Home > Evermore Academy (Evermore Academy #3)

Evermore Academy (Evermore Academy #3)
Author: Audrey Grey

Prologue

 

 

Valerian

 

 

Every night is the same cruel, torturous nightmare. Silver moonlight glides over her bare flesh. I drink the sight in, devouring every curve, every hollow. I want to remember this moment for centuries. Perhaps I’ll have it commissioned into a painting.

She’s laughing, and Oberon’s shadow, that sound is a weapon that flays me open, exposing everything I’ve worked hundreds of years to protect. Her eyes are full of warm summer magic—an intoxicating mixture of shyness and want as she dares me closer.

I want to resist her a bit longer. To preserve this exact moment, savor it. But then, Shimmer above, her head tilts back to bare a throat begging to be kissed.

And when she looks at me with that trusting gaze and smiles, the shriveled pit of my heart swells with blind adoration.

I will burn this world to ash for you, Summer.

The things I would do for her scare me.

One word and I would destroy anyone who’s ever hurt her.

One look and I would give up everything—my crown, my magic, my life.

One smile and the armored walls I’ve built around my heart crumble to dust.

Every muscle in my body tightens as I slowly undress her. I would be lying if I said a cowardly part of me didn’t hope she would stop this. If the way I feel for Summer was terrifying before, now it’s like free-falling toward certain death.

Vulnerability coils around my throat with every second she looks at me in that way, making every breath exquisitely painful.

She demands all of me. She doesn’t understand how dangerous that is for both of us. Still doesn’t grasp how ruthless our kind can be.

This type of love can be a weapon—wielded by us or against us.

“Valerian?” My name on her lips sends a shiver through my torso.

Titania help me. I want to devour her right here in my enemy’s court, beneath the stars of my ancestors.

The grass lining the path is soft as I lower myself to her, holding her gaze. Daring the spell between us to shatter. The sweet scent of her mixes with the crushed honeysuckle petals into a drug.

Her eyes widen. “Valerian!”

My focus whips to the movement consuming my periphery. Spiders swarm from the hedges lining the maze, a sea of black death. Growling, I try to cover her but—

The loathsome arachnids flow around me like water. They’re impervious to my magic. I slam my fists into them, crushing giant swaths of the glittering horde, but for every one I obliterate, a hundred more appear.

I want to scream in fury as the infernal creatures cover every inch of my mate. Her screams impale me, as real as any dagger, plunging over and over and over.

No. I won’t survive losing you again.

Agony rips through my being as I watch the wave of black death carry her away. My roar pierces the sky. Desperation constricts my vision as I search the maze for her, my strangled voice forming her name, throat raw and aching as I claw and fight through wall after wall.

But she’s gone.

I jerk from my nightmare with her honey and lavender scent stinging my nose. Her laughter echoes in my ears, only broken by her screams. The poison doesn’t just torment me while I’m sleeping.

I fist my hands in the freezing air and shut my eyes. My fingers can still feel the warmth of her flesh, the softness of her skin. I can still imagine the way her silken hair slid between them.

The way she tensed in fear as the spiders swarmed over her . . .

I leap from bed, smashing my fists into the walls of my bedroom. Over and over and over. The marble crumbles beneath my knuckles, the skin over those bony points splitting open. Pewter droplets of my blood spray the dresser, the walls, the ivory bedspread.

Servants peek from my bedroom door, their eyes wild with fear.

I should feel bad about that, but I don’t. All I feel is relief as the pain momentarily drives her from my being.

But it’s not enough. My skin and shattered bones knit back together, and then she’s back. An exquisite torture of longing and accusation.

Why didn’t you save me?

There’s only one way to halt the pain.

The servants who have been watching me reel away from the door as I storm past. They’re smart enough not to try and stop me anymore.

I flinch as I pass a hallway mirror, the reflection inside the frost frame unrecognizable. I see in his eyes the thing that scares me the most—a deep, unrelenting desire to punish everyone involved in Hellebore’s deception.

Whatever alliances I need to make, whoever it hurts, I won’t stop until my mate is safely back in my arms.

Even if the cost is my soul.

 

 

1

 

 

The snow is blinding. A prism world of pure crystallized white that clings to everything. The land. The giant fir trees crusted with ice. The jagged black peaks in the distance. The glittering specters twirl in lazy spirals from the midnight sky. Fat snowflakes so big they can’t be real. They pummel this icy landscape like a snow globe that’s just been shaken. A swollen moon glares from above, its ominous gaze casting an ethereal hue over the night.

Breath curls from Valerian Sylverfrost’s lips in thick ivory clouds, and while he doesn’t quite feel the sting of the cold, I do. Shards of frigid agony burrow deeper into my chest with every ragged inhale he takes.

Wake up, Summer.

But months of this routine have taught me I can’t do anything except endure what comes next. It happens almost nightly. My mate wakes from his own nightmares, leaves the Winter Court palace in the dead of night, marches through knee-deep snow, and enters the frozen lake.

I know what will happen, but hard as I scream I can’t stop it. All I can do is watch, trapped, as his bare feet sink deep into the crust of snow. Gusts of wind push him back, as if this wintry world is trying to help him, to force him back to his bed. Back to his nightmares—which are honestly just as bad.

But at least they aren’t real.

He drives forward, using his powerful magic to shape the wintry winds into a battering ram. The snowflakes drive into him like daggers, flaying his porcelain skin, ramming the cold deeper inside his immortal flesh.

Punishing him for not protecting me.

My mortal body aches as needles of ice sink bone deep. I try to cry out, to beg him to stop, but he can’t hear me.

A break appears through the wall of trees and snow. Nestled in a small clearing, the teardrop-shaped cove awaits, a sparkling jewel of ice and snow.

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