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Tradition can really put a damper on wanderlust.
Ember has come of seelie age, however, the spirited heir of the Spring Fae Court hasn’t chosen a mate yet. Per the court’s ancient custom, it’s time for her to run the Springfest Sprint! The males are ready to claim their mates, and many have their sights on the elusive princess. But she’s got a plan…
Hide until this nonsense is over.
It’s not foolproof or typical of the feisty fae, but it’s better than getting bound to a terrible kisser, a pompous bragger, or really… anyone. When she runs into a male who ruins her hiding spot, she has to decide if he’s an enemy or ally.
If you’re looking for plot, setting, and action, with a touch of dark romance and steamy moments, all packaged in a two hour read, then welcome to the Springfest Sprint! Tropes you will find: forced proximity without decent clothes, spicy faerie fae, secret royalty, mate race, fight against tradition, enemies to lovers, misunderstood hero, fae/faerie lore, polyamory, fated mates, fun best friend, and lots of sneaking around.
With my mother’s announcement, I start out at a slow pace past the attentive hunters. The other prey falls behind me like I’ve started a human jogging club. When we squish together to enter the rocky ravine, and females crunch together, arguing for more space, I’m even more appreciative that I shoved my way to the front. As soon as we pass through, I yell, “Good fortune to those who wish for it,” and dash left toward the river, listening to the others mumble and clop noisily in all directions. Twenty flutters into my sprint, silk tangles around my quick legs and I halt too late, tumbling to the forest floor with a screech as my wings try desperately to break free from the bindings. “We’re not meant for running,” I grumble, staggering to my feet. Especially not in too-long panels of silk.
My knees leak crimson, and I shake my head. Bleeding will not help me hide. I need to get to the water. Tying the silk panels together, I fashion something close to a silky diaper—maybe that will deter the hunters as well—and get back to my escape plan. Has it been forty flutters or forty-five? I finally find what I’m looking for, leaping from rock to rock as I close in on the river.
Some don’t pay attention to our territory, leaving it to the work of the gentry and army, but I studied these woods and this stream until it formed a detailed map in my mind. Now, I move closer to what I can only hope will hide me well enough for the others to be claimed first. It’s definitely been fifty flutters, and I waver between sticking to the trees and underbrush so I have coverage or dashing along the rocks so my steps are silent.
A distant scream stops me in my tracks, and then a jumble of yelling takes over. I run with renewed fervor, sticking to the coverage of trees, because whatever scuffle is unfolding won’t last long enough. A buzz of wings sounds and I throw myself against a tree, trying desperately to ease my heaving lungs. The sound halts, and a tree branch creaks to my right. This is where someone who was panicking would run, but I’d be caught four steps into a sprint. I dig my fingers into the bark and slowly blow out the air from my burning lungs. There’s another buzz, and for a moment, I hope they’ve flown away, but one speaks.
“Have you seen Quartz?” Stone has to be only a tree over. Too close.
“Nah. My eyes are set for one.” Jasper’s voice makes me grit my teeth. Go, please. Leave.
“That little tart is trouble, and you know it.” Stone’s voice is quietly conspiratorial.
Hey. I cut my eyes in his direction, but don’t dare to move.
Jasper chuckles. “It’s worth it.”
I roll my eyes. That says a lot. Not she’s worth it, but it—my title and status. That’s all Jasper has ever been interested in.
“Well, I doubt the little princess would have made it this far already, nor would she come here. Too close to mud and stream muck for her precious self.”
I can count myself fortunate that Stone isn’t interested, though it’s hard for me to stay still instead of turning around and giving him the what for, the peephole.
“You’re probably right. Maybe she’s in the fields.” Jasper gives a disgruntled hum, and two sets of wings flutter off.
I rescind the peephole insult. Stone can lure Jasper away anytime. Keeping still and calm for another long moment, I listen to the sounds of the forest: birds, distant buzzing, and there are definitely moans coming from the west. Two are out of the game, it seems.
Pushing off the tree, I step into a run, wincing at the slight crunch of last year’s plant remains between the clumps of fresh growth. The creek comes into sight and I grin. Then I screech as I’m tackled, landing hard amongst a bed of daffodils.
Winding through the maze of boulders is far easier than running, and every sound—from seed pods clacking together to cricket chirps—bounces off the stone, echoing a sweet song of aloneness. The nervous knot in my chest loosens, and I breathe as deep and fully as I can with my wings bound.
Here I will wait. I lean into a rocky nook. Not the most comfortable hammock ever, but I’ll live. It will only be a few hours…I think. They’ll give up and find the others. I should have probably grabbed a berry or four to tide me over until the feast.
With a sharp clack, a beak pecks just left of my hip, and I roll away from the attack, glaring up at the starling aiming for me again. “I am not a bug, you horrid be—”
The next peck would stab through my forehead if I didn’t drop between the rocks. Balling my fingers, I focus to prevent releasing a lightning ball that would spill feathers as the seed-brain startled but possibly be a beacon to my hiding spot. Looks like I’m not getting any sunshine or fresh air while I wait out the hunt.
Following the narrow path downward, I drop onto a solid dirt ground that rumbles with the sounds of water underneath. I like this little cave. I’m not sure anyone else knows of it since no one has mentioned its discovery, but I’m hoping they’re not like me. I didn’t want to share the quiet solitude and calm pool of water that’s tucked into the corner. It’s hard for my eyes to adjust to such little light, but I follow my feet to the edge of the pool and tug at the top straps of my silks. How long would they take to dry if I washed them here?
There’s a hum in the dark, then a deep chuckle as I look around, trying to see into the shadows.
“You look rather rough, tiny Fae.”
To Hecate with the magic push, I launch a light ball toward the amused, unfamiliar voice.
Georgie Monroe is an author of sassy erotica romance. Born on the southern east coast, she’s a firm believer that mac and cheese solves nearly any problem and that spring weather means the day’s outfit will consist of seven layers. She’s terribly optimistic and will douse anyone around her in “it’s going to work out” sparkles. And she loves to write all the juicy parts of relationships between a variety of people so that her readers can enjoy stepping into the lives of fun, sexy, and sometimes highly flawed people who deserve a well-earned happily ever after.