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“Of course not,” I muttered, crossing my arms as I glanced over at Ren.

He was still clutching the thorn stake and he hadn’t taken his gaze off of the Prince. Not once. I couldn’t tell how he felt about any of this beyond the murderous rage clearly etched into his face.

“What does the Queen plan to do?” Faye asked quietly while I was still hung up on the fact that a four-leaf clover could’ve weakened the damn Ancients and the Prince this entire time.

“She’d want to still open the doorway, right?” Miles sat on the arm of a nearby couch.

“She can’t without a prince willing to carry out her demands.”

“What if she finds a male halfling and engages in some bow-chicka-bow-wow?” Tink asked.

“The prophecy has never mentioned what would happen if a Queen or King procreated with a halfling, but I imagine it would work,” the Prince said.

Fabian faced us. “It would have the same effect. A King or Queen is not of this world, as is a halfling and a child of such a union. It would undo the seals.”

I exhaled roughly. “Now we have to worry about the Queen finding someone and getting pregnant?”

“Morgana cannot conceive,” the Prince answered.

“And how do you know this?” Ren challenged.

“No. He’s right.” Hope sparked in Faye’s eyes. “Remember? I told you that.”

She had. The day I met Fabian.

“The legend we were taught was that Morgana had committed a great misdeed and to escape having her powers stripped, she gave up the ability to create life.”

“This sounds like a really bad fantasy novel,” Ren muttered, and I blinked slowly.

Everything about this sounded like that, but that was nothing new.

“What great misdeed did she commit?” Tink asked with interest.

The Prince’s jaw hardened and the glint to his eyes mirrored what Ren was giving off. I had a suspicion that whatever thing the Queen had done, it had involved the Prince.

“What will she do now?” I asked, making sure we stayed on topic. “I doubt she’s just going to tuck tail and hide.”

“If her original plan was to fail, she had a back-up,” the Prince explained. “She would go back to the Otherworld, and we must stop her.”

My lips parted as I stared at him. There was no way I had heard any of that right.

“If she was to go back to the Otherworld, then why would we stop her?” Kalen frowned.

“You don’t understand,” Fabian spoke up. “She has the Crystal. If she takes that back to the Otherworld with her, she will be able to reopen the doorways at any time from her side.”

“She will come back with whatever army she can gather and there are . . . creatures in our world that would wreak a kind of havoc no mortals have ever seen before,” the Prince clipped out. “Out of pure spite and vengeance, she would lay waste to cities. Millions would die.”

“Wait.” Ren frowned. “The doorways are sealed—”

“They were sealed when we came through, were they not?” The Prince met his stare. “They can be reopened again. Not only are there Ancients willing to end their lives to open the doors once more, she wouldn’t need them. She could open the door with the Crystal.”

I remembered when he’d come through. That was a night I’d never forget. “If she’s always been able to open the door to the Otherworld, then why hasn’t she before? Why not just bring the army through instead of trying to get a halfling pregnant?”

“Because she can only go through the gateway she came through,” he said. “And with the Crystal, she won’t need to wait until the Winter Solstice. The Crystal is strong enough to open any gateway.”

My shoulders tensed. Nearly all of the doorways in the Otherworld had been destroyed by the brownies—all except the one in New Orleans. The baby apocalypse would’ve opened all the doorways, whether they were destroyed or not.

“She knows that opening all the doorways would have a greater impact than just one. The Order wouldn’t be able to stop whatever comes through all those doors at once.”

The Prince nodded.

Understanding crept into Ren’s expression. “She’s going to try to go through the gateway at the house next to the LaLaurie house.”

“We need to get back there before she does.” The Prince’s gaze flickered over us. “We have to kill her. If we don’t, she will take that Crystal with her and she will be back, stronger than before.”

“And probably a lot more pissed,” Tink guessed.

“How do we kill a Queen? You said yourself she can’t be weakened by the clovers,” Miles said.

“She’ll have what is left of the Knights with her, but if you guys take care of them, my brother and I will take care of the Queen.”

I opened my mouth to interrupt.

“Between the two of us, we should be able to take her out.” Fabian lifted his chin. “She is the most powerful of our kind, but she is not unstoppable. Not if we all work together.”

Glancing over at Ren, I met his gaze. I exhaled slowly. Even though he’d told us what would weaken him, trusting him was still a huge risk.

“You have no reason to trust me and I don’t blame you for that,” the Prince said, seeming to know my thoughts. “But you have no other option.”

And he was right.

We had no other option but to trust him.

We were going to leave for New Orleans immediately, so Ren and I went back to the room we spent the night in to grab our bags.

He closed the door behind us. “I don’t like this. At all.”

I sighed wearily, pushing a strand of hair out of my face. It fell back a second later. “Me neither.”

“But that bastard is right.” He crossed the room, grabbing one of the bags, practically ripping the zipper open. “We can’t let the Queen take the Crystal back to the Otherworld.”

Ren was right.

Right now, Faye was getting in contact with Tanner, filling him in on what had gone down and what we’d learned. They were expecting us—all of us—to return to New Orleans.

None of us were sure of who we could contact in the New Orleans branch that wasn’t working for the Queen, so at this time we weren’t reaching out to them.

I don’t think any of us felt comfortable with any of this, but like the Prince had said, we didn’t have an option but to keep traveling down the road we were on.

I bit down on my lip. “I just . . .”

Shoving the shirt he’d worn the day before into the bag, Ren looked over his shoulder at me. Whatever he must’ve seen in my face made him stop and face me. A long moment passed and then he asked, “Where are you at, Ivy?”

I knew what that question meant, and I didn’t know how to answer it. Walking over to the bed, I sat down. “I just don’t know about anything anymore.” I slowly shook my head. “Every time I think I know something—every time I think I have a handle on what is going on, everything changes. Everything.”

Ren was silent as he watched me.

I lifted my hands helplessly. “He is right down the hall. Him. The Prince, but . . . he’s not him anymore. At least that’s how it seems. But what do we know anymore? It could be another trap. Look at Daniel. Never in a million years would I have ever believed for a second he was capable of betraying us. But he did. So what do we know? It could—”

“I don’t think it’s a trap,” he said, surprising me. Ren knelt in front of me, placing his hands on my knees. “I don’t care if that bastard had no idea what he was doing while he was under the enchantment. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe it, but I can’t look at him and not see what he did to you, what he wanted to do to you. It doesn’t matter that it was the Queen controlling him. I’d rather shove a stake through his chest than work with him.”

“Ditto,” I murmured.

“But I . . . fuck, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I believe him—believe what he said about the Queen. I don’t know what in the hell their history is, but it’s evident he hates her as much as we hate him.”