She opened her eyes and glanced around her. The room was flooded with light, but there was an eerie quite to it all. She pulled at the puffy cotton blanket over her body and shifted in the bed. The mattress was surprisingly comfortable. She didn’t remember her bed being so inviting. She made a face and focused on the room around her. It wasn’t her room at all, but someplace she didn’t recognize.
She sat up and panic flooded her. The room was painted a cream color with flowy curtains and bedsheets that were so soft, she swore they were from a mansion. She shifted her gaze to the door furthest from her. It was white with intricate gold trim. She’d never seen anything so amazing, but it wasn’t real, was it?
The dream she had of someone grabbing her on her way home. It had to have been a dream. There is no way a kidnapper would bring her to such a beautiful place.
“You’re awake,” a husky voice said from beside her. She pulled the blanket up over her and shifted her gaze to him. He was tall. Probably a full head above her. He was wearing a leather vest over a white long sleeved shirt. On his wrists were leather wraps that ran all the way from his hand to his elbow. She wondered what they could be for. She followed them until she was looking at his white shirt and then his partially exposed chest. His pectoral muscles pushed at the fabric as if fighting to escape. Her gaze slid up to his blue eyes. She lingered there before realizing he was speaking to her and glanced at the ground.
“Are you feeling okay?” He said.
“Where am I?” She didn’t answer his question. This kidnapper was too nice and it bugged her.
“You’re in Shara. It’s our home,” the man said. She studied his words. In all her studies, she had never heard of a place called Shara.
“Why am I here?” She continued.
The man laughed. “That’s a question better answered by someone else. “He stood and she could see how tall he really was. “I was just charged with getting you here. We’ll see what happens next.” He turned and walked from the room, closing the door behind him.
She sat there with the blankets pulled up around her for a moment. Dru had no idea where the hell she was. All she knew was she had to get home.
She slid from the bed and walked to the window. The air smelled sweet like roses and tulips. Not something she was used to in the city. When she finally glanced through the window, she gasped. The city was sprawling and unique. There were no cars or streets covered in trash, but people walking and carts pulling goods with horses. She stepped back and shook her head.
“This has to be a dream. There is nothing like this in the real world,” she said to herself. Dru rubbed her face and looked again, but the scene remained.
The door opened and Dru had to stop herself from falling over in fright.
“Good morning, dear. We have a lot to do today.” A small woman dressed in grey and white. She had a dress in her arms. She glanced at Dru and waited.
“I don’t understand,” Dru said.
“Dear, this is your coronation day.” She held out the dress.
“My what?” Dru laughed and leaned against the wall. “I’m just a kid from New York. I was in class one minute and then I woke up here,” Dru said. “I don’t know what is going on.”
“He didn’t tell you?” She shook her head. “Typical of Cole.” The woman sighed and reached for my hand. She sat on the bed and motioned for me to do the same. “This land needs a queen. We’ve been without one for a time and the council choose a new queen.”
“That’s great, but what does that have to do with me?”
“Dear, you’re that queen.”
She sat on the bed as various ladies worked with her blonde locks and pinned them up in an up do a real princess should have. Dru wasn’t paying attention to any of it. All she wanted was to go home and leave this crazy idea behind.
Marta as she learned, was helping Dru to a standing position to put the last of her dress around her waist. She smiled and stepped aside so Dru could see herself in the full-length mirror in front of her. She couldn’t help but smile. The light-yellow fabric matched her skin tone well. It clung to her body on the top in a gold and light yellow corset that shouldn’t be able to go together, but somehow did. Her arms were bare to her wrists where her hands were covered by white gloves. The skirt was full and wrapped around her body from her waist to the floor.
“You look like a queen to me,” Marta said. She raised her hand to shoo the other girls away before taking a step towards me and fussing with a stray curl that decided to fall from the up do.
“I have no idea what I’m doing,” Dru said.
“No one really does.” She smiled. “Just smile and let Cole and the others do the talking.
“You are given the strongest Face warriors to protect you,” Marta said. “They all excel in different ways. I expect you will meet them tonight.”
“You don’t understand. I don’t belong here. I need to get home,” Dru said, shaking her head.
“You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t belong. “Marta grabbed her hand and led her from the room. She didn’t say a word as they made their way down the winding hallways. Dru wasn’t watching anything except the ceiling. It was as magnificent as the rest of the place. The hallway seemed to feel her mood and adjusted accordingly. This time it was a deep red, like a sunset on a summers day. She smiled as she thought about her trip to the west coast last year. The sun always settled in a deep orange red before slipping over the water.
They stopped abruptly and she almost ran into Marta.
“Remember, smile,” she said before pushing open a set of large double doors and giving her a little push. Dru instantly felt like everyone was staring at her. They were, but she didn’t want to think about it. She was paralyzed with fear until a strong arm slid into hers and walked with her. She glanced over a Cole leading her down the row to her seat. He didn’t say a word, but his blue eyes slid to hers from time to time.
He pulled the seat out for her and sat next to her the whole time. Even when she wasn’t sure what to expect next. The Far around her whispered and stared and she just sat there. If she played along long enough, maybe she could find someone that would help her get back to her home.
“Tell me dear, how long have you been in Shara?” A Far woman sitting across from her said. Dru took a bite of her food and thought about how she should answer.
“She’d been staying here since the council announced there was a new candidate for queen,” Cole answered for her.
Dru glanced at him, but he didn’t look at her. She took in his change of outfit, a dark colored button down shirt with the same leather and fabric pants she’d seen him in before. The only difference was his dark hair was pulled back from his face in a neat low ponytail. She didn’t know him, but he was doing a good job of protecting her in more ways than one.
“I wondered what the council would do when the last of the royals were killed so suddenly,” the woman continued. She was dressed in a tight little light blue dress with sewn on beads. They were unlike anything Dru had seen before. They would shimmer with the light when she moved. Her dark hair was pulled into a ponytail with a small braid from the form of her hairline to the ponytail itself. The same beads were intertwined with her braid, making it look as though it sparkled when she moved.
“We all did, but they have found a new spark for the Far throne,” Cole said.
“What part of the court are you from?” The woman continued to press.
Dru slid her gaze from Cole to the woman and smiled. “New York,” she answered. The dark-haired woman crinkled her nose in confusion before taking a bite of her food.
“I don’t know that area. Is it by the ocean?”
“It is,” Dru answered. She glanced at Cole who had a shirk on his face and shook his head.
The rest of the evening went without any other questions or remarks that made Dru feel off about being there, but she still didn’t quite understand everything. It was all so fast. One minute she was walking down a street in New York and the next she is a queen with all the things that go with it. She didn’t want any of it. Her family would miss her by now and she was sure she didn’t want to be a queen.
Cole walked in front of her as they made their way down the same hallway she was so intrigued by earlier. The ceiling was dark like the night sky.
“You did well tonight,” Cole said without looking back to her.
“Well for a human, you mean.” Dru bit her lip. This man was the only one that had looked out for her and she wasn’t being super nice to him.
“Yes, but that’s something everyone will have to get used to, even me.”
“You don’t like me?”
“I don’t know you,” Cole said. He opened her door and Waved Dru inside. She walked passed him and turned back to him.
“I don’t know why you picked me,” she said.
“The council knows,” he answered.
“I would like to speak to them.”
“I’m sure they would love to meet the new queen,” Cole smiled and dropped his gaze. “The rest of your protection order will be here in the morning.”
“The rest of my protection? Aren’t you enough?”
“Sadly, no. There are many dangers here.”
She swallowed hard at the thought of being stuck in a place she didn’t know with dangers she didn’t understand. He seemed to catch her fear and smiled.
“Don’t worry, my queen. We are well suited to keep you safe.” Cole bowed his head and closed the door behind him as he left. Dru stood there in the dark room alone. I bet that’s what the last royal thought, too.
She sat at the window looking down at the people. They weren’t that different from her. She’d done a paper on the Fae when she was in high school. It was part of an assignment on Irish history. Not something she enjoyed all that much, but she wanted a good grade.
She remembered how they talked about their eyes being different than humans and they were taller by far. The part that stuck out to her the most was the myths of them taking women and children into their world. Those people were never heard from again. She bit her lip. Was that what was to become of her?
Her door opened, taking her from her thoughts. She watched as Marta walked through with an armful of items for Dru.
“Today you get to choose what you want to wear,” she said with a smile. All the dresses she held in her arms were fantastic and would suit anyone else, but I wanted something a little more my style.
“Do you have any pants?” I raised my eyebrows as I spoke.
She smiled and nodded to one of the other women working with her. They disappeared through the doorway. “How are you feeling about everything today?”
“I don’t know. I told Cole I wanted to speak to the council. I want to make sure they have the right person. I think there was a mistake,” Dru said.
“There is never a mistake,” Marta countered. “I’m sure Cole will take you to them when they are ready for you.”
“No, you don’t understand. I need to go now. This is a mistake and the longer I’m here, the harder it will be for me to get back to my life,” Dru said.
“What was so great about your life before now?”
Dru didn’t know how to answer that. She’d spent her whole life doing what her family wanted and what she thought she wanted, but none of it was for her. Everything she thought she was supposed to be was for someone else.
The blond woman opened the door with clothing in her arms. She sat them on the bed and walked away.
“Sometimes, destiny has better plans for us than we ever thought could be,” she said with a smile. She looked at the clothing laying in front of her on the bed. It was a lovely light brown riding top with button down front and dark brown pants that were fitted throughout.
“These are amazing,” Dru said. She smoothed the fabric on her legs and shook her head. “How did they know my size?”
“Don’t worry about that, dear.”
She glanced at the door just as Cole came into the room. He was back to his usual clothing, but somehow it looked different on him. Maybe she was just seeing him differently.
“My Queen,” he said with a bow of his head.
“You don’t have to call me that,” Dry countered.
“You are my Queen.”
“Not for long,” Dru bit her lip. “When can I talk to the council and get this all figured out?”
“They will contact me when they are ready to speak with you, not before.”
“So, I just play Fae Queen until then?”
“Yes,” Cole said. “As far as anyone really knows, you’ve been here for months. You need to appear that way.”
“How do I do that?”
“You follow my lead.”
Dru watched as Cole extended his arm. He raised his eyebrows and she realized she was to take it. She slid her arm into his and they started through the door.
“Here, you will never go anywhere without me to escort you. This is for your own protection.”
“You said I would meet the rest of my protection detail today,” Dru said as they walked. They passed through the long hallways and down a winding stairwell before he answered.
“Of course. They all know about you,” Cole said as he stopped and faced her.
“About me being human,” Dru said.
“Yes.” He dropped his gaze.
“They don’t like it, do they?”
“They will do their duty,” he answered.
Dru didn’t say anything else as they made their way through the entry doors and into the courtyard. It was everything she expected it to be. The staircase flared in two directions, taking them down one side of the palace or the other into green grass. She smiled at the idea. Dru had been in the city for so long. She had almost forgotten what green grass looked and smelled like.
The path led them into a maze of tall grass with purple flowers. Dru watched as they swayed in the wind with their long stems pushing well over a foot tall. The delicate buds folded over themselves, there were so many and the smell was something of a mix between sweet roses and lilies. She closed her eyes and took it all in. Everything set her senses ablaze. She had never felt like this before.
“This is amazing,” she whispered.
“This is the royal garden,” Cole said as they walked deeper into the grass.
As they got further, Dru could smell the change in the air and looked at the yellow roses around her. They were bigger than any other rose she’d ever seen before.
“They are the finest in Shara,” a voice said from behind them. Dru turned her head slightly to see who it was. There was a young man with light brown hair and a smile on his face. Cole walked to him and gave him a pat on the arm. They both laughed and Dru realized he must be one of the protection detail.
“It’s been a long time, Ian. Where have you been hiding?” Cole said.
“Anywhere it’s quiet,” he answered. “You know how I feel about cities and being indoors.”
“I do,” Cole said before turning and holding his hand out to Dru. “This is Dru. She is the new Fae Queen.”
Ian looked her up and down before bowing. She took him in. He was vastly different from Cole. His hair was longer, but short on the side. It was pulled back into a ponytail and fell down his shoulder blades. His clothing was somewhat the same with the same leather protections on his wrists and leather pants. He picked a woodsier green color. Rather than the black Cole wore. He had a bow on his back and a wood quiver of arrows on his left side.
“Good to meet you,” Ian said, extending his hand.
“Thank you,” Dru said. She was unsure how to handle this man standing before her. He was nothing like Cole, but she figured he could be just as deadly if he wanted to be. He smiled again and glanced behind her.
“Here come the rest of our little pack,” Ian said. He glanced at Dru and winked.
She smiled despite herself.
Dru turned to see two men walking down the path through the tall flowers. They were big even from this distance and Dru found herself being thoroughly intimidated. As they got closer, she took a step back and ran into a hard body. A hand rested on her shoulder and she felt as ease.
Cole stepped in front of her and watched as the last of their group walked up to them. Both men carried themselves with a bit of arrogance and neither would look at Dru. She felt like she was working with men that fully hated her before they even knew her name. This was not going to end well for her.