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The Prince looked at me sharply. “You did? You’re sure?”

“Yes. Hit the bone. What?” I pulled away from Ren. “What’s going on?”

“If she was wounded with her own magic, her own weapons, she will . . .” The Prince trailed off, and then he did something I hadn’t heard from him since the enchantment was broken.

The Prince laughed—a deep, loud laugh.

Ren walked forward, his movements stiff. “Can you fill us in on what’s going on? Because I’m not sure what is funny right now.”

“Me either,” Miles muttered, sheathing the stake at his hip.

“Being wounded by one of those icicles would take any fae time to recover from. It would’ve killed a mortal.” The Prince turned back to his brother, wrapping an arm around his waist. “But for the Queen to be wounded with her own magic is catastrophic. The same for any of us.”

“So what does that mean?” Jackie demanded, wiping at the blood along her cheek. “Will it kill her?”

“No.” The Prince led Fabian to the door. “But it will greatly weaken her for a very long time.”

I didn’t dare let any hope grow in me as I limped after them, but I remembered him mentioning this when he’d told us what would weaken them. “How long is a very long time?”

“Months,” he answered.

“Months? Are you kidding me? That’s not a long time.” It was better than weeks or hours, but still not long enough.

He stopped and looked over his shoulder. “Months in the Otherworld are years in the mortal world.”

“Years?” Ren repeated. “Like in plural?”

“In plural,” the Prince responded. “And while she’s weak, she’s not going to be able to gather an army. With her powers down and wounded, she won’t gain many supporters. Not in the Otherworld, where only the strong and fully powered gain support.”

My heart was thundering in my chest. “So, what does this mean exactly?”

“It means we didn’t fail,” he replied, smiling slightly. It was warm, but didn’t reach his eyes. I didn’t think any of his smiles did. “We will have years to prepare for her return.”

I limped down the steps, my head a mix of conflicting thoughts and emotions. Had we failed? Yes? No? I wasn’t sure, and I was too damn tired to really think about it and too freaking ecstatic that we were all alive to beat myself up about not getting the Crystal or killing her.

I’d leave that for tomorrow.

Because we were going to have a tomorrow.

“Ivy!” Tink screeched the moment I reached the bottom of the stairs.

I drew up short as he raced away from Fabian and all but tackled me, wrapping his long arms around me. “You’re alive!”

“Yes,” I squeaked. “And I thought you were supposed to stay at the hotel.”

“I did, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I showed up just as everyone was coming down the stairs.” He rocked me back and forth. “I went out all by myself and found the place!”

“He wasn’t by himself,” I heard Tanner say. “He was getting worried, and well, we couldn’t stop him.”

Squeezing my eyes shut, I hugged him back, too happy to be hugging him again to be mad about him not listening to us.

“What happened?” Tink asked, and I pulled away as Faye began to explain everything.

Ren moved over to the Princes while Tink was given the breakdown, and I saw that Tanner hadn’t come alone. Brighton was with him, lingering in the back. She was staring at the two Princes, her pretty face pale.

“We need to get my brother back to the hotel,” The Prince said. “He needs to rest, as does Kalen.”

Tink moved away from me, hurrying to Fabian’s side. “Is he going to be okay?”

“He will be.”

“What can we do to help them?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he answered. “All we could do is wait for the affects to wear off.”

Looking at the pale and drawn faces of Fabian and Kalen, I felt really bad for them. “How long?”

“Too long,” grunted Fabian. “We should be fine . . . in a few weeks.”

Weeks? My eyes widened.

“I . . . I brought an SUV.” Brighton cleared her throat and then spoke up. “I can take them back.”

I drew in a shuddering breath and walked over to where the Princes stood. Ren was already there. “Hey,” I said, glancing between the two of them. “I just want to thank you for, um, saving us—saving me back there. If you hadn’t . . .”

He stared at me. “You do not need to thank me. Ever.”

I shifted, uneasy. “But I do. We do.”

“She’s right.” Ren’s shoulders tensed as he extended a hand to the Prince. “Thank you, Prince.”

The Prince’s gaze flickered from Ren’s hand to his face, and then after a long moment, he took Ren’s hand and shook it. “You’re welcome.” Releasing Ren’s hand, he glanced over at me. And my name is not Prince. It is Caden.”

Faint sunlight seeped under the heavy curtains, slipping its way across the bedroom floor, toward the bed. I had no idea what time it was since Ren apparently didn’t believe in bedroom clocks, but I knew it had to be late in the afternoon.

Just like we talked about the day before, we hadn’t gone back to Hotel Good Fae last night when everyone left the house on Royal Street. We’d gone back to Ren’s, because we . . . because we could, and now it felt like I’d slept forever, but as I stared at the tiny particles of dust dancing in the stream of light, I wasn’t sure I was ready to be awake.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I shifted my hips as a wave of unrest swept over me. The arm around my waist tightened, drawing me back against a hard, warm chest. “You should still be asleep,” Ren’s deep voice rumbled against the skin of my neck.

Reaching down to where his hand rested on my stomach, I threaded my fingers through his. “Shouldn’t you be asleep, too?”

“You’re awake.” He kissed the side of my neck. “So, I’m awake.”

Sometimes I wondered if he had an internal Ivy alarm system and if he charged himself a monthly fee for it. I squeezed his hand in return. There was a beat of silence and then he tugged me onto my back, and I found myself staring into sleepy, beautiful green eyes.

Curly brown hair fell forward, brushing against his eyebrows as he rose onto his elbow above me. “I’m not going to ask if you’re okay.” He swept back a strand of my hair as his gaze searched mine. “Just don’t bottle all of this up. A lot has happened, and even though we may have years before we face the Queen again, a lot is still going to happen.”

I swallowed razor blades of emotions and whispered, “I promised I wouldn’t.”

Ren waited as he stared down at me.

Drawing in a shaky breath, I exhaled slowly. “Do you think we really have years before the Queen comes back?”

The tips of Ren’s fingers trailed across my cheek, avoiding the deep, purplish bruises and raw cuts that had appeared overnight. “Based on what they said, we have no reason to believe that isn’t the case.”

“True,” I murmured. “But what if they’re wrong?”

“What if they’re not?” He dragged his thumb under my lip. “What if we have years to live and to make sure we’re ready when she comes back? Years, Sweetness. That’s a long time. That’s a lot of living.”

A bit of the knot resting in the pit of my stomach loosened. It didn’t go away completely, but it made it easier to breathe. Ren was right. There was no reason that the brothers were wrong. We could have years. “It’s over,” I said, because I felt like I needed to say it. “It’s over for now.”

Ren dropped a quick kiss on the tip of my nose. “Yes, it’s over for now.”

I closed my eyes, letting that really sink in. It still didn’t seem real. That we weren’t living second to second, day to day.

He kissed my forehead. “You’re going to worry about this, but it’ll get easier.” This time he kissed the corner of my lips and then sighed heavily. “But you already know that.”