His silver eyes danced mischievously. More than three? If you ever need me , just send a note. Or a gremlin. Or whatever.
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I stood in the center of a familiar room, the walls and shelves covered with the macabre and strange. Snakes floating in jars, teeth scattered among feathers and bones and pestles. A skeleton in a top hat grinning at me from the corner. I knew this place.
An old wooden rocking chair creaked softly at the edge of the light. It was facing away from me, and I could see a body slumped in the seat, withered arms dangling over the sides.
I took a step closer and smelled the decay, the stench of grave dust and rags and ancient newspapers, crumbling in the attic. Walking around to face the chair, I gazed down at the shriveled corpse of an old woman, her nails curved into long, steely talons, her head slumped on her sunken chest. Then she raised her head, and her eyes burned with black fire as she opened her mouth and breathed the words that stopped my heart in fear.
And I awoke. My name is Meghan Chase. I lifted my head from my desk, blinking at my computer and the nonsensical words scrolled across the screen.
A quick glance at the clock proclaimed it a. Had I pulled another all-nighter? I yawned, shaking cobwebs from my mind, as memory returned. It was a pet project of mine; the Iron Realm, despite being the smallest and newest realm in the Nevernever, was still large and sprawling. It needed a way for its citizens to travel safely and quickly, particularly if they were coming to Mag Tuiredh to see their new queen. The railroad was the perfect solution, though it would be a while before it was finished.
I rubbed my eyes, the remnants of a dream fading from my mind. Maybe I needed to slow down, take a break or a vacation, if the Iron Queen was allowed such things. The Iron Court, despite all the fear and hatred it still faced from the other courts, was doing well.
Which reminded me. Today marked the first day of Winter. I groaned at the thought. At my feet, Beau, my German shepherd, raised his head and thumped his tail hopefully, and I smiled down at him. You need to go out? I ruffled his fur and stood, then winced as the floor swayed and a cloud of nausea bloomed in my stomach. Frowning, I put my hand on the desk to steady myself, clenching my jaw until the spell passed.
Beau nudged my hand and whined. I patted his neck, and the sick feeling faded and everything was normal again. Come on, I bet Razor is waiting for his daily game of catch-me-if-you-can. They laughed and skittered around me, climbing walls and hanging from the ceiling, taunting poor Beau, until we reached the doors that led to the gardens surrounding the palace.
As soon as I opened the doors, the gremlins shot through, buzzing challenges, and Beau took off after them, barking like mad. I rolled my eyes and shut the door as quiet returned to the Iron palace, if only temporarily. Pale light streamed through the half-open curtains, settling around the still-sleeping form of a Winter sidhe. Or a former Winter sidhe. Pausing in the door frame, I took advantage of the serene moment just to watch him, a tiny flutter going through my stomach.
That he was mine forever: my husband, my knight. My faery with a soul. He lay on his stomach, arms beneath the pillow, breathing peacefully, his dark hair falling over his eyes. The covers had slipped off his lean, muscular shoulders, and the early-morning rays caressed his pale skin. That paranoia would never really fade, but he was gradually starting to relax now, to the point where sometimes, though not often, I would wake with him still beside me, his arm curled around my waist.
And given how rare it was, to see him truly unguarded and at ease, I hated to disturb him. But I walked across the room to the side of the bed and gently touched his shoulder. He was awake in an instant, silver eyes cracking open to meet mine, never failing to take my breath away. Both of us. It was like tiny pieces of his wall crumbled every day, showing me the bright, beautiful soul that lay beneath.
I knew it was there, of course, when he had returned from his quest at the End of the World, but it had been new and fragile and overshadowed by his past, by his Unseelie nature and ruthless upbringing.
Now, though, I could see more of it every day. He was still Ash the ice prince to everyone else in the castle, and sometimes that frozen barrier sprang up when he was angry or upset, but he was trying. That was part of the deal when you married me. I gave a startled yelp and fell on top of him, and his arms immediately snaked around my waist, trapping me against him. My eyes closed, and I melted into him, savoring the feel of his lips on mine, breathing in his scent. God, he was like a drug; I could never get enough.
My fingers roamed over his bare shoulders and chest, and he sighed against me, sliding his hands up to tangle in my hair. Even if you order me to the hell that is the Winter Court Elysium.
Ash gave a rueful smirk. More than three? I opened it a crack to find three wire nymphs gazing up at me. Fix, my chief packrat adviser, had been quite busy of late, researching Elysium, the other courts and all the customs that went with it. He was incredibly efficient and probably knew more about the event than most of the traditional fey did.
Quotes from Iron's Prophecy
I stood in the center of a familiar room, the walls and shelves covered with the macabre and strange. Snakes floating in jars, teeth scattered among feathers and bones and pestles. A skeleton in a top hat grinning at me from the corner. I knew this place. An old wooden rocking chair creaked softly at the edge of the light.
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If so, this series is tailor made for you. Julie Kagawa has created this beautifully terrifying universe and populated it with interesting and dynamic characters that will ensnare your heart and mind. My heart is bursting with happiness. But this is still chock-full of Ash lines that will make you melt.