When I wake, I’m amazed to realize I’m alive. I was sure the Prince’s men were going to kill me.
My hands immediately got to my middle, running over my slight baby bump with urgency. Everything
feels normal, but I wish I had Sinclair’s link with our pup. I wish I could feel what he’s feeling, know for
sure that he’s unharmed. I’m sure the events of the last 12 hours or so haven’t helped my
preeclampsia, and I’m worried for my son.
Even as I think this, a tiny thump meets my palm, and I clamp my eyes shut with relief. “Hello angel.” I
greet him gently. “You can tell Mommy’s freaking out, huh?” Another kick flutters beneath my hand and
I hiccup with unshed tears. “I love you so much.” I whisper. “I’m going to find a way out of this, I
After my baby, Sinclair is my greatest concern. Fear for my mate permeates the fog of confusion, worry
and grief consuming my overwrought mind. At best he’ll be beside himself with guilt and rage that
we’ve been taken. At worst he never made it out of the battle at all. I’d been anxious for his well being
when the all clear rang out, but now I realize we might have lost.
I stagger to my feet, cradling my stomach and wincing as a dozen aches and pains assail me all at
once. I hadn’t noticed them when I was lying down, but upright I feel as though I’ve been flattened by a
steamroller. My vision blacks out as blinding pain pierces my skull, and muscles I didn’t even know I
possessed are screaming at my brain, my eviscerated nerve endings begging we cease moving. I
slump back onto the edge of the bed, trying to breathe through the agony.
Of course, as soon as I close my eyes, images of all my slaughtered guards fill my mind. I moan as I
recall Sean’s remorse in the second before he dies, and Gabriel’s agonized howl as his insides were
spilled into the pavement. I’m so lost in my thoughts that I barely hear the door open. “Oh good. You’re
up.” Lydia’s familiar and wretched voice cuts through my thoughts and I crack my eyelids open to see
the she-wolf prowling into the room with a smug smirk on her face. “How are you liking your rooms?”
For the first time I look around and realize I must be in the Royal Palace, because my surroundings are
actually quite lovely. “What, no dungeons?” I quip snarkily, trying not to let her see how much pain I’m
I’m baffled at how Lydia could possibly march in here sounding like an attentive hostess when I’ve just
been kidnapped, but she manages without any visible difficulty. “Don’t be silly. You’re a Luna. We have
to show you due respect… even if you are a conniving little whore.” Lydia announces, sounding more
and more bitter with every word out of her mouth.
“More like you need to keep me in good condition so that Dominic doesn’t gut you like a fish when he
finds me.” I counter sharply. It’s mostly a test, a trick to get her to reveal Sinclair’s fate. If she tells me
he’s dead, I’m not sure I’ll believe her – surely I would feel it if he was no longer here? Still, if she
acknowledges that he’s still alive then at least I know there’s hope.
Lydia snorts. “You don’t get it, do you?” She snipes. “Dominic isn’t going to find you at all.” A stab of
fear stops my heart, but it eases as she continues. “And this isn’t some shoddy shake down. We’re
brokering a deal, and you’re simply out ace in the hole. I think you’ll find it’s all very civilized. Just wait,
in a few weeks, you’ll be back with Dominic safe and sound.”
Relief and distrust war for control in my heart, and my wolf snarls at her suggestion. “Civilized?” I grit
out. “Is that what you call hiring rogues to attack your own people and murdering my guards?”
“I call that an unfortunate necessity – collateral damage.” Lydia shrugs, showing so little concern for the
loss of human life I wonder if she has a heart at all.
“And what exactly am I supposed to leverage for you? If you expect Dominic to give up his life for mine
then you’re going to be sorely disappointed.” I bluff, smothering a terrible feeling that this isn’t actually
true. I”d like to think that Sinclair knows his survival is much more important than my own, but matters
of the heart rarely bend to logic.
Lydia scoffs, “Of course he would. Dominic has always been too noble for his own damned good.
Besides – weren’t you listening. I said you’d be together. We just need him to give up his campaign,
I shake my head. “What the hell happened to make you this way? Don’t you care about what will
happen to the pack if the Prince wins? To all the packs?” I hiss, not understanding how anyone who
had been part of the Sinclair family – who believe in nothing if not selfless duty – could be so heartless.
Lydia rolls her eyes, “Why should I care about a bunch of commoners – I’ll be on the throne.”
“You can’t control him, you know.” I warn, feeling only the tiniest ounce of concern for the psychotic
creature in front of me. “He beat his last wife, only a fool would think he’ll be different with you.”
Lydia turns her nose up. “Angeline was weak, she didn’t know how to manage him like I do.” She
“And your own husband?” I demand. “What will he have to say about this?”
Lydia blanches. “He’s out of sight and out of mind. The Prince outranks him, he can dissolve our
marriage when the time comes.”
I don’t miss the flicker of uncertainty on her lovely face, and I store away that knowledge for the future.
“Is power really worth all this?” I inquire, gesturing to the rooms around us. “You’ve been seeking it your
whole life, and where has it gotten you? Are you happy, Lydia?”
She bares her teeth at me. “Happiness means security, and security means power. If you had any idea
what it feels like to be powerless you might understand that. But no – here you are having skated
through like on your looks, everything and everyone falling at your feet because you’re perfect Ella,”
She sneers, “but it doesn’t work that way for everyone. I’ve had to struggle, I’ve had to fight every day
for what I have.”
It takes all my willpower not to laugh in her face. She’s far from the first person to assume I’ve had a
charmed life because of my beauty, but this is the first time anyone has ever been quite so far off the
“You know, I find that those who have truly struggled tend to learn a little empathy. It’s only the self-
centered narcissists who try to blame their cruelty on being a victim.” I observe coolly.
“How dare you –” Lydia begins, color flooding her face where moments before she had been as pallid
as a sheet.
“How dare I what?” I interrupt, mocking her haughty demeanor, “Tell you a truth you don’t want to hear?
Tell me what is your great tragedy? Have you never gotten over being born as one of the dirty
commoners you so revile? Never got over your jealousy that some people were born luckier, and so
you decided to steal what they had? Or is it your infertility? Is that what all this hatred comes down to?
The fact that I am giving Dominic what you never could?”
I’m not proud of myself for this. I promised myself a long time ago that I would never assume I knew
someone’s pain based on appearances, or weaponize their heartbreaks. Even with Lydia, I’ve always
refused to bring up her fertility struggles, knowing how difficult these things are. But today she pushed
me too far. She killed my guards, she probably cost Sinclair any number of his men, and she would
have thrown the entire valley to the rogues – shifters and humans alike –the elderly, women and
Before I realize what she’s about, Lydia storms forward and slaps me across the face with all her
strength. My head snaps back, my ears ringing, but when the shock passes and I look up at the fuming
woman above me, I only blink. “Is that the best you can do?”
Lydia screeches and lunges for me, her claws extended in threat. I brace myself for the impact,
wondering what I was thinking, pushing her so far when I don’t have a wolf to defend myself. Just then
a masculine voice interrupts her, “Lydia!” We both freeze, looking to the open doorway and the man
framed at its center.
The Prince has arrived.
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