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TheRunawayPrincess by Runaway Princess

TheRunawayPrincess by Runaway Princess

Author:Runaway Princess [Princess, Runaway]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


Nineteen

If Danior was trying to distract her, he’d achievedhis goal. “I see,” she said. Although Evangeline hadn’t consciously realized their relationship, still she wasn’t surprised. Looking at Dominic had been like seeing the prince through a distorted window. Dominic was slightly shorter. He moved with the whip-cord grace of a great cat rather than the stalwart bulk of a bear, and she hadn’t seen his face beneath the scarf, but somehow she thought the bone structure similar to Danior’s. Most of all, he had impressed her with that stinging intelligence, more cruel and less scrupulous than Danior’s, but comparable nonetheless.

Absently, she rubbed at a painful scratch on her shoulder, a momento of her forced march up the mountain. “Not a legitimate brother, I assume?”

“No.” Danior lifted her foot and dried it on a rag. “My father’s sense of honor was less than a king’s should be, and he seduced a young woman—a girl, actually—and when he’d had his fill, he abandoned her. Dominic is the result of that particular mésalliance, and proof positive that there’s a price to be paid for every sin.”

The brandy was going down easier now, but it didn’t make the tale easier to bear—or, she suspected, easier to tell. Danior believed implicitly in honor and duty; to admit such shallow behavior in his own father must gall him. Silently she offered the bottle.

Silently he accepted and sipped, then corked it and placed it on his stone.

“Your father . . . he didn’t take care of the girl or . . . the baby?” she asked.

“My father.” Like Dominic’s, Danior’s grin looked feral. “He never concerned himself with the fruit of his liaisons, and as I understand it, when the girl’s condition was discovered she was thrown from her home. She and the child lived in the most wretched of circumstances. I believe she prostituted herself to feed her son.” With tweezers in hand, Danior began to pluck at Evangeline’s wound with small, hurtful results. “She ultimately died from the pox.”

Evangeline didn’t like Dominic. Hate bubbled from him like hot water bubbled from some underground hell. She had stood in that hate’s way, and she’d come away scalded.

But she, too, had been an unwanted child thrust on the world’s uncertain charity, and she shared a reluctant kinship with the royal bastard. “No wonder he’s savage.”

“Yes. And while I don’t hate my father with quite the virulence of Dominic, I find that I do not respect his memory as a son should.”

It was, she realized, an understatement. Something in his voice, in the way he moved, told her that his contempt for his perfidious father went bone-deep. And the tale explained his slashing derision for what he considered her lies.

Even though she knew she told the truth, his conviction went so deep that he almost convinced her she was wrong. “No, I suppose not,” she mumbled, avoiding his eyes. Then a thought occurred to her. “Is he your only brother?”

Danior pressed his thumb lightly along the seam of her gash.



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