escape to elphyne

Dystopian Fantasy Romance where the Fae Protectors meet their match with strong, sassy human women.

A Song of Sky and Sacrifice (eBook)

A Song of Sky and Sacrifice (eBook)

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When famous human musician Melody wakes two thousand years after a nuclear winter, she thinks she’s landed on the right side of a war. Fae are called the Tainted. They’re warped, mutated creatures who hoard the bounty of the new magical land. It’s her job in the human city to sling propaganda in the form of daily songs performed to a select tower of elite. 

But this position makes her sought after by many, including a ghastly military man, the evil president of the new world, and an enigmatic stranger who turns up at her doorstep asking for help.

Forrest is the good guy—the elf people go to when they want help, no questions asked. And when he learns he’s the only Guardian with the looks to pass as human, he accepts the job to infiltrate the enemy city and bring a kidnapped fae child home. He never counted on meeting a woman so extraordinary, he hardly believes she exists. Melody—the human harbinger—swiftly captures his heart and tempts him out of a long lifetime of celibacy.

As trouble brews within the ranks of the human elite, Forrest and Melody must come to terms with their forbidden desires… and decide which sacrifice is worth the cost—one of their hearts, or one of freedom. 

A Song of Sky and Sacrifice is the first installment in the Season of the Elf, but the seventh book in the Fae Guardians series. 

The guards were gone, but the Captain walked up, his strides decisive and sure. Searching the hallway for her chaperones, she found none. 

Melody’s heart jumped into her throat. She weighed the distance to her suite. Twenty feet away. There was no way she could get there before the Captain arrived. Even if she ran, she’d only look like she was fleeing. It was too late to pretend she’d not seen him. She swallowed and then stretched her lips into a smile.

And immediately wished she hadn’t. 

The determined look in his eyes turned lecherous. 

“Ms. Melody,” he said as he arrived toe-to-toe with her.  

She’d always believed the world was made up of vibrations. Some sounds were emitted at a frequency on the same level as her heart. Others were not. The Captain’s voice was in another symphony altogether. Another orchestra. Another world.

He put his hands behind his back and looked down his arched nose at her. His jacket opened to reveal a soft, narrow chest. His tucked shirt held back a small pot belly. A skinny belt patterned with glittering Phoenixes caught her attention. She tried to keep her eyes on his face, despite knowing why he displayed his belt so proudly. 

The belt so candidly represented his intention toward her. 

“Captain,” she greeted, conjuring that false grace she often used on the stage.  

“I hoped to catch you after your show, but you left quickly.”

“Bless your heart for thinking of me, but I wasn’t up to mingling tonight.”

His eyes narrowed. “I heard you were to receive a gentlemen caller.”

Her brows lifted. Had Nero already announced her availability to other eligible men? And by eligible, she meant the ones carefully selected by his proxy so that whoever she coupled with would make a strong match, both in DNA and politics. The ruse she could choose was a straw man distraction to make women believe they had agency in a world that smothered it. 

“Again, I must apologize. I’m going to sleep. No callers.” But as the words fell out of her lips, she couldn’t hide the tremble, despite her years of practice. Sooner or later, she’d have to accept her fate. 

He rocked back on his heels and considered her words. Clearly, he’d hoped for an invitation into her apartment. When he didn’t get it, and she was about to take her leave, he grabbed her upper arm. Pain pierced her flesh. He seemed to relish her whimper. His pupils dilated. His nostrils flared. 

“You know my intentions,” he ground out. “Why must you keep dancing around them? I am losing my patience.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.” She tried to pull her arm back, but it bruised more.

“I am on your approved shortlist. If you accept my belt now, it will make the ceremony run smoother.”

Approved shortlist?

Melody searched her brain for more information. Some betrothals were arranged as early as childhood. She didn’t realize there was a publicly accessible list. Or maybe it wasn’t public. 

If she agreed to wear his belt like a damned medieval girdle, she showed the entire Tower she was his. Others on the list would pull out of the running before the ceremony, and the matchmaker would have no choice but to pair them together on the day. She forced her lips to stretch into a smile. “Until the Phoenix Ball, I don’t have to accept anything.”

He slammed his palm on the wall beside Melody’s head. She flinched away as the sour whiskey on his breath wafted into her face. 

“You are mine, Ms. Melody.” 

His eyes dipped to her lips, now squashed into a flat line beneath that disgusting mustache. He clamped her jaw with his forefinger and thumb. Barely restrained anger simmered in his gaze as he tightened until she tasted blood. 

“Who else are you waiting for? Nobody wants you,” he snarled quietly. “You talk with a strange accent. You’re opinionated. Apart from your talent, you’re nothing but a sack of swollen potatoes. The sooner you come to terms with my offer, the easier it will be for you.”

She refused to let him see the humiliation on her face. Her head swam. Her vision blurred. Sack of swollen potatoes? Her heart galloped a million miles an hour. The weight wasn’t her fault. She… oh, God. She… 

But there was no use fighting him. He was right. She’d put off the betrothal for as long as she could. Her friends had to do it. Andrew and Timothy had to do it—despite their love for each other, they were being separated. Everyone had to do it. 

At some point, she had to pick one of the suiters. She was lucky she even got to choose. Some, like Andrew, didn’t get to decide. He was placed with an available bloodline. Sometimes there was only one. 

And she needed protection, as Nero had put it, so why wouldn’t he pair her with a leader in his army? He might have set this up for all she knew.

Sometimes Melody wished she didn’t like the things she did. Sometimes she wished that the soul-shattering rightness of music didn’t affect her so. If she’d been a simple girl without dreams and talents, she’d have been looked over. She’d have faded into nothing. It might have been a simple life with her mother, but she would have been happy. Whatever divine intervention had brought her to this time would have overlooked her. 

Heavy footsteps caused the Captain to ease off her. It wouldn’t do to be seen touching his bride before the ceremony. He wanted Melody to fall at his feet, gushing his praises. The footsteps turned hard, resolute. 

Melody braved a glance up, caught a single furious brown eye, a flash of auburn hair, and then the brawny stranger from the dining hall yanked the Captain’s arm back at a painful angle and shoved him to his knees—right before Melody. It all happened so fast that her mind couldn’t catch up. With a single, broad hand, the newcomer forced the Captain’s face to Melody’s toes. 

“Apologize to the lady.” The newcomer’s voice was deep and gravelly like a beast as he bent over his prey. It was as though he was born to dominate. “Beg her forgiveness.”

The Captain struggled but only succeeded in wrenching his arm tighter. 

“You don’t know who you’re messing with,” he snarled. 

“I know enough,” the man clipped, holding the position, barely breaking a sweat. He pushed the Captain’s cheek flat against Melody’s toes. “You’re not fit to touch her. Lick her feet and show her you’re sorry.”

Melody’s jaw dropped. 

The Captain refused and was rewarded with a knee in the back. He squealed like a pig and licked Melody’s feet, tears leaking from his eyes as he gasped and hiccupped in pain. Snot dripped down to his mustache and drooled over her feet. 

Satisfied, the newcomer let go, still without a drop of sweat on his brow. 

The Captain’s palms slapped on the ground. He pushed himself up, face red, veins protruding in his forehead. 

Her protector folded his arms and stepped between her and the Captain, who wiped his snot and glared at Melody. The Captain’s calm stare chilled her to the bone, and she knew, without a doubt, that bruises would be the least of her worries the next time she was alone with him. 

Panic pulsed beneath her skin. She was Nero’s favored musician but not a general in his army. She knew what would happen next. Nero would appease the Captain by handing her over to him. Then he would use his belt to bring Melody into line. Everyone would be happy.

Except her. 

“Oh, you really shouldn’t have done that.” The Captain buttoned his jacket to hide his belt. That simple action turned Melody cold. Custom said the belt was only for the betrothed’s eyes. Melody was anything but safe. He shifted his dark gaze to Melody. “And you’ll be sorry you let him.”

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