Pathways by Camille Peters Eileen has never been interested in love. Ever since her father’s abandonment, she’s vowed to never experience such pain again. But the enchanted forest has different ideas. When the continuously shifting pathways lead her to a mysterious stranger, Eileen finds her promise to fiercely guard her heart increasingly difficult to keep. One night when she becomes lost in a storm, the enchanted forest’s pathways lead her to the castle, home to the kingdom’s Dark Prince, where Eileen finds herself entangled in what many consider an opportunity but which Eileen believes to be a curse: competing for the Dark Prince’s hand through a series of tests that judge one’s royal worth. Eileen is neither royal nor interested in becoming a princess. But the mysterious stranger she met in the woods has his own reasons for helping her succeed, but the cost of his assistance may be too high: that of Eileen’s heart, the one thing she’s vowed never to give. Inspired by “The Princess and the Pea”
Praise for the Book “This was SUCH a cute book! The characters were very well developed…The supporting characters were just as endearing…as the main characters. The descriptions of surroundings were impeccable, I could just see the environment and feel the feelings that were invoked by them. The plot was really well thought out, the ideas were super creative, and I love the general fairy tale feel…I couldn’t put it down, I just fell in love with the characters and I can’t WAIT for the next one!” “I ADORE the creativity in this book! The forest is so magical and has so many enchanting moments throughout the story. I loved being transported into a fairy tale theme as I read; it was a perfect escape into a sweet and charming era! I absolutely loved the direction the story went and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the adventure Eileen stumbled upon. There are so many fun characters in the story, each with unique personalities! This is such a darling story about loyalty, romance, friendship and all with a fairytale feeling!” “This is a delightful story of romance and adventure, centered near a magical forest that guides its travelers to discover not only its own enchantments, but also to find true love along the way. It is also a story of growth and overcoming one’s weaknesses, and of going forward despite one’s fears. Both of those things are inspirational to me, and I found myself relating to the characters and hoping for their success. An enjoyable journey to give hope to your heart!” “I really enjoyed this story. The characters are fun and delightful and they were well developed. I liked that it was only loosely based on an existing fairy tale and branch out in interesting ways to create romance and drama. I get really bored with the same re-telling over and over and this was fresh and new.”
A knock sounded on the door. I bit back a sigh, both of impatience and relief. “Come in.”
I gasped as the door swung open, for it wasn’t Alaina who stood there but—“Aiden?”
He beamed, his eyes lighting up as they settled on my face. Warmth seeped over me to see him again after all these weeks, and my heart performed several cartwheels as he stared at me, his expression tender.
“Aiden!” I fell into his arms, burrowing myself against him.
He nestled against my hair. “It’s wonderful to see you. I admit I thought it’d be much longer before our paths crossed again, and I’m pleased that’s not the case.”
I tipped my head back to gape up at him. “Wait, what are you doing here?”
“An excellent question; one I was about to ask you. May I come in?”
I slowly nodded. He shut the door behind him, his eyes never once leaving my face. The shock of seeing him at the palace of all places slowly subsided and I tentatively smiled. “I can’t believe you’re here. I never thought I’d see you again.”
He returned my smile with a lopsided one of his own and my insides fluttered. “I promised we’d see each other again. How are you?”
I sighed. “I’m in a bit of a predicament.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Indeed. So you’re a secret princess keen on trying to persuade the prince to marry you?”
I pulled a face. “No, this is all some horrible misunderstanding.”
“Is it?” He folded his arms and leaned against my bedpost. “And how did a common girl end up in such a plight?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. A secret danced within his dark eyes, taunting me. “You don’t happen to know the answer, do you?”
He chuckled, and the warm sound I’d fiercely missed washed over me. “I do, actually.” His smile widened. “I’ve really missed you, Eileen. I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Why am I here?” I pressed my hands on my hips and glared at him, demanding he answer me.
He straightened and came over until he stood directly in front of me, enveloping me in his warmth and causing the strange sensations that only came from him to fill my heart. “It so happened I witnessed your unexpected arrival last night.”
“What are you even doing here?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m a member of the court.”
My brow furrowed. “I don’t understand. How does your being a member of the court explain why I now find myself trapped here?”
“Because thanks to my position, it wasn’t difficult to convince the guards that you’re one of the princesses come here to woo the prince.” He winked.
I gaped at him, my heart pounding furiously. With each beat my insides burned, my anger searing and poisonous. “You told them what?”
He frowned. “I told the guards that you’re a princess.”
“You mean to tell me,” I hissed through gritted teeth, “that it’s your fault I’m tangled in this dangerous mess?”
Perplexity twisted his expression. “Mess? It’s an opportunity.”
“An opportunity for what, exactly? To be executed?”
He rolled his eyes. “Why so dramatic?”
My fists tightened. “If I’m caught posing as a royal, what do you think will happen? You think the royal family will merely have a good laugh before releasing me? No, they’ll send me to the gallows.” My blood chilled. I needed to escape. I stomped to the door, but Aiden blocked my exit.