Page 46 of Ruined Kingdom

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“What about the diamonds? What are those?” Fire makes his eyes shine like hot coals in ash. You could always read Bastian’s anger in his eyes. That’s one emotion he can’t hide.

“Those were a game.”

He snorts. “I guess she won that one.” He gets up to go to the window. “I’m going to go for a swim.”

“Use the pool.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” He finishes his drink and crosses the room to the door. “Go check on your fiancée, brother. I’m sure she’s up to something. We should have stripped the room.”

“She’ll behave until the little girl is here. That’s when we’ll need to watch her.”

“Well, maybe you should go give her a kiss good night.” He stops, then considers. “No, don’t. I don’t think kissing her will be a good idea for you.” He must have watched us do it in the restaurant.


“Good night.”

I watch him go. I don’t like that he swims in the ocean at night. Never have. But he’s a grown man. And he needs to work through his demons in his own way. So I finish my drink and leave the study to walk through the quiet house up the stairs and pause at her door before reaching up to take the key Bastian would have left on the frame and let myself in. I expect to find Vittoria asleep, but she’s standing at the locked French doors. Something about how quickly she spins to face me makes me wonder what she was up to because she looks guilty as sin.

“What’s going on, Dandelion?”

She slips her hands into the pockets of her pajama shorts and shrugs her shoulders. “Nothing. Was that your brother?” She turns to point out the window to the private beach the house accesses.

I cross the room to join her at the locked doors just in time to see Bastian dive under the waves.

“That would be him, yes.”

“He swims in the ocean at night? Isn’t that dangerous?”

I shrug, look her over. She’s wearing a matching silk tank and shorts set with small teapots on it. “Interesting pattern.”

She looks down. “Emma chose it. Seriously, you’re not worried about that?”

“Are you?”

“No, not at all. If he drowns tonight, that’s one down, one to go.”

It’s the wrong thing to say, and she knows it in an instant because my hand wraps around her throat and I have her pinned to the door. She stares at me wide-eyed, both hands clawing at my forearm as I squeeze.

“Don’t you ever, ever say anything like that again. Do you understand me?”

“I can’t… I…”

“Do you fucking understand?”

She blinks hard and one of her arms fall away, making me realize what I’m doing. I hear my brother’s words. The extremes she makes him feel. She brings out the worst in us is what he meant.

I release her throat and catch her just as her knees buckle. She hasn’t quite passed out but almost. I need to remember to take care with her. Need to remember how easily I can break her.

I lay her on the bed. Her body is wracked by coughs, and her eyes have grown wide with terror.

“You’re all right,” I tell her as she sits up. I rub her back.

“I’m not… Jesus. You almost killed me!” She pushes me away.

I get up and go into the bathroom to get her a glass of water. “Drink a sip.”

“Get away from me!”

Tags: Natasha Knight Romance