“You don’t believe all those stories about me, do you?”
Autumn swept her hand across the ground before she sat, sending acorns scattering. Something still jabbed when she settled in gingerly, facing the fire. “The ones about your dying of disease, or the ones where you murder all your lovers?”
His laugh sounded like liquid gold. You’d think she had asked about his charity toward crippled children.
The creek’s burble had turned sharper in the darkness, and its swift current tossed shards of moonlight like knives.
“Can you swim?”
She started as he sat next to her, his hands braced around his knees. She narrowed her eyes. “Planning to drown me?”
Shock flashed across his face, half hidden by a quick smile. “You’re far too pretty to drown. Has anyone ever told you your eyes are like stars at night?”
She edged away, ignoring a flutter in her belly. “A girl like me must endure compliments.” She smiled despite her nerves. “So my Grandmere taught me.”
He nodded sagely. “It is the burden of pretty people like us.”
She scowled. “I would wager you don’t have anyone eyeing your bosom while they compliment your eyes.”
“You’d be surprised.” His grin dropped, and he kept his gaze on hers. “I meant what I said.”
He looked so sincere she had to smile. “I’m too pretty to drown?”
“Before, at the palace. Whatever people say I’ve done, I’m not planning to hurt you, Autumn.”
She wished he would wipe that concerned furrow off his forehead. “You couldn’t drown me anyway.”
He snorted. “Why not?”
“Not only am I an excellent swimmer, I’m not your lover, and none of the stories mention you drowning girls you’re simply running away with.”
His grin fought free. “But what if—“
“I’m not your lover, Lux, and I never will be.”
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