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“My men are scouring the cities, villages, and mountains for William, Naomi, Henry, and Leslie,” Ray said. “Interpol, the European Union, and other organizations are on high alert as well. We’ll find them, or William will send instructions for you and we’ll find him that way. Let’s get you back to your cottage and wait for a message from William.”

“I’ll stay with her at the cottage,” Tristan said. “I want your most trusted men guarding it.”

He was so appealing, especially when he went all alpha male wolf slash crown prince on everybody. If only they were alone so she could tease him about it. But what if the man she loved was a player like every picture had revealed when she’d Googled him the past eight months? How could he possibly have fallen in love and gotten engaged four months after she left if he loved her like he’d always claimed? She’d seen the talk show Jessie when he kissed Macey Clifton and it had about destroyed her.

“Officers Ollie and Braxton proved their loyalty watching over Derek for months in America,” Ray said carefully, deliberate and Ray-like as ever. “Lieutenant Mason and Captain Favor risked their lives rescuing Malik and Sophie two weeks ago. We’ll rotate the four of them in pairs. They will monitor outside without being seen so they can trail anyone who might leave a note. They’ll also keep you both safe. If they have to trail someone, Chad or I will be ready to take their place guarding the cottage. If this goes on too long, we’ll bring in Jensen’s most trusted men, but I believe William will act decisively and not waste much time. He has to know we’re searching for him and he’ll want to strike first.”

“I agree,” the king said. “Thank you, Ray.” He stood and everyone took that as their signal to stand. “Give Ray some time to get his men in place and then take one of the side-by-sides down to Henry’s villa in case you need to head to the mountains when William gives you instructions with the next note. If you need to stay on the paved roads, one of Henry’s vehicles will be in his detached garage,” he said to Tristan. “Even if William has men watching for Jennifer, he told her to gain your trust. Nothing would prove that more than the two of you waltzing into her parents’ cottage together, correct?”

Tristan nodded and gave her a warm smile. Through the midst of all this trouble and worry, it was very welcome to focus on the butterflies that smile created in her stomach.

“I’m fine with that,” Ray said. “I’ll call when we’re ready.” He nodded to each of them, then strode out the door.

Jensen held up a hand as well. “I’ll be on standby with my most trusted men for when William sends another note. We’ll trail him and trap him this time.” His dark eyes were fiery with determination.

“Thank you, Jensen,” the king said.

The chief shook the king and Tristan’s hands and gave Jennifer a quick side hug, then strode from the room.

The king closed the door behind them and turned back. “Jennifer, I’m terribly sorry for what you’re going through. Please believe you have the full weight of the crown, the army, the royal guard, and the police force ready and willing to rescue your parents and put William and Naomi Rindlesbacher away for good.”

“Thank you.” She hugged him again, her throat thick and her eyes stinging with unshed tears. “Thank you so much, King Nolan.”

“It’s Nolan to you.” His blue eyes twinkled. “Or you can go with King Papa like Sunny does.”

Jennifer smiled. She’d seen the adorable little girl interacting with the family from a distance during the wedding. She’d especially loved seeing the child in Tristan’s arms.

“Nolan,” she said. “Thank you.”

“Of course. Henry is my best friend.” He paused, cleared his throat, and continued, “And Leslie was Anne’s ‘soul sister.’ We’ll find them and bring them home safe.” He turned to go as if the emotion was too much, but then he paused again. “T … I almost forgot. I promised Philippe you and I would go on an early morning hike with him, Curt, and Aliya. They believe they’ve found the cure for the curse.”

Tristan grimaced.

What cure? What curse?

So many questions right now.

“Can’t it wait?” Tristan asked. “With all that’s going on?”

“I suppose it could. Only … those three rarely ask anything of me and they were ecstatic when I agreed.”

“I imagine they were. Maybe in a couple days?” He looked at Jennifer. Everything was up in the air right now. They didn’t know if William would contact her tonight or in two weeks.

“I’d love to go on an early morning hike,” Jennifer said, meaning it. She’d also love to get to know Curtis’s new wife, the spunky Southern beauty.

The two men exchanged a look. Tristan gestured to his dad as if it was his decision. The king nodded. “We’d love to have you come with us. I’ll talk to Philippe and Curt and plan a time, but we can put it off if we see anything from William.”

“All right.”

“Goodnight.” The king nodded to both of them and let himself out.

Tristan turned to her. Jennifer’s heart picked up its beat at the meaningful look in his blue eyes. She wanted to flirt and tease with him, but the timing wasn’t right.

He looked her over carefully and murmured, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m terribly sorry, Jenn.”

She bit at her lip to keep from crying. His thoughtful concern brought all the repressed emotion to the surface. Despite how much she loved the little ones she helped in third-world countries around the world, she’d dealt with extreme loneliness the past eight months. She’d missed him, her parents, her home, and her friends. The pictures online of him with Macey and different women had made it even worse. Then to see her mum, abused and in that monster William’s power, and now to lose her dad and not know what awful things William and Naomi were doing to them, if they were even alive … It was devastating.

Sniffling, she was afraid she’d start sobbing if she tried to speak.

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