Prince Sebastian's expression was serious as he waited for me to explain what I knew about the winter stone.
"I found it."
"You found what?" he asked, and it was clear by his harsh tone that he was growing impatient.
"I found the winter stone," I told him, leaving out the fact that I had been accompanied.
"In the snow."
"You're lying." Prince Sebastian's eyes were low and deadly as he pulled me up from the bed and stood me in front of him. He leaned down so that his face was inches from mine, and I could smell the fresh morning air on his clothes. "You have one more chance to tell me the whole truth. Do not make me have to ask again."
I sighed, wishing I could pull myself away from his grip to find the space to think. His closeness was intimidating and he probably knew it. I had no choice but to obey him when he stood over me the way he had. I was right where he wanted me.
"We found it. Me, Luca, Titus, and Cora. Well, Cora had originally found the room in which it lay hidden, but together we found the winter stone. No one else could touch it but me, and so I kept it until we could figure out what it was."
"Where is it now?" he asked, and I wished that I could avoid the answer.
"In the King's possession." My voice was just a whisper, but it was loud enough for him to hear, and he instantly let go of me.
He took a step away and ran a hand through his hair. The Prince looked truly defeated, and for some reason, it tore at my insides. I should've hated him, I should've laughed at his misery, and yet I knew better. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
"How did he get it?"
"He came into my room to take advantage of me and found the stone hanging from my neck, just inside of my dress. He asked how I got the stone, ripped it from my neck, and told me never to mention what had happened to anyone."
"Did he touch you?" Prince Sebastian's face contorted with anger. "Did that bastard put his hands on you?"
"He barely touched me before he found the necklace, and then he left right after. I'm not sure if he's satisfied with the necklace or if he'll come for me another night."
"Knowing my father, he'll be back."
My heart rate sped up. "Prince Sebastian, I once asked you to protect me against him and you walked away from me. If I asked again, would you do the same?"
He looked pained by my words. "I walked away to demand that he would never touch you, but my father is a clever man and knows how to get what he wants. I was unsuccessful."
"Please, help me! Find a way to keep him from coming to me again!" I clung to his shirt as I begged, needing him more than ever. I never thought I'd find myself begging for help from the man I'd once considered my enemy, but there I was.
The Prince sat me on my bed to calm me and then took a seat next to me. "There is one thing that would stop him from touching you. If I touched you first."
I quickly stood, offended by his suggestion. "Are you trying to seduce me, my lord?"
"No, my lady!" He stood from the bed with pleading eyes. "I didn't mean actually seducing you, but insinuating to him that I had. If I told him that I've made you my mistress, he'll never touch you. He won't like it, but he'll except it."
"And if he doesn't?"
"And what about the stone?" I asked him. "He can't know I told you about it."
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