Excerpt: The Queen - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

From #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes the next installment in her Wicked series.

The King must have his Queen….

Bestowed the forbidden Summer’s Kiss by the King of the Summer fae, Brighton Jussier is no longer just human. What she is, what she will become, no one knows for sure, but that isn’t her biggest concern at the moment. Now Caden, the King, refuses to let her go, even at the cost of his Court. When the doorway to the Otherworld is breached, both Brighton and Caden must do the unthinkable—not just to survive themselves, but also to save mankind from the evil that threatens the world.

Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.

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Excerpt: The Queen
By Jennifer L. Armentrout

Excerpt: The Queen

From #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes THE QUEEN—the next installment in her Wicked series. It’s out tomorrow, but I’m sharing a sneak peek with you today!

The hall to the elevator was blessedly empty. I stepped inside, hitting the button for the first floor. I had no idea which room Caden was staying in, but if he was up and moving about, I figured he’d either be in or near Tanner’s office. If not, Tanner could probably tell me where he was. I rode the elevator down, not letting myself think of anything.

A mysterious sugary scent hit me the moment the elevator doors opened to the wide hall that split in three different directions. My stomach grumbled. There was a bakery in the cafeteria area, and they must’ve put out a fresh batch of something. With great effort, I forced myself to turn right instead of walking straight toward the cafeteria. I headed down the brightly lit hall. Reaching the corner—

I came face-to-face with several silvery-skinned fae. I didn’t recognize any of them, but there was no mistaking the shock on their faces as they got an eyeful of me. I had no idea if they knew who I was, but it was obvious that they saw someone who looked as if they had gone toe-to-toe with a professional boxer and lost. My left eye was open, but it was more purple than pink, and the lid felt incredibly heavy. The swelling had reduced a little along my cheek, but I still looked like I had food shoved in there. The cut in my bottom lip didn’t nearly look as bad as it had this morning, but it was still angry-looking.

Then there was the band of bruised skin around my neck.

One of the fae, a younger male, stared at that, and I realized I probably should’ve left my hair down. Or found a turtleneck. And a ski mask.

They hurried around me, saying nothing, and I trudged on, seeing the open door to Tanner’s office up ahead. Above me, one of the recessed lights flickered—

Say it!

I jerked to a stop, air lodging in my throat as Aric’s voice thundered in my ears and all around me. He wasn’t here. I knew that. He was dead, and I wasn’t in that awful place. I was safe. I’d killed him. I was—

Say it!

Clapping my hands over my ears, I tried to silence the roar of Aric’s voice, but the hallway around me darkened. The walls became damp, moldy bricks. I inhaled sharply, no longer smelling sugar but mold and decay. Blood. I staggered forward. Chains clinked. The weight unbearable around my neck. I’m not there. I’m not there. The floor shifted under my feet, and I felt my knees connect with the stone, but the pain barely registered. Aric’s cold breath was against my cheek.

“Say it,” he demanded, his voice echoing around me, through me. “Say please.”

“No. No. No,” I whispered, doubling over.

Hands touched my shoulders, and I jerked back, expecting biting pain to follow. I couldn’t take anymore. I couldn’t—

A voice broke through the haze of panic, a timbre that was deep and smooth. Comforting. I thought I recognized it. Whoever it was said something. A name. Brighton. More words. Open your eyes. My fingers curled into the hair above my ears. I’d heard those words before. Open your eyes, sunshine.

Sunshine.

That…that meant something. Meaning was attached to that. Emotions. Happiness. Sadness. Safety.

Arms shifted around me, and I felt as if I were floating for several seconds before being settled against something warm and hard. It moved. Rose up and down steadily against the side of my body as a voice whispered, “It’s okay. I’m here. I’ve got you. I’ve always got you.”

Fingers curled around my wrists. They were warm, not at all like Aric’s. His skin was ice cold. I focused on the feeling of those fingers as they slowly pulled mine away from my ears. This wasn’t Aric. He was dead. I’d killed him. I wasn’t there. I knew that. My arms were lowered to my lap. I didn’t want to look because I had the distinct feeling that I’d heard this all before. And once…once it hadn’t been real.

What if none of this was real?

Maybe I was still in that cold, damp, and dark place, chained to the stone slab. My heart stuttered as a hoarse sound crawled up and out of me.

Those warm fingers touched my right cheek, and I started to draw back, but a gentle touch followed. “Open your eyes for me.” The voice came again. “Please open your eyes so you can see me and know that it’s me holding you, touching you. That you’re safe. Open your eyes, sunshine.”

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