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Authors: Jennifer Youngblood,Sandra Poole

Love Spell: Book 2 of The Grimm Laws

BOOK: Love Spell: Book 2 of The Grimm Laws
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Love Spell
Book 2 of The Grimm Laws
Jennifer Youngblood
Sandra Poole
Contents

C
opyright
© 2015 by Jennifer Youngblood and Sandra Poole

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Arbor House Books
arborhousebooks.com

Visit Jennifer’s blog at
jenniferyoungblood.com

Cover design by Patrick Youngblood

Prologue
The Meeting

N
ormally Ruben would’ve resented
the gust of frigid air that slapped against his face, but tonight he welcomed it because it meant that few others would venture out. It was late in the season—too late for hikers to be on the trail. He stole a glance over his shoulder, making sure that he was indeed alone, before heading to the designated meeting place.

His mind raced through all of the events that had taken place, the most important being that Huntsden was now a legitimate candidate for the throne. His thoughts went to Alexander, causing his blood to run hot despite the cold. How he hated Alexander because of all that he’d stolen from him. The crown should’ve been his. It was his by birth—by right, as he was the firstborn twin. He’d held it in the palm of his hand, where it would’ve stayed had Merek and Wisteria not interfered. Alexander would’ve never had the strength to go up against him alone. He was weak and pathetic. Alexander the Just, the handsome, aristocratic, fair-haired king, known for his fairness and equity, but Ruben knew the inner workings of the man. Alexander was a hypocrite of the worst kind. If he’d been truly concerned about justice then he would’ve abdicated the throne to his elder brother on right of birth alone, not to mention the fact that Ruben had always been the better warrior and strategist. A slow burning anger coursed through his veins, causing him to quicken his pace. He clenched his powerful hands into fists. It was time to make Alexander and Wisteria pay for all they’d done to him. His eyes burned with a fury that would’ve rivaled a dragon’s breath as he looked unseeingly ahead, thinking of all the ways in which he could destroy them. Slow, painful deaths seemed more fitting … after he decimated all that was dear to them first. Vengeance was coming—sailing soundlessly through the black night like the angel of death—destroying all in its path. And if he had anything to say about it, he would be riding shotgun to that angel of death—eagerly lending a helping hand.

G
riselda watched
Ruben through the onyx eyes of the raven that was perched on the highest branch of the leafless tree. He was pacing back and forth, clenching and unclenching his hands, while he waited like a mindless puppet for her to pull the strings and tell him what to do next. She laughed inwardly, enjoying watching him squirm a bit before approaching him, a serpent eyeing her prey with sadistic amusement.

Because of his brute strength and finely tuned combat skills, Ruben considered himself to be superior to everyone around him, but when it came to the essence and strength of the inner man, Ruben was the weakest of the weak—making him easy to manipulate. Ruben’s greatest weakness was his insatiable jealousy of Alexander. And while Ruben kept insisting that Alexander had stolen the crown from him, Griselda knew better. Merek had simply chosen the better man. As much as she loathed Merek and his goodness, she knew him well enough to know that Merek’s primary motivation was to promote the wellbeing of those over whom he’d been given charge—the citizens of Aandover Peaks and the surrounding kingdoms. Griselda’s interest in Ruben largely centered on the fact that Merek was trying so hard to keep Ruben and his son from taking the throne. Unlike her elder brother, Merek, the good and trustworthy guardian—
just thinking about his goodness made her skin crawl
—Griselda cared nothing about the people of Aandover Peaks, nor the throne. They were all insignificant peons whose only purpose was to supply her with amusement and to do her bidding. It made little difference to her what puppet was controlling the throne, for she would control them all.

And one day, when Ruben outlived his usefulness, he would become a welcome addition to her collection of shadow crawlers. For now, he was doing an adequate job serving as her ambassador in this realm. If all went according to plan, she would soon be able to gain the two things she wanted most—her beauty and Merek’s power.

She continued to watch as Ruben paced, waiting for her, his ruddy complexion turning the color of blood.

R
uben flinched
at the sudden movement above him as the hair on his neck stood on ends. He looked up, keenly aware of the empty space that seemed to be closing in around him. He froze, straining to hear. The very air seemed to be breathing in and out ever so slowly. A full yellow moon rose just above the scraggly mountains. He felt the sensation of being watched and looked up to see a raven, the size of a small dog, flapping its wings and flying straight towards him. On instinct, he used his hands to shield his face from an impending attack. The raven landed a few feet from where he was standing. He lowered his hands and straightened to his full height, cautiously eyeing the large black bird, whose glassy eyes were as impenetrable as the stone mountains surrounding him. A mist of black smoke lifted around the raven and then began to swirl upward until finally, Griselda appeared before him.

Even though he’d seen her wretched appearance many times in the past, he had to fight the urge to recoil from her hideousness, forcing himself to look directly at her. Her flesh was loose and mottled, gathering in pools around her neck. There was a large wart or boil covering the bulk of her crooked nose. Her eyebrows, the color of snow, were thick and spindly like spider legs strung together over her beady eyes. A black shapeless frock covered her aged, stooped body.

“You requested an audience with me?”

The very sound of her voice evoked a sense of dread. “Yes,” he said, averting his eyes. He could no longer stand to look at her.

She pointed a crooked finger at him. “Thou art impatient.” Reproof lay heavy in her raspy voice.

“I have been patient for far too long,” he countered. “The time has come for me to finally get my revenge.” A sense of satisfaction rose in his breast as he started imagining the pleasure he’d get when he ripped Alexander apart limb-by-limb.

“Patience, Ruben,” she croaked.

For an instant, he forgot her power as his anger took hold. Rage bubbled up like acid, burning through him. “Patience! How can you ask me to be patient after what they’ve done to me? To my son?” His voice boomed like thunder in the still air. “Even now they conspire to deny us what is rightfully ours.” His face darkened. “Alexander and Wisteria will pay.”

“In time … all in good time. They are expecting you to do something impulsive and then they will have you imprisoned, thereby gaining total and complete control.”

He shook his head. “They do not have the power or the strength to hurt me.” His black eyes flashed. “But, I on the other hand, have the power to destroy them.”

“But you will refrain.”

His face fell. “No, I will not!” He looked at the hideous specter in front of him. “What do you suggest that I do?”

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing for now.” Her expression grew thoughtful. “That will terrify them far worse than anything else you can do. They will be watching and waiting—anticipating the worst.”

His voice was skeptical. “Then what?”

A toothless grin split her face. “I have a plan.”

Ruben shook his head. “No, I’m tired of your plans. This time I’m going to do this my way. Alexander will get his due, and my son will be sitting on the throne.”

“Hear me out, Ruben,” she commanded.

“I’m done listening to you and your futile plans, old hag,” he muttered, turning his back on her.

Suddenly, she was in front of him. A mocking laughter circled around him. Her face twisted into something more terrible than he could’ve imagined in his worst nightmare. He shrank back, and then the laughter turned to a delicate chuckle, reminding him of wind chimes. Before him stood a vision of the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was part fairy, part nymph, and part human. Her hair, the color of fire, cascaded around her face in thick, lustrous waves. Her luminescent skin seemed to be carved out of Porcelain. And her features—her pristine features would’ve made an angel look plain. Her emerald eyes had a fire in them that tunneled its way into his heart, making him yearn to touch her soft skin. He craved her more than he craved air.

An exquisite smile curved her lips. “Old hag? Is that what you called me?” There was a musical quality about her voice that reminded him of pure water dancing over rocks.

He went cold. “Griselda?” The name moved over his lips like a bad omen as the vision began to ripple and then fade, revealing the monster behind the mask. He turned to run, but the shadow darted out of nowhere, slithering around him with loathsome tentacles that clutched him in an iron band, making it impossible to breathe. He fell to the ground, clutching his chest, wondering if he were having a heart attack.

Then the scene changed. He opened his eyes, feeling the damp ground and decaying leaves beneath him. He looked up at the dense forest, all the while trying to figure out why he was crawling on the ground. He tried to get up, but his arms and legs were too weak. The last rays of sunlight were quickly disappearing behind the fingers of the branches. A few more minutes and he would be alone in the darkness. He closed his eyes and summoned every bit of courage he could muster. If he didn’t get up, he would be eaten by wolves. Even now, he could hear them howling in the distance.

A flicker of light caught his attention, giving him hope, as he started crawling towards it. As he grew closer, he heard the deep timber of male voices, mingled with laughter. He stopped. But it was too late. For standing before him was Aalexander, surrounded by a group of soldiers.

“Brother! Come! We were waiting for thee to commence the ceremony.”

Ruben raised his hand to Aalexander. “Help me!” he pleaded. “Something terrible has happened. I have no strength, and I cannot stand.”

“No matter, thy legs will soon be useless to thee,” Aalexander said, laughter in his voice.

“I do not understand.” Panic rose thick in his chest as he saw the gruesome smile spill over Aalexander’s face. “What meanest thou? Explain thyself!” He detested how pleading and small his voice sounded in his own ears.

Arms lifted him up as everything seemed to happen in rapid succession— Aalexander’s voice lifting in judgment. The glint of an axe blade, reflecting against the fire. The brutal feel of the splinters against his face as he was forced against a block of wood.

“Fate has delivered the traitor that tried to overthrow the kingdom. Let the beheading commence!”

A terror such as he’d never know before wracked his body, and Ruben wasn’t certain if it was his blood-curdling scream or Griselda’s that rent the night air as the blade struck his neck. A blinding pain shot through him, and the next thing he knew, he was writhing on the ground, every stitch of his clothing soaked in sweat.

He looked up to see Griselda, standing over him. His mind reeled as he tried to process what was happening.

“What do you think of my plan now?”

He rubbed his neck, marveling that it was still attached. “W—what just happened to me?”

“Thy worse fears were realized because of my shadow crawler,” she brayed smugly. “The same thing will happen to all of them and when it does ...”

He arose to a sitting position, a fever lighting in his eyes. “We’ll have absolute and complete power over them.”

“Exactly!”

He smiled.

BOOK: Love Spell: Book 2 of The Grimm Laws
8.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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