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The Dark One: Chapter 3

WINNIE

Get a towel.

Get a towel?

I don’t know where anything is in the house.

I go to the kitchen because that seems a likely place and start opening cupboards. My heart is pounding against my ear drums and my hands are shaking.

There was so much blood.

Bash…oh god.

I feel sick.

How much blood can a fae prince lose? I don’t know enough about Neverland or the magic that’s here. I don’t know anything about anything.

Yanking open the last cupboard, I let out a cry of relief when I find a stack of towels. I grab several and race back to the loft.

Kas has Bash upright, half in his lap. He’s torn off his shirt, ripped it into shreds so he can wind the fabric around his brother’s throat.

The blood on the hardwood floor is like a crude abstract painting, smeared and puddled and spreading fast.

That’s too much blood.

And Bash is too damn pale.

“Hurry, Darling,” Kas says, his voice wavering.

I race to his side, crash to the floor, slip in the blood, right myself. Together, we press the towels to Bash’s throat.

Where is Pan? Vane? If Pan got his shadow, maybe there’s something he can do. He’s supposed to be all-powerful, right?

Bash’s eyes are glassy and faraway.

“What do we do?” I ask.

“I don’t know, Darling.” Kas is on the edge of tears. “I don’t fucking know.”

He has his brother in his arms, cradling him against his chest.

“Can fae…I mean…don’t you heal?”

“Yes, but blood loss…” He clenches his teeth and squeezes his eyes shut. “Too much is too much,” he says when he looks at me again.

I swallow against the lump growing in my throat and take Bash’s hand in mine. His fingers are cold and limp.

Before I came to Neverland, before I met the twins, I didn’t even believe in fairies.

Hell, I nearly killed Bash when I said I don’t

Wait.

“Kas.”

He glances at me, barely seeing me.

“Remember when you told me that if you say you don’t believe in you-know-what, it kills you?”

He licks his lips. There’s blood smeared across his face. “Yes, I remember.” His voice wavers. I am seeing the hope slip from his eyes and it makes my chest ache and my stomach knot.

“That’s such a simple thing, but a potent weapon. Right?”

“What are you getting at, Darling?”

“It must be magic?”

“I suppose.”

“So what happens if you say the opposite? What happens if you say, ‘I believe in fairies?’”

Bash jerks and makes a strangled moan.

Kas looks down at his brother, then back up at me, his eyes wide. “Do it again.”

“I believe in fairies.” I squeeze Bash’s hand. “I believe in fairies.”

Bash takes a gasping breath.

“Again, Darling.”

“I believe in fairies!”

Bash rolls out of Kas’s grip onto all fours and sucks in air.

“Holy shit,” Kas says. “That fucking worked.”

“Are you okay?” I ask Bash and have to fight the urge to reach out for him.

He rolls again and collapses on his back, blinking up at the beamed ceiling. “Fucking hell,” he says. “That was—”

Fucking horrible,” Kas says.

“Terrifying,” I add.

“A wild adventure,” Bash finishes.

Kas smacks him. “Fucker. I thought you were fucking dead!”

He blinks again and touches the skin around his throat. “I thought I was too. But come on, brother. Dying would be an awfully big adventure.”

“I hate you. You royal prick.”

“I need a drink.” Bash gets up.

These boys make my head spin. I’m still shaking, cold, and a little delirious with the terror of having watched the life nearly slip from Bash’s eyes. He’s still soaked in his own blood but has already moved past nearly dying.

“Where’s Pan?” he asks.

“Haven’t seen him yet,” Kas answers, still sitting on the floor in a pool of his brother’s blood. He still looks shaken and distant.

The blood squelches beneath Bash’s boots as he makes his way to the bar.

I bring my hands up and find them smeared in crimson too.

I think I also need a drink.

“Here, Darling,” Kas says and gets up, cleaning himself off with one of the extra towels. He offers me his hand, but it’s still stained crimson with blood.

I take it and Kas lifts me easily to my feet.

As we cross the loft, Pan and Vane come up the winding staircase.

Immediately, the energy changes.

Pan looks at the blood on the floor, and the twins and I covered in it, and says nothing.

He makes his way to the liquor, grabs a random bottle and pulls out the stopper with a pop.

Something is wrong.

This doesn’t seem like a man who is celebrating a victory.

He slings back the booze, his Adam’s apple sinking low as he guzzles it down.

When he finally comes up for air, there is a barely constrained rage tightening in the muscles and tendons in his arms. A vein swells in his forehead.

“Did you find your shadow?” Bash dares to ask.

Vane gives a quick shake of his head. More warning than answer.

Pan sways on his feet.

The hair along the nape of my neck rises.

Pan curls his hand around the liquor bottle and lobs it at the wall. It shatters, rum spraying in the air, glass plinking against the floor. He grabs another and smashes that too. Then runs his arm down the length of the bar, destroying everything in his wake.

“Get her out of here,” Vane says as he goes for Pan.

“Come, Darling.” Kas captures me in the wide span of his bloody arms.

Pan roars. Smashes more liquor. Roars again. He grabs an end table and lobs it at the wall. The wood explodes like a bomb.

My gut turns.

“He didn’t get it,” I say, looking over Kas’s shoulder as he steers me away. “He lost his shadow and the dark shadow is gone and Bash nearly died and—”

“It’s going to be all right.” Kas steers me into my room and shuts the door behind us.

“How can you say that? Your brother almost died. This was supposed to be it. Pan found his shadow. He was supposed to get it back and everything—”

“Winnie.” Kas takes my face between his hands. We are covered in carnage. Beyond my room, Pan continues to smash and break and rage. “Listen to me, Darling. It’s going to be all right.”

“Is he always like this?”

“Does the Never King have a temper?” He snorts. “Yes. Very much so.”

“He’s terrifying.”

“He’ll cool down.”

“He didn’t get his shadow.”

“It would seem so.”

“It’s all my fault.”

“What? No.” The fine lines around his eyes deepen as he frowns. “How can you say that?”

“My ancestors took it from him. He lost it—twice—because of the Darlings.”

“No.” Kas shakes his head. “My mother conspired to take it. The Darling was just a means to an end.”

I peer up at him on the verge of tears. I hate fucking crying. Kas tucks my hair behind my ear with a soft caress of his fingertips.

It makes me shiver.

“Your mother was Tinker Bell, wasn’t she?” I ask. He nods. “How can you be here, with Pan, when he killed her?”

He turns me toward the bathroom, his hands on my shoulders, steering me. “Our mother was a fucking bitch.” He flicks on the light. “She was jealous of any woman who got near Pan. She wanted to be the queen to Pan’s Never King. When Pan turned her down, she went to the next best and married our father, the fae king. She was just a common house fae who was greedy for so much more.” He turns on the tap in the bathtub, testing the water. “She had one thing going for her—she was gorgeous and so ice cold, it burned. My father wanted to soften her. He never got his wish.”

When the water is to his liking, he puts in the stopper and the tub starts to fill. He comes over to me and grabs the hem of my dress and coaxes me to lift my arms.

“Why did you kill him?” I ask.

He pulls the dress off in one fluid motion. “Because he was greedy for something too.”

“What?”

“Power.”

“Everyone on this island hungers for power.”

“Yes, amongst other things.” His gaze takes in the sight of me naked and covered in blood. I notice the bulge at his crotch and itch to take him in my hands. Is it fucked up if tragedy makes me want to disappear into pleasure? If blood and carnage make me want to touch so I can stop thinking and feeling?

Maybe it does. Maybe we’re all a little fucked up and vile. Maybe that’s why I feel like I might actually belong here.

My eyes roam over Kas’s body, shirtless, in nothing but black pants. The straight lines that make up his tattoo undulate once they reach his abs. I reach out and trail one of the lines from his chest down his torso. His abs constrict even more beneath my touch and I’m suddenly pulsing with need.

“That was clever, what you did.” His voice is quiet and edged in restraint. “You saved my brother’s life. I will not forget that.”

“It was just words.”

“It was magic.” He taps just above my breast, right over my heart. My nipples peak at his nearness and I can’t help but arch my back, shifting closer to him. “Magic and a determination to keep him.”

“I made a choice to come back here with you. With all of you.”

I let my finger stay on the tattoo line as it passes his navel and disappears beneath the waistband of my pants.

But just as I’m prepared to hook into him, he snatches my wrist. “Get in the bath, Darling. Clean up.” He drops my arm. “Don’t come out until we tell you.”

“You’re leaving me?” I reach out for him, but he’s already out of my range.

“If I stay in here much longer, Darling, I’ll be bending you over the edge of the tub and fucking you until your ribs are bruised.”

I straighten my shoulders. “Maybe I want that.”

“I don’t,” he says. “When I finally get my cock in that tight pussy, it will not be out of desperation. Clean up and get some rest.” He stops outside of the bathroom and looks at me over his shoulder. His dark hair is still wound up in a bun, but several strands have fallen out and hang stringy and bloody along his face. He is a sight. A bold, bloody, gorgeous sight. “Be a good girl,” he tells me, “and do as I say.”

Then he’s gone.

Kas is the nicest of the group, which is exactly why when he commands me, it’s almost hotter than when the others do.

It’s like seeing the wolf pull back the sheep’s clothing, baring razor-sharp teeth.


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