Danica planned to use beauty, blackmail, and a glittering drug to control her own fate. Her escape from the twisted world of the Palace of Versailles was perfectly orchestrated and paid for. Or so she thought.
Betrayed by the man who had promised her freedom, Dani is now married to the murderous king. It's a terrifying position to be in . . . and yet it's oddly intoxicating. Power may be an even stronger drug than Glittera drug Dani can't resist, in the form of secrets, manipulation, and sabotage.
In her new position at the head of the court, Dani must ask herself who she really is. Can she use her newfound power to secure her real love, Saber's freedom, and a chance at a life together outside the palace? Or is being queen too addictive to give up?
"I adored this genre-bending, futuristic, and super swoon-y romance featuring a strong anti-heroine to root forfun, refreshing, and unpredictable!" #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz
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Two Days Later
“You summoned me, my lord?”
Summoned was the actual word used. Summoned to his private office. Hardly the typical language of newlyweds. My shiny-new husband waves a hand dismissively. “Yes, yes. The meeting will be called in ten minutes,” Justin Wyndham says, not looking at me. He’s shuffling papers, shoving some in folders and others in drawers.
The bastard is nervous; this is his twitch. I store that tidbit away reflexively.
“All nobles with any voting power whatsoever will be given one hour to find their way to the grand theater so no one can claim they were denied entry due to seating capacity.”
I stand silently.
The King notices nothing. “Your father is being cleaned and dressed at the clinic as we speak. You should head over; I imagine you’ll want some time to prepare him.”
“For what, Your Highness?” My voice is flat, but I can’t seem to manage anything else since my marriage.
His eyes sparkle with fury, and he lets a stack of paper fall to the desk with an audible smack. “For the vote, Danica. The godforsaken vote that saves us both.”
Oh yes. We’re on the cusp of the entire reason my mother was able to blackmail Justin into marrying me. Dead Mother. Ironic, that. “Hmm,” I say softly, stepping up and running one finger lightly over a paperweight. “Odd. I don’t feel very saved.”
Justin’s fingers rise to crumple his cravat, and he barely catches himself in time to keep from ruining the fabric. His fingers flex, and a sheen of sweat glistens on his forehead. I’ve never seen him so disconcerted. Even that can’t evoke a spark of pleasure. “Don’t make me threaten you again, Danica. I’m so weary of it.”
“That makes two of us,” I say dryly. “I don’t need your threatsI want your promise instead.”
“What?” he growls between clenched teeth.
“Saber. I want him back.” Saying it shows him my weakness, but I don’t care. Not about the vote or these games or who’s more powerful. I just want Saber back.
Justin rolls his eyes and turns away, peering into the mirror behind his desk and adjusting a bit of hair. “No.”
“You’re not really in a position to bargain, my lord.” And although it’s true, I don’t feel any satisfaction in the words.
He spins and slams his hands down on his desk. “You will not traipse around with that commoner in front of the court. It’s sheer mockery.”
“It won’t matter if you’re not the King.”
The words are smoke in the air between us. His fingers tremble, but he doesn’t speak.
I shrug. I should be pressing my advantage, but I’m a breath away from utter surrender. “I’ve sold my soulfeel free to threaten my life, my body, I don’t care. I don’t even resent that you’ll win. You give me the one thing I want, and I’ll give you the one thing you want.”
He stares at me, his breath short, and I watch one bead of perspiration trail down the side of his face before he snorts in disgust and turns from me to dab it away with a handkerchief. He knows I’m different now. I’m broken. Utterly. I wonder if he thinks he did that.
“I have nothing left to lose,” I say, monotone. “Nothing in the world except for him. Not truly. Perhaps you think that makes me vulnerable. But in truth it makes me desperate and reckless. I’ll do whatever is necessary for Saber, and I won’t hesitate to hurt anyone who gets in my way.” I wave a hand languidly in the air. “You, the entire kingdom, I don’t care. Give him back to me, or this evening Sonoman-Versailles will crown a new King.”
He stares into my eyeslooking, perhaps, for the downside. But I’m not bargaining for good value anymore. I want Saber, and to hell with the rest. After a long moment, Justin nods. “The moment the votes are cast, I’ll authorize his release.”
“Charges dropped?” I have to pin this spouse of mine down on every detail. Every loophole.
“Consider them expunged.”
Even better. “I expect him to be waiting in my rooms.”
“Did you want a bow tied around his neck?”
“Don’t be disgusting; he’s not a thing,” I snap, a lightning bolt of anger searing through my emotional fog. Because to one man, that’s exactly what Saber is: a possession to be bought and sold. “I do think a visit to my father is in order,” I say, pulling a pair of gloves from my pannier pockets and wiggling my fingers into them. “Now that you and I have come to an agreement. Oh,” I add, turning to look at him over my shoulder, “you’ll want to release Lord Aaron from his rooms as well.”
“You think you can convince him to vote in my favor?” the King says with a sneer.
I laugh, a breathy, pathetic sound, even to my own ears. “Hardly. But consider this a favor from your new Queenyou won’t want anyone to suspect that you specifically prevented Lord Aaron from attending the vote.”
His Majesty regards me silently, brow furrowed.
“Trust me,” I say wryly. Then much more loudly, “Mateus! Open the damned door.”
I sweep out as soon as the gap is wide enough to accommodate my panniers, forcing the reedy man to stumble backward. With my chin high and my corset far too tight, I walk down the hallways without looking left or right, even as courtiers try to catch my attention. A red dot flashes in the corner of my eye as a verbal ripple travels through the crowd. I know what the message is without reading it.
The meeting announcement. The not-so-secret meeting at which the shareholders of Sonoma Inc. will elector, perhaps, reelecta chief executive officer of the company and King of the pseudo-state of Sonoman-Versailles. A rebellion six months in the making to unseat the man I married two days ago. The very threat Justin married me to fend off, by activating voting shares assigned only to a sitting Queen.
It’s time. I feel ill.
The cries for my attention grow loudbuilding like rumbling thunderbut I ignore everyone, and none dare to bodily interfere. I am the Queen.