The Palace (Chateau #4) by Penelope Sky

I nodded.

She ran for it.

I lingered behind, watching Magnus rise to his feet and scream at Raven. “I fucking saved you!”

I ran to Raven on the ground and pulled her up by the hand. “Come on! We gotta go.”

Magnus was livid, his anger brighter than the flames destroying the cabins that had once surrounded us. “Run…before I kill you.”

She finally ran with me, her hand in mine, and didn’t look back.

We made it back to Paris.

Bethany was with us, packed in the car with a couple other girls we could fit. Everyone else had run, waved down cars on the road, took different routes through the countryside so the guards couldn’t hunt them down.

That part of the exodus wasn’t organized because we didn’t have the resources of the police, so we’d just hoped for the best.

We returned to the apartment, Bethany with us, and it was strange to be back in the living room after everything that had just happened. The burning cabins were still in my eyes. My hands still ached as if they were on fire. The fear and anxiety were just as paramount.

I wondered if Fender knew yet.

Would Magnus tell him the truth…that it was Raven?

Would he tell him I was there?

When Bethany stepped into the apartment, she had a breakdown. She fell to her knees and sobbed, touching the rug under her fingertips to make sure it was real, her tears making stains on the cream color.

Raven kneeled beside her and rubbed her back. “I know…I know.” She got choked up too.

It was impossible not to.

After Bethany took the day to get back on her feet, we helped her reunite with her mother and daughter. They lived outside Paris, in a little town in a small cottage. Raven used the last bit of her savings to rent a car and take her there.

We walked with her to the door, watched it open, and then saw the way her mother looked at her.

It was the same way my mother used to look at me.

The way Raven had looked at me when she saw me at the top of the stairs.

They hugged, cried, and then the sweetest little girl came down the hallway. “Mommy?”

Bethany fell to her knees and cried harder than she had in our living room. “Oh, baby…”

It’d been days since we burned the camp to the ground.

Raven and I didn’t talk much about it.

Like we were waiting for the repercussions.

We didn’t run because we had no money and nowhere to go.

And Raven was convinced the guards hadn’t seen our faces, that Magnus was the only one who knew. “He wouldn’t say anything.” She sat on the couch, her eyes out the window more than on the TV.

I was in the corner of the other couch, my knees pulled to my chest, watching the rain pelt the windows. “He looked pretty pissed off, Raven.”

“I know…but he wouldn’t.” Her face was permanently somber now, the high of liberation gone the second we’d left Bethany behind. Once the action and excitement were over, she was filled with sadness. Maybe even a little guilt. “He…wouldn’t.”

“Even if you’re right, there’s only one person who could have done it.” Fender would figure it out even if Magnus lied. I was the only other free person who had escaped the camp, and I certainly wouldn’t have done that alone.

She stared at the TV with a blank face. “The camp doesn’t exist. The girls are free. The drug enterprise doesn’t exist. There’s nothing for them anymore. They’ll move on.”

I knew Fender better than anyone. “He’ll want revenge.” And I wouldn’t be able to protect her this time.

“Then he can come and get it,” she whispered. “I have no regrets—and I never will.”


Disloyal to Loyalty


In the center of the bed, I lay still.

The fire had died out, my bedroom engulfed in shadow.

My eyes were on the ceiling, the chandelier that was twenty feet above me, the crystal having a faint shine from the lights coming in from the property outside. Sleep was a luxury I didn’t enjoy anymore, no matter how hard I worked, how hard I drank.

My phone rang on the nightstand.

I almost didn’t answer it because this cloud of indifference hit me right in the heart. But I reached for it and answered in silence.

Chaos was loud over the line. Screams. Orders being barked out. “Stop them!”