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Cage of Darkness (Reign of Secrets #2)
Author:Jennifer Anne Davis

Cage of Darkness (Reign of Secrets #2)

Jennifer Anne Davis



For Stacie



Cage of Darkness is the second book in a series.

Therefore, if you expect a happily ever after

and a neat, tidy wrap up at the end of this book,

you will be disappointed

because I enjoy leaving people hanging from cliffs.

If you have the spirit of an adventurer, flip this page.

I DARE YOU!


After all, embarking on a tumultuous journey

is far more rewarding in the end.

By turning the page, you understand that you are entering book two of the series





REIGN OF SECRETS


and anything can happen.





Chapter One

Sitting in the cold, damp cave with her wrists and ankles bound, Allyssa watched the assassin start the fire. Once it took, he glanced up at her, his black eyes revealing pure ruthlessness. Without uttering a single word, he stood and exited the cave as silent as a cougar. Most likely, he was going outside to tend to the horses, which were secured to a nearby tree.

Allyssa looked over at Jarvik crumpled on the ground. He was staring at the ceiling of the cave. She had no idea what to say to him. Their entire friendship was based on a lie.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he mumbled, his soft voice echoing.

“Like what, Prince Odar?” The words came out harsher than she intended. For the past few weeks, she had thought he was simply a nosy, pigheaded squire, not the bloody prince of Fren. No wonder he was such a good strategist and swordsman. She couldn’t help but remember the nights they’d snuck out of the castle together, scheming. How her traitorous feelings gradually turned from hatred to respect, and then to something much deeper than friendship.

“Like you hate me.” He sighed. “I was afraid this would happen.”

“When you’re deceitful,” she snapped, “you tend to lose people’s trust.”

“Like you lost Grevik’s by lying to him?” he countered.

If she wasn’t tied up, she would march over there and punch him in the face for speaking about Grevik. This situation was completely different. If her best friend had known she was the princess of Emperion, they never would have been friends, nor would they have fought crime together. A deep pain rippled in her chest, but she shoved it away, not wanting to think about Grevik’s death. His loss would be dealt with later, when she wasn’t at the mercy of the assassin who’d brutally killed him.

Jarvik started laughing, the sound bouncing off the surrounding dark stones. “It doesn’t even matter. All the precautions I took and look at me. I’m lying here about to die.”

“No, you’re not.” Granted, he was covered in a tremendous amount of blood. However, if the assassin wanted either of them dead, they’d be dead already—which meant he needed them alive.

“There is a serious knife wound in my thigh. I’ve lost a significant amount of blood, which has made me lightheaded and unable to walk. If my injury isn’t taken care of, infection will set it. It’s only a matter of time.” It sounded as though he had already given up, but Jarvik was a fighter. Apparently, he was also a master manipulator. Her eyes narrowed, studying him. He had made no attempt to lower his voice in the small space. The assassin wouldn’t have gone far. Most likely, he’d overheard their conversation. She didn’t respond, unsure of what Jarvik was playing at.

Her thoughts drifted to the knife wound he sustained while fighting the assassin. Before they had left on their journey, Marek, the head of her personal guard and lifelong friend, briefly instructed her on how to mend such wounds. She knew what plants lessened swelling and kept infection at bay. Although she had never done it before, she was fairly certain she could stitch his skin together if needed. How hard could it possibly be?

The assassin slunk into the cave, carrying two skinned rabbits skewered on sticks. After placing them over the fire, he sat down and removed something from the saddlebag next to him on the ground. Glancing at Allyssa, he said, “Besides your neck, do you have any injuries that require attention?”

Concealed beneath her plain tunic, a bandage covered the sword wound she received from her own guard during Grevik’s failed rescue attempt. “How do you know about that?”

He raised his eyebrows, a small smile playing on his lips, but he made no attempt to respond.

“No,” she finally answered. Her stomach felt tender from the punch she withstood earlier in the day, but there was nothing that could be done about that. Nodding toward Jarvik, she said, “He, on the other hand, needs help. Untie me so I can see to him.”

“You do not give me orders,” the assassin said with a sneer.

She had the urge to scream at the man for being a daft cow. How could he sit there so composed while Jarvik was covered with blood? Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to remain calm with her temper firmly under control. Being assertive did not seem to work with him; perhaps appearing meek and mild would be more effective. She bit her tongue to prevent herself from speaking. It went against every fiber of her being.

After a few moments of silence, the assassin said, “Do you have any experience in the art of healing?”

Technically, she had no experience, but she did have a vague idea of what needed to be done, thanks to Marek. She squeezed her bound hands together, not wanting to think about Marek right now. His face had revealed hurt, betrayal, and fear when she ordered him to leave her and seek help. However, it had been the only way to save him.

Looking directly at the assassin, she nodded.

He stood and came over to her, whipping out a small dagger and slicing through her bindings. Before she could say a word, he took the tip of the dagger and brushed a lock of her long, brown hair away from her right ear. “If you attempt to harm me in any way,” he whispered, “I’ll hunt down that pathetic guard of yours—what’s his name? Marek? Only, I won’t kill him like I did your friend Grevik. Instead, I’ll capture him and keep him as my plaything. He’ll wish he were dead. Do you understand?”

Her stomach rolled with nausea. “Yes.” She knew the assassin spoke the truth, and no one else could die because of her.

After he sat back down, he tossed her a small leather bag. She caught it and went over to Jarvik, kneeling beside him. “First thing’s first,” she said. Curling her fingers into a fist, she heaved her arm back and punched Jarvik in the face. “That’s for lying to me, you bastard.” Damn, that felt good.

His eyes widened in shock as his head flew to the side from the impact. When he turned back to face her, a sardonic smile spread across his face. “You grew up at court. I’m sure you’re used to it by now.”

Fury filled her. She had trusted him, and he lied to her. Their friendship was built on something that didn’t exist. Did he even care for her, or had his feelings also been a lie? “Don’t speak to me in such a way.”