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“Ah, Jenn.” As usual, Tristan didn’t need any words to know what she needed. He gathered her close, tugging her onto the couch, easily lifting her onto his lap, and wrapping his arms around her.

Jennifer forgot all the resistance she was supposed to be clinging to. She laid her head on his shoulder and let the tears fall, wetting his neck. He held her as she cried.

After a few tender minutes of snuggling into his strength, his delicious scent, and the peace he gifted her with, he gently tilted her chin up and searched her face. His blue gaze begged her permission to kiss her and take away all the pain and loneliness she’d dealt with. She’d been alone for far too long.

Shouldn’t she take this slow, make sure he was committed to her and only her, focus on her parents? Instead, she found herself nodding to him, anticipation swirling in her abdomen.

His lips quirked into an alluring smile, but he got serious more quickly than she’d ever seen him. Apparently knowing that someone would bust back through that door any moment and interrupt another kiss took away his natural playfulness.

Tristan tenderly kissed the wetness on her cheek, and Jennifer sucked in a breath. The warm touch of his lips filled her with heat. When he tilted her face toward his, all reluctance was shoved away as she eagerly drew him closer.

A loud rap on the door announced yet another interruption.

The door swung open. Jennifer glanced over to see Chad standing there. Tristan’s best friend. It should have been awkward, but she liked Chad too much.

“There she is. I hear tell the most beautiful woman in the world has returned to Augustine’s fair soil, but she didn’t feel it important or urgent enough to come give me a hello hug and kiss. Hmm?”

“If you kiss my girl, I’ll thump you,” Tristan growled at his friend.

Chad only smiled, but Jennifer’s stomach flip-flopped. Tristan calling her ‘his girl’ and the possessiveness in his tone thrilled her. Was she onlyoneof his girls, or was she hisonlygirl?

Jennifer slid off his lap to greet Chad. Tristan caught her hand. “This will be continued very soon,” he promised.

“Oh my, Mr. Crown Prince, what determination you have,” she said, far too breathless.

“All the better to kiss you senseless with, my dear,” he responded.

Chad laughed. “You two and your Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood obsession. Come give your long-lost and most captivating malefrienda hug.”

Jennifer went to oblige Chad, but her mind swirled with all things Tristan. She needed perspective and distance or she’d throw herself into his arms and kiss him for far too long.

Their relationship and how she’d longed for him should be the least important worry of the moment. But for some reason, it seemed the most important.


Tristan packed some clothes and toiletries in a bag and then he and Jennifer drove a Can-Am Maverick to the village, Chad and Ray following them. They parked the vehicles next to the bakery, then climbed into the back of the Porsche Ray was driving and waited with him. Meanwhile, Chad snuck up the path to the prime minister’s villa. He was to sneak into the back door of the cottage using the security code for the alarms Jennifer had given him and check it thoroughly for sensors, recording devices, cameras, or unwanted visitors.

He returned about fifteen minutes later and informed them there were recording devices in every room, but luckily no cameras or ‘unfriendlies.’ He disabled the recording device in the upper east bedroom so they could pretend they were going to sleep but could actually talk freely in there. Everywhere else in the house they needed to monitor what they said or, even better, plant false seeds for William to chew on. Ray reassured them two guards would monitor outside constantly but would not be seen by William’s men.

“Do either of you have a Taser or stun gun I could borrow?” Jennifer asked.

Ray and Chad exchanged a look, then glanced back at her. “Why?” Ray asked.

“I just want to have something to protect myself when William does instruct us how to retrieve my parents from him.”

Both men looked at Tristan.

“I’m always carrying.” He said the words like a promise to his brother.

“But he might not be able to stay by my side,” Jennifer said.

Tristan’s entire body felt tight as every muscle seemed to engage, ready to defend her. “Let William try to pry me from your side.”

Jennifer’s eyes were warmer than they’d been since she supposedly saw him with the ‘gorgeous blonde.’ “Oh my, Big Bad Wolf, how lofty your determination is.”

“All the better to protect you with, my dear,” Tristan said.

Chad whistled. “I like it, friend.”

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