★★★★★ I didn't want it to end.

★★★★★ Shanna brings us a darker character in Vincent and she does it beautifully.

★★★★★ Loved it the entire way.

★★★★★ I could not put it down. I read the book in one day. 

Dark Crown Shanna Handel Ecover.jpg

“Come, Bella. I want to dance with my bride.”

He stands, offering me his hand.

And once again, I take it.

Rising from my chair I feel the wine. It’s done its job, calming my mind. Relaxing me.

Helping me get through this night.

He leads me through the high arched stone opening to the next room. A band plays on a stage. Couples decorate the floor, dressed so elegantly I ache, just gazing at their beauty. 

He pulls me into him and the music slows, as if even the notes bow to his will.

His left hand holds my right. Our fingers lace together as one. My free hand goes to his shoulder. 

His arm wraps around my waist. Our eyes lock.

And we dance.

We move across the floor as one.

He’s a gifted dancer. He holds me with the confidence of a man who rules the world. We twirl across the floor, all eyes upon us.

And I almost fall for the fairytale. 

Then I remember his rough treatment of my body in the storeroom. The mocking crown. The punishment of disinviting my father. 

This is all a game to him. I’m just a pawn in his hand. And he intends to win.

To what purpose I bring, I’m not yet sure. But I feel, deep within in my soul, he’s got a bigger reason for wanting me. 

For he is a king, and not one to settle with a pretty shopgirl.

I have something he wants. I don’t yet know what it is.

Having my body pressed against his, feeling the heat of his flesh meld with my own, I begin to focus on my greatest fear—the one I’ve not yet succumbed to worrying about: my wedding night, and consummating our marriage.

It’s too much—to think of how he will use my body. How my body, in return, will desire his. My meal suddenly feels heavy in my stomach. The wine has gone to my head.

Pressing my palm to his chest, I stop dancing. “I—I think I’m tired. I may…go to bed now.”

His eyes study my face, harboring a glint of determination. He won’t be this easily put off.

“We’ll go together. The festivities are just beginning. No one will miss us.” He links his arm in mine, guiding me through the ballroom before our wedding cake is even served.

An older gentleman elbows Vincent as we make our way from the room. “Eager groom, eh? Can’t wait till the party’s over to enjoy your bride?” 

Vincent gives me a dark look, a grim smile. “Something like that.”

© 2017 by Shanna Handel