waited for me to talk.


“Are we truly unheard?”


My mother gave me a soft smile, as if proud of me even though I ceased being a child long ago. She lifted her hand in the air. “Ears may not hear. Eyes may not see.” The magic took root and she tilted her head. “Satisfied?”


“I’ve never asked you to reach my father before, and trust me—I’m not taking this request lightly. But I must talk to him, and you have to help me get—”


“I don’t have to do any such thing.” The soft smile disappeared along with any sign of approval. She straightened from the desk, and there was anger on her face like I hadn’t seen since she first saw the video that destroyed our whole way of life.


I usually would’ve backed down—I didn’t like to piss off my mother—but not today. “It’s been weeks and—”


“Do you trust Eli?”


“I did before he’d left me—left me—in the Court of Gales, surrounded by enemies, badly injured, bleeding, barely hanging on with no way to get home. But I think it’s safe to say that no, I don’t trust him. Not anymore. Do you blame me?”


My mother’s anger cracked a little, and she gave me a sly grin. “Eli’s not all bad, and—”


“He has his own view of the world and we’re all expendable to him.” I crossed my arms, daring my mother to say otherwise.


“Now that’s not fair.” She went back to leaning on the desk. The soft smile was back, and I relaxed just a little bit. I was winning her back, one bit at a time.


“Eli favors you because of your father. I don’t think he’d call you expendable at all.”


I wasn’t sure the was true, but I’d give her the benefit of the doubt. “Maybe so, but Christopher?”


My mother’s nod had a finality that terrified me. “Expendable.”


“You agree with me, but won’t help? Christopher matters to me. He’s my friend.”


“That feels perilously close to a lie. Don’t test me daughter. Telling a lie is treason here. It’s the only law that keeps our court from being total political cesspool, and the law would lose its meaning if I didn’t universally enforce it.” Her voice grew colder with every word. “Don’t force my hand on something so trivial, Cosette.”


I’d seen her kill before but executing me would break something in her. And a broken queen was a dangerous. But at least I wouldn’t be alive to watch the burning and blood and death that she would wreak when her heart blackened.


“No. I won’t lie to you. Not ever.” So, I didn’t dare say anything about my feelings for Chris.

“I’ve done everything you required for nearly two centuries. I have been and will continue to be your spy. I will go wherever you send me. I know the last few months have not gone according to plan, but—”


My mother straightened again, and I knew I was losing her. “According to plan?” Her tone was a sharp, honed tool. One she used to get her way. “Try again, daughter of mine.” There was no humor left in her, and I knew I had to tread lightly.


“Fine.” I clenched my fists. Mother was in a moodtoday. “They’ve been a disaster for the fey, but I’m not alone in the blame.” I couldn’t be held solely responsible for everything. She knew that.


“No one is saying that you are.” Her softer tone allowed me to take a breath, but then she stepped toward me. “However, the situation has changed. I know you’ve made this bargain, and I’ll allow you out as you are needed for that and that alone, but not for this. Not for some werewolf. You need to start acting the part while you’re here. No more blowing off suitors. No more dodging dinners. You show up and you play the part, or you will die.”


I met her gaze. “And which part am I supposed to play now?”


“Stop that disrespectful tone before you truly anger me.”


I bowed my head. It was the only apology she’d get from me right now. She’d kept me safe and alive and protected my whole life. It hadn’t come without a cost for either of us, but I needed help and she was refusing me.


“You were my spy, and you’ve done a fine job of it. Now, that job has passed. Your brother will pick it up well enough.”


That was a truly terrible idea. “Him? He can’t even think one step ahead, and you think he can do three or four? You want to talk about perilously close to a lie?”


“Right.” The queen became my mother with one soft laugh. For a moment, she was the woman I loved, not feared. “Well, he’ll either make it or he’ll die.”


That was a truth. A brutally harsh truth.


I’d never understand. Humans liked to talk about survival of the fittest. The fey lived survival of the fittest.


The assassins started coming after me on my twelfth birthday and my mother had done nothing. If she had, I would’ve seemed weak and the attempts would’ve doubled. Instead, I was given guards—Van and a few others. It was up to me to keep up my fighting skills and maintain my relationship with my guards so that they couldn’t be bought. It was up to me to prove that I was worthy of keeping my own life. That was the way of the fey.


For a time, the assassination attempts were terrifying, but they made me stronger. They became my new normal.


Eventually, I got tired of fighting for my right to live. I got sloppy, and I nearly died. And so, my mother sent me away.


I was her spy. After a good long while, I found a home in the Denver coven. I’d liked my life there.


But then I’d been sent to Texas. And damn it all, I loved it there. Even through the blood and demons and danger, I’d found friends. I’d found Christopher.


That day we went to wipe the minds of the police officers… He saw through me somehow. He saw me. The me that only my mother and Van got to see.


Nothing was the same after that night. For a lot of reasons.


Where are you Christopher? If only you’d answer my messages…


“Cosette?”


I blinked once. Twice. Bringing myself back to the moment. “I’ve asked everyone, and no one has seen Chris. I need my father to check where no one else can. I’m begging. Begging. If—”


“Don’t lower yourself to beg.” She got quiet for too long. I knew better than to speak when she was like that. “And don’t you dare lower yourself to make bargains. You are more than fey. You’re a princess. You will act as such. If you keep after this young werewolf, one of two things would happen. One, he would have to come to court. You know that he cannot survive in our world.”


“No. He can’t survive it.” It was why we’d never become anything more than friends. Nothing more than a hug. No kiss. Nothing that could feed my poor starving heart.


“Two, he refuses to come to court, and the assassins would find him and kill him.”


She was silent, waiting for me to say something, but there wasn’t anything for me to say.

Nothing for me to feel but the crushing knowledge that I would ruin the one person I longed to save. I struggled to keep my face calm. To keep my eyes from welling. To keep my heart from shattering with the weight of her truth.


“Either way, your friend is dead.” She put her hands in her pockets. I wondered if it was to keep from reaching out to me. But it didn’t matter. No comfort would help me. Not from this.


“What good does it do to keep reminding my council about the werewolf? To keep beating it into their heads you’re weak?”


I stayed quiet. We both knew the answer. It was dangerous to say his name ever again.


“Why do you keep harpingon going after him?” When I was silent, she yelled again. “Answer me.”


“Because—” My voice quivered, my heart raced, and I felt like the world might end if I answered her honestly. But I had no choice. I had to confess the truth to her, even if it broke something inside of me.


I looked at her then, so that she would know the brutal, honest truth, and maybe—maybe—that would encourage her to help me. It was my last desperate act to save him from whatever mission Eli had sent him on. “Because I love him. I love him with everything that I am.”


My mother winced. “Oh, Cosette.”


I hadn’t said it aloud. Not ever. And if I didn’t see him again, it would be my greatest regret.


He knew how I felt. Even if I never said the words. I tried to tell myself that he knew, but it wasn’t the same as actually saying the words to him. I was fey. Words were everything to us.

And I’d kept them from him.


The pity and disgust that filled my mother’s face was enough to make me vomit on the floor, but I hadn’t eaten in I didn’t know how long. She took one single stepped toward me and I braced myself for her words.


“Oh, Cosette. A weak werewolf of all things.” Her pitying tone was like little knives down my back.


I wanted to shout at her, but she wasn’t wrong. He was a weak werewolf, and maybe he wasn’t even my weak werewolf. But he was more than that, too. “He sees me, and I don’t have to be anything else in front of him. I don’t have to pretend or worry that he might one day stab me in the back. I don’t have to be afraid of who I am or what I say or how I feel when he’s with me. I can just be me, and I am enough for him. Just me. Just me.


Suddenly, she was holding me against her, and for a moment, it felt right.


“I understand. The attraction.” She spoke softly. “I had my own werewolf, but these things never work out. Not with one of them in our court. Not with someone like you, who can influence without meaning to.”


“I know.” I hated it, but I knew. Truly I did. But if I could just get my heart to go along with that…



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