Free Novels Online Read Home Old Version

Royally Exposed: A Reverse Harem Fantasy (Her Royal Harem Book 2) by Catherine Banks (1)

Chapter 1

The four males I inadvertently fell for, were all still asleep when I opened the door to my apartment. We had been up until four o’clock in the morning trying to beat the new raid in Ghost 2’s second expansion. My body decided it was ready to get up, and for the first time, the guys didn’t wake when I climbed out of the giant bed Deryn had had custom made for us. It was large enough to fit eight people, side by side, which gave us plenty of room since there were only five of us. The mattress was plush and heavenly, as though lying on clouds.

I set the coffee carafe on my kitchen counter and arranged the four boxes of donuts, one dozen in each, lids opened. Before the smells could reach the guys, I grabbed my two favorite donuts, put them on a plate, and took the cup of hot chocolate I had purchased to the couch and set them all on the coffee table.

“Coffee,” Deryn grumbled, half asleep, as he stumbled into the living room.

“Good morning,” I greeted him and smiled as I enjoyed the view. All of them slept in pajama bottoms and nothing else, their chests and abdomens, rippling with muscle, naked for my viewing pleasure.

He bent down and kissed my cheek as he passed by, mumbling what sounded like good morning.

“You left alone again,” Rhys growled at me half-heartedly.

They had been getting better about letting me out on my own now that I could tap into their powers, if needed, and protect myself. However, their protectiveness as my guards, and lovers, still made it difficult for them to be okay with me going out alone.

“I wanted to surprise you with donuts,” I told him and sipped on my hot chocolate.

He kissed my cheek and slid his hand along the back of my neck. “It’s a good surprise,” he said. Rhys hated mornings more than any of us, but said getting to wake up with me was making him start to like them more. I knew that was a lie, but I enjoyed the flattery.

“Donuts!” Foxfire yelled and raced into the kitchen, grabbing a box, and running over to sit beside me. “Thanks, Jolie,” he whispered and kissed my cheek with a wide smile. Fox loved mornings. Well, Fox loved almost everything. He was almost always in a good mood and his attitude was infectious.

“You’re welcome,” I replied and leaned into his shoulder with mine.

“Did you use a shield?” Nico asked, rubbing his eyes and then stretching to give me a nice view of the muscles over his hips that formed a V and led down to a very fun area.

“No,” I admitted.

Four sets of eyes turned to look at me.

“I couldn’t figure out how to do it with my hands full,” I explained quickly. “But I had scales on the back of my head and over my heart, so if I had been shot at they couldn’t have killed me.”

It had been months since the last time someone had tried to kill me. You would think stopping a war would endear you to those who had been fighting, but some people had been pretty upset about it. Most of them had been thankful. Hell, they’d made me a princess of the dragons, mages, wolves, and elves and given me a necklace with power stored inside from the kings and princes of each race. I still couldn’t believe it.

I touched the necklace and felt the energy thrumming within, a constant reminder of the power I could now use.

“That’s good,” Deryn praised me. “I wouldn’t have thought to use scales on the back of my head.”

“That’s because you don’t have scales,” Rhys said with a grumble. “I’m glad you’ve figured out how to use the scales beneath your hair.”

“It wasn’t easy,” I mumbled. The first few times I had tried to do it, I had covered my entire head with scales and freaked out because I thought I was going to be bald afterward.

“How long can you keep the scales on?” Nico asked around a bite of sugar coated donut.

I waited until I’d finished eating my chocolate bar before answering. “I can hold the scales in a small area, like over my heart, for an hour. If I put it in several small areas, I can hold it for half an hour. I can cover my entire body for fifteen minutes at most.”

“The more you use it, the easier it becomes,” Rhys said. He gulped down a mug of coffee and added, “It will become second nature and you won’t even have to think about it.”

That sounded like a great thing to have the ability to do. Instead of focusing and putting scales in the spot you wanted, you could just automatically have it there. I had seen Rhys use scales when fighting hand to hand with Deryn, and Rhys said it just happened automatically for him.

“What are our plans today?” Deryn asked.

“I’m going to the dragons’ den today,” I told them, waiting for Rhys to blow up…again.

“What?” Rhys asked quietly.

Uh oh. Quiet was bad.

“King Emrys invited me over. He promised me safe passage and that I would be allowed to return whenever I wanted to.”

“They aren’t faeries,” Fox whispered.

“When were you going to tell me?” Rhys asked, his voice a deep rumble from the kitchen where he was standing, his grip on the mug he was holding so tight, that I could see cracks forming already.

“Now,” I said with a smile.

“I told you why I didn’t want you-”

“I’ve been ordered to come by my king,” I said and stood up, shoving the rest of my donut in my mouth.

“I can talk-”

“If I disobey him now, that’s setting a bad precedence with your clan. I can’t disobey him. I’m going. So, you need to decide whether you’re coming with me, or not.”

Without giving him a chance to respond, I hurried to my bedroom to change clothes. Emrys had warned me to wear something comfortable and to bring a jacket. That should have made me nervous, but I knew Rhys would go with me and wouldn’t let anything happen to me. They’d told me before that even though their fathers were their alphas, they could withstand their orders, because they were so high in the hierarchy.

Once I was satisfied with my appearance, I went out to the living room where Rhys sat alone. The others had snuck out without me hearing the front door open or close. Rhys sat on my couch, his arms draped across the back, giving me time to take in his new appearance. He had put on jeans and a t-shirt that said, “Unicorns do exist and they’re tasty.”

Instead of talking, I walked straight to him and sat in his lap, straddling him with my face level with his. “You’re mad at me for leaving this morning,” I guessed.

One of his warm arms snaked around my lower back, and pulled me forward so that our chests were touching.

“I don’t like waking up to find you aren’t in bed with me. I don’t like knowing that someone could have hurt you while I was sleeping. I also don’t like the way you keep hiding things from me.” I opened my mouth to say something, but he squeezed me and then sighed. “However, I know you need to obey my father. I don’t think anyone will hurt you while I’m by your side, but I can’t help but worry. You’re my light, Jolie. I can’t lose you.”

I kissed him deeply and thoroughly, his erection almost immediate beneath me.

“We don’t have time,” he growled and nipped his way down my throat.

“He isn’t supposed to be here until one o’clock,” I told him and ground against him.

“He said he was ten minutes away,” he said and nodded at his phone.

“Then we better hurry,” I said, wrapped my hands around his neck, ground my hips into his, and licked his neck. Rhys’s hot button was licking his neck. One lick and he was ready to go.

Rhys carried me to the bed, stripping his clothes off as he walked. The amount of strength he possessed, to carry me with one arm, while stripping with the other, was a big turn on.

“Later, I’m going to make love to you until your legs quiver so much that they can’t hold you up,” he murmured in my ear and then thrust into me.

My back arched up and I screamed his name. He stretched and filled me perfectly, his strokes perfectly positioned to hit the spot deep inside of me that built my ecstasy. His strokes built the pressure until I screamed my orgasm and tightened around him with my inner muscles.

He growled and covered my nipple with his mouth, flicking his tongue across it with each pump of his hips.

“Yes!” I gasped and matched his hip movements with my own.

“You’re beautiful,” he told me as he loomed above me, up on his arms.

“You’re perfect,” I gasped as another orgasm hit.

“Your ass is perfect,” he growled and flipped me over, grabbing my hips and jerking them upright so that the top of my body was down on the bed and my lower body was up on my knees.

He entered me slowly, grunting in pleasure as he did. He reached down to rub my clit with one hand while he gripped my hips with the other. His fingers moved quickly back and forth and it wasn’t long before I was gripped by not one, but two orgasms.

“Yes!” Rhys yelled, slamming his hips into mine harder and faster.

His phone rang and he growled, but ignored it, leaning forward to grasp one of my breasts while he finished.

We cleaned up and got dressed, making it down to the car just as the driver was getting out.

“Sorry for making you wait,” Rhys apologized, opened the door, and ushered me inside.

“No problem, Prince Rhys,” the driver replied stiffly and got back into the driver’s seat.

“I should have eaten more than donuts,” I grumbled and rubbed my hungry stomach.

“We’ll eat when we get there,” he promised and slid his hand along my stomach.

“Anything I should be warned about before we do get there?” I asked him. His hand was now rubbing my arm, up and down, slowly. It was relaxing me and turning me on at the same time.

“Stay by my side the entire time,” he said. “The females are just as aggressive and possessive as the males, sometimes more so. Don’t turn your back on a dragon, it’s rude and tells them that you think they’re not a threat. Don’t ask to ride any of them. Don’t approach any of them without them approaching you first.”

“Geez,” I chuckled. “This is a super serious clan.”

He nodded. “We can be.”

“Eye contact?” I asked.

“Meet all of their stares. You’re a princess, so we want to make sure they don’t view you as weak.”

“Okay.”

The gates to the dragon’s den were ridiculously high, stretching up so far that if I were standing in front of them, I would have to lean my head all the way back to see where it stopped. They slid open as we approached and the driver took us down the black asphalt driveway. At first, there was nothing to see. Trees and bushes, but no houses of any kind. A half mile later, we finally approached a mansion with two massive dragon statues on each side of the driveway, one wing of each stretched over to create an archway for us to drive beneath.

“Wow,” I whispered as I admired the statues.

“Compliment Dad on those,” he told me. “He loves bragging about the statues.”

We stopped at the mansion where Emrys stood, waiting for us. I hurried out and walked up to give him a hug. “Sorry we’re late.”

“Did he have a fit?” he guessed as he hugged me back.

“A bit,” I admitted and pulled back as Rhys approached.

“Son,” Emrys greeted Rhys.

“Father,” Rhys replied.

“You look well,” Emrys commented.

“You’re not getting out of this with compliments,” Rhys told him and folded his arms across his chest. “I’m pissed.”

Emrys chuckled. “Of course you are.”

“Will we be eating?” Rhys asked him. “We’re rather famished.”

“I have snacks ready,” Emrys said with a nod. “Come on, let’s get this tour started.” He held out his bent elbow and I slid my arm through his. “Did you know that Rhys used to hate wearing clothes. As a child, his mother and nannies used to chase him around the steps here, trying to get him back into clothes.”

“He still hates clothes,” I said with a chuckle.

Emrys howled with laughter. “I suppose some things don’t change.”

“I’m dressed now, aren’t I?” Rhys mumbled.

I joined in with Emrys’s laughter at that comment, but stopped when I saw the beautiful woman standing just outside the door to the mansion. She had the same dark brown hair as Rhys and the same eye shape. She was tall, willowy, and beautiful. Most of all, she’s was intimidating. Something about her screamed at me to run the other way.

Emrys patted my hand, released me, and went to the woman to kiss her cheek. Some of her ferocity diminished at his touch, but not much.

“Jolie, please meet my mate and Rhys’s mother, Adelaide. Adelaide please meet Jolie, Queen of Rhys’s and Princess of the Four Clans.”

That was a lot easier to say than to name each clan. I’d have to remember that.

“So, you’re the human who thinks she’s good enough for my son?” she asked, a snarl on her lips.

“Mother!” Rhys growled.

“No,” I answered immediately. “I don’t think I’m good enough. That’s one of the reasons that I haven’t taken him as a mate.”

Her composure broke and she frowned in uncertainty. “What?”

“Jolie,” Rhys whispered and moved closer to me.

“I’m human. I’m pretty, yes, but I’m not gorgeous. I have no abilities, aside from the ones I inherited from my guards. I have a decent paying job with some job security, but not enough for retirement. My savings is reasonable and I increase the amount every month, something I plan to continue until I retire. I’ll die before Rhys, unless he does something stupid trying to protect me, which I will do everything within my power to prevent. I also have three others who want me to be their mate. I’m not an ideal mate for Rhys. Not by a long shot. However, I love Rhys. I love him more than my own life. I’ve given him opportunities to leave, to free himself from me, but he loves me too. I’m not worthy of him or the others. I’m not and I know it, but I can’t give them up, because I’m selfish.”

Rhys turned me and tilted my chin up, tears in the corners of his eyes. “You are more than worthy of me and are the most selfless person I know.”

“She’s right,” Adelaide said.

“Addie,” Emrys chastised.

“Well, she is. It’s good that you know this. Know this and understand how lucky you are to have Rhys not only give you attention, but warm your bed,” she said and then went inside the mansion.

“Forgive her,” Rhys whispered and kissed my cheek. “She’s overprotective of me. Always has been.”

“That’s because you’re her favorite,” a baritone voice said to my right.

I turned and stared at Rhys’s brother. I knew without a doubt that was who he was. They looked similar, but the symmetry of his face was slightly different than Rhys. He was also taller and larger, something I couldn’t believe without seeing for myself. His jeans looked painted on and his tank top was stretched to its limit.

“I didn’t know you had siblings,” I growled softly at Rhys.

“There are seven of us,” his brother said with a smile and then bowed. “Greetings, Princess Jolie.”

“I’d reciprocate the gesture, but I’m afraid I don’t know your name. Since someone never said he had siblings,” I grumbled. Why had he kept this from me?

“Jolie, meet my younger brother, Andras. Andras, please meet my queen and the Princess of the Four Clans, Jolie,” Rhys introduced us.

I held out my hand to shake Andras’s, but he pulled me forward with it and hugged me. “Handshakes are for acquaintances. You’re family now, Jolie.”

Rhys growled low and took a step forward, but Emrys punched his shoulder and reprimanded him. “She’s perfectly safe with your siblings.”

“He’s not worried about me hurting her, Father. He’s worried I’ll steal her like I did his last girlfriend,” Andras said and took a step away from me. “Don’t worry, I know better than to try anything with this one. You’ve made it clear that you love her.”

“Oh, your brother stole one of your girlfriends? I should hear this story,” I said and smirked at Rhys.

He folded his arms across his chest and glared at me. “My pain brings you joy?”

“Do you wish to have her back?” I asked, smirk still in place.

His arms lowered. “No.”

“So, Rhys was sixteen,” Andras said, instantly launching into the story, and draped an arm across my shoulders as we walked into the mansion. This mansion was even more luxurious than the Elders’. The chandelier above us looked like it was made with real diamonds and not crystals, but I didn’t want to ask for confirmation. The hallways were bustling with activity, but everyone stepped aside as we walked, most bowing to us.

Would I ever get used to this?

“Rhys’s girlfriend was always into me. I tried to tell him that when he first introduced her as his girlfriend, but he didn’t listen. He caught her flirting with me, and me reciprocating, and lost it.”

“You mean Rhys got mad at another female for flirting? So, I’m not special?” I teased and gave Rhys a fake pout.

He rolled his eyes in response.

“Ah, but for you, I think he might challenge me. For her, he just told her to have fun and left.”

“And what happened to this girl?” I asked Andras, sensing they were not still together.

He shrugged. “Who knows? That was more than a decade ago.”

We turned down a hallway and I stopped at the first picture I saw. It was of Rhys and eight others in dragon form posing together.

“That’s the entire family,” Rhys told me.

“This is your mother,” I guessed pointing towards a dragon who looked just as fierce, but less muscular, and had the same piercing gaze.

“Yes. How’d you know?” Andras asked.

“She’s a tad less muscular and her eyes are the same,” I said.

“Which is Rhys?” Andras asked.

Immediately, I pointed to Rhys. “There.”

“That’s pretty impressive,” Emrys said.

“Why?” I asked. “Rhys has distinct markings on his face. There are two small black spots on the edge of his snout.” I reached out and touched the right and left side of Rhys’s nose.

“Which is me?” Emrys asked.

I had never seen him in dragon form, but I looked at the picture and pointed at the one on the far left, the opposite side of the family from Adelaide. “Here.”

“Holy shit,” Andras said. “Which one is me?”

This was harder. I studied Andras’ face and then looked back at the picture. I was having trouble between two of them and finally just admitted it to them. “You’re either this one or this one,” I said and pointed at the two on either side of Rhys. “I think you’re the one on the right, but I can’t be sure.”

“Dad,” Rhys whispered.

“I know,” Emrys whispered back.

“Why do I get the feeling that most people can’t tell dragons apart?” I asked them. “I mean, you’re all different colors.”

“What?” Rhys asked.

“All of you have slightly different mottling to your colors,” I said. “It makes you all different colors despite having the same color scheme.”

“That’s something only dragons are able to discern,” Rhys told me. He looked at his dad and asked, “Do you think it’s another ability from being bonded to me?”

Emrys shook his head. “No, I’ve never heard of anyone outside of a dragon being able to see that much and tell dragons apart without having seen them as a dragon before.”

“Well, you keep telling me I’m special,” I teased Rhys to try to break some of the tension that had built between us. Just one more thing to mark down as odd about me.

“Come, let’s eat,” Emrys said and led the way.

“Am I in trouble?” I asked Rhys softly.

He chuckled and linked hands with me. “No, my queen.”

“I feel like you’ve replaced ‘Love’ with ‘Queen’ just because you know it makes me uncomfortable,” I mumbled.

“I would never do such a thing, my queen,” he replied and kissed my cheek.

“Liar.”

“You’re the liar,” he shot back in a high-pitched tone.

I rolled my eyes at him. “Real mature.”

“I’m rubber and you’re glue-” he said and was cut off by Andras’s laugh.

“You two are adorable,” Andras said.

I looked at the other pictures, all family pictures, and was surprised that there were none of them as children. Did they only leave up the newest pictures? Why not leave up one from each decade?

The dining room we entered was unlike any I had seen before. There was a large table on one side and couches on the other side situated in front of a giant fireplace, the mantle at least six feet tall. The table had silver settings and a full feast.

“Didn’t he say he had snacks for us? This is a feast,” I whispered as softly as possible to Rhys.

“This is a snack for us,” he told me. “You forget how much I eat alone. Now, picture nine of us plus you here. How much food do you think we need for us to have even a snack’s worth?”

That did make sense. The Others ate a ton of food, and ever since I started using their powers, I had begun eating a ton as well. Nico said it was necessary to keep the magic reserve in our body. That they required a lot of fuel to keep the storage going. I asked if starvation would cause the reserves to shrink and he nodded.

“Please, sit,” Emrys said and pulled out a chair for me next to his at the head of the table. I sat and he pushed me in before taking his place. Rhys sat next to me and Andras sat across from me.

“Food!” Emrys bellowed, the silverware and plates shaking briefly from the rumble that felt like an earthquake and tornado approaching at the same time.

“Coming!” a few different voices yelled. Soon, four males and one female came into the room and took seats at the table. The female was a teenager, or very early adult. One of the males was also a teenager, and the other two ranged between Rhys and the teenagers. They were all wearing sweatpants and tank tops, which made me wonder if they had been training. The female and one of the males looked like Rhys and Andras, but the other two looked much more like their mother.

“Oh, a guest!” the teenage boy said happily. “I didn’t know we were having a guest!”

“Quiet,” Emrys ordered him.

The boy didn’t say anything, but he was still smiling wide and practically bouncing in his chair.

“Swear an oath of silence,” Emrys ordered them.

The four newcomers gasped and looked at each other as well as Rhys and Andras.

“Really?” the female teenager asked. She swept her long black, curled hair over her shoulder and studied me. “Is this human pregnant with one of these idiots’ kids?”

I laughed hard, getting a disapproving look from Andras. “I like her already,” I told Rhys.

He smirked. “I knew you would. You two are similar in several ways.”

“Who is she?” one of the middle males asked.

“Obey!” Emrys snapped angrily, his power shooting through the table and making me gasp in pain for a brief moment as it went through me.

“Sorry,” Rhys apologized quickly. “I didn’t realize he was going to do that or I would have shielded you.”

“It’s fine,” I whispered and rubbed my chest.

“We swear an oath of silence on all things to be said henceforth. Our tongues shall not work to reveal the secrets divulged and our hands will fail should we try to bypass words,” all of his siblings said as one.

“I’m sorry, Jolie,” Emrys apologized after giving his children one more hard stare. “I forgot that you would be affected by my powers.”

“I’m fine,” I assured him. “It just stung a bit.”

“Father,” the female whispered. “We swore.”

“Jolie, I’d like you to meet the rest of my children. The impatient female is Rhian. She is the youngest. The fidgeting teenage male is Gavin. He is one year older than Rhian. To Rhian’s right is Mawrth and to his right is Brenin. Children, this is Jolie. Jolie is the Princess of the Four Clans and Rhys’s Queen.”

“Queen!” Rhian gasped. “Why? What? She’s human!”

“Rhian!” Rhys growled. “Show some decorum. Humans are not less than us.”

“When did this happen?” Brenin asked calmly. His eyes were cool and calculating, measuring me in in a way that was slightly unnerving. Whatever weaknesses I had, I was certain he could see them all.

“At the meeting when she returned the necklace to us,” Rhys answered.

“She’s also the other three’s queen, isn’t she?” Gavin asked, his smile still in place. Was he like Fox and perpetually happy?

“Yes,” Emrys replied before Rhys could.

“Are you mates?” Mawrth asked.

“Ew,” Rhian whispered.

“No,” I answered.

“Not yet,” Rhys mumbled under his breath.

“Why is she here?” Mawrth asked.

“I invited her so that she could come see our clan and learn more about us. Also, because I want her to show you something,” Emrys told them.

“Dad,” Rhys groaned.

“They need to know everything about our clan that they can,” Emrys said and I knew that was his way of telling Rhys the discussion was over.

“Let’s eat,” Emrys said. “Jolie will answer your questions after she eats.”

Rhys took my plate and piled it high with food and his siblings watched in silence. As soon as he set my plate down, everyone began scrambling for the food at the same time. Apparently, it was common practice for them to allow guests to get food first. I was perfectly fine with that. The food looked amazing and smelled even better. Roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green beans, brussel sprouts, tri-tip, and some kind of fish were all on my plate.

My stomach demanded it be filled with the food, which turned out to taste just as amazing as it smelled. When I scraped the last food off my plate, Rhys took it and added another roll, green beans, and some more potatoes and gravy. He had been doing things like this a lot recently, knowing what I wanted without me saying it. Obviously, it was the bond, but it felt incredibly one sided since I never knew what he wanted unless it was poking me. Heh.

He set the plate down and then chuckled. “I did it again, didn’t I?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said and patted his hand. “Thank you.”

“It’s not a conscious decision,” he said.

“I know.”

I ate my food, enjoying the buttery goodness of the roll slowly.

“She eats a lot for a human,” Rhian muttered.

“You’ll see why,” Emrys told her. “Make sure you drink that glass of water,” he told me.

I obeyed, chugging the entire glass before wiping my mouth and smiling at him. “Thank you. That was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. Now, let’s go outside,” he said and stood. Rhys pulled out my chair, but Emrys took my arm before he could.

“Even my own father,” Rhys said with a sigh.

Andras laughed and patted him on the back.

We went out a door that I had not seen in the corner of the living room. It led to a rose garden, and just beyond that, a huge fighting arena. A fenced in area large enough for two fully shifted dragons to fight.

“Clear the area!” Emrys ordered everyone.

This time, the order didn’t touch me.

“Thanks,” I whispered, not sure if it was him or Rhys.

“I can direct it if I think about it,” Emrys told me.

“That’s handy,” I said.

“Especially when you have this many children,” he grumbled.

“How do you feel?” Rhys asked me.

“I feel great. Why?”

“He wants you to shift,” Rhys said, meaning his father wanted me to shift forms.

“Dragon or wolf?” I asked.

“You can shift forms?” Andras asked.

Emrys’s orders had been carried out and only the family and I were at the arena now. “Please, show them,” he requested.

Rhys picked me up and jumped over the arena fence in one leap, landing on bent knees on the other side. He set me down and leaned back against the fence.

I walked farther away from him, still not sure of my exact size, and then focused on Rhys through our bond. The bond I had, forked off four different ways, all connected to my heart. I followed the line to Rhys and the magic he carried, which was wild, like Deryn’s, but more fierce, and with a lot more fire.

I closed my eyes and let the change come. When I had finished shifting, I opened my eyes and Rhys walked to me. I lowered my head and he set his hand on my snout. “You’re gorgeous,” he whispered and stroked his hand from my nostril, up over my eye, down my neck, and stopped at my shoulder.

“Holy shit!” Rhian yelled. “She turned into one of us!”

“I’ve never seen scales that color before,” Andras commented. “Can I come in?”

I thought he was asking me, but it was Rhys who nodded. “Yes, you are all welcome to come.”

Emrys jumped in first and walked to me, staring into my eyes. “Even her eyes are different. They’re very similar to yours though, Rhys.”

“How is this possible?” Mawrth asked. “She smells like a human.”

“She is a human,” Rhys explained. “Since she is human, when we made her our queen, she joined our bond instead of us making a true queen’s bond with her. This allowed her the ability to access our powers.”

“Can she fly?” Rhian asked.

“She can, but she isn’t fond of it, yet,” Rhys said with a smirk.

“Can she breathe fire?” Gavin asked.

I huffed smoke out of my nostrils and Rhys chuckled. “Yes, she can.”

“You can shift back,” Emrys told me.

I shifted back and then covered my body in scales. “I can also do this, and this.” This time, I half shifted, a warrior’s shift. I enjoyed Rhys’s equally surprised face, a replica of his siblings’.

“I didn’t know you could do this,” Emrys said and poked at my scales.

“Neither did I,” Rhys growled at me.

I let my body revert and exhaled, tired from using so much energy. “It’s a lot harder to hold,” I told them.

“When did you discover you could do this?” Rhys asked.

“Last night,” I admitted. “On accident.”

“When the boss killed you the third time we tried to beat the raid, right?” he asked.

I nodded. How had he known that? I mean, I know I had cussed up a storm on the mic.

“I felt your anger and thought I felt you more distinctly in our bond, but wasn’t sure,” he admitted.

“I can’t even do that,” Brenin grumbled.

“Can you shift into the wolf warrior form?” Rhian asked.

I nodded. “I can, but I used up a lot of my energy taking the dragon warrior form just now. I need at least five minutes to recover.”

“You don’t need to shift anymore,” Emrys told me.

“So, if one of us takes a human as a queen, they’ll have our abilities,” Brenin said while looking at Emrys.

Emrys nodded. “Yes.”

“So, this was to show us, so that we don’t make the same mistake as Rhys, right?” Mawrth asked.

“No, this is just to let you know this is possible,” Emrys said with a soft sigh. “I swear I raised them to be polite children, Jolie. I blame their mother.”

“This was not a mistake,” Rhys said.

“Sort of,” I whispered under my breath while looking up at the sky.

Rhys growled, but didn’t rise to my bait.

“They are very cynical,” Emrys said. “It is good to understand the negative in everything, or the possible negatives, so you are prepared for all circumstances. However, they should also understand that some things are shown so they understand what happens, not in a negative way.”

“It’s okay,” I told him and smiled at everyone. “I don’t take offense.”

“It doesn’t excuse them from being rude,” Rhys growled at them.

“We’re sorry,” all five of the younger siblings said.

“Come on, let’s show her the rest of our den,” Andras suggested.

“Why did we have to swear an oath of silence?” Rhian asked.

“Because it is not public knowledge that Rhys and the other three princes have a queen. We are keeping it quiet. We don’t want the media finding out,” Emrys told them. “So, you are forbidden from telling anyone. As far as anyone knows, she is simply the Princess of the Four Clans. Understood?”

“Yes, Father,” all six of Rhys’s siblings said.