Noble, 56

Maria DiGorre was Dahlia’s sister-in-law, Felix’s widow. She seemed nice, which wasn’t as important as the fact that she seemed smart. “Is your brother going to hurt my son?” she asked Geoffrey point blank.

“No,” Geoffrey promised her. He and Giacomo had already talked about this. Giacomo wasn’t planning to hurt Francis, the baby Maria was holding. And Geoffrey had made sure he knew that was a good idea. “He might try to teach him to talk with his mouth full, it’s a habit I’ve never managed to get him to break. But he’s not going to hurt him.”

Giacomo would also definitely fuck Francis DiGorre, but not until he was old enough.

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.

Prince, 100

It was a good day to get married.

The weather was nice, everyone looked perfect, the church was packed, and Franz’s sister had gotten here just an hour ago.

“We can talk more about me later,” Dahlia told Franz, helping him fix his makeup. “It’s literally your wedding day, stop asking how I am.”

Others, 32

“You’re an exceptionally hard woman to track down,” Helena said to Jocelyn.

“You would be too,” Jocelyn snapped, glaring at Helena. “If the people who were after me were after you.”

“Indeed. You’re very lucky that Samson Arkhewer doesn’t have the resources I do. Tell me,” Helena said. “What in the world possessed you to betray him?”

“Perhaps I’d be inclined to answer you,” Jocelyn said. She took one of Helena’s cookies, bit into it, and then glared at it. Helena had never understood people who didn’t like her cookies; she made them herself. “If I knew who the fuck you were.”

Helena sipped her tea. “I believe I already told you, I’m Helena of House Quate. I’m the king’s primary advisor on matters of domestic import.”

Prince, 84

“It feels like it might be slightly misogynist that there are no women here,” Franz observed.

“I think,” said Hector, painting his toes. “That we should stop acting like boys aren’t allowed to hang out together without it being misogynist. Our female friends happen not to be here, and that’s not a big deal.”

“Plus, they’re hanging out without us,” Kieran muttered, in tones that were just shy of complaining. “And we’re not claiming it’s because they hate men.”

“No, just us,” Hector agreed. “Which is super fair, we’re annoying.”

“Plus,” Boey added, watching Hector paint himself, “You know nobody’s enjoying that less than Gabrielle.”