The Boss (Chateau #3) by Penelope Sky

Magnus turned quiet.


He didn’t move.

“I told you to get out—”

“I’m here for her sister.”

All feeling left my body. My extremities turned numb. My heart even stopped.

“I’m here for Melanie.” He wasn’t the strong man I’d seen on a daily basis. Now, he was torn between his two loyalties—split in half. It made him half the man.

My eyes immediately glanced to the puppet master behind him.

She immediately looked away.

My eyes shifted back to Magnus. “No.” I stepped back.

“Brother.” Magnus rushed me. “I’m not asking you this as your business partner…”

I turned back to give him my full stare.

“I’m asking you…as family.” He inhaled a deep breath then held it, pleading with his gaze. “I’m asking as your brother.”

“That’s rich, Magnus.” This woman was a constant prod in his back, making him stick out his neck for my blade. Pussy-whipped and pathetic, he was almost unrecognizable to me.

He held his stare, not blinking, exuding his desperation. “I never ask you for anything.”

He’d betrayed me, made a fool out of me, but when my little brother asked for something, it was impossible to deny him. Perhaps the feeling that connected us had never been loyalty. Perhaps it’d been love. “I do this…then I owe you nothing. Ever.”

Relief flooded his gaze, and he gave a nod. “Yes.”

I held his gaze a moment longer before I took the stairs, making the climb all the way back to the third floor, down the hallway, and into the bedroom where I left her.

Melanie was fully dressed and on the edge of the bed, prepared for whatever happened downstairs. When she saw me walk inside, she immediately got to her feet and walked to me in her heels. “Everything okay?” Her hands immediately went to my arms, and she came closer to me, surrounding me with her affection.

Before Magnus had entered my home with his dog, my life had been perfect—a painting. But that woman never failed to interrupt my life, whether it was here or at the camp. She was the thorn on a rose stem, pricking you when you tried to smell the petals. She was the storm clouds that passed over a sunny day.

“Fender?” She squeezed my arms and brought me back to reality.

“Magnus is downstairs—with Raven.”

Her fingers immediately released my arms as her eyes popped wide open. “Oh my god…” She stepped back and cupped her mouth, her eyes still on mine, processing the revelation. “I knew it… I knew she was alive.”

“She’s alive because Magnus helped her.” She cut the bolt on the stables? Why did I believe that horseshit? Her scent was lost because she perished in the river? I felt like a goddamn idiot. My trust overrode my common sense.

She dropped her hand from her mouth, her joy so bright, it was like daylight through the windows. “Why are they here? For me? I have to go see her…” She moved past me to the door.

I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back to me. “Chérie.” I got her close to me, looking into her bright eyes and seeing the excitement she couldn’t contain. “Magnus has asked me to release you. I’ve agreed.”

Slowly, her excitement faded away, her breathing rising.

“Go down there. Hug your sister. Tell her you want to live here with me. And that will be the end of it.” Magnus had asked me to release her, and I obliged. But I only obliged because Melanie wouldn’t leave me even if I let her go—and there was nothing her sister could do about it.

Melanie looked at me and didn’t say a word.

I stared at her. Waited for a nod. Waited for some sign of agreement.

She dropped her gaze and looked at her hands as they came together in front of her waist. She did that any time she was nervous. Any time she was unsure of herself. She fidgeted in place, swallowing, her eyes filled with a sheen of dread.

The longer I stared, the clearer her decision became.

Magnus had betrayed me.

Now, the woman I loved had betrayed me.

The second one hurt a lot more. And that was how I knew how deeply I’d fallen for her. My prized painting would leave my palace. Her side of the bed would be empty. Her quiet presence in my office would feel like a loud absence. The passion would snuff out like the fire in her bedroom. The millions I’d spent on her jewelry would be thrown into the vault to collect dust. The dresses, gowns, shoes, would be stuffed into a closet so I’d never have to see them again. Our time together had been short, but her vacancy would haunt me like a ghost. A million knives pierced me, but my gaze remained as stoic as ever. “Go.” I stepped to the door and left her there.