A Seduction

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"I'm not going anywhere."

I suppress a sigh. And I look at Jimin, who gives me a glance asking me if I needed him. I shake my head softly.

"Will you give us a minute?"

He nods. I can feel Taehyung's eyes on me the entire time I watch him step out of the infirmary and quietly close the door behind himself. I wait a couple seconds, take a deep breath.

I'd messed up.

I look at him.

He stands at a distance not too close, but not too far away either. He gives me respect even when I really don't deserve it.

I really don't want to lose him.

But things were more complicated than just what I wanted. Even if this was my second life.

"Taehyung," I say. "You're going down to Esthra for recuperation. You're leaving in—"

"No, Mistress. I'm not."

I push back an amused smile. Giving me respect by standing not too close, but still cutting me off in the middle of my sentence.

"This is an order."

"Then I won't obey it."


"I am yours." For the first time, he speaks to me with anger. "I will die for you, Princess. What did I do wrong? I don't understand why you're sending me away. What did I say? What did I—"

I will die for you.

That's what you're doing wrong, Taehyung.

"You did nothing."

"Then let me stay."

This isn't working. And when he falls to his knees, I realize that even harder. That trying to talk my way around this won't work a single bit.

"You're making a mistake, Taehyung."

"I'm going to use you in ways that'll make you hate me." I hiss, staring at him straight in the eyes now. "I'll make you kill. I'll make you sleep with women. I'll do whatever I want with you to get what I want."

"And I'll throw you away like trash after I am done with you. There is nothing between us."

He flinches.

"So go." It's my turn to plead. "Go down to Esthra and live your life. Pursue swordsmanship— whatever you wish. I will make sure you'll never need anything again."

"This is my last kindness. After this you'll find none from me. This is your last chance."

Taehyung. Think. Hesitate.

But for not even a single second does he stop.

"I will stay by my Mistress." He says. "I don't care what you ask of me. I will do it."


My eyes close.

You stupid, stupid child.


"Do you love me?"

He freezes. But he is too clever. He instantly arranges his expression, and his hand wraps around the hilt of his sword, hiding the cloth I'd given him underneath. But he is still young— and clumsy. I see the ends of it peek out between his roughened fingertips.

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