Page 96 of Corrupt Kingdom

I shake my head.

“It means faithfulness. You are everything an Ivy should be. But you put yourself last. It’s time you stop thinking about me. Be true to you.”


I look back at the flower, the evening primrose, and then I go.



Another Friday night. Another poker game. I’m sick of the pretense. I never loved being here, but now what little I liked is gone.

It’s like all the light in my world has been robbed from me. It’s like the sun that my life orbits is gone, and in truth, it has. Letting her go was and is the hardest thing I have ever done.

There isn’t a second that I don’t think I should change my mind, break into her house, and take her back.

But I don’t.

Instead, I wait for her to decide. I need her to come back to me. To tell me again that she loves me. To love me now that it is her choice.

I’m standing in the same place I have stood for weeks, watching as bets are made and money is lost and won.

Alaric is at the table and beside him is Matteo and Tobias. I have grown used to them here now. Ever since they helped me, I owe them, so they always have a spot at my table.

I keep to myself as always, drinking my cognac. Cards are being drawn when I see him from the corner of the bar.

What the fuck is that fucker doing here?

He is no longer welcome at my game.

I know it’s not his fault, but rules are rules. Maxwell sees him at the same time I do, and both of us start walking to the entrance of the room.

That’s when the crowd parts, and I see he’s not alone.

My fists unclench.

Trent looks up at my men surrounding him. “Call off the dogs.”

With one signal of my hand, they stand down as I approach Trent and Ivy.

She’s even more beautiful today than she ever was in the past. Her skin has a healthy glow as if she’s been out in the garden too long and her cuts have faded.

“What are you doing here?” I ask probably gruffer than I should, but I can’t help it. If this is a mirage, I don’t want it to fade. But I also don’t want to get my hopes up.

I have lived in the dark too long to see a glimmer of light and then be thrust back in.

She steps closer, and the smell of a freshly bloomed flower hits my nose. I want to inhale her and never let her go.

She opens her mouth to speak, but I lift my hand.

“No. Not here,” I say. “Follow me.”

There are too many people here. I don’t want this—whatever this is—to be done here in front of people I don’t trust. These men will use my weakness against me if I’m not careful.

“She’s not going anywhere with you.”

I level Trent with my eyes, about to tell Maxwell to take him out back when I feel a soft hand touch me.

“Trent.” Her hand is still on my arm. “I’m going with Cyrus. Thank you for bringing me here, but I need to speak to him alone.”

He looks at her for a second before reluctantly nodding.

Once he steps away, I grab her hand and pull her out of the ballroom and up the stairs to my office. I don’t know what this is, so that seems like the best place to go.

When we are inside, I turn to her. “I’m listening.” She doesn’t deserve my attitude, but I’m too wound up to tone it down.

“I love you,” she blurts out, and that’s enough for me because as soon as the words leave her lips, I pounce. Pulling her toward me, I wrap my arms around her and seal my mouth to hers.

“Took you long enough,” I grit out, and her blue eyes widen as she pushes back to look at me.

“I had to know,” she whispers.

“And do you?”

“I do.”

The space that separates us shrinks as I move toward her again, until our bodies touch and I can feel her inhale of breath.

“You know I will never be anyone other than the man that I am. I don’t leave my compound.”

“You’ve left for me.” Her mouth twitches with amusement.

“Yes. Only for you or if I need to.” I lean down and kiss her small nose. “Life won’t be easy with me.”

“I don’t care.”

“It might be darker than you’re used to.”

She wraps her arms around my neck, lifts up to her tiptoes, and brushes her lips against mine. “Then I will be the evening primrose.” I cock my head, not understanding her words. “I’ll live in the dark. I’ll bloom in dark. All I need is you, Cyrus.”

I kiss her again. “All I need is you. I love you, Sun. I stopped believing. Long before you, I stopped believing, I thought I would always live in the blackness, but you brought me light.”