“Your kids—” even saying the word in conjunction with the powerful warrior felt odd “—were okay with coming here and helping me?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Grinning all over again, William waved the question away. “You heard the part about the battle royale, right? No, they weren’t okay with helping you. I had to promise they could have a real down and dirty brawl with you, with blood and broken bones and maybe missing body parts. It’s going to be great!”
Tink melted against Kane, as if trying to use her body as a shield to protect him. The scratchy material of her uniform irritated his exposed skin. How could she stand wearing that thing?
Every glass on the table shattered, liquid spilling, warriors cursing.
“When is this fight to take place?” Kane asked, unperturbed.
“Have you not been listening to anything I’ve said?” William dabbed at the wet stain on his leg. “After the game.”
He thought for a moment. “I would love nothing more than to engage your spawn in a showdown. Tink—uh, I mean, Josephina—and I will be back by the time your game is through.” He actually wanted to take her shopping more than he wanted his revenge. She wasn’t going to wear rags while everyone around her wore riches.
Anyone who didn’t know Kane might have thought he planned to run away. But William knew him better than that. “And Tink is what you call her? Really? I would have chosen Ivanna B. Withwilly. What? It’s a good, solid name.”
Can’t respond to that. Will just encourage him. “Meanwhile,” Kane gritted, “the princess is your responsibility. Don’t let her get into any trouble.”
William thought for a moment, nodded. “You do remember that I like to sleep with my responsibilities, right?”
Yeah. He did. “I also know you’ll be tempted to throw her to the wolves once you get to know her, but don’t harm her or let anyone else do so, either.” The king would protest, and Tink would be liable.
“So…you’re saying you won’t mind if I seduce your future wife?”
“I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t want you to go that far. She could get in trouble, and they’ll try to make Tink bear the punishment. So, feel free to flirt with her, even make out a little, if she wants, but no more than that.” Synda would be amused, and stay out of trouble.
Two birds, one kinky stone.
William placed a hand over his heart. “I think you just moved to the top of my best-friend-forever list.”
Kane rolled his eyes, stood, and held out his hand. “You got a revolver or semi I can borrow?”
“Borrow? No. Pay to use for a short time? Yes.” The warrior slapped a .44 in his hand. “I’ll let you know the price tag later.”
“Thanks.” Kane stashed the weapon at the back of his waist and ushered Tink out of the bar. Chairs scraped the ground, and he knew the three males, and maybe even White, had just stood, intending to come after him.
He heard William say, “Settle down. He’s coming back, and then he’s yours.”
JOSEPHINA HAD NO idea what was going on. “Where are you taking me?”
“Shopping? Without Synda?”
“And then the fight,” he continued, as if she hadn’t spoken.
“But it’ll be three against one,” she squeaked.
“I know. It’s hardly fair for William’s kids, but they’re insisting so what can I do?”
They walked away from the black-haired devil with eyes so cold and Fae-like she’d known he would deliver a deathblow to a female without pausing to ask questions. He was the answer to her problems. Now, however, she looked back at him with dismay.
He winked at her.
She scowled at him. He was okay with Kane getting hurt, and that made him unacceptable on every level.
Kane forced her to clear the door of the tavern and enter the daylight. The streets were a little more congested with horse-drawn carriages, and the pathways littered with chattering Opulens and the servants trailing a few feet behind them. The moment a gaze landed on Josephina, any gaze, it darted away. Voices tapered to quiet, and bodies inched out of reach, as if touching her would cause some kind of disease.
“What is such a magnificent man doing with her?” one of the Opulens said to her friend.
“Males do like to slum it upon occasion.”
Josephina tugged against Kane’s grip, a puny motion, really, but one he allowed to slow him nonetheless.
“Shut your mouths before I do it for you,” Kane snapped.
They shrieked at his vehemence and ran away.
Josephina blinked with surprise. “Why are we shopping without Synda?” she asked, trying again.
Again he ignored the question. “They’re treating you like a whore, and it’s going to get them killed.”
“To them, I’m a human servant without a mistress in sight. I have no business being in this part of town, alone with a man, unless I’m getting boned by him on a daily basis.”
One of his brows arched. “Boned. Who taught you to talk like that?”
“You! I studied you and your friends for years, remember, and picked up on your verbal cues.”
He massaged the back of his neck, and she wasn’t sure whether he was fighting a smile or a scowl. “I hate the double standard here. Those same women would have stripped for me just last night, and I wouldn’t have had to speak a word.”
She gaped at him. “Uh, maybe we should get a bag for your ego. That might make it easier for you to carry it around.”
His lips twitched for several seconds—definitely fighting a smile. “Let’s get you out of sight before I gouge out a few eyes and dangle them from a necklace I’ll be presenting to you as a gift.”
I would totally wear that.
They leaped back into motion. He bypassed the shoe shop, the ribbon store, the millinery and stopped in front of one of the dressmakers.
With his hand on the doorknob, he said, “What do the Fae use as money?”
“You might find this hard to believe, but…money.”
Another twitch, before his frown returned. “What happens if someone touches the skin on your face or your shoulders?” As he spoke, his gaze traced the areas in question—and glinted with hunger. “The same thing that happens when they touch your hands?”
Her ability to breathe abandoned her. Was he thinking about touching her here, now? Her blood heated, and her knees almost buckled. “No. My hands are the only problem.”