At the Edge of Desire - Book cover

At the Edge of Desire

Ellie Sanders

Age Rating


Part of the Jewel in the Crown Universe

I am a rare thing. A dangerously rare thing. In a world where kings and warlords have the power to meld the air around them, I alone have the power to seduce, to beguile, to drive men incandescently mad with lust. My species has been hunted, used, and mistreated for so long that no one believes we still exist. And yet I do. When my home is destroyed, I am sold at auction as a spoil of war. No one knows what I am, what my true nature is, and I must do everything in my power to hide it. To conceal it. To keep it from them. Only my secret gets exposed, and the entire world discovers what I am. And now I am caught up in a battle of wills between a sadistic warlord and a king, who might, if I dare to hope, just be my salvation.

Age Rating: 18+

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Chapter 1: Spoils of War

The Call of the Siren

Though there be danger above the waves,

Beneath them there is none.

The ocean hides the silent graves,

Where the wants of men are done.

The beautiful spirits of the deep

Hold their rapture there;

And there live those they cannot keep,

Yet still men still seek them there.

Content, the siren resides in rest

Beneath, in her own blue sea.

The ocean solitudes are blessed,

With her wanton tranquility.

The siren sings her seductive lilt,

Luring men with her call.

She beguiles them with her beauty

And in her loving arms, they find their downfall.

Down she calls, and down they go,

Though never to return

But peaceful sleep is ever there,

Drowning in the dark below.

You thought that you could own her,

You thought that she was yours.

But she has shown herself the stronger,

While you lie dead on the ocean floor.


They’re going to find out.

That’s the thought that keeps going round and round in my head.

These humans are going to discover my secret. They’re going to realize what I am, and when they do… I shudder at the thought because I know what that means, what it spells for my future.

There will be war.

A bloody, horrific war, just like every time one of my species is discovered.

I rub my eyes, ignoring the way the metal restraints tear at my skin.

This place was my home, my refuge. I’d hidden here for so long that I almost fooled myself into believing I was safe. That my destiny would not be like the rest of my family’s, that my fate would be different.

But as I look around, as I stare at into the darkness that I’ve been caged in, I know I can’t pretend anymore.

They’re going to find out. It’s just a matter of when.

Around me, I can hear the whimpers and cries of all the other women. The others they have caught. There are almost twenty of us in total. All caged, all captive.

I’d tried escaping. We all had. As soon as the castle had fallen and the king was dead, we’d fled, but they caught us anyway. Caught us and threw us into these cells like we were animals.

I take a long, deep, rattling breath, trying to control my emotions, trying to ease the racing panic inside myself.

King Rufus had kept me here, in this castle, safe and protected for so long. Only he is dead. And now there is no safety for me. No protection.

Nothing but the prying eyes as the men start to stalk through, staring at us all, inspecting us.

We are going to be auctioned.

The spoils of war, they call it. And these men are here to get a good look before we are paraded out on a hastily built stage for the bidding.

Beside me, Princess Amera cries. I can see her silent tears falling down her cheeks despite the furious, defiant look on her face.

I shut my eyes and turn away, curling up, making myself so small I hope no one will notice me.

But they do anyway. They kneel down, leering, making comments as if to goad me into some sort of reaction.

And when they finally go, the silence they leave is deafening. As if all of us are too afraid, too petrified to make a sound.

All we can do now is wait as one by one we are yanked from the cages and hauled out into the bright lights of the corridor beyond.

“I’m so sorry,” Amera whispers beside me.

It’s just the two of us left. We were never that friendly before; in fact, I’d go so far as to say she hated me. She saw me as a rival for her father’s affection, but suddenly, it all felt so trivial, so futile.

“Don’t,” I say quietly. “This wasn’t you. You didn’t do this.”

“My father should have submitted,” she states.

“Stop, Amera,” I say, turning to face her, but the door opens, and we both fall silent as the horrific echoes of the man’s footsteps sound around us.

Each sound reverberates through me, and when he comes to a stop, I know it’s me he’s after.

He opens my cage and yanks me out as I do my best not to fight, not to cry, not to do anything. I have to play along. I have to pretend for as long as it takes because it’s the only way I can keep myself safe.

I have to act like a human girl. And right now, every human girl around me is petrified.

He drags me to what feels like a holding room. After all the days of darkness, the lights are so bright that they hurt my eyes and I’m forced to squint.

I know beyond this is the stage, with all those men. I scowl, looking around, meeting the eyes of a girl who is watching me intently.

The man ties a leather collar around my neck. A small number hangs off it, like a dog tag, and then he pushes me forward, closer to her.

She is like me, I realize, at least almost like me. She’s a nymph; half human, half magic.

She smiles, nodding for the man to release me, and I stand, shivering under her seductive gaze.

Fuck, this girl is dangerous; this girl is going to strip me down to my most basic instincts, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

She steps forward, raising her hand to touch me, and I flinch as the fear inside my chest becomes uncontrollable.

Does she know what I am? Can she see it? Can she sense it? If she does, I’ll be done for. I’ll have so much more to fear than just the lecherous men beyond the curtain.

“Relax,” she says.

I shake my head, snarling, but she just tuts, brushing her fingers against my cheek, and I melt as her magic seeps into me. I can no longer fight. I can no longer think.

My mind goes blank and my fear dissolves, and, worst of all, the creature deep inside me stirs.

The girl smiles almost secretively as if she knows what has happened inside me, and then, she takes my hand, guiding me out as the curtains open in unison.

I’m in the Great Hall. Or what is left of it. The stage is surrounded by them, the warlords, the kings, and the knights who have taken this castle and slain King Rufus.

But I don’t see them. I can’t see anything but her. This raven-haired girl in front of me.

She turns, saying something, speaking to her audience, and they shift in their seats. I look at them then, seeing the desire in their eyes, and it matches the deep want of the thing inside me.

The creature I’ve kept at bay so long. The creature I have beaten into submission. Only now, she is alive, she is awake, and she is ready to live again.

The girl steps forward, right up to me, and I shake my head, taking a step away, wanting to run, wanting to flee, but her hands are on me and her magic is in me before I can take even one step.

I am trapped. Caught in her web.

She pulls my dress from my shoulders and I vaguely register it falling to my feet, though I feel the cool air around me, giving me goosebumps all over.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” the girl says.

I flush under her gaze as her magic overrides all my thoughts, all my fears…everything.

All I can feel now is an incandescent desire permeating through every cell of my being.

Her lips brush against mine, and I gasp as her tongue forces itself inside my mouth. I want to pull back, to push her away, but her magic is too strong, and the creature inside me is starting to take over, consume, and dominate me.

“Don’t fight it,” she says quietly before leading me over to a table, and like an obedient dog, I walk.

Somewhere, a man is talking, but I don’t hear his words; my focus is on her, the girl in front of me, and the creature inside that is ready to surrender entirely to whatever she wants to do to me.

“Please…,” I manage to stammer, but I’m not sure if I’m begging for help or begging for her to touch me again.

She kisses me, more urgently, and my body responds as if someone has lit a match and I am on fire.

She reaches around, unhooks the clasp of my corset, and as it falls, she places her palms on my breasts, and the creature inside me is set loose.

It screams in my head, stretching, taking over my body, and for a moment, I lose all control, all meaning.

The girl twirls my hardened nipples and I groan.

“Good girl,” she mutters, but I don’t hear her words.

The creature in me is loving every minute of this, wanting more, wanting to be used, wanting to be touched, needing it after being in the cold for so long.

The girl pushes me onto the table, and as she straps and shackles my hands and legs, I become aware that I am naked, exposed, but I can’t remember when it happened.

My breath catches and my body shivers as I struggle to get control.

She turns the table slowly from right to left, and the men lean in, getting a good look at what they could purchase. My legs are spread wide and my pussy is exhibited for them all.

I shut my eyes, trying to focus, but her magic is too strong, and the creature inside me is surging, desperate to take over.

The table stops. The girl climbs up beside me, and, as her lips find mine, her fingers begin sliding down my body, teasing, playing, titillating for all the men watching to enjoy.

I don’t want her to do it, I want her to stop, to get off me, but the creature wants it; it wants it all. It groans and my mouth lets out a long, low moan as her fingers slide between my inner thighs.

The man’s voice rings out again and some of the crowd murmurs, but my attention is gone, my struggle is over, and I lose myself as she starts sliding her fingers in and out of me, making my body hum with a growing expectation.

I know I am wet; I can feel my body responding, writhing as her magic and the creature’s combine.

Her thumb moves to massage my clit, and I shake my head, trying to stop it, trying to stop her, but she simply tuts and pours more magic into me as her fingers begin to send shockwaves through my body.

My heart is racing, thumping in my chest so loudly, almost drowning out the screaming voice in my head as I desperately try to fight, but the creature has full control in this moment.

And it’s letting this girl do whatever she wants.

I feel my eyes wet with tears as the orgasm hits me and I scream, writhing against the wood, pulling at the shackles that hold me down.

When I’m done, she gets off, bowing to her audience, and I lay sprawled, used, and still panting on the table for them to leer at.

The magic is gone.

The creature is gone with it, and I am more than aware of where I am and what has happened.

And yet I am powerless to do anything, to even cover myself as the auction begins and the men start bidding.

It goes on for an eternity, the noise, the shouts, the absurd price they are willing to pay for me.

I shut my eyes, trying to pretend I’m anywhere other than where I am.

But when I do, I see him, King Rufus, with the pain in his eyes as he lies dying, and I blink, fighting back the tears, determined not to cry in front of all these men, these monsters.

The hammer slams down and I jump, flinching in my shackles.

It is done.

I am sold.

One of them has just bought me.

I look around, trying to see who it is; not that it will make any difference, but something in me, some small, desperate part hopes that whoever it is, they will at least be kind.

I guess I’m a fool to hope that two humans could be like that, that another could treat me as Rufus did, and yet I hope all the same.

A man stands and walks over to collect his token that matches the number around my neck. I can feel his eyes lingering on me, and I stare back, forcing myself to meet his gaze.

And what I see makes my stomach drop with fear because, somehow, I know this man will not be my savior.

He will not be kind. He is going to hurt me. He is almost certainly going to enjoy doing it.

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