The Dream Ring
By Ann Regentin
Cecilie is supposed to be weaving silks for the Princess' wedding, but she's distracted by dreams of an acrobat, dreams that seem a bit too real.
Achim, the acrobat, is having the same dreams and he knows they are a bit too real. Someone, he believes, is tampering with their minds. Achim knows he can't act without more information, but his only source of answers is Cecilie, whose deceptively fragile beauty tempts him to acts of cruelty he denounced years ago. But is it cruelty when the victim is not only willing but eager?
He tells himself that it's only dreams, that the worst he can do is give Cecilie nightmares. What he gives her, though, is the fulfillment of desires buried so deep that she never knew she had them, at least not until the felt the stinging kisses of his whips. For Cecilie, the real nightmare is waking because Achim is, after all, only a dream.
Although he is now a juggler, Achim was once Lord Pretender, the heir to the throne, raised by his grandmother to be a despot. He left when he realized exactly what he is becoming. Now his grandmother wants him home, and she is using the dreams to tempt him, hoping to waken in him an insatiable appetite for inflicting pain.