When it still didn’t work, she said, “Please, baby?”

The prince now looked like he was torn between strangling and fucking her, and she bit back a smile. He was so cute! But of course, after being with the prince for so many months now, she knew better than to say those words out loud.

When she stood up, the prince came to his feet as well, and Fawn hesitated before impulsively throwing her arms around him, whispering, “Thanks for always looking after me.”

“If you think that’s going to get you out of trouble, it won’t.”

She laughed against his chest, knowing by the way the prince’s arms tightened around her that he didn’t really mean it. “It’s really going to be okay, prince. Your evil plans worked perfectly. You and your friends sponsored a project for the council, you made it clear you’ll pull out support if someone messes with me, and voila.” Pulling away, she looked up at him, saying wryly, “I don’t even exist for her these days, and if she’s making a play on Grant, she isn’t doing it in front of me.”

Rising to her toes, she placed a kiss on the prince’s cheek—-

Ah.

“I’ll be okay.”

She pulled away, saying softly, “See you later.”

The prince watched her walk away.

Not once had she asked about why he wouldn’t kiss her.

And because she hadn’t, he knew they both knew that what they had wasn’t going to last forever.

And it did not.

Less than an hour had passed since Fawn left the compound when Davos made his move, sending a team of mercenaries in hopes of taking the prince by surprise and killing Beatrice Crichton before she was made to testify.

The attack was swift and well-coordinated, and it would have succeeded if not for the fact that every man working for the prince had never slacked on their training, and every one of them was also willing to die in the line of duty.

All of Davos’ men, including three former Marine snipers, were killed in action, and following it, the prince ordered Igor to double the security on Fawn and prevent her from coming back to the property.

The prince’s friends came to the compound half an hour later, converging in his study as the prince informed them of the attack and the impending change of plans resulting from it.

“Beatrice Crichton will be moved to my island as soon as my men confirm it’s safe to do so, and the rest of my staff will follow her there.” The prince looked at his friends. “You’re all in agreement with this?”

The Christakos twins nodded, and following that, so did Derek, Nathan, and Christien.

“Then that’s it. Everything else is as planned.”

Derek Christopoulos stared at him grimly. “Is it?”

The prince’s face became hard. “Everything essential, yes.”

“So enlighten us then,” Nathan Callis drawled. “What do you intend to do with Fawn Cornwall?”

“What do you fucking care?” the prince asked coldly.

Nathan’s teeth gnashed at the look on Reid’s face. “For fuck’s sake, Reid. You should know by now that there’s nothing between Fawn and me. We did that to get to you—-”

“Well, you fucking did,” the prince bit out.

“If it got to you as well as it should,” Nick countered tensely, “then we shouldn’t even be having this conversation.” Getting to his feet, he began to pace restlessly, muttering, “Don’t get me wrong, Chalkias. My brother and I owe you our lives. Our future. We’re damn grateful for what you’ve selflessly sacrificed to help us, but we don’t need your fucking help if it means sacrificing your own happiness.”

The prince looked Nick in the eye. “I’m not.”

Jason’s jaw tightened. “Bullshit.”

His shoulders moving in a dismissive shrug, the prince said easily, “You’re entitled to believe what you want to believe.”

“Just think about it,” Christien di Luca intruded calmly. “That is the only thing we are asking you to do. Think hard about what it means to have her go—-”

The prince laughed humorlessly. “That’s all I’ve been fucking thinking about from the first day I met her. From the fucking first day, I knew I would have to let her go because the alternative—-”

“There’s no guarantee with life,” Derek said quietly.

“Maybe in your lives,” the prince said under his breath, “but mine’s different from the rest of the world. I’m the Prince of Darkness, and the life I have now is what was given to me by birth as well as what I made it to be.”

His hand slashing in the air, the prince bit out, “Bribery, trafficking, kidnapping, drugs, every fucking crime exists in my world. I make no apologies for it, but I also don’t allow myself to be blinded by the consequences of my decisions.”

His fists clenching, the prince said flatly, “It doesn’t matter if Davos or any other fucking criminal gets to me. But I can’t let them get to Fawn.” The prince shot his friends a look of grim resolve. “Ever.”


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