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Taurus (The Zodiac Queen #2)
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Twelve men. A virgin queen. One arranged marriage.
Part 2 of the Zodiac Queen.
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Present-day, April 21st
Roughly, that’s how long it’s been since Heath Bordeaux fit me for my crown. Those days snuck by in the blink of an eye, in the microseconds a bolt of lightning steals when striking the ground…in the time it takes to break a heart.
Leaving the haven of Liam Castle broke mine.
“He should be here with you,” Faye says as we approach the library on the first floor of the tower. Elise nods in agreement.
“He decided against it,” I say, doing my best not to chew my nails.
The chancellor’s absence is like a gushing wound in my chest. I’m devastated he chose not to escort me himself—leaving my ladies to do it—but I understand why he made the decision.
I think back to my last ten minutes with him, on the cusp of his penthouse door.
“I’m not ready to say goodbye,” I’d pleaded, tears stinging my eyes as his hands rose to frame my face. His thumbs had brushed along my cheekbones as if preparing to wipe the pain away between us.
“This isn’t goodbye, my sweet girl.”
“It feels a lot like goodbye, Chancellor.”
A melancholy smile quirked at the corners of his lips. “I know we’ve grown close enough this past month for you to be comfortable using my name.”
“The title just slipped out,” I’d lied, hoping he’d scold me, spank me, lock me up and keep me as punishment for my refusal to use his name. Anything but sending me out that door.
He’d raised a brow upon my feigned innocence. “If you’re begging for my hand as a delaying tactic, it won’t work. I won’t cause your tardiness for the inevitable.”
By the inevitable he meant the start of my prison sentence with Heath Bordeaux.
I couldn’t have argued with him even if I’d wanted to, because in the next instant he’d kissed me. It hadn’t tasted like goodbye. In the sweep of our tongues, I’d found quiet desperation. Sweet sorrow. A promise for so much more, whether it be eleven days or eleven months down the line.
“Go,” he’d rasped against my damp lips, forehead pressed to mine. His hand landed on the door handle, threatening to thrust me into the supervision of my ladies who waited on the other side of the barrier locking us in this private moment.
“Don’t make me go.”
The handle turned—an almost indiscernible click. “You have to. Don’t make this harder than it already is, Novalee.” His warm breath on my cheek, followed by the press of his lips, would have to sustain me until I saw him again.
I cling to the memory now as his maid stops in front of the massive doors of the library. “Are you ready?” Selma asks, and I think I spot a sorrowful hint in the pinch of her coral lips. She’s in full uniform, a no-nonsense bun holding her graying blond hair at the nape.
It’s a lie. I’m as ready for Heath Bordeaux as I was the day he fit me for my crown and revealed a taste of his unforgiving, obstinate nature.
Selma knocks three times. A deep male voice calls for us to come in, and Selma allows us entry into the room where it all began. It’s a light and airy space, despite the masculine bookcases that surround the comfortable seating arrangements inviting meetings among leaders.
And the passing-around of queens.
Heath Bordeaux is waiting by the south-facing windows. His back is to me, but I recognize him by his rigid stature. His black hair sheens silvery in the late morning rays pouring through the arched glass in front of him. A blond man I’ve never seen before stands at attention near him, his posture as rigid as the man who will have dominion over me for the next month.
Mr. Bordeaux turns, and those hazel eyes shoot ice through me. They’re beautiful eyes set in a traditionally handsome face, but something about him is…
To make matters worse, he’s glaring at me.
“Your ladies may return to their quarters. You won’t need their services while you’re a guest in my house.”
His statement hits me like a sneak attack—a wave that rises from nowhere and knocks me down—and I drop to my knees.
“Please, Mr. Bordeaux. Don’t send my ladies away. I beg of you.”
They’re all I have in this place. The only two people keeping me sane.
“That isn’t for you to decide.” He nods toward his silent companion, who steps forward upon command. “My manservant will escort your ladies back to where they belong.”
Faye takes a brave step toward Mr. Bordeaux. “This isn’t right. I’m not—”
Cutting her off, I jump to my feet and hug her tight enough to silence her objection. Elise dabs at her eyes in my peripheral. “Shh, it’s okay,” I tell her in a whisper. “Go, please.”
Mr. Bordeaux is not Liam, with his gentle authority and quiet leniency. I don’t know who the man from the House of Taurus is, but he’s not someone you disobey or argue with, and it would wreck me to watch him punish Faye because of her loyalty to me.