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Duncan, Willa, and Matt were waiting for me by the stairs. As soon as I saw Matt’s face, I couldn’t hold it together any longer. Tears spilled down my cheeks, and Matt wrapped his arms around me.

Once I calmed down, we went up to my room. Duncan got us all hot tea, and I made him sit down and pour himself a cup. I hated when he acted like a servant. Willa curled up next to me on the bed, comforting in a way that made me miss my aunt Maggie.

“So she’s dying?” Matt asked. He leaned against my desk, rolling the empty teacup between his hands.

I wasn’t sure how much Duncan or Willa knew about my parentage or about how the Trylle abilities hurt us. I didn’t want to tell them too much, especially Matt, and make them worry. So I left out all the major plot points, and only let them know that Elora was sick.

“I think so,” I said. She hadn’t said that exactly, but she had aged so rapidly. She looked to be in her seventies now, and that was after Aurora Kroner had healed her.

“That really sucks,” Duncan said, sitting on the chest at the foot of my bed.

“You were talking to her and she just collapsed?” Willa asked. She rested her elbow on the pillow next to mine and propped her head up so she could look at me.

“Yeah.” I nodded. “The worst part is I was arguing with her right before it happened.”

“Aw, sweetie.” Willa reached out and touched my arm. “You know it wasn’t your fault, right?”

“Did she say what she’s dying from?” Matt asked. The crease on his forehead deepened; he knew I had left something out.

“You know Elora.” I shrugged. “She’s vague on details.”

“That’s true,” Matt said with a sigh, and that answer seemed to satisfy him. “I just don’t like mysterious illnesses.”

“Well, nobody does, Matt,” Willa said with a teasing lilt to her voice.

“What were you and the Queen arguing about?” Duncan asked. He was changing the subject, which I would’ve been grateful for, until I remembered the answer to his question.

I was supposed to marry Tove Kroner.

“Oh, hell.” I leaned my head back so it thudded against the headboard.

“What was that for?” Willa asked.

“Nothing.” I shook my head. “It was just a stupid disagreement. That’s all.”

“Stupid?” Matt came over and sat on the bed by my feet. “Stupid how?”

“You know, normal stuff,” I floundered. “Elora wanted me to be a better Princess. More punctual and stuff like that.”

“You do need to be more punctual,” Matt agreed. “Maggie was always on you about that.”

Another reminder of Maggie stung my heart. I hadn’t spoken to her since we’d returned to Förening. Matt had a few times, but I’d been avoiding her calls. I had been busy lately, but the real reason I put off talking to her was because hearing her voice would only make me miss her too much.

“How is Maggie?” I asked, ignoring the ache in my chest.

“She’s good,” Matt said. “She’s staying in New York with friends, and she’s really confused about everything that’s going on. I keep telling her that everything’s fine, that we’re safe, and she needs to lay low.”


“You need to talk to her, though.” Matt gave me a hard look. “I can’t keep being the go-between.”

“I know.” I picked at chipped paint on my teacup and lowered my eyes. “I don’t know how to answer her questions. Like, where we are and when we’re coming back and when I’ll see her again.”

“I don’t know how to answer them either, but I make do,” Matt said.

“Wendy’s had a long day,” Willa said, coming to my rescue. “I don’t think now is the time to lecture her on things she should be doing.”

“You’re right.” Matt gave her a small smile before looking at me apologetically. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get on your case, Wendy.”

“No, it’s fine,” I said. “You’re just doing your job.”

“I don’t really know what my job is anymore,” Matt said wearily.

Someone knocked at the door, and Duncan jumped up to get it.

“Duncan, stop it.” I sighed. “You’re not the butler.”

“Maybe not, but you’re still the Princess,” Duncan said, and he opened my bedroom door.

“I hope I’m not disturbing anything,” Finn said, looking past Duncan at me.

As soon as his dark eyes landed on mine, my breath caught in my throat. He stood at the door, his black hair mussed a bit. His vest was still neatly pressed but it was marred with a dark stain from Elora’s blood.

“No, not at all,” I said, sitting up farther.

“Actually, we were—” Matt began, his voice hard.

“Actually, we were leaving,” Willa cut him off. She scooted off the bed, and Matt shot her a look, which she only smiled at. “We were just saying that we had something to do in your room. Weren’t we, Matt?”

“Fine,” Matt grumbled and stood up. Finn moved aside so Matt and Willa could walk out of the room, and Matt gave him a warning glare. “But we’ll just be right across the hall.”

Willa grabbed Matt’s hand to keep him moving. Finn, as usual, seemed oblivious to Matt’s threats, which only made Matt angrier.