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“I hope it lasts just long enough for me to get out of here without ending up in a dungeon,” he replied glibly. His face was hidden in shadows, so I couldn’t tell how concerned he really was about being locked up.

“How did you find me?” I asked.

“I’m tracking you, remember? I felt your panic, and I found you as fast as I could. I stopped your car just south of Winnipeg. Ulla didn’t want to let me in at first, but I managed to convince her.”

“You’ll have to stop tracking me eventually,” I told him.

“We’ll see.”

“I should probably thank you for helping me.” I started pushing myself up into a sitting position, but as soon as I moved, my side screamed painfully.

“Easy, there.” Konstantin rushed over. He put his hand on my arm, helping me until I was sitting, and then he sat down on the bed beside me. “Finn got a healer to come in and help heal you, but she didn’t do it completely. A couple medics fixed you up the best they could after the healer had finished.”

Konstantin didn’t say it, but I knew why she hadn’t healed me all the way—she didn’t want to waste her energy on a lowly half-breed tracker outlaw. To be honest, I was surprised she’d bothered helping at all.

“You would’ve died without it,” he said, supplying a reason. A healer could be moved to help even the lowest of the low if they would die without intervention.

I lifted up my tank top to better inspect my wounds, but they were all bound tightly with bandages stretching from my waist to just below my breasts. Some blood seeped through, and I gently touched my ribs, which sent a searing pain through me.

“You’ve got quite a few stitches under there,” Konstantin assured me as I lowered my shirt. “But at least she saved your eye.”

I reached up and touched my eye, and unlike my side, it felt perfectly normal and pain-free. There wasn’t any sign of injury that I could feel.

“The bear swiped you good across the face, but to save your eye, the healer had to fix it all completely,” he explained. “Where the bear tore you open on your side, she mostly just closed up the internal organs. You lost a lot of blood.”

“I’ll have to thank her for that if I ever see her,” I said, and I meant it. She hadn’t needed to help me, especially since I wasn’t even Trylle, and I was grateful that she’d gone out of her class to save my life.

Then I turned my attention to Konstantin. “How could you not tell me that Mina is Viktor’s daughter?”

He inhaled sharply through his teeth. “I didn’t know for sure.”

“How could you not know?” I asked, incredulous. “You’ve been sleeping with her for years, and working with her dad? But somehow you never put that together?”

“They’re not like a normal father-daughter.” He shook his head. “At first I thought they might be former lovers, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case because of how cold they were with each other. They were more like colleagues. Mina never called him ‘Dad.’ They never talked about family. The only thing they ever mentioned was revenge and how they were going to exact it.”

“And you never asked?” I pressed.

“Of course I did! But Mina just told me not to concern myself with things like that.”

“And that was good enough for you?”

“No!” Konstantin leaned forward and put his hands to his face in frustration. “Nothing was ever good enough for me with Mina, but she wouldn’t ever give more. You don’t understand what it was like with her. Everything was on her terms. Everything.”

“Fine. I can accept that you couldn’t push Mina, but why wouldn’t you have told me?” I asked. “You obviously had suspicions.”

“Really?” He looked at me with an arched eyebrow. “What would’ve happened if I told you that Mina was Viktor’s daughter, and it turned out not to be the case? Not only would that have destroyed any trust you had in me, it would’ve destroyed any credibility you had with whoever you’d gone to with that information.”

I realized that he was right. If it had turned out that his hunch was wrong, it would’ve undone any progress we’d made.

By not revealing unsubstantiated ideas to me, he’d protected everything we were trying to accomplish.

“And does it even matter?” Konstantin asked. “Mina is an evil bitch regardless of who her father is.”

“Well, now it matters, because the information might be enough to get the Trylle involved and help the Kanin,” I said. “This is proof that Mina got the crown under false pretenses, murdered the King, and she should be dethroned.”

“By dethroned, you mean executed.” He looked down at the floor, his arms resting on his knees.

For the first time it occurred to me what this might mean to him. He’d once loved Mina, very deeply by his accounts, and even though he realized how awful she truly was, that didn’t necessarily mean he’d want to see her dead.

“Yes. Mina will be executed. Are you okay with that?”

He breathed in deeply, then nodded. “I will be.”

“You can tell me how you’re feeling,” I said, then added, “If you want this whole friendship thing to work and want me to trust you, you can’t keep things from me.”

“I think you know all my secrets now,” he replied wearily.