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Her mum raised her bound hands and brought them down on Naomi’s outstretched hand. Naomi’s pistol discharged. Jennifer screamed. The bullet lodged into the back of the couch. Her mum hit Naomi’s hands again and thankfully the gun clattered to the floor. Naomi shoved her mum hard. Her mum knocked into the men brawling on the floor and splayed on top of them. One of the massive men turned from hitting at Tristan to shove her mum off.

Jennifer rushed to help her. She pulled her away and to her feet, expecting Naomi to come at her any minute, but she didn’t.

“Go to the front door and get the guard,” Jennifer begged her mum. She had to help Tristan.

Jennifer wrapped her arms around one of the brute’s necks and clamped down hard. He tried to rip her arms off, but she refused to let go.

The distraction was what Tristan needed. He pummeled the other man with a series of hard jabs and uppercuts, then grabbed the enormous gun lying on the floor and slammed it into the man’s head. The man blessedly went unconscious.

The brute Jennifer was clinging to ripped her arms free and tossed her like a rag doll. Jennifer slammed into the couch.

“Jenn!” Tristan roared.

“I’m okay,” she panted. “Get that guy!”

Tristan smiled at her and then went to work pummeling the other guy. Jennifer wanted to watch her tough prince in action, but she hurried to follow her mum to the front door. Her mum was trying to unlock it and open it, but with her hands bound so tightly, she wasn’t having much luck.

Jennifer gently pushed her mum to the side. She turned the deadbolt and ripped the door open. The alarm didn’t go off. Why? She’d watched Tristan punch in the code right a few minutes ago.

Their guard, a different one than earlier, rushed toward her.

“You okay?” the guard pushed out as he ran.

“No.” She flicked on the front porch and entryway light, showing her mum bound and gagged. “Prince Tristan is fighting two thugs.” She pointed.

The guard rushed past her and into the living area.

Jennifer took her mum’s arm and escorted her back in. Tristan had the second man pinned against the wall, trading hit for hit, but Tristan was winning. Of course he was. What a guy. Her Big Bad Wolf.

She hurried her mum to the kitchen, pulled out a knife, and sliced her hands free. Then she held onto her face and yanked off the duct tape. She expected her mum to at least groan in pain, but she didn’t. She just flung her arms around Jennifer.

“Oh, my angel. You’re all right?”

“Yes, Mum. You?”

Leslie shrugged and then nodded and then shook her head. “Henry?” she croaked out.

“He’s okay. He’s with King Nolan up at the castle. Steffan was going to treat him for his injuries. Every military and police officer in the country has been dispatched to find you.”

Her mum looked at her and then burst into tears.

More guards ran into the house.

Jennifer gathered her mum close and clung to her. She could hear Tristan’s voice instructing the royal guards, but then she heard words that chilled her clear through. “Where’s Naomi?”

She looked around. The patio door was slightly ajar again. That was why the alarm never went off. Naomi knew the code, had disabled it, and then disappeared in the midst of the fighting and confusion.

Would this nightmare ever end?


It had been a few days and things seemed to finally be calming down in Augustine. Naomi had disappeared. Hopefully she’d be found or at least never dare show her fake face again. Her dad had stepped down as prime minister, possibly facing prison time for aiding a criminal and covering up the queen’s death. Tristan and his family were compassionate, but the courts would have to rule on that. Her mum was in intense therapy for causing the death of her best friend and the mental and physical torture she’d experienced at the Rindlesbachers’ hands. Jennifer’s family was a mess, but she had hope they could heal and move past the pain someday. At least they were alive and no longer in the Rindlesbachers’ grasp.

Jennifer clung to Tristan’s hand as they walked up the trail to their waterfall. It was chilly this September morning, but she was warm with Tristan close by. Her parents would eventually get through this pain and heal. Augustine was safe. And Tristan was incredible.

She gazed at his profile and the scars decorating his cheek.

He smiled down at her. “You like my artwork, do you?”

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