The Price of Vengeance

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“Be a sport.” Lonnix pressed. “The rest of us did so at our own expense.”

Shaking her head, Nim drew another careful sip.

Lonnix and Disseus exchanged a look. In unison they laughingly lunged for her. Though Lonnix was far quicker than expected it was, of course, Disseus that reached her before she could react. Cup clattering as he laughingly hooked her under the armpits and hoisted her up.

Still dangling helplessly in shock, she failed to struggle until he pushed her down before the witch. Nearly singeing her hair in the fire.

Objecting she hissed profanity at him.

“Shush.” He put a finger to his lips and gestured to Almora commandingly.

Snarling up at him, Nim glared from beneath lowered brows as she thrust her rigid hand out as he’d made it obvious, he’d not be letting her up until she complied.

And she won’t have me touching her any longer than necessary. That thought caused a bitter twinge to rush through him, but he pushed it aside as he awaited Almora. Unable to resist a little jab.

Just a little one this time. He promised.

“That’s a good girl.” Disseus smirked.

“Ignore him.” Almora drew her attention. “This says your life will be long but rocky. And-”

But of course, Nim harshly cut her off before she could say more. “How do you know that?”

“She’s from a long line of witches.” Lonnix supplied.

Causing Nim’s head to turn to face him. Making her red hair bunch along the leaves and twigs as she cocked her head toward him as if to warn him that speaking wasn’t in his favor currently.

It’s probably not. She’s just looking for someone to lash out at.

“This.” Almora pointed out a long groove. “Is your lifeline. It tells me.” She explained. Elaborating further. “See these ridges here? Like tiny mountains? These rises show the complexities you’ll endure. They’re quite high.”

“Ah.” Nim lifted her head to see. Her tone somewhat impressed.

Begrudgingly, no doubt.

“This line tells me of your skills. You have many but this more than the others.” Almora pointed to one in particular. A deeper line.

“Battle.” She acknowledged, engrossed in what Almora pointed out.

Dissues’ brow furrowed as he looked down at her. That’s not all she’s good at.

Strange that’d be the first thing she’d think of.

“This tells me of your spirit.” Almora’s voice drew him back to the subject at hand. “You love deeply and are innately maternal. Very protective. Like a mother bear.”

Disseus and Lonnix both laughed.

“Bear sounds appropriate.” Lonnix teased. Eyes dancing with mirth. Knowing he could taunt her some while Disseus held her pinned down.

“Certainly, appropriate since she has much the same personality as that nag you ride.” Disseus agreed.

But Nim was listening to neither of them.

“What is this one?” Nim twisted, and Disseus released her enough to let her show them what she meant. She touched a strange, splintered line.

“That is your family. It speaks of your children.”

Nim stiffened as Almora studied it.

“I count thr-”

“This is silly.” Nim jerked her hand free and rose abruptly. Ending the subject immediately.

Disseus let her go. But not without a penetrating blue-eyed stare.

Almora was going to say three. I’ve met two…

Something in him tightened and he wondered. Just for a moment, he wondered.

She’d never admit it. She’d never tell me if I asked. But he badly wanted to know.

Who’s was the third one? And where is it?

Is it mine?

Nim stood and dusted off her dress. Giving her back to Disseus who was staring her down. Pinning her with a permeating look.

Enough so she glanced once over her shoulder at him, under the guise of brushing it off.

“What is with you two?” Lonnix gave an aggravated gesture. Clever enough to not miss this strange interchange but dense enough to have missed what was nearly said.

Or at least willing to let us think so.

Disseus knew that Lonnix preferred people to underestimate his intellect. It gave him a distinct advantage that his stature did not allow.

“It’s okay.” Almora signaled for him to silence as she watched Nim return to where she’d been.

Briskly collecting her cup, she eyed the herbs lingering in the bottom. Surely aware that all eyes were on her as she feigned being oblivious.

She’s hiding from me. Disseus had seen that behavior before. In the last days before she left me…

Almora watched her too. A strange look crossing the witch’s pretty features.

“She’s very odd.” She murmured softly to no one in particular.

She is that. But why do you think so just now? Disseus shot her a questioning look.

Without looking at him, Almora answered it. Knowing Nim was far enough away she wouldn’t hear them if she spoke in a low voice.

“She can be so warm and charming one moment. Almost like a child. Then the next, it’s like a door slams inside her and she’s back to ice cold and seething.”

Disseus stared back at Nealinim. Not realizing he was nodding slightly.

“Especially when it comes to you.” Almora finally looked at him. Her expression almost impressed. “How’d you ever get close to her?”

Blinking in surprise he muttered. “She was the very opposite of what you see now.”

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