And she detested him for making her hormones whisk themselves into a deranged frenzy over him. Wasn’t she in enough of a mess?
Which reminded her… Woman on a mission, here. She wanted the playing field levelled.
‘So the rumours are true, then?’ she said, with as much chilly, haughty daring as she could muster.
Thane arched one arrogant brow. ‘There are so many I’m at a loss as to which particular falsehood you refer to.’
‘That your men steal women. That your father took your mother from her bed—stole her from her intended.’ And by all accounts made her life a living hell in Galancia Castle. Rumour had it she’d thrown herself to her death to end the torment. Not that Luciana had ever believed that bit. No mother would do that to her son, surely?
Luciana waited him out. Expecting some kind of reaction. Something. Anything. What she got frustrated her even more. Nothing. Not even a flutter of his ridiculously gorgeous lashes.
‘Ah, that one. Perfectly true. Indeed, we take what is rightfully ours.’
She was going to slap him in a second. ‘And where, pray tell, do you get the idea that I am rightfully yours?’
Aha! As if she’d flipped a switch emotion stormed through his eyes. The dark variety. But right now she’d take what she could get.
‘What is rightfully mine, Luciana, is an explanation. Answers.’
‘That’s all you want from me. An explanation?’ It seemed a bit too easy to her, but she could answer fifty questions before they got anywhere near a plane. It was a thirty-minute drive at least. ‘Fine,’ she bit out. ‘Ask away, Prince Thane. What do you want to know? Why I bolted in the dead of night?’
‘Ah…’ he said, with an affable lilt that belied the fury now emanating from him. ‘So you do acknowledge that we have a history. Yet not thirty minutes ago you denied we’d ever met.’
Blast her runaway mouth. She should have known that would antagonise him.
‘Yes, well, I don’t want Augustus knowing about my personal life.’
‘Worried, Luciana? That the prissy Viscount will not wish to bed you or wed you any longer when he discovers you’ve been tarnished by our depraved association?’
She huffed. ‘Hardly.’ That would only be a good thing. And, absurd as it was, she suddenly had the strangest compulsion to thank her kidnapper for rescuing her from tonight’s unpalatable proposal. Clearly she’d lost the plot.
As for his darkly intoned question—she’d lied through her teeth because all she cared about was making sure Augustus never put two and two together if he was ever faced with Natanael.
Natanael… Oh, Lord. She’d wanted to text him before he went to sleep. But it was far too risky to fish her phone from her handbag right now. The bag she clutched to her stomach like a lifeline. Thank goodness she’d carried it and not left it with her case.
More to the point, thank heavens she hadn’t brought Nate to the Alps with her. The thought of Thane discovering him…carting him off to Galancia… No, that could never happen. Never. Thane was descended from a long line of militia. Royal males trained in guerrilla warfare. The best fighter pilots in the world. Some said all the boys were taken to the barracks to learn how to become soldiers at eight years old. The mere thought of Nate holding a weapon in four years’ time made acid rise and coat her throat. Plus, she really had no idea what Thane was capable of. Considering abduction was his modus operandi for their reunion .
She shuddered where she sat, swelling until she felt she might burst with the need to protect Nate at all costs. She hadn’t kept his identity a secret all this time to lose him now. Her little boy was having a long, happy and healthy life even if it killed her.
At this rate, Luce, it just might.
When she realised Thane was speaking again, she turned to face him and watched the soft skin around his eyes crinkle as he narrowed those black sapphire peepers on her.
‘So you do not care? You do not care that your fiancé may no longer want you—?’
‘He is not my fiancé.’ Not yet anyway. And she’d rather bask in the fantasy of freedom a while longer, thank you very much.
‘Now, are you sure about that, Luciana?’ he jeered. ‘Because he seemed to think you are. Or is your word now as empty as it was five years ago?’
She made a tiny choked squeak of affront. ‘And what exactly do you mean by that?’