Once upon a time...the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs...and time is running out....
As the dark Lord who condemns souls to damnation in the Abyss, Micah is nothing but a feared monster wrapped in impenetrable black armor. He has no idea he is the last heir of Elden, its last hope. Only one woman knows--the daughter of his enemy.
Liliana is nothing like her father, the Blood Sorcerer who'd cursed Micah. She sees past Micah's armor to the prince inside. A prince whose sinful touch she craves. But first she has to brave his dark, dangerous lair and help him remember.
Because they only have till midnight to save Elden.
He was the most beautiful monster she had ever seen.
It was the first thought Liliana had as she lay weak and drained across the black marble of the floor, her face reflected in its polished surface. As she watched, the one they called the Lord of the Black Castle rose from his ebony throne at the head of the room and walked down the ten steps with a lazy grace that spoke of power, strength...and death.
Trying desperately to close her hand into a fist, she attempted to push herself up onto her knees, unwilling to meet him at such a disadvantage. But her body was debilitated beyond bearing by the blood she had spilled to make the crossing, her wrists spotted with it, though her magic had sealed the wounds. Her father would've sacrificed another without a thought to the life he took, would call her a fool for using her own blood.
"Weak." He had spit the judgment at her more than once. "I took a beautiful witch to wife and got a hatchet-faced mewling brat in return."
Sensing the vibration of the monster's boots getting ever closer, she took a deep breath, able to feel it rattle in her throat. It wasn't meant to be like this. The spell should have deposited her in the forests outside his domain, not in the midst of his great hall, where he stood as the lone, lethal shield against the vicious beings beyond. She could feel eyes on her, hundreds of them. And yet no one made a sound.
The boots were almost to her now.
Cruelty was no stranger to her, not after having grown up with the Blood Sorcerer for a father. But this man, this "monster," was meant to be completely without heart, without soul. His castle held within it the gateway to the Abyss, the place where the servants of evil were banished after death to suffer eternal torment at the hands of the basilisks and the serpents, and he was the guardian of that terrible place. It was said that even the most inhuman of the dead quivered when confronted by his visage.
But that was a lie, she thought as he crouched down beside her, his boots heavy in her line of sight.
He was not ugly at all.
Strong hands gripped her by the shoulders, pulled her roughly to her knees.
And she found herself staring into the face of a monster.
Sun-kissed hair, eyes of winter-green and skin that held the golden brush of summer even in this black place devoid of warmth, he could have stood in as the model for the mythical Prince Charming spoken of in childhood storybooks. Except Prince Charming did not wear armor of impenetrable black, and his eyes were not full of nightmares.
"Who is this?" A quiet, quiet question.
It made the hair on the back of her neck rise. She tried to force her tongue to work, but her body refused to cooperate even that much, still stunned from the leap she'd made from her father's stolen kingdom to this place that stood as the dark ward between the living and the most depraved of the dead.
"An intruder." He stroked her hair off her face, the act almost tender...if one ignored the fact that he wore gauntlets over his forearms that extended to his hands in spiderwebs of black. A spray of razors rode over his knuckles, while his fingers were tipped with bladed claws the same shade as his armor. "No one has dared enter the Black Castle without invitation in..." A flicker in the green. "Ever."
He didn't remember, she realized, looking into that face that was only of the Guardian. There was no echo of the boy he must've once been. None. Which could only mean one thing--according to legend, it was Queen Alvina who had cast the final desperate...