charge at Darien. With wide eyes, he stumbles in the snow, struggling to get
his feet moving fast enough. A laugh erupts in my soul, reminding me of the
days when I chased my young brother through the secret passageways in the
castle. A part of me misses him.
Longs to be back with my
stop!” Rose cries out.
voice halts me in my tracks. I sit, like a trained dog waiting for her next
command. If only she knew the power she wields over me. In my bed, she is mine
and bends to me. Everything else, I am but her humble servant.
you all right?” She looks Darien over.
nods, panting for breath. “I need rest and libation. Would you mind if I spared
a few moments in your cottage to warm myself?”
I do mind. You cannot stay here. But I know of a place where you can rest and
have a hot meal. I'll take you there.” Swallowing hard, she tosses me a glance.
groan rumbles in my throat, coming out in a threatening growl. She approaches
me and her eyes soften as she reaches a hand to my head.
be back later, bear. Watch over the house for me.” Pressing her lips to the top
of my head, she wraps her arms around my neck in a tight embrace.
muffled bray puffs out of my mouth and I release a sigh. I don't like the
thought of her being alone with him. In my presence, I can watch over her and
hear what information he tells her. But I know she's trying to lead him away
from here, though why, I'm not entirely sure. She now knows he's my brother. If
she comes back tonight, she'll surely question me for answers. And I have all
day to summon the courage to answer them.
swirl in my mind like a brewing storm. Marcus' words from last night slam to
the forefront. The day he tells me his secrets will be the day I'll leave him.
Yet I professed to him that no matter what he shared with me, I wouldn't leave.
Foolish to say in a moment crazed with sex.
heart still believes it. I just wish my head would too.
stare at the back of Marcus' brother, clinging to his waist as we ride his
steed along the path out of the haunted woods. They share physical
similarities, but his body does not make me tingle at a touch like Marcus. I've
never sat so close to a man, yet felt so far away. He holds the answers I seek,
yet I'm afraid to ask him. They need to come from Marcus himself.
much further,” he asks over his shoulder.
“Just over the bridge.”
I point to the spot where Marcus
saved my life.
shakes his head. “It doesn't look stable enough to cross.”
is. Trust me. It's been rebuilt.” I
in a deep
breath as the horse trots across, each plank bowing under our weight. But it
canter down the path on the other side to my home and I hope Snow isn't
Though it may serve some good for her to get
And if I weren't already head over heels for his brother, I may
have nipped at this one. Even though they share a similar rugged and handsome
body, his personality is vastly different. Marcus gives off an air of raw
sexuality, strong and protective, with
behind his eyes. His brother seemed, at least from our brief encounter, a bit
cocky, with not much to back it up. He overcompensates, as if awkward around
women, from years spent in the shadow of Marcus, I suppose.
the time he slides down from the horse and reaches to assist me, I'm already
dashing to the house, alerting Snow I'm here and we have a visitor.
burst through the door.
black curls whip over her shoulder as she spins around in the kitchen. “Rose,
is everything all right?” Her deep brown eyes furrow with worry.
and no. We have a visitor.” I smile as Marcus' brother approaches behind me.
lips pop open and her eyes expand like a budding flower. Immediately she grips
the outer edges of her skirts and drops to a flourishing curtsy, bowing her
I quirk a brow.
Darien,” she says, staring at the ground.
spin around and stare at him.
hammers an erratic rhythm against my ribs.
appreciate your reverence. Perhaps you can teach your friend here a thing or
two about addressing a member of the royal family.” He tosses me a wink.
never mentioned you're a prince.” I throw my hands on my hips, narrowing my
refused to ask who I was.
of your own making.
And I still do not have the pleasure of
knowing your name.” He winks and brushes past me to assist Snow up from her
regal curtsy. Slipping her hand in his, he brushes the back of it with his
lips. “It's a great pleasure to meet you. Snow, I presume.”
nods as pink floods her pale cheeks. “Yes, Snow White and this is my sister, Rose
low growl prickles the back of my throat that Snow gave away my name.
brings a royal to the outer edges of the kingdom?” Snow asks, curling her
fingers around Darien's still holding her hand.
in search of my missing brother. I happened upon Rose at her cottage. Someone
advised me my brother may have been seen near the river.” He curls Snow's arm
into the crook of his and guides her to the living area by the fire.
She darts a glance to me with
give her a minute shake of my head, hoping she doesn't give away anymore
unnecessary information. Until I can confront Marcus on why he's hiding from
his brother, I can't give up his location. But this danger of which Darien
refers to knots my stomach.
the one with the bear she's so fond of.” He eases Snow to a seat and sits on a
has her little hideaways. She's a free spirit. I do not tend to her business
and she doesn't mine. But we take care of each other at all costs. I'm sure if
she knew of anything having to do with your missing brother, especially a
she would do right and tell you.” Her glare bores a
hole through my heart.
Rightly so, as I haven't been
truthful to my sister.
I've never once lied to her. And I still haven't. I merely haven't shared the
details of my whereabouts for the last two nights. Yet I must go back to Marcus
tonight for answers. And I refuse to let his body distract me.
what exactly happened to your brother?” I
arms and lean against the far wall.
disappeared, just shy of two years ago. We think it was because of his arranged
marriage.” Darien rests an arm on his knee and looks up at me.
married?” The words shoot from my lips before I can stop them, and they circle
back to punch me in the gut.
cracks a smile as his brows knit together. “No, that's the whole point. He was
running from the marriage. He was to be wed to Princess Marianna of Evansdale.
But a week before the wedding, he disappeared.”
in a breath of relief, swallowing past the lump
in my throat. The thought of him being married to someone else nearly shatters
heard that he ran away,” Snow adds. “Word has popped up over the years that
he's been seen off and on. But no one's ever located him.”
is this grave danger you speak of?” I ask, locking eyes with him.
know of the dwarf sorcerer,
?” he says.
shoots me a glance, fear swimming in her eyes. I dart my gaze between her and
Darien. “The name rings a bell. What of him?” I force the words out as evenly
as I can muster, yet they drown in anxiety.
we think happened is
to strike a deal to get out of the marriage. But you well know
does not give favors. Marcus never came back from
his visit to
. And I wouldn't even know if he's
alive or dead, except for a few rumblings of townsfolk who claim to have seen
him haunting the forest.” Lowering his head, he rubs between his eyes and
releases a deep sigh. “If he did in fact team up with
there's no telling what his fate is or will be. I must find him.”
eyes connect back with mine, true concern overflowing in them. He clearly loves
give a nod, doing my best to mask the feelings barraging my heart. “What's his
“Marcus,” Darien replies, staring
straight into my eyes.
They are brothers as I thought.
My body lurches forward as the realization hits that the crown prince of
fucked me, not once, but twice. Air hitches in my
throat and the room spins.
hope you find him, Prince Darien,” I manage to choke out and throw down a
curtsy before dashing up the stairs to my room.
the door behind me, I slide down the back of it into a puddle on the floor. I
the length of the cold wood, trying to force myself
back up. But the heaviness of my heart keeps me weighted to the ground. Marcus
risked exposing himself to save me. Someone saw him pull me out of the river.
he's not hurt.
lives alone in that cabin and seems
that he craves sex like air and water. And now I see why, banishing
from human connection for nearly two years. I come
into his life and stoke his smoldering sexual embers, letting him use me. But I
use him too. We feed off each other in a primal need to satiate our inner
in the end, it all comes back down to his saving me. And now I need to save
myself off the floor, I indulge in a fragrant bath to pass the hours before
redressing. Hiking my skirts with cinchers, I pull on my thigh high leather
boots for warmth.
Easier to run when I'm not tripping over my
I tuck my bosom tight in place as I lace up my red and black
leather overcoat. Tugging up my hood, I crack open my door.
laughter rings through the hollows of the house. Darien's still downstairs.
Which means I must sneak out or he'll follow me back to Marcus.
the shuttered windows, I grip the climbing vines that cling to the stone walls
of the house. I inhale a deep breath and work my way down the snaking mass of
leaves and tightly roped vines, making myself a temporary ladder. Jumping the
last three feet, I take off in a sprint as the sun makes its final descent to
an hour from nightfall, I jog through the woods, hoping to make it to the
cottage in time to see my bear. I find it odd that a bear would not be
hibernating yet, this far into the winter season. It's as if he guards Marcus'
house during the day while he's away, doing whatever it is he does when he
won't let me see him. The way the bear walked me home after my first night with
Marcus, and today with Darien, it's like he's guarding me too.
cottage comes into view through the lines of trees deep into the woods. One
would pass right by it if you didn't know it was there. The logs that shape it
into a home blend well within the tree line. Many times I've walked this path
over the years, never knowing it was there.
lurks in the corner of my eye. Heated breath crawls up the back of my neck and
I still, letting the shadows cover me. The thundering of my heart deafens my
gravelly voice scratches at my right ear.
,” I say, forcing my quickening breath to slow.
for a stroll?” He circles around me, stopping as we come face to face.
throw my hands on my hips. “I always do. You should know this. You stalk me.”
lets out a laugh and runs a grimy nail along his beard. “Let's give up this
game, Red. You have what I want. If you give it to me, I won't kill your
words sink my heart to my stomach. “What is it you want?”
dirt laden nails trace the outline of my breasts.
I hiss and bat his hand from my chest.
your sister dies tonight!” He slams his walking stick into the ground and a
puff of smoke swallows him.
I cry out and spin in a circle looking for him.
reappears in front of me. “Have a change of heart?”
breaths huff from my nostrils as I stare at him, hatred seething through my
veins. Nails press crescents into the fleshy palm of my hands. My lips open to
respond, but a black paw swipes me backward and lunges for