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“In my suite.”

Ray’s eyebrows rose, but in typical Ray fashion, he said nothing about it.

The music changed from soft and in the background to louder and with a fun beat. The DJ announced the bride and groom would be ‘performing’ with Princess Kiera. Oh, boy. American Ninja Warrior and parkour moves in a wedding dress, tux, and bridesmaid dress. That should be interesting.

“Be safe,” Ray cautioned, leaning close so he could be heard over the music. “I know you loved her once, but she may be working with her dad and Rindlesbacher to take down you and Dad.”

“She wouldn’t do that,” Tristan protested.

Ray only shrugged. “I’m not saying Jenn could be a traitor, but she won’t be thinking straight. She’s emotional and worried about her parents. Think how you’d act if Mum had been kidnapped by Rindlesbacher. Just be careful.”

“I will,” Tristan promised. Ray was right. If their beloved mother had been in William’s power, they’d all be going insane. It would almost be worse than her dying, not knowing where she was but knowing she was being mistreated, belittled, and William would kill her when she no longer furthered his diabolical plans.

Ray nodded and strode to his wife’s side. Macey was clapping her hands to the beat and cheering for Derek, Ellery, and Kiera’s ‘dance.’ Tricks, flips, and showing-off craziness was a better description.

Everyone went crazy as they finished, cheering and clapping. The bride and groom dance was next. After Derek danced with Ellery’s mum and Ellery with his dad, Tristan could probably safely slip away for a couple hours and come back for the eight forty-five p.m. planned cutting of the cake and send off of the bride and groom.

Tristan slowly made his way toward the closest entrance to the castle. He was so distracted thinking of Jennifer waiting for him that he didn’t notice until too late the swarm of at least ten young ladies hedging off his exit. They didn’t draw his attention until the first one, a blonde, wrapped her hand around his arm and cooed, “May I please have the first dance?”

Tristan kept the smile on his face as his gaze darted around. Who invited this many single women? He was not only the last single prince but the crown prince, and despite a couple of them flinching when their eyes traveled over his mottled skin, they were all obviously interested.

“While that would be an incredible honor,” Tristan said smoothly, “I must excuse myself …”

The blonde gripped his arm more firmly. “I won’t take no for an answer.”

Tristan searched for help. All of his brothers were with their wives or fiancée and Chad was occupied. Only Jensen would be any help—if he could find the police chief. He couldn’t see Jensen in the throng.

“I get the next dance,” a redhead insisted.

“Then me,” said a brunette.

Tristan realized in his panic why he didn’t recognize these women. They were American. Friends of Ellery and Derek from their ninja warrior circuit?

Had Ellery set him up?

He glanced her direction. She and Derek waltzed by, and she grinned. “You can thank me later, T.”

Tristan’s stomach tightened even as he grinned at his new sister-in-law. He didn’t blame Ellery. She had no idea the love of his life was within reach for the first time in eight months.

He needed to escape, and without offending Ellery or her friends.

Smiling at the blonde, he prayed for some logical excuse. He pulled his phone out of his coat pocket. “Pardon me.” Then he tapped out a quick text to Jensen.I need help quick.Come claim I’m needed in the castle and you can have your pick of a bunch of beautiful women.

He slid the phone back in his pocket and smiled congenially. Jensen would come. If he checked his phone that was most likely on ‘do not disturb.’ If not, Tristan would fake a bathroom emergency.

Time ticked by as the women flirted with him, and panic made his chest constrict.

He had to get to Jennifer.


Jennifer grew tired of waiting fairly quickly. The anxiousness over both of her parents missing and knowing that William and Naomi would hurt and abuse them made her itchy and jumpy.

She wandered around Tristan’s luxurious and clean suite. According to the online articles she’d read, they’d had to rebuild it completely after a homemade pipe bomb was set off under his bed last May. She shuddered, sick for the pain that Tristan must have gone through and grateful he had survived. She wondered if William Rindlesbacher had been behind that nightmare as well. Most likely.

Tristan had a photo of him and his family, one of his mum and dad, some scenic pictures, and two pictures of the two of them, their arms around each other, bright smiles on their faces. The photos had been taken a couple years ago, but it felt like a decade. The couple in those photos had responsibilities and purpose, but life had still felt carefree and their future bright with every happy possibility in store for them.

She had to look away or she would cry for all they’d lost. It touched her that he had these pictures. Did it mean he hadn’t replaced her or forgotten about her? What about all the women he’d dated and getting engaged to the woman who was now his sister-in-law?

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