Excerpt for Her New Reign: A Reverse Harem Paranormal Romance by , available in its entirety at Smashwords





Her New Reign:

A Reverse Harem Series

(Immortal Reign Book 1)


By


L. A. Long

Copyright 2018 by L. A. Long


This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are fiction. Any similarity to any real persons, characters, events or incidents is entirely coincidental. All Rights Reserved.


Any trademarks, service marks, or product names are assumed to be property of their respective owners. No endorsement is implied.

For Mom and Dad who always encourage me to follow my dreams

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Her Reign of Choice (Book 2)

Also by L. A. Long

Chapter 1

I’m alive. I actually survived to my eighteenth birthday.

Wake up, Mera.

I refuse to open my eyes. Probably just my little sister Georgie trying to irritate me. Wont happen. Not on my birthday. Ignore her.

I flinch. Did something touch my face? Shift my hair away from my eyes? Nope. Not taking the bait. Back to the list. Chad: cake. Stef: decorations. Derick: breakfast. Shell: hair. Mom and dad: take me to breakfast so everyone can decorate.

Someone clears his throat. His? Better not be my brother or one of his doped up loser friends.

Okay, thats it. Im opening my eyes,I say in my most fierce voice. I expect to hear giggles or even a sigh, but theres just silence.

I slowly open my eyes. Four guys Ive never seen before stand over me. They look my age and are each wearing a different costume. Strippers?

One of the guys closest to me raises his eyebrow.

Did I say that out loud?

He shakes his head. Mera, Im Arc.

Brown curly hair that looks windswept in that perfect way. Cocoa eyes. A black, leather type looking jacket with medals and engravings which seem to be burned into the fabric. Underneath the jacket? No shirt which shows off his carved muscles and abs. Delicious.

Youre a witch.I sit straight up in bed. Why would I say that? That drink I had last night? That had something else in it, didnt it?

Before he can answer, I notice I have three different necklaces of varying lengths.

Those represent each of us,Arc says.

I touch one of the necklaces which has some weird symbol on it.

The witch closes his eyes and moans. That ones mine,he says breathlessly. When you touch them youre touching us. Intimately.

I quickly drop the necklace.

The one with shoulder length blond hair steps forward. Touch my necklace next. Its been ages since Ive been touched properly.

Did I mention hes beautiful and shirtless? Hello. He has the build of a lifeguard, and his flawless skin sparkles.

He looks down at himself. In a flash, he sprouts wings. Sprouts? Wings?

I scream probably for at least well until my voice gives out. None of them flinch.

This isn’t real. I’m dreaming.” But Im still home. My room looks like it did last night. The walls are barren from where I ripped off all the posters. Since Ill be living in the dorms at the University of Chicago and since I am now eighteen thank you very much I had to adult-up my life.

I climb out of bed and look out my window. From my parents 18th floor apartment, I have a good view of downtown Chicago and the Miracle Mile. I whimper just a bit. The Miracle Mile. I want to spend my entire birthday down there. Every shop. Every—

I turn around suddenly, and the guys are all staring at me. I forgot they were there. Well, almost. Theyre too hot to truly forget. Had I been dreaming and they popped out of my fantasies? I can imagine a lot of fantasies about them.

Why are you all so drop your panties gorgeous?I shock even myself. Why would I ask that? I dont talk like that. Im an honor student. Valedictorian. Pre-law. Mera, get a grip.

I cringe and feel my wrist. My pulse is throbbing too fast for it to be normal. It has to be the flu making me wonky. Or bad punch.

The dark haired one in a suit steps forward. We survived because of our looks. Im not part of the group anymore. They needed four to travel—”

The witch waves his hands. She doesnt need to know about that.

The suited one smirks. Not really into humans which is why Im no longer part of the group, but you can drop your panties for me whenever you want.He waits. Would you like me to take my shirt off?He makes a point to tug at his jacket and tie. Show you my scars and marks?

Either Im losing control over my words or they can read my mind. Although

I look the suited one up and down. Less clothes and more skin? This guy could make water boil. Smoldering comes to mind. I dont know why. I dont think Ive ever used that word in a sentence. Youre a vampire.

He grins. I am. My name’s—”

Risq.I frown. How do I know that? Are you putting a spell on me?

His grin turns devious. Do you want me to?His black eyes hypnotically lure me closer.

The shirtless and flawless blond one shoves the vampire aside. Do you mind? Youre not part of this, and it was my turn.He grins and kneels before me. Mera, I’m Blu.” He takes my hand and gently kisses it while his blue eyes flash mischief.

“Faerie. Fae. Flirty trickster.” What are these words Im speaking? Then I realize. Face palm. I accidentally ate one of my brothers pot brownies, didnt I? I swear if he ruins my birthday party.

“No,” the faerie says. You did not eat anything nefarious. This is very real.

I flinch. Faerie? Fae? I dont even know what that is. Wait. Are they the ones with tiny little—”

Careful how you end that sentence.The vampire laughs. Blu is sensitive about certain inadequacies.

The faerie sniffs. Hardly. More like my overachievements.

I place my hand over my forehead. Is it a fever? An infection? Is it contagious? Ive been planning my eighteenth birthday party since forever, and I dont want to zombie anyone.

Mera, youre not going to zombie anyone,the witch says. Youve been chosen to be our—”

“I’m dreaming. This isnt real. Just wake up, Mera.I jump when I look down. Im wearing a tight black dress with knee high black boots and a long black and red cloak thing that drags the ground. What in the actual freak?

I run to the mirror then jump back. I barely recognize myself. My normal short red hair is more strawberry red and long enough it twists past my waist in a braid. My usual look took about five seconds. Run my fingers through my hair. A hint of blush. A dash of lipgloss. And I was out the door. Now?

I step closer to the mirror. Is this even me? Dark eyeshadow. Red lips. Dark eyeliner? How long would that take? Im usually too hyped up on caffeine to even think in a straight line. Ill look like a drunk raccoon. I shrug and study my reflection. I have to admit the eyeliner does make my blue eyes pop. Maybe I could try it myself. Birthday makeover. I approve.

“Ow.” I draw up one sleeve and then another of the cloaky thing I have on. Three different tattoos appear up and down each arm.

Arc smiles. “Our symbols. We belong to you now.

I laugh, but its a squeaky nervous laugh. This is a joke, right? Then, I feel a scratching on my chest. I peer down the top of my dress. Yep, the same symbols cover my heart.

Oh, can I see?Blu jumps up and down. I want to see. Let me see.

Arc holds him back. Calm yourself.

Do you like your colors?The one with a faux hawk and darker blonde hair asks. He has dark eyeliner which highlights his light green eyes and various piercings through his ears, lips and eyebrows. Hes dressed in black pants and an intricately designed open trench coat. His chest is almost completely covered with sayings, strange symbols, tattoos, marks and scars. He looks the youngest.

“I’m actually the oldest. I hope you like your outfit. Red and black are the colors I chose this time.

Yes.The witch nods reluctantly. The other colors were not so lucky for us.

Just as fast as the words leave his mouth, all of them are wearing red. The tattoos and sayings on the shirtless turn red and black.

Dont be afraid,the pierced one says.

I normally didnt go for the goth or pierced, but damn hes gorgeous in a haunting and I so want to heal him type of way. Much less dangerous than the vampire. His eyes are kind but full of such sadness.

He steps forward and kneels. Sorry, Mera. I neglected to introduce myself. I’m Zash.”

The other three look at me waiting for me to say something.

Whats a reaper?

He swallows hard. Something I hope youll never need.

All of a sudden, images of each of them being tortured singe my brain. What the hell was that?

“I’m sorry,Zash says. I didnt mean for you to see that.He looks to the witch. The images bled through.

The others bow their heads not out of respect but shame. All except for the vampire. I didnt think shame ever crossed his narcissistic mind.

He shakes his head. Not once. Why would I be ashamed of this?He looks down at himself, and he doesnt have clothes.

I quickly look away. The reaper immediately steps between me and the vampire to shield me.

Arc growls. Risq, what have we said about casual nudity?

That its absolutely necessary.Risq laughs. Sorry to make you jealous, Blu.

The faerie rolls his eyes. Did you have to preorder something so small?

Arc sighs. “Is this any way to greet Mera?

Zash glances behind him and then meekly smiles at me. You’re safe now. He’s dressed again.

Risq throws up his hands while still glaring at Blu. “I’m sorry, Mera. I promise never to undress again until you explicitly demand it.

Blu claps his hands. Since youre no longer part of our group and shell have the good taste never to request that nightmare, the rest of us will be eternally grateful.He bows to me.

I glance at my book shelf with the dangly legged cat clock. I still have loads to do before my party so I gotta speed this dream along.What did I learn in psych class? Humor the mad?

Blu smirks at me. “Were not mad.

Right. Do I admit they are crazy or talk with them as if their madness is real? I study each of them. Not the dangerous vampire.

Risq flashes his fangs.

I jump back. Craptastic. They even brought props. The witch?

Arc’s smile is less than genuine. Although, he appears sane and reasonable and the one in charge.

The vampire shakes his head. The last one they chose? Arc turned her inside out.

My eyes widen. Good to know.

Arc sighs. “Thats only because she betrayed us for the other group. They had two sets of succubus twins. She was obsessed with unnatural things.He studies me. You wouldnt do that, would you?

I stammer. I have no idea how to answer that. What about the flirty faerie?

Blu eyes me as his smile grows. That makes sense. Im usually the chosens favorite.He looks down at his chest. I was built for lust.

I cant help but look him over. Lean with the perfect amount of muscle. I shake my head again. What is happening to me? What about the shy reaper?

Zash blinks slowly but doesn’t smile.

Much less dangerous. I think.

The faerie leans closer to me as his silky wings graze my neck. Yes, but the shy reaper has that pierced tongue, and Ive heard that can be terribly dangerous. Or was it pleasurable? I can never remember.

I shiver. So, you can read my mind?I didnt know the first thing about shielding my thoughts from whatever is happening. Im instantly drawn back to the shy reaper.

He immediately blushes.

Sorry,” I flinch. “Youre all too gorgeous, and this is such a strange dream. I think the pot brownie has made me—”

The vampire grunts and narrows his eyes as his gaze greedily claims my body. Everything you just thought of is completely within my expertise.

My stomach gets queasy as I cant stop the blush from taking over. So not cool, vampire. I couldnt control my thoughts.

I try to ignore the faeries red translucent wings as they nibble across my skin. It feels so delicious like Ive been waiting my entire life for him.

Blu moves even closer. His breath is hot against my ear. Wait until you taste my lips. Youre not one of those anti-sugar people, are you? You love brownies, dont you?

I close my eyes and smile. Heaven. Who wouldn’t love brownies?” Wait. “Stop. What is happening to me?

Arc steps forward. Its natural. Youre bonding with us. Claiming us. Allowing us into your system. All of our essences are mixing and merging.

I tense. That sounds obscene.

Blu nods. If you do it right.

Thats why we chose you.” Zash’s eyes plead with me. Youre our best chance.

Blu’s wings brush against me again. Our fate is in your hands.

Zash’s eyes get very teary. You are our only chance.

Arc places his hand on the reapers shoulder. Zash, we dont need to burden Mera with this now. Theres plenty of time.

She will,Blu winks at me. Her skin warms when my wings caress her.He looks at Zash. You can read her, empath.

An empath and a reaper?I ask.

Zash reluctantly nods. He studies me. A brief smile appears. Shes drawn to us but still afraid.

Probably too shocked about Risqs small bits,” Blu hisses.

Careful, Blu,Risq huffs. I know some who crave faerie wing stew.

Zash moves a bit closer to me while still carefully keeping his distance. He studies my eyes and my face never once looking me up and down in a creepy manner. Youre the one. We finally found you.

Arc closes his eyes and sighs. Then its settled.

They nod in unison and move closer to me.

I step back. Sorry, but this is my birthday. The whole days planned. Ive got to get ready for college and …” I remember and relax a bit. This isnt happening. Its a dream. Theres no such thing as boss witches or flirty faeries or shy empath reapers or dangerously small vampires.

Dangerously small?Risq sighs.

Blu laughs. Nailed that one.

Zash nods. “I’ll try to open up to you and not be so shy.

I back into something that doesnt move or budge. What did I just run into?

Me.” Blu’s whisper infects my brain as I almost black out. How did he move so fast? Why can I not take my eyes from them?

Because you belong to us now.

I didnt know which one said that. Blus wings encase me. The other three circle me.

The room spins. The background blurs, and only the guys are clearly in focus. Blus wings enclose us all.

The witch holds my hands. Just breathe.

I relax as some kind of sweet cotton candy tasting dust fills the air. Faerie dust?

The reaper nods.

Thats really a thing? What about my parents? My brother and sister?

The witch massages my hands. Theyre fine. Were not going to hurt you.

Not unless you want us to.

I roll my eyes. Had to be the vampire who said that. Cocky bastard. Why didnt you choose Stef. My friends totally into the paranormal. I dont believe in ghosts or goblins or imps or—”

Blu laughs. You dont have to believe for us to be real. Youll see when we get home.

“Home?”

Your castle,they all whisper. Youre our new Queen.

Chapter 2

We finally stop spinning. I think. My brain is too sloshy, and my insides noisily churn.

Just close your eyes and breath,Arc says, as he continues to hold my hands.

Zash gently touches my shoulder. Its going to be alright,he whispers. I promise.

My stomach has other ideas about calming. I shake my head. “I’m going to be sick.

No, youre not,Arc says. Open your eyes and look into mine.

I look into Arcs calming brown eyes and immediately feel better. Where were you when I had food poisoning?

He smiles then nods to Blu who still has his wings surrounding us.

Blu slowly lowers his wings, and I look around while they watch me. The faerie has an issue with personal space because hes always super close to me which I really dont mind for some reason. Arc is a few feet away while Zash is the furthest.

Wait. “Wheres the vampire?

“He’s not part of us anymore,Arc says. We can only travel with four.

I turn around to take it all in, but theres really not much to see. A for effort, but maybe a C minus for execution. Is the pot brownie wearing off?

Arc narrows his eyes. Was any of that supposed to make sense?

Blu twirls. Yes, he actually twirls around like a child. So, how do we look in our own world?

The faeries still shirtless. Still gorgeous. His pants now look like fancy blue jeans with too much shine.

The same?

He frowns and looks at his arms and chest and wings. Dont I glitter? Im supposed to be seductively sparkly.He runs to the window so the sun peeks at his skin. I am glittery.He then eyes me suspiciously. Why have you turned on me?

I cant help but laugh.

Arc rolls his eyes. Blu, dial down the drama.He smirks. Are you still under the impression you are dreaming?

I nod as I wander around. Im standing in a blank room with a ceiling I cant even see and a spiral staircase that goes nowhere. I frown. If Im a Queen, is this supposed to be my castle?

Arc smiles. “Picture what youd think a castle would look like.

I close my eyes and think of a castle. Im not sure if its something I saw in a movie or a magazine. Im still hoping Ill wake up in my room. I have tons to do before the party.

“Okay,” Arc says. You can open your eyes now.

The former white walls are now old, grey stone. Large red tapestries with a weird black symbol hang down the walls. The pattern matches the rugs which cover a black and red checkerboard tile. Like Alice in Wonderland meets vampire meets gothic? And that spiral symbol?

Thats your symbol,Arc says, as he holds up his hand with a ring that matches.

I look to the others who also show me the same rings.

The most comfortable looking white sofas and chairs are covered in throws with the same matching red and black symbols. The furniture all surrounds a fireplace. Theres an actual crackling fire in the fireplace. There wasnt even a fireplace before.

Small black tables covered in the same red and black fabric as the sofa throws are littered with platters and jars of gum balls, taffy, brownies, fudge, cakes, cupcakes, suckers, sugar sticks, cookies, cotton candy.

That was me.Blu spins towards me and grabs about three of everything. Faeries have sweet teeth.

The windows open to the forest and singing birds beyond, and whispy red curtains float in the warm breeze. I look to the witch.

This is one of those one room castles,Arc says.

I must have made either a frown face or something because Zash steps closer to me.

Its alright,the reaper says. We dont have rooms.

Why?

Weve never been allowed to have our own space or stay too long in the reigns castle,Arc says bitterly. Were only allowed in to service the King or Queen.

“Yikes.” I cringe. That sounds disturbing.

Arc nods. Usually.

Blu and Zash also nod.

I quickly force my mind out of the gutter and into more PG material. Game nights? Cooking classes? To catch a big spider?

Blu snorts. “No, Mera. It was exactly what you originally thought.

I shudder and make probably a thousand weird facial expressions as creepy thoughts haunt me. “I’m sorry.

Arc narrows his eyes. I actually believe you. Thank you for that.He takes my cloak off and drapes it across the sofa.

Blu finishes a candy cane. Mera is different.

I hope she is.Zash quickly glances at me before finding the fireplace more interesting. “For her sake.”

Alrighty then. Good talk.I walk around, but Im stalling. I clap my hands together. So, when do I wake up?

Blu laughs. How do we convince you this is not a dream?

I squish my face up as I think. What would I need? A pony? No. World peace. Undoable. Save the bees. Okay. Save the bees.

Arc frowns. Why would the bees need saving?

They are dying back home.

Zash steps closer to me with his hand over his heart. Why are they dying?

I take a deep breath. Pesticides. Humans. Climate. Humans. Did I mention humans?

Poor bees. I do not want them to suffer.Zash looks so sad. He closes his eyes and chants something. He opens his eyes. Done.

I look around. Okay. How will I know if—”

Just then millions of bees swarm in through the open windows. I dont have time to flee or squeal or head for cover. They fly to the corner of the room where tiny jars of honey with bows and various colored ribbons are placed in what quickly becomes an altar. Instantly there are cards, suckers, stickers, posters, pictures, drawings and stuffed animals. Behind everything, a banner with my name is placed.

All hail, Queen Mera. The savior of bees.

In a flash, the bees retreat. I take everything in. I blink about a thousand times. Why wont I wake up? I pinch myself and slowly turn around. This isnt a dream. How is this possible?

I grab my heart. Its an exaggerated gesture, but I am freaking out. Where am I? What is happening?This is no longer amusing. I want to go home. I need to go home.

You are home, my Queen.Arc says.

I back away from them as they appear to be stalking me. Or is it my imagination? I close my eyes and continue to move backwards.

I back into someone and quickly open my eyes.

Its me. It’s okay,” Arc whispers, as he entwines our hands and fingers together.

In an instant, Blu is in front of me. His wings caress my face. Relax.

I squeeze my eyes shut and think of my room. My parents. Chicago. The Miracle Mile. My birthday party. My friends. College. Even my annoying brother and sister. Wake up, Mera.

I hear sirens and cabs honking. “I’m home.I quickly open my eyes, but Im still in the castle.

Blu smiles as he drops his wings. That wasnt so hard.He glances over at Arc.

Didnt think youd do it so fast.Arc lets go of my hands. There, much better.

What just happened?

Blu smiles at me. I got you to admit youre home.

I sigh. “I thought I was back home. I heard what sounded like Chicago. Thats not fair.

Blu stretches his wings out beside him and bows. Thank you.

Things work differently here, Mera,Arc admits. We only needed you to believe for a second.

Zash looks at me with remorse before quickly looking away. You said the words. Thats all that was required.

What about my parents?

Arc sighs. “I’m sorry, Mera. Time is different in our world. As time passes here, it is roughly one year in your world.

I shake my head. But weve only been here what a few minutes?

Zash shakes his head. In time you can understand, weve been here three days.

Three years back home?My pulse skyrockets. I grab my stomach. Thats impossible. What do they think happened to me?

Zash and Blu look to Arc.

He takes a deep breath. I took away their memories of you.

Arc’s words sink in. It was like I was never born?

“Blu,” Arc says. “Help her.”

Blu circles me again with his wings. My tears fall fast. Zash stands in front of me with such pain in his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Mera. If there had been another way.

Zash wipes my tears away. Its going to be okay. I wont let anyone hurt you.

Nor will I,Blu whispers.

I calm as Blu whispers to me and as I look into Zashs eyes. I dont know what they are doing to me, but Im not freaked out anymore. I nod. “I’m okay. Thank you.

Zash steps back as Blu releases me.

Whats going to happen? What do you want from me?

Blu grabs another dozen sugar sticks from a jar which are immediately refilled. I thought we already said that, didnt we?He glances at the others. We did say she had to fall in love with us, didnt we? Sometimes I forget depending upon my sugar levels.

Blu claps as he eats an entire tray of brownies in one swallow. By my tally, I believe Zash and I are her favorites. Sorry, Arc.

Blu gently drapes his wings around me. Hes warm and safe and smells of spun sugar, and I wish I can stay with him forever.

Chapter 3

I dont open my eyes, but I can tell Im on the sofa. Did I fall asleep in front of the tv again, dad? Mom, what time is it? Tell me I havent missed my party.

What party?

I know that voice. I slowly open my eyes. The faerie is sitting next to me on the sofa with his feet propped against the coffee table. Hes eating a giant chocolate cupcake.

I didnt think youd ever wake up.Blu licks the frosting from his fingers before devouring another cupcake.

I notice my hair is tangled. I try to run my fingers through it, but glitter appears. Whats this?

Blu shrugs. I heard someone say something about mouth to mouth.

I realize thats why I taste sugar and strawberries. You kissed me?I wipe my mouth off.

Blu nods. Youre welcome.

Zash has his back to the window watching me.

I feel my head. Did I pass out?

Youve been asleep forever,Blu says, sucking on a milkshake.

It was only four minutes,Arc admits.

I thought wed have to send in a search party.Blu grabs his heart. I would have been sad.

I roll my eyes. Youre all a riot.

What is this?A gruff voice filters through the room. A man in his early thirties appears in front of us with weird darkish hair that sticks up. Hes wearing what looks like a purple velvet onesie under a too small orange cloak. I think his ego should have arrived thirty minutes before he did. And then maybe he should have stayed home.

The three immortals immediately stand up. Zash quickly glances at me with a worried expression before all three bow.

The man struts around the room and glares at the surroundings. He curls his lip total Elvis style but looks more like a demented chihuahua hybrid. Such an interesting decor.He snorts. Why does the new Queen allow her slaves to lounge in her castle at all hours? Does she require that much servicing? And where is your vampire?

The immortals fall to their knees and bow their heads.

The odd man smirks. So much better when theyre on their knees.His beady eyes find me. “I’m King Pole. You’ll do very well, wont you?

I raise my eyebrows.

He looks me up and down and licks his lips.

I cringe and hope I wont be sick. I do not like him at all.

Arc suppresses a laugh.

The King huffs as he stares at the three. Why are you still here. Be gone lowly creatures!

The three rise and start to leave.

I jump up. Where are you going?

They stop. Arc is the first to glance at me. Weve been ordered away, my Queen.

You cant leave.Definitely not alone with this thing that oozes creep.

The man licks his lips again and blows me a kiss. Zash, you can still read my thoughts, right?

The reaper nods slowly.

Tell me dickhead isnt someone I have to marry or date or anything.

He squeezes his lips together trying to suppress a grin and shakes his head.

I need to be alone with this new reign.King Pole adjusts his pants.

“Ew.” I step back. So not happening. Not ever. I took self-defense in school, asshole. You even think of touching me, and Ill squish you in places you didnt know existed.

Blu giggles.

The Kings mouth gapes wide as he stares at me. Luckily, hes speechless because his voice sounds like a broken car alarm.

Blu continues his giggling.

The King glares at Blu and then looks down at the necklaces I forgot I wore. Which one belongs to the faerie?

I grab the necklaces together without thinking. The three immortals moan. Blus wings quiver and shake. I quickly let the necklaces go. Sorry.

The King grins. He steps close to Blu and licks his face.

“Ew.” I immediately want to snap the man’s neck. “What the hell is your diagnosis?

Then he steps to Arc and bends his neck at a very painful angle before digging in one of his fingernails enough to make him bleed.

I cringe. “Stop.” I walk towards the King. Leave.

He winks at me.

Did I stutter?I point to the door. “Out!”

He gasps. I thought we were role playing.

Do you normally role play such a creepy asshole?

He looks me up and down with disgust. Ungrateful little girl. I will enjoy breaking you.

I point towards the door. Good luck with that.I wait until the stain has left before I turn around to face the three. I cross my arms over my chest.

The three moan again, and I realize Ive hit their necklaces. Again. Awkward. Sorry.

Blu shakes and breathes heavily. That was mostly mine. Never apologize for that.

I immediately clasp my hands behind me. Less chance of accidental necklace turn ons.

The three immortals remain standing with their heads bowed.

I wait for one of them to explain. What are you doing?

Arc shifts positions. You havent released us yet, my Queen.He sighs. Once one of the reigns have ordered us to do something, we cannot stop until another reign gives us new orders.

I look around the room. Is this really happening?

It is,Arc says.

Feel free to grab my necklace again,Blu hints. That was incredible. I didnt mind that at all.

You mean youd just stand there with your heads bowed until I …” I couldnt say the words. Asked you?

“No,” Arc says. Not ask. Order.

I grab my stomach. What century is this? I dont understand this world.I look to Blu. Youd go without sugar?

He sniffs like the thought is too horrifying. You could take my mind off the sugar by grabbing my necklace. Just touch it a little. Please. Just once more.

Zash drops his head further. Now you know how important you are to us. You are different. I know youd never mistreat us or allow us to be mistreated.

I walk to Zash. No, I wouldnt. Not ever. I swear it.

He slowly lifts his head. His eyes tell me everything. How I can trust him. How he feels about me. How hell keep me safe no matter what.

Arc startles me when he clears his throat.

Sorry, please go about doing what you were before.

In an instant, Blu devours three cakes and drinks six gallons of fruity punch. That was close. I thought Id pass out.

Arc grabs my hands. Thank you, Queen.

Please dont call me that. I do not want to be Queen in such a suckfest.I look at Blu. That creepy asshole actually licked you. With his tongue. God knows where thats been.

Blu giggles then shrugs, but I can tell it shook him. “He’s done worse.He devours another cupcake then deviously grins at me. I dont mind being licked, but Id rather it be your tongue.

I try not to blush and glance at Zash. What would he have done to you?

Zash takes a deep breath. Its usually—”

Its more of what he makes us do to him,Arc interrupts.

I hold my hand up. Dont want the specifics. How is this possible? All of you are stronger than him. Smarter than him. Youre immortals. Hes only human. And what of your former reigns?

Arc sits down. They usually let any of the other reigns do whatever they want or join in.

I cringe. Then I guess maybe you didnt choose the right reign before.

Zash smiles at me and nods. You are definitely different from the other reigns.

So, who the hell was that asshole?

Blu chokes on his food. One of the many reigns.

I return to the sofa and sit beside Blu who has already gone through another dozen cakes.

He shrugs. I think Im a stress eater. But that last flavor.He digs his finger into the frosting and shoves it into my mouth. Good, isnt it?

I jump back. The others tense like Im going to bolt, but I taste the frosting. “Sweet.” I nod at Blu who smiles at me and winks.

The others relax.

What flavor would you guess that is?

I think about it. Chocolate and mocha and …”

Blu leans in closer to me. “And?” His wings tap together waiting for me to guess.

I look up at the ceiling. What else was that? Blueberry? No. Kumquat?

Blu gasps. “Why in the realms would a kumquat be in frosting? That’s unnatural.”

Coffee grounds?

Blu gives me a look that is a mixture of agitation and absolute fear.

Sorry. It wasn’t strawberry?”

Blu shakes his head. Not strawberry or coffee grounds or broccoli or dandelion.He digs his finger in and comes out with a wallop of frosting. He hovers close to me. Need another taste?

I want to say no, but I cant even think the words. You are mesmerizing.

Blu smugly grins at me. I know.

Zash sits down next to me. His closeness startles me, but I dont move away.

Blu’s wing touches my forehead. Think Mera. Whats the flavor? This is serious.

I laugh. Serious?

Blu nods.

Arc shifts positions. Anything sweet is very serious for Blu.

I think she needs another taste,Zash hints, as he winks at me.

Blu slowly leans in and then quickly glances at Zash. Why dont you do it.

Zash swallows hard. His hands shake as he takes a cupcake and runs his finger through the frosting. He looks into my eyes and then delicately brushes frosting on my lips.

I quickly grab his finger and slowly and very meticulously suck the frosting off.

Zash grips the edge of the sofa until it starts to snap in two. He takes a deep breath as he moans.

Arc watches us with a raised eyebrow and blows out a breath. Wish Id thought of doing that.

Blu grins. “Was that better than her grabbing your necklace?

Zash blushes intensely and nods. Uh huh. Yes. Definitely. Absolutely. Without a doubt.

Blu pouts. So unfair. You didnt do that to me.

Thats because you just shoved your way in without warning,I remind him.

Zash smiles. “That is the closest Ive ever been to a human without being forced or ordered.

I suddenly feel guilty. I didnt force that, did I Zash?

He shook his head quickly. No.He gently pushes my hair out of my face. Youd never have to force me to do anything.

I could stare into Zashs sad green eyes forever.

He leans close to me and whispers. Theyre not sad when I look at you.

I’m lost for a few years looking at Zash until Blus wing aggressively taps me on the head.

Flavor?

I glance at Blu. You must have been fun as a child.

He nods before his smirk turns devious. We can become adult real quick. Would you like to see what else I can do? Ill give you one more guess before I punish you for making me wait.

I swallow hard as I try not to think too hard at what Blu just hinted. Kiwi. Thats the flavor.

Blu sighs. “Too bad. I really wanted to punish you.

I stare into Blus eyes. Beautiful.My head starts to throb, and Im dizzy. I feel off. I think you did punish me. I’m allergic to kiwi.”

Blu quickly grabs my hands. He closes his eyes and says something. There, all better. Kiwi is gone.He looks at Zash. I dont think Ive ever seen you happy.

Zash smiles at me. She is ours. Were finally going to be safe.

I dont know what is happening to me or why Im suddenly so comfortable with them.

I look to Arc, but the witch isnt in the room. Where is he?

Blu and Zash jump to their feet.

Blu sighs. “He has him.

Who?

Zash looks down at the ground. “King Pole.”

Chapter 4

I walk over to the door which is still open.

Where are you going?” Blu asks. “You cant leave without us.

I peer outside. I dont see a road or a town or anything but forest. Only the sounds of birds can be heard. And, of course, the buzzing of bees who have also created an altar on the porch with even larger jars of appreciation honey.

What are we waiting for?

Well have to go to town.Blu glances at Zash before returning his attention to me. It will be dangerous.

For me or you?

Both.

This really isnt a dream, is it?

I wait for someone to do something. To say something. To at least suggest something. I shrug and step outside.

Zash grabs me. Are you sure you want to do this?

Want to? No, but I promised I wouldnt let any of you be mistreated. If I can help Arc I will.

Zash quickly kisses my cheek and puts my cloak back on me.

Blu rushes to me and kisses my forehead. He greedily grins and rubs his hands together. So, perhaps you should think very seriously about rewarding Zash and I for being your favorites.

Blu taps his wing against his chin like hes thinking. Maybe I should devise the reward.He nods. Thats what Ill do. Leave it to me, Mera, Ill figure out the proper reward for us.

Before I can say anything, Blu jumps up and down. “I’ll gather supplies.” He’s back in an instant with cotton candy and suckers. He hands me a cookie. Okay, Im ready.

Zash leaps down the front steps and grabs my hand to guide me down.

Just stay between us. Ill be on one side. Blu will be on your other side. Ill know before anyone tries anything, and Blu can put them in a sugar coma.

I frown. What kind of town is this?

Blu nibbles on a never ending chocolate bar. Dangerous.

Zash swallows hard. He looks into my eyes. “I’m sorry for this.

I freeze. Why are you apologizing now? The last time one of you apologized, I was ripped from my world.

He quickly shakes his head. Nothing like that. Youre going to have to be a Queen.

I look down at myself. I assumed the red and black cloaky thing made me look Queen like in this world. Then, I feel a strange pressure on my head. Seriously? Do I really have a crown?

Zash glances up and smiles. I didnt make it too heavy, did I?

I didnt want to move. “I’ve never had a What if it falls off or I cant walk with it?

“I’ve spelled it so it will stay put.Blu smooths my hair back behind my ears.

Theyll be looking for weaknesses,Zash says. Do not ask. Order. If anyone tries to stop us—”

“If?” Blu laughs. More like when.

This world …” I try to figure out how to word my question. Was it always this way or did humans completely muck it up?

Zash and Blu tense. Zash hesitates. Our world used to be better before …” he motions as if saying before humans.

I sigh. I wouldnt know how to apologize for an entire species. Or at least some of my species.

Are we ready?Zash asks.

I nod and start walking.We only get a few feet before Blu and Zash grab my hands, and theres a whoosh sound like were in a vacuum.

Before I know it, were standing in the middle of a town. My stomach won’t stop spinning. “What just happened?

Portal,Zash nonchalantly answers, without looking at me. We need to keep moving.

Blu hands me another cookie. Butterscotch. Itll help with the stomach flips. Or you can just look into my gorgeous eyes, and youll be so in love with me youll forget everything else.

I nibble on the cookie as I walk. This place looks like a medieval movie set. Cobblestone streets snake around out of sight. On one side of the street, tiny shops overflow with fabric, snacks, hats, dresses, toys, fudge, and trinkets I couldnt describe. On the other side, dozens of cafes offer their specialities.

I close my eyes. From the various pungent odors, they dont eat what Im used to. What is that smell? Sulphur casserole? Raw sewer stew?Nauseating stenches violently counteract the cookie. Blu, do you have—”

He instantly hands me another butterscotch cookie. This one is made with some of the bees gratitude honey. Itll help.

I hold the cookie close to my nose and hope the sweet honey mixed with butterscotch combats the offending stenches. Is this like a bazaar?

“No,” Zash says quickly.

I notice his hands hover near his sword like hes ready for anything. They constantly scan the area.

There are hundreds of people shopping and eating at the various disgusting outdoor cafes. As soon as we get close, everyone stares at us. Even if people are in mid bite, their forks hover in front of their open mouths while they take us in.

I quickly look down at my outfit. Am I dressed weird or something? Is the cloak too much?

Zash shakes his head. Youre beautiful.

Dont look directly at them, my Queen,Blu shakily says.

Watch it,someone barks.

I look down to see a tiny creature with a huge hat and an even larger bright red beard glaring at me.

Blu grabs me. “Leprechaun,he whispers.

“Faerie.” The leprechaun scowls, spits on the ground and runs off muttering.

A big eared pink something winks at me as it flutters by using ears as wings. As I watch the winged creature float above the buildings, I notice dozens if not hundreds of tiny creatures barely the size of acorns with iridescent wings dozing on tops of the awnings. What the?

Walk faster,Zash orders.

I can barely keep up as their speed increases. I dont look at anyone anymore, but I hear whispers, grunts, growls, and questions.

So thats the new Queen,one says.

She wont last long.

Laughter intersperses with threats and loud sniffs and growls.

Poor soul. She has no idea whats coming.

Zash grabs my hand. It’s okay.”

What do we have here?Someone says with a growl.

I look up at the ten foot tall beast in front of us. Forest green furry body, dog face, and lizard hands. He sticks out his silver tongue which has to be three feet long.

Yikes.

Blu squeezes closer to me. “He’s a hybrid. Dont antagonize him.

The green dog lizard stares at me. Zash stands between me and the beast. Hes much taller than me, but he cant hide me from the ten foot tall beast.

The creature throws his wet snout in the air and takes a very loud wheezing whiff. She smells good.

Zash shakes his head. Back off, Raks.

The beast licks his lips which I hadnt realized were purple with dozens of thorns like hes also part cactus. “Can’t I have a taste?

Zash grips his sword. No, and lets not make this difficult. Remember what happened last time?

The beast grunts. When you let me have your Queen, and we created beautiful hybrid children.

I almost pass out. Blu tightens his grip on me.

The beast laughs a guttural noise that sounds like a sad hyena.

“Blu,” Zash quickly says.

Blu whips around and stands behind me. Something I can help you with?

I glance behind me. I hadnt realized a crowd had gathered. About a dozen humans and other species which I cant identify push towards us.

Hello, Queen,A gruff voice says, and tries to push Zash who pushes back.

A very beautiful woman circles us. Her pink eyes match her hair, and it feels like she is crawling into my mind.

Zash turns around and faces me breaking my connection. Shes a succubus. Do not look at her.

Someone pulls my hair and grabs my shoulder.

Zash growls. Do not touch her.

Blu backs into me which forces me into Zash. Im being squished.

“Zash?” Blu asks.

Do it,Zash says. “I’ll protect Mera.

Zash grins. “Keep your eyes closed until I say.He sheepishly smiles at me. Sorry, but not really.He winks and quickly kisses me.

Zash forces oxygen into my lungs from his kiss. I can hear his thoughts. You are safe. I swear I wont let anything happen to you. Not ever.

Blu blows something into the air. I hear screams. Curses. Yells. Tables sound like they are being overturned. Glass shatters. People run in all directions.

Zash continues to kiss me deeply. Ive never in my life felt so protected. I dont want him to let go of me. Ever.

Zash tightens his grip around my waist while his other hand gently holds onto the back of my neck. Very soon, I will never let you go. I promise.

Something very loud hits the ground.

“Okay, Zash,” Blu says. You can stop.

I tighten my grip on Zash instinctively. His lips taste so good. I feel his kiss in every cell of my body. He has so much power. So much sadness.

“Zash?” Blu leans closer to us and giggles. “Oh, Zash?”

Zash finally leans back. You can open your eyes now.

I slowly open my eyes. My head spins. My thoughts jumble. Theres no way I could even try to speak.

Zash’s eyes glow silver. He looks as lightheaded as I feel. He takes a few deep breaths.

Blu touches my shoulder. Are you alright, Mera?

I can only nod.

Blu giggles when he sees Zash’s blush. “Next time, I give you the potion and I kiss Mera.

Blu, what power did you use?Zash asks.

Blu giggles. Full power.

The town looks like a hurricane had a tantrum. Tables are shattered. Bits of chair are impaled into the awnings. Popcorn, candy and for some reason raw pasta litter the ground. Everyone has collapsed. They aren’t?”

Blu shakes his head as he sips on a soda. Just the best sugar coma I’ve got.” He looks at them as if hes jealous.

I search the area. Even the tiny winged things that were asleep on the awnings are huddled together and unconscious. So, theyre alive?

Of course.Blu puts his hand over his heart. What kind of faerie do you think I am?

I look closer and everyone is sleeping and smiling which is eerie. And the big thump I heard?

Zash steps aside to show the big green beast is snoring away. The beasts long lizard tongue darts this way and that grabbing pretzels and chips which are strewn around him.

Blu takes a sucker from his mouth and cringes. Never trust the ones who crave salt.

Zash grabs me. I am sure this is very strange for you, but we must move before they wake up.

Blu nods. Unfortunately, my full strength sugar coma does have side effects.

Do I want to know?

Zash suppresses a laugh and glances at Blu.

The faerie rubs his chin. “Let’s say theres usually a birth boom three to twenty-four months afterwards.He shrugs. Depending on the species, of course.Blu giggles. And lets say they are not discreet about it. I mean they wake up, feel great, find the nearest partner and have at it.

Thats why there are so many hybrids,Zash admits.

I shudder. “Yeah, I can skip that.

We start walking again. Blu cant stop giggling. We get to the end of the street and Zash stops. He motions for us to get closer to the building as he peers around the corner. Theres Arc.

He steps in front of me. Are you ready for this?

He looks at Blu who nods. Shell be fine.

Blu nudges me along. Remember, no questions. Orders.

I salute him as he giggles.

I follow Zash to a small grouping of chairs in front of a podium. It looks like an auction is about to begin. Six large round cages hang in the air. I glance up, but I have no idea whats keeping them suspended.

Theres a faerie in the first cage which Blu squeaks at. The second cage is empty, but the cage shakes. Maybe its invisible. Cage number three has two small versions of the furry green cactus dog lizard thing. The fourth cage holds an old fashioned golden cash register. A young girl is in the fifth cage, and she looks human. Sort of. The last cage holds the witch, Arc.

Beside each cage is a bouncer with tattoos covering muscles bigger than my entire body. They must be related or the same species because they have identical sneers and tank tops.

Arc looks at me with a mixture of surprise and relief. Maybe he didnt think Id come for him.

A painfully thin woman stands in front of the podium. She wears a long dark blue cape and a giant blue crown that almost doubles her height. She glances up from her papers and slowly looks me up and down. So, this is your new Queen. Pity,she says in a French accent.

She opens a notebook as if she couldnt possibly be any more bored. “I’m Queen Marseil. I run the auction, and it appears your witch is about to be sold.

Blu nudges me.

Why?

She glances at me as if she didnt except me to actually have a voice. He must be punished. He didnt report the loss of his fourth. There must be four per group.

I roll my eyes. Seriously? All this because a member of the group bolted? You people really need some fiber.I study her. Are your insides all bound up or are you just hangry?

Blu grabs my arm and giggles.

King Pole whips around. He has on a red cape which swirls so fast it almost suffocates him. Come to bargain for your property, Queen …” He waves his hand around. Whatever your name is.

Zash stiffens. You know the Queens name is Mera.

The King glares at the reaper. “I’ve never had a reaper as part of my lowborns. Would your Queen trade you for her witch?

I take a deep breath and throw my shoulders back. I try to channel bad ass, but I only end up with a neck ache. I am not going to bargain. I am not going to trade. You are going to let Arc go.

The King laughs, and it sounds like an old screen door.

I cover my ears. Sounds like a rusty spring needs to be replaced.

Queen Marseil grins. This one has backbone. The others you chose were too weak.

Agreed,Arc says.

The bouncer dude guarding him bangs a tiny orange stick against the bars making the entire cage vibrate. Arc jumps back and grimaces.

Stay in the center, filthy witch.

A crowd starts to gather around us. I dont want to be pushed or shoved or see anything like Blu described of his sugary side effects. I remember not to ask any questions. Order. Declaration statements. I aced my SATs for a reason. Maybe it wasnt to get into a good university but to save a witch from a supernatural auction in a I stop myself before the migraine arrives. “I’m tired of waiting.

The woman cocks her head. Why the rush?

I shrug. Not a big fan of crowds.

She leans forward. Best to get used to crowds,she hints. That might be problematic when your thirty days are up.

Zash tenses, and I feel sadness from Blu and regret from Arc. Mental note: ask them what the hell is going on.

I calm myself and continue. Plus I have loads to do. So many things on my bucket list.

The Queen narrows her eyes. You must be from the current world. Your speech is most unusual. What time period did you hail?

My smile turns into a grimace. Maybe we can discuss our histories over a double mocha, but right now Id rather do business.I channel my inner bad ass Queen. Return my witch. Now.

The Queen flashes me a creepy all knowing grin. You claim him as yours? You claim all of them as yours? Because I for one would love to taste your faerie if you ever tire of him. Ive heard he is delicious.

Is every human here the worst of humanity?

Her smirk morphs into a glare. You might last longer than I thought.

You sound disappointed.

Blu flinches. I dont know if hes impressed with me or afraid of me.

He grins. Maybe a bit of both.

So, Queen Mera?The Queen glances at her long red nails. The question lingers. Do you claim them?

I know this is going to bite me. I know theres something else going on, but I dont have much of a choice. Or do I? I glance around. Where would I run to? Where would I even go?

Sure,I quickly blurt before I talk myself out of it. I look at Blu. I claim Blu as my sugar faerie.

Blu giggles. Sugar faerie. Thats totally me.

I look into Zashs eyes. I claim Zash as my reaper.I look at Arc. And I claim Arc …” I’m really going to regret this, aren’t I?

“No,” Zash whispers. Blu and I will make sure of it.

I gather some courage from Zash. I take another breath and, ignoring every single cell of regret, I do it. I claim Arc as my witch. Not that I ever wanted my own witch.

I close my eyes and wait. I didnt know if Id end up in an auction cage or be turned inside out or be a pet for that furry lizard cactus dog.

Instead, were back in the castle.

Chapter 5


Blu devours yet another cake. Zash watches me.

Arc kneels before me. Thank you, Mera. Thank you for saving me.

I want to ask I need to ask. But maybe I just need a few minutes of fantasy before I know the truth.

I stare out the window for the longest time. I know they are waiting, but they dont interrupt my thoughts. I finally turn around and face them. Which one of you is going to tell me what the freak I just agreed to?

Zash takes a deep breath. Blu swallows hard and peeks at me in between stirring hot cocoa with a candy cane. Arc glances at Zash.

I stare at the witch. Were you really in danger or was that a trick?

Arc’s mouth widens.You are smarter than the others.

It wasnt my idea,Zash quickly admits. “I’m sorry.

As am I,Blu says.

I roll my eyes. Was any of it real? The town? The sugar coma?

Blu nods. Believe me, everything was real, and we were in danger the moment we stepped in town. Getting taken by the King was—”

That was my idea,Arc admits. It was a test. You are already bonding with Zash and Blu. I thought the kidnapping and danger might make you bond with me.

I shake my head as I study him. Arc, you really shouldnt be making decisions.

Blu and Zash glance at each other and smile.

Arc tenses. Thats fair. I underestimated you.

I turn back to the window, but I turn around too quickly. Head rush.

Blu instantly hands me a chocolate milkshake. Itll help. You need more sugar.

I try to get out of my cloak.

Zash immediately helps me out of it.

I scootch, kick and shove one of the chairs. I scrape the floors badly, but hey at least I got the damn chair in front of the window. I plop myself down.

Arc watches me with amusement. Why didnt you just order me to move the chair for you?

And why do you have to be so far away?Blu asks, jutting out his bottom lip in a pout.

I close my eyes. I want to sleep, but Im not tired. I cant even cry. I should be inconsolable. Every moment Im here Im further away from everything Ive ever known.

I look around the castle but dont see any vents. Is there something being pumped in to make me so I dont know. Giving up? Resigned? Its like my ass is being bitten by thousands of fire ants, and Im like where are the cookies?

The three stare at me as if Ive sprouted a hairy foot from my nose.

Blu huffs. “Why must you be so far away from me?

I calculate the distance. Its only like six feet.

Blu puts his hand over his chest. Its oceans away from me.

I turn my attention to the scenery out the window. Looks like a forest, but looks are obviously deceiving. Why dont you just kill me now and save the trouble?

Arc frowns. I wouldnt. I would never hurt you.

I give him my exaggerated nod. Maybe if you kill me Ill wake up back home.

You are home,Arc says. We all are.

I put my feet up on the window sill and admire the knee high boots with various zips and buckles. These look goth. You’re idea, Zash?”

He nods.


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