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The Dark One: Chapter 21

PETER PAN

Darling sits forward on my lap and rocks her ass against my cock. I have to bury a groan and try to focus on anything other than every single part of her body.

I’m not sure I’ll get anything done if she really does stay. I will always be chasing her pussy and the way she makes me feel when I’m buried inside of her.

But there’s no time for that.

Not when the Crocodile is on his way to Neverland.

I wanted to control the Crocodile’s presence on the island. I’ve clearly been too late in that.

“Okay, wait,” Darling says, “Hook and Pan share an enemy and it’s Vane’s brother? And he’s…a crocodile?”

Her confusion is adorable.

I suppose in a place like Neverland, compared to her mortal world, Vane having a brother that’s a reptile isn’t so far-fetched.

“First of all,” I correct, and grab her by the arms and tug her back into me if only to feel her closeness. “He isn’t my enemy. Not exactly. And second of all, he’s a man. His nickname is The Crocodile.”

“Because he eats men like us for breakfast,” Bash answers. “I am a tasty snack, after all.”

Leave it to Bash to make jokes in a time like this.

“He isn’t your enemy yet,” Vane points out. “But he will be. And what do you want to bet the Fae Queen knows how to make him one?”

Bash tips his finger at Vane. “You hit the nail on the head. She was dangling secrets in front of us.”

My chest tightens, thinking of Tilly knowing any of my business secrets. But of course she does—she’s been digging inside the heads of Darlings for centuries. And now she’s going to use the information against me.

Darling leaves my lap to pace the living room and I immediately miss her warmth. I want to yank her back down, keep her caged to my chest. When will I get to enjoy her? First my shadow, then Tilly, now Vane’s brother.

War is about to break out on Neverland.

I need my fucking shadow. I need the power rushing through my veins.

No one will be able to stand in my way if I am whole again. The island and I will be one and the same and there will be no one greater.

“Okay, hold on,” Darling says as she whirls around. “Vane has a brother?” she repeats like the news hasn’t quite settled in.

Vane hands me a drink. “We’re nothing alike.”

Kas snorts. “They are exactly alike. But Roc is taller.”

“And better looking,” Bash adds.

Vane rolls his eyes and drops back into his chair. “The facts are, Darling, that my dear brother will have a bone to pick with our infamous Never King when he finds out the secrets he’s been keeping.”

I shoot Vane a look that could melt the meat from his bones. Fucker.

“What secrets?” Darling asks.

When I told Vane I felt no remorse about what I’d done to Wendy, I was telling the truth. But, now faced with sharing the same admission with Darling, I’m overcome with guilt.

I don’t ever ask for forgiveness, but I can feel the shape of the begging on the tip of my tongue already.

Fucking hell.

I meet her inquiring gaze. “I’ve always brought the Darlings back,” I say, “all but one.”

She cocks her head. “What do you mean?”

“Your great-great grandmother Wendy,” I say.

The suspicion bleeds into her face one flinch at a time. “No,” she says.

“Yes.”

“How…where?”

“He took a wrong turn on the way back,” Vane says. “And left her on an island known as Everland.”

Color paints Darling’s cheeks a pretty shade of angry red. “Tell me that’s not true.”

“I can’t. I won’t.”

Pan!”

I sigh and scratch at the back of my head. “It was a very long time ago, Darling, and I was a much different man.”

“You left her?!”

“Looks like you’re sleeping on the couch tonight,” Bash says.

“Careful, prince. I’m not above paying Vane to fly you to the sky and then drop you through the clouds.”

“You have to go get her!” Darling’s voice is rising higher and higher by the second. “Right now!”

“Wendy Darling is not my problem.” I get to my feet, annoyed that she’s standing over me telling me what to do. Pretty Darling girls do not give me orders. “And her being off Neverland is much better for us when the Crocodile arrives anyway.”

She crosses her arms over her chest. “How do you figure?”

“Because I will use the information as leverage and once he finds out where she is, he’ll be eager to race off to fetch her.”

“Why?”

I steal a glance at Vane, trying to gauge how he feels about all of this. Sometimes I wonder if he hates the Darlings so much because of his brother’s history with one.

“Because the Crocodile was in love with Wendy.”

“Until she tore out his heart,” Vane says.

Darling clamps her mouth shut.

Vane drains the last of his liquor and leaves.

“Vane, wait,” I try, but he’s already gone, already thudding down the stairs.

“Did she…literally tear out his heart?” Darling asks, grimacing.

Kas laughs. “No. Figuratively, this time.”

“So my great-great grandmother was in love with Vane’s brother?”

“Hard to say if her feelings were genuine,” Bash says. “She was a tricky minx just like you. You’d love her, you know.”

Earnest desire flashes in her eyes. I think Darling has been craving family for a very long time and now she has the chance to meet a blood relative she thought was dead.

Or maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see in her face, trying to make myself feel better.

“So what happened?” she asks me, her arms crossed over her chest.

The twins look to me. I huff out a breath and sit back down. “Hook and I have always been at war, sometimes for no other reason than to torment one another. When I brought Wendy to the island, Roc was here visiting Vane. My rule—about not touching a Darling—had always pertained to me and the Lost Boys. Roc was not about to follow my rules, and Wendy, as we’ve established, was a brat like you. Determined. Fierce. Easy to fall for.”

Her face softens until I tell her the rest.

“Hook took her from me. He obviously didn’t want me to retrieve my shadow and he had always tried fucking with the Darlings to keep me from the information.

“It was at that time that Roc cut off Hook’s hand and I helped him do it.”

Darling’s eyes are wide as she digests the story.

“We got Wendy back, but something had changed. Something between her and Roc. He asked her to stay, she said no, and so I took her back.

“Except on the journey to the mortal realm, I took a wrong turn and ended up in Everland. We were quickly surrounded. Leaving her was an easy decision. I had no allegiance to her. And it was her family that took my shadow in the first place. I wanted my revenge against the Darlings and this was an easy, albeit cruel, way of getting it.”

Darling drops onto the couch between Bash and Kas and puts her face in her hands. “I can’t believe you just left her.”

“Have you met him?” Bash says with a laugh.

“It doesn’t matter now,” I answer. “We can use it to our advantage. If I’d taken her back to the mortal realm, she’d be dead and useless to us now.”

Darling looks up at me. “So you’re going to use her as a bargaining chip?”

I scowl at her. “Yes. Exactly that.”

She huffs and drops back against the couch, half on Kas’s arm. Kas shifts to meet her and I am immediately envious of him.

“Promise me we’ll get her back then,” Darling says.

“We won’t have to. Roc will do it for us.”

“Promise me, Pan.” She clenches her teeth so each word comes out sharp and long.

“Fine. Yes. If Roc doesn’t get to her first. But not until I get my shadow.”

“Of course.” She nods. “And speaking of your shadow…”

I can feel it prowling the island, but it’s a vague feeling, like being distantly aware of a ghost in a house. I know it’s within the boundaries of Neverland, but I don’t exactly know where.

The only thing I’m certain of is that it’s not in my territory. If it was, it’d be close enough that I’d fully sense it.

“We have to wait,” I tell Darling. “Until tomorrow night, apparently, when Hook has granted us access to his territory.”

“Why not just go there now?”

I pin her with a gaze. “Because I can no longer risk war with him.”

I think she senses the things I’ve left unsaid.

If I push Hook too far, he’ll come for my Darling girl.

Over my dead fucking body.

I need to play by his rules—for now.

“Aren’t you worried he’ll find your shadow before then?” she asks.

“Even if he does, I highly doubt he could claim it.”

“Because he’s just a mortal man?”

“Of a sort.” I push off the chair again and fetch the steel case of cigarettes from the bar. I light one, relishing the burn in my lungs. “In the meantime, let’s party so I can forget about all of this.”

Bash gets up. “Now you’re talking.”

“No girls,” Darling warns.

All three of us look at her and nod.

There she is giving me orders again.

And I’m the asshole that’s beginning to follow them.


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