Home > Moonlight Prince (Vampire Girl #4)(17)

Moonlight Prince (Vampire Girl #4)(17)
Author: Karpov Kinrade

I turn away, walking up stairs, and Kal hurries behind me. "My lord, I think that would be unwise. He will be here, after all."

I stop, dread twisting my stomach. "Who?"

"Your brother, my lord. Prince Niam."

Chapter 5

PRINCE OF GREED

Fenris Vane

"Don't let the pretty baubles fool you, Princess. We are still demons. This is still a dangerous place."

—Fenris Vane

My fist smashes into Asher's face.

He flies through the air, slamming into the wall of his chambers and falling to the ground. He rubs his chin, and Dean, who stands beside me, does the same in some strange sympathetic gesture. I glance between them, bewildered. Then focus back on Asher. "How dare you not consult us?"

He shrugs, still sitting on the floor by his bed. "You were busy searching for Arianna. In fact, I'm curious as to why you have returned? I don't see the princess."

"We…" I pause, deciding not to give too much away to my treacherous brother. "We need to gather more supplies."

"I see," says Asher. "Well, just as you need supplies, I need security. That is why I summoned Niam. To discuss peace."

I clench my fists. "Peace? He voted to have Arianna and I killed! What kind of peace can I make with him?"

"You alone? None. But the three of us together…" He stands, dusting off his suit. "Though most of our brothers hate you and dislike me, they have a fondness for Dean. And no matter their opinion, we have power. There are three of us. Four of them—three since Levi is yet to be found. Almost an equal split of the Seven Realms. If they challenge us, they start a full on civil war. A war that will tear the land apart even without help from the Fae."

Dean nods. "If Niam agreed to attend, he must be interested in discussing a treaty. And if we can get Niam, he'll get us the others."

"Exactly," says Asher. "And we will make sure it is a treaty that benefits both parties. A treaty that keeps peace while you two go about searching for the Princess."

I don't like the idea of meeting Niam, but I see no other alternatives. Still… "A ball? Could it not have been a council meeting? You know I am not made for such things, and the timing hardly seems appropriate. We have our realms to rebuild and a possible war to plan for. Not to mention Arianna to find. This isn't the time for a party."

Asher studies me up and down. "Not everyone shares your distaste for the finer things in life, brother. And a ball is exactly the setting we need for a talk of peace. Wine, women, music… some much needed distraction after so much stress. You must learn to alleviate the pressure when it builds, lest it explode in your face. This will remind our brothers of the perks of a united family. So, off with you. Prepare for the festivities. Make sure to clean yourselves up. And find something nice to wear. You look like savages."

Dean chuckles, I sigh, Baron growls, and then we return to our own rooms. In moments, my servants, two Fae girls, dress me in silks. Pale blues and a white vest. A tight collar and tighter cuffs. Bloody hell. How does Asher stand such clothing?

When they are done dressing me like a doll, I leave for the grand hall, sweating below the many layers of clothing designed to torture men. I try to ignore the discomfort. Ignore the knowledge that every moment I spend at this ball is a moment stolen from my search for Arianna. And when I see the ballroom, full of dancing and drinking, of laughter and smiles, I wish Arianna were here. I wish it was we who were dancing. We who were laughing.

I think of the night before we went to battle. The night I thought I'd forgotten from alcohol. The night I made love to Arianna for the first time. It's not a night she'll have likely forgotten, which means I am a complete ass, because the following day we barely talked.

I have to find her. Have to make it up to her. Have to explain… everything.

Soon, I vow. Soon.

Someone brushes past me. A woman wearing a golden dress, her black hair twisted in a complex bun, surely to impress the other nobles. Her skin is pale and perfect and her smile bright. A masquerade mask of silver feathers covers her face. "Would my lord care for a dance?"

"Perhaps later," I say, trying to be delicate. Of course what I really mean is perhaps never.

I make my way through the room, politely refusing all advances, Baron at my side, growling at anyone who pushes too far. When Asher sees the wolf, he rolls his eyes. "Really? You couldn't leave him at home?"

"This is my home," I say, smirking. "If you don't like Baron, you can leave."

Baron bares his teeth in agreement, and Asher backs away. "No. No. I'm fine, dear brother." He pats my vest, adjusting my collar. "Just, when the others arrive, don't do anything rash, okay? We seek peace, not war."

"Then you have the wrong prince," I say, ruffling my collar back to how it was. "When can we expect Niam?"

Asher shrugs. "Seems he's running late."

I scan the ballroom, noticing the woman in gold again. She dances with a man in white, the masquerade mask on his face matching her own. They switch partners as the flow of music hastens, and all the dancers move in intricate patterns. Dean is on the dance floor, wearing a vest and pants, nothing more, his golden chest oiled and glistening under the swirling lights. He laughs, flirts, drinks and dances. Seems he's well on his way to getting over Arianna, but I do wonder… how deep do his feelings go for her? Deeper than he's letting on, I think. And for a moment I feel sorry for him. I realize that with Arianna he could have it all, and yet she wants me, a man who wants nothing to do with these political machinations. It's amazing he doesn't hate me for that alone.

   
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