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.