Brayden looked at Cleric Saskia and Mylo, pondering what had just taken place. “Does either of you even like men?” He blurted out without thinking.
Cleric Saskia shook his head. “I have never felt drawn to men, even though I knew from what the seer told me that my mate was to male. Though, it has never bothered me either. He is my mate and that is all there is to it.”
Brayden turned his gaze to Mylo and waited for an answer.
“Yes, I am attracted more to men than I am women. My mother told me from very early on that I would marry a very important man one day; so I never fought it. Mother was a seer, if she said it would be so then that is the way it would be.” He ended with a shrug.
“So how do you...” Brayden let his words trail off, and blushed deeply as he remembered that it wasn’t appropriate to enquire about someone else’s love life; especially when that person was the castle cleric. “I am so sorry... I didn’t mean... I just...”
Quinlan could stop the chuckle that escaped him. By the time he got himself under control he had tears streaming down his face. “I am sorry, but that was so funny.”
Ingrid patted his shoulder, “Sometimes Quinlan, I wonder how we are all going to survive with you as king. You find the most in appropriate things funny.”
“Well I am the king.” Quinlan sat up straighter which was made difficult with Brayden still sitting in his lap. “And don’t you forget it, young lady.” Quinlan burst out laughing again as Ingrid snorted and slapped him up the back of the head.
“I have never claimed to be a lady.” Ingrid declared with a straight face.
“No,” Quinlan sobered up. “You were born to be a warrior. My warrior and it is a job you do exceedingly well.”
Ingrid bowed formally, “Thank you my liege, my king, my friend.”
Quinlan smiled, “I have entrusted to you not only my own safety but the safety of those that I love dearly.”
“And I will not fail you again,” Ingrid said fiercely.
“You have never failed me.” Quinlan argued.
“Yes, I did. I let them take your heart away.” She whispered softly.
Brayden inhaled sharply, “Oh, Ingrid, you didn’t fail him, you were ten. No one could have stopped my uncle from taking me away.”
“I could have done something.”
“You did. You took care of the piece I had to leave behind. You took care of my heart. It was not your fault my uncle locked me away from the rest of the world. He had his own agenda for doing that. When he would drink he would come and talk to me. He told me that I was special. That deep inside me I held the answers. He said he was protecting me from all that would hurt me.”
“Yet, he was the one that hurt you the most.” Quinlan said coldly.
Brayden shook his head. “I know that he was angry when you claimed me, but he was different when it was just him and me.”
“Did he ever...?” Quinlan’s voice vibrated with anger.
“No, never.” Brayden laid a gentle kiss on Quinlan’s forehead. “He never touched me that way.”
“I thought he kept you prisoner?” Ingrid asked
“What?” Quinlan roared.
“Lord Dalziel kept him confined to his rooms in his estate.” Ingrid informed her king.
“I didn’t want you to tell him.”
Ingrid shrugged, “He needed to know.”
“Tell me!” Quinlan demanded.
“Even though I hated being locked away, I knew that he was doing it to keep me safe.” Brayden bit his lower lip in thought. “I can’t figure out why he called us abominations at the claiming, because he always told me that you were my mate. I don’t know what got into him. I both loved and hated him. Does that make sense?”
Ingrid rolled her eyes at the men standing around her. This talk of evil uncles, and finding mates was not getting them any closer to finding out why a price had been put on Brayden’s head. And by whom.
She addressed Mylo, “You say your mother is a seer. Did she by chance tell you anything else of importance before she sent you here?”
“Yes,” Mylo nodded, “Mother told me that through my mistake I will find my heart.” His gaze flickered to Cleric Saskia for but a moment before he went on. “Mother said that I must take my place beside the consort. I am destined to watch over what once was precious to us all. I am to be the guardian of the old ones in their next rebirth.”
“What?” Brayden asked in confusion. “Why are you standing beside me if you are to become a guardian and what the hell are the old ones?” Panic filled each and every word that passed his lips.
“The Old Ones,” Ingrid said softly, so it was only perceptible to those standing close, “are the beings that began our race. We are not as we once were.”
“What do you mean?” Brayden asked.
“She means, the shifter that lays dormant in us all is about to be woken up.” Quinlan looked towards Ingrid and she nodded, “Someone in our time has been born with the ability to shift.”
Quinlan quirked an eyebrow in his direction and smiled at him as though he was clueless. Brayden was confused that is until all the pieces clicked into place, and he understood what Quinlan was getting at. The colour drained from his face.
“Uh-Uh, no way. I am not shifting into a... a... whatever the hell they were.”
“Cats love,” he rubbed his hand over Brayden’s stomach, “somewhere deep inside you there is a big cuddly, fearsome cat just waiting to come out.”
“Fuck me drunk.” Brayden exclaimed in shock.
Quinlan grinned, “Later, love.”