“I’m going to get my friends.” The boy said, turning as if he couldn’t drag his eyes from Bast.
“You do that.” Bast was laughing. Shaking his head as he rose. But without the distraction of the boy, he felt it.
The surge of power swelling through the Ballroom like a heartbeat. Furtive glances at the edges of the Ballroom revealed the other knights lowering their heads and skimming the room as he was.
We all feel it.
We all know she’s arrived.
“Isn’t he lovely?” A young brunette standing next to Elsabet remarked. Following Elsabet’s eyeline. The younger woman clasped her hands before her and lifted her shoulders in exuberance. “So charming!”
“He’s the King of the Castle of Water, afterall!” The girl shot Elsabet a look. “Didn’t you hear them?” The brunette gestured to where Sebastian had been speaking to the young boy.
“He never comes down out of those mountains! At least not where anyone can see him!”
Sebastian was turning. Shaking hands with people he knew. A bright grin on his face and blue-green eyes dancing with merriment. A white silk shirt was stark against his gold skin. His hair was loose around his face in shining waves to his shoulders.
“He’s magnificent. Look at that hair. Like the mane of a lion!” The girl gushed. “I’d give life to his young.”
Elsabet shot the other woman a dark look. Feeling her eyes flaring red.
The girl backed up a step. Stuttering. Expression fearful.
“Don’t scream. Who are you?”
“Name is Mary, Mum. Daughter of Bronwynn.”
“Charming.” Elsabet said coldly. Forcing her eyes to return to blue. “Who are you to him?”
“Nothing.” Mary sighed heavily. Her entire body frowning. “Wish me was. Wish his valkyrie would stay gone forever so the rest of us could have a go at him.”
“A ‘go’?” Elsabet turned fully to face the girl.
“Well that creature has kept him long enough. And he’d not have any of us. And look at him. Just look! That’s a man that should be with a woman willing to love on him all his days.”
“Perhaps.” Elsabet’s hard look returned to Bast who was maneuvering smoothly around the Ballroom.
A cluster of children surrounded him. And he knelt in the center of them. Laughing as they showered him in hugs. One small child lifting a wooden figure from his pocket to show Sebastian who crooned over it.
A tiny redheaded child bounded through the group to tug his hair. “Uncle, Sebastian?”
He twisted. “Yes, Liasa?”
“Could I have a sweet bread?”
“You’ll have to ask your father, Little One.”
The girl groaned and her shoulders slumped. “He’ll say no. He says I replicate when I’ve had sweets.”
“He may be right.” Bast looked around furtively then whispered to her.
She skipped away cheerfully.
“What do you suppose he said to her?” Mary asked breathlessly.
“No, doubt he told her she could have the tiniest piece. Knowing full well, she’ll snag one as big as her face.”
“How do you know that?”
“It’s his way.” Elsabet said coldly.
“You sound as if you hate him?” Mary was shocked.
“What do you see when you look at him?”
“He is patient with the little ones. Kind even.”
“And generous.” Mary remarked.
“Always that.” A half smile almost pulled at Elsabet’s lips. She crossed her arms over her breasts and the expression died on her face. She tugged her hood lower over her face and ensured the cloak was still too big to accurately frame her figure.
“He was holding this ball to lure her here. You know that?” Mary asked.
“Who?” Elsabet gave her a sharp look.
“He wants her back, I hear.” Mary frowned. Thoughtfully tapping her lip.
“I doubt she wants back.”
“Perhaps she doesn’t have a choice.” Mary met her look solidly. Pointing down at her. “She’s right here.”
Elsabet gasped and turned to run the edge of the Ballroom under the shadow of the pillars, but slammed into a hard chest and a grip on her upper arms.
“I know.” The deep voice vibrated through her in answer to Mary's statement.
“No!” She looked up at him horrified.