Tristan squeezed her hand and met her gaze, and she knew that with this one step, everything would change. She wouldn’t just be Amara, lonely human with no future anymore. She’d be…well, she didn’t know what she’d be, but she’d change. Because there was no way she’d come out of whatever happened next the same.
Tristan looked up into the sky and muttered a few words under this breath, and Amara gasped. Purple and blue lights surrounded them, swirling into a vortex that didn’t look like Levi’s or any other’s that she’d seen. Instead, the colored tendrils wrapped around her, Tristan, and Seth, their warmth and energy pulsating along her skin until she couldn’t see the bar or the street anymore.
Before she could figure out what that meant, or even say something about what was going on, the colors faded away and she no longer stood in front of Dante’s Circle in the city she’d grown up in.
Instead, she was in a new realm, a new place she’d never seen before.
Tristan let go of her hand but stood close, as did Seth. She looked at them a moment before letting her attention fall to the beauty surrounding her. Green. So much green. Though they’d landed in a clearing, tall trees reached toward the sky, the girth of their trunks and limbs speaking of centuries of life and history. Flowers and green vegetation covered the ground, and a dirt path cut through the meadow as if people had traveled amongst this beauty for years yet didn’t want to harm it other than this one path.
The sky was a dark blue, slightly different than the one she’d grown up under. The magic in the air sizzled but didn’t harm. It was as if it had always been welcome. As if the world had matured and evolved under the heavy weight of the fae’s power.
In the distance, she could see a large mound with a shaded doorway at the edge. She’d grown up reading fantasy and lore and had heard of the fae, but as with all myths, she knew that it wasn’t all truth. Not with as many supernatural races as she’d met in the past few years.
“Wow,” she breathed, and Seth chuckled.
“I know, right?” he said as he came to her side. “I’ve only been here once, and that was with my sister, Calypso for a Conclave thing. I’ve never really ventured out and explored.”
“Well this is your lucky day, then,” Tristan said, pride and a little bit of anxiety in his voice. “I took us near my home instead of directly inside like I usually do because I wanted you to see this.” His gaze was on the mound and not her, but Amara knew he still had his attention on her. Despite the fact that she didn’t feel the tug she should, he apparently did, and he wanted her to like his home.
Unsure of what to say or do, she placed her hand in his. “It’s beautiful. Thank you for showing me your realm.”
He squeezed her hand while Seth took her other one again. “Thank you.” Tristan cleared his throat. “My home is behind wards right through there.” He gestured with his free hand down the path toward a grouping of trees. “The mound is where our Court is and most of our business happens.”
“Court?” she asked as they made their way down the path. “Like Seelie and Unseelie?”
Tristan winced and looked over his shoulder. She winced, as well, aware she’d said something she shouldn’t have. “We don’t have those Courts anymore,” he said finally. “I’ll explain it all once we’re at my home.”
She nodded and kept her mouth shut. There was apparently a lot of history she didn’t know, and she didn’t want to end up saying the wrong thing.
Tristan held out his free hand in front of him once more, and the image in front of her shimmered before peeling away. Instead of trees, a large stone home—or castle, rather—stood in front of them, tall, proud, and intimidating as hell.
“This is home,” he said simply.
But there wasn’t anything simple about the stone structure in front of her. It spoke of countless histories and paths she’d never thought to take. The man at her side was over nine hundred years old according to Faith. Amara couldn’t even comprehend what that truly meant in terms of experiences and memories.
For all she knew, this old building in front of her was his new one and he had even older ones dotted along the landscape.
She wouldn’t hyperventilate, but damn, she was close.
Amara rolled her shoulders back, knowing she needed to be strong with what was to come. These two men thought she was their mate, and even though she desperately wanted that to be the case, she couldn’t allow herself to hope. Because if they were wrong and it was merely sexual attraction, then she could lose everything; both the things she had and the things she hoped to have.