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Ashley Jones skulked down the torchlit hallway, keeping to the shadows. Desperate to get away, she couldn’t chance being seen by any fae despite the stolen costume she wore. With any luck anybody or anything who saw her would mistake her for a fae woman dressed for tonight’s festivities. She couldn’t risk her human features drawing attention.
Previously she’d thought faeries were sweet, dainty little people who granted wishes and hid pots of gold. But two months ago she’d been kidnapped from her college dorm room and imprisoned in an underground fortress. She’d learnt that the fae were actually human-sized beings—gorgeous beyond her wildest imagination—but they weren’t the cute, harmless, little moth-like people she had seen in cartoon movies. No. They were heartless jackasses who didn’t care that she had a life, a home, or a family who cared about her.
Okay, the last one was a little bit of hyperbole. Her family probably didn’t even miss her. But still. Just because she had been taking—and acing—a midwife training class didn’t mean she wanted to be one. Definitely not under duress. She wanted to go home, wherever home might be. Either her dorm room abroad in Ireland or back home in California with her family.
Especially after last night.
She’d tried to help, but nothing she had done helped the mother or her unborn baby. After three endless days of labour, Ashley had lost them both. She stopped, leaning against the wall, her eyes growing wet as she remembered the blood-soaked sheets, the screaming agony of the mother and the tiny lifeless body of her babe.
Despite their magical abilities, the fae were on the brink of infertility and the majority of their rare pregnancies ended in death for both mother and child. Not that it excused her failures. Punishment loomed in her future and if it was going to be anything like the last time she had to leave.
Crap. She really had to stop musing about her shitty situation and concentrate on getting out. She had a small window of time and she couldn’t waste it.
Footsteps from down the hall forced her to hide. She tried not to gawk at the jewel-encrusted walls as she crouched behind an ornate table decorated with gold leaf and… Were those diamonds? Her palms sweated as the footsteps grew near. Double crap. Should she try to act fae-like and see if her costume held up to scrutiny? What was she going to say if they uncovered her hiding place? Damn it, damn it, damn it. What should she do?
The footsteps continued by her without pausing in the least. Phew.
She cautiously rose and checked the hallway for any more traffic. Since the festivities had started an hour ago, she thought she would have a clean getaway. She forgot to factor in Irish timing. Who knew the Irish and the fae shared such fabulous time-keeping abilities?
The only good thing about her current predicament was that she knew which way was out. If she were back in her captor’s Sidhe mound, she wouldn’t have a hope in hell of escape. Hidden, its hallways were heavily guarded to keep people like her in. This Sidhe mound, where all the fae in the area had apparently converged, wasn’t guarded at all. Kind of like a house party where everyone just let themselves in, she guessed.
Sneaking down the hallway again, she tried to ignore the rough burlap scraping her bare skin. If this is what they thought humans dressed like… She shook her head. Thank God she was able to steal this “human” costume from the laundress. She’d stick out like a sore thumb with her own black slave robes. Nothing said escaped convict more than a prison uniform.
She paused outside an open doorway. She could do this. She had to do this. Taking a deep breath, she started to dart past when a cacophony of footsteps had her freezing in place. She frantically looked up and down the hall for someplace to hide, but could find none. Not wanting to be caught out in the open, she took a deep breath and ducked into a room.
And stopped in her tracks at the sight that greeted her.
A room easily the size of a football pitch overflowed with “humans” in various states of undress. And all were engaged in some sort of passionate activity. She couldn’t help but gawp at the many gorgeous people having a very good time. A few metres away, a woman lay prone, ardently kissing one man while two others knelt next to her and each suckled at her breasts. Ashley quivered at the scene. To have three men attend to your every sexual urge while everyone in the room watched and grew aroused by the sight… Her nipples tightened.
To her right a man knelt behind a woman as he thrust his large cock inside her. The woman’s cries of satisfaction filled the room. With one mighty surge, the man swept the woman from her crouched position, forcing her back against his sweat-slicked chest. As he held her against his body, he cupped her breasts in his hands and tweaked her nipples with his fingers.