Linda was not that person.
Yet.. the King’s threats kept me from saying as much.
“That’s not the way the world works, Piper. At least not within the palace walls.” He faced the balcony railing, and looked out into the darkness. “If playing this game with Linda keeps you and Elva here and
safe, then that is as good a reason as any for me to follow through.”
I absolutely hated that I had no other choice but to let him.
“I’ll respect your wishes in this,” he said, “Whatever you want is what I’ll do.”
He had to do it, or the King might have me killed. All I had to do was tell him so, even though I truly
didn’t want to.
If I was alone in this world, I would tell him to turn her down flat. As it was, I had Elva. Elva needed her
mother. I couldn’t afford to be reckless with her care in jeopardy.
Yet the words he waited for did not come easily. I tried several times but could not force myself to say
Instead, after a few agonizing minutes, I said, “We should think about it. Linda gave us some time. Let’s
He tilted his face toward me. The moonlight reflected in his eyes, and they sparkled, golden and bright.
The thought of Linda getting to see him like this made me want to scream. With how she was acting,
she didn’t deserve to have him, even for one evening. Certainly not all of them.
“We’ll need to have an answer the night before the challenge,” he said. He was giving me time then.
I exhaled in relief. I hadn’t realized that I hadn’t held my breath.
11l have one before then,” I said, and hoped I wasn’t lying.
Shortly later, after I wiped my eyes and practiced my smile, we returned to the party. The orchestra had
set up by now, and the King had finished with his private audiences. The King and Queen were now
seated in their thrones.
Several of the girls had begun dancing on the floor with some of the honored guests who had been
allowed to attend tonight. Most were personal friends of the King and Queen. Although a few celebrities
were also present
“To bring up the ratings,” Nicholas told me.
Julian was in the middle of the floor, dancing with one of the girls who had chosen to earn his favor during the elimination ceremony. When he spotted Nicholas and me, he ditched her right in the middle of their dance and came toward us.
She didn’t seem all that upset, as Julian’s Beta Brian immediately guided her into the waiting arms of another single dancer. For him to have acted so quickly, Brian must have anticipated Julian’s every n
to find out he
It certainly brought Julian’s behavior into question. Not that it was particularly shocking to
was treating the girls so fleetingly.
Julian walked to us. I thought he might have something to say about our disappearance. If anyone would
have noticed, it would have been him. But he just smirked as he glanced between us.
“The music’s started,” he said then. “The dances have begun.
“We can see and hear fine,” Nicholas grumbled.
“I suppose you can, Julian laughed. “Forgive my clumsy words. I merely wished to lead into a question.”
Nicholas narrowed his eyes.
“What question would that be?” I asked, though I had a sneaking suspicion. Though surely even Julian wouldn’t be so shameless as to ask me for a dance when I was clearly speaking with his brother.
Weren’t there rules about such things?
Then again, Julian never seemed to care for the rules.
Julian, fully facing me, bowed low. He held out his hand. “Miss Piper, would you give me the honor of this dance?”