Entering the dining area, seeing her cuddled up next to him, infuriates me further. My first reaction is to pull her from his arms, but we’re not overly dramatic, and causing scenes isn’t our thing. I need to speak to you.” I say, through clenched teeth. “Your rooms are next to mines now.” Balen says, taking her hand in his. “I’m fully capable of escorting her.” A few patrons look on in curiosity. “You’re angry, and she’s troubled by the sight of you. I’m not leaving her in your care if she’s not comfortable.” I don’t want to feed the gossip mongers, but I definitely don’t need Balen chaperoning. “I’m fine, really.” Skye chimes in. “Are you sure?” Nodding her response, I’m quick to lead her from the room.
Once in her rooms, my ire has skyrocketed again. I’m literally at a loss for words; what she’s done is unfathomable. Waking up, the potion fully out of my system, Caera’s next to me. All it takes is a hand about her throat, for her to quickly tell me everything. Seething through a quick bath, I have no time for the scenic route, I teleport into town, and make my way to the palace. Skye has a permanent residence there, and I as her mate do also. The guards immediately welcome me back, but I’m in no mood for cordiality.
“I’m sorry, but I did it for you.” She says, breaking the silence. “That wasn’t what I wanted! I could have waited...” I say, trying to calm down. “I hurt you, and we couldn’t be together in that way, because of what I’d done. Do you think that it was easy for me, to watch as she...” The tears in her eyes, has me over to her, pulling her into me. “I’m sorry for lashing out, but... don’t ever do that again. Kissing her tear-stained face, she apologizes. “We’ll get through this,” I say, reassuringly. One last kiss, before she leaves me to freshen up. There’s no need to elaborate on it further right now, but we’ll talk about this soon.
She’s not gone a full minute before I hear a blood curling scream. Rushing into the room, she’s pointing at herself in the mirror. Her stomach’s a round ball, the material straining against it. A light chuckle escapes me. “You think this is funny?” She says horrified. “Pregnancies aren’t conventional for our women. Lifting the gown off of her, she examines her stomach. She looks to be about five months in human terms.
Retrieving another gown for her, she’s beautiful in it, a light cream color that accentuates her stomach. “What?” She says, smiling. “You’re breathtaking.” On one knee, I kiss her stomach before kissing her. She lightly touches my face as my tongue explores hers. “Time to show off the baby, they’ll be another celebration tonight.”
Seeing her, she’s glowing. The new life, finally showing, she’s radiant. Rylan refuses to leave her side, hand in hers many congratulate her. People she doesn’t know, but she carries my child, and so everyone’s happy for her. “Pregnancy suits her, and soon she’ll be full with my child.” Hands around his throat, I have him leaned over the rail. My brother needs to be put into his place. Pushing me off of him, my father’s personal guards step in between us. A few guests have seen the altercation, no doubt there will be talk of it on the morrow and many days to come.
“You’ll control yourselves, or I’ll have you both removed.” He says, with finality.
A ripple of murmurs course through the room, interrupting us. Looking down from the balcony overlooking the floor, Prince Gael enters the room. I wasn’t made aware that he was going to be here. “Another surprise for you brother, he’s here for the meeting of the mates.” It was supposed to happen weeks ago, but Skye’s departure from the palace, caused my father to postpone it. He wants her to be in attendance also, he can be cruel at times.
Tall, long platinum blonde hair, pale skin, his family’s ancestry stems from the Nordic Centaurians. An old people, but not ancient. These fair-haired people came about after we started mixing with the humans. They mostly keep to the mountainous regions. To keep their genetics, they don’t mate outside of their nordic features. Until now, they want us as their ally, and in doing so, they’re willing to risk their fair skin, eyes, and hair. It’s utterly ridiculous that they would value such things. We’re all Centaurians, and we are one people, only they make the distinction that they’re different. War is coming sooner than anyone can predict, so we entertain them. One can’t have too many allies.
Scanning the room quickly, I know who he’s looking for, her scent’s an instant attractant to us. Finally locating her, his wandering gaze stops on Skye. Rylan’s picked up his interest also, eyeing him as he eyes her. “Must I kill every prince on Centauria for you?” He whispers to her, but we all pick it up. She finally notices him, turning to look in his direction. “He’s beautiful but too fair for my tastes.” She whispers back, acknowledging him with a small nod, before smiling at a couple bowing to her in passing.
Nelan’s watching the exchange, and he’s beyond jealous, he knows her true thoughts as I do. Her heartbeat quickens with each step that Prince Gael makes, as he closes in on them. We continue to watch from our vantage point, as he greets Rylan first, and then Skye. Taking her free hand in his, she exhales to calm herself, as he kisses it. “To what do we owe the honor, Prince Gael?” Says Rylan, removing her hand from his.
“I’m here for the meeting of the mate’s ceremony, and to get a glimpse of the half-breed that everyone’s talking about.” Looking Skye over, he smiles slightly. “I have to admit, she doesn’t disappoint.” Looking up at me, his smile drops. “Congratulations.” He says, to me. “Princess.” He says, nodding a farewell to Skye, as he moves on. I should have stopped listening in on them after Gael left, but I want to hear him say it, to acknowledge it. She’s thinking it, and then she says it. “Princess?”
“Balen claims you as his mate, and he’s a Prince.” She’s quiet for a moment, letting it soak in. “Oh my god... I’ve never been a princess before.” She’s excitement’s catching, and I have to smile at her response. “Yes well, you’re my Princess.” His arm around her, he pulls her to him protectively.
Father’s called a meeting, King Brindon, Prince Gael, and I are in attendance. I was happy to actually see Gael, as he and Balen have never gotten along, but after he showed his interest in Skye, he’s not on my good side either. He’s known for bedding mated women. His conquests have never been half-breeds though. He avoids them as if they’re diseased. They can give him children, and if they’re not of the fair persuasion, then he’s not interested in reproducing with them. All in attendance remain standing. “I’ve called this meeting because of the halfbreed.”
“Her name’s Skye.” Balen interrupts, entering the room. I tried to block him, but he’s growing stronger. This is a private meeting.” Father says. “A meeting where you’re plotting and scheming on my mate.”
“He might as well stay, he’ll find out anyway, I can’t keep him out anymore.” All eyes are upon Balen, as we all feel it. His strength, his power. “Her blood is what you’re feeling, and she gives him this newfound strength.” My words dripping with venom, fathers supposed to be leading this discussion, but I’m ripe with envy and can’t stop myself. “You’re either envious or jealous. You can’t be both.” He says, to me. Anger flaring I bring it under control. I’ll not embarrass father, by attacking my brother in front of guests. “I’ll have what you have soon enough.”
“The subject of our discussion is quite powerful. She doesn’t have our speed or our strength, but from what I gather, she has the gift of stealth, and the ability to move things with her mind.” Says, father. “And the gift of illusion.” I add. ”
“Could she really be the one that the prophecy speaks of?” King Brindon asks.
“I’ve felt her power, the allure of her blood, she could be...” Gael states.
“The savior of humanity, really... Children’s tales?” Balen says.
“She could be, there’s no telling what other untapped powers that she possesses.” I say.
“You’re going along with this because you want to bed my mate, or do you really believe this?” I answer without hesitation, not caring if she is or isn’t. I know what I want from her. “I believe the she could be.”
“I believe that you’ve all gone mad.” Balen says.
“If it’s true, then this power must be shared.” Says Gael.
Balen and I both let loose a growl on that one. “My son has a point, we can’t let only you have this power.” They’re sorely mistaken if they think that she’s being shared with them. “She could give my son a child, that’s all that we ask.” Says King Brindon, and I have a cynical laugh at that. “She won’t agree to it.” I say, matter of factly. “She doesn’t have to.” Gael states. His words send me into protective mode, she may not be my mate, but I feel a need to protect her. “I hope that you’re not alluding to taking her by force.” Balen’s words hold a thinly veiled threat. “If she’s unwilling, then one must assume...”
“I think that we had better conclude this meeting.” Father interjects, interrupting Gael. “If you will have us, we’re here until we can come to an agreement.” Says King Brindon. If we weren’t honorable, I’d dispatch them both. “You’re welcome to stay, as long as it takes.” Says father.
Passing the room, where the guards practice swordsmanship, I pick up her scent. Coming to an immediate stop, I enter the room, where she’s there with a young guard, swords clashing. He dodges her attack, and she slips. I’m over to her, but he’s already caught her, giggling as he breaks her fall. “You should be more careful.” I admonish. Quickly releasing her, he bows to me. “Prince Nelan.” Finally noticing me, she goes from playful to serious. “Ayeden’s fully capable of keeping me safe, this isn’t the first time that I’ve lost my footing.”
“Leave us.” I command. Bowing to Skye, he quickly exits the room. Her hair in disarray, sweat glistening on her skin, she’s even more captivating. I’m tempted to actually lick her. “You leave me with no practice mate.” She says, retrieving another sword, and tossing it to me, I catch it with ease. “I’m not here to play with you.” Slightly irritated, she goes for my face, which I easily block. “I never got the chance to apologize.” Going for my face again, she misses.
“Apologize, for what?” I ask.
“For you taking the remainder of my punishment.” I go for her stomach, and she moves away quickly.” I accepted the lashes on my own accord.” Missing again she loses her footing, and lands in my arms. “I told you to be careful.” Taking her sword, she moves away from my embrace. “Thank you.”
“You’ve had enough practice, allow me to walk you to your rooms.”
Leading her down the halls, passerby’s offer a slight nod of acknowledgment. “Why did you do it?” Referring to my taking of her lashes, I want to say because I care about you, but she wouldn’t believe me. “You said that he’d had enough, and someone had to take them.”
“What will people say about that? I’m mated to your brother.” Her naivete concerning us is slightly amusing. “They will think that both of the Princes are smitten with you.” She’s quiet, reflecting on my words. “You know that I can’t be with you.”
“Polyandry isn’t something that we frown upon. It’s rare, but it’s nothing new to us. The fact that we’re brothers is irrelevant.” Stopping at her door, there’s a moment of awkward silence. “I can’t repay you for what you did.” Stepping closer to her, she takes a step back. “I wasn’t asking for anything in return, but since you mentioned it.” Her heart rates increased, and outwardly, she’s trying to remain calm.
Taking her hand, I apply a kiss. “Just a taste?” Lips slightly parted, she quickly nods an affirmative. As gently as I can, I sample her sweet nectar. Inhaling at my bite, her blood calls to me, begging me to consume it all. Hearing her heartbeat slowing, I catch her as she collapses in my arms.
When I awaken, Nelan’s at the foot of my bed watching me. Sitting up, he motions to the drink on the stand beside me. “What is it?” I ask, eyeing the liquid. “A restorative.” Taking a sip, it’s strong, and dirt flavored. “I know it’s terrible.” Sitting on the edge of the bed, I nervously shift my position. “I had our healer analyze you. I didn’t take enough for you to lose consciousness.”
“Well, it seems that I’m only able to handle two of your kind, nipping at my body parts.” You should have told me that they’d recently fed on you.” I should have, but part of me wanted him to drink from me. I’m turning into a blood whore if there is such a thing. “You’d be surprised.”
“Do you really think that all of us are on the straight and narrow?”
“I only just discovered spirits not too long ago.” His wicked smirk forces me to cross my legs. “You should let me show you the darker side of Centauria.” The connecting door to Balen’s rooms opens and in walks, my mate. As expected, he’s not too happy to see Nelan sitting on the bed. “What are you doing in here?” He asks eyes narrowed. “Good evening to you to brot....” “I was practicing with a guard and got lightheaded. Nelan saved me from a serious fall.”
“You see, and you think the worst of me.” Nelan says, going along with the lie. “Skye.” He says in parting, slight bow before leaving. Balen’s quiet, trying to read me. “Please don’t.” I say, not wanting to explain the real reason why Nelan was in here. “He’s not to be in here again.”
States Balen, trying to control his anger. I agree. “I understand.”
Nelan has kept his distance, much to my disappointment. He promised me a walk on the wild side, and I’m going to hold him to it. Using my skill of stealth, I steal away to his rooms. Examining his ordinary room, there’s nothing here to give an idea of who this man is. A bed, a mirror, and a writing desk with paper, ink, and feather quill.
Simplistic in a wonderful way. I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself. Dipping the quill in the ink, I practice writing a few words. The scratching of the quill on the paper brings back memories of my mother teaching me how to use it for the first time. The door opening interrupts my trip down memory lane, and in walks Nelan. I’m frozen in place, afraid to even move. He pauses, looking around before going to the desk. Picking up the paper with the scribbling that I’d done, he touches the ink and immediately draws his sword. Sniffing the air, he draws a blank, and then his demeanor changes from rigid to knowing. “Skye, you can show yourself.” Caught, I think of escaping with some dignity, but decide that I may as well be honest.
Making my presence known, he resheathes his sword. “What are doing in here?” He asks.
“I came to see you.”
“And when you found me absent, you decided to pen a few illegible words.”
Embarrassed from being caught intruding and snooping, my lowly gaze wanders to his bed. His gaze follows mines, and I nervously move away from him. “The last time that we were together, you hinted of a darker side of Centauria.” He remains silent, watching me and I start to fidget. Must he always make me uncomfortable while in his presence? “It’s not intentional, I assure you.” He states, placing the paperback on the desk.
“If that is your request, then yes I can take you to the other side.” “Is tonight too soon?” I inquire.
“Tonight it is then.”