Before I could voice my confusion, Nova appeared at his side, her arm slinging behind his back as her knees bent. “Majesty.” She gazed around the room. “Quite a party.”
I could feel my upper lip curl but set them both into a flat line as her eyes smiled knowingly at me.
Raiden returned, his mouth lowering to my ear. “Let us take a walk. Get some fresh air.”
I didn’t want fresh air.
I wanted my lord away from his wife.
I wanted him to look at me the way he usually did, to rid that cold detachment from his crystalline features.
My stomach swirled, my mind searching, but it found nothing.
I could feel nothing from him, save for the bitter trace of ire.
Shocked, I was easily led away from the pair and delivered outside into a hall filled with masked guests and servers carrying steaming trays of food to and from the ballroom.
Raiden kept walking until we’d reached a verandah, but I didn’t stop.
I continued until the noise was swallowed by the silence found closer to the stairs leading to my rooms. Guards stood at the bottom to keep guests from finding their way to the higher levels, but they stepped aside when they saw me heading for them.
“Audra,” Raiden said. “You cannot mean to sulk in your rooms when our enjoyment, our presence, on this night means so much.”
“I need a moment,” I said, opening the doors to my rooms.
Before I could enter, my wrist was grabbed, and I was spun into a hard chest. “Why?”
He tried to search my eyes, my expression, but the mask and the dipping of my head didn’t allow for it. “Silk,” he said, grasping my chin. “I’ve been patient. I’ve been here, waiting for this grudge of yours to pass, but even if you do not wish to share what upsets you, you must. You must share it with me, not only because I care, but because for better or worse, we are now a team.”
My eyes lifted, stinging pools of water, and his grip loosened at the sight. “I might share this continent with you, but I do not need to share anything else.”
“There was a time I’d have you spilling the inner workings of that beautiful brain,” he murmured. “I miss it. I want it back.”
With nothing to say to that, I just stood there.
And then the air turned malevolent, as if it’d grown a heartbeat born from fury, and Zad appeared behind Raiden.
Sensing it too, Raiden slowly stepped back, his gaze bouncing between us for a stalling exhale. “You’re lost, Lord.” He grinned, menace rolling from the hardness of it. “Turn back.”
Zad grinned in kind. “I’ve spent far too much time in these halls to ever find myself lost, King.”
Raiden’s hands curled, his entire frame swelling.
“Give us a minute,” I said, and when Raiden threw incredulous eyes at me, I added, “Please.”
He stared for a long moment, and then sighed, his shoulder smacking Zad’s on his way past.
Zadicus didn’t move, not from the intended jostling and not after Raiden’s footsteps faded at the bottom of the stairs.
“Well,” I said, my hands spreading. “You corner me and then you fail to talk?”
“You were with him. Again.” Such quick, heart-stopping words wrapped thick in disgust.
There was little point in denying it. He knew, as I’d guessed and feared he might. “I was.”
Dragging a hand over his mouth, he shook his head at the ground, a low laugh preceding his next words. “I knew,” he said. “I knew I was doomed the moment I linked to you.”
“Well, we tried, but it didn’t…” My teeth grazed my lip as I struggled to conjure the best words to use. “It didn’t work.”
At that, his head tilted, and he prowled closer. “It didn’t work?” His tone was accusing, filled with disbelief. “You let a male inside your body, and it didn’t fucking work?” He cut me wide open with his wrathful gaze. “You cannot lie to me, Audra.”
“I am not lying. I found it too…” I paused, releasing words with a rough exhale. “I kicked him out. Not long after we started, I stopped it,” I said, tonelessly. I wouldn’t allow him to make me feel less than. “You knew, you know very well,” I went on. “What I’ll have to do.”
Raiden was my husband. He was the future I was saddled with. It was pointless to plead forgiveness for something I had to, and would likely have to, do again.
“There are many things you have to do, but I fail to see why that is one of them.” After staring at me for breath-faltering moments, Zad cursed, auburn hair falling to curtain his sharp cheek as he turned to the window. “This is a fucking nightmare.”
I wanted to say so many things.
I wanted to ask him to stay. To make sure the king only entered my rooms, my body, when the time came to produce an heir.