PRINCE CONALL’S LOFT was located on the top of the skyscraper.
The entire top floor belonged to him, and when they walked inside, Allyn was taken aback by the amount of room. Inside, a fire burned in the center of the living room in a white, stone fireplace. A loft bedroom with a glass half-wall overlooked the lavish living space with plush sofas, glass tables, and a full kitchen.
“How long are you staying here?” Allyn asked. A family of four could live in that loft, comfortably.
“Just the night. I only come here when I have business in the city. I return to my castle tomorrow.” He walked over to the kitchen and pulled wine from a closet. “Where do you live?”
Allyn shrugged. “I’m in between places right now.”
“What does that mean exactly?” Conall asked as he poured wine into two glasses.
“It means that I am living with friends until I figure out what I’m going to do next.”
He turned on music and Allyn couldn’t help the smile that came to her face as soft, classical music came from the speakers installed on the ceiling.
She stood there in the foyer as Conall took off his suit jacket, revealing a black vest over his navy-blue collared shirt.
When Allyn opened her eyes, she glanced over her shoulder. “This makes me miss my violin.”
Memories of playing her violin in the living room of their wood cabin came to her. Her mother used to knit her sweaters before the fire, a smile on her face as her dear girl played her favorite songs. Father would take a break from grading papers for the high school in town to critique her. She used to hate it when he’d find the smallest error in her playing but missed those evenings more than anything.
“Well, aren’t you full of surprises?”
“My father used to play this song a lot when I was growing up,” she said, closing her eyes and humming along with the melody of the violin.
“Did he? I’d like to hear about him.”
“He’s a music teacher,” she said. “He used to play for your father. You may not remember, but we’ve met once before.”
Conall turned to her, a smile on his face. “I wondered if you remembered me.”
Allyn spun around to him. “What?” Her hands fell to her sides. “You actually remembered me—this entire time?”
He nodded and her face flushed. “You’re kidding me.”
They’d only been ten years old when her father brought her along to the central palace for a private concert. She’d been allowed to play with the young prince in the gardens and playrooms for just one weekend, and she never forgot the fun they’d shared. That was one of the last good memories she had before her life took a turn for the worst.
“Wow,” she said. “You’re the one that’s full of surprises.”
“How could I forget the girl with the red hair? I noticed you immediately when you came down the stairs tonight.”
“Conall,” Allyn whispered. “I think you might be right about the whole fate thing.”
He shrugged. “I told you.”
“Okay. So, tell me more about Prince Conall Baran.”
“What is there? Everyone knows of the curse of the Wolf. It is a part of my clan and part of Elastria’s history.”
Allyn sat down on one of the bar stools at his kitchen island. “I’m sure there is more to you than your subjects know. Like your twin brother, Lennox. What’s his deal?”
The way Conall’s face paled at the mention of his brother made her wish she hadn’t brought him up.
“I’d appreciate if you didn’t talk about him,” he said but didn’t elaborate. Instead, he walked over and handed her a glass of red wine.
She took a sip. “I’m sorry. I just thought with the two of you still living in the original Baran castle, you’d be close,” she said.
“We aren’t,” he snapped.
Allyn held onto her wine glass, the tension thickening in the room. Even when they met as children, Lennox wasn’t around. She didn’t understand the division between twins but knew better to press the issue. She didn’t need to learn all of his secrets in one night.
For one, she wasn’t ready to tell hers.
She smiled and tried to lighten the mood. “I haven’t had so much alcohol in all of my life. Are you trying to get me drunk?”
“If you need to take it easy, my feelings won’t be hurt. Would you like some water?”
Allyn drank a bit more. “I’m fine.” Her mind went to Aude and Khia and what they would think if she didn’t return soon. “I should probably tell my friends where I am.”
“Don’t worry. I sent Edan a text. He told them where you are and will make sure they are taken care of.”
“Oh,” she said and sat up straight. “What do you want to do now since we have a few more hours together?”
Conall shrugged. “We can just talk if you’d like. I haven’t seen you in years and would love to know what you’ve been up to. Hannah was never much of a conversationalist. She seemed to enjoy the sound of her own voice that nothing she said had much depth.”
“But, you stayed with her for nine months. There must have been something you liked.”
“She was pretty, and there’s always been a lot of pressure to settle down.” He leaned back against the counter with a sigh. “But, like I said, she was a great actress. It was hard to tell when the act was over and when she was being real. You know?”
Allyn stared at him. He tried to hide that he was hurt, but she could see right through his façade. She saw her own pain reflected in his ice-blue eyes.
“Yes. I know exactly what you mean. My ex did nothing but lie to me. On top of that, he’s probably with another woman right now.” She made light of it, though the idea ate at her each night.
“Damn. As far as I know, Hannah never cheated. She was just a liar.”
“Well, lucky you.” Allyn drank her wine down, no longer caring about how drunk she got. As long as she didn’t become sloppy, she didn’t care.
He picked up the wine bottle and poured her some more. “I’m the cursed one,” he said. “There isn’t much luck involved.”
I know more than you think.
She watched the red liquid fill her glass. This wasn’t the way she envisioned her night. Just hours ago, she thought she’d be sitting in her dark apartment with a bunch of candles and a bowl of canned soup.
Now, she was drinking wine with the prince of Elastria…the future king.
The music changed to a more upbeat song and Allyn’s body warmed from within. She smiled, suddenly wanting to dance, but not quite drunk enough to do so alone in the middle of the Prince Conall’s living room.
“This is weird,” Allyn said, her smile fading as she looked up to Conall.
He lifted a brow. “What is?”
“I can’t get over that I’m sitting here with a prince, talking about my ex. What is happening right now? Is this real?”
Conall’s charming smile returned and he took her glass from her hands. She watched him set her glass on the black marble countertop and turn her barstool to face him. He leaned down to her level and looked her right in the eyes.
“Allyn Carmody. This is real, and I think you’re done drinking.”
Her head spun and she could barely keep her eyes open. “Why?” she asked in a whisper and nearly fell from the stool.
He caught her in his arms.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” Allyn started to panic. She gripped Conall’s shoulders as fear flashed before her eyes.
No. Get it together. She should have known better. Such reckless drinking could ruin everything. If she didn’t control her body, she didn’t want to think of what could happen.
Allyn tried to stand and found that she didn’t have control over her legs. She groaned, her head thumping as she tried to clear her vision. It took everything within her to keep the magic within.
End his life before he ends yours.
The voices wouldn’t shut up.
Conall picked her up and her head fell back, her hair swinging as he carried her from the kitchen. Her eyes were glazed over as she looked at the vaulted ceiling. She didn’t know where she was going and had no control.
The last thought she had before she passed out struck terror in her soul.
He knows who I am…and he drugged me. What a clever Wolf.
PRINCE CONALL’S LOFT was located on the top of the skyscraper.