“We are to exchange love stories?” He scoffed. “Shall I braid your hair afterward?”
I flicked my hair over my shoulder. “I prefer braids for fighting. If you must tug it, though, I encourage my lovers to grab my hair however they please.”
Something shadowed his eyes, but then he shook his head and sank to the disgusting orange and brown flecked floor. “Will I be released after this little game? Or are there more to come?”
He would never be free.
I chose to keep that to myself, though, and instead, I tipped a shoulder. “There’s only one way to find out.”
His knees rose, and he clasped his hands between them, dusting his thumbs over each other. They were putrid, covered in days of filth and patches of blood. The guards had given him the opportunity to bathe yesterday, but he’d refused once it’d become apparent they’d all monitor him closely.
Pride was a fickle beast.
“In all honesty, there’s nothing fantastical about it. I met Casilla some months ago while I was walking home from work. I’d dropped my canteen, and she chased after me to hand it back. I wanted her instantly, and so she began warming my bed. I asked her to marry me when I found out she was carrying my babe.” I sucked in a quiet breath at that. “She miscarried a couple of months ago, but I promised her we’d still wed. She…” He paused, smiling at his hands like a lunatic. “She has this warmth, you know?” He looked up at me then. “No,” he laughed out. “No, I don’t suppose you would know. You’re one of the coldest bitches I’ve ever encountered.”
“Mind your tongue, or I’ll remove it.”
Arrogance rolled off him. He might have been seated upon the floor of a soiled cage, but the way his eyes gleamed and his words rolled free of his mouth showed he was still very much the high royal. A prince. A king. And whether he had access or knowledge of his powers, he always would be. “Is it not the truth?”
Ice unfurled into heavy stones inside my stomach, yet I said nothing.
Releasing a breath, Raiden looked ahead at the opposite wall. “Casilla has this way of making you feel like you’re the entire world. As though she was created to do nothing but orbit around you.”
“You want a female to serve you?” That was not the prince I knew. Then again, I didn’t really know this male all too well. Not as I thought I once had.
“No,” he said, thinking about it. “Though there is something to be said for being loved in that way. Complete devotion. Utter surrender. Refusal to quit.”
I licked my teeth, piercing my tongue with my canines. Blood infiltrated my mouth, and I smeared it over my teeth, then swallowed. “It sounds to me like you love the way she loves you.” I clucked my tongue. “So selfish.”
“I love her for her giving, pure heart. I love her for many reasons, but those are the most important.”
It took considerable effort to keep from gagging. I wanted to grab the pail next to the table and hurl into it.
Staring at me, he grinned, displaying a row of white teeth. Like mine, the tips of his canines were sharper and slightly longer than most humans. “Your turn.”
I knew he merely wanted to see what would become of him after this. There was no way this creature who was into selfless love would give a damn about a cold bitch queen’s story.
But he would.
I would make him care if it was the last thing I did.
19 summers old
“Honestly.” We rolled into a patch of wildflowers, our breaths coming heavy. “I don’t know why it took me so long to work out that sex and training go together better than cheese and wine.”
Berron huffed, laughing as I tucked a hand behind my head. “That’ll teach you for not listening to me.” After some moments, he sat up and plucked a hidden mushroom, offering it to me.
“No, I’ll be a stick of jelly for hours if we rut anymore.” Bluedot mushrooms heightened the senses and, in my case, made me want sex.
“I love it when you say rut.”
Growling, I shoved his hand away. “When are you meeting Klaud?” Klaud was his other lover, a soldier, and didn’t appreciate the trysts Berron and I so often found ourselves in. Training did make it more intense, and the release was definitely appreciated, though Klaud thought it ridiculous.
I thought he was a jealous idiot and often told him so. I had no interest in Berron’s heart, much to his chagrin when we’d first began taking our training sessions to this level. My interests lay only in his sword-wielding skills. Both swords.
Apparently, when one loved another, they did not like the concept of sharing. That was Klaud’s problem, not mine. And it never would be.