Excerpt: A PROMISE OF PERIDOT by Kate Golden

The sequel to viral bestseller A Dawn of Onyx – the dark romantasy that took the world by storm.

From Kate Golden, author of the instant bestseller and viral phenomenon A Dawn of Onyx, comes the next seductive, sweeping, action-packed installment in her addictive Sacred Stones trilogy.

A prophecy of death. A weapon of hope. A sacrifice of love.
Arwen Valondale is sailing for the mysterious Kingdom of Citrine after the battle of Siren’s Bay. Reeling from shocking revelations and her newfound powers, Arwen directs all of her pain and rage toward the man who betrayed her: King Kane Ravenwood.
Kane’s presence is unavoidable as he travels with Arwen and her friends to seek the Blade of the Sun, a legendary weapon inextricably tied to her fate and the future of the realm. Even an uneasy truce proves difficult as Arwen fights against her unresolved feelings for Kane, who is willing to become darkness itself to protect her.
As Arwen faces creatures, foes, and magic beyond her wildest imaginings, she must discover the secrets of her past to defeat the monstrous Fae king Lazarus.
But finding the light within might mean the death of her and everyone she loves.




his head over the wet steel edge of the ship. Angry droplets of rain pelted us both as I rubbed soothing circles into the damp fab- ric clinging to my brother’s back.

“I’m here,” I said, trying to send lighte into his knotted stom- ach. I waited, and waited some more, until I couldn’t help but tense my fingers against the void I felt where my lighte should have regen- erated days ago.


Still nothing.

Ryder retched into the churning sea below us.

In the ten days since the battle of Siren’s Bay, I had healed the entire ship of all their wounds without my power. The injuries in- flicted by Lazarus’s army, burns singed and gashes slashed by both lighte and Fae weapons, were more damaging to the Onyx and Per- idot soldiers than any mortal steel. It had been the most taxing work I’d ever done.

And all the while, elbow-deep in bandages and sickly, fevered sweat, I tried to grieve.

We had held a small, makeshift funeral for her—the woman I had always thought was my mother. Against the rhythmic creaking of ropes and the quiet flapping of sails, the unscathed soldiers aboard had lowered her body into the sea beneath us. I said a few words, all of which felt flat and foreign in my mouth. Mari sang a hymn. Ryder cried. Leigh didn’t look at any of us, and then slunk into our cabin belowdecks before we even finished.

It had been awful.

Kane had asked if he could join us. I believe his words were, “I’d like to be there for you, if you’ll let me.” As if his presence might have somehow made me feel better, instead of infinitely, infinitely worse. I hadn’t wanted him anywhere near my family. Or what had been left of them.

Then, the storm came.

A thunderous assault of rain, with waves that sloshed against the ship like battering rams. It raged and raged throughout our en- tire journey. Those who sought even a minute’s reprieve from stale cabin air were immediately soaked in a frigid deluge. Yester- day the captain had rationed the ship’s coals, leaving us with- out hot water. I already couldn’t stomach any more lukewarm porridge.

I looked down at my fingers on Ryder’s back. They were eter- nally pruned, like little raisins. He heaved again, and down the bow a couple feet, a Peridot woman in a weather-beaten wool cloak followed suit.

Though I was lucky not to suffer from seasickness, the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the passengers. The stomach-turning sounds of retching echoed at all hours of the day and night. I offered care to whomever I could, but without my lighte there wasn’t much to do.

I hadn’t offered any help to Kane, though.

I’d watched him climb a rickety set of stairs with ease a single day after being pierced through the chest by a spear of ice. He’d scaled them two at a time—nimble, strong, lively even.

And yet, he had needed me to heal him so critically that day in the Shadowhold infirmary?

All lies. More and more lies. My head swam with them.

I waited for the instinctual rush of fear to ripple through me when I thought of the fate he’d kept from me all those months. The prophecy that foretold my death at Kane’s own father’s hands. But I felt nothing.

I had felt nothing for days.

After a lifetime of too much fear and tears and worry—now I couldn’t muster anything at all.

With one final dry heave, Ryder slumped down against the metal and sucked in a deep breath. “That has to be the last of it. There’s nothing left in my stomach to vomit up.”

I frowned. “A lovely mental image.” His answering smile was weak.

But in my mind a memory was unfurling. One of a slow autumn evening—silent save for the sounds of wind rustling among the weeds outside my home. I’d been sick after eating something moldy—Powell’s leave no scrap behind mentality at work—and my mother had rubbed my back in steady sweeps, calming me as I purged. I could have healed myself then, but chose not to. I liked how it felt to have her comfort me. I liked her hand on my shoulder, her quieting words. Leigh had been born recently, and both Ryder and I missed being the sole objects of her affection.

It was such a selfish, childish thing to do. To retch for an hour rather than heal my own illness just to keep her by my side in the chilly evening air, away from her new baby, husband, and son.

But it felt so good to be cared for. And now—

Now I fell asleep every night wondering who the woman even was.

Had she found me on the road one day? Had someone forced her to raise me?

And if so, where in the world were my real parents? They were both full-blooded Fae, so most likely living in another realm. A melting one of parched earth and ash, governed by a tyrant—

“Feeling any better?”

My attention snapped to Mari, wandering over wrapped in a thick fur cloak. She’d raided the ship on our first night and some- how found the most fashionable pieces aboard. But even her ele- gant new pelt couldn’t hide the way her copper hair clung in wet ringlets to her face or the icy drops that showered her nose and near-blue lips.

At the sight of her, Ryder straightened and folded his hands confidently across his chest. “Right as this rain. Barely even sick.” He inclined his head toward the Peridot woman still heaving down the deck. “It’s all these other folk I feel sorry for.”

“He vomited the entire contents of his stomach out and then some,” I said to Mari.

Ryder glared at me, and Mari gave him a compassionate frown. “Sorry to hear it. This storm is unrelenting.”

“Yeah, well—” We sailed over another swell and Ryder turned pale, clutching at his stomach. “I . . . I am going to go talk to someone about that. Right now.” He dashed for the other end of the ship and out of eyesight.

Mari lifted a brow at me. “Talk to someone . . . about the storm?”

I shook my head. “He’s too proud.”

“I think it’s sweet that he’s embarrassed. Here.” She produced a small glass vial from her skirts. “Give him this. It’s Steel of the Stomach.”

“Isn’t that potion used for undertakers?” After I’d read the book on flower species I got from the Peridot library twice, I had started working through Mari’s grimoires out of sheer boredom. She didn’t have much use for them anymore anyway. Not now that she had the amulet.

I didn’t blame her. Mari never learned to wield her magic prop- erly after her mother, the only living witch in her family, had died in childbirth. The necklace that we stole from Kane’s study, the one that belonged to Briar Creighton, the supposed most powerful witch of all time, allowed her to harness her power—and quite a bit of it. Now she did magic whenever and however she pleased. And the amulet never left her neck.

Mari shrugged, pawing absently at the violet charm as it hung below her collarbone. “I figured it might help him. It was easy to brew.”

The only issue was that she wasn’t actually pulling any power from Briar or her lineage. I replayed the moment in which Kane told me the amulet was merely a trinket—that all the spells Mari cast with such ease these days were her own—and fished for guilt. I owed her the truth, but I only found a well of apathy where my eth- ics used to be. I didn’t want to lie to her, but—

But I just didn’t have the energy.

“Have you talked to Kane at all today?” she asked, gripping the slick bow as the ship pitched over another uneasy wave.

I sighed, a long and thorough noise. Another thing I couldn’t bring myself to do. “No.”

“What if there’s another way? Hadn’t he said as much?”

He had, the last time we spoke. After the battle. After my moth- er’s death. After my outburst of power and butchery. Kane had said he was willing to let the entire continent fall to Lazarus to save me from my death sentence. To help me live my life in peace.

But what kind of “peace” could I find knowing how many would suffer at Lazarus’s hands because I was holed away in some idyllic city, nameless and hiding from my fate?

“There’s nothing he can help me do but run.”

Mari pursed her lips. “Perhaps, but . . . He knows more about this prophecy than anyone. Can’t you try to have a little hope?”

“I just need off this boat,” I said, staring up into the heavy, rum- bling storm clouds above.

“I know.” She sighed. “This journey has been miserable.”

But I wasn’t thinking of the rain or the cold or the vomiting. Only getting Leigh and Ryder safely to Citrine, and myself as far from Kane as possible. Somewhere I could be alone until I was needed. A sacrificial lamb, awaiting slaughter.

So I stayed silent as the rain battered my face, searching my heart for an ache, for hope, for even a trill of fear at the thought of my horrific future.

But I found nothing. I missed my mother. I wanted to go home.

I wanted to sleep for a long, long time.

“Why won’t anyone tell us what awaits us in Citrine?” I hadn’t talked to many people the last ten days, but the lieutenants and nobles who were on the ship with us had been very tight-lipped about the secretive kingdom. All we were told was that it was im- possible to breach, and therefore about as safe from Lazarus as we could get.

Mari shrugged. “All the texts I’ve come across just say it’s hard to access. On most maps it’s either floating in the middle of the Mineral Sea or left off altogether.”

I let the ocean’s swell rock me while Mari tightened her grip on the wet steel.

“Could it be an island? Like Jade?” The Jade Islands were an equally mysterious kingdom, but at least Mari knew some people who had traveled there and said it was uninhabited.

“Possibly. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.” Her eyes shone with anticipation. The discovery of something still unknown. “Do you want to go down to the mess? Have some dinner?”

I looked up at the furious sky, purple and blue and gray. Like a bruise, or a mottled pigeon’s wing. Heavy, rhythmless droplets landed on my face. “No, I think I’ll stay out here for a while.” When she frowned, I amended my voice to sound warmer. “But I’ll meet you in there.” I was doing the best I could, and Mari knew it.

She flitted off with the same spritely energy she always had, rain or shine. The girl was resilient—it seemed nothing, not even the recent battle, pounding storm, or pitching ship could break her spirit.

Heavy footfalls dragged my gaze over to a group crossing the scarred deck.

I knew those boots. That walk.

Kane strode toward the galley alongside Griffin, with Leigh in tow behind them.

The weakest flame of fury, barely a spark, lit in my chest at the sight of him.

His sable hair was wet and plastered against his forehead and the back of his neck. His eyes were ringed in gray from an obvious lack of sleep. A scratchy-looking beard covered his jaw, and he had a swollen face from days and nights of too much drink.

The man was a disheveled mess.

Often I’d hear him, Griffin, and Amelia drinking together into the late hours of the night through the thin walls of my cabin. Laugh- ing, playing cards, singing poorly—any part of me that flared up in vague jealousy at Kane and Amelia’s drunken joy I attributed to muscle memory. Sometimes, Mari and Ryder would join them out of boredom. That hurt even more.

I told myself it was a benefit, to feel anything at all.

But Leigh . . . her newly developed bond with Kane had proven to be the most irritating. I would catch them sneaking into restricted sections of the ship, returning with pilfered treats and rusted trea- sures. I’d hear him tell her of twisted, snarling creatures from lands beyond her wildest imagination. She seemed more than a little en- amored of him.

I understood the feeling.

I had been naive and gullible, too, once.

I motioned over to her with a wave. Leigh’s curls bobbed against her too-large gray cloak as she said something to the hulking men who walked beside her. They looked like her guard dogs—tall and imposing and powerful. Soaked in rain and scowling. When she strode over to me and they descended down the galley steps, I ex- haled.

“What are you doing with those two? They’re dangerous Fae, Leigh. Not playmates.”

She rolled her eyes.

My skin itched. “What?” “You’re being so hard on him.”

She was colder, more serious these days. I understood her pain, and I was trying to be patient, but all her rage seemed directed only at me.

I crouched down to meet her eyeline. “I know you’re going through an impossible time. I miss her too.”

“This isn’t about Mother.”

“But your anger . . .” I reached for her, grasping her arm. “I think it may be coming from—”

She shook me off. “Just stop. You’re upset about Mother. You’re upset you couldn’t save her.” She swallowed, her eyes hard on mine. “You’re upset about what you are. And you’re taking it out on him.”

I bit my tongue against the sting of her words.

“I know you think he’s charming, Leigh. And you two have this odd little friendship, but he lied to me. He ruined my life.” Even as I said the words, they felt hollow. Devoid of emotion. As if I were saying, He lost my parasol. This pitch-black emptiness tunneling inside of me was so foreign I barely recognized myself. “You’re too young to understand.”

The look she gave me could have frozen the sun itself. “He’s barely making it through each day.”

“We’ve listened to him sing sea shanties in the captain’s quar- ters every night. Does he sound broken up to you?”

“He’s just trying to survive, like we all are.”

As if summoned, Kane climbed back out onto the deck, alone

this time, a bottle of whiskey in hand. Our gazes met instantly—I knew he could tell we had been talking about him. I folded my arms and let the ice in my veins reach my face. Kane’s brows knit inward slightly before he looked away.

I turned away from him, away from Leigh, and faced out toward the bottomless expanse of uneven, inky waves. There wasn’t enough room on this ship to get the hundred miles away from Kane that I needed. Leigh was right. I had been cruel. But he deserved it. Actually, he deserved far worse. He was a liar and a killer, the man who betrayed me, who used me. Who took the first shreds of real joy I had ever felt in my life and turned them to ash. Who broke me down until all that was left was a shell. An empty casing where a human person once lived. Barely lived, but still.

This feeling I had for him—this rage—it was easy. The easiest thing in my life, at the moment.

I’d never be able to forgive him. So instead, I hated him.


Kate Golden lives in Los Angeles where she works full time in the film industry developing stories with screenwriters and filmmakers. A Dawn of Onyx is her debut novel, and the first in the Sacred Stones trilogy. In her free time she is an avid book reader, movie fanatic, and functioning puzzle addict. An embarrassing LA cliché, she likes to hike, brunch, and go to the flea market with her fiancé and her puppy

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