Others, 55

Donny was crying, but that was fixable. “Hey,” Jacob said, kneeling in front of him. “It’s okay.”

“No!” Donny insisted, face in his hands. “No!”

Jacob nodded, picking Donny up even as he fought. “It’s time for bed.”

“No bed! Don’t want bed!”

Donny was a very smart boy and was normally very erudite for a child, and he thought about big important things most of the time, but he was three years old at the end of the day, no matter how often he told Jacob that he was actually seven, an insistence somewhat in contrast with Donny making Jacob count the days until his fourth birthday every day.

Prince, 103

“The miners in your lands are complaining,” Boey told Franz.

Franz blinked. “Isn’t that their parents’ problem?”

“Yes, you’re very funny.”

“I know. The ones in the south of the mountains, right?”

“Yes, the ones you were gifted as part of the contract.”

Franz regretted that he’d never been there, but they’d visit during the honeymoon. “Okay. What are they mad about?”

Others, 46

It was always so tempting not to get up in the morning. Callie could just lay here in bed, Eva on her shoulder, playing with her hair and watching the sun rise, then cross the sky, then set, and be happy.

Starving and in desperate need of a privy, but happy.

Eva stirred when the sunlight hit her eyes, then yawned. She opened her big, brown eyes, looked up at Callie, then smiled. “Good morning.”

“Morning,” said Callie, letting Eva sit up. “Did you sleep well?”

Stowaway, 69

“That,” declared Pax, in his most declarative tone, holding up his finger to make the firm, finger shaped point at the end of this declaration, “is the worst idea I’ve ever heard, which is saying something because once a wasp suggested that I swap her one of my eyeballs in exchange for the ability to sting people with my backside. So needless to say, we won’t be doing that.”

If I could step in here, Nate stepped in, invalidating his request.

You can’t, Pax told him immediately. Because you don’t have legs, you’re always wrong and you’re going to say it’s a good idea, which will further cement that it’s a bad idea.

Actually, I was going to say I think it’s a terrible idea and you shouldn’t get near it with any part of your body or soul.

Pax blinked, touching Nate with his hand. That was unexpected. Unbelievable, even.

Especially, Nate continued, Your dick. You shouldn’t get anywhere near it with your dick at all.

Prince, 61

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Gabrielle asked.

“I’m sure.”

“I mean, are you sure you’re ready to deal with the consequences of it? There’s going to be fallout.”

“He attacked Silas, Gabrielle,” Franz said. That was all. Silas was fine, he was back at the apartments, awake. He didn’t remember what had happened. Frederick was with him.

Gabrielle sighed. “There are worse reasons to start a war. I will remind you that you have no proof it was him.”

Franz looked out the carriage window as Dominic’s house came into view. “That’s why I’ll be talking to him before I arrest him. I’ll get it out of him.”

Prince, 59

“You know,” said Franz, holding Gabrielle’s hand as they walked to the meeting room. “Normal people don’t have to have meetings to talk about their weddings.”

“We’re not normal people,” Gabrielle told him. She shook her head. “Stop pretending we are.”

“I suppose.” Franz looked at the frosted windows. He had to admit, snow was pretty. “Does the High Presbyter have to come to the wedding?”


“Fine, fine.” Franz sighed. “It occurs to me that I’ve sort of missed several steps in the courting you that I was doing.”

“You did,” Gabrielle admitted with a chuckle. “But it had its intended effect. It made me like you.”

“Oh, that’s good to hear.” Franz smiled as they neared the door of the room. “Still, there’s one part of it I’d like to make sure to do.”


Franz nodded, stopping, pulling her to face him. He got down on one knee, reached into his pocket. He showed her the silver ring he’d had made. “Gabrielle ven Sancte. I’d like to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?”

Prince, 55

“Nobody saw them leave the city,” Georgina said, shaking her head. “Their own servants seem to have no idea where they’ve gone. I’d say they’re lying, but not a single one has changed their story.”

“It’s fair to say they’ve gone into hiding,” Gerard agreed. “To avoid any sort of blowback from Stephan’s rule collapsing. But it’s unclear why.”

Dominic smiled across the lunch table, meeting eyes with Franz. “Perhaps because there are people in your family who would openly see them dead?” he asked the king.

Gerard had called in Dominic to help find Neville and Horace, who had tragically gone missing and nobody knew where they were. It was all very sad. And apparently he was still pretending that he hadn’t been planning to offer asylum, which was interesting.

“There were people in the king’s family who would have openly seen them dead before Stephan collapsed like a poorly built orphanage, Dominic,” Franz told him, smiling back. “If my wrath was enough to make them go into hiding, they should have done it weeks ago.”

Prince, 49

“How have you been, Prince Franz?” Dominic asked as they sat down for lunch in Dominic’s austere mansion.

“Quite well,” Franz said, watching Dominic’s serving woman set out their places. Neither of them spoke until she’d left the room with a bow. “Why do you do that?”

“Do what, my prince?”

“That,” Franz said, considering Dominic. “You only style me properly when nobody can hear you. Why is that? Is it some strange northern fashion to appear ignorant of other cultures?”