Killing her is his mission.
Hers is survival.
Neither of them expects love…
Swept away to the land of faery, Trina MacElvy’s falling in love with the enemy—and the one thing that might save her is the one thing she never thought she’d need…true love’s kiss.
As Huntsman, the last thing Logan expects is to fail in his mission. But one sight of the witch he’s been sent to kill changes everything. Now, instead of riding to kill Trina, he’s riding to save her…
An evil queen, a dangerous man, and a witch, tangled together in a tale of Snow White.
Immerse yourself in Jessica Aspen’s fast-paced fantasy romance…clever, sexy, and just a little on the dark side. Download HUNTED today.
* Fairy Tale Romance * Kidnapping * Enemies to Lovers *
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I've loved both Urban Fantasy and Romance for so long, that I wanted to combine the two into one series. Hunted and the Fae Magic series do just that. For me it was like taking Jim Butcher, swirling in a bit of Tolkein, and then adding Romance!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
This book is a twisted fairy tale of Snow White, so I needed a heroine who has Snow Whites characteristics: loyal but maybe a bit naive. Trina has a lot to learn—she's not one of those insta-heroines who is already super confident and strong. She has to grow.
When it came to her love interest, I wanted the huntsman to be the hero of the story. I had to wonder—what would drive a man to betray his queen? I came up with Logan: who's been torn between two warring factions of fae his entire life, and whose loyalty isn't to the queen, but to his family and to the queen's rebellious son.
Sudden light burned into Logan’s face and his eyes flinched shut. He forced a shaking arm up and tried to remember where he was. Cold seeped into his aching body from the uneven stone floor as he hid from the torchlight, staggered at the realization that he was alive. Weak, wobbly, and defenseless. But alive.
A heavy hobnailed boot kicked him in the side. “Here ‘e is sir.”
He groaned and curled into a ball, peering up through long, matted and tangled hair at a heavyset, chuckling troll with only one working eye.
“I got ‘im out of the hole yesterday, but ‘e’s still not in good shape.” Another rusty laugh came from the troll. “But I guess that’s to be expected after fifteen year’n the hole.”
Fifteen years. Had it been so long?
Logan barely heard the troll’s rambling dissertation on oubliettes, prisoners, and rates of death. Had he been in hibernieth, the elvetian form of stasis, for fifteen years? What had happened to his friends and family? What had happened to the prince between now and the day their world had collapsed? The day he’d been stuffed into his tiny damp prison.
He pushed up on burning arms, collapsing in a panting heap. The troll laughed and kicked him again. Logan lay on the hard stone mentally apologizing to his clan and liege for his weaknesses. He had no strength to face whatever death was to come. His fate was sealed.
“Is this the best you could do?” A sharp male voice cut into Logan’s ears, too used to the sound of silence. “He doesn’t even look like a lord, let alone the murderous Huntsman. The queen thinks he’s a fricking miracle worker.”
“Nope. No way.” Another chuckle wheezed out. “If you send me down a healer, might be we could get ‘im fixed up by afternoon, good as new. Then the queen can do with ‘im as she likes.”
“Humph” came from beyond the glare of the torches. Then a heavy sigh. “All right. I’ll send someone. Fix him up.” The voice curled in disgust. “And be sure to wash him. He reeks.”
“Yes, sir.” The troll grabbed Logan by one arm and dragged him across the floor. He hummed a tuneless something that screeched into Logan’s ears but couldn’t cover the sound of Logan’s shoulder joint popping out of place.
Pain ripped through him. He struggled to stay conscious and ignore the excruciating messages shrieking in his arm from being hauled like a sack of grain along the rough stone. The troll dropped him, flipped through a ring of keys, and unlocked an ironbound door. Logan tried to make stiff muscles work, managing only to scrape and bang his limbs on the doorframe as the troll seized him and shoved him into the cell. He landed hard, his face grinding into the slimy stones. Curling instinctively into a ball, he managed to protect his gut from the last hard kick of the troll’s boot landing on his dislocated shoulder.
His lungs seized up, his vision went black, and his head exploded into bright white stars.
The cell door clanged shut.
He sucked in slow aching breaths as the heavy footsteps receded down the corridor and reminded himself that he’d be out soon. And then he’d face the queen.
Fifteen years in this hell-hole and the bitch thought he’d bow to her wishes.
He worked at unclenching his muscles. First his fists, then his jaw. Then each sore and aching muscle until he could sit up, his left arm hanging at an awkward angle. He guessed he wasn’t as ready to die as he’d thought. His body might be in terrible shape, but his mind was still sharp. He’d do what he had to do. Kill, cheat, steal. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t crossed lines before.
But this time…
This time he would take down the Faerie Queen of the Black Court. No matter the price he paid. He reached up with his right arm, got a good grip on his left triceps and pulled. The shoulder ground and popped back into place, and Logan passed out from the pain.
Clean, mostly healed, and doing his best to hide his exhaustion, Logan exited the dungeons. He strolled as casually as possible to the first solid patch of sun and lifted his face to the warmth. Closing his eyes in ecstasy, he breathed a prayer of thanks to the goddess. She must still favor him and his cause, despite his misbehavior, or he would never have gotten out of the queen’s oubliette.
His skin soaked up the heat of the sun like a sponge soaking up a fine wine, but the heady pleasure of it stopped short of reaching the icy cold that lay inside his bones and threatened to never leave. He was out. But not free.
“So, she released you,” a low vibrant voice said behind him. His knees went weak in a surprising rush of relief. He turned, squinting his still sensitive eyes at the shadow detaching itself from the tower’s stone walls and becoming the form of a beautiful young man with ebony hair and soulful dark eyes.
“Solanum,” Logan said. “You’re here.”
The young man swept low into a bow, and when he rose, his eyes glowed deep red before flashing back to black, so fast anyone else would have thought it their imagination. But not Logan.
“And where else would I be, master?” The familiar mocking edge of the puca’s voice was razor sharp. “I am your family’s faithful servant, you know.”
“Good. I’ll need you.” Logan threaded his way through the crowded courtyard filled with fae who worked at the prison. Busy Tuathans, dressed in everything from fine seventeenth-century brocade vests to expensive suits and ties, raced back and forth on the business of the Black Court. Large lumbering trolls, the queen’s favored jailers, smacked smaller winged faeries and gnomes of all sizes out of their way. Logan avoided them all and headed for the ornate metal gate that was the exit into town. He didn’t look back. He knew the puca would be right behind him.
“I thought you might need me.” Solanum shadowed close behind, sliding through the crowd with ease and working it like a professional. Winking at those who gave the pair admiring looks and likely evaluating which ones would taste the best.
Logan shook his head. Pucas were rare, hunted nearly to extinction eons ago. He’d never seen another besides Solanum. If the crowd of fae only knew that the docile sexy human servant at his heels was really a creature with the ability to destroy all of them with a single breath—they’d be running for their lives.
“What’s it to be?” Solanum asked. “Are we finally searching for the prince? Are we rousing your mother’s family to war? Are we sabotaging the Black Court with fire and brimstone explosives?”
“No.” Logan turned down an alley heading through the cobbled streets and aimed straight for the town gate that led into the open lands of Faerie. He kept silent until they were far from the prison town, out in the wild fields close to the creeping mist of the outlands where the reality of the queen’s domain was weak, and no one would overhear. “She merely wishes me to kill a few witches.”
“And that’s it?” Solanum’s eyes glowed. “After she took your position, destroyed your life, and imprisoned you in that rat infested hole, you’re going to lick her boots and kill for her?”
“If I don’t, she’ll have me back in the hole before another night.”
“And if you do?”
“She’ll release me forever.” He turned away in a vain attempt to conceal his shaking from the puca.
He sure as hell didn’t believe the queen, but it didn’t matter. He had to play her game, for now, or go back into the oubliette. And he was never going back into the oubliette.
“Well, then.” Solanum danced a little jig at Logan’s side, sending tendrils of mist flying. The mist rose, morphing into a vague humanoid shape that wove and danced with the puca for a few steps before dissolving back into the ground. Solanum shimmered, his body dissolving into black mist that reformed around red eyes into the shape of a tall black stallion. He pulled back his lips, revealing sharp teeth in a wicked horsey grin.
“I’m all for death and destruction, even something as weak as witches,” the puca said. “Where do we go?”
Logan whistled out into the potential of Underhill. Nothing happened. A fierce anxiety clenched his muscles, then he relaxed, as out of the coiling mist his pack of giant red hunting hounds swarmed. Emotions back under control, he turned to the puca and said, “Wyoming.”
Trina raced out the door, forgetting again about the broken bottom porch step. The rotting wood gave under her foot and she hit the dirt hard, landing on her hands and knees. The heavy duffle bag she’d been carrying, swung down and slammed into her arm. It tipped open, scattering sacred ritual tools, candles, and incense into the dirt.
She swallowed back forbidden tears, sat up, and brushed off the tiny rocks embedded in her flesh.
She didn’t have time for this.
Scrambling around in the dirt and weeds, she grabbed the precious tools, tossing them like discarded toys into the duffle. Why hadn’t the goddess Gifted her with time manipulation? Then she wouldn’t have to worry about all this crap.
Ignoring the gorgeous dusty golds and ambers of fall in rural Wyoming, she hauled the loaded duffle up the rapidly darkening hill. Something was coming to the peaceful valley. Cassie had dreamed it, and even if her dreams were subject to interpretation the meaning had been clear. Tonight at sunset, the queen’s dog would descend.
Whatever the hell “queen’s dog” meant.
Sometimes, it took more talent than a whole family of witches to figure out the symbolism of Cassie’s visions. Whatever creature the Faerie Queen sent tonight didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was the last of her family was safe, speeding away in the ancient avocado van.
Doubt quivered low in her belly. The trap spell required more knowledge and power than she possessed, but she had to try. She didn’t know if they’d have another opportunity to grab one of the queen’s scouts before reinforcements arrived. It was all up to her. They needed information and they needed it soon—before they ran out of places to run.
She reached the point where the rocks began, near the old cottonwood at the entrance to the sage labyrinth. An exact eighteen feet across, the sacred three-times-three-times-three, and barely hitting two and-a-half feet tall, it had taken much of her green talent to get it to grow into the classic winding spiral walk used for meditation and spells. No longer the place where she and her cousins had come for spiritual practice, the stubby double spiral of green and its small center circle would have to change gears from sacred meditation spot, to the place she made her stand.
Trina swallowed her fear and reluctance down, dumped her duffle, and stripped off her clothes. A hard gust of the ever-present Wyoming wind shook her and the newly bared skin of her belly shivered. Dread trailed chilly fingers down her spine.
She caught herself checking over her shoulder, finding nothing but empty landscape. If there were any other way to do this besides bare-assed-naked, she would. But cotton was a downer, it dampened magical fields almost as much as wool. And tonight she had to be unfettered, able to draw as much power as she possibly could. She would need it all.
As soon as the goblin, halfling, or whatever, was in her trap, her clothes could go back on. Then she’d tackle the interrogation and be gone before the big guns arrived. Trolls, ogres, a horde of goblins, no, she’d be long gone before any of those arrived to do the actual killing.
Trying not to rush her steps, the wind lashing dirt against her bare skin, she headed to the right—sunwise—and walked the perimeter of the small labyrinth.
North, east, south, west. She set candles into lanterns at the four corners and lit each one with a prayer to Danu. With each step, apprehension uncoiled in her stomach, radiating out and shaking her hands until it was near impossible for her to light the last candle.
She shoved her anxiety back into her aching stomach and pulled a white-handled athame out of the duffle. Breathing deep, she moved the ritual knife—sharp double-blade point up—between her breasts. Energy skidded across her skin. Small hairs on her body rose and her nipples puckered tight.
Time to begin.
Earth magic throbbing under her feet, Trina took the first step into the labyrinth to walk the outer circle and set the wards. Her Gift opened wide. The darkening valley glowed magical colors as the earth’s swirling energies, the soft green of growth and the rich brown of decay, flowed up her legs and into her solar plexus.
She used her body, her anger, and her fear. Anger at the Faery Queen for the constant harassment and extermination of her family and her tribe. Fear of what came next, what might be riding on the coattails of the sunset.
Her body pulsing with power, she paced deeper and deeper into the labyrinth, static lifting her long black hair into a crackling wild nimbus. She pulled and twisted the vibrant orange and red of her anxiety into the alchemy of the earth’s brown and green energy, weaving them together into an invisible net.
Each measured step layered power into the fabric of her spell. Each movement of the athame directed the energy where it needed to go. Just as darkness dipped its toes into the valley, she turned the last curve into the double spiral’s center.
Her rage and fear coalesced into the final strands of the spell leaving her shaking and exhausted as the last of the afterglow faded from the sky, a stunning show of deep purple on grey. A sonorous quiet descended. No birds, no coyotes. Just the wind sending small trails of skittering leaves through the labyrinth. Prickles of anticipation trembled on her bare spine.
It would be here soon. It was coming fast. And it was coming for her.
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy Hunted On Amazon
Have you read this book? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!