She stood, then promptly fell back. Her legs were asleep.
She waited for the feeling to return then made her way to the window. It took her a while to get it open. As loath as she was to do it, she undid the latch with her teeth then spat several times to get the taste of rust and mold out of her mouth.
Her hands tied behind her back added a level of difficulty to opening the window, but she did it. It wasn’t far enough to get through, so she wedged her shoulder in the opening and pushed.
The window was located on the fourth floor. She sighed, and mused to herself, “Well, if the fall doesn’t kill me, they will.” She leaned out the window, closed her eyes and let herself fall. Just as she braced herself for the impact, strong arms closed around her—strong bhresya arms.
She knew her plan hadn’t worked. Guthr must have noticed her actions and caught her. She opened her eyes to the inevitable. A slow smile curved her lips when she saw whose arms held her. “You must be King Melchior.”
Serenity looked at her husband-to-be. He was one of the most handsome bhresya males she had ever seen. True, her experience with bhresya males was limited, but her experience with males, in general, wasn’t.
She’d seen hundreds of human males—servants, the palace guards, nobles, etc. And though many of her species would crucify her for such a thought, there was not much difference between the way bhresyas looked and the way humans looked.
Bhresyas had two ears, two eyes, one nose and one mouth—all in the same places. Their mouths sported long, sharp canines, their eyes had two irises of different colors instead of one and their ears were pointed.
They didn’t walk on hoofed feet or have forked tails—they didn’t have tails of any kind. Their tongues were forked, but that was easily forgotten when faced with the true differences between bhresyas and humans—their coloring and their horns.
Bhresyas came in a wide range of colors, from purest white to darkest black and every color in-between. The horns, which sprouted from their temples, their foreheads or their necks, were the reason most humans referred to bhresyas as demons.
Melchior’s horns, only a shade of blue darker than his skin, came from his upper neck. They moved outward away from his body and then curved back so the two pointed ends met over the top of his head.
Serenity wanted to trace her fingers over the curve but couldn’t. Partially because her hands were tied behind her back and because such an act was highly intimate, even if she wasn’t bound. Only families and loved ones dared to touch another’s horns. Only lovers touched another’s horns the way Serenity wanted to touch Melchior’s. Serenity was none of the above—yet.
As with Rhiannon before her, Melchior found himself nodding at Serenity’s observation but unable to form an answer. His silence was for wholly different reasons. Rhiannon had confused him with rapid subject changes, but Serenity confused him with her total trust. She was completely relaxed in his arms and smiling at him.
He lowered her so she sat sideways on the saddle before him. He couldn’t do anything but stare at her. Her wide brown eyes showed merriment. Whereas most females would scream and cry about being kidnapped, Serenity looked calm and happy.
A wayward strand of black hair from Serenity’s long braid brushed against her cheek. Melchior smoothed it back in place with the edge of his fingertips. Serenity turned her face into his hand but held his gaze.
Movement from all around them snapped Melchior out of his trance. He watched the Hell Hounds and his guards rush into the house where Serenity was held. Only Chigaru and Lorcan stayed behind.
Chigaru approached Serenity’s back. He pulled his dagger and cut her ties. This action brought Serenity’s attention to him. She shifted on Melchior’s lap so she faced forward on the lysidi in a side-saddle position and looked at Chigaru. “And here, I had started to worry. I should know better, right?”
“Did you have trouble tracking me?” Though she currently sat on his lap, her attention was no longer for Melchior.
Chigaru stepped aside to allow Serenity to see behind him.
She jumped from Melchior’s lysidi and fell to her knees in front of Lorcan. She didn’t seem satisfied until she ran her hands over him fully to ensure he was unharmed. When her search turned up nothing, she threw her arms around his neck. Lorcan nuzzled her shoulder, whining with pleasure.
“Oh thank all the gods.”
“Princess Serenity,” Melchior said.
Serenity looked at Melchior with unshed tears in her eyes. She was about to thank him for Lorcan’s health—she was sure he had helped somehow—when the Hell Hounds and guards returned.