Three Months Later
My stomach was twisted with nerves and excitement as I stood beneath the magically crafted arch of waterlilies and cherry blossoms Tyra herself had created. Atlas was at my side, his arm looped through mine as I leaned against him for support.
We were initially skeptical about the pure white flowers, but the delicate aroma they emitted was well worth it. Clusters of tulips, orchids, and peonies were strewn throughout the courtyard, which had been completely remodeled for the grand ball I had been planning for months now.
With Atlas by my side, I stood atop a long staircase looking down at the arduous work of countless fae, myself included. It was easy to forget about the sprawling crowd down below, watching us with interested and eager eyes.
From the decorations to the guest list, I had full reigns of this project. Of course, I had a near endless supply of assistants at my side, all of which were introduced to me by Alette and Adelina.
I pulled Nicki into my arms, my heart swelling with the strength of my best-friend. I said nothing because Nicki needed no reassurance. She could see the flame that burned within her as well as everyone else; Nicki never once doubted her place in the world, or her own importance. Even on my darkest days, when Atlas’s rejection sapped the happiness from even the smallest of things, the undying confidence Nicki had in herself and the people she loved fueled me. Once Dustin appeared and dragged her away, I was able to catch up with Liam and see how things were going—and to get some elaboration on the previously mentioned assassination attempt. Atlas had kept his snarling to a minimum when Liam pulled me in for a bear hug, even if his eyes were hardened shards of granite afterwards. “Really, it was awful. Not even a whole-hearted attempt.” Liam shook his head, disappointment for the unskilled assassin. His lips twitched into a smirk, and the teasing note in his v
One Year Later “You could be over here with your true mate and not sweating your ass off, but no—violence prevails.” I sighed dramatically, grabbing a grape, and plopping it into my mouth. Atlas was easily a hundred feet away, his skin porcelain and shimmering with sweat. I eyed the thick muscles that spanned his shoulders and back, running down the length of his thick arms. “Well, I guess the view isn’t that bad.” “Speak for yourself, I love a little violence to start off my day. Nothing gets the blood pumping like political intrigue, vigorous training or a good old-fashioned fight.” Nicki grinned manically, leaning against the thick truck of the tree she sat in front of. Her chestnut hair had lightened from spending the year in Liam’s court, beneath the blistering sun and thick humidity. It now held golden undertones that matched her tanned skin. The dress she wore was bound at the shoulders with golden pins and reminded me of the Greek goddesses taught in