As dark as the depths of the ocean, Teia’s gaze pointed only to the flames of the fireplace. His rough, expert fingers caressed the pommel of his sword, as he considered a valid reason for Daphne’s disappearance.
Teias refused to believe from the first moment that she had been kidnapped. Rothvaln and that damned ignorant demon commanding now his legions wouldn’t dare set foot on this very land. Daphne should have left on her own, but why? Why abandon her mate? It was more than evident that she had finally accepted Lorcan. Why disappear just like that?
Uncertainty quickly took hold of him. He sensed that something terrible would happen soon, something that would change the course of things.
Teias had turned around and kept quiet when Lorcan emerged. His King’s features warned that something was not right, sensing rage in him. But Lorcan didn’t have his usual crimson eyes. Teias saw something else: his pain.
Lorcan seemed to be restrained in his internal tempest. His movements were measured. His challenging and thoughtful grey eyes. How could anyone change their mind so quickly? Daphne’s body didn’t lie. He was sure. Her body reacted to his mere touch. There was no way she’d been faking it all this time.
“Lorcan,” Teias dropped the formalities.
“She’s with him.”
“Why didn’t she come back with you?”
“She is a liar,” Lorcan said.
“What do you mean?” Teias asked again in fear of hearing the answer.
“She. Is. With. Rothvaln.” Lorcan uttered the bloody words one more time. And in every one of them spelled hatred, pain, and hopelessness.
“How is it possible-?”
“What don’t you understand, Teias?” That internal tempest finally broke loose. “She ran away from here to go back to him!”
“You didn’t ask her why?”
“There was no need to ask her. She was kissing fucking Rothvaln when I showed up, and I can tell you she quite enjoyed it.”
Teias was perplexed at the revelation. Daphne suddenly disappeared, not even saying goodbye to her brother. Just to go back to Rothvaln?
“Lorcan, are you sure about what you saw?”
“I’m not fucking blind!” Those grey eyes turned murderous red.
“She’s been fooling me this whole time,” Lorcan snapped at him, frustrated. Why was it so hard for Teias to understand something as simple as a betrayal?
“I don’t think she would want to deceive you and abandon her brother so suddenly!” Teias lost his composure. He didn’t care whether he was disrespectful or not to his King. There was no sense in what Lorcan was saying, though.
Lorcan, whose jaw was clenched and eyes closed, was reliving once again what he had seen. He slumped back in the chair. Hands in his hair and elbows resting on his legs. “Leave,” he ordered Teias, and he obeyed. Lorcan couldn’t think clearly. Jealousy and humiliation blinded him.
In The Realm of Demons.
Forgive me. Daphne thought of her mate. Lorcan had hidden his emotions so well, but she saw it through his eyes—her deceit in his gaze.
“Why so sad, my dear?” Rothvaln appeared in the dungeons.
“I am not sad.” She sighed. “I don’t like it here.”
“Come here.” He held out his hand. And she accepted it.
The two materialized in the Desert of Perdition, at the entrance of that horrendous forest of thorns, surrounded by a delusive silence. Daphne attempted to hide her puzzlement. And he almost found it comical. Her mortal was pure nervousness. “You have nothing to worry about, my dear.” He whispered in her ear. “You are safe with me.”
“Why have you brought me here?”
Rothvaln gestured for silence. She alertly scanned her surroundings. “Listen.” He whispered again.
Absolute deathly stillness. As if Daphne was the only thing left there. Her ears heard an emptiness, a raw, primal void, a kind of dangerously innocent hollowness. Daphne’s eyes roamed the entrance to the forest until they reached that sky that reminded her of her mate. As red as his eyes and as imposing as he was.
Abruptly her attention searched for the source of the scream. It was a young girl for sure, shouting. Could it be an illusion? After all, this place played with the mind. Making believes things that no longer existed or unveiling hidden hopes and longings.
“Help me!” The young girl kept screaming, running away from something. Her panting from the exhaustion of being chased could be heard.
Daphne glanced at Rothvaln, looking for clues as to what was happening. Except that the only answer she could find was the devastating, malicious smirk on his lips. He was enjoying someone else’s misery.
A shriek, and then another, and then some others, made Daphne palpitations go like the sound of beating drums. She recognized that shriek, and if she was not mistaken, there was more than one reptilian-eyed creature in that place, which was probably chasing the woman who was still begging for help.
Rothvaln led her into the perennial, murderous forest. The twisted, thorny branches hid them both. There, as if they were mere spectators at a funfair, he made her watch as the red-skinned creatures stuck out their tongues and encircled the young girl, who kept crying.
“Why are you showing me this? Who is she?” Daphne thought she spoke in a neutral tone, struggling to disguise the sheer horror she felt.
“Why not?” Rothvaln shrugged. “She is one of the Old King’s loyalists. I do not want traitors in my Kingdom.”
“Then, I will be the next one?” Rothvaln, quite surprised at Daphne’s reaction, didn’t think she could act so cold in the face of such a scenario, believing that she would demand the young girl’s rescue.
“Are you a traitor?”
“I betrayed you once.”
“That is a thing of the past. I know you were protecting your brother. You are mine alone. I would never let those filthy creatures hurt you.”
Rothvaln brought her luscious red lips to his mouth, a kiss that filled him with carnal desire. And filled her with hate, and that had to be concealed in longing.
“Is it indispensable for Lorcan’s loyalists to suffer?” Daphne asked.
“Not worried. But I don’t understand how it can benefit you to have someone suffer like this. You can leave those demons in prison.”
“My dear, your way of thinking might well lead me to believe that you care about the former King’s subjects or rather what he might think of you.”
Daphne’s fists curled up, holding in the sickening of such action. As he kissed her, she could hear the young woman’s screams as she was ripped apart. And she knew in that instant that those screams, that desperate face, would remain in her mind forever. Haunting her and filling her with guilt for not having tried to save her.
Rothvaln pulled away from her, his breathing coming out of control, his desire for her growing with every kiss, with every time her sweet tongue sought him out. The craving for her was so intense that he wasn’t surprised to feel dazed. Physically lightheaded. Her fragile, finite beauty enraptured him. His fingers traveled from her cheek to her neck. Daphne fought to keep her wits about her. Hoping the poison would have the same effect on him as it was already having on her.
Rothvaln couldn’t help himself. He lunged at her mouth, trying to satiate the urge to have her.