Mina was powerless to answer him and unable to comprehend who stood in front her. It was Jared.

No, that couldn’t be right. The eyes were the wrong color.

“Y-you saved me?” she answered breathlessly.

His eyes lit up and crinkled with laughter. “So you can speak. For a minute there, I thought I had saved a mute. But mute girls don’t exist except in Fae tales.”

He was beautiful. The moon highlighted his strong chiseled jaw. His dark hair wasn’t as long as she remembered but cut shorter along the sides. His eyes were full of joy, and she could see the hint of teasing mischief that lurked there. As he helped her up off the ground, his warm hands held onto hers just a second longer than was necessary. Her heart was in utter turmoil as she tried to process the voice and personality that were coming out of the young man. It had to be Teague, but he wasn’t trying to kill her. He was being polite, bewitchingly charming even, which was more Jared’s style.

He pulled her up and she crossed into the moonlight. It was his turn to be left speechless.

“I know you,” he stated emphatically.

Mina felt a tremor of cold dread run through her veins, and she stepped back from him in fear. Teague didn’t let her move away, but grabbed her hand and pulled her closer. Mina cried out, thinking he was going to try and hurt her like before.

She leaned away from him. “Let go of me. Please, let go.” She whimpered and pushed against his chest when he came too close.

“Why do you fear me? I will not harm you.” He immediately let go of her hand and stepped away, giving her space. Clasping his hands behind his back, he continued to study her, every emotion showing on his face.

“Do you know me?” Mina whispered, doubtful.


“Yes…and at the same time, no.” This time he seemed like the one who couldn’t believe his eyes. “I’ve dreamt about you. I didn’t think you were real, but here you are.” He reached out to her but caught himself and stood up straight. His hands went behind his back again.

It was odd, but she felt reassured by the way he was holding himself in check. She wasn’t afraid anymore. Mina watched as his eyes devoured her every inch of her. He held himself impossibly still and swallowed nervously the closer she came to him.

Teague wore a high-collared shirt tucked into black pants and black polished boots. A ring of silver leaves embellished the collar. “I’m sorry,” he said, bowing. “Let me introduce myself to you. I’m Teague, Prince of the Fae. And you are?”

She faltered for an answer. “No one of importance. Someone you would be better off forgetting.”

“Oh, it’s a game. I see. I’ll play along. You can tell me when you’re ready.” He reached across the space between them and found she wasn’t afraid. He ran the back of his finger down her cheek, then turned his hand over and cupped her face.

She leaned into him, lost as he gazed upon her with utter and pure longing. Underneath that stare, she trembled, knees weak.

Mina shook her head and shivered again, this time from being cold. The night air was quickly leaving goose bumps across her flesh.

“Please tell me I’m awake,” he whispered softly and closed his eyes.

Mina stepped closer, wondering if he meant for her to overhear his plea. “You’re awake, I think. I don’t know if the same goes for me.”

“There’s one way to find out.”

“What? Are you going to pinch me?” Mina teased, feeling safe.

“I was thinking more along the lines of a kiss.” He smiled again, and her heart fluttered. “But I know that wouldn’t be proper of me, given the current situation.” Only then did he frown and turn to look off in the distance. “In three days’ time, I’ll be betrothed.”

“Oh. Then, congratulations on the betrothal—although you don’t seem too excited.” Mina answered, doing some quick mental calculations. If the stories were true, then Teague’s betrothal happened before the Grimm Brothers ever crossed onto the Fae plane. She groaned when she realized she’d been sent too far back in time. Maybe even by years.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Happily ever after with a complete stranger. Yes, I’m ecstatic. Please excuse me if I’m not dancing for joy.”

Mina was confused. “You’ve never met her before?”

He eyed her sadly. “I’ve met a few of them at formal dinners and such, but most of the eleven I’ve only heard about in stories. Over the last few days, I’ve been flooded with details about them—their attributes, beauty, and family lineage—but they’re still just names on parchment to me.”

“Eleven? You’re going to marry eleven girls?”

He chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “Will you walk with me?” He offered a hand, and she placed her hand in his, letting him lead her down a path, toward a downed tree. As he reached out, the tree began to glow, shifting and changing into a beautifully carved bench. Mina sat on it and he sat next to her, his hand still wrapped around hers. Part of her wanted to pull it away, and another was curious at the weight of his hand in hers. It was a reassuring feeling, yet confusing at the same time.

The warmth of him seeped through the fabric of their clothes to her shoulder. He looked at their hands intertwined, and he smiled.

“Would you like to hear a story?”

The word “story” made her gasp inadvertently.

He released her hand from his and she felt the immediate loss of both his trust and his warmth.

She bit her lip and pulled herself together. “Yes, I would.”

Teague dropped his gaze to the ground and let out a slow breath. “I have no desire to marry any of the girls my parents have tried to parade in front of me. But they’ve given me an ultimatum—pick one or they’ll strip me of my title.”

He looked so hopeful and young. Of course he was. He was a few Fae-hundred-years younger than the person she knew. Teague was sitting next to her, before he’d been corrupted, when he was still good and full of innocence. Her heart filled with sympathy because she knew what his future held. His soul was destined to grow cold with hate until he was pure evil. Unless she could stop it…but how? There was no way she could kill him when he was so uncorrupted.

“So what are you going to do?”

His smile fell. “Do? I can do nothing. I waited too long. The choice has been taken from me. The Fates have arranged a betrothal ceremony. The girls arrive tomorrow. They’ll be the most powerful, the most beautiful, and the most intelligent girls in the land. And one of them will be my future bride.” The word “bride” was filled with such distaste. He leaned forward, placed his head in his hands, and groaned.

Mina gently set her hand on his back, offering what little comfort she could.

He turned to look at her, an apologetic expression on his face. “I’m sorry. I was rude. You are not much more than a stranger either, but here I am pouring out my troubles on you.”

“No, not rude. You’re stressed and worried. I understand. Sometimes when the choice is taken from us, we feel like a victim. I get that.” It was easy to utter those words which mirrored her own feelings toward her curse.

“What would you do in my situation?” he asked. He leaned in closely, and she felt herself swallow.

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