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Tristan felt drained emotionally and physically as they slowly hiked back to the side-by-side vehicles. Curt had a satellite phone and more of Ray’s men had been dispatched and met them on the main trail. The Austrian authorities had been alerted to what had happened on their soil, and Ray and Chad were on their way in a helicopter.

The king asked Ray to organize his best men to diffuse the bomb and remove the bodies, but he wanted everyone, including Ray and Chad, searching for Leslie and Naomi. Even with William dead, this calamity wasn’t finished.

The Teryx led the way, with the king driving as fast as the machine would go. Henry sat where Philippe had been a couple hours ago.

Tristan had shot and killed Philippe. With everything that had happened, he was just now processing that. Guilt pressed at him like a heavy weight on his chest, but it had been the only path to protect Jennifer. When Tristan had cleared that doorway Philippe had been aiming his gun right at Jennifer and he’d instinctively shot the man to protect her.

He’d have to deal with the sorrow over killing a man that he’d liked and respected; the pain of knowing the details of his mum’s death and Henry covering it up to protect his family; and the all-encompassing need to hold Jennifer for hours.

Right now, they had to find Leslie.

The speed ride through narrow mountain paths, sometimes with steep drop-offs on one side, was terrifying, but Tristan understood the urgency. Henry had some injuries that needed to be attended to, but Leslie needed to be rescued and Naomi imprisoned. Leslie had been manipulated and controlled emotionally and mentally by Naomi and William. Was she in her right mind now? He prayed Jennifer wouldn’t lose her mum as surely as he’d lost his.

He held Jennifer’s hand in the side-by-side. She clung to it but had spoken little. Was she in shock? Terrified for her mum’s safety? Worried about her dad’s health and state of mind? Seeing Henry cry and hearing that sob had ripped Tristan apart. He’d been carrying this burden for a long time. Almost losing Henry over that cliff had been horrific. For years, Tristan had respected and loved the man like a father and close friend. It was impressive how his dad had granted forgiveness, but it would take some time to come to grips with all of this pain and regret, for all of them. Someday, maybe all this ugliness and pain could be behind them.

They waved goodbye to Curt and Aliya at their cabin. Curt was going to help search the mountains for any sign of Leslie and Naomi, but he didn’t want Aliya in any more danger. Aliya surprisingly hadn’t fought him on it.

The guards followed them, and finally they reached Greenville. There was a lot of activity at the lower gates that led to the castle, men getting assigned to search throughout the country for Leslie and Naomi.

“Henry, you need a doctor,” the king said. “Steffan is at the castle. Let’s have him look at you and see if you need to go to the hospital in Traverse.”

“But Leslie,” Henry protested.

“Ray and Jensen have men scouring the country just as they’ve done since Leslie disappeared. The Austrian, Swiss, German, and Italian governments have been put on alert, as well as Interpol. Ray has also contacted Sutton Smith, and he promised to have his ops stationed throughout the world keep an eye out and their ears open. He’s also volunteered several of his people who aren’t currently on assignment to start searching. They’ll find her.”

Jennifer clung to Tristan’s hand. He gave her a reassuring smile.

“Let’s take care of you,” his dad told Henry.

“Thank you,” Henry managed, his voice thick with emotion. He nodded to the king, then looked back to Jennifer. “Are you all right, love?”

Jennifer only shook her head. She looked drained and hurting and far from all right.

“I think she needs to lie down for a bit,” Tristan said. “I’ll stay with her at the cottage.”

Henry arched his brows. “As long as you don’t lie down with her.”

“Dad!” Jennifer gasped out.

“Don’t worry, old chap. I’ll keep everything moral and squeaky clean.”

Henry chuckled. It warmed Tristan clear through and felt like old times. Maybe there was hope that things could return to normal between them someday.

“See that you do. Your dad might have five replacements for you, but I’ve only got one daughter.” He lifted his hands, then shifted uncomfortably, as if not sure if he should tease like they used to.

“True,” the king said. “I’ve already lost my Lamborghini Aventador. The only thing worse than losing the crown prince would be crashing my new Lamborghini Veneno.”

“I think Ellery will take care of that for you,” Tristan threw in.

Henry, the king, and Tristan all smiled at that. Henry still looked decidedly uncomfortable, but at least his initial reaction had been to tease.

Jennifer looked at all of them as if they’d lost it.

“Apologies.” Tristan raised their clasped hands and kissed her knuckles. “We tease like this all the time.” They weren’t teasing like normal, and who knew what their relationship would be from here on out, but hopefully they could someday be comfortable and bantering again.

His lips brushed the massive diamond on her ring finger. He wanted it there, but he needed to put it there properly. Holding her gaze, he slowly slid the ring off and then kissed her now-naked finger. “You mean too much to me to not do this the right way. The next time you wear it will be for real.”

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