Home > A Kiss of Shadow (Court of Starlight and Darkness #2)

A Kiss of Shadow (Court of Starlight and Darkness #2)
Author: Linsey Hall

 

 

1

 

 

Sia

 

* * *

 

Someone was following me.

I was sure of it.

Dain and I walked along the forest path toward my friend Meria’s apartment in the capital city, but we weren’t alone. I sensed someone lurking amongst the trees behind us. The night was lovely and calm, cooled by a faint ocean breeze. The clouds overhead foretold the arrival of the witch with the deathly magic, but I was certain there was also someone following me.

Had she arrived already?

No. The clouds hadn’t changed, and no one had said anything.

The threat came from someone else.

Yesterday afternoon, I’d won the crown of the Court of Starlight and Darkness.

Today, I was sure that someone didn’t want me to be queen.

Why else would I have gotten a stalker so soon?

I listened carefully, blocking out the sound of the singing night birds to see if I could hear someone in the woods. I heard a rustle and spun around, searching the cobbled path behind me. The huge trees cut out the light of the stars and moon, and it was too dark to see details

“What is it?” Dain turned to look.

I peered into the darkness, then shook my head. “Nothing. I’m going crazy.”

“Going?”

I laughed and punched him lightly on the shoulder. “Oh, shut up.”

I was fairly certain that Dain liked me more than he should, considering I was going to marry his best friend and king. So far, he’d been good at keeping his feelings to himself. I hoped that by treating him as a brother, it would keep the boundaries in place.

I was soon to be queen, after all. And though I wasn’t marrying the king because I loved him, I didn’t need the complications of another guy looking at me with heat in his eyes. The king already did that enough, and I was busy staring right back at him.

Except, we hated each other, and he refused to touch me.

That didn’t stop him from haunting my dreams, though. Hot, sweaty dreams that kept me up at night.

All in all, that was enough complication for one life. Dain needed to stay firmly in the friend zone.

I drew in a deep breath and continued down the path.

Why was I freaking out about a stalker?

I probably had PTSD from the death match to become queen. A totally reasonable explanation. Anyone would be jumpy.

Hell, I’d thought I was human until last week. I hadn’t even been back to my crappy apartment in Seattle yet. Thank God I never kept a full fridge.

We reached the edge of the forest, and I spotted the capital city on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Meria had moved there yesterday after the competition.

“It’s beautiful,” I murmured. Tall stone buildings climbed up the hill, their windows glowing like golden jewels. They were all shapes and sizes—round, square, octagonal. Curved staircases rose up the sides of some of the buildings to provide access to higher floors.

A true fairytale kingdom.

And I was its queen.

Wild.

“It’s one of the prettiest cities in all the fae kingdoms,” Dain said. “Come on.” He led me up the path. We passed a guard shack on the way onto the main road. Two guards stood outside, their stony faces inspecting us as we passed.

“Is it really dangerous enough to need guards?” I whispered once we’d gone past him.

Dain shrugged. “Probably not. King Lore killed our main enemies years ago.”

“The Northern Fae.”

“Exactly. But there is always the possibility of a threat from another kingdom. Especially now we have a queen.”

“What? Why?”

“You make us more powerful.”

Ha. If only I understood my power. I was able to draw strength and protection from the stars, but I didn’t know why. I was supposed to keep my trap shut about the fact that I was a witch, though. So I did.

We kept climbing toward the top of the city. As we walked, we passed shops dedicated to selling all kinds of goodies. Food, drink, clothing, and weapons. A particularly inviting bookstore caught my eye, with its golden light and colorful tomes.

I lingered, looking through the windows.

“We can come back when they’re open,” he said.

“I guess I can, can’t I?” I’d been confined while I’d been part of the competition to become queen, but now I was the lady herself.

Whatever that meant.

All I knew was that I was supposed to defeat some evil witch with death magic.

I shivered.

That was the part of the gig I wasn’t looking forward to.

Fortunately, we’d reached Meria’s building. It was on the very last row, located right on the cliff that plunged down into the sea. The apartment was in a prime spot, and she’d gotten it as a consolation for not winning the competition. The king no doubt felt bad for making her risk her life.

He should.

I looked up at the narrow, four-story building. It was built of a creamy stone that glittered faintly under the lights of the streetlamps. Stone vines climbed up the corners, a beautiful detail that I’d never see in the human world. One of the windows on the top floor opened and Meria leaned out, her golden braid flopping over her shoulders and a grin on her face.

She waved. “Hey, stranger. Come on up.”

“I’ll wait here for you,” Dain said.

“Thanks. I need some girl time.” I let myself in through the beautiful wooden door and climbed the stairs. There was only one door at the top, and Meria swung it open as I reached it.

“Hey!” She threw her arms around me, and relief rushed through me.

“You’re not mad at me?” I hadn’t seen her since I’d defeated her in the competition, so I wasn’t sure where she stood on the issue.

She pulled back. “I’m bummed about my family, but of course not. I know you did everything you could to help me win.”

I nodded. “I’ll find a way to get them back. I promise.”

“Yeah.” Her tone was doubtful.

“You don’t believe me?”

“I believe you’ll try, but it’s impossible unless they’re related to royalty.”

They’d been banished for reasons unknown to me, and Meria had been hoping to get them back into the kingdom by becoming the queen. I’d tried to help her, but none of it had gone as planned.

“Don’t worry about it.” She tugged on my arm. “Come in and have a drink.”

I followed her in but didn’t listen to her admonishment not to worry about it. Of course I worried about it. But I could sock it away and try to deal with it at another time. Maybe she could become my blood sister or something. Magic could make anything happen, right?

Meria led me into a pretty apartment with golden wood floors and white walls. There wasn’t much furniture—just an emerald-green couch and a table with two chairs—but it had so much potential.

“It’s beautiful.” I spun in a circle.

“Yeah, not a bad consolation prize.” She went to a door and entered another room, returning a moment later with a bottle of wine and two coffee mugs. “Come on, let’s sit on the balcony.”

I joined her on the small balcony that overhung the sea. About fifty feet below, the waves crashed on the rocks. If I’d had a problem with heights, it would have been an issue.

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