Thirty years ago
"Do not be afraid; I am with you." Amelia smiled up at the very tall, golden prince. She swung her arm, and their clasped hands swayed between them. All around them, small, winged sprites sang and danced in mid-air. The warm sun overhead cast the clearing in a soft, honeyed light. The air around them seemed to sparkle and shine as the animals walked through the woods, completely at peace. The perfume of the gardenias and passionflowers made her feel lightheaded and content. She looked around in wonder. Even though she had never been here before, she knew she was in the very heart of the fae garden in the mystical city of Éire Danu.
"I know you won't hurt me; you're my mate."
The prince looked down at her, his lavender eyes kind and gentle. "That I am, little one."
Amelia sighed. "We have to wait until I grow up before we can mate, huh?" Even she knew that you couldn't get mated when you were six years old.
He nodded. "But do not worry; we are tied together by the light of our hearts. Someday we will find one another."
Amelia stared down at the ground. "What if you forget?" She knew it would be forever before she would be a grown up. What if he forgot her between now and then?
Her prince placed a hand over his heart for a moment before extending his arm. When he opened his fingers, a small orb of golden light pulsed in his hand. Smiling, he lifted the orb to her chest where it flared brightly before disappearing. Immediately, she felt its gentle presence surround her heart.
"Now there is no way that I will forget you, for you carry a piece of my light with you," he explained.
She placed a hand to her chest and beamed up at him. She thought of the long years ahead and frowned.
He tugged on her braid. "What has you looking so sad? If it is something I can fix, I will," he promised.
She looked up, feeling hopeful. "Can you make me a grown up so we can be together right away?"
He shook his head and ruffled her hair. She loved the feel of his large, warm hand in her hair. He made her feel special and safe. She silently thanked Fate for sending her someone so tender and kind.
"I know to someone so young the oncoming years seem far away, but in reality, the time will fly by in an instant. Before you know it, I will be standing in front of you, and we will be able to start our life together."
He knelt before her on one knee, cupped her face between his two large hands, and kissed her forehead. "I promise."
"I won't let you forget. You're mine," Amelia declared fiercely.
A delighted smile transformed his face from charming to roguish. She felt herself blushing; her mate was very handsome.
"And you are mine." He winked before standing. He reached out to take her hand, and she felt herself tumbling backward.
"No!" she screamed. She felt the ground give way and she was free-falling into the darkness, the beauty and warmth of the garden disappearing.
"I will be waiting. Do not fear," he called after her.
Amelia woke up gasping and looked around her room. Her pink dolls and stuffed animals seemed so ordinary after such an amazing dream. Grinning, she hopped out of bed and ran for the kitchen. She knew her brother, Caiden, would be making breakfast before he and her other brothers, Kyran and Tristan, had to report in for drills with the other unit warriors.
She skidded to a halt in front of their small, wooden table in the kitchen.
Caiden turned from the stove, a white apron covering his training gear. "Why aren't you dressed, young lady? You don't have much time to eat breakfast before we have to drop you off at the Armstrong's for classes."
The guest at their table snorted, eyeing Caiden's apron. "You know, Caiden, you look adorable in that apron. Maybe your brothers should get you a nice string of pearls to complete the look."
"Good one, Kendrick," Tristan said and lifted his fist to be bumped. Kendrick looked at it and raised an eyebrow. Amelia giggled.
Tristan rolled his eyes and let his hand drop. "Of course, you don't do fist bumps. You're Mr. Dark and Mysterious."
Kyran laughed. "I don't think someone with hair that red can pull off dark and mysterious."
Caiden dished out scrambled eggs and then looked over at her. "Well?" He jerked his head toward the hallway. "Go get ready."
Amelia hopped up and down. "School can wait. I have to tell you about my dream. It was amazing!" She was practically vibrating with excitement.
Caiden frowned and turned to Kendrick. "I thought you bound most of her powers? I don't want her setting off another earthquake."
"I did." Kendrick looked at Amelia. "What happened in your dream?"
"I met my mate!" she announced happily.
Around the table, Kyran and Tristan began to choke on their breakfast. Caiden dropped his frying pan, and Kendrick began to rub his chin.
"Wha-wha-what!?" Caiden roared.
Kendrick tapped his lips thoughtfully. "It makes sense. The binding spell wouldn't be able to block a witch's mating dream. Those are how we find our mates."
Caiden rushed around the table while Kyran and Tristan fumbled at their drinks and tried to clear their airways. He knelt down in front of her. "Are you sure? You're just a baby!"
Amelia put her hands on her tiny hips. "Yes, I'm sure, and I am not a baby!"
"You're my baby!" Caiden yelled.
"Our baby!" Tristan corrected. He and Kyran stood and crowded around her.