Since Faye's mother's funeral, a cold and unforgiving rain had continuously poured down on Granshope Parish, showing no signs of stopping.

To add to her sorrow, it was at the same time Faye received news about her future from her adoptive father, Baron Montgomery.

It seemed that her stepfather had stumbled upon a way to both make some gambling money and rid himself of her all at once.

He would give her hand in marriage to Duke Thayer. She, the most undesirable child of the Montgomery family, would be used to meet the king's recent marriage demand.

Faye's forehead crinkled in concentration, as she tried to recall what she knew about Duke Thayer.

The most unsettling rumour she had heard was the Duke was a bloodthirsty demon from the depths of hell, consumed by a lust for war and utterly devoid of compassion for anyone or anything.

However, she did not engage in such baseless rumours or childish chatter. She always assumed the best of a person until she got to know them. 

While Faye stared out the window, patiently awaiting the moment she would meet her groom, she was brought back to reality by the abrupt sound of her younger step-sister, Alice, giggling behind her.

She flinched and felt her stomach drop as the younger Montgomery girl's voice rose in vicious taunts.

"Look at you standing there like an idle corpse waiting so sullen. I wonder if that savage of a Duke has backed out and forsaken you? Maybe he discovered what an ugly girl you are." 

Faye swung about to face her step-sister; she watched Alice cover her mouth with her fan to hide her sneer. Like the other Noble women did when they exchanged secrets and whispers about one another during tea parties. 

Alice nonchalantly waved her other hand in the air as she walked around Faye, scrutinizing her appearance. "You know you are not the greatest catch. I overheard our father say you are too old to be married."

Alice's words stung Faye's heart; they were supposed to be family. Why did she treat her this way?

She heard another insult fall from Alice's lips. "What an unattractive woman you are, Faye, I am shocked Father has not sent you off to the spinsters' home yet."

Then, she stopped coming face-to-face with Faye, her eyes betraying a malicious grin behind her fan. "Did you know he almost sold you to Elliott at the Imperial Inn to be one of his hostesses?" Hearing this news made Faye's gut twist, but did not shock her.

The young Montgomery daughter continued with her criticism.

"There are much prettier and far more sophisticated women in this empire than you. That man could have any one of them he desired. Why he chose you is a complete myst…"

Before Alice could finish her tirade, her twin brother, Aaron, cut her off.

"He did not choose her, sister Alice. This union was forced upon the Duke." His words were just as cutting and cynical as his sisters.

"I feel quite sorry for the poor man. Father explained it was decreed by holy imperial order, and the emperor himself, that Duke Thayer is to take a bride. The poor fella had no choice in the matter."

"The match is to mend the rift between our two noble houses. They are ordered to have a child in the next two years, to bind our families together. And stop the centuries old feud between us."

"You are lucky that Faye's mother died, or it would be you, dear sister Alice, who is getting married to that savage—as you so kindly like to refer to him."

"Celebrate the fact and thank your father that you are not to become the plaything of some bloodthirsty despot whose sole purpose is to bring about slaughter and death for his mere pleasure."

Aaron's face twisted in disgust as his icy baltic blue eyes glared down at Faye.

"The most that the man could hope for now is he has a carriage accident and meets his maker to get out of this disgusting mess."

Faye gritted her teeth and snapped in response to her stepbrother's last remark.

"That's enough unsavory talk from you, Aaron Montgomery. You have admitted knowing it was not I that chose this path. Rather, your father and the King of Minbury that made this choice. I am only the vessel acting on their accord."

Reacting to Faye's backtalk, Aaron's hand swung through the air and landed with a stinging slap on her cheek. It was such a powerful strike that it knocked her to the ground.

The spot on her pale flesh where his hand met it turned bright red. Holding her face, she sat on the floor, stunned but determined not to show how painful it was.

As Faye stood from the wooden floor, she inwardly thought the fact that she had been sold into marriage almost made her grateful. At least she would never have to suffer under her brother's hand again.

The Wintershold butler excitedly raced into the parlor, interrupting Aaron and startling everyone who was anxiously awaiting the enigmatic guest's arrival. He announced in a shaking voice,

"I see horse's and knight's coming down the carriage path."

Faye had just regained her footing when she was jostled against the icy window pane and could hear the excited murmurs of the others as they rushed to the window.

She focused on the sound of the horse's hooves, getting heavier and louder as they approached the Wintershold estate. Inside her soul, she felt a chill, as if the sound of her impending doom was drawing nearer.

Like a prophetic warning, a streak of lightning crackled across the sky, followed by a deep, reverberating thunderclap that caused the dull air in the parlor to shake. It made the occupants of the room jump. The two siblings ceased their gossiping abruptly, their mouths effectively silenced by the storm's violent noise.

Faye gazed out of the rain-drenched glass panes as the storm poured down harder. She could see the silhouette of the coach approaching. She pressed her hot, swollen, aching face against the frigid glass to lessen the pain where Aaron had struck her.

She noticed, out of the corner of her eye, horses and knights following the carriage in a massive entourage. Faye turned her head to get a better look and watched the vehicle halt under the porta cochere. It blocked her view of the passenger descending from the horse-drawn coach.

She could only see his tall black leather riding boots as they struck the ground, splashing the dirty rainwater on the spats. Faye could hear the jingling of his roulettes as he strode across the muddy path to the front entrance.

When he passed by, she noticed his oiled cloak's bottom edge. The interior was lined with black wolf fur. Seeing this, Faye understood he was indeed a man of wealth to be dressed in such fine outerwear. Contrary to what her father and siblings had said, he was not some impoverished demonic warlord.

A/N: Hi, readers, and welcome to the newest book in the ADG Series. This story is part of the Angels, Demons, and Ghosts family. It can be read alone, or you can read the first in the series of books, "An Angel's Soul For A Devil's Heart." You can find them both in my profile and add them to your library for your reading pleasure.

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