I am soooooo excited to FINALLY be sharing the exclusive first look of KINGDOM OF SONGS AND CURSES!
This is the sequel to KINGDOM OF SIRENS AND MONSTERS, and it’s the final book in my dual retelling duology of Snow White and The Little Mermaid. I’m sharing the first two chapters with you today (eeeee!) and you’ll get to experience Kendra’s POV for the first time!
Kendra is one of FIVE new character POVs you get inside of this book, though if you’ve read HEART OF STONE AND SEA-FOAM you’ll already be familiar with Melody’s POV. 😉 (Sidenote: I would *highly* recommend reading the HOSAS companion novella before the final book releases if you want all the insights to the story and plot that *finally* come together in this last book!)
I’m keep the other three character POVs under wraps as a surprise for you, but you’ll have to order a copy of KOSAC to get ALL the chapters and POVS. 😊
**Just a reminder, reading these chapters will include spoilers for the end of book one, so if you haven’t already read book one, I’d advise doing that first! (You can pick up a copy here.)
AND, I’ll also have purchase links and details about the pre-order campaign for the sequel at the end of this post.
For now, enjoy the preview for book two!
All of Coral’s worst fears have come true.
Her father is dead thanks to her wretched, siren step-mother, and as a fully transformed mermaid, she’s a prisoner in the Undersea. But turning to sea-foam is the last of her worries when she realizes that her battle with Melody has caused her to inherit the title of Reigning Queen.
Now, with her heart magic twice as valuable, she must tread carefully in her attempts to adjust to mermaid life and reclaim her best friend’s soul from the treacherous Sea of Souls. But Coral soon finds herself in trouble once more, and she realizes that if she’s going to accomplish any of her goals, she may need the help of the very siren step-mother who destroyed her life in the first place…
Lysander’s newfound emotions have been an adjustment.
As tension builds between the kingdoms, Lysander and Coral know they must present a united front against Eugene’s forces—that their bond is the only thing maintaining Coral’s Reigning Queen status, and without it, she won’t survive the Sea of Souls, nor have enough power to dethrone Eugene.
But despite Lysander’s attempts to navigate life as a fully moral being, he can’t help feeling like his relationship with Coral is crumbling. Especially now that Coral’s twin has arrived in Veranis, proving to be everything Coral is not. And though he doesn’t want to admit it, he’s beginning to think that he picked the wrong sister…
Curses will fall, songs will bind, and kingdoms will go head to head in this stunning conclusion to Tara Quinn’s dual retelling of Snow White and The Little Mermaid.
My heart was thundering in my chest as I stared out into the ocean, waiting for Coral’s head to appear in the violent thrashing waves she’d left in her wake.
But she never surfaced.
The longer I stared, the louder my heart seemed to grow. Beside me, Matt called out for her, and Melody was on her knees a few feet away, staring dejectedly at the ground. But minutes passed, and Coral still didn’t resurface.
Before I knew what I was doing, I was moving, ignoring Matt’s cry of alarm. My feet hit the cool water, and I used all my adrenaline to push through the thrashing ocean waves until I was far enough to dive. Salt water washed over my head as I plunged down toward the sandy floor, scanning the space around me, trying to catch sight of a body.
My heartbeat was like a crescendo in my ears now—the only thing grounding me in my desperation as I resurfaced for a gulp of air, then went under again to keep searching. But despite the rays of sunlight beaming into the clear water before me, I couldn’t see her at all.
No… she’s not gone.
I couldn’t register the thought that a current had swept her out to sea. She had to be here somewhere. I resurfaced again to take another breath, blinking away the stinging saltwater from my eyes, but before I could dive again, a hand circled around my waist, tugging me back.
I turned, and Matt was wading beside me in the water, his expression defeated.
“Kendra, she’s gone.”
“No,” I growled, gritting my teeth. I tried to shake him off, but he moved his grip to my arm.
“We need to go back. Your father… he needs you.”
At the thought of my dad’s body lying on the shoreline, I released a heaving breath.
This wasn’t happening.
My mother was long dead. My sister and dad were all I’d had, and now, both of them were gone in the same instant. And Melody…
I strained my neck, turning my gaze toward the shoreline, but the beach was empty. My heart skipped a beat—Melody was gone too.
“Where’s Melody?” I demanded, kicking to stay afloat as rough waves thundered down on us, spraying us with water. Matt turned to follow my gaze. When he realized she was gone, he swore. Clearly, he hadn’t intended for her to disappear.
“Come on.” He grunted. “The last thing we need is for her to sneak up on us and drag us into one of these ocean currents.”
He was right, so we swam back to the beach. As I stumbled onto the warm sand, the cold wind hit me instantly, making me shiver despite the warm day. I slowly walked up to my father’s body and collapsed beside it, unable to hide the tremble of my lips as tears filled my eyes.
And then, like a dam that had burst, I was sobbing. I leaned over his body and clung to him, and I tried not to imagine my life without him and Coral. I didn’t know how I was going to go on alone. How I was going to clean up the mess Melody had left behind.
Matt waited behind me, giving me space. He didn’t speak; maybe it was because he didn’t know what to say, or maybe he knew words weren’t enough in this moment. But he let me grieve for what seemed like hours until finally, he cleared his throat and said, “I’m going to go and get your car so we can take him back to your house. We can’t leave him here.”
“What are we going to do with him?” I sniffled, my voice unsteady. Coral had said that everyone was under Melody’s spell, so there would be no way to organize a funeral. And we couldn’t just bury him without a casket… it didn’t feel good enough…
“We’ll figure it out once we’ve moved him. Where do you keep your keys?”
I told him they should be in a small bowl in our house’s entryway, and he began to jog back up the beach toward the trail that Melody had chased us down only hours ago.
The sun was still shining down on me, and I could feel the heat burning the back of my neck now. But I didn’t care—a numbness had spread through me, making the minutes seem like hours. I was in no rush for Matt to return because I had nowhere to go and nothing worth doing.
A voice called from behind me, and I turned slowly. A figure had emerged from the waves, wearing a navy-blue uniform that was dripping with water. His hair was wet and slicked back, glowing like a coppery-red beacon in the sunlight. He noticed my face and my layered short hair, and faltered.
“Oh… you must be her sister.” He apologized. “I’m sorry… I don’t recall your name.”
It had been years since anyone had mistaken me for my twin, seeing as everyone on this island knew whom we were. I stared bluntly at the stranger, too caught up in my own feelings to process what was happening. Why did he care whom I was? Why was he searching for Coral?
Lost in my grief, I turned back to my father’s body and ignored him. His heavy boots indicated his approach, but he came to stand on the other side of my father’s body. There was a moment of pause.
“I’m very sorry for your loss,” he said finally, his voice quiet. “Coral was desperate to save you both. She must be devastated.”
“Coral’s dead,” I said quietly, the words floating in the air like a haunting echo as I finally met his gaze. The man paled, eyes widening with shock, but he quickly shook his head.
“That’s impossible. The ocean would have responded in turn. She’s connected to it now.”
I frowned at him, a surge of anger sparking at his nonsense. “What are you talking about?”
He ran a hand through his hair, planting his other hand on his hip as he said, “Well, I felt a bond snap into place between her and King Lysander right after he sent me to check on her. She must be alive because that bond hasn’t broken yet. The entire Undersea felt it. It’s ancient magic that only spreads through the waters when a Reigning Queen steps into power.”
I buried my head in my hands, trying to make sense of the information. A Reigning Queen?
Since I’d woken up, back in my house, I’d only been able to grasp bits and pieces of what was happening. I vaguely understood that Melody had been controlling everyone somehow… that she’d intended to kill our dad. And I’d seen Coral do something with the waves, twisting them like a funnel to throw Melody back to shore. And Melody had mentioned Lysander—Coral had been with him while I was asleep—but it still didn’t make sense. Why had I been asleep for so long?
“Didn’t she tell you anything?” The man faltered, gauging my reaction.
“There was no time to explain,” I replied, but now my heart was racing again. If there was a possibility that Coral was still alive somehow… I needed to see her. I needed my sister.
Before the man could speak again, his gaze landed on something behind me. I turned and spotted Matt skidding down the sandy slope toward us. My car was parked as close as possible, near the palm trees along the road.
He noticed the man and slowed his pace. “Who’s this?” he asked, shoulders tensing as he watched him warily.
I looked back at the man, waiting for an explanation.
“I’m Leif,” he introduced, with a small smile. “King Lysander’s army commander.”
The tension left Matt’s shoulders, but he shook his head in disbelief.
“Right. You’re that Undersea being Coral told me about. She said you’d be nearby if we needed you. Guess she was wrong about that.”
There was a bitterness to his words, and Matt massaged a gash on his upper arm for emphasis. When I turned back to Leif, he was frowning at both of us.
“My men were nearby and ready. Didn’t they step in to help?”
I scoffed, earning a quick glance from him, and that was answer enough. Leif’s gaze grew more urgent now. He began scanning the beach.
“What happened, precisely? Where did Coral go? And what happened to Melody?”
“If we knew, we wouldn’t be sitting around here, would we?” I snapped back, and Leif seemed taken aback.
Matt walked over to stand beside me now, with a resigned expression. His ponytail had come undone in the fight, but now he was tying his locks back again into his usual style. He focused on Leif and said, “We can discuss all of this in a bit. But first, we need to move Mr. Klassan’s body. Will you help us?”
Leif was glancing back at the waves now, eyes filled with worry, but he nodded after a moment. Matt lifted my dad’s shoulders, Leif took his legs, and together, they heaved him toward the car. It was harder once we reached the slope, and they both grunted from the effort.
I could barely watch as they finally got my dad into the back seat of the car, limp and lifeless. Worse yet, he took up the entire space, so Leif had to sit in the back with Dad’s legs over his lap. The car rumbled to life as Matt turned the key, which earned a yelp of surprise from Leif.
Matt drove us back to my house, which seemed too big and empty after everything that had happened. What had once felt like a familiar, safe space felt foreign as we drove through the tropical foliage and pulled up on the gravel right outside the front door. The two men worked to get my dad inside, with me holding the front door open for them, but instead of taking him upstairs, they took him to the sofa in the living room.
I sat on the bottom step of the staircase and waited, nervous energy building up inside of me. I needed to know what was happening. If I waited much longer, I might burst. In the moments that passed, I noticed how the house seemed neglected. Our potted geraniums were wilting in the foyer, and there was a thin layer of dust collecting on surfaces throughout the room.
Finally, Leif and Matt came back to find me, and Leif glanced at the two of us.
“So, tell me what happened.” I met Matt’s gaze and added, “Start from the very beginning. Whatever Coral told you, I want to know as well. I don’t have a clue what’s going on here.”
So, Matt began by telling us how weeks ago, he and Coral went to Maya’s grandmother to try to make contact with my mother’s ghost; how they’d learned Melody was a siren; how I’d been poisoned by Melody, and my mother’s necklace had put me into a deep sleep to protect me.
He explained how Coral had traveled to the Undersea to find answers and had discovered we were both of royal mermaid heritage—which took me a moment to process. He went on to say that King Lysander had needed Coral to break his curse, but he had chosen to let her go. Then Matt had stumbled across her on the beach, and they’d made a plan to break me free and save our dad… but the plan had failed.
And then he told Leif what we’d both seen—Coral controlling the waves and disappearing under them forever.
“So, Melody knew you were coming and cornered you both in the kitchen?” Leif pressed finally, turning back to me. I shook my head.
“I don’t know—I’d only just woken up. Why wouldn’t she have been in the house when we were there?”
“Well, the thing about Melody is that she doesn’t just sit around doing nothing,” Leif replied darkly. “And if she had the entire island under her control, I doubt she would have been lounging around an empty house waiting for Coral to just show up. No… this had some strategy to it.”
“So… what are you saying?” I asked slowly.
“Well, I think Melody might have disarmed my men, for one. They definitely would have been at your side the moment Melody engaged in combat against you. I gave them direct orders.”
An unsettling feeling came over me.
“So where is Coral now?” Matt asked, folding his arms. Leif pondered for a moment.
“It sounds like she unlocked her heart magic to defeat Melody, but that would require a transformation into her mermaid form. And if that’s the case, then Coral hasn’t come back to land because she can’t. She’s part of the Undersea now and bound to it forever.”
“Bound to it?” I whispered. “What do you mean? Am I ever going to see her again?”
Leif bit his lip as he glanced between us.
“If you want to see her, I can take you to our kingdom… like we did with her. But I should warn you; it’s dangerous down there right now. You’re probably safer up here, where Melody can’t hurt you anymore.”
“Then let’s go,” Matt said determinedly, unfolding his arms. “I’m not staying here cleaning up after Melody. We need to know how to break her control over the townspeople, and Coral should have a say in what happens to her father too.”
“Oh, the townspeople should be fine now,” Leif replied. “If Coral truly bound Melody’s magic, the spell she had over them would have broken instantly.”
I exchanged a glance with Matt. Even if the townspeople had their freedom back, they would be confused. Weeks had passed, and there was no saying whether they had conscious recollection of how they’d spent that time. Someone should stay to let them know what had happened…
And it should be me, because I’m the only Klassan left, I realized. With Coral and my dad gone, the island resort, the residents, and all its duties fell to me. People would be knocking at our door for an explanation, only to find our home abandoned if I didn’t stay. And I needed to deal with my dad’s body.
That being said… I didn’t want to. My sister was out there somewhere. She’d spent weeks trying to find a way to rescue us from Melody all by herself. She’d gone to this strange underwater world I’d yet to see for myself, and I’d never felt more disconnected from my twin in my entire life. I hadn’t been there for her when she needed me…
But Coral was the one who cared about Dad’s legacy the most. She would want me to stay here and take care of the resort, the residents, and make all the necessary arrangements… so I explained all of this to Matt and Leif.
Matt shook his head.
“There’s got to be someone higher up that can deal with that. Leave them a letter or something,” he insisted. There were definitely resort staff we could promote into management positions… but it didn’t seem good enough to just leave a letter and hope someone would find it. Even a phone call wouldn’t be enough time to properly explain the situation and make arrangements. And what state would my dad’s body be in by the time someone came looking for us?
I was already overwhelmed just thinking about it. And quite honestly, I didn’t care enough about Dad’s legacy to prioritize cleaning up after Melody either.
One thing was clear though: this would be my one and only opportunity to go with Matt to the Undersea. Leif already seemed restless, shifting from one foot to the other—I doubted he’d make a second trip back for me.
My gaze flicked back and forth from Matt to Leif. In recent years, Coral had spent all her energy living for other people, acting like a martyr for my dad, for me, for Melody. She’d taken the Snack Shack job and never once shared with me what she wanted to spend her life doing.
But I wasn’t my twin—I lived for me.
“We’ll only be gone for a few days, won’t we?” I asked, glancing toward the living room where my dad’s body lay lifeless on the couch. I knew Coral would be pissed, but it would be fine to leave for just a couple of days… right? “I can’t just leave my dad like that. His body will…”
I couldn’t finish the sentence—I nearly gagged just thinking about it.
“You’re right.” Matt nodded slowly, grimacing. “We need like… a big freezer or something…”
“Or Kendra could just use that necklace around her neck,” Leif pointed out, like it was obvious.
I frowned, looking down at the shell necklace that Coral and I had taken turns wearing—the same one that had put me into a sleep to protect me from Melody.
“It crystallized Kendra and kept her in perfect condition. It can do the same for your father until we return,” Leif explained.
“But didn’t it only work because Coral and I are mermaids?” I asked uncertainly. Leif smiled.
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it on other people. It contains your mother’s heart magic—so you can guide the necklace’s power and give it purpose.”
I hesitated, twisting the shell necklace in my fingers.
“But… how?” I asked, my cheeks heating. I felt foolish asking. Leif waved me over to my father’s body, and I followed. He indicated for me to remove the necklace and place it around my father’s neck, so I did so as gently as I could.
Then he said, “Touch the necklace with your fingers, and think about what you want it to do. The heart magic that resides within it should follow your command.”
I followed his instructions, only half believing this was going to work. As I pressed my fingers to the shell and thought about crystal encasing my dad, I felt stupid. Matt and Leif were both watching in anticipation, and I wished they wouldn’t.
But then, crystal burst to life from the necklace, wrapping itself around my dad rapidly, and I leaped back with a cry of shock. The crystal glowed blue and purple as it solidified, and just like that, my dad was in a crystal coffin.
“Well done,” Leif commended, and I stared back at him with wide eyes.
“Did I really just do that?” I whispered, staring at my hands. Matt snorted.
“After seeing Coral whip up a tornado of ocean water, I’m surprised you have to ask,” he replied, folding his arms. “And speaking of which, we should really get going. We need to find Coral and figure out what happened to Melody.”
I nodded in agreement and got to my feet. The three of us headed for the back door so that we could make our way back down to the beach. My heart pounded as we navigated down the same sloping hill that Melody had chased Coral and I down just hours before. So much had changed in such a short amount of time, it felt like years ago already.
Once we reached the beach, I paused for a moment, letting Leif and Matt go on ahead of me as I took it all in.
This is it, I thought, staring at the rolling waves. With my dad dead and my sister trapped in the Undersea, it felt like nothing else mattered anymore. I didn’t care about school or the few friends I had there. I didn’t care about the stupid island resort or the residents.
I was a mermaid about to set foot in a magical underwater kingdom that, hours ago, I hadn’t even known existed. I swallowed hard, anticipation building in my stomach, as I tried to imagine it. I didn’t know what to expect, but it comforted me somewhat to be with Matt, who seemed a little more clued in on the whole situation. And knowing that I’d find Coral there helped too.
Leif directed us to wade into the waves, the sand and seaweed collecting around my feet as we followed him. When we were waist deep, he turned back to us and pulled two pearl bracelets from his pocket.
“Take these,” he told us. “We’re going to dive. And when we do, you need to put those on your wrists. You’ll probably fall unconscious from the severity of how the enchantment affects your body… but it will keep you alive while we’re in Veranis. I’ll make sure you both get down there safely.”
I hesitated at the thought of falling unconscious in the water. What if I drowned? I knew the whole point was to ensure I didn’t drown as my body adjusted, but what if something went wrong?
I exchanged a glance with Matt, but he didn’t seem fazed by Leif’s words. Perhaps he’d already been through enough that he’d expected as much.
Leif nodded, then turned his back to us and made a clean dive under the waves. Inhaling deeply, I attempted to steel my nerves as Matt and I followed suit, and I immediately slipped the bracelet onto my wrist.
A strange sensation spread over my body, like a ripple passing through my body, and then heaviness pulled at my eyelids as my mind drifted away.
Pain was everywhere.
My entire body felt as if it were being stabbed by thousands of needles, and my legs felt heavy, like a weight dragging me down, down, down into the depths of the ocean. The salty ocean water burned as it shot up my lungs, stung my eyes, and washed over every inch of me. My hair tangled in the currents, blinding me as the water grew darker and darker.
My lungs were screaming. I couldn’t breathe, and as much as I tried to fight the current, it kept tugging me under. Black spots formed in my vision, and I knew I was going to drown. There was no way I was getting out of it this time.
Perhaps it was my fate all along, I thought, as pain continued to ripple through every muscle in my body, and my lungs screamed for air. I should have died that day, in the surfing competition. It was always going to come to this.
As I continued to sink, it felt like I was drifting in and out of the ebbing darkness. There were moments of overwhelming, flashing pain—everywhere from my toes to my calves to my hips—and then there were moments where I couldn’t remember anything, and I relished those moments. When my lungs couldn’t take it anymore, I inhaled out of reflex, and water gushed through my lungs, adding to the heaviness.
And then a numbness spread through me, and I finally let go.
The first thing that tugged at my awareness was the sensation of hanging. Slowly, I opened my eyes. To my surprise, it was pleasantly warm, and I was breathing somehow. My sight was blurry at first, and I had to blink a few times to make out the crystal-clear water—which was now far easier to see in despite the darkness.
But when I tried to move, my muscles were stiff with protest. I craned my neck to see that one arm was tangled above me, the other below, in clumps of congested and heavily knotted seaweed. I must have drifted into it, but now I was caught like a spider in a web, hanging miles and miles above seafloor and wedged between two seamounts that made up a valley below.
It seemed that my dislocated shoulder had healed in the time I’d been out. I wasn’t sure how, but I could wriggle without sending shooting pain through my body, which was a good sign at least. Yanking my wrists, I tried to get free, but there was too much seaweed holding me in place. I tried to kick my legs, but as my gaze followed the line of seaweed from my wrists and arms, down past my waist, my breath caught in my throat at the sight before me.
I didn’t have legs anymore.
Instead, a golden tail was caught in the ribbons of seaweed. I stared at it for a moment, unable to comprehend what I was looking at.
And I’d lived.
And now I was a mermaid. Forever.
I couldn’t go back to the surface. I couldn’t see Kendra again, or Matt. I couldn’t even bury my father—
My throat constricted, and I swallowed hard as all the memories flooded back to me. My dad dying, fighting and binding Melody, giving Lysander my heart…
I blinked hot tears away. I couldn’t fall apart here.
Gritting my teeth, I focused on the seaweed again, looking around for a way to free myself. I wasn’t close enough to either mountainside of bedrock to rub my wrists against them. As I yanked and tugged, I became more and more certain that I was too tangled to get free on my own. And when I tried to kick my tail, or even just wriggle it, it didn’t move at all. It was like my brain had disconnected from any muscles and nerves below my waist.
I had no idea where in the Undersea I’d ended up, nor how anyone would ever find me. But just as I was starting to feel panicked, I heard voices and looked down.
Below me was a patrol of soldiers holding jellyfish lanterns and dressed in navy-blue uniforms. Just like Leif’s uniform.
“Hey!” I shouted, struggling to get a better look at them, and they swung their lanterns upward to observe the source of the noise. “I’m up here!”
They took a moment to observe me, and then one of them yelled, “We’ve located the queen!”
They immediately began to scale the seaweed, swimming upward and using each stalk of seaweed like a guide. I breathed a sigh of relief as three of Leif’s men finally reached me.
“Are you okay, Your Grace?” one of them asked me, clinging to the clumps of tangled seaweed for support as he kicked to stay afloat in the currents.
“Why are you calling me that?” I asked, frowning.
The men exchanged glances with each other.
“Because of the new binding,” a second replied slowly. “When you defeated Melody. You’re the Queen of the Undersea.”
I felt the blood drain from my face. What?
“I… I don’t…” I stammered, as a million questions swarmed through me. What did they mean, Queen of the Undersea? The whole Undersea? As in all three kingdoms? Or more, perhaps?
I didn’t understand how this had even come to pass—Lysander had never mentioned such a thing. And all I’d done was unlock my heart magic to transform into a mermaid.
That, and give Lysander your heart so he wouldn’t be heartless forever, I thought. It had been a heat of the moment decision—I’d had to do it while I was human for it to be effective. After all that had happened between us, I couldn’t just leave him with his curse… but I hadn’t had time to think of the consequences either. Being trapped down here was just one of them, it seemed. And now, I was a queen?
I couldn’t rule. I’d never even so much as managed Dad’s resort—I didn’t have the experience or knowledge… and these were people’s livelihoods at stake. I couldn’t do this!
“I need to speak to Lysander,” I said finally, trying to keep my voice steady but failing. The third solider only nodded, showing no sign of noticing my fear.
“Don’t stress, Your Grace, we’ll get you down from here. Hold still.”
Clinging to a stem of seaweed, he pulled out a dagger and began cutting through the strands binding me. I blinked for a moment, staring at the dagger as a murky detail nagged in the back of my mind, but the solider gave me a reassuring look and hummed softly at me, like he was comforting me. I didn’t have time to ponder any of it as the restraints loosened, and I dropped suddenly. But the other two guards were there to catch me, and they guided me back down to the seafloor. My cheeks heated with embarrassment as I clung to them for support, my tail still not responding when I tried to use it.
“Sorry,” I blurted finally, stumbling as my tail scraped against the floor. I felt pain singe through the delicate scales, and relief flooded through me. Even if I didn’t have a handle on kicking yet, at least I could feel my tail, and the connection was already stirring something in my brain.
“Why don’t you ride with me, Your Grace?” the first solider suggested. I nodded, grateful as he climbed atop his seahorse and offered me his sturdy arm. I pulled myself up to sit behind him, the seahorse’s skeleton body against the scales on my backside, and the party of men began to make its way along the winding bedrock roads through the dark valley.
I took a moment to get familiar with my new body. When I felt along my neck, I discovered gills—so delicate and concealed that I might have missed them had I not felt the constant ebb and flow of water around that area. And my fingers were slightly webbed now if I looked closely. Even my nails seemed sharper.
“Where are we?” I asked finally, looking around as we rode, and the solider chuckled.
“You’re not far from Seer’s Peak—you sank a long way from land, actually. It’s my fault we didn’t reach you in time… I do hope you can forgive me.”
Lysander had promised that Leif’s men would be nearby if I needed them while facing Melody. But it didn’t matter—they were here now, and I told him as much. If I was going to be a queen, I wasn’t about to start my rule acting cruel and heartless when someone made a mistake.
We traveled for a little while longer through the valley, and I tried to keep my eyes peeled for familiar sights. But I’d only traveled this particular road once, and it was all too vague. Hours and hours passed, and I tried to recall how close Seer’s Peak was to Veranis. Surely, it wouldn’t be much farther?
Finally, a familiar sight came into view… but it caused dread to coil in my stomach. My gaze landed on pointy red spires, circling sharks, and towering walls in the distance.
We were going the wrong way.
The solider in front of me must have felt me tense up because he clicked once, and the seahorse began to bob faster—a gallop.
Eyes widening with panic, I glanced around, but the large party of soldiers had closed in around me, blocking any means of escape.
Why were they taking me to Coronis? These were Leif’s men… right?
Unless they weren’t.
Why hadn’t Leif’s men come to my aid earlier? How long had it taken for me to transform and sink to the bottom of the sea? How many days had I been missing?
Something wasn’t right, and my gut was telling me to get out of there immediately, even if my heart wasn’t glowing to indicate danger. Was that only a protective measure that worked in my human form?
I looked up, and resolve settled in my stomach. Concentrating hard, I kicked off the seahorse with all my might. I shot up into the current, soaring through the waters, and glided for a moment. But when I tried to kick my tail again, it was delayed, and I began to sink, losing momentum.
Then an arrow pierced through my tail, sparking a sharp pain, and I cried out. Two more struck, embedding deep, and I was hurdling for the bedrock floor again. I slammed into the hard surface, skinning my arms as I slid, and the heavy sound of footsteps surrounded me. Two soldiers grabbed my now grazed arms, yanking me upright, and clamped a set of iron cuffs on my wrists, forcing my hands behind my back. The cuffs dug tight against my wounds, making me hiss, and the iron rendered my mermaid magic useless—not that I’d learned how to use any of it yet.
I looked up to see the first solider—the one I’d trusted and rode with—approaching me. He was shaking his head and tutting at me.
“Pity. I was hoping you wouldn’t figure it out until we got much closer. But it seems our Reigning Queen isn’t as familiar with her subjects as she should be,” he taunted, flashing his razor-sharp teeth at me.
They were sirens, I realized, and it was like a glamour had been wiped from all of them. They must have used siren song on me, without me realizing. And that’s why they had the daggers—a siren’s preferred weapon. I glanced down and noticed that their uniforms remained the same. Leif’s party must have been attacked, and that’s why they hadn’t found me sooner.
“Take her to the gates. She’ll be dealt with there,” the solider said, eyes gleaming as he watched his men drag me toward Coronis. I squirmed, trying to break free of the bonds, trying with all my might to gain control of my tail… but it flapped weakly and helplessly, stinging as the hard ground chafed against it.
Was it true that I was the Undersea queen then, or had they just said that to distract me? And if it was true, had I really been captured in my first few hours of stepping into the role? I couldn’t help it as shame flooded my cheeks. I already felt like an impostor, unworthy of the title, and this just confirmed it.
We were almost at the gates when a familiar sight greeted my eyes. Melody was standing there, arms folded and waiting, in a regal gown of beige. She had a cold, vengeful look in her eyes, but I noticed her skin had lost its luminous glow, her bouncy hair was duller, and her shapely figure was thinner. When I’d bound her magic, I must have also bound all the aspects of it that enhanced her siren attractiveness.
“So, you’ve found the little queen,” she seethed, eyeing me with amusement like the whole concept was a joke. My cheeks turned a deeper shade of red, and my fists trembled from where they were bound as I stared down the female who killed my dad.
The soldiers threw me to the ground before her, scraping my chin. I wriggled, lifting my chin indignantly. The sight of her still made my blood boil, and I remembered my dad’s eyes going lifeless as I drove my dagger into his chest. As he fell to the ground, dead.
All because she’d used her siren song on me.
My chest ached remembering it—remembering that I’d delivered the killing blow—so I tried to focus on my burning resentment toward this female. After all, none of this would have happened if she hadn’t commanded it, if she hadn’t weaseled her way into our lives and torn our family apart from the inside out.
“Bring her then,” Melody purred, a sadistic smile appearing on her lips. “Our new king wishes to extend his formal congratulations.”
Pre-order Campaign Details:
You can head to the links below to pre-order your copy of KINGDOM OF SONGS AND CURSES:
**Make sure you save a copy of your receipt to redeem your pre-order bonuses!
I can’t reveal too much about the pre-order bonuses for this book without major spoilers, so here’s what I’ll say:
1) There are two bonus chapters that will be emailed to those who pre-order KOSAC before August 30th, 2022 (I’m putting these in the hardcover edition of KOSAC too, but the hardcover for book two won’t be out until 2023 so this is your opportunity to get your hands on them early.)
I can’t say what these bonus chapters entail without spoiling tons but one involves Lysander, the other involves Leif, and *one* of these is a honeymoon chapter with spice 👀🌶️ (I’ll let you ruminate on whose chapter this is)
2) You will also receive two digital artworks that I have commissioned (even I haven’t seen these yet but I am *so* excited to see the final results!) 🧜🌊
**You MUST email me a copy of your receipt to claim these pre-order bonuses (email: taraquinnauthor[at]gmail.com)