We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

House of Sky and Breath: Part 3 – Chapter 58

Two weeks later, Hunt scowled at his reflection in the mirror. He tugged at the white bow tie of his tux, already feeling strangled by the stupid thing.

He’d wanted to wear his battle-suit to the party, but Bryce had staged an intervention last week and demanded he wear something “halfway normal.” Then you can go back to being the predator-in-the-night we all love so much, she’d said.

Hunt growled, giving himself a final once-over before calling across the apartment, “I’m as good as I’m going to get, so let’s leave. The van’s downstairs.”

He sure as fuck couldn’t cram his wings into the usual black sedan the Autumn King would have sent for Bryce. But at least the asshole had sent a van instead. Cormac was her official escort to the party, and was no doubt waiting in the vehicle. It had likely been Cormac who’d convinced the Autumn King to switch to a van so Bryce’s “plus-one” could join them.

Bryce had bristled at every new order that had come from the Autumn King: the jewelry she was expected to wear, the clothes, the height of her heels, the length of her nails, the type of car they’d take, who would exit the car first, how she would exit the car—apparently, her ankles and knees were to be forever glued together in public—and lastly, most outrageously, what and how she was allowed to eat.

Nothing. That was the short answer. A Fae Princess did not eat in public, was the long answer. Maybe a sip of soup or one solitary, small bite to be polite. And one glass of wine. No hard liquor.

Bryce had read the list of commandments one night after they’d fucked in the shower, and had been so wound up that Hunt had gone down on her to take the edge off. He’d taken his time tasting her, savoring each lick of her delicious, enticing sex.

Even fucking her at night and before work, he couldn’t get enough. Would find himself in the middle of the day aching for her. They’d already fucked twice in her office, right on her desk, her dress bunched at her waist, his pants barely unbuckled as he pounded into her.

They hadn’t been caught, thank the gods. Not just by her coworkers, but by anyone who’d report it to Cormac, to the Autumn King. She’d already had one battle with her father over Hunt still living here with her. But after tonight …

He scooped up the golden mask from where he’d left it on the dresser—so fucking ridiculous and dramatic—and stepped into the great room, toes wriggling in his patent leather shoes. When was the last time he’d worn anything but his boots or sneakers? Never. He’d literally never worn shoes like this. When he was young, it had been lace-up sandals or boots—and then it had been boots for centuries.

What would his mother make of this male in the mirror? He strained to recall her smile, to imagine how her eyes might have sparkled. He wished she were here. Not only to see him, but to know that all she’d struggled to provide had paid off. To know that he could take care of her now.

Bryce let out a whistle from the other side of the great room, and Hunt looked up, tucking away the old ache in his chest.

All the breath left his chest. “Holy shit.”

She was …

“Holy shit,” he said again, and she laughed. He swallowed. “You’re so fucking beautiful.”

She blushed, and his head began roaring, cock aching. He wanted to lick that blush, wanted to kiss every inch of her smile.

“I couldn’t bring myself to wear the tiara,” Bryce said, lifting a wrist and twirling the crown around it with typical irreverence.

“You don’t need it.”

She really didn’t. The sparkling black dress hugged every luscious curve before loosening around the knee, spilling into a train of solid night. The plunging neckline stopped below her breasts, framing the star between them, drawing the eye to the remarkable scar.

Black gloves flowed up to her elbows, and her satin-clad fingers toyed with one of the diamond chandelier earrings sparkling against the column of her neck. She’d left her hair down, a diamond comb pinning back one side, the silken mass of hair draping over her opposite shoulder. In her other hand she clutched the stem of a silver mask.

Full, bloodred lips smiled at him beneath eyes framed with a swoop of kohl. Simple makeup—and utterly devastating.

“Solas, Quinlan.”

“You clean up pretty good yourself.”

Hunt straightened the lapels of his tux. “Yeah?”

“Want to stay home and fuck instead?”

Hunt laughed. “Very regal of you. Any other night, my answer would be yes.” He offered his arm. “Your Highness.”

Bryce smirked and took it, pressing close to him. Hunt breathed in her scent, the jasmine of her perfume. She set her tiara on her head at a jaunty angle, the little peak of solid diamond glittering as if lit by starlight. Hunt straightened it for her, and led her out the door.

Toward the world waiting for them.

Ruhn bowed before the seated Archangels. Hypaxia, at his side, bowed as well.

He was a lying piece of shit, he’d thought ruefully as he’d donned a black-on-black tux an hour ago. He’d agreed to be Hypaxia’s date to this thing—as her fiancé, and as Crown Prince he didn’t really have a choice but to be here—but he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Day. About whether she’d show up in a mere few hours.

He’d already scoped out the fountain through the western doors. It lay in shadow beyond the massive glass conservatory, about fifteen feet from the stairs leading out of the building and into the starry night.

He hadn’t spoken to Day since they’d made their arrangement. He’d tried to talk to her, but she hadn’t answered. Would she be here tonight, as promised? Was she already in the packed conservatory?

He’d removed his carved black mask to make his formal greeting to the Archangels, and as he turned from Celestina and Ephraim, Ruhn scanned the crowd once more.

Beautiful gowns, beautiful ladies—they were masked, but he knew most of them. Of course, Day could be someone he knew. He had no idea what to look for. Where to even look for her in the vast, candlelit space, bedecked in garlands and wreaths of autumnal leaves brought from the colder climes up north. Winged skulls and scythes were interspersed with a rainbow of fall gourds on every table. Day could be anywhere.

Security had been insane getting in here. It was the 33rd’s show, and they ran it like the paranoid psychos they were. Soldiers stood stationed outside the doors and hovered in the skies. Baxian and Naomi had checked IDs and invites at the doors. They’d remain there all night, even while other members of the triarii reveled. None of Ephraim’s people had been tapped to stand guard. Either from a lack of trust or as a privilege, Ruhn didn’t know.

There had been no sign of Pippa Spetsos or her Lightfall squadron, or any other Ophion unit recently, but dreadwolves still prowled the streets. And this ballroom.

Ruhn slipped on his mask and said to Hypaxia, “Can I get you anything?”

She was resplendent in a royal-blue ball gown, her cloudberry crown gleaming amid her dark, upswept hair. Heads turned to remark on her beauty, visible even with the white-winged mask she’d donned. “I’m fine, thank you.” She smiled pleasantly.

Ithan, in a traditional tux behind her, stepped up, his silver wolf mask glittering in the little firstlights strung throughout the lush conservatory. “The River Queen’s daughter wishes to meet you,” he murmured, gesturing to where Tharion stood stone-faced beside a stunning, curly-haired young female. The former looked a bit stiff for once, but the female, clad in gauzy turquoise, brimmed with energy. Excitement.

That had been a minor bomb the other night. Tharion had settled quite comfortably into life with Ruhn and his friends … until he’d gotten the otter’s note from the River Queen instructing him to come to this ball with her daughter.

Apparently, the leash only stretches so far, Tharion had said when Ruhn had asked, and that had been that.

Hypaxia smiled at Ithan. “Of course. I’d love to meet her.” Ithan offered his arm, and Hypaxia said to Ruhn, “I suppose we’ll dance later?”

“Yeah,” Ruhn said, then bowed quickly. “I mean, yes. I’d be honored.” Hypaxia gave him a strange, assessing glance, but left with Ithan.

He needed a drink. A big fucking drink.

He was halfway to one of the six open bars throughout the space, each one of them packed, when his sister and Cormac walked in.

Bryce looked like a princess, and it had nothing to do with the crown, an heirloom of the Danaan house that their father had ordered her to wear tonight. People stared at her—many unkindly.

Or maybe their attention was on Athalar. The angel entered a few steps behind the royal couple. Apparently, he’d been given the night off by Celestina. But how the male could stand walking behind them, seeing Bryce’s hand on another male’s arm …

Athalar’s face revealed nothing, though. He was the Umbra Mortis once more.

A flash of red across the space drew Ruhn’s gaze. His father made his way toward Bryce and Cormac. The Avallen Prince seemed inclined to meet him halfway, but Bryce tugged on his arm and steered them right to the Archangels instead.

A few Fae gasped at the snub—Flynn’s parents among them. Flynn, the traitor, had claimed he had a headache to avoid coming tonight. From his parents’ pinched faces upon seeing Ruhn arrive without Flynn in tow, he knew his friend hadn’t told them. Too bad for all the eligible young ladies they’d no doubt lined up to woo their son tonight.

Ignoring the dismayed Fae, Bryce strode right up to the dais where the Archangels sat, bypassing the line of well-wishers. No one dared call her out for it. Athalar followed her and Cormac, and Ruhn noted his father’s stormy face and moved closer, too.

Bryce and Cormac bowed before the Archangels, Celestina’s brows high as she turned between Hunt and Cormac. Bryce said, “My congratulations to you both.”

“Thank you,” Ephraim answered, bored and eyeing the bar.

Cormac added, “Avallen extends its wishes and hopes for your happiness.”

It had been a relief to discover that Mordoc wouldn’t be attending the party tonight—wouldn’t be able to put faces to the scents he’d probably detected in the alley all those days ago. But the Hind was here. Ruhn had already warned his cousin to stay away from the female, no matter how his blood might howl for vengeance.

“And we extend our wishes to you, too,” Celestina said.

“Thank you,” Bryce said, smiling widely. “Prince Hunt and I plan to be quite happy.”

A gasp rippled through the room.

Bryce half turned toward Hunt and extended a hand. The angel walked to her, eyes dancing with wicked amusement. Cormac seemed caught between surprise and fury.

The room seemed to be spinning. Bryce wouldn’t dare. She wouldn’t fucking dare pull a stunt like this. Ruhn swallowed a laugh of pure shock.

“Prince?” Celestina asked.

Bryce looped her arm through Hunt’s, pressing close. “Hunt and I are mates.” A charming, brilliant smile. “That makes him my prince. Prince Cormac was good enough to escort me tonight, as we’ve become close friends this month.” She turned to the crowd. Immediately pinpointed the Autumn King, glaring white-faced at her. “I thought you told her, Father.”

Holy shit.

She’d played along with the rules so far to reach this point. A public declaration that she was with Hunt. That Hunt was a prince—a Prince of the Fae.

And their father, who hated public scenes … he could either risk calling his own daughter a liar—thus embarrassing himself—or play along.

The Autumn King said into the stunned crowd, “My apologies, Your Graces. My daughter’s union must have slipped my mind.” His eyes threatened Helfire as he glowered at Bryce. “I hope her excitement in announcing her union with Hunt Athalar is not interpreted as an attempt to upstage your joy tonight.”

“Oh, no,” Celestina said, covering her mouth with a hand to hide a smile. “I congratulate and bless you and Hunt Athalar, Bryce Quinlan.” It didn’t get more official than that.

Ephraim grunted and motioned to the nearest server for a drink. Taking that as her cue, Bryce bowed to them again, and pivoted Hunt toward the crowd. Cormac had the wits to follow, but left them near a pillar after a word to Bryce. He stalked for the Autumn King.

So Ruhn went up to them, and Bryce snorted. “Nice crown.”

He jerked his chin at her. “That’s all you have to say?”

She shrugged. “What?”

But she frowned over his shoulder. Right. There were a lot of people with Vanir hearing listening. He’d yell at her later.

Though … he didn’t really need to yell at all. She’d found her way out of this clusterfuck. Her own brilliant, daring way. “I’m really glad you’re my sister,” Ruhn said.

Bryce smiled so broadly it showed all her teeth.

Ruhn shook off his shock and said to Athalar, “Sweet tux.” He added, just to be a dick, “Your Highness.”

Athalar pulled at his collar. “No wonder you got all those piercings, if this is how you’re expected to dress at these things.”

“First rule of being a prince,” Ruhn said, grinning. “Rebel where you can.” Considering what they were all doing these days, it was the understatement of the year.

Hunt growled, but Ephraim and Celestina stood from their thrones at the rear of the conservatory, a massive screen dropping from a panel in the glass ceiling. A projector began to hum.

“Friends.” Celestina’s clear voice rang out over the crowd. Anyone still speaking shut the fuck up. “We thank you for coming to celebrate our union this lovely evening.”

Ephraim’s deep voice boomed, “It is with much joy that Celestina and I announce our mating.” He smiled faintly at his gorgeous mate. “And with much joy that we remotely welcome our guests of honor.”

The lights dimmed, leaving only soft candlelight that made the decorative skulls all the more menacing. Then the screen flickered on, revealing seven thrones. A sight more harrowing than any skull or scythe.

Six of the thrones were full. The seventh had been left vacant, as always—thanks to the Prince of the Pit.

A chill skittered up Ruhn’s arms as the Asteri coldly surveyed the party.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode