Page 162 of Court of Nightmares

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I smile up at the sun in gratitude.

I am so happy, it shouldn’t be possible.

With my brothers and my love.

With my nightmares.



“We are hunting tonight?” I ask with excitement. Despite my bluff at the party, I haven’t been part of a true judgement from start to finish yet, and I’m eager. I just came back from dinner with Lilia, who I have become really good friends with. “Really?” I peer around as they rip into a feast.

“Yep. We still have to do our jobs despite the Blood Ball.” Reve laughs, the name our community coined earning our mirth.

“There are those who didn’t attend, and we still have to ensure everyone behaves, since people don’t always change. Until they do, we are needed.” Nathair shrugs. “What better time to strike than now? It will serve as a reminder, as well as be your first official hunt and judgement.”

“Maybe I can steal you for a few hours before tonight?” Lycus murmurs.

I share a look with the others, judging their reactions. It’s hard to balance my time between them, especially since I know they all need alone time with me, and I would hate to make anyone jealous or feel left out.

You are overthinking it. Surprisingly, it’s Osis’s voice in my head. His tone is stern but with a hint of amusement. “She has time.” He nods at Lycus, who grins so widely, all feelings of guilt and worry evaporate.

He stands abruptly and grabs my hand. “Then let’s go before they change their minds and try to kidnap you.”

Laughing, I shove another slice of prawn toast in my mouth, waving at the guys as Lycus drags me outside and towards the forest. Swallowing around the thick slice, I wipe my mouth with my other hand and hurry to keep up.

“Where are we going? Into the woods to have weird, kinky sex? Because I have to tell you, we could have that inside, babe,” I tease.

“We’ll do that later.” He winks as we step into the forest. The sun dims under the canopy of trees, throwing the forest into an ethereal light. Moss, swathes of lush, green grass, and fallen leaves decorate the ground. The trees here are old. I can feel it in my bones. The rest of the modern world falls away the deeper we trek into the trees, and I can understand why a lot of our monsters chose to stay.

Nathair and the others are busy working on the list of things they need, and although I sense some of the monsters are awake and about, they give us privacy, which I appreciate since whatever Lycus wants to do will probably end up with me facedown and ass up, just the way I like it.

Flowers of all colours grow around us, and foliage climbs towards the sun. It’s beautiful and so peaceful. The birds sing their songs, the grass and bushes rustle with smaller prey animals, and the insects buzz with life. I find myself taking deep breaths of clean air, filling my lungs as we come to an old tree that looks like the rest.

“Stay here for a moment,” he murmurs. I watch as he seems to disappear into the trees, but instead of feeling worried or scared, I tip my head back and close my eyes. All my worries fade to just feeling the world around me.

The wind tousles my hair, the sweet scent of the breeze fills my lungs, and the leaves brush my arms as I turn in place. When I hear a thud, my eyes snap open, and I find Lycus crouched before me. I tip my head back and raise my eyebrows. Did he just jump from the tree?

“Trust me, my love?” he asks, holding his hand out to me.

“Always,” I reply as I lay my fingers in his. Tugging me closer, he slips his hands under my ass and lifts. I expect him to turn to the tree, which he does, but he presses me there and brushes his lips over mine.

“Then let’s have some fun, my queen,” he purrs and steps back. As soon as he does, his transformation comes across him, and his spider stands before me. I grin at him as he turns and lowers his body.

“You want me to climb on?” I ask.

Yes, Althea, trust me.

Shrugging, I use one of his bent back legs as a foothold. The hair there tickles my legs as I grip his back and heave myself up, swinging my leg over. He’s so massive that it almost hurts my hips to straddle him, but I wrap my legs and arms around him as much as I can, and then without warning, he turns to the tree and leaps. My squeal fills the air as his legs connect with the tree, and then we scale it swiftly. My hair blows back as I peer down at the rapidly disappearing forest floor. Once we’re high enough, we break through the canopy of the trees, and he stills on a branch so I can take in the brilliant sun glistening over the forest.

I spot the court in the distance, the building looking like an old gothic castle from here. Other than that, there isn’t much around us. I guess I never really considered where we were before.

We live outside of the city, far enough away from the other courts to never be found if we didn’t want to be. Before, there were many courts, and they were spread around the outskirts in remote places like this. Now, courts mainly gather within large areas like cities to remain part of this world. Safety in numbers and all that,he explains.

“I knew there were other courts. I just never really knew what happened to them.” Our history is scarce this way, and I’ve never interacted with anyone outside of our city, who is the main branch of our race in this country.

There are a few more up north, but they tend to govern themselves and stay out of politics. There are others on different continents, and we have often wondered if they have their own judges or if, one day, we will be called in to help there too. As for what happened, time did. People died or were killed or simply moved on. Family lines died out or were mixed, and the smaller ones simply disappeared, along with their history. Nathair can tell you more if you wish. This area is all I have ever known, to be honest. Down here, we have the highest connection of power and courts, so I guess they just like to keep close.