The best thing to do.

The only thing to do.

But even so, he found himself making excuses to his guests before swinging away and heading to Nick and Lilac. On the other side of the ballroom, Fawn and Nathan remained close to each other, and the prince’s fists clenched.

Even though he was already retired, Nathan Callis was still considered the world’s most goddamn famous supermodel, a rare breed in the modeling industry because he was the complete fucking package. Stunning looks, lethal sex appeal, and an even more lethal amount of cunning—-

If he found out that Callis had made a move on Fawn—-

Upon reaching Nick and Lilac, the prince asked without preamble, “Where are they going?”

Lilac blinked in surprise, having never heard Reid speak with such cold fury when it came to any of his friends.

“Good evening to you, too.” Nick’s handsome face remained bland.

The prince’s face became flushed, but even so, he said tautly, “I’m not playing games.”

“Neither are we,” Nick answered, unperturbed.

When Reid’s green eyes narrowed, Lilac knew it was time to interfere, saying hastily, “She just went to the powder room, that’s all.”

Knowing that it was unlike Lilac to lie, the prince allowed himself to relax slightly. But when he glanced at Nick again, his green eyes remained hard. “Why did you have to bring her here, Christakos?”

“Because she asked for our help.” It was the truth. “And one look at her, and I knew she was in pain. Because of you—-”

“You know why I have to end it between us,” the prince exploded under his breath. “It’s the only way to keep her safe—-”

“Bullshit.” Grabbing Lilac’s hand, Nick squeezed it tightly as he muttered, “Don’t you think I would have done the same thing for Lilac if I thought it would keep her safe?” When Reid didn’t answer, he said flatly, “Life doesn’t work out that way. Isolating yourself from everyone is never the answer—-”

“It is for me.” The prince’s smile was self-mocking. “I’m the Prince of Darkness, after all.”

And because he was, the prince was destined to live alone.

For as long as he wanted the people who mattered to stay alive—-

He had to live alone.

There was no other choice.

“I’m not arguing about that. You are the Prince of Darkness, but goddammit—-” Nick waited for his friend to meet his gaze. “You’re also Reid Chalkias. You’re both, Chalkias, and it’s because you’re both that you need her—-” Nick broke off when he saw Fawn on her way back.

Lilac and the prince followed his gaze, and Fawn stumbled, a frozen expression arrested on her face upon realizing that Nick and Lilac had company.

Nathan, seeing the same thing happen, walked to Fawn’s side and gently cupped her elbow, bowing his head to murmur something under his breath to Fawn.

A fucking tender sight, the prince thought harshly, and he despised every second of it.

Fawn and Nathan started to walk towards them.

“That’s what’s going to happen if you don’t accept what I’m saying is true,” Nick said under his breath. “So take what’s yours before it’s too late.”

Fawn and Nathan reached them as Nick finished speaking, and the prince gestured subtly to his bodyguards. Half were in uniform, the other half dressed incognito, and all of them moved about in seeming randomness, repositioning themselves without drawing the attention of the other guests.

Even though it was a by-invitation party, the prince wasn’t taking any chances. He didn’t want anyone he didn’t know eavesdropping on them and by the time his security had completed rearranged their positions, they had the prince and his companions surrounded, their privacy secured.

“Great party as always, Reid,” Nathan remarked.

The prince didn’t answer, his eyes trained on Fawn. “The two of you appear remarkably close,” he drawled.

Fawn had trouble holding on to her smile, much less speaking. Nathan had warned her about this earlier, but even so she couldn’t believe that this was all the prince had to say.

When Fawn still didn’t say a thing, Nathan picked up the conversation, murmuring, “It is remarkable, isn’t it? Especially when one considers my stance on privacy—-”

Nick rolled his eyes. “An understatement, Callis.” Among his friends, Nathan had always been the most secretive.

“But Fawn’s different,” Nathan finished with a hooded glance directed at Fawn. “She’s surprisingly easy to get along with.”

“Umm.” Fawn couldn’t stop herself from turning red even though she was quite sure she had just been insulted.

Glaring at Fawn’s pink cheeks, the prince bit out, “I’m glad to hear that.”

The former supermodel only smiled, and the sight of his famous dimples showing up had most of the female guests around them swooning. And then he glanced down at Fawn, his gaze meaningful.

Fawn gulped, remembering what the prince’s friend had told her earlier.

When she still didn’t do anything, Nathan bent his head, close enough for his mouth to almost touch her ear—-

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