Now, I tell Nathair.
I hear them before I see them, their footsteps and chatter as they express their awe of the court preceding them as Nathair and Simon escort them into the ballroom. I know the moment they first see us. Their voices rise, but I ignore them as Conall’s talented tongue slides into me, making me cry out. I feel the growing crowd watching us, the main spectacle.
Nathair moves over and joins us, possessively sliding his hand across me.
I let my head loll to the side, gripping my mate with one hand while the other trails over my breasts and throat. I meet Conall’s eyes and smile as he licks my pussy for them all to see. I moan, my chest arching, and then Nathair appears above me, so I grab him and drag him down for a kiss. He whimpers against my lips, and I turn his head and slam my fangs into his neck as Conall sinks his fangs into my thigh, making me cry out as an orgasm rolls through me. Other mouths press against my flesh—one in my arm, one on each leg, and another on my neck.
My blood covers me, staining my skin, and the other courts have no choice but to watch. We ignore them like they are nothing to us, and instead fuck and feed, forcing them to wait for us to greet them.
When I’m done feeding, I pull away, licking at my bloodied lips as tongues lap at puncture marks, and then I smile at the gathering, noticing the lust in their hooded eyes, along with anger and confusion, and flash my fangs. “Welcome to the Court of Nightmares.”
The music begins after my mate speaks, and I smirk at their lustful and angry expressions. Sitting up, Althea kisses Conall and stands, her skirt falling into place as we all move to her side and take her hands.
“Please make yourself at home. Everything goes here. You won’t be able to cross into private areas, which are blocked, and don’t antagonise the monsters.” On cue, the dragon roars, causing some of them to stumble back a few steps. “Bloodshed and pleasure is the name of the game here, as long as it is given freely. I know you all have questions, and they will be answered in time, but for now, indulge in your darkest desires.”
Osis’s ghosts float through the room, making the gathered courts spin in wide-eyed fear and curiosity. Conall fills the room with his dancing shadows, and Zale’s flames lick at the wall.
I share a smirk with Lycus before we fade into the shadows and transform, and then the spider and the snake slither out of the darkness. I make a good show of it, lunging at them as they stumble back. I move over and coil around my mate. She pets me with a grin as everyone watches us, including Althea’s rejected mate and the leader of her old court, who has a smaller, cruel-looking man at his side. Everyone else watches us but him. He observes her, and I decide to watch him closely. He doesn’t seem threatening, but something about his expression confuses me.
Lycus strolls into view, and people scream as he gracefully climbs up and over the wall, dropping down above our queen who reaches up and pets him.
“Please, drink, dance, and mingle. My mates and I order it.” With a swish of her skirts, she turns and walks towards the pillows at the back, where she reclines. We all join her, monsters and humans alike. The monsters she called gravitate towards her, the meaning clear—touch her and die.
The crowd surveys us before they slowly start to explore. They talk amongst themselves, becoming comfortable, but they continue to throw us unsure looks.
They ordered this ball, and I can see the council in the back. They wanted this, but they didn’t get it on their terms, and that is clearly throwing them off.
It doesn’t surprise me, however, when the first person to approach us is Althea’s rejected mate.
I’m curled at her back as she uses me as a seat. I hiss at him as he gets closer, and he stops at the sound, standing far enough away so he can’t touch her.
“Althea,” he says, “how nice to see you again.”
I can feel everyone watching. They are beginning to realise who our queen is, but she is so much more than his rejected mate.
“I wish I could say the same to you.” She grins. “But please, enjoy yourself. My mates have outdone themselves on this ball.” She dismisses him, looking at the next person to approach. It’s Sinclair, the leader of her old court, with the man whom I’m unsure of standing at his side.
“Sinclair,” she greets, hesitating before nodding at the man at his side. “Druig.”
“We feared you had died, Althea,” Sinclair says, frowning in concern, “when you disappeared so suddenly after your rejection. We would have taken care of you.”
“Of course, I simply needed space. I wandered for a little while before I stumbled into this court and met the men meant to be my mates. I am sure you can understand that I felt compelled to stay and, well, time got away from me in regard to notifying you.”
“Of course,” he replies smoothly. “It will result in a fine for abandoning your court, but we can discuss that later. Mates, you said? Will this be a recognised bonding, or are we looking at a choosing?”
Oh, he’s playing word games, and my mate doesn’t like it. Her hand tightens on Azul, and I tighten around her. The man, Druig, hasn’t taken his eyes off Althea, but he watches me worriedly.
“Later,” is all she murmurs as if she is not worried, but I can feel her mind working through the arising problems. “We are glad you and the council could come.”
“We are happy to have been invited. It seemed we would never get invited to the new mysterious court.”
“Not new,” she corrects. “This court has been around longer than yours, Sinclair.”
“That is King Sinclair to you.” It seems like an automatic correction, but my mate doesn’t like it.