Prince, 104

Dominic had either been lying or wrong. Gerard’s assassins weren’t coming in a week. They’d come a few hours after he’d left, and now it was too late.

It was too late for Helena Quate and Franz’s uncle Hans, too. All three of them had been killed in the same night and Franz simply didn’t understand why.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Dahlia said, shaking her head. “If the Empire wanted to destabilize us, that’s one thing. But am I really to believe that their information network is so shoddy they didn’t realize Hans wasn’t in charge in Kyaine anymore?”

Franz nodded, looking down at his uncle’s body. It was being prepared for transport back to Kyaine so his funeral could be held there. Franz would go, except he couldn’t, because Gerard was dead and that meant his wife was about to be crowned queen of Dolovai.

Franz had known he’d be king someday. He hadn’t thought it would be two weeks after his wedding.

Noble, 21

“You ready?” Javier asked, straightening Geoffrey’s shirt.


Javier nodded. “Me either. But you have to go anyway.”

Geoffrey sighed. “I know. I was hoping you’d say we can call it off.”

“We can’t. So you’d better not go out there looking like you hate yourself and all the rest of us. It’s your wedding day.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m happy about it,” Geoffrey said. He knew he was being petulant. He was the one who’d agreed to this. But that didn’t mean he wanted it.

“I know, but smile anyway. It’s Janus’s wedding day too. Don’t ruin it for him.”

Noble, 20

Geoffrey woke up vaguely sure he’d had a nightmare but unable to remember what it was.

It didn’t really matter, he thought after a second or two of being awake. The nightmare he’d woken to was worse than whatever his imagination had ever conjured for him. Giacomo was still gone. He was still…

Well, Geoffrey wasn’t alone, that wasn’t fair. He was in Giacomo’s bed with Javier and Alfie and Aleksander, who’d joined them because he couldn’t sleep alone. He and Alfie were cuddled up beside Geoffrey, and Javier’s head was on Geoffrey’s shoulder. Dahlia had taken up residence in Geoffrey’s bedroom, so Geoffrey and the others were all sleeping in Giacomo’s, making it impossible not to notice his absence no matter how full the bed was. The sheets smelled like him. His collection of little animal carvings was on the bedside table. His coat was on the back of the door.