Rolling green hills in the distance met a brilliant sky. Gardens, manicured, pampered and pruned, flourished with beauty on every side of the palace. But a nervous undercurrent coursed beneath it all, pulsing through the veins of every citizen in the Jewel Fae realm. No one felt it more than queen Yvainne.
Her steady march down the hall to hold court that day was uncompromised, however. Regal and serene at all times, only those closest to her detected the tightness of her lips these past few weeks. This business, with the fighting in the human lands and a new ruler of the Dark Fae court, left Diamente in a precarious position.
“Maita, has DeGray returned from the border yet?”
“We haven’t had word, my queen.”
Yvainne’s mouth tensed imperceptibly. She entered the throne room and took her seat on the dais, gold eyes taking in the crowd that waited for her to speak.
What did the stars hold for them? She lifted her chin to call commencement to the day’s hearings. Before she could utter a sound, a gusting wind blew through the chamber. Yvainne’s heartbeat picked up. Every head in the room turned as five winged figures, mighty rocs, swooped under the high arches of the entryway in sharp vee formation. As their feet hit the floor, they shifted from their flighted to their ground fae forms. All five knelt, bowing in reverence. At Yvainne’s nod, they stood in unison.
“My queen,” the point of their triangle, Captain Renard DeGra, addressed her. Rugged and handsome, his stare did not falter under her own.
“Captain DeGra,” Yvainne acknowledged, “such an entrance.”
A murmur of quiet humor hummed through the court’s assembly. Only then did the captain’s unflinching stare let up. His blue eyes twinkled, though only the high queen of Diamente would notice such a thing.
“We bring news from the south.” DeGra’s deep voice echoed, his words spreading an abrupt silence over the court.
“I thought you and your battalion were ordered not to leave the mountain, Captain.”
She knew for a fact the order that had been given. She’d handed it down herself. DeGra bent his head. He glanced up, meeting Yvainne’s stare.
“News came of invaders on the other side of the forest.”
This wasn’t what she wanted to hear. The war might have been won by their side, but it had left uneasiness simmering amongst all the fae kingdoms. It looked more and more like their tenuous alliances were about to fracture. The dark fae kingdom was newly defeated, but that didn’t mean there would be peace anytime soon.
After Captain DeGra and his men left, Yvainne called an end to the day’s proceedings. Too much on her mind made presiding over petty arguments impossible. She made her way back to her rooms, dismissing her attendants.
Removing the shoulder pins from her heavy cape, she discarded the garment on a chair, then removed her crown and set it down too on her way to the balcony. Once there, she sighed heavily, taking in the valley beyond the Jewel Realm’s main mountain where Diamente sat. The sun receded behind dark peaks in the distance, casting the land in a splendid pink haze.
A light breeze tickled the back of her neck and Yvainne’s heartbeat hastened for the second time that day. Her fae instincts told her to turn. Before she could, steely arms wrapped around her from behind.
“Flee the court early this day, milady?”
That deep, gruff voice rolled through her body in an instant, warming places inside her. She turned, lifting a slanted gaze up at its owner.
“Practicing spy work on your queen now are you, Captain?”
He grinned, then took her mouth in a hungry kiss, his beard scratching her skin in the best of ways. Yvainne slipped her arms around his neck in time to feel his wings fully recede. A hawk of war, he kept Diamente safe, patrolling the skies, shifting to his ground form to deal with invaders when needed. He was fierce on the battlefield… and in bed.
Yvainne melted into the kiss. The studded front of his leather doublet scraped her palms as she ran them over his chest.
She pushed back with her hands. A slow grin moved the captain’s lips beneath hers as he followed her lead, walking in reverse all the way to the bed. When his legs hit the mattress, he swept her up in his arms and laid her down in the middle of the silk coverlet. Lifting, he stripped off his doublet and shirt, then followed her down, caging her with his strong arms and legs.
“Renard.” She gasped when his mouth found the bend in her neck, placing a bite there more savage than sweet. His skilled warriors’ hands wasted no time in ruching her gown up over her hips. Yvainne’s fingers flew to the ties on his breeches, practice from their many encounters making short work of them. Once bared to her, she ran her nails down the hard lines of his thighs. His long absence from court made her ready—so ready—for their secret rendezvous.
She pulled him closer. He entered her in one eager thrust. All thoughts of kingdoms and wars fled Yvainne’s mind as he drove them both toward bliss.
Later, after their bodies had quieted, they sprawled in Yvainne’s e bed. Tired from his journey, Renard dozed. Yvainne traced light trails over his jaw and lips with her fingertips as she watched him sleep. Dark lashes opened, her lover’s impossibly blue eyes meeting hers. When the pad of her forefingers brushed the center of his mouth, he pressed a kiss to it. She smiled lazily, replete.
“So, wife, will you announce your married status now that Carabosse is dead?”
Yvainne’s eyes immediately lifted to the bed hangings overhead. Her lover didn’t care about titles. He knew he was king of her heart. It was the secrecy that rankled her raptor’s feathers. It did hers as well. But there were dangers.
“I don’t know what to make of her nephew, Caradoc of Ashe. I don’t trust him.”
Renard shrugged. “He seems an even-tempered sort. We may all be surprised by the dark kingdom under his rule.”
Yvainne regarded him for a long moment, then spoke the words that dragged down her heart.
“I can’t have you hurt by some enemy trying to get at me.”
A deep grumble was his retort.
“I can take care of myself, woman.” He frowned.
Before he could turn away from her, she twined a lock of his black hair around her finger.
“Of that I have no doubt, Captain. What I need is for you to make sure you are here to take care of me.”
He rose over her, a rakish grin curving his mouth.
“Oh, ho… gladly, my queen.” Then he took her mouth in another searing kiss that sealed both their fates. That of no sleep for the rest of the night.
Copyright © 2022 Amanda V. Shane, First published as Realm of Diamonds in the Wild At Heart PNR Flash Fiction Writing Circle. All rights reserved.
Amanda V Shane is an author of paranormal and fantasy romance and is currently working on her Tides of Atlantis series about the super hot lost kings of Atlantis as well as her Enchanted Lands Romances.
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