Chapter 36 - Emmalyn
Emmalyn watched as the two brothers squared off. She had assumed Kell would ease into his questions, but that wasn’t what he did. Kell was frustrated, she understood that, but he didn’t mince his words. His accusation stunned both her and Thane. His brother recovered quicker than her, however, and his glare showed them both exactly what he thought of Kell’s question. All she could do was stand back and watch, waiting to see how this played out.
“You think I am behind the assassination attempts on Emmalyn?” Thane thundered as he glowered at Kell. “Are you fucking serious?”
Thane was always the quieter brother, Kell had recently told her. He thought things through in his head thoroughly before speaking. He was softer, and mostly stayed on the sidelines, letting Kell take the lead. But not now. His fury was evident and he wasn’t backing down. He faced Kell head on and looked ready to attack her husband.
“A royal is behind the attack. That much is clear. You are the only royal it could be,” Kell challenged defiantly.
“I have been by your side all our lives. I have supported you in all ways I could over the years. We are brothers. Brothers do not betray each other,” Thane countered just as angrily.
“You are in a position to know my every move, and you are someone Seraphine would romantically involve herself with,” Kell pushed.
“I know your moves because you keep me abreast of things,” Thane shouted as he raised his arms in the air then dropped them in frustration. “And I can’t stand Seraphine. The thought of even being in the same room with her makes me nauseous.”
Kell narrowed his eyes and stepped closer to his brother. “You are the second born. If I die you take my place. All the power will go to you. You will then decide the fate of all the lands.”
Thane huffed out a breath, indicating how ridiculous he thought that idea was. “When have I ever gave you any indication I wanted that power?”
“Everyone wants that power,” Kell declared. “It is human nature to want what isn’t yours.”
“You think I want to be in the spotlight? You think I want to be the one to decide the fate of our world? You are out of your fucking mind,” Thane growled. “I’m good with books and numbers. I can’t fight worth a damn, nor do I want to. You were made to rule. You are a true warrior. The people know you because you show your face. You keep order in the land by warring against those that go against you. I could never do what you do, nor would the people accept me.”
“You are my brother, they would accept you,” Kell snorted.
“Not if I didn’t earn my position. The people follow you, if I take your position through force, they would hate me,” Thane snorted right back.
“But you would have my warriors behind you. It wouldn’t matter what they think.”
Thane huffed again and rolled his eyes. “Your warriors wouldn’t follow me. There would be mutiny.”
Kell scowled and changed tactics. “You don’t like Emmalyn. It is clear you are wary of her.”
“Because in all your years you’ve not once shown an ounce of compassion towards anyone you’ve taken to your bed. Yet suddenly you’ve found someone you love. You’ve married her for god’s sake. It is not like you. I wonder if she’s weaved a spell around your heart,” Thane grumbled.
Kell lost some of his hostility, and his shoulders slumped at his brothers words. “She has changed me. I love her. I love her like I love no other. I fell for her the minute I laid eyes on her, and the thought of someone taking her from me would destroy me. I need her. I need her as much as I need air,” Kell admitted, bringing tears to her eyes.
Emmalyn couldn’t keep her distance any longer. She rushed from the tree line and ran straight at Kell. He realized her intent a minute before her tiny body hit his, and he braced for it. She slammed into him at full force and he caught her, wrapping his powerful arms around her and holding her tight. She needed his touch after his heartfelt declaration.
“I see now why you are accusing me,” Thane sighed, drawing both their attention back to him. “Your love is clear. I still don’t know her, but I know you brother. If you feel so strongly about her I will ignore my reservations and accept her. She is family now.”
Kell dropped his head on her shoulder and his whole body relaxed. “Thank you,” he huffed, and his tone of voice told her the argument was over. “I don’t know what to do,” Kell sighed after a moment. “It makes no sense. There are no other royals it could be.”
Emmalyn glanced at Thane and saw he was deep in thought. “I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Could a cousin open the portal? There must be male cousins in the royal lines that could be behind all this.”
“No,” Kell grumbled, as he swung her to his side so he could face his brother fully. “Only a royal that has at one time worn a crown has the ability to open the portal. It must be a royal themselves or a direct descendant.”
“So it could be the young boys of the Larkinge Kingdom,” Thane declared. “They are true royals regardless of their age.”
“But neither would be dating Seraphine,” Kell frowned.
“No, but that is where my cousin theory comes in. Cousins are royals in word only, but hold no power. If one of them is bedding Seraphine, they could also be manipulating the boys and forcing them to do their bidding.”
Kell rubbed the back of his neck in obvious frustration. “So we head to the Kingdom of Larkinge and question the boys.”
“It’s the only other scenario that makes sense,” Thane pushed.
Kell nodded and it looked like the decision was made. He leaned down and stroked her cheek, gaining her attention. “It looks like we ride my wee warrior.”
Emmalyn smiled up at him. “It does. I’m sorry you aren’t getting the answers you desire, but I am happy your brother isn’t behind this.”
Kell’s body relaxed as he pulled her to his chest once more. “Fuck, me too,” he admitted.
When Kell made a move to head back, Thane caught his arm and stopped him. Emmalyn looked up at Thane and realized his gaze was locked on her.
“I am sorry my actions have caused you to feel uncomfortable around me. I never meant to cause you any undue stress. I love my brother and I worry. Please accept my apology and know I will never again give you cause to doubt me. You are family, and you are now my sister. I will treat you as such from now on,” he declared.
Emmalyn smiled and whispered the only words she could. “I understand and I forgive you.”
Then Thane surprised her by pulling her away from Kell and wrapping his arms around her. He was leaner than Kell and a bit shorter, but his hug was just as fierce. She could feel his acceptance, and it warmed her heart towards him.
“I will love him always,” Emmalyn whispered into Thane’s ear. “I promise I will never give you any cause to doubt that.”
Thane turned his head and kissed her cheek before letting her go. His smile was brilliant as he looked at the two of them.
“You were made for each other,” he stated, before he turned and disappeared back into the forest.
“I never should have doubted him,” Kell sighed as Behr stepped into the clearing.
“His actions gave you cause to,” Behr grunted. “And you need to be thorough. You were right to question his motives.”
Kell nodded. “He understood why I had to do it.”
“He did,” Behr immediately agreed. “And he doesn’t hold it against you. He knows the position you are in, and he knows how close the two of you are. It is a good thing. You will see him acting extremely differently now. Things will be well.”
Emmalyn was about to comment when Torin came crashing through the clearing. His eyes were hard, his posture was stiff, and it let them all know he was about to give them some bad news.
“Five of our warriors just rode up,” Torin growled. “They were men left at the Kingdom. They come bearing bad news.”
“What news do they bring?” Kell demanded.
“Three villages surrounding the castle were burned several days ago,” Torin declared. “The warriors left immediately to seek us out.” Emmalyn gasped at the same time Kell’s eyes darkened in fury.
“The people?” Kell pushed.
“Thankfully are fine,” Torin relayed. “Some minor injuries is all.”
Kell dropped his head in relief and Emmalyn pushed into his side. She wished to give him words of comfort, but knew now wasn’t the time.
“The people have been moved into the castle and the injured have been treated. However, I can only assume this is just the beginning. Things will most likely escalate.”
“Agreed,” Kell grunted. “Someone wants me to stop digging. They are purposefully drawing me home.”
“It appears so,” Torin admitted. “I don’t like it. They want you there for a reason and you are falling right into their trap.”
“Maybe so, but I refuse to stay away when my people need me. They are my first priority.”
“And Emmalyn?” Behr questioned.
“She will remain by my side. No one will get to her,” Kell growled.
“I will do everything you ask of me,” Emmalyn interrupted. “You need not worry.”
“I know sweetheart,” Kell assured her. “But I agree, whoever is doing this wants me there. I may well be riding into a trap.”
“You don’t have a choice,” she frowned.
“I know,” Kell acknowledged. “Which is why we all must be extremely alert. I don’t want us walking into any surprises.”
Behr nodded. “I will ready the men so we can be on our way immediately.” Then both he and Torin moved away.
“Are you worried?” Emmalyn asked hesitantly.
“No,” Kell growled. “Whoever is doing this will get sloppy. By heading back they will undoubtedly think they have me right where they want me.”
“And you disagree?”
Kell grinned, but it was a savage grin, and it gave her pause. “They underestimate me. They also have no idea that we are married now. My powers have increased, and I am deadlier now than I ever was. You can believe I will use everything at my disposal to see they fall.”
Emmalyn looked at his fierce expression and rigid posture and knew he spoke the truth. She was staring at the Elemental Prince, and she shivered. He was someone not to be messed with.