Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(6)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(6)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

“What?” The Prince’s tone was sharp.

“Mind control works only because the conscious mind is being influenced. The pet’s memories would still be intact, just not available to the conscious mind. As a physician, I’d worry your pet would still have psychiatric problems that even mind control could not eliminate. For example, it may remain catatonic.”

“What if I were to execute the man who troubled her? Invited her to watch?”

Stefan restrained a smile. “With respect, my lord, you’re thinking like a vampyre. If your pet is traumatized by merely seeing the man, think of what would happen if it were forced to witness his execution.”

He broke eye contact and rubbed the back of his neck. “May I speak freely?”

“That is why I brought you here.” The Prince leaned against the desk, crossing his arms over his chest.

“If you prefer your pets to have life in them, the level of mind control necessary to manage a broken mind would be too much. As I said, you’d be better off finding another, healthier pet. Even under mind control, the pet might be unpredictable, unstable.” He gripped the armrests of his chair. “A security risk.”

The Prince drained his glass. “Thank you, Stefan. I will take your opinion under advisement.” His gray eyes fixed on the younger vampyre. “I assume you will keep this conversation confidential.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Good.” The Prince passed his thumb along the rim of his goblet, before placing it in his mouth. “Here’s a remarkable piece of principality history: I’ve yet to execute a Canadian.”

“Let me not be the first, my lord.” Stefan bowed low and scurried out of the Prince’s chambers.

Chapter Six

Raven’s sleep was heavy and thick, like a wool blanket on a cold winter’s night. She drifted through color and feeling, without dreams. Her body seemed to float untethered. It was a most unusual experience.

She heard William call her name, as if from a distance. She struggled to open her eyes and found him next to her, silently observing.

He lifted her chin with a cool finger and stared deeply into her eyes.

“Raven, I release you. Your mind is your own again.”

She felt the dark haze lift and blinked confusedly against the lights in the room. Her focus moved to Botticelli’s original version of Primavera hanging on the wall. It had always hung there, so its presence didn’t surprise her.

But she was shocked to discover William had hung the sketch she’d done of him from memory—the sketch she’d left behind when they’d gone their separate ways—beside it.

Her heart rate quickened.

She surveyed her surroundings, noting the wine-colored curtains that enveloped the large four-poster bed.

“Cassita?” William’s face was creased with worry. “How do you feel?” He lifted his hand to cup her face.

The joy she felt at the sight of him disintegrated when she remembered he’d broken her heart. He hadn’t returned her love and she hadn’t been willing to accept anything less.

She turned her head and his hand fell away. “Why am I here?”

“You’re here to be with me, of course.” His tone was unaccountably puzzled.

Raven gave him a dark look before shifting from under the decadent bedclothes. “We’re over. We’ve been over for a while. This isn’t funny.”

“We are over?”

Raven heard something a good deal like panic in his voice. But that was impossible. William was stoic and unassailable. He would never panic.

“Yes. We broke up, remember? I can’t believe you brought me here.”

“Cassita.” William placed his hand on her arm, his thumb brushing across her wrist next to the bracelet.

“Stop calling me that.” She shook off his hand and quickly removed the bracelet, holding it out to him. “I returned this for a reason. Stop acting as if nothing changed.”

When he refused to take the bracelet she tossed it on top of the bed. She swung her legs over the side and stood. Just as her feet hit the carpet, she was overtaken by an odd sensation.

Her right leg troubled her¸ as it usually did when she stood after lying down. But that wasn’t the feeling that caught her attention.

No, she felt curiously bare beneath her dress. She smoothed her hands across her abdomen. Abruptly, she turned her back on him and discreetly slid her hand under the skirt. When she felt only skin, she froze.

“Where’s my underwear?”

William was on his feet in an instant. “Raven, listen to me. We—”

“What happened to my underwear?” She turned on him in anger.

He pressed his lips together, his gray eyes clouded. “That’s a pretty dress.”

“I don’t care what I’m wearing,” she snapped. “I’m worried about what I’m not wearing. We’re over. I haven’t seen you in a month. Now I wake up in your bed with no memory of the night before and I’m not wearing any goddamned underwear!”

“You don’t remember last night?” His voice was low, quiet, and tinged with disappointment.

She raised her arms in frustration. “What should I remember? Tell me.”

He began to say something but apparently thought better of it. He stared at her for some time. All the while she clenched and unclenched her fists.

“The color of your dress suits you,” he said at last. “Was it for a special occasion?”

Raven scowled. “Gina and Patrick threw a birthday party for me. What does it matter?”

“I visited you afterward, at your apartment.”


“Because it was your birthday.” His voice grew gentle. “Because I care for you.”

Raven closed her eyes and groaned. “Why are you doing this?”

“I am trying to help, Raven. I swear it. The party was last night. You can accompany me downstairs and call your friends to confirm the date.” He gestured toward the bedroom door.

Raven bent her head to examine the folds of her green dress. The palm of her hand floated over the fabric the way a bird floats over a field of grass. She found the movement soothing and distracting.

“I remember the party. I gave Gina’s cousin a lift home afterward.”

“And then?” William prompted.

“I went home.” Raven closed her eyes, seeing her kitchen in her mind’s eye.

And William’s beautiful figure, sitting at her kitchen table.

“I was waiting for you,” he whispered.

Images crowded her mind, thick and fast.

“We flew together over the rooftops. You took me to the Duomo and showed me your city.” She swallowed hard. “You told me—”

“Yes?” His tone was eager.

She opened her eyes. An incredulous expression passed over her lovely features.

“I told you I love you.” He approached her cautiously and traced the arc of her cheekbone with the back of his hand. “You know me, Cassita. I think—” He paused, his ancient eyes tortured. “I hope you know I would never take you against your will.”

A long look passed between them and she nodded.

He stroked her jaw. “You aren’t wearing underwear because we came together, but only after I confessed I love you. I pledged myself to you and you did the same. We sealed our vows on top of the loggia by the Uffizi.”

Raven’s face flamed. “I remember.”

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