Cecelia, daughter of David and Anna Costav. House: TBD

Mornings usually symbolized new beginnings for me, and as I awakened that fateful day I met Prince Jasper Martin, I knew that a door had been opened for me—one that I would soon step through.

Coming of age was a daunting task for most. But—for me—it meant that I would soon be forced to leave behind all that I had ever known.

That morning might very well be one of my last in the human world entirely.

I lived in a prison—a beautiful one within the confines of a castle—but a prison nonetheless. Costav Castle had been in my family for centuries apparently. 

Four years ago, I had no clue about it.

I’d been living in Asheville, North Carolina with my parents and sisters. We’d survived the plague that ravaged the world, the subsequent wars, and shocking rise of elemental nations who had grown weary with humanities destruction of this earth. 

The elves and fae revealed themselves—stepping out of the shadows—and put an end to our fruitless wars. The division that reformed what were once great nations had begun. Now, I feared if I would survive what was to come.

That was just the beginning. Turns out, I’d been bred for something bigger than my dreams of becoming a veterinarian.

When a distant relative came for me to take me across the ocean to Wales, I knew that life would never be the same. 

Still groggy, I ran the perimeter of the castle grounds, breathing in the crisp mountain air, and tasting the remnants of magic left behind from the fog. It was my favorite time of the day—when everyone was still asleep, oblivious to what was to come.

I paused just before the gate when I saw a glow in the dim light of the early dawn. The gray clouds parted way as he walked toward me. Dressed in all black, his red hair caught my eye—not only that—but the way his eyes glowed in the dark.

I stood there, dressed in a sports bra and jogging pants, with my lips parted in awe. 

He didn’t walk up the stone pathway. He glided through the fog like an apparition.

A crooked grin came to his face as he looked at me. Frozen in place, I watched him come to the gate and stop before the steel bars.

Father had built it years ago as another layer of protection. The world was still at war, and he was determined to keep it from spilling into our land. 

“Dear, girl,” he said in a whisper that sent shivers up my slick flesh. “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”

I swallowed back a lump in my throat and realized how dry it was. I ended up having to clear my throat before replying. “I’m not quite sure what I’m looking at…Sir.”

He held his hand through the bars. There was a massive ring on his middle finger, with a glowing jade crystal.

“Jasper Martin,” he said, then gave a slight bow. “Prince Jasper Martin. A pleasure to meet you, Cecelia.”

I stiffened. 

Prince Jasper Martin. 

How did the High Fae Prince know my name? I eyed his hand, and took a step away.

Light shield, up. I invoke a fairy ring of protection.

A bright purple ring of light surrounded me.

His eyes widened, as did his grin. Could he see the magic that now encircled me?

“Come now, Cecelia. I don’t bite. I’m curious, but quite harmless.”

Quite harmless? I’d seen the news. I knew what great power the elementals had. Memories of watching them bound over police cars as if they had springs on their shoes came to me. One time I watched in awe as an elf man tossed bus across the city like it was a baseball. That was just a show of their strength and agility. I won’t get into the firestorms of magic that they’d rained down on entire armies of soldiers.

The prince looked me up and down with piercing green eyes in a way that left me feeling exposed. I hadn’t seen a stranger in forever. The only men and women who came onto the grounds of the castle were servants and staff, and the landscapers who tended to the gardens.

Instead of taking his hand, I crossed my arms over my chest and took a step back. He smelled of magic, and I knew better than to let a mage enter my energetic field, much less touch me—no matter how handsome he was.

As if reading my mind, he took his hand back and raked it through his hair.

“Fine, be that way. I just wanted to tell you a little secret.”

Crickets chirped and birds began to sing as the sun started to show through the clouds. A beautiful sunrise was brewing behind him, and all I could do was stare at his perfect face. How was a prince on our land, and without any announcement?

“Don’t you want to know my secret?”

I nodded, as if under a spell, frozen, speechless.

“You will be mine,” he said, the grin on his face fading into a dangerous look that made my fear levels reach their max. He turned away and started to whistle. “Just you wait.”

And with that, he vanished into the dark, just before the sun’s rays illuminated his tall, thin frame.

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