Sweet Redemption: PROLOGUE & CHAPTER 1

Thank you to every one of my readers for waiting so long for the final book in the Sweet Series! Thank you for all of your support while taking this journey with me, Nari, Mycah, Rydan, and Naminé. You mean the world to me – to us!

Here is the prologue and chapter one of Sweet Redemption! Please enjoy! <3

Sweet Redemption

(Sweet Series, Book Four)

by Bailey Ardisone

Copyright © 2014 Bailey Ardisone

All rights reserved. This preview or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of Bailey Ardisone.


Have you ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t? If you could go back in time to the exact moment before you plunged head first into the deep pool of heart-hammering affection—a cavernous abyss so large you could never possibly return—could you resist, knowing if you didn’t, it would cost lives? If you were standing in that precious moment once more, would you choose love, or life?

I’m Nariella Ashwyn Woodlinn, and I’ve fallen in love with the king of my mortal enemies. Because of it, countless lives are now hanging precariously on the edge of destruction. My best friend is also my enemy, not to mention the king’s brother, but in an ironic joke, he somehow managed to elicit my heart as his Óre’Dae—a.k.a Heart Shadow. In other words, he’s my official appointed Guardian. I guess it could happen because I’m half his kin and technically only half his enemy, but yadda yadda—you get the picture. The point is, our hearts are connected in a way neither of us could ever possibly truly understand. But now, he’s the one that needs my protection. And I will rescue him from death’s waiting doom.

My very existence has tainted the lives of those I love most, and I am determined to fight through the tall flames of hell, through the belly of the beast, and on through the most violent of storms. I will be the victor.

But either way, as I stand here facing the ominous loom of the desolate castle of Aselaira with the towering, cracking mountains behind me, I’ve come to realize one thing—that this is the beginning of the end.

That which starts sweet, ends bitter; and that which starts bitter, ends sweet.

Chapter One


My fingers slipped through the silk of Lissë’s white mane and knotted into a tighter grasp than what was humanly possible. I kept my eyes on the brightening horizon in front of me, using it as a focal point to subdue my flaring nerves as my Fëa galloped against the hard ground with all her might. If I could keep my fear at bay, I might have a chance. But that was if.

I had Ender’s—I mean my father’s—plan burning depressions into my shoulders. It felt extremely heavy, as it rested upon my ability to succeed. If I didn’t—if I didn’t succeed with this plan, it would cost the lives of those I held so dearly in my heart.

And I couldn’t have that. I wouldn’t have that.

The problem was—and this was where the fear was coming from—that I could literally be running head first into death in this moment. There was no telling. No inkling of whether or not I even stood a chance of succeeding with this outlandish plan. Who was I kidding? I had no real confidence that I would accomplish the impossible, but I absolutely refused to acknowledge that. No, I buried that doubt deep down. Because I forbade myself to be that person again. I refused to let fear dictate my actions and my life.

Optimism. If I could manage positivity even in the darkest of hours, then maybe…just maybe…we could all live into the breaking of light.

Lissë sent a sensation of warmth and comfort straight to my heart, and I dropped my forehead onto the smoothness of her neck. The snow-like hairs of her mane tickled my face in a way that provided even more comfort. It was soothing and familiar, despite how recently I’d found her. My Fëa was the other half to my soul—the other half of my spirit—and once we bonded, it was as if we were never apart.

I thought of how Ender had said Mycah and my souls were joining together. If the end result was anything like the way my soul felt being bonded with Lissë’s, then I already knew how mutilating it would be ripping the fresh threads apart.

No, scratch that. I didn’t actually know. I couldn’t even imagine what it’d be like. Severing our souls from one another seemed unfathomable, unattainable, incomprehensible. And yet, that was exactly what I was being required to do.

The vision of Mycah’s mother slapping him across the face due to our forbidden indulgence absolutely refused to leave my thoughts. I kept seeing it play out right before me, as if I were stuck in an endless cycle of punishment and guilt for what I’d done.

I’d been warned. Warned by my father—warned by Mycah’s appointed Guardian, and yet I did nothing. I let my soul deceive me. Let it entice me to the false belief that Mycah had the ultimate say in his destiny, but I was a fool. Yes, though he was the true king of Aselaira, he was ruled by principle and tradition. What he desired meant nothing when an entire kingdom outnumbered him, reminding him of where his loyalties should truly lie.

And those loyalties couldn’t be with me.

It didn’t matter that I was an abomination in the eyes of the Tavas’Elda—the wood elves. It didn’t even matter that I had the same Isil blood running in my veins. Even if they were to be made aware of it, all the kingdom of Aselaira would see when they looked at me would be the Tavas blood running side-by-side with their own. They wouldn’t acknowledge that I was one of them. They’d exile me, or sentence me to death as an abomination just as my own kingdom of Lassaira had done.

And so, they’d left me with no choice.

This meant war.

If the people of Aselaira insisted on hanging Mycah all because he fell in love with the princess of their enemies, then that was exactly what I’d be. Their enemy. And damn would I rain fire upon their lofty mountain.

A horrendous squawking rung out from the highest point in the sky, drawing my attention to a large-winged bird in flight. It glided effortlessly through the playful wind, and in that moment, I envied it.

Freedom. Pure, blissful freedom.

Drawing in a long breath that filled my lungs completely, I clenched my jaw and fisted my fingers even tighter into stone around Lissë’s snow-white strands. Worry and fear were bubbling like hot lava in my chest, and all I could think was—Please. Please be strong enough to save them.

I knew I was headed to my very doom, but what else could be done? Mycah and Rydan’s lives were now left in my trembling hands. On top of that, so were Naminé and Cathar’s. This was the only option before me, and I had to give it a try.

I held my breath as we slowed to a standstill. Though we were shrouded in the shadow of a large laurinquë tree, it did little to actually conceal us from any danger. There could be no hiding from the ever-watchful eyes that protected these forests—but I tried anyway. I took great pains to slide off Lissë’s back as quietly as I could, terrified that even the whisper of cloth against her smooth hide could be heard by these merciless creatures.

Shhhh, I echoed in my head, as if whispering the thought to Lissë would bring comfort. I’d have to go the rest of the way on foot. It was my best chance of remaining undetected, if I hadn’t been unknowingly seen already. Which, of course, knowing my luck was exactly the case. But there was no time to dwell on the ‘ifs.’

Without words, I made it clear through our emotional connection that Lissë would need to leave me. It was also very, very clear that she absolutely hated to do it. But it had to be done. I sent her reassuring thoughts and feelings before taking my first step in the direction of the one place I swore to never return to. I knew that I was insane for even trying this. I knew it with one-hundred-percent certainty.

But that is the epitome of love—insanity.

And I had too many loved ones depending on me to succeed; there was no turning back, as much as I wished I could. My stomach felt like it was turning into a twisting, somersaulting monster as I drew closer in the uncomfortable daylight.

Wood elves loved the sun.

Today, I hated it. It was my enemy. It would sell me out in a second, as if a spotlight was focused in on my exact location, giving me away. It made it infinitely harder to get through this hopeless mission. But I had no time to waste. The night of the Hunter’s Moon was less than two weeks away, and we had a to-do list the size of Mount Everest with only two people tasked to complete it.

The glint of the elven towers could be seen from my position smushed against the trunk of a tree. The kingdom of Lassaira. The home of my kin—the Tavas’Elda. My blood yearned for the reunion, but it was pointless. It’d never be satiated. Not when I was returning unwelcome. Okay, more like trespassing.

I slipped through the trees until I reached the wall, sticking close to it. I wouldn’t be going through the front gate. Not this time. Last time I had gone the way I was working toward now, I had resented the action. Cathar had pulled me along by force in the effort to escape the castle’s tree-riddled walls. Back then, I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I had been robbed of those precious first-time moments with my grandfather all too soon.

But in this moment, I couldn’t be more grateful for that hasty retreat. Because of that tormenting moment, I had learned of a perfect way to enter the fortress undetected that would bring me sanctuary today. A tidbit of intel I could use to my advantage that would very well save not only my life, but all those I loved.

I silently thanked Cathar and promised to save him from under Ohtar’s ruthless thumb.

When I reached the small drain that had barely accommodated Cathar’s larger frame, I stooped in and crawled on hands and knees right on through to the interior walls of the Tavas’Elda’s dwelling place. Before I exited, I scoped the perimeter with precise focus for any imminent danger, as I’d seen Mycah do countless times before. With the coast clear, I sprinted along the tree trunks and shrubbery that lined the kingdom’s boundaries. It seemed a little too easy, but I suspected their biggest concern was guarding the gaping hole Mycah blasted into their city’s walls last time I was here.

I thought of that moment with both fondness and sadness. It hurt to think of him.

Easily enough, I wafted through the shadows until I was pressed up next to my grandfather Döron’s door, praying and hoping with all my might that he still occupied the space. I rapped on the thick, red-hued wood as my eyes darted every which way in fear of being spotted before anyone answered.

The second the door was ajar, I stuffed my way in with brute force, throwing all caution to the wind and putting one-hundred-percent of my faith that whoever was about to meet me on the other side of this door was friend, not foe. The gamble was risky, but I had no other choice. Let’s hope today was my lucky day.

For a split-second, the disappointment that I’d been wrong suffocated my chest and clenched my stomach. The exact same time I had forced my way in through the door, I was being shoved backward into the hard wood as it slammed shut behind me. A dagger lay pressed against my skin, an arm secured across my shoulders in a tight restraint, giving me no room to budge—or, had I tried to, my throat would be sliced.

Foe. Definitely foe.

“May I help you?” a firm but bell-like voice growled in my face, advertising that the only thing she was actually offering would be a quick death.

Fortified by my determination to get what I had come here for, instinct took over. Without thinking, I kneed the girl in the stomach and twisted her wrist outward away from my throat, my thumb on her pressure point. The dagger dropped from her grasp with a loud clang to the floor. With her other hand, she grabbed the back of my neck, ready to perform some unknown maneuver I probably wasn’t prepared for.

“Halt,” a voice demanded softly from deep within the shadows on the other side of the room, and we had automatically froze. A voice I’d recognize anywhere. My grandfather’s. “She is my granddaughter.”

I let out a long breath as the maidservant elf lifted her thumb from my bruised throat. She bowed and apologized softly, “Forgive me.”

“Me too,” I said in return. It didn’t matter to me anymore. I waved it off, because my focus was now solely intent on the ancient elda watching me from afar. “I know it’s stupid and completely idiotic that I came back. Believe me, I wish I didn’t have to do it. I know this puts you in a ton of danger, and I’m so sorry for that—”

“Shhh,” he cooed, interrupting me the same time he drifted over to where I stood and placed me against his chest, wrapping his strong arms around my back. “You are alive. You’re safe.”

It was kind of weird. I didn’t know this person in any way. I had spent maybe five minutes with him the one and only time we had been around each other—the first second I had discovered he even existed. And yet, his paternal affection had seemed as natural as breathing. The weird part was, I realized, was that it also didn’t feel strange being held in this practically-a-stranger’s arms, even though logically it seemed that it should, shouldn’t it? But instead, it was nice and completely needed. It heated my insides with pride, loyalty, and love—soothed my fraying nerves like balm.

“Yeah,” I responded in a just-as-soft whisper. “So are you.”

He was my grandfather. The father of my mother. And Ender was my father. I may not had been raised with them, or even grown up knowing they existed, but there was a definite familial bond of love that ignited in me—ignited between us—the moment I had learned of them.

My fingertips were bent into the simple clothing that covered his back. They had a will of their own, grasping onto the seasoned king of old, relishing the stolen moment I had been robbed of all my life—afraid they’d never get the chance again, or that they’d be torn from their place at any given second.

That thought sent a current of fear spiking through me. I didn’t have time for this. “Okay, I have a bunch of things to discuss with you. And like, a million questions…”

I trailed off once I pulled my face from his chest and spotted who I knew without a doubt was my grandmother watching us with a reverential smile from the sidelines. The sad part was, I didn’t even know her name.

“Hello,” she said simply. Her beauty was astounding. I was actually taken aback at just how beautiful and ethereal she really was. I had seen her beauty from afar in the moments before I was about to lose my head overtop a chopping block, but looking at her this close, I practically gasped. Her hair—a shimmering silkiness that resembled rays of the sun—hung perfectly in a ringlet curtain down to her waist.

“Hi,” I had no choice but to say back. I was left a little enraptured by the coolness of her teal eyes. Despite being the color you’d expect to find around glaciers, they held absolutely nothing but warmth. I found solace there along with my courage and added, “I’m so glad you’re both okay. I was so worried. I thought for sure King Aglar was planning on executing you guys next with the looks of those shackles around your wrists. I was kind of expecting you to be in prison or something, to be honest. Obviously, I’m glad you’re not.”

Sigh. Why must I ramble when nervous?

Döron walked over to his wife—or mate…whatever the terminology was here—and stood protectively at her side. It was strange how young they looked, knowing they were probably hundreds, maybe even thousands of years old. I didn’t know what their exact age was, but I was betting on it being forever-and-a-day old.

“We are in prison, my dear,” he corrected me. “We have been caged in our home without the ability to leave unless consent is granted by the king. The shackles were placed on our wrists the day of your execution merely to prevent your grandmother and me from intervening on your behalf.”

“Secured? How? I didn’t see any guards out there, and obviously your door can easily be opened. Maybe now’s your chance to escape!” Hope puffed its familiar air into my chest.

“Ah, it may appear to be that way, child, but in Luïnil, nothing is ever what it seems.” There was a small but bitter smirk lifting the corners of Döron’s lips. It was obvious he wasn’t happy about this fact. “There is a powerful enchantment over our residence. All may freely come and go as they please except for your grandmother and me.”

And then, even more familiar, the hope deflated into a pile of disappointment.

My grandmother floated closer as if she were smoother than liquid and tucked hair behind my ear until her fingers slid down to the ends. “There is so much of your mother in you,” she paused, before finishing in a slow veneration, “Nariella.”

The way she said my name made my heart pump an extra beat. That along with her gentle smile showed me more than words could ever say. She loved her daughter. She missed her, and probably even missed saying that name out loud. But above all, she was in awe of me.

“So I’m told.” I returned her smile. Ender told me the same thing while on the plane ride to England, but it definitely meant just as much hearing it again coming from my own mother’s mother. That was like…whoa. “Thank you.”

“Apart from the hue of your hair, of course.” She smiled sadly then. My heart hammered. A reminder that my mother was dead because of my dark brown locks.

“I…I’m so sorry—”

“Do not be,” she quickly cut me off, embracing me so softly, I barely felt her. “You are not to blame. She would have loved you with all her soul and heart. She would have loved your hair as well, lisse’amin.”

I thought she called me something there at the end, but it didn’t sound bad, so I didn’t ask. Not that I had time to either way. Döron took my hands and led me to their sitting area, placing me on a soft feathered chair. “Come now. There is much to say and not nearly enough time to say it. Tell us the burden you must carry on your shoulders to have risked such a dangerous return as this. Tell us why you’ve come. It must be grave indeed.”

“It is. It’s very grave. I wouldn’t risk endangering your lives further if it wasn’t, but…” I hesitated to mention the reason was that Mycah’s well-being hung in the balance. Last time I had mentioned his name in this house, my grandfather had forbade me to see him ever again.

I didn’t listen.

It really sucks that he had been right. That all this could’ve been avoided had I listened to my grandfather in that moment. But none of that mattered now. I could dwell on my regrets later.

“Tell us,” my grandmother urged. I thought over my words carefully. On the ride here, I had nothing but this conversation to work through beforehand, and yet, I couldn’t seem to figure out a good way to say it.

“What I’m going to say will be a huge disappointment to you. In fact, you may even hate me afterward.” I made an “o” shape with my lips and slowly let out a deep breath. “But please listen to everything I have to say before you judge me or make any decisions. Please. I need you two now more than I ever have in my entire life. It’s so important.” I started rushing my words together, growing anxious, so I worked hard to rein myself in. I was also acutely aware that I didn’t have time for my craziness. I had to stay calm. Stay focused.

“You have our full attention,” Döron said encouragingly.

“I need your army. I need an alliance with Lassaira,” I blurted it out quickly, just to get it over with. Their eyes widened. In this moment, I had to believe they thought I was insane. “I know, I know. It’s crazy to even mention it. But listen, you’ve commanded them before, can’t you do it again? It’s for a worthy cause. And I wouldn’t just be rallying your army. I’ll be getting more. Lots more.”

He shook his head. “Why do you need such an army? It is far from feasible. Long has it been since outlying kingdoms joined together and fought on the same side.” I felt a tear prick my eyes at his confirmation of my overwhelming hopelessness, but I fought against it. “As to your mention of my commanding the Lassaira army, that was before our king was made aware of it. None will listen to me now. Not whilst I sit just short of exiled in our humble hovel. It is folly to even try.”

“I get all that. I do. But I’m desperate. I’ll do anything. And…my father is begging.”

“Your father?” my grandmother gasped. “You are acquainted with him? How? When? We believed him to be dead.”

“Yes, but only recently. Apparently, everyone believed him to be dead.” I thought of how Mycah had told me he was, a time that felt ages ago, but really wasn’t that long. Back when this had all begun. “He’s very much not dead. He’s begging of you now to reform that alliance you and he once had. We both are. Back then, you joined together to save my life. An infinitely dangerous task that I could never repay you for, or even begin to properly thank you. And now…now we’re both begging you to help us again. Please, grandpa.” I tried out the foreign word, and it fell flat on my tongue. It was awkward. I couldn’t deny that there was a part of me that liked it though.

A look of surprise mixed with pride flitted across his face before he replied, “You have yet to tell me the reason for this need. What could you possibly need our army for? The Isil army is much greater.”

“You’re right. It is. And that’s the reason we need yours and any other we can get to join it. Ender has a plan. A crazy, messed up, more than likely won’t work plan, but nevertheless, a plan. It’s our only one. The only option we have, giving us no choice but to at least try it.” I still couldn’t bring myself to say it was to save several of their enemies. The true king and the prince of their enemies, no less.

“Nariella my child, you must tell us this plan.” My grandmother pleaded for understanding.

“Okay, okay.” I closed my eyes as I spoke. “We need to build a stronger—a much stronger, like, way way stronger—army than that of Aselaira. And the reason is…well, they have captive several people that I love. One of which, I’m…in love…with.” Yeah, this was awkward.

“In love?” she whispered in surprise. I nodded my head, my chest tightening as an image of Mycah caressing my cheek resurfaced in my mind.

“They’re to be executed the night of the Hunter’s Moon. That means we have a very short time to assemble a massive army that can bring down Ohtar. We need you.” I wanted to tell them it was Mycah and Rydan I was desperate to save, but I was terrified they wouldn’t help me if I did. Instead, I focused the discussion on their hatred toward Ohtar. “Even if it means you have to defy your king again…it would benefit not only me and those I love, but your kingdom most of all! We’d finally put an end to this vicious war that continues to rape your lands. Don’t you want that? To clear Lassaira of all things Isil?”

And then I regretted that. It didn’t seem wise to play off a prejudice I was in no way a part of. It’d only lead to disappointment once they found out the ones I loved were Isil royalty. Like I was deceiving them…misleading them to believe I was someone different.

“None here would not wish that.” I smiled hopefully, but he immediately countered my obvious hope with, “Do not misunderstand. We are loyal to our king, but he has changed. It is common knowledge that there is a sickness growing in his mind. He rarely, if at all, leaves his tower. He keeps himself locked away, refusing to be with his people and mingle, unlike days of old. Since the night of Queen Nariella’s death, he has been a different king than the one we had come to know with fondness. He cares not that his subjects sacrifice their lives to keep his kingdom safe against the Isil army. He does nothing to defend us or aid us. King Aglar has ceased ruling over our kingdom quite some time ago. Therefore, he would never agree to your request, and the army of Lassaira believes me to have betrayed them and our holy king. None would dare defy the orders of their king and heed my command, as much as you or I may wish for it. I truly am sorry, my dear. It cannot be done.”

I let go of a long, pent up sigh. The air shook and trembled as it left my rigid body. I braced myself for what I had to say next. It was time for Ender’s Plan B.

But before I could even open my mouth to say another word, a low growl had my head jerking to the far corner of a room darkened to black. My heart slammed up into my throat as my eyes met vibrant purple ones staring right at me from deep in the shadows.

I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t even gasp or scream.

There was nothing I could do but stare, because I was paralyzed with fear.

It had to be a creature of Aglar’s. He found me.


The end is coming.


Sweet Redemption Cover Art

AmazonBarnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.