Ingrid had left the guarding of the king and his consort to the warriors that were in attendance in the throne room. She quickly made her way through the halls until she came upon the one person that she sought.
“Javier, might I have a word with you?” Ingrid watched the young man place his book upon the table before he turned sightless eyes upon her.
“Yes, Mistress Ingrid,” Javier said with a smile. His hand reaching out towards where he knew Ingrid would be standing.
Ingrid knew that she was going to have to confide in Brayden and Quinlan; that another of the Caldwell line was still alive. Ingrid’s family had kept Javier a secret for the past ten years. But if the seer was right, then not only could Brayden hold the shifting gene, maybe Javier did too. Or maybe; it was Javier that was born with the shifter gene and not Brayden at all.
“Are you taking me to meet my brother now; I have waited a long time to be with him.”
“Yes you have little one.” Ingrid walked over and clasped his hand. “Come now we must prepare you for meeting Brayden.”
“Do I look okay?” Javier ran his hands over the front of his shirt straightening out the wrinkles.
“You look beautiful, my prince. Your brother will love you no matter what.” Ingrid was rewarded with a beautiful smile. It saddened Ingrid that for a young man that couldn’t see; Javier had the most stunning eyes that Ingrid have ever seen; they were of the palest blue; made all the more striking as they were framed in thick, dark lashes.
“Will he still want me knowing that I cannot see?” Uncertainty filled Javier’s words.
“You are his blood Kin; of course Brayden will want you.”
“Then why hasn’t he sought me out before now? It has been ten years Ingrid. Ten years, where he has forgotten about me completely. I lost our parents too that day. How could he just walk away and leave me?”
Ingrid sighed heavily, “There were reasons that he could not come to you, my prince. But that is for your brother to tell.”
“I just...” he fidgeted nervously. “What if he thinks I am broken now that I cannot see?”
“He won’t.” Ingrid smoothed a hand down over Javier’s back. “I promise; Brayden will be excited to see you.”
“What if he doesn’t remember me? We were only children back then. I must have changed so much.”
Ingrid pulled Javier into her arms and hugged him gently. “I have no doubt that your brother will know exactly who you are. You are almost his mirror image.”
“Oh.” Javier’s lips formed a perfect ‘O’ in surprise.
“Come now; you have waited long enough to be kept from Brayden any longer.”
“Will Quinlan be there?” Javier asked as he placed his hand in the crook of Ingrid’s arm.
“Yes; you know that he is king now. He and your brother have taken their vows this month past. He never wanders far from Brayden’s side. They have been parted for too long.”
“Do you think that one day I might find someone? Someone that will love me like that. Love me unconditionally.”
Ingrid patted his hand as they walked. “Of course I do. Some young lady will catch your heart soon enough.”
“Man,” Javier corrected with a blush, “I would like to wed a man. I think.”
“You’re not sure?” Ingrid asked.
Javier’s blush deepened. “I think that men smell better; there is one that comes to my rooms that smells so wonderful. He never speaks; he just sits there and holds my hand.”
Ingrid frowned and wondered just who was visiting the prince without permission. Who even knew that he was there? “He doesn’t speak?”
Javier shook his head. “The first time I met him was out in the garden; Alexis had taken me out for a walk. The boys ran off playing. When she followed them he came and took my hand and led me to a bench. He just listened while I talked.” Javier smiled, “Every day since he has come to my rooms and sat with me. Not always for a long time. He has never missed a day though.”
“Has he come today?”
“No; but he will. I am sure of it.”
“Javier, this worries me. This man that comes to you and doesn’t talk.”
“Do not be afraid,” Javier chuckled, “He would never hurt me.”
“How do you know?” Ingrid asked.
“I just do.”
Brayden stared open mouthed at the person that walked into the room with Ingrid. It took all of a moment for recognition to fall into place before he launched himself across the room.
“Javier! Javier! How are you here?” Tears streamed down Brayden’s face as he pulled his brother into his arms.
Javier froze; unsure of what to do with the sobbing man in his arms. “It is okay brother, we are together now.”
Quinlan raised an eyebrow at Ingrid.
“My family has taken care of Javier for a very long time.” That was all the answer that she gave.
“I am blind.” Javier added; his hands coming up to map the contours of his brother’s face. “I have missed you Bray.”
“I have missed you too. Where have you been? Why didn’t you come for me?” Javier demanded.
“Uncle Dalziel had me. I wasn’t allowed out of his estate. I would have found a way to be with you if I knew that you were alive.”
“You don’t think that I am broken. That I am of no use because I am blind?” Javier asked; his voice trembled.
“Never!” Brayden said in outrage.
Javier turned as a gasp sounded nearby. Taking a deep breath; he smiled, and turned. Somewhere in this room was his silent friend.