Nothing happened. Really? She fumed.

“Okay, why can’t I blow out a candle?” She wiggled her fingers, but still nothing happened. Frustrated, she crawled from underneath the covers and kneeled in front of the candle. Bringing her hand within centimeters of the burning flame, she felt the heat run along the pads of her fingers. The barest hint of pain ran along the underside, matching the tingling of power from Fae magic. Again, she concentrated and tried to put out the flame.

“Fine. If I can’t stop it, I’ll change it.” This time she imagined the wick dark, cold, extinguished. She thought she saw the flame flicker as if it was going out, but it continued just as before.

She sighed.

A window in the room blew open, extinguishing the candle, leaving her in complete darkness. Goose bumps rose along her arms. She didn’t need light to know Teague was in the room.

“Do you sneak into all the girls’ rooms?”

“No. Only those who try and protect me one minute, and punch a princess in the face the next. From what I heard, it was over a…shoe.” He saw the slippers on the table and reached for them. Mina dove for them and grabbed them before he could.

“Well, if you already know, then you should know better than to mess with a girl’s footwear.” She tucked them behind her, which drew his attention to the odd clothes she was wearing.

The candle reignited, and Teague stood next to her bed, dressed in dark colors. She would have called them black, but it seemed that he had changed and was wearing dark shades of gray. He frowned at her. “What are you wearing? I’ve never seen such clothes. Is this what you wear in your kingdom? Do you wear your title proudly upon your chest? I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a breaker of hearts.”

He looked so confused that she couldn’t help but laugh at him, which irritated him. He backed away from her.

“Yes, everyone dresses like me where I come from.”


“And where is that exactly? Because no one really seems to know.”

“Very far away.”

“Yes, I gather that.”

“It doesn’t matter, because where I come from doesn’t concern you,” she snapped, a bit more harshly than she intended.

Teague’s blue eyes darkened with righteous fury. “How can your origins not concern me, when there may be a chance you will rule beside me?”

She let out a snort, which he didn’t find funny in the least. “That’s not going to happen,” she sighed.

“You think not?” He moved forward to sit on the edge of her bed and look at her. “You are one of the oddest girls I’ve ever met. Your dress is funny, the way you talk—even your attitude towards me, your prince.”

“You’re not my prince.” Mina said, instantly wishing the words back.

“You see what I mean? You’re odd—”

“I’m not odd. I’m normal.”

“—and you’re intriguing. You’ve been sent here along with the others, in the hopes of being chosen to be my wife, yet you scoff at the idea.”

Scoff at the idea? Mina was scoffing at herself. She had Teague this close to her—in her room even—and she had put the knife in a drawer across the room.

“Why are you here?” he asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“No, it’s not. No one’s heard of you. You make the crystal bowl sing—no one has ever done that. You can’t control your powers, and you act like you don’t want to be here. Have I done something to offend you?”

“Not in this lifetime,” she mumbled.

“See? There you go again.”

Mina couldn’t help but laugh in the glow of the candlelight; it was so easy to believe she was sitting having a teasing conversation with Jared. And she knew exactly what buttons to push. They seemed to work on Teague as well.

He froze at her laughter, swallowing slowly. He continued to observe her intently.

“What? Do I have something in my teeth?” She grinned widely, displaying her pearly whites for his inspection.

He leaned over and gently grabbed her chin, pretending to inspect them. “No, I don’t see anything.”

She busted out laughing at the seriousness with which he took her retort. He sat back and cocked his head to the side.


“I’m just surprised at you. Your laughter is genuine. You’re not hiding behind fake smiles and phony compliments or memorized answers. You really don’t seem to care about impressing me, do you?”

This time Mina swallowed nervously. Was she being too casual? Was she going to be sent home because she’d hurt his feelings or teased him?

And why did that possibility bother her so much?

She thought again about why she was here, and how many members of her family would die if she didn’t fix what was going to happen. Being here laughing with her enemy wasn’t going to solve her problems. Instead, it was making everything more complicated.

“No, I guess I don’t see the point of pretending and putting on airs. I’m not ashamed of who I am. At one point, yes, I was embarrassed about who I was, and the clothes that I wore, and where I lived. But I learned that those things weren’t important. What’s most important to me is family and being proud of the person I am. I’m not going to pretend I’m someone I’m not.”

Teague studied her intently and leaned forward. She stiffened as he moved closer, bringing his lips within inches of her ear. “That’s good. Because I despise liars and imposters.” His voice dripped with hidden meaning.

Did he know? Did he suspect? “And I hate princes that are selfish and power hungry,” Mina shot back.

His eyes flashed with anger, and she heard his quick intake of breath. “I can handle the truth, but I’m none of those.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, gently testing the waters. “Have you never been of two minds about something? Have you never felt a hunger for something that’s not yours?” She watched him carefully for his response.

He turned his head, showing off his handsome profile. “Careful, you’re tempting me to do something radical. And tempting me is very, very dangerous. For both you and me,” he warned.

She shivered. It was so hard to read him. She didn’t need to think much more because he elaborated for her.

“I’m very tempted to steal a kiss.” He stood up and moved across the room from her, placing himself at a safe distance.

“What?” Mina asked, caught off guard. Those were not the words she expected to hear from him.

“Get some rest.” He closed himself off again. “Tomorrow morning, you will face another test, and as much as I enjoy your wit and brutal honesty, I don’t expect you to pass it. I was truly coming to say goodbye.”

“That is just stupid,” Mina hissed. “Not to mention rude. Have you made the rounds to all of the girls and said goodbye to them?” she said. “Or just me?”

He was by her bed again in a flash, leaning in over her, his hands pressed into the mattress on either side of her hips. “I don’t need to say salutations to anyone ever. You disappeared in the woods on me, making me look like a fool when I went back to look for you. You should feel honored that I’ve even come to speak to you a second time.”

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