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432 pages, Hardcover
First published February 2, 2021
“i have nothing to be ashamed of. i might be easy to manipulate. but i am very difficult to break.”
"I know you don't like asking for help," Kiem said carefully, "but you could keep in mind that I've got a duty to you too."
He could identify the odd sadness now. It came from the same source as the joy: life had been good to him, unexpectedly, but it wasn’t fair to try and stretch it out.
“kiem wasn’t even sure what they’d had between them, but there had been something that had made jainan smile when kiem came into the room, something kiem had been trying desperately not to hold too hard, in case he broke it. he might be breaking it now.”
“i might be easy to manipulate. but i am very difficult to break.”
Kiem didn't even try to hold her gaze. If she chose to make it an Imperial command, he could be imprisoned for disobeying. "Of course not," he said. "Very happy to- to-" He stuttered to a halt. To forcibly marry someone whose life partner just died. What a great idea. Long live the Empire.