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“What’s . . .” I shivered as he drew close yet again. “What’s the plan?”

“Faye is in the process of finding out where Marlon lives since I don’t think he’s staying at that hotel any longer.” His hands slipped to my ribs, and at this point, I was panting with anticipation. “And since he’s not usually at Flux until the evenings, we really don’t have the time to wait on that.”

“Agreed.” I swallowed, trying to focus. “Who’s going with us?”

Ren’s hands stayed at my waist, much to my disappointment. “Not exactly sure yet.”

I started to respond, but Ren suddenly sat up. Circling an arm around my waist, he tilted his head just the slightest as he kissed me. It was brief, too brief, and then he leaned away, his gaze snagging mine.

At first I had no idea what he was up to. I could tell he wanted to take this further. Besides the fact he stripped me naked, he was still hard under me, and there was no mistaking the intent in his gaze, but he wasn’t making any move.

And then . . . then I realized what he was doing, and I thought I might fall apart.

Ren wasn’t just waiting.

He was handing me the reins in this, giving me complete control.

“I love you,” I whispered, and then I took it, showing him what I wanted with his hands first and then his mouth.

“Took a lot of digging, but I think I found where Marlon lives,” Faye announced the following morning while we sat around a small table in the cafeteria.

There’d been stares, but I wasn’t letting them get to me. Right now, I couldn’t afford to allow myself to get caught up in stupid distractions, and I wasn’t. The fact that Tink sat on my left and Ren on my right helped.

“Since his new house was completed about a month ago, he hasn’t been staying at the hotel,” she explained as I picked up a piece of bacon. My appetite still wasn’t back to normal, but I needed to eat. “He actually bought an older home over in Lake Vista. Renovations were complete a few weeks ago.”

“Lake Vista?” My eyes widened. Holy crap, that was one of the richest, most exclusive neighborhoods in New Orleans. Being an evil, Ancient fae must be working out well for him.

“Yep. His house is on Flamingo Street.” Turning the laptop she had in front of her around to face us, we got a view of the massive home. “Nice, isn’t it?”

“I’m jealous,” I whispered, eyeing the beautiful two-story home with a balcony. Faye had it pulled up on some real estate website.

Tink leaned over, squinting. “Why don’t we live in a place like that?”

I looked at him. “If you want to live in a place like that, you’re really going to need to get a job.”

“I don’t think there is any job I’d be qualified for that would help you afford that house.”

Ren snorted.

“Anyway.” I munched down on the piece of bacon. “Pretty sure that neighborhood is gated.”

“With security,” Faye said.

“Shouldn’t be a problem.” Ren picked up a slice of wheat bread and dropped it onto my plate.

Faye closed the laptop. “We don’t hurt humans.”

“Not planning to.” Ren glanced to where Dane and Kalen sat next to Faye. “We need to get into that neighborhood with as little trouble as possible.”

“And that means you want us to use compulsion.” Dane leaned forward, crossing his arms on the table. “I have no problem with that.”

Faye sighed.

I hid my grin as I bit into the bread and immediately regretted it. No butter. No jam. Tasted like cardboard. I dropped it onto the plate and reached for my coffee to wash the blandness away. How in the world did Ren eat that?

“I don’t either,” Kalen chimed in. “But I doubt whoever is working the gate is human. Marlon would have to be a fool if that’s the case.”

“Good point.” Ren eyed my discarded bread. “Either way, we’re going to have to be quick and hope like hell he’s home.”

“And then what?” Tink asked.

“We have transportation that won’t arise suspicions immediately,” Dane answered, tilting his dark head to the side.

“And then what?” Tink repeated.

I ignored Ren as he poked at the thing he called bread, nudging it closer to me. “Then we get inside his house.”

Tink tilted his head as I grabbed the other slice of bacon. “That’s not exactly going to be easy.”

“No.” Ren sighed heavily when he realized there was no way in hell I was putting that bread in my mouth again. He picked it up from my plate. “That’s why we need to be fast, because there’s no way they won’t know who we are.”

“But they don’t know me,” Tink pointed out. “I could blitz attack them.”

I slid him a long look. “Besides you. You are staying here where you’ll be nice and safe.”

Tink frowned. “But I—”

“You should stay and keep Prince Fabian company,” Faye suggested. “He’s not coming with us.”

The corners of Tink’s lips tipped up. “That I can do. When are you guys leaving?”

Kalen checked the time on his phone. “As soon as our wee little halfling finishes her breakfast.”

I stopped with the piece of bacon halfway to my mouth. “Wee little halfling?”

The fae grinned.

“Are you ready for this?” Dane asked, not at all smiling. “Not trying to be a dick by asking, but you’ve been out of commission for a while and—”

“And I got my ass kicked by two fae not too long ago,” I finished for him. I glanced at Ren. He’d asked the same question this morning, and it hadn’t been an easy one to answer. “I’m as ready as I will ever be.”

That response didn’t seem to satisfy Dane. “If he’s there, there’s going to be a lot of fae with him, and he’s not a normal fae—”

“He’s an Ancient. I know.” My shoulders tensed. “But I’m not the same Ivy who got jumped in the courtyard.”

“She’s ready.” Ren met Dane’s stare.

Dane was quiet and then he said, “She’d better be.”

My eyes narrowed, but then Ren draped his arm over my shoulders as he leaned over, kissing my temple, and I was thoroughly distracted. “Finish up,” he whispered, brushing his nose along the curve of my cheekbone. “And then hopefully we’ll know exactly where that bastard is before lunch.”

Chapter 19

The mode of transportation was a surprisingly smart one. A florist van, except there weren’t any flowers. Just a bench running along one side and the other side contained chains bolted into the side.

This was a true kidnappers’ van.

Kalen and Dane were up front. Faye stayed behind out of concern for her being recognized since we didn’t know if there’d be fae working the gates or if the fae would possibly recognize her right off the bat. The thing was, if there were fae at the gate, they would sense what Kalen and Dane were immediately. The van was to not attract any attention leading up to the gate, but it wasn’t going to get us through it.

Being outside of Hotel Good Fae was . . . God, it was hard to put into words, but it hadn’t been easy for me. While Faye and the guys walked out of the opening in the wall beyond the courtyard as if it were no big deal, my stomach twisted like it was full of vipers. Everyone had been talking, but I hadn’t been listening. I’d stopped at the opening, my feet unable to move.

Ren had placed his hand on the center of my back. He hadn’t spoken, but I knew he’d sensed my wariness. It was probably etched into my face. With him by my side, I’d stepped outside the protection of the courtyard and quickly realized it was warmer than the last time I’d been outside. More normal temps for October in New Orleans.

It had been strange walking out of the courtyard, into the world that existed beyond the glamour of Hotel Good Fae. Even though I knew that Drake and his minions were far away, I half-expected them to appear out of thin air.

They didn’t.

A part of me still waited for there to be some kind of trap, for the Prince to suddenly appear and tell us we’d been played. The other half of me wanted to run around, breathing in all the good and bad scents of the city.