He moved to follow her, but Synda clutched him by the wrist. “Let her go. She’s nothing to us.”

Rage had him spinning toward her, his teeth bared. “You will not ever speak like that again. Do you understand me?”

She blanched under the ferocity of his attention.

King Tiberius pushed to his feet.

And Kane realized he had to play nice. He softened his voice, saying, “I don’t want my...servants anywhere near Josephina.”

The king’s nod was stiff. He snapped his fingers and guards surrounded the three warriors, impeding any moves they might have made. “Your turn, Lord Kane. I don’t want my daughter upset.”

To Synda, Kane gritted, “Let’s take a walk through the gardens. No...servant.”

She gave a little pout. “You don’t want to go back to my room?”

“No.” He realized how insulting that probably sounded, considering everything else he’d done and said this day. “Like I said, I want to get to know you better first.”

Synda beamed and Kane did his best not to grimace.

“Go with them,” the king said to one of the guards. “See to their protection.”

The only one in need of protection was Synda. From Kane. She’d unwittingly helped Tink get away. A killing offense.

Just get through the next few hours, and you can hunt your Fae down.

Once he found her, he wasn’t going to let her out of his sight. He wasn’t going to leave her, either, he realized. He couldn’t. Not while William’s kids were here.

Besides, Kane might be a magnet for disaster, but to him, there was nothing more magnetic than Tink, and he couldn’t bear the thought of letting her go.


JOSEPHINA RACED DOWN the hall, tears burning the backs of her eyes. Kane wanted to spend more time with Synda, a supposed means to an end. What end, exactly? Allegedly, his goal for being here was saving Josephina from—yes, okay, there was a good possibility he was catering to the princess for Josephina’s sake.

Perhaps she shouldn’t have let a sudden burst of jealousy and hurt send her fleeing Kane’s side. The man had just suffered horrendous pain on her behalf, taking a punishment meant for her. But...if he would suffer through something like that, just to keep his word and prevent Josephina from being injured, he would be willing to wed Synda to keep her safe, too.

Another blessing. Another curse.

He might even desire such an outcome, at least on some level. After all, the Moirai had told him Synda could very well be the girl for him.

A choked sound escaped her. Kane was hers. Hers! And she didn’t want to share him. His dark, tantalizing kisses had done something to her. Changed her. Now, she craved the heat and ache and crazed need only he could bring forth. She craved...more.

A hard hand latched onto her upper arm, stopping her progress and swinging her around. She came face-to-face with Leopold and experienced a sharp pang of dread.

When he noticed the wetness on her cheeks, he scowled. “What’s wrong with you? You just escaped punishment.”

“Let me go, brother.” A shaming reminder for him.

One he failed to heed. “Me, you deny. Him, you cry for. Your demon-possessed beast is going to wed the princess and make you his mistress. You realize that, don’t you?”

I will be no one’s mistress. Not even Kane’s. “Who are you to cast stones?”

The prince studied her for a long while, probing her features for any sign of weakness. “No matter what I say, you’ll still want him. I can tell.” He hauled her to the window and flicked the curtains apart. “Look out there. See him for what he truly is.”

Kane and Synda were in the garden Josephina and her mother had once tended. He was still shirtless, his gorgeous, muscled chest a mess, the wound in the center open and raw. He bent down and picked up a rock, then threw it a good distance away. Synda took off in a run, searching for the rock. When she found it, she picked it up and skipped back to Kane.

He threw it again.

She chased it again.

He was...playing fetch with her?

Oh, yes, she thought. He was definitely doing this for Josephina’s benefit. A smile lifted the corners of her lips, only to fall a second later. The revelation didn’t change the course he’d set.

Leopold crowded behind her, pressing her against the glass—pressing hardness to softness. She tried to squirm away from him, but he planted his hands beside her, caging her in, holding her captive. Fear sparked to sickening life.

“I’ll treat you better than he ever could,” he whispered.

“Let me go, Leopold. Now.”

“I shouldn’t want you,” he continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “Everyone would be horrified if they knew. But I look at you, and I can’t help myself. The desire is there.”

“Resist it.”

“You don’t think I’ve tried?”

“Keep trying.”

He laughed without humor, and it was a tortured sound. “No, I’m done trying. I’m done waiting. You’re everything I need. I know you understand me in a way no one else can. You’re lonely, admit it. You need someone to lean and rely on, just like I do. I know you’ll finally be the one to satisfy me...the way I’ll satisfy you.”

“No. No!” she said, intensifying her struggles.

“Be still. I only plan to take a little, to show you how good it can be.”

A little was far too much. Though she had no kind of training, instinct kicked in and she elbowed him in the stomach, stomped on his foot and head-butted his chin. As powerful as he was, he gave no reaction.

He kissed the side of her neck. “Settle down and accept it. It’s going to happen.”

Don’t do this. Please, don’t do this...

As if he’d heard her silent plea from the garden, Kane stiffened and looked up. His gaze found the window and narrowed. Rage darkened his features, and he jolted into a dead sprint, blasting past the guard, knocking him to the ground. Synda tried to follow after him, but he was too fast for her. The princess stopped and hunched over, struggling for breath.

If Leopold had noticed the activities below, he gave no reaction. He nibbled on Josephina’s earlobe. “You’re going to like what I do to you. I promise,” he said, then spun her around.

He tried to mesh his lips against hers. She turned her head away, tried to push him. He grabbed her wrists and pinned her arms at her sides.

Panic choked the air from her lungs, but she managed to jerk up her knee, aiming for his groin. But he’d angled his lower body, as if he’d expected such a move, and she ended up rubbing herself against him.

He moaned with pleasure, and she mewled with distress.

Kane flew around the corner and tackled the prince to the ground. Leopold was too stunned to fight or use his ability as Kane hammered fist after fist into his face.

“You don’t touch her! Ever! Do you hear me?” Kane spit the words between punches. Blood sprayed in every direction, raining over the walls. The sound of breaking bones echoed. A tooth skidded across the floor. “You don’t touch her, and you don’t touch me, you don’t touch anyone. Understand? You don’t touch!”

Leopold’s body began to flop with the force of the blows, but not once did he try and shield himself—he couldn’t. He was too busy being unconscious...maybe dying.

Shaking, Josephina drew her arms around her middle. “Kane!”

As quickly as the one-sided battle had started, it stopped. Kane swung around, his narrowed gaze landing on her. His irises were bright red, glowing. He was panting. “Are you all right?”

She nodded, bit her lip. “You have to stop.” As upset as she’d been with him, she couldn’t stand the thought of Kane bearing any further pain. “Any wrongdoing against the prince will be punished, and your only blood slave is—”

“No. Never.”

Me, she silently finished.

He straightened and closed the distance between them. His hands dripped with crimson as he reached up and cupped her cheeks. He flushed the moment he noticed the wet streaks he’d left behind, and released her to lift the hem of her skirt and wipe her clean.

“Sorry,” he muttered, clearly shamed. Then he flushed again, and cursed. “Your new dress is ruined.”

“That’s okay. I can—”

“I ruined it,” he continued hollowly.

“Really, Kane, it’s no big deal. I don’t care about the dress.”

“I’m buying you a hundred more. Nicer ones, no more uniforms. You belong to me now. I get to decide.”

“Listen to me. You have to leave the palace before anyone sees what you did. All right? Okay?”

His gaze found hers, searched deeply. Whatever he saw caused the red to fade from his eyes, and his expression to soften. “Neither of us will be punished. The prince isn’t going to admit what happened. Are you?” he shouted down at the now-writhing male, who was in the process of coming to. “Because you know this was only the appetizer. I’m capable of worse.”

An agonized moan was the only response.

Booted footsteps filled the little alcove, and the guard Kane had knocked down in the garden came racing around the corner. He spotted the prince on the ground and stopped to reach for a weapon.

Josephina threw a protective arm in front of Kane and rushed out, “He totally could have been like this when we got here,” at the same time Kane said, “He fell.”

Neither one of them had lied.

“Get him to his room and call a doctor,” Kane added. “And tell Prince Leopold to be more careful from now on. The next incident might kill him.”

The guard gulped, nodded.

Kane scooped Josephina into his arms and stomped off. She offered no protest.

“Lord Kane,” the guard called. “I think I’m supposed to follow you.”

“No need. I’m headed to my room.” A few minutes later, they arrived at their destination. Kane stopped in the private bathroom and eased her onto the toilet lid.