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A Fall of Secrets(A Shade of Vampire,Book 15)(11) by Bella Forrest

“Just so that there are no misunderstandings,” my father said steadily, “my daughter is already engaged. But there are plenty of other worthy women on this island.”

Engaged. It was strange hearing my father say the word. I supposed that it was a good idea to tell the dragons this. It would make my relationship with Caleb seem more fixed and unlikely to be swayed.

“So I have been told,” Theon replied. “But it is a shame… I could have made your daughter very happy.”

There was a tense silence, and even though I wasn’t looking at him, I could practically feel his gaze blazing into me. My cheeks grew hot. Too hot for comfort. I was sure that they had turned a tomato-red color.

I was relieved when my father changed the subject. “Would you like a tour of the island, Theon? Or would you like us to take you straight to your accommodations?”

“There will be time for a tour later,” Theon replied. “For now, my men and I would like to rest. It’s been a trying journey.”

“Of course.” My father turned back to my mother and Caleb, waiting a dozen feet behind us, and beckoned them over. I was relieved when Caleb walked to my side and placed an arm around me.

“Would they prefer to fly or walk?” my mother asked my father.

Jeriad overheard my mother’s question and answered before my father could. “We’ll walk. I know where the mountains are already. They’re not far from here.”

And so we set off through the woods. We walked the whole way in silence. I still couldn’t get used to these men. Even when they were quiet, they exuded an intensity unlike any I’d ever experienced before. It was exhausting just being in their presence.

I was glad when we finally arrived in the clearing outside the Black Heights. My parents walked up ahead and pushed open the door to the inner chambers. I was curious to see what the witches had done with it. Caleb and I waited until all the dragons had entered before we followed them into the mountain. We walked along a winding lantern-lit tunnel in the direction of the storage chambers.

When we arrived in the first one, I gasped. It was totally unrecognizable. It had been fashioned into some kind of grand entrance hall.

Gone was the rough stone floor, and in its place was luxurious black marble. The walls were covered with rich velvet drapes and a grand chandelier hung in the center of the room, casting soft light around the walls. The dragons’ mutters of approval filled the chamber. From here, we exited through the door to our left and entered another tunnel, which soon widened into a broad hallway with carved rosewood doors on either side of us.

“The apartments along this hallway as well as the ones on the floor above us have been especially designed according to Jeriad’s specifications,” my mother said. “We hope you will find them to your liking.”

The dragons began dispersing along the hallway.

“Theon,” my father said, turning to the prince. “We were told that you had special requirements. Your quarters are along here.” My father gestured to our left, toward a particularly large door right at the end of the corridor. We began walking toward it, and Jeriad followed. On reaching it, my father handed Theon the key. Theon opened the door and stepped inside. We followed inside after Jeriad entered behind the prince.

The beauty of the apartment took my breath away. The floors were the same black marble and although the furnishings were simple, they were elegantly done. Everything seemed to be designed to give the feeling of space. Although there were no windows, the high ceilings and minimal design of the place made it feel cool and airy, and all the furniture appeared to be crafted out of iron. We walked from room to room, admiring the job our witches had done and watching for Theon’s reaction. So far he seemed satisfied. We stopped at the last room—the bedroom. The bed was huge, much larger than my parents’ queen-sized bed, and the sheets and pillowcases were made of deep orange satin. Half a dozen cushions were piled up near the velvety headboard.

Theon turned to face us, a small smile on his face. He nodded courteously. “Thank you.”

Still holding my hand tightly, Caleb motioned for us to follow my parents, who were backing away now. We reached the front door with Jeriad and were about to close it behind us when Theon spoke again. He was looking directly at Jeriad. “You may leave now, Jeriad. Get some rest. I will let our hosts know about tomorrow.”

Jeriad nodded and backed away, strolling down the corridor to find his own quarters. We all turned to look back at the prince curiously.

“We don’t want to waste any time in making acquaintance with the maidens on this island.” Theon’s amber eyes roamed toward me once again, making my skin tingle. “So if it’s agreeable, we would like to arrange the introduction for tomorrow. Noon would be a convenient time for a ball. I trust you’ll be able to manage this.”

With that, he bowed slightly once again and closed the door, leaving us all standing and staring at each other in bemusement.

A ball?

I could tell from my parents’ faces that they had no more clue what Theon meant by it than Caleb or I did.

“A ball,” my father murmured.

“A ball,” my mother repeated, frowning. “Rose, do you know what he means by this?”

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I throw balls for dragon shifters every Friday.”

Chapter 9: Rose

“A ball.” I repeated the word again as we left the mountains. Since Theon had closed the door on us, my mother thought it best that we didn’t knock for clarification. We looked around for the dragons who might still be strolling the corridors, but they had all retreated into their rooms and we didn’t want to disturb them in case they were sleeping already.