Their virgin princess, p.38
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       Their Virgin Princess, p.38

         Part #4 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
Page 38


  Yasmin had gone to the world’s most expensive private schools, but that had never been enough for her. There was something deeply empty inside her cousin, something no amount of money or fame or possessions could ever fill. Even if Yasmin succeeded, she wouldn’t be happy. She would find all the flaws in life and hold them tight to her because she believed the world to be against her. She saw herself as a victim. It was how she excused everything she did. It was how she managed to live with herself. What a miserable existence. But it was all Yasmin understood.

  Alea realized that she could have become just like Yasmin if she’d kept trekking down the path to empty bitterness. She would have shut out anyone who could have loved her, and resentment would have ruled her life. Her men had saved her from that. The island had saved her, and now she wanted life and love in the real world, too. It wouldn’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile was. That simple truth was what Yasmin had never understood.

  “This isn’t going to work, Yasmin. No one is going to save you from your short sightedness this time. Put the gun down, and I’ll talk to Talib about sending you to a place where you can get some help. ” A psychiatric hospital would be a good place for Yasmin. They could figure out if she was a complete sociopath.

  For the first time, Yas looked a little uncertain. “I can’t. I’m not going down for this. ”

  “I disagree, bitch,” Oliver’s words were guttural as though forced through sheer willpower from his chest.

  Yasmin screamed and turned, her gun firing wildly, hitting the balcony doors and sending glass flying out. The sound filled the room and her ears, making her heart pound again. Now she had to decide which way to run toward safety.

  Oliver shoved at Yasmin, toppling her and sending her to the floor. His dress shirt had turned a horrible muddy red and she could see the gray cast to his skin. His hands shook as he reached for his wife’s throat. Yasmin scrambled, the gun still in her hand. She kicked out and got to her knees.

  The bedroom was too far away, and Yas had a direct line of sight. If she could get a shot off, it would likely hit Alea in the back.

  Another little ping zipped through the air as Yasmin fired wildly.

  Alea dashed to the doorway, sprinting as she looked back, trying to see what was happening with Oliver and Yasmin. Yasmin kicked out, catching Oliver’s chin and sending him flying. Alea heard his body fall, then another little ping.

  She made it to the balcony before Yasmin turned. Alea forced herself to not breathe as she moved around the glass at her feet.

  “Where did you go, bitch? Do you think I won’t find you? I don’t care about anything now. I just want to kill you! You wrecked everything! Everything!”

  Alea clung to the marbled walls, inching away from the door. She had to get to the trellis and hope that she could still make it to one of the trees that were planted close. When she’d been a child, she’d been able to make it to the ground by jumping from the railing to the tree and shimmying down. Her aunt and uncles had been horrified. Talib had called her a little monkey. Who knew the skill might come in handy now. God, would the branches even hold her?

  She heard a door slamming open. No doubt Yasmin was searching for her in the bedroom.

  This was her one chance. She stepped across the glass, crunching it under her shoes and stepped up on the terrace railing. Shit. It was a long way down.

  “Lea! Lea!”


  Landon stood on the ground beneath her, a gun in his hand. He quickly shoved it into his holster and held his arms up. “Jump, Lea. Jump and I’ll catch you. I swear I will. Jump, darlin’. ”

  “Got you,” Yasmin snarled as she came through the doors.

  Alea jumped. No question about it. She would rather die trying to get to Lan than face down a bullet. She heard herself scream as she made the short trip from the second story.

  Her breath huffed from her chest as she landed in strong, warm arms.

  “I can kill you both. ” Yasmin stood on the balcony, her gun in her hand.

  Lan moved fast, turning so his back was to the gun, and he pressed Alea to the ground.

  A loud report filled the air. That hadn’t been Yasmin’s gun with its silencer. Then whose?

  “Thank god,” Lan whispered and pulled Alea upright.

  Yasmin’s gun fell to the ground, her body slumping over the balcony railing. She hung there for a moment, eyes wide, as Dane and Cooper charged through, both with a semiautomatic in their hands.

  Alea gasped in horror as Yasmin teetered, her body unbalanced, then tipped over the railing. She fell through the air, her blonde hair flipping with her body before she hit the ground with a sickening thud. A glance told Alea that Yas’s neck hung at an unnatural angle. She was dead.

  Dane looked over the railing. “Is Alea okay?”

  “I’ve got her,” Lan yelled. He scooped her up, holding her to his chest.

  Alea stared at Yasmin’s dead body as he carried her away, brutally aware of just how close she’d come to a very similar end. She clung to Lan and cried.

  Chapter Fifteen

  “How is Oliver?” Piper asked as she poured out the tea and waited for the servant to step back. “Thank you so much. That will be all for now. We should be finished in an hour or so. Until then, I’d like to be alone with my cousin, please. ”

  The servant frowned, but nodded and bowed as he left the room.

  They were finally alone. It seemed like Alea was never alone these days. “He’s recovering but very slowly. His brothers arrived a couple of days ago. When the doctors say he’s stable, they want to move him back to England. ”

  She’d met Callum and Rory at the airport and escorted them to their brother’s side. She’d felt a horrible pressing guilt the whole time. Oliver had been a target because of her. She’d apologized, but the brothers had hugged her and assured her they placed no blame on anyone but Yasmin. Callum had mentioned that if Oliver had followed his initial instincts and pursued Alea instead, none of it would have happened.

  Yasmin had already been cremated, her urn placed in the family crypt by her grieving mother. Alea had felt so badly for her aunt. Though Yasmin had been horrible, her aunt had loved her only daughter. Her grief was complicated. She’d been horrified by what Yasmin had done.

  So much sadness. And there had been so much rage in Oliver’s eyes. Even through the pain of his surgeries, she could see the hatred there that burned for the woman he’d once called his wife.

  “I’m glad to hear he’s going to make it,” Piper said, putting her tea down and looking at the door as it closed. Landon was standing outside the door, his silent figure a monument to his protectiveness.

  Unfortunately, she wanted his figure to be a monument to sexiness and love, but that hadn’t happened. Despite the fact that she’d tried to talk to them about why she’d refused the marriage in the beginning, they didn’t seem to be listening. Oh, the wedding plans were going through. They were scheduled to be married in the garden next week, but Dane and Landon seemed to be going through the motions with grim determination.

  “Are you all right?” Piper asked.

  She nodded. “I’m fine. No morning sickness at all. I feel great physically. ”

  In fact, the doctor had said she was healthy and that sex wouldn’t be a problem at all, even sex with all her fiancés as long as they were careful.

  But Cooper and Landon were the only ones who had slept beside her in the four days that had passed since she’d leapt from the balcony and into Landon’s arms. She’d tried to explain, and Dane said he understood, but he’d been remote.

  They were circling each other like wary sharks, and she needed to break the stalemate. She wanted her wedding to be a joyous occasion, not something they all went through for the sake of the baby.

  “I wasn’t talking about your health physically. How are you emotionally?” Piper asked. “I saw that two of the other women from the brothel calle
d you. How did that go?”

  Jennifer and Lisa. She barely remembered them, but they had given her so much strength. She’d been terrified at first, but they had drawn her out, getting her to really talk about what had happened. They had cried, all three of them. They had cried for each other, for themselves, and for the girls who hadn’t made it.

  “I’m starting a new foundation. I’m bringing Lisa and Jen into it with me. It’s going to fight international slavery and push the United Nations and other countries to advance women’s rights. ”

  Tears formed in Piper’s eyes, and she put down her teacup and reached for Alea’s hand. “A long time ago, Dane told me that how we handle the pain we’ve been given is the way we’re measured in life. A strong person can take the horror and pain and use it to make the world a better place. Lea, I think that’s a wonderful idea. ”

  She was excited about it, and especially excited about the fact that Jen and Lisa were going to get some of the others together for a visit at the palace so they could meet and talk and help each other heal.

  Alea was going to reach out to Brittany, too. She was letting go of her anger because it had no place in her life. It solved nothing, but forgiveness and understanding…those could solve everything.

  She was done with anger and bitterness. She was ready to move on, but she had no intention of moving on without Dane Mitchell.

  There was the sound of a door opening, and Landon walked in. His blue eyes found hers, and she was shocked at how her heart pounded in her chest at the very sight of him. He nodded toward Piper. “Your Highness. ”

  “It’s Piper, Lan. In a couple of days we’ll be family, and no one in my family calls me Your Highness. Well, except for my sister, but it sounds more like Your High Ass. She’s a classy one, my little sis. ”

  Lan’s smile made him beam. “I’m excited to meet her. I’m also excited that Coop’s family is going to descend on the palace tomorrow morning. I think it might be the first time that monstrosity Tal calls a plane gets completely filled. ”

  Alea couldn’t wait to meet Cooper’s family. She just hoped she could remember all their names. There were six brothers and five of them were married with eleven kids between them. But first, she had a job to do. “Are you going to help me?”

  Lan put a hand on her hair, smoothing it back. “Always, Lea. You’re sure the doc said it was all right?”

  He was killing her, treating her like she was made of glass. “Lan, have you ever heard of pregnancy hormones?”

  Piper shook her head. “Oh, honey. I have a load of those. ” She also proved she had Alea’s back. “But it’s okay because your men are taking care of you, right?”

  She was so glad Piper was on her side. She shook her head. “No. They’re not taking care of me. They’re very gently making love to me, but only once since we got back and only Cooper. ”

  Lan went a stark red. “Lea, baby, should we be talking about this?”

  Piper stood up and wagged a finger at him. “How could you? Pregnant women need sex. Crazy, dirty, nasty sex. So, you liked having sex with her so much that she got pregnant, but now that she’s expecting, you’ve lost interest. Is that the way it is?”

  “No. God… N-no, not at all. I’m so horny…. ” He shut his mouth and started to laugh. “This is one of those times when you two are having fun with me, isn’t it? Well, fine. I can deal. If you’re going to make it a royal decree that I get down and nasty with the love of my life and share her with my best friends, then I have no choice. I have to follow a royal order. Do you have the key to the dungeon, Piper? Cooper is going to get Dane down there in twenty minutes. ”

  Piper smiled and handed over a key. “You guys have fun. The bed is in the back if you decide to stay down there. There’s also a phone that goes directly to the kitchen. We had that installed a few months back because Kade gets hungry when he’s playing. Y’all have fun. I’ll keep Tal busy elsewhere. ”

  Lan took her hand and started to lead her down the hall. She threaded her fingers through his, but worry still swamped her. “Are you sure you want to do this with me?”

  Lan looked down at her. “Do I want to play bondage games with the most beautiful woman in the world? Uh, yeah. ”

  “You haven’t seemed to want me lately. ” He’d been perfectly polite and he’d said all the right things, but he hadn’t made love to her. “I said some terrible things when we first arrived at the palace. I was reeling and I didn’t mean them. And—”

  “Stop. Lea, I love you. The last few days have been rough. You almost died, baby. You’re pregnant. I’m so worried that I’ll do the wrong thing. ”

  “I’m not fragile, Lan. ”

  “You sure felt that way when you jumped off the balcony and into my arms. If I had been off, if I’d tripped or stumbled, I would have lost both you and the baby. ”

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