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“Thank you.” I smiled. “We’d be more than happy to have you.”

She smiled thinly, then motioned for us to go back into our cell. When we were inside, Bekk paused before closing the door.

“We’re a good people,” she said. “But we’re a temperamental people. We mean well, but we can’t always be trusted. That’s something you have to keep in mind.”

I wanted to ask her what she meant by that, but I didn’t think she’d really expound on it. She closed the door, leaving Konstantin and me standing in the middle of the room, and the locks clicked loudly.

Konstantin took his jacket off and tossed it on the bed. “Something doesn’t feel right.”

“What do you mean?” I went over to the sink and set my figs in it, since it seemed like the only clean place to store them.

“I don’t know.” He shook his head. “There’s just something . . .” He trailed off and then lay back on the bed, letting out an exasperated sigh.

“Bodil seemed on board with everything.” I went over and knelt on the bed beside him. “That Helge guy seems like a total snake, but I think she’ll insist on sending at least a few men, and that will be enough for us to make a dent in Viktor’s army. We might even be able to stop them before they get to Doldastam.

“Then, of course, all we have to do is get back and somehow get rid of Mina, but that’s another problem for another day. We need to take all of this one step at a time,” I said.

“You’re right,” he relented, but he still sounded defeated.

When he looked up at me, he seemed so forlorn. His gray eyes had never looked so soft and sad before.

The sleeves of my gown fell just off the shoulder, revealing the scar on my left shoulder, and he reached up and touched it. An odd shiver went through me as he traced his finger along the thin ridge.

“That’s from me, isn’t it?” he asked thickly.

I nodded. “Yes.”

“I’m sorry, white rabbit.” He ran his fingers down the scar to my collarbone, and it made my breath catch in my throat, then he dropped his hand. “I never wanted to hurt you.”

“Why would you care if you hurt me?” I asked, forcing a smile. “You didn’t even know me then.”

The night Konstantin had attempted to kill my dad had been four long years ago. I’d only been a fifteen-year-old kid in tracker school, while he was older and a member of the elite Högdragen. We’d moved in entirely different circles, and I wasn’t sure he even knew my name when he stabbed through the shoulder.

“You looked so hopeful that night. Your eyes were so wide and so blue when I talked to you.” He smiled, looking both pained and wistful. “The whole world belonged to you for a moment.”

It actually had been an amazing night. I’d felt drunk on happiness, and talking to Konstantin had added to that. Of course, that was before everything came crashing down.

His smile had fallen away. “And the look on your face when you saw me with your father . . . I broke your heart.”

“I . . .” I started to argue, but it was then that I realized it was true. He had broken my heart. I swallowed hard and looked away.

“Why that night?” I asked. “Why did you have to do that when I was there?”

“Mina had been asking me to do it for weeks, and I had an opportunity.” He hesitated before adding, “I almost didn’t go through with it, and I think honestly my attempt was halfhearted. That’s why your father was still alive when you walked in.”

“You knew it was wrong,” I said. “How could you do it at all?”

“I loved her, and I would do anything she asked.” He breathed deeply. “But that can’t be love, can it?”

“I’m not sure that I’m the one you should be asking. I’ve never been very good at love.”

He sat up, moving closer to me. He used one arm to prop himself up, and his hand was resting right next to my thigh. “I know I can’t get absolution. I don’t deserve it. But do you think that I’ll ever be able to make up for the things I’ve done?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted, meeting his gaze even though that made it hard for me breathe. “But I forgive you.”

“You don’t have to do that,” he said softly.

“I know. But I want to.”

He lowered his eyes, and abruptly, I got up. The air felt too thick, and I’d become acutely aware of the intensity of his proximity. I went over to the window, putting my back to him and breathing in the fresh air. And I wondered with mixed emotions how much longer Konstantin and I would be trapped in this room.



I woke up with Konstantin’s arm draped over me. I didn’t know how or when he’d put it there, but there it was—strong and sure around my waist. Carefully and quietly, so I didn’t wake him, I slid out from underneath it and got up.

A full moon shone brightly in the night sky, bathing our cell in white light. Konstantin slept in just his boxers with a thin sheet over him, since the heat had gotten even more oppressive. I’d only worn my tank top and panties to bed, but I’d tried to keep distance between us. It hadn’t worked, apparently.

I stood next to the window, for a moment watching Konstantin sleep. His curls lying around his face, his dark lashes fluttering as he dreamt, his well-muscled bare torso—it was impossible to deny that Konstantin was a handsome man, especially when he was sleeping.