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The Never King: Chapter 21

WINNIE

When I wake the next morning, I’m alone in my bed and rain is pattering outside the open windows. The air smells crisp and clean, but there’s a considerable chill and I’m only wearing a borrowed t-shirt of Kas’s. I certainly didn’t pack for a kidnapping.

But when I get up from the bed, I find a thick sweater draped over the wingback chair. I quickly pull it on and drown in it.

I pad out to the kitchen.

Bash is there pouring fresh coffee into a cup. On the counter beside him is a basket of pastries, specifically golden-brown croissants.

I choke on a little sob.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, a little amused by my reaction.

It’s only now that I remember him asking me my favorite food.

And then he got up early to make it for me?

“Thank you,” I say.

“Don’t mention it, Darling. After the way your pussy treated me last night, it’s the least I can do.”

For some reason, it’s not the act that made me blush but the reminder of it in the daylight.

Will we ever do that again? All of us?

I want to. I want to very badly and just the thought of it happening again has my nipples pebbling beneath my borrowed clothes and a thrill sinking between my thighs. I haven’t had sex like that in, well, ever, and I’ve had a lot of sex in a very short amount of time, all things considered.

I sit on one of the stools and Bash slides a plate over with a croissant on top of it and the coffee next. The steam kisses my face, wakes me up a bit. “Where is everyone?”

“Kas is out fishing. Vane is…well, who the hell knows where he disappears to. Pan is in his tomb, as usual.”

“Why do you keep referring to it as a tomb?” I bring the coffee up to my mouth and blow across it, swirling the steam.

“Because it’s literally below ground and has no windows, only one door.”

Just like my special room in our crumbling Victorian. Perhaps I have more in common with Peter Pan than I first thought.

“Why does he sleep down there?”

Bash hitches his thumb over his shoulder to the row of windows at his back. “Sunlight kills him.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes.”

“Why? How?”

“Long story.”

“I have time.”

“Eat your food, Darling.” He’s distracted now, his attention wandering to the balcony.

Kas appears a second later. His hair is down and hangs around his shoulders sopping wet. Rain drips from the end of his nose. He’s shirtless, because of course he is. These boys do not like shirts. His abs are tight and there is a deep, hollowed groove at his hip bones that sinks down below the waistband of his shorts.

A fresh wave of heat fills me up when I catch myself ogling his crotch. And when I dart my gaze back up to his face, I find him watching me watch him.

The look that comes across his face is dark and carnal.

I shiver and clutch harder at the coffee mug.

“Damn,” Bash says and nods at the fish hanging from a rope in Kas’s grip. “Been a while since fishing has been that good.” Bash takes the rope from his brother and then tosses the fish into the sink. Several of them flap their tails and fish slime arcs through the air.

“Gross.” I shove my plate further down the counter, away from the mess.

“What’s wrong?” Kas says. “You’ve never seen dying fish before?”

“Um, no.”

The twins look at each other. Bells chime, I swear, though I see no bells.

I may not have known them long, but already I can recognize what those expressions mean—twin mischief.

Kas snaps his fingers at his brother. “Excellent idea.”

“Wait, what idea?” I didn’t hear any idea.

“We’ll teach you how to clean fish,” Bash says.

“No.” I shake my head for good measure. “I don’t want to and have no reason to learn.”

“Sure you do.” Bash grins at me.

“What’s the reason?”

“Fun,” he answers.

“Ugh.”

“Finish up,” he says as another fish flops in the sink. “We have work to do.”


Apparently, there’s no getting out of this because as soon as I swallow down my last bite of buttery, flaky, oh-so-delicious croissant, Bash is yanking me around the counter.

“Do I really have to do this?” I’m whining a little and I don’t even care.

“We are your charming captors,” Bash says and smiles. “How can you deny us?”

I frown at him and fold my arms over my middle.

“Here, Darling,” Kas says and hands me what looks like a metal brush. He flops a fish onto a thick wooden cutting board. Thankfully, this fish is dead and doesn’t jump around. “Hold it by the tail,” he says and shows me how, “then rake the fish scaler over it from the tail to the head. Like this.” He drags the brush over the fish’s body and scales come off in clumps, but several fly off too and one lands smack dab on my face.

My mouth screws up as the overwhelming scent of fish fills my nose.

Laughing, Kas reaches over, plucking the scale from my cheek.

“Already a natural,” he says.

“Is this like a normal day for you two?” I ask and resume the scaling.

“Fishing on an island? Making messes? Yes.” Bash pulls himself up on the counter opposite me. “Some days are saved for taking care of naughty Darlings though.”

I shoot him a glare. He winks at me.

“I don’t need to be taken care of.” I reposition the fish to get around one of the fins. More scales fly through the air.

“I disagree.” Kas’s voice is light, but his gaze dark.

My face pinks again. “I’ve literally taken care of myself my entire life on my own. When my mom wasn’t out escorting old white men, she was home descending further and further into madness. The only person I could count on was me.”

“Old white men, eh?” Bash says behind me.

“You know the ones.”

“Of course I do. There are a dozen buried beneath this house. We enjoyed breaking them.”

“You’re joking.” I look at Kas. “Is he joking?”

Kas shakes his head.

“Why?”

“I think the better question is, why not?” Bash says.

“Do you all just go around murdering on the regular?”

“Yes,” Bash answers. “We murder a lot.”

“Why?”

“Because in this world, and in yours, if you’re not the monster, then you’re the prey. And we can’t have that, Darling. Especially when it comes to old white men.” He laughs like it’s a joke but I know he’s not kidding.

“Flip over,” Kas says.

“What?” I blink up at him.

“The fish. Flip it over and scale the other side.”

“Right.” I do as he asks and when I’m done, he orders me to step aside. He pulls out a sharp knife and runs it over a block of stone, sharpening it. The quick movements make a rasping sound.

“Are you watching?” he asks.

“Yes.”

“Insert the blade here.” He points the tip just below the fish’s mouth. “Then run it back to the anal fin.”

I blanch at the mention of anal.

Why is everything the boys do sexual?

He’s quick and precise with his movements and the fish’s belly parts beneath his hand. Guts spill out.

“Cut here,” he says next and lifts a fin by its head, angling the blade in.

“You’re good with a knife,” I hear myself saying.

He makes several more cuts and the fish’s guts come clean out.

“He’s not just good,” Bash says. “He’s an expert with a blade.” He hops off the counter, comes over to me and yanks down the waistband of his pants, revealing an old scar with an intentional design.

It’s a circle with several lines through it, then more forks off the lines.

“What is that?”

“Symbol of our house,” he answers.

“This house?”

Kas stops cutting and glares at his brother over his shoulder. “Must we dredge this up?”

“He’s still salty about it.” Bash grabs a croissant from the basket and starts for the door. “I suppose you’ll hear it from our sister soon enough, so what’s the sense in waiting? We’re princes of the fae.”


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