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The table rocked as Lukan stood. Lynx’s crystal glass, balanced on the edge, tumbled to the floor. It shattered on the marble tiles, shooting shards across the room. Lynx looked up from her playing, first at the crowd at the door.
It included Axel.
A flush of scarlet swept across her skin. Her eyes dropped to her drum.
Humiliation burst through Lukan. He strode over and grabbed Lynx’s arm. “I think you’ve played enough tabor and flute. Let’s go.”
Lynx’s flute gave an abrupt whistle as her tune ended. A buzz rippled through the watchers. Her face hardened, and she folded her arms around her drum. “What? But . . . why?”
“Are you a prince or a low-born?” Thurban demanded in Lukan’s head. “Drag the Norin out of here. Make her obey.”
Fighting for control, Lukan bent down and hissed in her ear, “Don’t make me drag you out of here.”
Lynx blinked and then demanded, “Drag me out? Why? What have I done?”
Lukan glanced over at the crowd. Everyone’s eyes—including Axel’s—were on him, watching him being gainsaid by a woman.
Face like granite, Axel’s fists clenched and unclenched.
Lukan didn’t think his cousin would dare interfere, but he had to rescue this situation. And fast.
His voice rose an octave. “Because I told you to. Now, move.” He fully expected Lynx to obey.
Instead, her eyes turned icy, and rage mounted on her face. “No one other than my king can give me orders and expect me to obey.”
Her king? How dare she?
She stood and faced him, and he noticed for the first time that they were the same height.
Voice like a whip, Lukan shot back, “There is but one supreme ruler in this empire, and he is not the Norin king. It’s time you, and all your kind, learned some respect for the Chenayan throne. My throne.” He grabbed her arm and dragged her to the door.
Lynx dug her feet into the floor. Still, he pulled her along, making her heels screech across the marble tiles. In a blur of movement, Lynx lifted her drumstick and cracked him across the cheek.
Lukan froze. But it wasn’t just the sting of maple that enraged him.
Lynx had hit him. In public. With Axel watching.
This was worse than anything his father or Axel had ever done to him. The ultimate humiliation. And it was unforgivable.
Lukan tore the drumstick from her hand, snapped it in half across his knee, and flung the pieces onto the floor. While she gasped with shock, he lunged behind her and gripped her upper arms. “You’re coming with me. Now.”
She lashed her foot back, clearly intending to impale him with her heel. Her shoe snagged in the hem of her dress. While she wrestled with the fabric—and then with him—Lukan propelled her out the door, over to the ballroom, and out onto the veranda.
It was then he noticed her face. It was feral in its fury. Never before had he seen a woman so angry—or so seductive.
It rendered him speechless. He couldn’t fight the compulsion to kiss her.
She punched him on the chin, snapping his head back.
Cayden watched a single tear roll down her cheek. She wasn’t lying. Her story explained why she’d suddenly disappeared. However, Nyna believed that Kara left town with a guy she met on the Internet. It was most likely a story her uncle had fed her. “You’ve been held captive for the last year and a half?”
Kara nodded and glanced up at him. “I need to tell Nyna her uncle is not the nice, caring man she believes him to be.”
“Yet you can’t just show up and blurt that out. Nyna was crushed when you left…were kidnapped.” He silently cursed himself for revealing Nyna’s feelings to Kara. Yet he couldn’t lie to her. Not that he made a habit of being dishonest with anyone. It wasn’t his nature. However, Kara stirred an attraction that no one except Nyna had sparked in both the man and the dragon. It both confused and intrigued him. Pushing off the wall, he moved to stand in front of her. “Stand up.”
She reluctantly did as he commanded. He lifted her chin and locked gazes with her. The green in her eyes darkened slightly. “What are your intentions with Nyna?”
“I love her. She’s the only family I have, and thoughts of her are what kept me strong and alive for the last year and a half. I’ll fight you for her.” Her green eyes shone with unshed tears. Wild fear mixed with determination rolled off her.
So will I. He entertained the idea that he could include Kara in the web. It was tricky, but it had been done. His magic was strong. He could build a big enough web to bind the three of them together. However, he had to be sure Kara’s intentions were true to her heart. His curse could only be broken if the love within the union was strong and pure. In other words, he couldn’t cast a love spell. No, the only spell he was allowed to cast over his chosen female, or females in this case, was the dragon’s web; the enchantment to start the bonding that could hopefully break his curse.