Updated: Mar 13
Royal Rebel is out on April 21st! Check out the blurb and chapter one below. And don't forget, you can preorder on Kindle now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BRPRPPQ1
A PRINCE fighting to save a princess
A SERJAH torn between duty and desire
A PRINCESS willing to sacrifice everything
A DECOY with nothing to lose
A WORLD about to be torn apart
After his father’s latest punishment, Grayson isn’t at his full strength. Trapped in Ryden and surrounded by enemies, he knows escaping with Mia will be more complicated than anticipated. Tyrell is determined to claim Mia for himself, and Henri’s plans for the rest of Eyrinthia are more horrific than Grayson ever imagined. Despite the increased danger, he and Mia must return to Mortise and warn Desfan of what’s coming—even though it may already be too late.
In Mortise, the palace is still reeling from the brutal attack that left many dead and even more wounded. Regardless of the chaos, Desfan is determined to continue with his coronation. As serjan, he hopes to bring stability to his country and solidify the peace with Devendra. But things in Eyrinthia are always complicated. When Prince Liam reveals they may be facing dangers from old enemies, Desfan will have to decide what kind of ruler he will be.
Devastating news from home has left Clare broken. Despite her heartache, she must once again be Serene’s decoy when a terrifying report sends the princess on an unexpected mission to Zennor. Left at the palace, Clare helps Desfan build trust with the elite in Mortise while guarding a treasonous secret. Because as her grief transforms into a burning desire for vengeance, she is finally ready to embrace a new role—rebel.
Eyrinthia is consumed by uncertainty. Duty. Desire. Sacrifice. Every rebellion has its cost.
Silence rang in Mia’s ears, nearly as sharp as Grayson’s screams had been last night.
Fates, she had never heard him scream like that.
She sat beside him on the cold stone floor of the cell, grateful he’d finally managed to fall asleep and escape the pain.
Tears stung her eyes, and her fingers dug into her crossed arms. The pressure kept her grounded. Kept her breathing. Kept her from falling into one of her panics. It kept her from banging on that locked door until Henri Kaelin himself came, and she could smash the glowing lantern into his face and make him burn.
A tear tracked down her cheek. She had never felt so helpless. So useless. Not during the shipwreck that had stolen her life, or during her nine years of imprisonment. When Grayson’s father and brothers had entered the room, she knew it was going to be bad. She’d thought for one horrifying moment that Henri had come to hurt her.
She wished he would have hurt her.
Mia's ears roared, and the horrific memory swallowed her. “What is that?” she’d asked, her fingers strangling Grayson’s hand in hers.
Henri’s soulless brown eyes flicked to her. “A reminder. Grayson can choose who will wear it.”
Grayson stiffened. “Me,” he said, his voice clipped. “Not her.”
Mia’s heart pounded. She didn’t know what was in that vial. She only knew that it was bad. Very bad.
And, once again, Grayson was protecting her.
“You’ll prove your choice by not fighting it,” Henri said to Grayson, his words echoing strangely in Mia’s ears—as if all of this was happening far away. Or like she’d been swallowed by a roaring ocean. “If you attempt to remove it before it has run its course, she will receive the same.”
Mia glanced between Henri and Grayson, and fear made her throat almost too tight for breath. “Grayson . . .”
He didn’t look at her. His focus was solely on his father. “She doesn’t have to be here. I won’t fight.”
“For her sake, I’m glad to hear it.”
Her body was still bruised from Carter’s crushing hold. She’d fought, but he’d held her firmly while Grayson was forced to kneel before his father. When Tyrell followed Henri’s orders and rubbed that white powder on Grayson’s already injured jaw, all she could do was scream as Grayson’s entire body went rigid.
At first, he’d tried not to make a sound, but he hadn’t been able to burn silently.
She’d been utterly helpless. She couldn’t even hold him while he burned.
When it was finally over, Grayson breathed raggedly on his side, his body drenched in sweat. His bleeding fingers clutched the rough grooves in the stone floor, and his upturned cheek was bright red along his jaw. Fates, his jaw . . .
Her stomach had heaved, but she’d swallowed back bile. She was shaking so hard, she didn’t know how Carter still managed to hold her.
Henri had straightened. “I trust that will serve as a reminder of your failure. I think a night in this cell will also help. You’ll receive nothing for the pain. Only seek help if infection sets in.” With that, he strode from the room. Peter was on his heels, and Carter finally released Mia so he could follow.
Her legs trembled, barely holding her as she darted to Grayson’s side. She crashed to her knees, her hands fluttering uselessly before she grasped his shoulder. “You’re all right,” she whispered, throat pinched and eyes stinging. “You’re going to be all right.”
Grayson’s breaths were labored and rattling. His teeth were clenched, his gray eyes fixed on her. The agony in them broke her heart.
Her free hand stroked dark locks off his sweaty brow. “I’m here,” she breathed, blinking rapidly as she tried to banish her tears. “I’m right here.”
A boot scuffed behind her.
Grayson’s pained gaze snapped over her shoulder, and she felt his entire body tense, preparing to spring. To attack the one who tortured him, or shield her as he always had? She honestly wasn’t sure.
She tightened her hold on him. “Don’t move.”
He stilled, though tension still thrummed through his bunched muscles. His sharp gaze didn’t leave Tyrell.
Mia looked over her shoulder, following Grayson’s stare.
Tyrell stood there, the thick leather gloves that had protected his skin from that accursed powder dangling from one hand. His dark hair—so like Grayson’s—was also falling across his brow, casting his eyes in shadow. His expression was locked, but his shoulders were low. “What can I do?” he asked her.
There were so many things she wanted to say. She wanted a physician for Grayson, though she knew he couldn’t bring one. She wanted Grayson moved to his room—that also wouldn’t happen. She wanted to hit Tyrell. Scream at him.
She thought, in this moment, he would let her.
“Leave,” she said, her voice cracking.
A muscle jumped in Tyrell’s cheek.
She hated what he’d just done. Hated that he’d hurt Grayson so deeply—so permanently. Even still, a voice deep inside whispered that he’d had no choice. None of them did. Not here.
Grayson’s stiffness mounted. Mia squeezed her eyes shut. “Please, Tyrell,” she begged. “Go.”
Silence. Then a whisper of sound as Tyrell left.
When the door closed and locked behind him, Mia opened her eyes and twisted back He didn’t speak. She doubted he’d be able to without horrible pain. Even from the corner of her eye, she could see the ruined skin along his jaw was mottled, covered in blisters that bubbled across the deep cut.
She wanted to comfort him, but she didn’t know how. She didn’t dare move him, even to cradle his head in her lap. She couldn’t bear the thought of causing him any further pain. All she could do was twine her fingers through his and hold on.
Time passed. She didn’t know how much. She stroked his hair and squeezed his hand. She pressed close to his body, so he would know he wasn’t alone.
Eventually, Grayson shifted, and she helped roll him onto his back so he could be more comfortable. Even those careful movements made him flinch. He sucked in a breath when he turned his head, and even though he clenched his teeth, his nostrils flared and his gray eyes flooded with misery. Moisture had leaked from his eyes, and she brushed the tears before they could dash down his cheek and fall into the raw wound.
She couldn’t take away his hurt. She couldn’t even ease it. She could do nothing but hold his hand until eventually his ragged breathing turned less sharp, and finally his rigid body slumped in sleep. She could tell the rest was not deep, but it was a reprieve.
With Grayson unconscious, she finally studied the damage to his face.
The burn was on his right side, swollen and angry. It followed the cut his father had given him. That slice went deep, hitting bone, and it spanned nearly the entire length of his jaw—from below his ear, almost to the point of his chin. The blisters that mottled the edges of the cut made it clear that Tyrell had rubbed the powder into it, making the wound larger, the damage deeper. The redness of the burn spilled over onto his cheek, and a little under his neck—places the powder had touched. Those places, she thought, would heal in time, like the burn marks on his fingers from years ago. But his jaw . . . Would it ever heal? Would he even have feeling along the worst of the burn? Would he be able to fully smile?
Fresh tears clouded her vision, and she forced herself to stop. He was alive. That’s what mattered. Everything would always be all right, as long as Grayson still breathed.
The night dragged on in horrible silence. Grayson slept.
Mia did not.
If Henri had wanted them dead last night, there was nothing—nothing—either of them could have done. If he’d given Tyrell a knife instead of the powder, Mia would have had no choice but to watch Grayson die.
She had lost nearly everything in her life, but Grayson was the one thing she knew she couldn’t survive losing. They had to leave. No matter the risk, they had to escape.
Grayson had said a boat was waiting for them at Porynth. From studying her maps, she knew where the port city was. It would take them about three weeks to get there, and Grayson had said the ship wouldn’t wait much beyond that.
A shiver wracked her, but she forced that particular fear away. She had more immediate concerns than stepping back on a ship. Besides, they wouldn’t make it to Porynth in time to catch that ship. They were locked in a cell, with no idea how long Henri would keep them there. And even if they were released soon, Grayson needed time to heal. They couldn’t leave right away, which meant the ship would be long gone. They—
The lock for the door grated.
Grayson jerked awake at the sound and instantly rolled. Breath hissed out of him, agony fracturing the sound, but he didn’t stop moving until he was crouched in front of her, angled toward the door. The muscles in his shoulders bunched, his body coiled for a fight.
Mia’s heart pounded. She braced a hand on Grayson’s back as the door swung open.
Tyrell stepped in, not bothering to close the door behind him. The lamp in the cell had burned low, and the torches in the corridor behind him were blinding. “Father wants you in the courtyard,” he said without preamble, his tone clipped.
“What about Mia?” Grayson’s voice was guttural, roughened by sleep and a little slurred—probably because he was trying not to move his mouth too much.
Tyrell’s lips thinned, his eyes darting to Mia as he answered his brother. “She can remain in your room, or wherever she chooses to be within the castle.”
Grayson said nothing, but Mia stood, her eyes on Tyrell. “He can’t go anywhere. He needs to rest.”
“Orders have been given.” Tyrell looked to Grayson. “I don’t know where we’re going, but Father said we’d be back by nightfall.”
“We?” Grayson asked in a low growl.
“Peter, Carter, and the both of us.” Tyrell paused, then added, “Mia will be safe. Fletcher will guard her, and I can put some of my men on her as well.”
Grayson pushed to his feet. Mia was quick to grasp his hand, though he was surprisingly steady. He squeezed her fingers as he faced Tyrell. “We don’t need an escort.”
Tyrell snorted. “Perhaps you shouldn’t dismiss me until you know you can make it up the stairs.”
Mia’s heart rate quickened as Grayson stiffened beside her. “I don’t need anything from you.”
Tyrell’s eyes narrowed.
Fates, he looked nothing like the Tyrell she’d befriended these past ****months. Even after their fight, when things were uncertain between them, he’d never felt so distant and cold. And Grayson . . . the animosity emanating from him was understandable, but so potent it was strangling.
Mia took a small step forward, still holding Grayson’s hand.
The two brothers looked at her, and her cheeks warmed. Being the sole focus of both Tyrell and Grayson Kaelin was unnerving. “There’s no need to fight,” she said, hating how quiet her voice was. “Please.”
Adding that word seemed to have a special effect on them—they listened.
Tyrell led the way out of the cell, and Grayson moved just slightly in front of her, their hands still joined.
No one said anything as they trekked up the stairs and through the quiet halls of the castle. They passed several servants and guards, all of whom stared at Grayson. One maid even gasped.
Grayson tensed. He believed his scars made him lesser; that they made him ugly.
Mia hated his scars, but only because of the pain they represented. Grayson was beautiful to her—he always would be. She wanted to attack anyone who ever made him feel any different.
She scowled at the maid, and the woman hurried away.
When they reached Grayson’s room, they all paused at the door. It took a moment for Mia to remember she was the one with a key. She released Grayson’s hand and dipped her fingers into her pocket, overly conscious of the fact that Grayson and Tyrell were both watching her. It made every movement feel stiff and awkward.
Once she’d fitted the key in the lock, Tyrell spoke over her head. “I’ll get Fletcher and be back for you.”
“Fine,” Grayson said—also over her head. “But I don’t want your men guarding her.”
Tyrell’s jaw flexed. “Mia’s safety is more important than your pride.”
Grayson’s brows lowered dangerously.
Mia twisted the door open and faced them. “Please don’t fight.”
“We’re not,” Tyrell said. The yet was heavily implied in his dark tone.
Grayson’s eyes narrowed. “Mia, go inside.”
Obviously, please had lost its power. She crossed her arms over her chest and tried a different tactic. “There’s no point in fighting. It will only bring Henri’s attention back to us.”
The two youngest Kaelin princes eyed her, but she refused to back down—or acknowledge the silent message they were both sending with their hard expressions.
Logic alone would not work on them. She sighed, and let honesty ring in her voice. “If you hurt each other, you’ll only be hurting me.”
Tyrell’s teeth clenched.
Grayson looked just as unhappy. He breathed out slowly and took Mia’s hand, tugging her into the room without another word.
Tyrell remained in the hall. When Mia glanced back at him, a fissure of emotion cracked in his eyes as he stared after her.
Grayson closed the door.
Mia swallowed roughly. Her voice was low as she said, “I’m not in any danger from him.”
Grayson met her gaze. “You said you weren’t sure if he was still your friend.”
Fates, that last word was spoken heavily. Not that she could blame him. And he was right; she didn’t know what relationship she and Tyrell had now. He had declared his love for her, and she’d told him there could only be friendship between them. He’d lied to her about sending her letter to Grayson, and she’d yelled at him. He’d saved her from Mama’s abduction attempt—then Grayson had returned.
Things were complicated with Tyrell, but she knew one thing, so she repeated it: “He won’t hurt me.”
The hard planes of Grayson’s face revealed nothing, but a hundred questions lurked in his eyes. He didn’t voice any of them. She’d told him she wasn’t ready to talk about what had happened between her and Tyrell, and she knew Grayson wouldn’t press.
But, fates, he looked exhausted. And he was clearly in pain.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her eyes darting to his jaw.
His expression locked. “You have nothing to apologize for,” he said, his words a little rough as he tried not to move his newest scar. “What happened in that cell had nothing to do with you.”
But it did.
He wouldn’t have even been in there if not for her. He’d come back to Ryden to rescue her. And that burn . . . he’d taken it for her. Grayson had allowed himself to be tortured—without being restrained—so she wouldn’t have to wear that burn.
Her heart squeezed painfully. Fates, it was always the same with them. He sacrificed everything for her, and she could do nothing to protect him.
She startled from her thoughts. Grayson watched her with concern, his head ducked slightly so he could catch her eye.
Moving slowly, with infinite care so she wouldn’t jostle him, she wrapped her arms around his waist and eased herself against him, her cheek pressed to his chest. “Thank you,” she whispered.
His arms locked around her shoulders, pulling her even closer. “For what?”
“For protecting me. Again.” Her voice broke, but she forced herself to continue. “I’m sorry you had to. I’m sorry your father hurt you again, because of me—”
“No.” Grayson leaned back, one hand shifting to curve against her cheek. His thumb grazed her jaw, coaxing her to lift her head. “There’s no guilt for you to carry. My father has never needed an excuse to hurt me.”
Henri didn’t need an excuse, it was true. But he’d been hurting Grayson and manipulating him for years by threatening her. That truth was inescapable, and it hurt.
I’m your weakness.
She couldn’t even make herself say the words, and that made her a coward. But resolution burned in her heart. I won’t always be your weakness.
Grayson studied her, his gray eyes unwavering. “I would make the same choice again,” he told her. “To protect you, I would do it again—a thousand times, without hesitation.”
She felt those words to her soul. Her eyes stung. “I don’t deserve you.”
He exhaled sharply, the sound disbelieving. “Fates, you’re . . .” His voice drifted, as if he couldn’t manage to find the words to describe what she was. Something in his gaze changed. Solidified. He leaned in, and her stomach fluttered.
He pressed a soft kiss to her lips, the gentle contact making her heart race. She didn’t dare kiss him like she yearned to; she didn’t want to cause him pain. But her mouth moved with his, following his lead. The brush of his lips was coaxing. Comforting.
Warmth flooded her veins, and her pulse kicked. Her fingers curled in his shirt, keeping him close. She had lived without him now, and she never wanted to do so again. New urgency filled her. A desperation to make him understand just how much she loved him. How much she needed him.
Grayson deepened the kiss, and Mia sucked in a breath as his fingers knotted in her hair. He turned, guiding her until her back pressed against the door. His chest rose and fell against hers, both of them breathing quickly.
He changed the angle of their kiss, and a shudder went through him.
Afraid she’d hurt him, Mia jerked back. “Careful. Your jaw—”
“I missed you,” he rasped, emotion tangling in his hoarse voice. “So fates-blasted much.”
Her heart clenched. “I missed you, too. But I don’t want to hurt you.”
He made a sound in his throat. “You aren’t hurting me,” he assured her.
Her face heated, but she couldn’t stop her smile.
Grayson kissed one corner of it, and the simple action made her chest swell. “I couldn’t breathe without you,” he whispered.
The admission caught her off-guard, melting her. Before she could respond, he claimed her mouth again.
She tried to move with care, but Grayson only grew more insistent. Almost frantic, like he worried she would vanish.
The same desperate edge rode her, but she didn’t want him to aggravate his wound. She pulled back. “Tyrell will be back soon.”
Grayson stilled, just as she’d known he would. But instead of drawing back completely, he set his forehead against hers, their heavy breaths mingling. His eyes squeezed shut. “You’re right. We don’t have long, and there are things we need to discuss.”
She pressed a final kiss to his unmarred cheek before he eased back, giving her space. She grasped his falling hand, refusing to lose all contact with him.
He squeezed her fingers.
“Are you well enough to go with your father and brothers?” she asked.
Obviously, he wasn’t fine, but she knew what he meant. He didn’t have a choice, so he would force himself to be fine.
She pursed her lips. “I can ask Devon to—”
Grayson shook his head; a grimace sliced across his face, so he abruptly stopped moving. “It’s not worth it.”
“You need a physician.”
“My father gave orders. I need to follow them. It will make getting out of here easier.” He glanced around the room, clearly noting some of her things scattered among his own belongings. A sketchbook on his otherwise neat desk. A dress discarded over a chair in the corner. Some paintings propped against the far wall. “Pack whatever you need, but only one bag. The nights will be cold, so pack something warm. We leave tomorrow night.”
“Tomorrow?” Fates, that was too soon.
“We can’t delay,” Grayson said. “The Seafire won’t wait forever. When I get back tonight I’ll sneak into the kitchen and get supplies.”
She forced aside her unease at how quickly things were happening, so she could focus on his plan. “You won’t need to steal everything,” she said. “Before you came back, I was planning to escape.”
He froze. “You what?”
She bit her lower lip. “I was going to come to you in Duvan. I got maps from the library. I gathered food and blankets. I even asked Tyrell to teach me how to ride a horse.”
His focus remained trained on her. “You were plotting an escape?”
He seemed quite stuck on the idea. “I needed to come find you. I didn’t want Henri to use me against you ever again.”
Grayson’s unreadable eyes softened. “Thank you. I have to admit, though, I rather hate the idea of you trying to escape on your own.”
“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t like the idea either. But I needed to reach you. Especially because you were in Duvan, and . . .”
“I was with Desfan.”
Her brother’s name punched her with painful force, and she couldn’t hide a wince. Her family, her life before . . . all of it had been obliterated by the pain of Papa’s beatings when she was seven years old and newly imprisoned. Fear, panic, and even guilt had kept it at bay ever since. Sometimes she dreamed of home, but they were such painful dreams, they were really nightmares. Usually they were just visions of a life she’d never have again. A father who held her. A mother who sang to her. A sister who played with her hair. A brother who taught her to swim.
The knowledge that Grayson had seen Desfan, spoken to him . . . it was almost too much to comprehend. Her feelings were too complex to sort through. Grayson had been in Mortise—in the palace that had once been her home. He knew who she was; a secret she’d held for nine years, because the truth was too painful, especially since her caretakers had beaten her whenever she talked about who she really was.
Grayson had figured out the truth. And he’d gone to Desfan—her brother. Desfan had sent Grayson to bring her home.
Home. She didn’t even know what that was anymore. Not with their parents dead, and Tahlyah, too. And Desfan didn’t know the truth. He didn’t know Mia was responsible for their sister’s death. That horrible night, she’d lost Tally in the water. No matter what reassurances Grayson had given her when she’d admitted her deepest secret, she knew it was her fault Tally was dead. Desfan would never forgive her when he learned the truth.
Her heart pounded, and panic spiked.
“Mia?” Grayson stepped closer, his voice pitched low. “Are you all right?”
She pinched her eyes closed and took a deep breath, ignoring the tightness in her chest. Denial had saved her so often during the past nine years, and she clung to that now. She couldn’t think about Tahlyah, or Desfan—she couldn’t think about who she’d once been.
The tension inside her settled. She opened her eyes and met Grayson’s worried gaze. “I never did make a solid plan for getting out of the castle, but we can use the supplies I gathered. I suppose we may need more, since there are two of us.”
It was clear Grayson didn’t want to follow her subject change, when she remained troubled by something. But—as always—he deferred to what she needed. He glanced around the room. “Where are they?”
A small knot tightened in her chest. “Oh. They’re in Tyrell’s room. Under his bed.”
Grayson shot her a look.
She hurried to explain. “After Tyrell killed Papa, he carried me to his room. It was closer than the physician’s ward, and I was . . .” Dying. Probably best not to tell him that; not when he was looking at her so intensely. “I was hurt very badly,” she said instead.
A muscle ticked in Grayson’s jaw.
Mia continued quickly. “Tyrell let me have his room while I healed, and then I was quite settled there, so I stayed.”
“But you moved to my room later?”
“Yes. Tyrell and I . . . we had a fight.”
Grayson’s throat jumped as he swallowed. His voice was painfully measured. “Did he hurt you?”
He’d asked that before. She gave him basically the same answer, because she really didn’t want to dwell on this right now. “Not physically.”
Something sparked in Grayson’s eyes—something she couldn’t interpret.
She hurried on. “I don’t know if I have enough supplies for both of us, but I can get into Tyrell’s room while you’re gone and bring everything here.”
“I don’t want you taking any risks.”
“There won’t be any risk. Tyrell will be gone with you, and any guard will know I used to stay in there—I’ll tell them I left something behind. They’ll let me in. Trust me.”
“I trust you,” he whispered.
She felt a comforting weight in those words. “Thank you.” She hesitated. “I still hadn’t managed to get warmer clothes. A cloak. A tent. I read that snow can come early to Ryden, so I wanted to be prepared.”
“I’ll secure everything we need when I get back. I can sneak into the laundry to find a thick cloak for you.”
Mia shifted on her feet. “Or . . .”
One questioning eyebrow lifted.
She swallowed back her hesitation. “We could ask for Fletcher’s help. And his wife—Rena. She’s worked in the castle for years, and—”
“No.” His tone was even; uncompromising. “We can’t risk telling anyone our plans.”
“Grayson, just listen to me.” She squeezed his hand, her voice low and intent. “You’re not at your full strength.”
Something flashed in his eyes.
Fates. That probably wasn’t the best thing to say. She changed tactics. “You told me the ship in Porynth will only wait for three weeks. We can’t delay, and there’s too much to prepare. You can’t do it all, and neither can I. If we’re going to leave tomorrow night, we need Fletcher’s help. And he can fight, if it comes to that. He’s not truly loyal to Henri. We can trust him.”
She could see the indecision in his eyes.
He was considering it.
She pressed harder. “Henri knows how close they are to me. He’ll think they played a part in our escape, and . . . I can’t let them be hurt because of me. Please.”
His mouth tightened. “Fletcher could be on the grounds at night without rousing suspicion. He could get horses from the stable.” Something they clearly wouldn’t be able to get on their own, though it would speed their journey. Grayson’s gaze turned calculative. “We could each take a different route out of the castle, and we could meet outside the city with the horses and supplies.”
“Rena used to work in the laundry,” Mia said, not even trying to hide the eagerness in her voice. “She could get clothes, boots, and blankets for all of us.”
Grayson eyed her. “It could work.”
“I can talk to them while you’re gone.”
“No. Wait until I’m with you. Just in case.”
In case Grayson didn’t believe in Fletcher’s willingness to help them, and he had to silence the old guard.
She hated the mental image that inspired, but she agreed with a nod. “We should bring Devon, too.”
His expression turned long-suffering. “Mia—”
“You’re going to need him. And I’ve known Devon for years—he hates Henri, just like the Fletchers do. None of them would betray us.”
Grayson exhaled thinly. “Fine. We’ll approach him tonight, with the Fletchers.”
She swallowed. A voice whispered she should be done, and not push him any further. But . . . “I think we should consider asking for Tyrell’s help.”
His expression closed down. “No.”
Her stomach lurched. “I think he’d come with us. And he would be an asset.”
“I know you don’t trust him, but—”
“I can’t ever trust him,” Grayson cut in, his words as sharp as blades. “Especially not with you.” Pain sparked in his hooded eyes. “Mia, he beat you.”
She winced. “I know. I remember.”
“Then you can’t believe for one second that I’d ever trust him with you.”
“I know you two have a horrible history, but he’s not who you think he is.”
“I know exactly who he is,” he argued. “And I would never trust him with your life.”
“He saved my life while you were gone. Twice.”
“And I’m grateful for that. Truly. But I can’t trust him. Not with you. Please don’t ask me to.”
Mia looked down, her thoughts racing. Tyrell had terrified her once, so she understood Grayson’s distrust. But the Tyrell she knew now was not the same Tyrell who had beaten her. Grayson didn’t know this version of Tyrell—just as Tyrell didn’t know the version of Grayson that she did. Both brothers were fierce, deadly, and unflinching, just as they’d been raised to be. It was only with her they showed a gentler side; a vulnerability that came through trust.
She wanted to fight for Tyrell. But, deep down, she felt a whisper of doubt. He had betrayed her once, with Grayson’s letter. She might dare to trust her life with Tyrell, but she wasn’t sure she trusted him enough to risk Grayson’s. Not when the brothers were such bitter enemies.
She didn’t want to leave Tyrell behind. But she’d resolved to leave him once before, hadn’t she? At least this time Henri couldn’t blame him for her disappearance; it would be clear she’d left with Grayson. Tyrell would be all right. He’d be angry she’d left, and hurt—the thought made her chest ache—but she didn’t have another choice.
“All right,” she whispered.
Grayson’s fingers touched her chin, coaxing her eyes back to him. His were full of love and promise. “I will get you home,” he said. “Everything you’ve had to endure here . . . I swear, all of this will be behind you soon.”
She didn’t know why, but his words—meant to be comforting—brought a strange chill to her skin.
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The Princess and the New Bodyguard
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Serene knows things have been strained between her parents since the civil war ended. She hopes a trip to Lambern Lake will bring her family back together. What she doesn’t expect is to grow closer to her new bodyguard, Cardon.
Serene is about to learn that one day can irrevocably change the course of a life.