Seven sins... Seven virtues... Untold desires.
Of old, humans and Faeries have dwelt side by side in parallel realms. Only the canniest mortals recognize the alluring creatures that often walk—and lie—among them.
The righteous Fae of the Seelie Court cherish an ancient quarrel with their Dark counterparts: a curse born of anger and deceit. The Unseelie Court will perish unless one of its princes can win a woman’s love—honestly, without coercion...and love her wholly in return.
To halt the slow demise of his people, Prince Thane— the embodiment of Lust—infiltrates the Georgian court to seduce his mortal inverse. Noblewoman Chastity Lennox is purity incarnate—a sensual prize well worth winning. But Thane’s carnal quest proves more challenging than he ever dreamed.
No other has ever been able—or willing—to resist his erotic charms. Chastity’s resolve is maddening...and intriguing. It makes him want her all the more. But how best to seduce one who truly seems above temptation? Discover her greatest weakness and become the intoxicating essence of her deepest, most forbidden desires....
“Hello?” she asked, her voice hoarse, and unsure, revealing how frightened she was. “Is there anyone here?”
Something behind her made a noise, and she whirled around to see a man lounging in a chair, his long legs spread, his fingers steepled together and pressed against his mouth.
In the firelight, she saw the glimmer of gold, and he pressed forward, out of the shadows, revealing the gilt mask he wore. Slowly, his hand left the arm of the chair, his fingers grasping the edge of the mask. Breathlessly Chastity watched as the mask was slowly lifted from his face.
His eyes were dark, not the blue they had been in the perfumery. His body was tense, like a predator waiting to pounce on unsuspecting prey. He was dangerous. The man from the maze. Not Thane, the man in the perfumery.
Carelessly he tossed the mask to the floor, watching her response, drinking her in. His gaze covered her body numerous times, before settling briefly on the curve her breasts.
“It was you, all along,” she said on a rush breath, finally fitting the pieces together. “You’re a Dark Fey.”
Their gazes met, and the hunger she saw in his eyes frightened her. Was he recalling that night in the maze as well, when she was bared to him? For it was all she could think of. Yet he had deceived her. “Why?” she asked on a confused whisper.
“Because fate drove me to you.”
He watched her response with his unblinking gaze. Fate. Was he her fate? She knew now, unequivocally what he was. But she did not understand who he was to be to her.
“What do you want from me?”
“You don’t know?”
She swallowed hard. She did know what he wanted. What did any Dark Fey desire?
“Every one hundred years, seven women are born who possess the virtues.”
She paled, and tried to back away, but his gaze held her steady—pinned to the spot on the floor before him.
“You, are the virtue of Chastity. And I am here to claim you as mine.”
And why was it so important to him? What did it matter to him? Was it merely her virtue that interested him? Her chasteness called the base Unseelie needs inside him? Was that it? Was she merely something to corrupt?
His lashes lowered, hiding the expression of his eyes. Somehow she knew he heard her silent question, and he refused to answer her. But she knew it anyway. It was not her he desired. But her virtue.
“You are wrong. It may have been your virtue that called to me, but it has always just been you that has brought me back—time and time again.”
She could not allow herself to weaken. She couldn’t. Even though she felt her body softening, her resolve wavering.
“Have you stolen me from my family, then and taken me to your court?” she asked, trying to be brave.
His lips curved in amusement. “No. Not yet.”
He slouched further into his chair, his pose at once indolent, yet arousing. She could not cease staring at him. At how beautiful he was. How luring and sensual. He seemed to know her thoughts, for he spread his body out further, allowing her an unobstructed view of him.
“You do not seem overly distressed to learn that I am a Dark Faery.”
Cocking her head, she stared at him. “I should have known. Your beauty, your gracefulness, it belies anything human. But you are not golden, but dark, comfortable in shadows and amongst the night.”
“No doubt you have heard stories of us—many of which are exaggerated-”
“Crom says that the Unseelie destroy,” she blurted out. “That you’re not to be trusted. That the Dark Fey only want to seduce, then discard.”
His beautiful face twisted into a mask of rage. “Crom, that Seelie bastard would say anything to get you away from me and my court. Has it ever crossed your mind that he’s lying to you?”
No. It hadn’t. She had taken everything for the truth. Seelies were the good fey. They were golden and lively, and truth was their domain. The Dark Fey were sensual, debauched Fey, delighting in war, and games, and darkness. Sin and lies were the foundation of their court.
“It is not only the Unseelie who destroy,” he said quietly. “There can be cruelty in the light. Danger in the sun. Hatred masked as joy and gaiety. Never underestimate the sinister beauty of the Seelies.”
She could not refute his claims. There had always been something about Crom that had not sat well with her. A smoothness that was artificial. A coolnes that was reflected in his eyes.
In Thane’s eyes she saw heat. Desire. And an openness she had never witnessed in Crom’s violet eyes.
“I will not hurt you,” he whispered, his voice harsh in the quiet. “You can sense that much, can’t you?”
“I do not trust myself to believe anything that you are,” she replied quietly. “You’ve proven that I am poor judge that I’m not as chaste as a virtue ought to be. No, I cannot trust myself to believe in anything that you might profess.”
“Because I am a Dark Fey,” he finished for her.
She could not look away from him. His beauty was otherworldly, but he looked so much like a man. With Crom, she had known he was a Seelie. But Thane…no, she could not quite believe it. Perhaps it was because he had made her body respond as a woman’s does to a handsome man. A human, she corrected. Thane was Fey. Not human. And therefore her arousal for him was an abomination.
“You’re curious,” he stated flatly. “Please. Inspect me. See for yourself if I am not just like any other male.”
She flushed and looked away. “Of course not.” Because she could not trust herself. Even though she did have the very great desire to inspect him, she could not risk being close to him. Touching him. He was far more dangerous to her than Crom and the other Seelies ever could be.
“No? Are you not wondering, even now, what the difference is between a Fey male, and mortal man?”
She was, but how did he know?
“Turn your eyes upon me.”
It was a command that brooked no opposition. She did the unthinkable. Straightened her body until she was looking fully upon him. When he had her full attention, he pulled the lace jabot from around his throat and draped it over the arm of the chair. Then his long fingers began working on the buttons of his shirt, which he opened to his navel.
“You are not a man,” Chastity breathed, trying to remind herself of that fact that this was a dangerous faery sitting before her. One she could not trust. One she must escape from.
“Am I not?” he purred, then he tugged the shirt out from his britches, pulling the white linen over his head. Chastity gasped at the sight before her. The width of his chest, the bulge of muscle in his arms.
Behind him the moon shone through the window, and his body seemed to absorb the moonbeams that glimmered through the filth covered panes of glass. The effect was stunning.
“That night in the maze, when I had my hands on you, and my mouth on your breast, did I not feel like a man? Did you not yearn for me like a woman does a man?”
She would not answer him. Couldn’t.
He sat back in the chair, opening his arms, allowing her to study him fully. She was mesmerized by his Fey glamour, and helplessly, she stepped forward, till her gown brushed his silk covered knees, and she could smell the bared skin of his chest. He smelt of her perfume, and of the woods at night. He compelled her…enthralled her….
“You made me want you,” she accused. “You used your faery magic to make me desire you.”
“No, I did not work a spell to enchant you. You came to me of your own violation. And every time after that, it was your will that brought me to you.”
“You deceived me,” she whispered, unable to blink, or tear her gaze from him. She was hurting. She did not want what she had felt, this newfound desire, the sense of freedom and liberation to give into her buried needs to have been based on magic. She had wanted more. Something real.
“No, I did not.”
“Then I have deceived myself into believing that you are something that you aren’t.”
“You knew me as a man. I am built just like a man, Chastity. See for yourself.”
Her gaze slipped down as she heard the fastening of his britches. Slowly he opened the flap, and she pressed her eyes shut, hiding the vision. “Please don’t.”
“Such innocence,” he whispered. “I wonder at it, even though I have seen you naked. Have felt your breasts, and the honey of your quim.”
He sat forward and skimmed his finger down the filmy skirts of her gown. “You are only afraid to admit the truth to yourself. It is easier to deny what you want because I am a Fey. You hide behind that truth because you do not have to accept that you have been tempted by something you cannot understand. That someone has broken past your defenses, your virtue to glimpse the woman beneath the innocent veneer—and that someone was a Faery.”
She shook her head, refusing to believe him.
“But what are dreams?” he murmured quietly, sending her skin prickling in awareness. “What of that voice inside you? The one that speaks to you, the one that I answer? What man could know of that? No, it has taken a Fey to finally awaken you, to make you respond. You could never have done so with a mortal man.”
She turned to walk away, but he reached for her, his eyes black and glistening as he held onto her wrist, pulling her closer so that she was caged between his thighs. “You claim to know me so very well, but do you even know who you really are?” he whispered silkily in her ear. “You let me in. Accepted me. You listened to the voice inside you. It told you that you wanted me. Wanted to let go of the virtue. Even now that voice speaks to you.”
“It’s your magic making me believe it.”
“No, it is not. It is your true self.”
“Please,” she whispered, “release your hold on me.”
“I cannot. My body burns for a taste of you. My blood…it courses through me, seeking what has been denied me.”
Struggling in his hold, Chastity tried ineffectively to free herself. But Thane was too strong and determined to keep her where he wanted her.
“You fear me, but I am the same as I always was. Before you knew who I really am, there was no fear. Come,” he encouraged. Reaching for her hand, he drew her closer and forced her palm onto his chest. “Discover that there is nothing so terrible about me.”
“Everything about you is otherworldly. How could you believe that I could look at you, touch you, and think you simply a man?”
His eyes shuttered, and she felt his heart thump slow and steady beneath her palm. “Then if you cannot think of me as a man, then discover me as a Fey.”
No comments available.