Lancelot caught her arm, pulling her up short. Nim scowled down at the long, strong
fingers. Fine scars ran along his tanned knuckles, evidence of a life around blades. Heaviness
filled her, a primitive reaction to the strong, aggressive male taking control of her in the most
basic way. Once it might have grown into anger or lust, but now it confused her.
“Take your hand off me,” she said, letting her voice fill with frost.
“No.” He pulled her closer, turning her to face him. “You will answer my questions.”
Nim jerked her arm free. They were so close, she could feel his warm breath against her
skin. “About what?”
His nostrils flared as if scenting her. Still, Nim studied his tense jaw and the blood
flushing his high cheekbones. The heat of his emotions made her feel utterly hollow. His hand
closed around her wrist again, almost crushing her bones.
“There are too many people here,” he growled.
“There are enough people here for safety. Perhaps I don’t want to answer you.”
His eyes held hers a moment, dark fire against the ice of her spirit. That seemed to decide
him, for he pulled her close and took a better grip on her arm. “Come with me.”
He didn’t reply, but steered her toward the door, moving so fast she skittered on her
heels. She took the opportunity to pull against him, but this time he held her fast. “Don’t.”
The threat was real. Her fighting skills were nothing compared to a knight’s. Lancelot
could crush or even kill her with a single blow. Still, that didn’t make her helpless, and she
would not let him forget that fact. Rising up on her toes, she put her mouth a mere whisper from
his ear. “You forget what I can do. My magic is nothing less than what it was when I was the
first among the fae noblewomen. I can defend myself against your brute strength.”
Just not against what he’d done to her heart. She closed her eyes a moment, feeling his
breath against her cheek and remembering the past for a long moment before she denied herself
that luxury. “Let me go,” she repeated.
In response, he pulled her to the side of the building, refusing to stop until he was deep
into the shadows. The ground was little more than cracked concrete there, tufts of grass
straggling between the stones. He pushed her against the siding, her back pressed to the rough
wood. “Not until I’ve had my say.”
He had both of her arms now, prisoning Nim with the hard, muscled wall of his chest.
Anyone walking by might glimpse two lovers in a private tête-à- tête, but Nim drew back as far
as she could, something close to anger rising to strike. No one handled her this way, especially
“Then talk,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Aren’t you even surprised to see me?” he demanded.
“Why should I be?” She needed to squash any personal connection between them. Even
if she was whole and their people were not at war, he had betrayed her.
He put a hand against her cheek, his fingers rough. She jerked her chin away, burning
where his touch had grazed her.
But he was relentless. “I’m told you were caught by Merlin’s spell along with the rest. I
know what the fae have become.”
Soulless. As good as dead inside. Lancelot didn’t say the words, but she heard them all
the same. “It’s true,” she replied. “It’s all true.”
His expression was stricken as if hearing it from her lips was poison. Good, she thought.
Better to be honest. Better that he believe her to be the monster she was.
“Maybe that’s true for some. I don’t believe that about you. You still have too much
With that, he claimed her mouth in an angry kiss. Nim caught her breath, stifling a cry of
true surprise. The Lancelot she’d known had been gentle and eager to please. Nothing like this.
And yet the clean taste of him was everything she remembered.
His mouth slanted, breaking past the barrier of her lips to plunder her mouth. The hunger
in him was bruising, going far beyond the physical to pull at something deep in her belly. Desire,
perhaps, or heartbreak. She wasn’t sure any longer, but she couldn’t stop herself from nipping at
his lip, yearning to feel what she had lost. A sigh caught in her throat before she swallowed it
down. Surely she was operating on reflex, the memory of kisses. Not desire she might feel now.
The warmth and weight of him spoke to something older than true emotion. Even a reptile could
feel comfort in the sun. Even she…
Still, that little encouragement was all the permission he needed to slide his hand up her
hip to her waist and she could feel the pressure of his fingers. Lancelot was as strong as any fae
male, strong enough certainly to overpower her. That had thrilled her once, a guilty admission
she’d never dared to make. She’d been so wise, so scholarly, so magical, but an earthy male had
found the liquid center of heat buried under all that logic and light. They had always sparked like
that, flint against steel.
But then his hand found her breast and every muscle in her stiffened. This was too much.
Memory was one thing, but she wasn’t the same now and she refused to have a physical
encounter that was nothing more than a ghost of what it should be.
Nim pushed him away. “I don’t want this.”
Something in her look finally made him stop, but his eyes glittered with arousal. “Are
you certain about that?”