May is just a normal girl trying to figure out her first year of college.

She is not expecting Orfeas, the hot, British head of a secret Greek Society, to be interested in her. Let alone to abduct her and bring her to his secret lair that looks like an old, dust-covered library, but on closer inspection is filled with monsters and rivers of lethal lava.

Now May must find a way to survive, escape, and not lose her heart to her kidnapper, who may or may not be Death incarnate. But he has those dimples...And why does he keep saving her life?

 

Crown of Ashes, a fantasy Hades and Persephone retelling,

is the luscious dark academia romance you didn’t know you needed.


Read the first chapter (free)

Crown of Ashes

one

Salt for Air series


M.C. Frank


Copyright @2021


This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the author.

one

 The note drops out of my locker on Tuesday, as I get out of the communal showers. There are only three words on it:

“You are invited.”

It has a huge, obnoxious flourish on the ‘Y’ and an unmistakable insignia on the bottom, stamped in burgundy ink (also obnoxious): TGS.

The Greek Society.

I gasp in disgust (and fear, let’s be real) and the note almost flutters to the floor before I make a clumsy attempt to salvage it, and manage to wrinkle it in my fist. I also get it a little damp, but my hair is dripping all over the place and I have nothing but a towel around me. My hands are shaking and my breath comes short. I hope an asthma attack isn’t close.

Although a panic one is definitely happening.

I came to Marble Halls two months ago to study art history. I am mostly interested (obsessed) in the history of Greek and Roman art, but I have been longing for academic studies for so long, that any period in history will do. I somehow managed to get into one of the most prestigious colleges in Europe from America. Even my two aunts, although they were optimistic because of my nerd-perfect grades, had few hopes I would be accepted. But I did, and what’s more I somehow found the courage to brave a plane ride over the Atlantic and to travel all the way from my home in New York to the English countryside and the sprawling academy. Me, who had never even left my own state.

The first time I stepped onto the campus, it was like stepping into a different world. Gray buildings drowning in ivy, spiked gothic towers crowding against cloudy skies, long stretches of damp lawn, and marble-white buildings with Greek columns housing walls and walls of ancient books. An art historian’s dream.

The cultural shock nearly froze me into inaction for the first few days, but after that I came out of my shell. I have never been the most popular girl in school (being a bit too short, a bit too thin, a bit too black, and a bit too obsessed with academics), but I never had problems with making friends. If someone is kind, I don’t care about anything else. I am open to approaching them and striking up a conversation about literally nothing in particular. Even though I personally study for hours every day and am pretty well-versed in the subjects that interest me, I am not a snob, and I hope that college won’t change that. So I met people, I made friends and acquaintances (but I didn’t meet my Best Friend™ or my True Love™, rather disappointingly), and I started my classes with every intention of falling in love with both the syllabus and my professors.

Of course, things are never as glamorous as we imagine them to be, are they?

As the first month of uni wore on, I quickly fell into the mundane routine of running around campus trying to find my classes, navigating the enormous grounds to and from my college and continually losing the way from that to my dorm, to the dining hall and other activities, and studying my ass off. Whoever said that if you are a good student at school you’ll succeed in life, was a liar. College, at least in the Halls, is a whole other level of hard.

At first, I thought the professors weren’t speaking English. Their vocabulary and terminology was like a different language to me. But I have started getting used to it. Started being the key word here. At any rate, the fairytale-esque Greek-style aesthetic of the academy faded fast, as I applied myself to the work, and to keeping my head above water and not drowning in the ocean of textbooks, long nights and looming exams.

Ever so slowly, as my British friends say, I got to know the school.

Its history, its past glory, its scandals, its dirty secrets.

And there is no secret dirtier than The Greek Society.

 

 

They say that the dude who runs The Greek Society is a member of the Royal Family. Or of a royal family.

They say he is unhinged.

They say he is a member of a mafia family.

They say he is filthy rich.

They say he has murdered someone.

They say lots of things. I don’t know if any of it is true (it probably isn’t), but the amount of whispers following this guy’s name around the entire county is scary. How famous and powerful can one nineteen-year-old English boy be for such myth and folklore to already have been spun around him?

I mean, I will be the first to admit that I am an anxious, overly-worried person who is scared of her own shadow (figuratively, and only once or twice literally).

But a guy who is barely twenty years old and has already been elebated to the status of local god is universally terrifying. No one should have that sort of power.

No one.

People do terrible things with that much power.

Because here is the truth, among all the rumors: He—and his Society—run the school. I have seen this with my own eyes. I have no doubt that they rule Great Britain, and possibly the rest of the world, as well, judging by the off-handed manner they do everything around here. But as a history art major, I should go off facts and not rumors or conclusions. So here’s ‘them facts’, as my friend Didion, an architect major himself and a genius as well, would say:

I thought these invitations were a college myth. An elite secret society that hides somewhere in the bowels of the campus. No one is even sure who exactly its members are. Mysterious, exclusive and extremely rare invitations are being slipped in random students’ desks—once or twice a month. And, rumor has it, these students’ lives are forever changed. The invitations don’t only change their college experience, but their entire future.

If you are invited to the Greek Club, you are done.

Your future is taken care of. Nothing but billionaires and presidents have come from The Greek Club from Marble Halls, and there are stories dating back two centuries that prove that. Allegedly.

I mean, it does sound like folklore at best, right? At worst, it sounds like like a fairytale born out of the feverish dreams of exhausted students who couldn’t figure out where the pneumata (accents) go on ancient Greek words.

Anyway, it is what it is. Everything is ruled by something, and The Greek Society rules the school. No matter which college you are in, they rule it. How? I have no idea. But I got a tiny glimpse of their modus operandi on my very first day in the dorms.

 

 

I had arrived alone, and was glancing longingly at the groups of families and friends of ‘freshers’ (Brit language again, don’t ask me), who were chattering and giggling as they settled in, while I was trying to wrangle three suitcases all on my own. My aunts had just dropped me off, and had had to rush back to the airport to catch a plane to New York, and it was just beginning to hit me that I was going to live here now, all the way across the pond, by myself.

I am ashamed to remember it now, but my eyes were beginning to burn and I had started to hyperventilate. Gosh, what a baby.

I hate how weak I am. Hate it. I do everything in my power to fight it, to be strong, or at least to pretend I am until I can finally really be strong someday, but so far it isn’t working. I despise my weakness, and I despised it intensely that day.

“If you’re going to cry about it,” a voice suddenly said behind me, and someone was lifting my suitcases easily, with one arm, the weight suddenly disappearing.

I turned around and stood gaping at a model-like creature, who was dressed in a cream sweater and slim, dark pants. He had black, glossy hair that looked as if it had been attacked by team of professional stylists. His face would have been perfectly handsome, except it was a bit too long, a bit too chiseled, and a bit too sour. He gave me a look, that thing people do to intimidate you where they let their cool gaze travel up and down your body, and expect you to feel small and insignificant.

I did.

“Lead the way,” he said, and there was a softness in his voice that contrasted with the disgust in his eyes.

I had lost the ability to speak. I mean, I have a few guy friends, and good-looking ones too, even though I have met so many more cool dudes here in college since. I am generally a social person, rarely tongue-tied (when I have conquered my anxiety). But this man-boy didn’t leave space for anything more to be said.

I led him to my dorm, where he proceeded to unceremoniously dump my bags on the floor, turn around on his heel and disappear into the crowds without a single word. Any desire to cry had left me, and been replaced with the desire to hit someone—him, preferably.

“Thanks!” I hissed at his retreating back.

“Oh em gee! Was this random girl just talking to Orfeas?” Someone said as they passed outside my door.

Well, that was the one and only time I talked to him. But I learned three important things about him that day:

One, even his name is obnoxious—who names their kid after an obscure Greek hero slash deity that happens to be inspired straight from the Underworld? That alone should have given me an idea of the kind of person he is.

Two, by evening the whole entire campus was on fire with rumors of how I had caught the attention of the ‘demigod’, and I became cool by association. Again, an indication of this guy’s ridiculous fame and hold on this school. I found out later that he comes from one of the founding families of the Halls and is part of a type of genius billionaire family. And he talked to little old me. Just think. Cue the squeals. Not.

And three. If I never saw or spoke to him again, it would be too soon for me.



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Each book is a standalone, but they are interconnected and set in the same world. 


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