“But what you absorb doesn’t last.”

“What he imparts does,” she replied simply.

He tapped his temples. “What about your ability to invade my head?”

Turning back to her rag so that he wouldn’t see the sudden bead of tears in her eyes, she said softly, “It was my mother’s ability, and she gave it to me right before she died. I guess it stayed with me because it had nowhere else to go.”

“But she was human. How did she possess an ability of a Fae?”

A pang in her heart as she said, “I probably should have qualified my description of her. One of her ancestors was Fae, but the line had become so diluted she was considered human.”

A pause. Then, “You have too much to live for, Tinker Bell, and I don’t want you to seek a killer while I’m here. Got it?”

She would vow no such thing and told him so with her silence.

He leaned down and whispered, “I’ll kill anyone you ask, and I won’t be nice about it. They’ll hurt, and they’ll beg, and they’ll scream, just like you said you did in the Never-ending. Only, their suffering won’t end as quickly as yours did. A thousand years? Try ten thousand.”

Trembling, she gripped the railing. “You have to let me do what I think is right.”

“When what you think is right is actually wrong? No. You’re mine, and I’ll see to you.”

Her gaze jerked up.

His cheeks reddened. The cascade of his warm breath stopped abruptly as he straightened. “I mean, you’re my responsibility now. I want you alive and well.”

You’re mine. Her body had come alive with those words. Her pulse had quickened. Her stomach had quivered. Every inch of her had heated. But the sensations had fled with his addition. She was a responsibility, nothing more.

“What’s wrong?” He pinched a lock of her hair between his fingers, tickling her scalp.

“Nothing.” She batted his arm away. One second he ran hot, the next cold. The next hot. He was twisting her into terrible knots, and she didn’t like it.

He frowned. “Tell me you won’t do anything foolish.”

“I can’t do that. I consider this conversation foolish, and yet I’m still participating.”

He took no offense. “There’s got to be a few things you want to do before you die. Besides meeting Torin.” With the dryness of his tone, he might as well have rolled his eyes.

There was something she wanted to do.... Her gaze fell to his lips. She wanted to kiss him. So bad. She gulped and croaked, “Like what?” Now who’s running hot and cold?

“Like...fall in love.”

Love. Yes. Something she’d craved, especially in the dark of the night, when men came knocking at the door of the room she shared with seven other servants. The women always giggled, thrilled to be summoned, to be kissed and touched and maybe even held afterward.

“Have you ever fallen in love?” she asked.

“No,” he said.

“You’ve had sex, though. A lot.” And she suddenly wasn’t happy by the thought.

He nodded stiffly. “You heard stories about that, too, I guess.”

“A few.” But the spies had only witnessed his public encounters. She wondered what happened when he was behind closed doors, and shivered.

“When was the last?”

The sharpness of the question surprised her. “Story?”

He nodded.

“A year ago. We were told you had a one-night stand.”

He relaxed. “If you’re hoping for an exclusive packed with details, you’re not going to get it.”

“I’m not. If you were Paris, though, I might beg for it.” She smiled with fond remembrance. “Sweet, beautiful Paris.”

“You are really trying my patience, woman. Paris already has a female, one who is very powerful and would not find your yearning amusing.” Kane leaned down, putting them nose-to-nose. “Even if he didn’t, you’re mine. Don’t ever forget.”

This time, he offered no addition, and the warmth returned to her body, speeding through her veins, and oh, sweet heat, suddenly her heart was racing faster than ever before, her bones melting, the rest of her liquefying.

“Your responsibility?” she asked with a tremor.

He tapped her on the nose, irritating her, and said, “I have a lot to think about. I’ll find you later and let you know what I’ve decided.”

“Decided?” She grabbed the sides of his shirt. “About what?”

“You’ll know when I know.” He tugged from her hold and walked away, never looking back.

The guards leaped into action, probably intending to escort him to the king for his whipping. She almost opened her mouth to say she would take the punishment for him. She’d been whipped before, and she could survive being whipped again. But in the end, she let him go. He was Synda’s fiancé now, and Josephina couldn’t allow herself to forget.

Not even when the words you’re mine were echoing in her mind.

* * *


Kane’s mind whirled. Synda was possessed by the demon of Irresponsibility, but Tinker Bell had spent time in the Never-ending. Synda was blonde, and could very well be the girl in Danika’s painting. But, his pose seemed to suggest he cared about the girl, and it was Tinker Bell, a brunette, his mind and body craved.

Her sad crystalline gaze tore him up inside. Her lips were so lush and red and...lickable. Yeah, that was the perfect word to describe them. Her body was curved in all the right ways—dangerous.

And she wanted Torin. Or Paris.

Once upon a time, he would have been fine with that. She wasn’t the kind of woman he would have wanted. He would have considered her too sweet, too innocent, and no match for Disaster. But Kane would have been wrong. He would have missed out on a very good thing. Yes, Tinker Bell was sweet. Yes, she was innocent. But she was also strong. Resilient.


What Kane felt for her was different than what he’d ever felt for another. It was more intense. Intense enough to overshadow self-disgust and tainted memories, and utterly consume him. He was beginning to like touching her, despite the pain she elicited. But the thought of having sex with her...no.

He would only disappoint her. Memories would overtake him, and he would humiliate himself by vomiting. He wouldn’t be able to please her, but he would have no problem disappointing her. She had lived with enough disappointment. Enough humiliation—she didn’t need his.

He wouldn’t be able to treat her as he’d treated the girls at the club, and just go through the motions. She deserved more. Better. But he wouldn’t be able to give her more and better.

And what would Disaster do if Kane ever got her into bed?

Being so near her, putting his hands on her time and time again, and wanting so badly to kiss her, had finally driven the demon over the edge. Disaster had erupted, roaring with upset, banging against Kane’s skull in an effort to drive him away from her. He’d stayed put, desperate for one more second of her time, her scent, her gaze...the possibility of more contact. And that’s when the chandelier had come crashing down.

Now, he stomped to the bedroom he’d been given, and shut the door in his companions’ faces. He halfway expected the pair to burst inside and ask for his autograph, but they opted to survive the rest of their day. They didn’t know the king had changed his mind about the whipping. That Kane had won their chess game, and the prize had been the freedom to speak with Tinker Bell anytime, anywhere.

He could have told Tinker Bell the truth, but he had liked her concern for him too much. As mad as she’d been at him, she hadn’t wanted him to suffer.

Did she have any idea what that did to him?

No. Probably not.

What was he going to do with that girl?

What was he going to do about the princess?

And, curse it all, why was he even wondering about this? He wasn’t here to find a mate, had even thought to avoid the one the Moirai predicted was his. He leaned against the door, and pushed out a heavy breath. He was here to save Tinker Bell. Afterward, he would kill Disaster. Then, and only then, would he figure out what to do about his future.

So. Just how was he going to save Tinker Bell? If he took her out of Séduire, she would be hunted for the rest of her life. If he killed her royal family, the Fae would strike back at him. They might try and return the favor by killing his family, the Lords. A long, bloody war could erupt, and his friends had enough to deal with.

Frustrated, he stalked forward and slammed his fist into the poster at the end of the bed. Solid gold met bone, and bone lost, splitting in several places. Pain radiated up his arm, and he grinned without humor. The wound would heal. His fury wouldn’t.

Too often lately he’d been without answers, without direction, unsure of what to do or how to proceed. Confusion was a toxic sludge inside him, rising and rising, and he needed to get rid of it.

Hinges on the bathroom door creaked. Kane straightened, assuming a battle stance. Only, it wasn’t an enemy here to attack. It was Synda—utterly naked.

She leaned against the door frame and toyed with the ends of her hair. Short, delicate of bone structure and yet plump of flesh, she presented the perfect picture of feminine carnality. Add a little muscle tone to her, and she was the kind of woman he had once enjoyed.

Mine, Disaster purred.

“What are you doing?” he demanded. This was to be his private room, and that’s the way he wanted it to stay. Private.

“I’m seducing you, of course.” A soft smile lifted the corners of her lips, inviting him to join in her amusement and arousal. There was no red in her eyes, no hint of her demon. “I took one look at you, and knew we were destined to be together. You’re everything I’ve ever wanted in a man.”

Destined, she’d said. “Have you spoken to the Moirai?”

“I’ve never had the privilege, no.”

He wasn’t sure what to think about that. “And just what is it you’ve wanted in a man, hmm?”