The Love of the Forgotten

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Chapter 8

It took Cade a moment to gather himself as he watched Mae run off into the dark. He had pushed her too far, too quickly. She didn’t trust him fully, and he couldn’t blame her. He hadn’t gone to her intending to kiss her. After Lord Gibbens approached him, saying he could find a way for Mae to disappear from the palace and city to live peacefully with his wife’s cousin, Cade was furious.

He let Lord Gibbens know he had no intentions of ever breaking his promise to Mae and was extremely happy to have found such a magnificent woman to be his wife and serve as queen.

“But not everyone will accept her, your highness. You must see it,” said Lord Gibbens.

“I do not see it. Lady Maela is bold, powerful, and kind. She is intelligent and beautiful. What more do you think the people could expect as my wife as queen?”

“She is not one of us, not of the city or Bevins. Everyone also saw what happened that day in the field. She killed the Bracken girl,” said Lord Gibbens.

“It was not her intent to kill anyone. Lady Henrietta built that power herself. She was trying to kill me or my father or both of us. Lady Maela saved us, and Lady Henrietta’s death was a consequence of her own actions. Would you rather my father or I had perished?”:

“Of course not, your highness, and I believe you, but others talk of Lady Maela as being unnatural and wild. They are afraid of what she might do if she is given more power. Think if we can find a nice out-of-the-way place for her to settle. My wife’s cousin has a good estate in Glynston. She would be closer to her own people and family. She could have children soon and be too busy raising them and attending to her husband to use her magic.”

“What you speak of is ridiculous. Lady Maela would never hurt anyone intentionally. She is much too good for this awful city, and probably for me as well. I will not give her up, and especially not to some relation of your wife who is probably as pompous as she is. You have overstepped, my lord, and I do not want to hear of this again,” said Cade.

Lord Gibbens opened his mouth, but Cade cut him off. “I would not speak of this to the king either. My father is very fond of Lady Maela and already sees her as a daughter. He wishes nothing more than for me to be united with her.”

Cade walked away from the man, looking through the room for Mae. He knew she was probably being introduced to Lady Gibben’s cousin, and he searched for the woman, finding her towards the back of the room.

“Lady Gibbens, where is Lady Maela?” said Cade as he neared her.

“That woman is out of her mind, I think,” said a man Cade did not know. He was ridiculously dressed and groomed. “I am not sure I want her as my wife no matter what you will give to me.”

“Want her as your wife?” asked Cade incredulously. “She is betrothed to me, sir. She could never be your wife, no matter what you want. Now, where is she?”

“I believe she went out the side door, your highness,” said Lady Gibbens. “I was only trying to help her. No good can come of her staying here.”

Cade stared at the woman but said nothing to her. He rushed through the crowd around him to the door.

He found her sitting close to Thad, and for a moment, his jealousy reared its head, making him angry. He took a moment before reacting, seeing that Mae looked upset. He only wished to comfort her. It was just seeing her with her eyes wide and wet while she spun lights around them stirred something within him. As she brought the light close, it illuminated her face, and he was captivated.

She was so good and beautiful. She could be fierce and temperamental and, of course, stubborn, but the essence of her was goodness. He knew he did not deserve her, but he could never let her go if there were a chance she would have him. Drawn to her light, he kissed her gently. He should have pulled away and taken her back inside, but once he had a taste, he could not stop. She responded at first, and it was like some wonderful dream having her in his arms.

When she pulled back and tried to tell him she could never be enough for him, that he held all the power, he knew want she was trying to say, but she was wrong. She had such a hold over him that he would do anything for her. He was well within her power and was happy to let it overtake him.

Once he finally recovered from their kiss and her words, he took off towards her into the dark. He came to the wall, not finding her. He called out for her with no answer, and he realized what she had done. She could be anywhere, though he knew it was probably close by. She would not leave the city and put her family’s lives in jeopardy.

He started to head back to the palace when he heard a scream. He turned back to the wall and yelled her name. A moment later, there was a thud, and he heard Mae cry out. He looked at the wall, desperate to get over it. Whatever was happening, Mae was in trouble. It sounded as if she were hurt.

He turned from the wall and ran to the place, entering the crowded room. He hurried through the throng, shoving people aside as he made for the exit. When he finally got through the double doors, he ran towards the nearest exit to the outside.

“Cade, what is it?” Thad called after him.

Cade turned his head and kept moving. “It’s Mae. Something is wrong.”

He came to the side door and opened it as Thad caught up with him. Turning left towards where he heard Mae scream, he saw her slumped against the large tree. As he got closer, he realized her eyes were closed, and blood covered one side of her dress.

He looked near her to see Lady Bracken looking ill-dressed and out of her mind being restrained by two royal guards. Cade went to Mae and kneeled at her side, not understanding what had happened. He looked her over, scared that she was dead for a moment. His hand went to her cheek, and her eyes flew open. They were wide and fearful.

“Mae,” he said in relief. “It is alright; just stay still.”

She looked up at him, and after a moment, her eyes lost some of her fear as she leaned towards him.

“What happened?” asked Thad loudly, standing by the guards.

“We are not sure, my lord,” said one of the guards. “We were patrolling the wall when we heard a lady scream. We got here to find Lady Bracken moving towards Lady Maela. It looked like she was going to hurt her further, so we grabbed her.”

“I am going to kill her,” said Lady Bracken. “Just like she killed my Henrietta.”

“Your daughter was the cause of her own end,” said Thad.

“No, she was just doing what she was told,” said Lady Breckon as she pulled against the guards.

“What should we do with her, your highness?” asked one of the guards.

Cade looked at the blood coming from Mae’s shoulder before glancing at them. “Take her to the cells for now. I will speak to my father, and it will be decided what is done with her later.”

Cade carefully pulled down the half-torn shoulder of Mae’s dress as she hissed in pain. He looked over the wound. It was fairly deep, and blood oozed out of it.

“We need to get her inside and get a healer here,” said Thad as he bent down. “How did it happen?”

“She has use over the goddess’s power. She threw something at me,” said Mae with her teeth chattering. “I am not sure what it was, but it felt much like what her daughter used that day in the field.”

Cade took off his robe and put it around her. “Can you rise?”

“I think so if you will help me,” said Mae.

Cade looked at Thad, and together they helped Mae stand up. Cade adjusted his robe around her and put his arm around her waist. She leaned into him, and he helped her slowly walk towards the palace.

“I will run and get the healer if you can get her inside,” said Thad.

“Yes, hurry,” said Cade. “Tell him to come directly.”

Thad took off towards the area of the city near the palace as Cade continued with Mae to the side door. He found his father, the Highest One, and Mae’s uncle waiting when he got there.

“Cade, what happened?” asked the king as he moved out of the way for them to enter.

“Lady Bracken attacked Mae. I don’t know how she got into the palace walls or what she was doing. She came across Mae and used her power to injure her. I need to get her to her room.”

“Has the healer been called for?” asked Mae’s uncle as he walked by his niece.

“Lord Aimon ran to get him immediately.”

“Where is Lady Bracken?” asked the Highest One.

“I told the guards to send her to the cells,” said Cade. “I thought we could figure out later what to do with her.”

“Of course,” said the king. “All that matters is Mae at the moment.”

“I believe I will be fine, your majesty,” said Mae weakly. “It is just this cut on my shoulder and a headache from hitting the tree.”

“I’m afraid is not just a cut, Mae. It is serious,” said Cade. “It will need tending to quickly. I think it may have to be sewn up.”

“Can you not heal it, my lady?” asked the Highest One. “Like you did to the trees?”

“I have been able to heal others, but not myself. I am not sure why,” said Mae.

“You are too weak even to try,” said Cade as they neared the stairs. “You just need to rest.”

“I’m going to send for Mrs. Wynn to get some water and supplies to her room,” said the king. “I am sure Mae’s attendant is in her room. I will then move along the banquet to close. I will check on her soon.” He turned back towards the hall to the kitchens.

“I will go back to the banquet as well. I should also go see about Lady Bracken and make sure Lord Bracken is contacted,” said the Highest One. “High Holy One Llewelyn, I take it you will want to stay in the palace for a bit to see about your niece.”

“Yes, Highest One. I do not wish to leave until I know she is well.”

“I expect you to keep me updated on her condition,” said the Highest One before he turned to go back to the banquet hall.

Cade walked to the stairs, holding on to Mae as her uncle stayed with them. As they got to the stairs, Cade picked Mae up completely, hurrying up with her as her uncle followed. She didn’t protest, closing her eyes and leaning against him.

“You must want to be far away from me now,” she whispered.

“I will not leave you. It will be fine, Mae,” said Cade trying to sound reassuring. “All will be well.”

She didn’t respond, and he quickened his pace to her door. Mae’s uncle opened it, and Cade walked in as Mae’s assistant stood up from a chair and made a started noise.

“My lady, what has happened?” Enid followed Cade to the bed, where he put Mae down.

“She was attacked,” said Cade as he moved his robe to check on her shoulder. “She was cut badly and said she hit her head against a tree.”

“A healer is coming, I take it?” said Enid as she looked down at Mae.

“He is, hopefully very soon,” said Cade.

“Then I will get her prepared,” said Enid. “I will need some help if one of you can call for some servants.”

“I can,” said Mae’s uncle as he walked towards the door. “I believe the king has already asked for water and supplies, so some should be along soon.”

Cade looked down at Mae, not wanting to leave her. He picked up her hand as her eyes opened, and she looked up at him.

“Your highness, you will need to leave for a few moments while I change her. You can wait outside the door, and I will tell you as soon as she is prepared.”

“It is fine, Cade,” said Mae.

He squeezed her hand before nodding. “I won’t be gone long.”

She gave him a small smile though he could see she was in much pain by the look in her eyes. It made it even harder to leave her, but he knew he must. He walked out into the hall and paced in front of the door. Before long, two female servants came to the room, one holding a large pitcher and bowl. The other a pile of cloths. Cade stood aside as they walked through.

Mrs.Wynn came up soon after. She stopped as she saw Cade. “Your highness, you must want to change. I am sure your attendant is in your room.”

“Change?” asked Cade. “I couldn’t care less about what I am wearing, Mrs. Wynn.”

“But your shirt, your highness, it is….”

Cade looked down at his shirt to see his chest covered in Mae’s blood. He looked up at her and nodded. “I will hurry down to my room and come directly back.”

He rushed back towards the stairs, passing them to go to his room on the left side of the hall. Opening the door, he immediately took off his crown and sat it on a small table near the entrance.

“Your highness, it is a little early, isn’t it?” said Cade’s attendant as he walked forward. He stopped short as he saw Cade. “On the goddess’s name, what has happened?”

“Lady Maela was attacked and injured. I need a shirt now so I can get back to her. I want to be there when the healer comes.”

“Of course, your highness. Would you like different pants as well?”

“There is no time, just a shirt, please,” said Cade as he took off his shirt and threw it on a nearby chair. He continued to his washroom to find some cool water in his bowl. He plunged his hands in it, washing off the blood there. He looked up at his face to find a bit of blood on the underside of his chin. He rubbed it off with his wet hand before looking down at the pink water left in his bowl.

“She will be fine,” he told himself quietly, feeling fear start to creep up within him. “The healer will fix her up, and after some rest, she will be well.”

He walked back into his main room to where his attendant gave him a simple black shirt. He threw it on as the man walked to pick up the shirt Cade had taken off.

“Burn that immediately,” said Cade as he adjusted his shirt.

“I can probably save it, your highness,” said Cade’s attendant.

“I don’t care. Burn it as I don’t wish to see it again.” Cade hurried from the room back to Mae’s.

As he neared her door, the servants walked out, one carrying Mae’s dress and the other holding the bowl filled with dark pink water and red-stained rags. Cade caught the door before they could close it and walked in to find Mae in her bed with Mrs. Wynn and Enid sitting on either side of her. Mrs. Wynn had a large cloth pressed to Mae’s shoulder as Enid cleaned Mae’s face.

“Your highness, perhaps you should wait downstairs to show the healer up,” said Mrs. Wynn as she turned to look at him.

“No, I wish to be here,” said Cade. “I need to be here. She is to be my wife. My place is by her side.”

Mrs. Wynn stared at him before nodding. “Then come and hold this cloth. I will go down and see about the healer.”

Cade sat down as Mrs. Wynn stood up. He put his hand on the folded-up cloth and pressed as Mae shuddered.

“Have you given her anything for her pain?” asked Cade to Enid.

“She took some strong wine. I am sure the healer will have something,” said Enid as she finished cleaning Mae’s face.

“It is not bad,” said Mae softly. “I’m just very tired.”

“You can rest soon,” said Cade. “Would you like anything, water, food?”

Mae shook her head slightly. “Will you speak with me a bit? It helps take my mind off of things.”

He tried quickly to think of something she would enjoy talking about. “I am hoping we can go to Adaria in a little over a month and a half or so,” said Cade. “That would leave plenty of time to travel leisurely and still make your friends’ wedding.”

“I would love to see my mother and brother. I also promised Sibill I would stand up with her.”

“I will do all I can to see that you do.” He was quiet for a moment as Enid got up, taking her dirty cloths with her. “Perhaps, we could have a blessing on our upcoming marriage at your temple as well.”

She opened her eyes further and looked at him. “You wish to do it now?”

He shrugged. “I hope to give you as much time as you need, but who knows when we can travel back to Adaria. I believe you would like to have some sort of blessing in your temple amongst your people.”

“And you still want to marry me? You still wish me to be your wife?”

“I told you I cannot do with you, and I meant it. I want to keep my promise. I can think of no one else I could want as a wife, Mae. Have you decided against me?”

She sighed slightly. “I was being impulsive in the courtyard, and I shouldn’t have run. I was overwhelmed after what I experienced in the banquet hall and then your kiss. Cade, I don’t think I could take you pulling away from me again. I am afraid this experience will want you to send me away for good.”

He looked down at her with a half-smile. “I know what I said before, not being able to bear to see you suffer. I hate seeing you in pain, but I have found that when you are in trouble or hurt, all I want is to be with you. The real agony is being away from you. I will not change my mind, Mae.”

Mae closed her eyes with a small smile. “Then perhaps a blessing in Adaria would be a good thing.”

“You do not need to worry about it now. When you are well, we will talk more about it. Just know, my mind is made up.” He leaned down closer. “I want you, Mae. I didn’t have the ability to choose my own wife, but if I had, I would have chosen you.”

There was soon a knock at the door, and Enid answered it to let in the healer and Mrs. Wynn. The healer, an elderly man with long white hair, walked over to the bed with his bag.

“Will you please move for a moment, your highness? I need to look Lady Maela over. You might want to wait outside,” said the healer.

“I will go nowhere. If I must, I will turn around or go near the fireplace, but I will not leave this room.”

“Very well,” said the healer. He looked down at Mae. “My lady, is it just your shoulder?”

“I believe that is the worst of it. My head aches a bit from hitting a tree rather hard, but it is manageable.”

“Your back and legs, is there any pain there? Were you able to walk?”

“I do not think there is much pain, and I was able to walk,” replied Mae.

The healer nodded before taking off the cloth over her cut and moving her nightgown further off her shoulder. He bent down and examined her cut. “This is rather deep. What caused it?”

“Someone using the power from the goddess,” said Cade.

The healer made a slight noise. “I have never seen an injury such as this caused by any magic of the goddess. Of course, there was that poor Bracken girl, but there was nothing to be done for her.”

“What can you do to help Lady Maela,” said Cade with slight irritation. “She is in pain and weak.”

“I can clean the wound and sew it up,” said the healer. “I will wrap it up well, but the bandages will need to be changed regularly to avoid infection. Then I will check her head. I will give her a bit of medicine for her pain, though I am afraid it will still hurt when I stitch this up.” The healer opened his bag and pulled out a vial. He handed it towards Enid. “Could you mix this with some wine?”

Enid walked forward and took the vial to a table with a cup and pitcher. The healer took out supplies to stitch Mae’s wound, bandages, and some ointment. Cade walked closer to Mae on her other side.

“You might rethink staying, your highness. This will not be a pleasant experience for her.”

“I will go nowhere,” said Cade. He sat down on the bed next to Mae and took her hand.

Enid handed Cade the wine, and he helped Mae to drink it. The healer poured something on Mae’s wound that made her grimace and move slightly. He waited for a few moments to let the pain medicine take effect.

“Do you have any amusing stories you could tell me, your highness?” asked Mae.

Cade thought for a moment before smiling. “I can tell you about the first time I snuck out with Thad into the city to visit a local tavern.”

Mae smiled, and Cade could tell the medicine was starting to take effect as her pupils were wider, and it looked like she could fall asleep at any time. “I guess it did not go to plan?”

“It did at first,” said Cade as the healer prepared to stitch the wound. “I knew about the tunnel, and by the time I was fifteen, I thought to try it. Thad is almost two years older than me and had more experience in many things. He angered me enough with his teasing one day for me to declare I was going to go into the city.”

Mae gripped his hand tight as the needle went into her flesh. “Where did you decide to go?”

“Someone not near as nice as the place I found you and your friends in,” said Cade. “It was just on the edge of the inner circle of the city, just where the golden row begins and ends. It was small and crowded. I thought I was so cleverly disguised in the simplest clothes I owned.”

Mae jumped a little and made a noise as the healer worked slowly on her wound. “I imagine the simplest thing you own is probably much finer than anything in that area of the city.”

“You are wiser than me. I think the barkeep knew who I was when he saw me, so he kept me close to the bar, speaking with me and offering drinks. Thad disappeared for a moment, saying he saw someone he knew.”

“It sounds like he was up to something,” said Mae quietly. She took quick short breaths.

“Of course he was. Soon a woman came up to me. She was probably three times my age, but she was attractive and dressed more provocatively than I was used to seeing. I admit to being struck dumb a little.”

Mae quietly laughed. “You are not known for your words anyway.”

“No, and at fifteen, I had barely talked to any women or girls beyond the ones I knew. The lady was overly flirtatious, and I just watched her, drinking and not knowing what I was doing.” He held her hand tight as she closed her eyes. He could see a tear fall down her cheek. “She spoke to me for some time before putting down her drink and telling me it was time.”

Mae opened her eyes and looked at him. “Time for what?”

“To go upstairs,” Cade shook his head. “This is probably not an appropriate story to tell you.”

“Now, you have to finish it,” said Mae.

Cade smiled. “I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what she meant at first, but eventually, I got the idea. I was scared to death. I had read a bit and talked with other boys about the idea of it, but I was not ready to even kiss a girl at that point.”

“You hadn’t kissed a girl by fifteen?” asked Mae.

“You are surprised? You had kissed a boy by that age?”

“We are not talking of me,” said Mae as her eyes closed again.

“Well, I had not done anything but speak with a girl by then, and I was terrified. I tried to tell her it was not possible, but I stuttered and sounded a fool.

“She took my arm and started dragging more towards the stairs. I didn’t know what to do. I promised her money anything to let me go, but she insisted I had committed myself. I was ready to smack her hand and run until I spotted Thad close to the stairs laughing. Then I knew it was a joke. I was furious, and I ran out of the place as quickly as I could. It was at least a year before I even tried to sneak out again.”

The healer finished as Mae grunted. He started wrapping her shoulder, and Mae looked at Cade. “That was amusing. I can just see how flustered you must have been.”

“You have seen me in that state plenty for the amount of time we have known each other.”

The healer had Mae sit up slightly with Cade’s help as he checked her head. He declared she only had a bump, and it would not bother her for long.

“Her bandage needs to be changed first thing in the morning and more medicine applied,” said the healer. “I am leaving some more elixir for pain as she will need it. The best thing she can do is sleep. If she feels hot or becomes very restless, send for me immediately. I will check with her mid-morning tomorrow unless I am needed before then.”

Enid saw the man out as Cade looked down at Mae. “You should rest. Is there anything you need before you sleep?”

She shook her head. “I am sorry, Cade. I know this is all my fault. I should never have run.”

He bent down and kissed her forehead. “It is not your fault. That woman snuck onto the palace grounds uninvited. She must have been waiting for you. There is no telling how long she has been hiding out there. Besides, you ran because I overwhelmed you. I told you I would give you time.”

“I am not upset with you. There have always been times I become overwhelmed, and I have a hard time controlling my emotions when it happens.”

“You had a lot of aggravations tonight. I hope you know it was not of my doing. I would never send you off to some idiotic lord.” He kissed her cheek as her eyes closed. “I never want you to leave, Mae.”

“I have no plans to unless you are with me,” she said softly.

He smiled. “Go to sleep. I will keep watch over you.”

“Good night, your highness,” she whispered.

Cade watched her until he was sure he was asleep. He looked up to see Enid looking at him as though she needed to say something. He kissed Mae’s hand and walked with her close to the fireplace.

“The king, Lord Aimon, and High Holy One Llewelyn are out in the hall. They wish to speak with you.” Cade looked back at Mae. “I think she will sleep for some time. I will not leave her side.”

Cade nodded. “I will be back soon. If she does awake, let her know I will not be gone long.” Enid nodded before walking over to sit by Mae’s side.

Cade went out into the hall where Mae’s uncle came forward. “How is she? The healer said he believes she will recover well as long as there is no infection.”

“She is asleep now, and I hope she rests for some time. I want to sit with her for a while longer if one of you will tell me why I was summoned.”

“Lord Aimon said that Lady Bracken was looking for revenge on Mae for her daughter’s death,” said the king.

Cade nodded. “She said she wished to kill Mae as Mae killed her daughter. We know the only one to blame for Lady Henrietta’s death is the woman herself.”

“Of course,” said the king. “But Lord Aimon was also troubled that Lady Bracken said her daughter only did as she was told.”

“I was not able to concentrate well with Mae so injured, but yes, I remember her saying it.”

“Well, I thought I should go speak to the woman to let her explain what she meant. I was hoping she could tell us who told her daughter to attack you and the king,” said Lord Aimon. “As soon as I saw the healer to the palace, I went to the cells.”

“And what did she say?” asked Cade.

“Nothing,” said Lord Aimon. “She couldn’t because she was dead. Guards were taking her body out as I walked in.”

“Dead?” asked Cade. “How? I told the guards to send her to the cells, and we would decide later what to do with her.”

“It seems she broke free from the cells after she was put in them,” said Lord Aimon. “She attacked one guard, knocking him out before taking his sword and killing herself with it.”

“Is this what the other guard there said happened?” asked Cade. “How did she get out of her cell?”

“He didn’t know,” said Lord Aimon. “Or at least that is what he said. The Highest One was in the cells when I went as well, but he said he arrived after Lady Bracken died.”

Cade sighed. “It seems we will not find out who told Lady Henrietta to attack unless Lord Bracken knows and tells us.”

Lord Aimon nodded. “I sent word of his wife’s death, and I plan to speak with him tomorrow.”

“What will you do to make him talk?” asked Cade.

“You could offer him something,” said the king. “Tell him as of now I am considering having him thrown out of the city and even kingdom. If he can tell us information on what his wife meant, I might rethink my actions.”

“You would let him keep his title and place?” asked Cade.

“For a time,” said the king. “He would at least be close, and we could keep sharp eyes on him.” He looked at Thad. “Will you still leave in two days?”

“Of course, your majesty. I need to see what is going on out in the land. Something is not right in Gelardia, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”

“And you are going to Adaria,” said Cade to High Holy One Llewelyn.

“As long as Mae is doing well, I will leave just after Lord Aimon. I need to check on my family and people. I agree with Lord Aimon that something is not right.”

“Then I will find out what I can here,” said Cade.

“You need to be careful, your highness,” said Lord Aimon. “Also, keep watch over Mae. Some in this city would rather see her gone and one who would do anything to keep her for his own uses.”

Lord Llewelyn shook his head. “I probably never should have brought her here, but with her strength of power, the Highest One would have found out about her eventually.”

“I never want Mae to be in danger,” said Cade’s father. “But I am selfishly glad she came to the palace. I have grown so fond of her that I am not sure I could let her leave.”

“She will not leave,” said Cade. “She will rule with me someday.”

Lord Aimon grinned. “It is good to see you have come to your senses. I was afraid you would stay stubborn and ruin the whole thing.”

“I almost did,” said Cade. “Things are still a little precarious. She had a rough night before her injury. It is what caused her to run and end up outside the palace. Lord Gibbens thought he could marry her off to his wife’s cousin. I can’t believe he believed I would find it agreeable.”

“He spoke to you of it?’ asked the king.

Cade nodded. “And Lady Gibbens introduced her to the man. I am sure he acted as if her becoming his wife was almost a settled thing. I need to do a better job of taking care of her.”

“You need to do a better job of showing your true feelings for her to the kingdom,” said Lord Aimon.

Cade’s father looked at him. “I know it is not easy for you. You have always been careful and private in most of your actions, but if you want some of the rumors to stop, you need to leave people in no doubt of how agreeable it is to you that Mae will be your wife.”

“You want me to put on a show for others? You wish me to use Mae in such a way?” asked Cade with a hint of disgust.

“Not a show, and I never want you to do anything to hurt Mae,” said Lord Aimon. “It is clear to me that you care for her, but I know your subtle looks and actions. Others do not. You have seen how other young lovers act, and it is not as if you do not wish to keep her close and show affection. Just do not hold back as you normally would.”

“I don’t think Mae would agree to this,” said Cade.

The king shook his head and sighed. “You don’t tell her what you are going to do, Cade. It is something natural. You have some time now as she will need to recover. Start being even more attentive to Mae. Don’t just follow her around; take her hand more. Smile when you look at her.”

“You can find appropriate ways to touch her and express words to let her know how you feel,” said Mae’s uncle.

Cade crossed his arms. “I must be a horrible young lover if I need advice from a priest.”

“I was not always a priest, your highness,” said Mae’s uncle with a grin as Lord Aimon laughed.

“I get your point, all of you,” said Cade. “I will do better, and I know I must. Now, I would like to go back and sit with Mae.”

“Of course,” said the king. “I will check on her in the morning. Lord Aimon, let me walk you out.”

“I will come to see her as well and let you know what I find out from Lord Bracken,” said Thad.

“I should get back to the temple now that I know Mae is well for the night. I need to pack. When she wakes, let her know I will come to speak with her tomorrow.”

Cade nodded before turning and walking back into Mae’s room. He went to her side as Enid stood up.

“She is still sleeping,” said Enid.

“I will sit with her for a while if there are things you need to do,” said Cade.

“I will get some more cloths and water. Do you need anything? Should I get you some tea?”

“I would appreciate it, thank you,” said Cade.

“Of course, your highness,” said Enid before she left the room.

Cade sat there and watched Mae sleep. He reached out a few times to touch her cheek to make sure she was not growing warm. At one point, she leaned into his touch, and he gently stroked her soft skin. “I will do better, Mae. I will leave no one in doubt of my feelings, especially you.”

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