The Palace (Chateau #4) by Penelope Sky



“Melanie, it’s okay.”

“It’s not okay. All I’ve been doing since we were captured is thinking about how I treated you. You know the reason I came here in the first place?” The knob of the faucet turned, and more tears fell. “Because I knew you moved here to get away from me, and I resented you for it. I was so angry that you moved all the way across the world to get away from me…because I’m so horrible. But I am a horrible person—was a horrible person—and that’s not me anymore. I’ll be more like you.”

“Melanie.” Her voice stayed soft despite what I’d just confessed—as if she already knew. “I don’t want you to be like me. I want you to be like you. Some growth is fine. It’s appreciated. But don’t be somebody else. Be the best version of yourself.”

Tears still streaked down my face as I gave a nod. “Thank you…for forgiving me.” I needed it like air, and all this time, I’d been holding my breath, waiting for that gulp of air that would release the tension on my lungs. “Thank you…”





I spent the day looking for a job, searching for something in a touristy spot where they’d want to hire someone who barely spoke French. I knew a bit from Gilbert and my time with Fender, but being able to say I had a perfect cunt wouldn’t land me a job anywhere.

The manager at a café a few blocks away agreed to give me a job, even though I’d never made a cup of coffee in my life, and I was grateful that someone took a chance on a dumb American girl.

When I came home, Raven was there. “I got a job.”

She was on the couch in front of the TV, and she immediately turned to give me a puzzled look. “What? Where?”

“Café Rome. It’s a block over.” I sat on the other couch.

“But you don’t speak French.”

“I know a little bit, and it’s a tourist spot, so most people speak English anyway.”

“Or the guy just thought you were pretty.” She turned back to the TV.

The manager couldn’t stop staring at me, but it wasn’t the way Fender looked at me. It was more sleazy than romantic. It was more pathetic than strong. Another man would never look at me that way as long as I lived. “I start next week, so I’ll be able to pay half the rent.”

Raven turned back to me, wearing a serious expression, like my new job was the last thing on her mind. “I’m going to go to the police.”

I gave her a blank stare. “Why?”

“You know why. Are we just supposed to live our lives like we don’t know what’s going on out there?”

I didn’t want to talk about Fender, so I didn’t tell her that he had everyone in his pocket, that he dined with the president, that he owned this city and everyone in it. “Magnus really stuck out his neck for you.”

She sighed. “It’s not about him.”

“I just don’t think that’s going to do anything.”

“I think the police would be very interested to know that there’s a labor camp out in the wilderness, Melanie.”

I couldn’t say his name. “Look, the boss is really powerful—”

“I don’t care. I’m not going to sit here and sip my coffee like it’s over. Bethany is still there. Innocent people are still there.”

I knew there was no way to convince Raven otherwise, so I just let it go. “Alright.”





When Raven came home, she told me exactly what I’d expected to hear. “They acted like I was the crazy one.” She threw her purse down. “Like I was making it up to get attention. But they totally know about it. It’s so obvious.” She immediately grabbed a bottle of wine and filled a glass.

Told you so.

“I just can’t believe how fucking corrupt the police are. The fucking police.” She tilted her head back and took a deep drink.

I left the couch and stood on the other side of the kitchen island. “I’m sorry.”

She grabbed another glass and filled it for me.

I was used to the finest wine money could buy, so it made everything else taste like piss. It was hard to drink it, but I forced it down so I wouldn’t seem snooty.

She stood with her hands on the edge of the counter, looking past me at the window behind me. She was like that for a long time, her eyes glazed over, deep in thought.

A part of me expected Fender to show up at the door and drag me back to his palace, but he never did. Magnus had asked him to let me go, and he did. He’d probably only agreed because he believed I would stay, that there was nowhere else in the world I’d rather be.