Chapter 1

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The blackness was so thick, it was like tar. It surrounded me, like a cocoon, filling my lungs and pores. I couldn't move or breathe. I was its prisoner.

It surrounded me in every direction, went on forever, no matter where I looked. It was all that existed.

Panic fluttered in my heart. I wanted to run, but I was trapped. Screaming would have given me sweet relief if I could inhale or even swallow anything, but the darkness.

I had been born in this place and I didn't know why. I hated whoever had given birth to me and left me surrounded by pain. I was trapped.

I was alone. Forever alone. I didn't know what it meant to be with someone else, but my heart ached for companionship.

Suffering hurts, but it's a little less horrible if you can gaze into the eyes of another and know they love you and understand what you are going through. I searched for that, but couldn't move and couldn't find it.

My mind begged for anyone, anything to relieve my torment and just kill me already. I don't know how long my soul screamed at nothing.

But eventually my skin warmed one day and the darkness turned gray. Nothing ever changed here, so I knew something unusual was happening, but I thought it was a trick. This place didn't free its captives, it just dug its claws further inside them.

But a light sparked in the distance. I took a breath and air mixed with the tar in my lungs. I choked on it.

I reached for the light as it grew larger and closer. It burned my eyes and terrified me, but it was so beautiful that tears dripped down my cheeks at the sight of it.

Yes. This was where I needed to go. This was where I needed to be.

With a pop, I burst through the white portal.

I started hyperventilating as I gasped like someone who had just been drowning. My lungs and my body felt light and free in the air as it expelled the rest of the tar.

I was lying in the grass when I opened my eyes. The grass felt soft and dewy against my naked flesh.

A man stood above me, leaning over me. He was tall, muscular, and intimidating, but I wasn't scared. He had thick, wavy black hair and eyes like coal. Their depths were full of raw emotion and power. Black sparkles fluttered in the air around him.

His deep voice spoke. "Welcome to Zycara. You belong to me. I have summoned you."

My heart fluttered at the sound of his beautiful voice. I was no longer alone.

I had no idea who this man was or why he brought me here, but he had rescued me from an eternity of terror and given me the companionship I desired. He had done me a favor greater than anything I could ever pay him back for and my heart swelled with gratitude.

In that moment, I knew I was hopeless. It didn't matter who I met from then on. I was crazy for him and devoted enough to follow this man to the ends of the earth. I was doomed to love.

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