Chapter One

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Damn!

As the door shut behind Chris, Duncan’s heart stopped.

Then he had to wait for the beat to resume.

When it eventually did, the unbearable pain cut it off again. Like a sharp knife, it split him in half, torn by the loss of not just one lover. Of both.

Glancing at the unconscious form on his bed, Prince Duncan Caldwell, Leader of the High Council, wondered whether he had indeed betrayed them, like Chris had just accused him of doing, or whether he simply deserved to be alone, like never before in his life.

From his earliest years, he had been with at least one, if not both, of the two special people he had chosen.

And loved.

Yes, deeply loved.

Christopher Templeton, his phase mate, and Ylianor Meyer, his father’s heart child, had always been his reference points, the two fixed stars of his evolving destiny. His insane lust for both had further strengthened his bond to them during the apparently endless time they had already spent together. And yet…no matter how much he got of them, it was never enough. Not of Ylianor, his adored princess, born and raised in Black Rose, his own home. Certainly not of Chris, his beloved angel, met as a mere eight-year-oldon the hills of the same Black Rose that had brought Ylianor to him.

And it made no difference that Duncan could remember nothing of his initial years with the princess. Chris’s little trick of erasing his memory in a fit of jealousy had affected nothing of his feelings for her. Or for his angel, whom he had eventually forgiven. Not Chris’s fault he lived emotions like nobody else, love especially.

The blond angel’s greatest passion to date had started the moment he had laid eyes on Duncan, soon complicated by the hottest sex ever—the burning kind the phase induced in adolescents as a natural passage into adulthood, even if not everyone experienced it. For Prince Caldwell, it had been utter devastation of the senses, with Chris exploding and shattering his very being to bits.

Literally.

Chris clouded his mind while exalting his body. All he had thought about had been Chris, the need to possess him overriding any other concern. And nothing of this craving had lessened over the thirteen or so years that had passed since. Still hooked on him like the first day I saw him.

No, he had never recovered from hurricane Chris.

However temporary phases were supposed to be, it was just too strong a link to break. So it had stayed, despite Duncan’s effort to sever it during the two-year separation he had forced between them, which had only tightened it in the end, also after he had found Ylianor again.

Against all odds.

Against Chris’s misgivings.

Duncan’s heart still raced at the unanticipated consequences of a reconnection that had raised the level of their entanglement, not to mention the heat. Amazing, above all, how Chris and Ylianor had antagonized Duncan’s every attempt to bring them together, only to have their alleged hate bloom into the most seductively sensual heart-pounding passion ever. One that blended perfectly with his own brand, in such a way that completed and fortified it beyond their three separate selves. As a result, up to five minutes before, they had been one, further tied by their very out-of-the-ordinary pledge.

So why was he alone now?

Best-case scenario—too absorbed by Virtus, he had allowed his focus to slip away from them. Not that the damn machine needed less of his attention now that he was leader and knew the blasted device turned his people’s violent impulses into sexual ones, which meant he had to stop it before it became too powerful and compromised the little freedom still left. Already, Computer Virtus—as it called itself—had eroded generous pieces of it.

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