Page 97 of Court of Nightmares

Font Size:  

He’s bowed over her, sobbing, when the king finds him. I see a tall, powerful man with a crown drop to his knees and shout in agony.

He loved her so much. They had been best friends since they were kids, and she was gone. He thought I did it. It looked that way, and I didn’t even fight as they led me to the dungeons. I was shocked and in so much pain. They were going to kill me, and I thought it was best because of all the pain I was in, but then Angelica appeared in my cell to taunt me, to explain her plan and boast about how I had fallen right into her trap.

“I loved her, Althea,” he continues out loud. “I thought she was there to save me until she ripped out my broken heart and shattered it to dust. My own naivety had gotten my mother killed, and something inside me broke. I remember descending into my own grief, my own madness, and one night, when the moon turned blood red, I changed into my tiger for the first time and broke out of the cell.”

His eyes drip with tears.

“I’m ashamed, but I let the tiger take over and shield me. Fuelled by my anger and pain, he—we hunted them down. I ripped the woman I was in love with apart, along with her mother and mate. I bathed in their blood and screams for my mother’s death. When I changed back, I was still covered in their blood, and I simply went to my mother’s grave and waited. I wanted to die, wanted them to find me. I knew I had to pay for my crimes. Only,neither the king nor my people ever found me. Instead, Conall, Lycus, and Nathair did. They carried me back here, and under another blood-red moon, I died. I thought I could join my mother and beg for forgiveness, but the god told me she had already passed over. He offered me a choice to come back and stop what happened to me from happening to others to protect my mother’s legacy. All I ever wanted was for my mother to be proud of me, so I agreed, and I came back.”

“Do you regret it?” I ask.

“Coming back or killing them?” he murmurs, blinking as if emerging from his own grief again.


“No to both. I killed them, Althea, and I can’t take that back. No matter what they did, I took their lives away, but it also made me who I am today and brought me to you—a woman I truly love, one who deserves my heart completely.”

“I don’t know—”

“You do.” He covers my lips. “I know you worry I’ll fall too easily—my mother did too—but I vowed never to love anyone again, and then you came. With one smile, one look, and you stole my heart. I saw your past, your soul, Althea, and it was so beautiful, so pure and deserving. How could I not love you?”

“I don’t ever want to hurt you like they did,” I murmur as I stare into the face of one of the purest people I have ever met. “How could you still believe in love?”

“Just because one person used it against me doesn’t mean it’s not real, and it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t love anyone else. If we stopped believing just because of the people who hurt us, then the world would be a very dark place. I believe in hope and happiness, and I choose it every day. So, Althea, I love you. You have my heart, and I’m hoping and believing you will never shatter it like they did.”

“Never,” I vow as I stare into those eyes. “You have mine too, you know. That’s the difference between her and me. She never deserved you, Osis, and I don’t think anyone ever will, but I’ll try.” I kiss him. “Thank you for telling me your story.”

Smiling against my lips, he brushes my tears away, and my breath catches as the moon bathes him like a lover. “Of course. Now how about I feed you?”

He gets up and takes my hand, leading me back inside. He wears a wide grin on his face that wasn’t there before, and I look up at the moon and thank whoever is listening that they saved this man for me.



I’m lying across Osis’s chest, with Conall holding my other hand as he reads a book. Nathair is opposite us with a huge tome, though his eyes keep darting to me every so often, and they soften as they trace my features. I feel Nathair’s joy over Osis’s happiness.

We are relaxing and enjoying our downtime when a bell chimes. It’s loud and dramatic, making me sit up. Nathair frowns and shuts his book with an audible slam, and then he exchanges worried looks with the others.

“Stay with her,” he demands and disappears in the blink of an eye.

The others hurry forward to surround me.

“What is it?” I demand.

“An outsider,” Zale murmurs, sitting at my feet. “The bell chimes if something that isn’t supposed to be here enters, like a warning system.”

“We need to help—” I start, but then Nathair appears.

“Not a person, a letter.” He holds up an ornate, golden envelope with unreadable black script on the front. When he flips it around, there is a bright red seal with a crown and a sabre.

Oh shit, even I recognise that.

We learned about it as kids.

It’s a letter from a union, a meeting of the courts.

Sitting, Nathair carefully opens it with a nail and unfolds the thick, pure-white parchment, clears his throat, and starts to read it to us. The room seems to drop in temperature as we all wait with bated breath, a bad feeling flowing through our bonds.

Articles you may like