EVIL VILLAIN (The Royal Court #3) - Rebel Hart Page 0,1

even if I didn’t know where. There was no guarantee he was going to survive his battle with Connor. There was no guarantee any of us were going to survive. Ciara was better off with false hope than worrying herself even sicker that her son was maybe tied up in a chair somewhere being tormented by his own father.

Eventually, Ciara finished putting together the ham and eggs and set a couple of plates down on the table. She then got some coffee and a bottle of water for me and brought them over and set them down as well. She sat down across from me, and we each took a few bites of our food before I finally cleared my throat.

“So, these past six months living with you have been so amazing,” I started. “I’m really going to miss you, but I wasn’t myself. I was… mourning, and it made me treat my friends terribly.”

“Mourning?” Ciara said. “Deon’s not dead.”

“I think that too,” I replied, “but at this point he’s gone, and as far as I know, he isn’t coming back.”

“Did Nathan tell you this? Is that where it’s coming from? He’s pressuring you into moving in with him or something?”

“No. Nathan actually thinks he’s alive too, but none of us has any clue where he is or anything… My old friend group, The Royal Court, they’ve had a tough six months and we all just really need to hunker down together and treat ourselves well after the time we’ve all had. It won’t just be Nathan and me. Sicily will be there a lot too, plus all of my other friends, and Nathan has a new girlfriend now. A girl he’s always been in love with, named Nikita.”

“After what he did to you, suddenly he’s a good guy?” Ciara asked.

She was referring to the fact that, by all accounts, Nathan raped me. I was far from the last person that was going to make any excuses for a man that assaulted me, but the man that was in that bathroom that day, pointing a gun at me and forcing me down to my knees, was not Nathan Loche. He was Connor Loche’s darkness in Nathan Loche’s shell.

“What he did wasn’t okay, but he was just as much a victim to Connor Loche as me or you. Maybe even more because you were able to fight back, I was able to leave, but Nathan had nothing. Connor tortured him, Ciara. For all intents and purposes, he tortured his own son. It’s not his fault. I’ve forgiven Nathan for that. Truth told, I forgave him for that before Deon even went missing. I knew it wasn’t him.”

“That’s why you went to save him from Connor?” Ciara asked.

“Yeah, and I know you won’t believe me, but Nathan loves Deon. He loved Deon when he went to live with them, and even when Deon came home, Nathan tried in his own way to extend an olive branch. It was covered in Connor’s shit, so it didn’t work, but he did try. He’d be just as happy to see Deon again as we would be.”

Ciara sat in silence for a few minutes, took a few bites of her food, took a few sips of her coffee, and then sighed. “So you’re going to work with Nathan to find Deon?”

“Well, if we hear anything we’ll follow it, but we don’t have much to go off of right now,” I lied. The truth was, we had more than a couple of threads to pull on, but Ciara didn’t need to know that for now. “I’m going to go and talk to my parents. Give them a much needed apology, then I’ll be headed to Nathan’s.”

“I understand,” Ciara said. “I’m going to miss my roommate.”

“I’m gonna miss you too, but I promise to check in often, and who knows, maybe this time next year, we’ll be sitting around a table with Deon, laughing about all of this nonsense.”

A small smile came to Ciara’s face. “I certainly hope so.”

I took my time finishing breakfast and talking with Ciara, then I packed up the clothes I had, gave her a huge hug, loaded into my car, and started it up to leave.

Ciara leaned into the driver’s side window and petted a hand over my hair. “You’ll be careful, won’t you, sweetheart? Sometimes I think you forget that you’re still just a kid.”

“I will, I promise,” I said.

She pulled back, and I gave her one final wave before backing out

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