Malicious prince a rever.., p.1

Malicious Prince: A Reverse Harem Romance (Territorial Mates Book 3), page 1

 

Malicious Prince: A Reverse Harem Romance (Territorial Mates Book 3)
 


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Malicious Prince: A Reverse Harem Romance (Territorial Mates Book 3)


  Malicious Prince

  Book Three in the Territorial Mates Series

  Mary E. Twomey

  Contents

  1. Two Pinpricks

  2. My Mate’s Blood

  3. Vera’s Love

  4. Healed and Broken

  5. Headache

  6. The Price of Separating

  7. Dining with the Boys

  8. Interrogation by Justice

  9. Mother Butcher

  10. A Lily in Nature

  11. Home Away from Home

  12. A Mother’s Advice

  13. Mother and Brother

  14. The Mate Bond

  15. Vera’s Love and Madness

  16. In Ronin’s Arms

  17. By Destino’s Side

  18. Too Little, Too Late

  19. Secrets and Grudges

  20. First Husband, and Second

  21. Brother Justice

  22. The Wickedness in Me

  23. Hannah

  24. A Drinking Problem

  25. White Dress

  26. Our People

  27. New Home, New World

  Copyright © 2019 Mary E. Twomey

  Cover Art by Emcat Designs

  All rights reserved.

  First Edition: November 2019

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  For information:

  http://www.maryetwomey.com

  For my sister, Michelle.

  For living and loving on your own terms.

  For being brave, even when you’re scared.

  1

  Two Pinpricks

  Salem

  Traveling like this is the worst. Forget the fact tha we’ve got the handicap of a vampire with us, who can only travel by night. Push aside tha Des is moving at half his normal speed, due to recovering from the immense blood loss from his silver injury. Forget tha we’re traveling with the bound and conked out General Klein—a decorated and trusted arsehole who tried to kill Des, Alex, me, a whole slew of fae, and his own daughter—twice. Ignore tha half of our party are not welcome in fae territory. It’s the silence tha’s killing me. All tha other stuff I could figure out, but Lily’s lips haven’t opened since Alex decided he couldn’t live with her deadly abilities. I’m not sure if the tipping point for him was tha she kept it from us for so long, or if it’s tha she can only produce plants tha harm or kill. Either way, I never thought I’d see Alex take himself out of the equation. Whenever Lily’s around him, he brightens and softens and does all the things a lad in love does.

  He’ll come around.

  “I can’t,” Des admits, holding up his left hand for us to stop. “I have to sit down.”

  “We’ve only been walking two hours. We have to make the most of the moonlight,” I remind him. It’s not like Des to ask for a break, so I know he’s more injured than he’s let on.

  His breath comes out shallow, but his accent is perfectly proper, like always. “I lost too much blood. I’m not… I hate to be the one to bring up the fact that I’m a vampire, but, well, I’m a vampire, and I can’t go this long fresh off an injury without blood to get me through. I don’t know where to stop to refuel in this part of the world. I didn’t pack extra blood because I was planning on us going back to the fae palace after I unlocked the gate to the Stone Graveyard and let you all out.”

  I tighten the reins of the horse I’m walking. The poor brown beast has the snoozing General Klein draped over its back. Lily bloomed a flower to keep him dozing, and tucked it in his lapel. “I can’t even guess at where we might be able to get ye some filtered blood in fae territory.”

  Des swipes his left arm across his forehead to mop up the sweat. Faveda is tropical, but Des’ perspiration doesn’t look like it’s from heat. He’s fighting an infection. And losing. His right arm still hasn’t been able to move, and it’s been two days since we set off from the Stone Graveyard where we’d been trapped. We were trying to heal Faveda, and succeeded in ridding the land of the Gorgonell tha’s been turning their people to stone. One would think tha would grant us a parade or at least a carriage to safe lodging, but tha’s not how it’s shaking out for us.

  Good riddance.

  Lily’s been so silent tha her presence seems to fade into the background, though because we’re mated, I’m still aware of every breath she takes. She’s in agony, losing Alex to his anger, and there’s no talking her out of punishing herself. She’s not ready to speak yet, but she glides over to Des, who’s given up on standing.

  I have no idea what to do for him, other than keep him moving. “Let’s go. The longer it takes for us to reach shelter, the worse this is going to get.”

  Des glowers up at me.

  I’m not wrong. I mean, it’s not like it’s going to get easier for him to travel when there’s even less blood in his belly eight hours from now. “I’m already at worse, Salem. Vampires can’t live as long without blood as you all can go without food. And I’m coming off a silver injury, which no vampire’s ever survived. I’m telling you, I’m desperate to drink, or I’m as good as dead out here.”

  I tilt my face skyward, asking the stars for any kind of guidance. Anything at all. “What do ye want me to do?”

  Lily kneels in front of Des and tugs at her shirt collar, her eyes down and to the side as she offers him…

  My stomach tightens in warning as Des’ eyes soften. “I can’t drink from you, blue eyes. The blood vampires drink has to be filtered. You know how it goes, yeah? Vampires drink filtered fae blood just fine, but not directly from the fae. In a pinch, I can drink directly from another vampire, but it looks like I’m the only one of me in fae territory.” When Lily offers her neck again, Des places his hand on hers. “I’ll only get sicker if I drink from someone who’s got Green Lightning in their system. All fae are guarded against direct vampire feedings when they take Green Lightning. It was a nice thought, though.”

  She shakes her head, tugging at her collar again in offering.

  I don’t like this. I really don’t like this.

  Des’ eyebrows raise. “Are you telling me you don’t have Green Lightning in you? You didn’t get a booster at the palace?”

  Another shake of her head. Another reminder tha I haven’t heard my mate’s voice in days. I’m on the edge of imbalanced with her locked in this depression. I don’t have the cruelty to try to pull her out of it. Her life is pretty grim right now. To try and cheer her up would be insulting and ineffective. Her father tried to kill her—once when she was a wee lass, and again two days ago. Her fae husband left her in the same month they married. She’s in a country tha’s supposed to be her homeland, but not a stitch of grass anywhere is familiar to her. And I bet she’s waiting on us to leave her next, which I’ve tried to assure her isn’t going to happen. But I guess tha’s not the kind of thing ye can tell a woman; she has to see it practiced—daily staying with her and reminding her I’m not going anywhere.

  “No,” I finally work out. My throat is parched, and I hope I’m hallucinating what I can’t be seeing. “Ye can’t let him drink from ye, pup.” My attention switches to Des, who’s sweat through his shirt and looks paler than a person has a right to be. “I would offer my blood, Brother, bu
t everyone knows shifters can’t sustain vampires.”

  Des’ voice comes out cautious. “Lily, you should be on Green Lightning. That’s so dangerous.”

  She shrugs. My mate shrugs tha she’s not on the one thing tha keeps her from being attacked and exsanguinated by a vampire. Then again, maybe she missed her booster because we were expecting to go back to the palace, but ended up heading in the opposite direction. Still, my gut twists at the very illegal thing they should not be entertaining.

  But Des won’t make it to Jacoba without blood. My best mate will die if he doesn’t feed soon. Everything in me is at war, so I stand stock-still with my fists clenched. We all know this is the only option, and it might not even work. The blood’s supposed to be filtered. But it’s our only shot, so I chew on my lower lip and let Lily look after my best friend in the way only she can.

  Des takes her hand with trepidation. “I’ve never fed directly from a person before. It’s not exactly something vampires are allowed to do. We don’t even have the opportunity, as you’re all on Green Lightning. Animals, sure, but not people. Are you certain you’re okay with this?”

  Worry creases her brow, but she bites down on her lower lip and nods, still unable to make eye contact.

  I don’t like this. We haven’t seen a single home, person or animal for miles, otherwise I’d bang on the door of the nearest fae for help, or hunt up some game for him to drain. The prairie has been stretching on for too long if it’s led us to this fate.

  I can see Des’ relief before he takes a single drink. “Thank you. Thank you, Lily. I wouldn’t even consider it if I wasn’t on the brink of… Thank you. I’ll do my best to be gentle. You have to tell me if I’m hurting you.”

  I hate everything about this. I tie the horse’s reins to the nearest tree, giving him a few pats on his long flank for doing the deed of toting around the passed-out General. Then I make my way over to the two, doing what I can to talk myself out of intervening.

  I’m hovering. I know it, but neither Lily nor Des calls me on it. The thought of Lily being feasted on by a vampire goes against everything in me. But the very real prospect of Des dying in my arms muddies my determination tha no harm should ever come near my mate.

  “I’m sorry,” Des murmurs, looking up at me with guilt in his eyes. “I didn’t mean for this to happen. I already consumed my emergency supply of dried blood yesterday.”

  “No,” I rule, though as I give my edict, I’m not sure I’m right. In fact, I’m certain I’m wrong to keep Des from sustenance tha comes to him voluntarily. “Ye can’t drink from her. An open wound while we’re on the road? She could get an infection. If she’s weakened from too much blood loss, then what?”

  Her body will make more, ye hovering baby. I know I’m being irrational, but I can’t sit back and do nothing. What if Des does it wrong? He just said he’s never fed from a person before. What if he really hurts her? Breaks a vein she needs tha won’t easily repair? Then what?

  It’s Lily’s hand on my arm tha stills the churning in my gut. It’s not exactly words, but she’s communicating nonetheless. The chaos in my chest settles by degrees. I take in the determination in her eyes tha trumps her fear, but doesn’t erase it completely. Her eyes tell me to go, to spare me the sight of what I know I don’t want to see.

  If she wants me to leave when she might be in danger, she’ll have to order me away, which we both know she’s too depressed to do right now.

  So I stay. My hands help her lay on the grass, making sure to choose the thickest, softest patch. Though, to be fair, all grass in Faveda is soft enough to be a pillow to cradle weary heads. Nature-affinity beings are spoiled by their surroundings. It’s no wonder they’re not bothered by the problems of the rest of the world.

  I take Lily’s lavender hair in my fist and twist it away from her neck, so Des doesn’t pick the wrong vein by mistake. Stinking moonlight. There’s barely enough light to see anything.

  Now I’m sweating, pursing my lips through panic tha churns like vomit in my gut. I’m trying to keep my cool, but it’s a bad act. When Des lays next to her, barely able to prop himself up with his one good arm, I’m unable to curb the anxiety tha spills from my lips. “Careful, Des. Just enough to keep ye going, not more than tha. You’re going to hurt her. Don’t bite too hard. But if it’s not hard enough, ye might tear more things. Precision. Quick and painless, aye?”

  Jays, I sound annoying, even to myself, but I don’t care. I care tha Lily is safe.

  Lily looks dead to the world as she lays on her back, the fire in her blue eyes dulling to a blasé “I guess this is my life now,” kind of vacant stare up at the stars. I can’t stand to see her like this. A fresh wave of fury comes over me, and I fight down the urge to beat her da into an early grave. He deserves it for all he’s done to her.

  Patience. Lily hasn’t lived in a land with laws in a long time. If she’s going to rule, she’ll need to, well, abide by the rules. Murder isn’t the best choice when imprisonment is an option.

  Though it is tempting.

  Des opens his mouth over the juncture between her neck and shoulder, but pauses and frowns up at me when a whine of terror leaks from between my lips. “You’re making me even more nervous, Salem. Seriously, I love her just as much as you do, mate. I don’t want to do this. I have to, and you hovering like this is only making things worse.”

  He’s right, but I can’t hold myself back. “I know, but I can’t leave. Do your thing, just make it quick. This is as calm as I get when a vampire’s about to suck the life out of the lass I love.”

  Des’ jaw tightens. “I love her, too, you know. I know this mate bond is new, and it’s messing with everything inside of you right now, but you have to see me, too. I have to live through this if we’re going to unite the territories.” He looks down at her innocent face, and then presses his nose into her cheek, inhaling the sweet scent of her creamy skin. Maybe some people might argue the three claw marks across the side of her face are flaws. Those people are stupid, and I’ll cheerfully beat them to a bloody pulp for saying anything bad about my mate. Des kisses her cheek with a sadness I feel deep in my bones. “She’s my wife, Salem. I’ll be careful.”

  Being mated to my best friends’ wife isn’t easy, but we’ve been managing thus far. I’m making things worse than they have to be, but I can’t stop myself.

  “I’m not even sure this will work.” Des touches his lips to the shell of her ear and whispers, “Thank you for letting me try.”

  Then, before I can give him five more reasons why he can’t do this to her, Des opens his mouth and bites down on tha tender spot in the curve on the side of her neck. A soft gasp flies from her lips in time with her eyes widening, taking in the full expanse of the starry sky. Her eyes flick from side to side as breath comes in ragged pants and rough bursts. She’s been mute and despondent for days, but now her hips move against the night air like she’s trying to get some satisfaction through the layer of denim. Her fingers tangle in his hair and tug. I’m ready to intervene if it looks like she’s trying to push him away, but she doesn’t. She holds his face tighter to her neck, giving with more enthusiasm as her eyes roll back with something tha can’t be anything other than pleasure.

  The waves of her hips and her blood are coaxing sexual moans from my best friend, who swallows with his eyes shut tight, like he’s in the best kind of pain. He undulates against her side, goading her on. It’s carnal and strange, and the first sign of life she’s exhibited in days.

  My heart is breaking, like the whole of me might be in full cardiac distress. I don’t like any man near her, and though I understand Des belongs to her, so do I. I guess I haven’t reconciled her marriages as much as I’d thought. It’s an ocean of confusion, wanting Des to live and also wanting to tear his head off. I’m shaking. My whole body is vibrating with two very different urges.

  I want to pull him off of her, but just before I’m ready to yank him back, Des rolls to the side, a trail of blood dottin
g his cheek as he touches his belly, finally sated.

  In the next breath, I’ve got Lily gathered up in my arms. I run her away from the General, away from Des, and away from the visual I never want to endure again. She’s limp in my arms when I finally stop running. I slump with my back against a tree, terrified and horrified. I don’t like to part with the napkins she gave me on my visits to her pub. I know it’s pathetic to keep mementos of something tha was so very nothing, but every word she said to me back when she was my waitress is precious, so I wrote it down. Every interaction for five years has a napkin dedicated to it, with my penmanship spelling out each word she spoke to me. Most of them are in my safe back home, but I keep a stash on me in my breast pocket at all times, ensuring she’s close to my heart.

  As I take one out and use it to blot the two puncture wounds on her neck, my tight scrawl stares up at me as it quickly stains with her blood. “Here’s your usual, Prince Salem. Can I get you anything else tonight?” The memory of Lily with her lavender curls bound up atop her head and her waitress apron draped across her hips smacks me across the face. I don’t want to forget tha moment, tha span of time before I pushed her to marry my best friends. I don’t regret the path we’re on, but I also loathe its necessity. I didn’t think I had a shot with her, and now this perfect creature is my mate.

  My mate tha’s bleeding in my arms.

 
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