The night she waltzed into my life was the night everything fell apart.
The night I lost the love of my life. My king. My Adonis.
I was in love with the king of the lycans for years before she so much as laid eyes on him.
What I wouldn’t give to be in her shoes, the mate of the king himself…
But instead, they made me out to be some kind of villain.
Well, fuck that!
Isn’t it time I told my side of the story?
I couldn’t help but feel the excitement build in my chest as I read my best friend’s message. Zayla knew about my unrequited love for the king of the lycans, Adonis Dimitri Grey.
While I’d long since given up hope we were mates, Zayla hadn’t.
“How much longer,” I asked my uncle, Mark, who was driving. He didn’t respond, as per usual.
I was always angering him with everything I did. Today it was because I took too long deciding what to wear to visit the king.
I know, I know. I’m a stereotype. But in my defense, he only gave me a few minutes notice that he wanted me to come with him.
I had to try on every dress in my closet before finally settling on a sleek black one that hugged my curves beautifully. It was definitely worth the silent treatment.
I should probably introduce myself. My name is Savanah Willows. I’m twenty years old. And as you probably guessed, I’m a lycan.
Before you ask, I’m not one of those lycans who got her powers because she found a mate who was a lycan and changed slowly from a werewolf.
As I said, I haven’t found my mate yet. I haven’t even kissed a boy.
No, I’m the boring kind who was born with a lycan form. It’s from my uncle’s side. He’s a member of the Council of Alphas, which is how I first met the king.
The moment I looked into his hazel eyes, I fell in love. But I knew we weren’t mates. That truth felt like a shard of glass in my heart whenever I remembered it.
They say you can tell when you find your mate, and I never got that tingling feeling people talk about. And he certainly never felt anything for me.
On the rare occasions when I was able to meet him in person, I was lucky if he graced me with a single glance.
As of yet, he still hadn’t found his mate, and I hadn’t found mine.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it: what would happen if I was wrong, if he was my mate? But I knew it was foolish to dream.
My only hope was that neither of us ever found our mates. It was theoretically possible. Wolves died before they could meet their mates all the time. It was just a sad reality of life as a shifter.
I’d already given up hope that mine was out there. Most wolves met their mates when they were eighteen. That was two years ago, and nothing.
So maybe the king would realize his mate was dead and choose to form a second-chance bond with me instead. I know it sounds a little bit psychotic, but I loved him.
At this point, it was my only hope. I was clinging to it like that plank at the end of Titanic.
“Savanah, wake up!” The sound of my uncle’s gruff voice jolted me awake, and I sat up, blinking. The first thing I realized was that my black dress got all creased in my sleep. Just great.
Peering out my window, I saw we were in the driveway of the massive royal palace. Turrets rose up on all sides, and the outer wall loomed in front of me.
I felt goosebumps crawling down my arm as I stepped out of the car and surreptitiously adjusted my dress and hair. I was going to see my love any minute now!
My uncle gave me a suspicious look as he climbed out of the car.
“What are you up to, Savanah?” he asked slyly. I rolled my eyes.
My uncle had treated me like dirt on his shoes ever since my eighteenth birthday, when I hadn’t found my mate. Because I was mateless, he seemed to think I wasn’t worth a damn.
I felt his hand grip my arm, and I looked up at him, suddenly nervous. Why was he looking at me like that?
“Aren’t you curious why I invited you to the palace?” he sneered, and I felt my heart fall.
It had been foolish of me to think that he had invited me out of the kindness of his heart. My uncle was always scheming, and I knew now that I was part of his schemes.
“W-what are you planning?” I asked, trying to keep my voice steady. I didn’t want to get on my uncle’s bad side.
He got close to me and whispered in my ear.
“There are a lot of powerful men coming to the Council today. Do you know what they all have in common?”
I shook my head, my nerves tingling.
“They’re all here because their mates died. And they’re all very powerful. We’re going to form a new bond for our family today. Do you understand?”
My stomach fell like a rock. I knew what he was saying.
He was going to marry me off to one of the men of King Dimitri’s council to forge some new alliance between our families. He wasn’t going to let me wait for the king himself.
“I—I… What if my mate is out there?” I ask weakly, trying to stall for time.
“Nice try,” my uncle snarled. “We both know your mate is probably dead in a ditch somewhere.
“Now you’re going to say hello to the men of the king’s council. And you’re not going to attempt that hideous flirting you do with Dimitri every time you see him.
“He isn’t interested in whores like you, and you better get used to that.”
I hung my head as my uncle pulled me toward the palace, chuckling softly under his breath. He liked nothing more than punishing me.
As I stepped under the shadow of the palace, I felt my last hopes of Dimitri falling away, and I resigned myself to becoming the forced mate of whichever councillor could make my uncle the most money.
I never wanted to see a councillor again.
It was hours later, and I’d been parading around like some bizarre circus animal for the last four hours, my uncle pulling me from potential suitor to potential suitor like I was the prized horse at an auction.
All the men he showed me to were wrinkled and hideous, most of them werewolves who looked to be in their sixties or seventies (which probably meant they were actually hundreds of years old).
Every one of them looked like they were undressing me with their eyes.
To make matters worse, I didn’t even get to see the king, let alone speak to him at all.
I had hoped that if I explained what my uncle was doing, he might be able to help me. But he was nowhere to be found.
I just wanted to go home, or at least sit down and text Zayla what a nightmare of a day it had been.
“Come here,” my uncle growled, tugging me toward a man so old he was in a wheelchair. “Don’t you dare quit on me, lazy girl.”
Just then, a delicious scent wafted into the room, and I stopped, turning toward the door.
My uncle didn’t even try to stop me, and I knew why. He, like everybody else in the room, had turned to the front of the hall.
I felt a blush creeping up my cheeks as he stepped into the room.
Adonis Dimitri Grey, the king of the lycans. It didn’t matter how many times I saw him; I could never truly believe he was real.
He was built like a Greek god. Most lycans are muscular, but this man was on another level.
His perfectly styled dark brown hair sat atop his head better than any crown, and from underneath his thick locks, bright hazel eyes surveyed the room.
The entire hall had gone completely quiet as he stepped forward. Those stunning eyes looked over the assembled councillors.
For a moment they locked on me, and I found myself unable to breathe. My heart was beating so fast that I thought it was about to explode out of my chest.
I’d expected him to look away, but why was he still staring at me?
Wait a second. Was he coming closer?
I would have thought I was imagining it if I didn’t hear the thick thump of his footsteps as he crossed toward me, a severe look in his eyes.
He stopped in front of me, and I forced myself to turn my gaze to the ground.
What the hell was going on? He’d never shown me the slightest interest before.
Then I felt a finger under my chin, and he lifted me to look at him.
I gasped as I stared into that beautiful face, the same face I’d dreamed about for years.
“What are you doing here?”
His voice was buttery smooth, like chocolate and caramel and everything else good in the world.
“King Ado— I mean, Dimitri,” I stuttered, suddenly unable to speak English. I’d almost forgotten that only the king’s closest friends are permitted to call him Adonis.
Slowly, the king’s expression darkened. I saw anger flash in his eyes.
Then he straightened up and stepped away from me.
“I know why you are here,” he said, looking at me with such hatred that it felt like a physical blow to my gut.
The king turned to the guards he had positioned around the halls.
“Guards, take this rogue scum away,” he snarled.
Rogue scum?! Panic filled my body. The king thought I was a rogue?
But before I could open my mouth to explain that I was Councilman Mark’s niece, I felt a metal gag clamp down over my mouth as firm hands grabbed me.
I turned pleading eyes to my uncle but saw in his gaze that I’d receive no sympathy from him. His gaze was cold and calculating.
I looked toward the king, the man I’d loved for years in secret, and screamed through the gag. But he only turned his gaze away from me as I was dragged toward the dungeons.
Before I knew it, I was being slammed into hard earth, and all the wind was knocked out of me.
Everything around me was pitch black, and I looked around wildly, my heart thundering.
I heard the scrape of metal bars being slammed shut and departing footsteps.
And then there was silence.
I stayed curled on the rocky ground for a very long time. I didn’t know what had happened. How had I gone from a guest at the king’s party to a prisoner in his dungeon?
I sat up slowly and felt around me. I realized I was near a wall. I slid my body along the floor until I could lean up against it.
Blinking, I noticed I was slowly growing accustomed to the lack of light.
I was in a cave-like room. There was a door carved into one wall, and it was blocked by thick rusty bars. The rest of the room was too dark to see.
Shivering, I pulled my legs closer together and discovered I’d torn my beautiful dress.
A tear escaped my eye, and I felt a sob leave my mouth. It echoed around the walls like some kind of eerie ghost.
“Hush, little one. Don’t cry.”
I let out a scream. I couldn’t help it. The voice came out of the darkness, mere feet from me, and definitely inside my cell.
“Wh-who’s there?” I whimpered, trying my best to sound strong, the furthest thing from what I was feeling.
Just then I saw something move in the shadows in front of me.
A tall figure stood up as if unfolding from the blackness.
He stepped forward, and I felt a strange feeling creeping up my arms—an odd tingling.
At first, I thought the feeling was my body about to pass out from fear, but then I started to feel warmth spreading through my bones. The closer the figure got, the warmer I felt.
What the hell was happening?
I caught a whiff of pine as the figure came closer. He was a man. I could tell from the bulge of his muscles.
“What—what’s happening to me?” I asked as the warmth traveled toward my core.
The man stood directly above me now, and I could see his toned yet malnourished body…all except for his face.
He ran a hand through his messy black hair and chuckled.
“Don’t you know, little one?”
He squatted down, his face coming into focus in front of me.
I gasped as I took in the horrible claw marks on his face. I felt a bizarre urge to kill whoever put them there.
“It seems we’ve found each other,” he was saying, his voice silky and dangerous.
My eyes drifted up past his thin lips and scarred nose…
And then my gaze landed on his electric green eyes, and I felt as if a bolt of lightning had just hit me.
He didn’t even need to say the next words. I knew what that charged feeling must mean.
But hearing the word from his mouth was more powerful than I could imagine.
“Mate,” he said, his voice echoing eerily off the walls.
It took several seconds for his words to sink in fully.
This could not be happening.
I had a whole plan to be the second chance of King Ado— Dimitri.
No part of my plan involved being thrown in the royal dungeons by my love himself and finding this strange, lethal-looking prisoner waiting to claim me.
But I couldn’t deny the feeling coursing through my veins, pooling at my sex.
I had never felt this way for the king.
But I didn’t want this.