Page 36 of Pretty Little Thief

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Dominic grabs my chin. “Focus!” he demands. “We don’t know how much time we have, so we will be sprinting through the drills today. Since it’s only the two of us that shouldn’t be hard—unless you choose that route.” His dark, stormy eyes drill into me, warning me to behave.

Little does he know, I have no intention of bucking him today. He’s the master, I’m the student. Got it.

We start with simple drills, racing through the forest to build up my agility. Dominic wins most every race, but I give him a run for his money a few times. At least, I think I do because once he’s pleased with my ability, we move on to something else.

I could be reading him wrong, but I’m too exhausted to figure it out. My legs have been throbbing since our third sprint, and my lungs are on the verge of collapsing any moment.

Dominic tosses me a sparring sword, and I catch it in midair, twirling it between my fingers. It’s light, not near as heavy as a real sword, but it does the trick for training purposes.

I jump backward, nearly falling on my ass, dodging his attack. “Always have your guard up, Princess,” he shouts. “The enemy won’t wait for you to be prepared.”

With that, I recover and go on the offense, but that doesn’t last very long. Dom is fast and strong, rarely do I get the chance to strike. There’s no way I can beat him by brute force, so I try to outsmart him, but nothing gets past him.

Picking up on my every move, he smiles, tossing me a wink.

Arrogant bastard.

My arms are heavy, but my feet move with ease. I block a few hits, then retreat. Every step predictable, exhaustion making it hard for me to think clearly.

Dom gets bored, rolling his eyes. Strike after strike, he lays into me until I’m laid out on the ground.

He chuckles, holding out his hand to help me up, but instead of using it for the assist, I pull him down beside me in the dirt.

Dominic may be a demanding asshole most days, but the way he pushes me to do better is something I need in my life. He gives me that.

Rolling to my side, I stare into his dark, shadowy eyes. “Thank you, Dom.”

He quirks a brow, the corner of his mouth lifts, and it’s a beautiful sight to see. “For what? Kicking your ass, Princess?” We laugh together for a beat before he responds.

“Anytime,” he boasts.

My chest feels heavy with each shallow breath I take. I bite the inside of my cheek, trying to stop the tears from coming. “Thanks for caring enough to do this.”

He swipes the pad of his thumb under my eye, catching a fallen tear. “I know you feel alone, but you aren’t. As long as I’m breathing, you aren’t alone in this world, Princess. You have me—you have us. We swore an oath to protect you.” His hand caresses my cheek, softly. “You’re ours, forever.”

The sound of a tree limb snapping breaks the tender moment between us. Dom jumps to his feet, pulling me up with him.

We scan the area, but I’m not seeing anything or anyone.

If it were an animal, surely we would see movement between the trees.

There’s someone watching us, and whoever it is doesn’t want us to know.


Dominic takes off in the direction of the sound, sprinting through the forest with me hot on his heels.

He stops abruptly, raising a finger to his lips. My eyes search for any sign of life out there.

“Stop!” Dom shouts, running after someone about fifty yards away. I chase after them, pushing myself to keep up.

A few seconds later, Dom tackles the guy to the ground.

The spy throws his hands up to protect his face. “Please, don’t kill me! I was just following orders.”

“And whoseorderswere you following? Who’s spying on the princess?” Dom shouts, punching the man after each question.

I’m furious. I know who sent him. Who else would it be? The problem is how much did he see, and what is he going to report back to them?