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A scent drifted into my nostrils, a scent I didn’t want to smell on the most important day of my life. Had he really dared to set foot on hallowed ground? How had he gotten in? Only invited guests were permitted inside the church. Paul. He had invaded the most precious day of my life. I turned off my mind to outsiders, to the soft whispers from the congregation, instead, concentrating on Paul and hopefully reading what he had in mind. I was sure he wasn’t there to applaud our marriage. What I learned, was not good.

Won’t they get a shock at the reception? I wish I could be there to witness the spectacle. It was hard enough getting into the church. Pollurn is proving to be a valuable aide. Since he discovered Katarina is his rival, his quest to get rid of her equals mine. I must have been out of my mind when I ordered my cloning and stupid enough to let them convince me to give up the throne. I’d hoped the whelp could be influenced, that I could reign through him, but he proved to be a stubborn son of a bitch. And then to find out he’s a vampire after all… But he’s not like the rest of us. I’ve got no idea how Derek accomplished the removal of blood lust. He’s got my abilities, will remain young for years just like me, yet he’s nothing like me. If I’d known, I never would have agreed to step down. Yet, I couldn’t keep reigning forever, I had little choice. I hope I convinced Pollurn it’s too risky to crash the reception. There won’t be a place set for us at the tables and that would cause questions. Then again, his magic is strong. He could probably conjure that up, too. Nah, can’t take that risk. Oh, but if I could be a fly on the wall…

I heard him laugh inwardly, manic laughter that formed a ring of ice around my heart.

At least Pollurn came up with the most exquisite plan. I couldn’t have done any better myself.

I quickly blanked Paul out. His thoughts were more than disturbing and I wondered what awaited us at the reception.

When Katarina finally joined me at my side, and I turned to look at her, I almost gasped. She was a fairytale princess come to life. Though the thin veil covered her face, I could see her clearly and I smiled reassuringly, mouthing without trying to move my lips too much, I love you, you look gorgeous. She smiled at me sweetly, but I hadn’t closed my mind to her, so I heard her thoughts.

Something isn’t right. I can sense it. Mahaka told me I would be able to intuit my enemies and I feel there’s one among the guests. It’s Pollurn. He’s here, but why? How did he manage an invitation? Why is he here? What is he planning?

I looked down into her eyes and saw the fear hovering in their depths. I waited for more thoughts, but the ceremony started and her mind strayed to our moment in time. I couldn’t help wondering about our two antagonists. Why are Pollurn and Paul here? Like Paul, how did he manage to get an invitation? Didn’t Mahaka tell us Pollurn was an apprentice, just like Katarina? Is he strong enough to conjure up an invitation? Did he hypnotize the attendants into thinking he and Paul had invitations in their hands? Why are they even in the church if their plan is for the reception? What awaits us there?