“Destiny.” Raffe’s eyes conveyed the importance of his question even though she could only see him through the small strip of gauze allowed in the ritual garment. “Tell me.”

“I have other priorities right now.”

“Answer. Do you wish to be loved?”

Destiny hissed at him. He slowly withdrew his sheltering embrace. She couldn’t keep her beliefs on this subject to herself. “Love is something people use like Kleenex. People love their cars, a specific type of food, the warmth of a day.”

“What is it you wish?”

“I wish to be cherished,” she asserted. “I wish my man to accept me as I am without condition. I would have a man who would rejoice in the person I am and the life I have been forced to live. What I want is what every woman wants.”

“Here I thought you wanted to be a queen.” Raffe tried to joke to lighten the moment that was becoming fraught with emotional landmines for them both.

Destiny turned from him to return to their stealthy walk up the stairs. “I’d be the queen of my man’s heart,” she whispered loudly enough for him to understand. “That is the secret between men and women. Women wish to be queen of their man’s heart, and men wish to be king of their own harem.”

“You’re a pessimist.” He scowled, joining her in the climb.

“And you’re a fool.”

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