The Palace (Chateau #4) by Penelope Sky

I sat up. “What the fuck is going on?”

It was Karl, not Magnus. “We’ve been hit. Camp is on fire. The girls are loose.” He was out of breath, like he was running from something that very moment. “We can’t save the cabins. They’re all torched.”

I jumped out of bed and grabbed my clothes. “Where’s Magnus?”

“No one’s seen him…”

My heart fell into my stomach, picturing him burned alive in his cabin that he couldn’t escape because he was trapped. “Who…the fuck…did this?” I’d take my men and hit them now. Kill them, their entire family, and destroy any legacy they could have had. My jacket was thrown on, and I was out the door and marching to war.

He hesitated, as if he didn’t want to say. “The girl…”

I halted at the second landing and looked down at the foyer, where she’d stood just weeks ago, twisting an invisible knife into my brother’s back to get what she wanted. Gilbert ran into the foyer because he must have heard me, his hair messy, dressed in his pajamas.

“Sir?” he asked, half asleep. “What’s happening? I’ll get the car…” He sprinted outside and shouted to one of the men.

The blood that pounded in my head began to pound everywhere, a headache for my entire body. My heart pumped as hard as it could, giving me every ounce of blood I would need for what I was about to do. My fingers squeezed so tightly that I nearly crushed the phone. “I’m on my way.”

I got there in record time, but it didn’t make a difference.

Every single cabin had been destroyed.

There was hardly any snow because it had melted from the heat of the fires. The piles of wood still burned gently because there was still more destruction to be had. The drugs had been destroyed. The clearing was unrecognizable. The camp had once been an organized congregation of cabins and civilization.

Now it was just a pile of garbage.

The only building that was spared was the stable.

Horses were fine.

The men grabbed what women they could and sent them off to our headquarters to hold in the meantime. But we’d lost over half of our labor. We’d lost a quarter of the guards in the fire.

And we lost every single ounce of the drugs.

I walked through the rubble, passed the men who’d stayed and waited for my arrival. Some of them rummaged in the cabins to see if anything could be salvaged. Others were being treated by the doctor, their broken arms wrapped in casts. Soot was all over their faces, burns on their skin.

They all looked at me as I made my entrance to the camp, aware of my presence the second I left my horse.

But my eyes were on only one man. Like the aim of a sniper, my eyes pierced his skin like fucking bullets. My gait quickened the closer I came, rage taking over my body, my mind fading because reason lost all control.

He watched me approach, his eyes strong but his posture weak, like he knew what was coming and accepted it. He had a few scratches and marks on his face, but other than that, he looked perfectly fine.

He shouldn’t be fine.

When I made it to him, I stopped and stared. My jaw trembled uncontrollably because I was just so angry, so angry that there wasn’t enough room inside my body to contain it all. I felt the headache pounding in my temples because the fury hadn’t calmed once since I’d gotten that goddamn phone call. Tendons stretched in my hands, my flexed muscles pulled on all my bones, and I resisted the very real temptation to kill him. “Everything I built is ash—because of you.”

His face tinted red because of his own anger, his eyes penetrating with rage, just as angry as I was that she did this.

“The cabins. The drugs. The men. Because of you.” I got in his face. “Because you helped her. You didn’t just humiliate yourself. You humiliated me.” I inhaled a deep breath and kept my hands to myself even though I actually wanted to kill the only family I had left. “You lied to me—for someone who turned around and stabbed you in the back the second she had the opportunity.

His breathing intensified, like my speech angered him even more.

“She will pay for this—”

“Kill her.” He said it with such conviction, spit flying from his mouth.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than killing her, but that wasn’t an option. “You will rebuild this camp, with your own money, and it will be better than it was before. You will pay me for everything I lost. I will bring that cunt back here to work for the rest of her life…since she loves it so much.”