Piper and I both preferred monogamy. I doubted that had changed in the past three years.
Julian’s eyes sparkled with mischief. Tell her then. See what happens. She’s under my spell whether you
like it or not.”
I walked Piper’s horse back to the stables, where a stable hand stood waiting to take over. After passing
him the reins, I continued on to the gardens where I knew Piper would be, with Elva, Susle, and Mark.
I found her quickly enough, playing tag with Elva in the grass. Piper would hurry to catch Elva, then slow
down at the last moment so Elva could make a daring escape! Elva giggled each time.
“Catch me, Mommy! Catch me!”
Piper laughed too, a bright and honest smile on her face that made my heart leap forward in my chest. I
placed my hand over it, willing it to slow.
Piper should not have been able to affect me so readily. Yet when I saw her with such a joyful expression, all I could think of were ways to keep it there.
Julian suggested I reevaluate. Amongst his usual bullshit, that idea held a ring of honesty.
Why did I care so much about Piper and her happiness? I cared for Elva, but this ran deeper than that. I could care for Elva without worrying overmuch about Piper dating Julian. But the thought of the two of
them made my stomach churn.
Maybe if Piper dated someone else. Someone who wasn’t my no–good playboy brother.
But… no. Would they deserve her? Would they treat her right? Would they make certain she smiled, just
like this, every day for the rest of her life?
The thought of Piper with anyone did not settle comfortably within me.
Loathe as i was to admit it, Julian was right. Despite all reason, maybe I was jealous.
If that were true, I needed to learn to control myself, quickly. I was in this competition to find my mate. I
would give my wife no less than the full entirety of my heart I couldn’t be wasting portions of it pining
Nick–lass” Elva called to me, waving both arms. “Help!”
Piper had nearly caught her again.
Having been spotted, I walked closer, until Elva ran to safety behind my legs. Piper stopped in front of
Her cheeks were flushed from running. Some of her hair had come undone from the tie at her neck. Her skirts had grass–stains along the bottom.
She had never looked so beautiful.
“Did everything go okay with Prince Julian?” she asked me.
Now was my chance to tell her what a cad he was, and to discourage her from ever wanting to see him again. But if she truly had caught feelings for Julian, what I would tell her would hurt her.
She was so happy, so bright. So… loving.
I opened my mouth to disparage my brother, but found I couldn’t say the words.
I didn’t want to break her heart.
“Everything’s fine.” I told her. I accepted the responsibility then and there. If I couldn’t tell her the truth about Julian, then I would need to find ways to convince him to become more loyal to her.
Piper would have everything she wanted. I would personally see to it
Then, and only then, could I focus on repairing my own heart.
Elva bounced in circles behind me. “Catch him, Mommy! Make him it!”
Piper’s cheeks reddened in embarrassment. She looked up at me through her lashes. “If you want to play
As if I would ever be able to turn her down when she made that face. “Very well.”
Slowly, she reached out and tapped my