Wicked Rule (Heartless Kingdom #1) - K.I. Lynn Page 0,2

you celebrating?”

She sighed and attempted a smile. “It’s my birthday.”

I scrunched my brow. “Why do you look so down about that?”

She stared down at the glass in her hand. “Honestly, I’m questioning what the fuck I’m doing here.”

I glanced around and took note of how she failed to follow, searching out no one. “Please don’t say you’re here alone.”

She looked away and swallowed. “Everyone was busy.”

I leaned back. There was something about her that drew me in closer, something that wouldn’t allow me to leave her by herself—my little sea nymph, sitting on her rock all alone.

I held out my hand. “Come with me.”

“What?” She looked down at my offered hand.

A chuckle left me. “I have a table. We will help you celebrate.”

She shook her head. “Thanks, but I think I’m just going to go home.”

“I insist.” I gained the bartender’s attention and called him over.

“Yes, sir. What can I do for you?”

“Can you send her drink up along with a bourbon, neat?”

“Yes, sir.” He took her drink, despite her protest.

“And whatever her tab is, deal with it.”

“Yes, sir.”

“What are you doing?” she asked with wide eyes.

I cleared my throat and glanced down at my hand. With a huff, she took it and I reveled in the warmth of her touch as she slid off her stool, her purse tucked into her other hand. Once she was on her feet, I slipped her hand into the crook of my arm and led her away. When we reached the staircase, the music lessened as we retreated from the speakers. The bodyguard standing there gave me a nod and moved to the side to allow us up.

“What’s your name?”

“Ophelia.”

“Ophelia. That’s a beautiful name. Mine is Atticus.”

“Where are we going? The tables are down there.” She pointed over her shoulder, an edge of apprehension in her tone.

Hoping to put her at ease that I had nothing nefarious up my sleeve, I gave her a warm smile, something few people ever received from me. “The VIP section.”

Her lips parted and her eyes widened. We finished the climb and moved into a dimly lit walkway with large, thick curtains on one side. Once we reached the middle, I parted the curtains and ushered her through.

Rhys’s gaze was wide as he eyed the woman coming into the private space.

“What’s this?” he asked, his lips pulling up into a grin. I very much noticed the glint in his eye and the “I told you so” smirk that formed.

“Ophelia,” she said as she held out her hand. Rhys, being as lethal as ever, took her hand in his and kissed the top.

“What did I do to be graced with such a beauty?”

She quirked a brow at him. “Does that line actually work?”

I burst out laughing, surprising both of them. “I told you, your lines are over the top, and here I am, proven correct.”

“What did he say to get you up here?” he asked her, then glared at me. “And my lines warm my bed every night I desire without fail.”

“He didn’t say much, just to follow him.”

“So direct, Atticus. It’s shocking.”

I narrowed my gaze at him as I sipped on the drink the waitress had set down. “I find speaking directly works.”

“Ophelia, answer me this: does flattery not work on you? Atticus is quite brash and often called insensitive by women, and you have me curious.”

“It wasn’t really words, but I’m also not sure I understand the undercurrent of associating me with him. Yes, he convinced me to come with him, but that doesn’t make me his.”

Rhys leaned in closer. “Does that mean you’d be mine for the night?”

“No.”

I smirked at the lack of hesitation. She wasn’t falling for him.

“Why not?”

“You’re shady as fuck,” she said without pause.

I couldn’t contain my laughter again. What the hell was going on with me? Rhys’s confusion at my reaction was evident in his wide-eyed stare.

“He has laughed twice now. I’m going to have to ask you to take him back down and return with the correct Atticus, but before that, why such a harsh comparison?” Rhys’s wounded pride was bleeding all over the place.

“It’s in your attitude. The vibe you give off.”

“And by that, you trust him more than me?” Rhys was both seriously affronted and entertained. Given that I was known as the wicked king, I found it interesting that she held even an inkling of trust for me.

“She has good intuition. Lethal lawyers are shady as fuck.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Might I remind you that it