"Do you really believe that?"
"Yes. I think ... I think that not everyone is out to get us or to use us." When Sabine only made a scoffing noise and kept her head in her hands, Lanthe added, "Granted, every being we've come into contact with in the last five hundred years has, without fail, tried to screw us over. I don't know, though. Maybe the demon's truly an honorable guy. What if he's one in a million? What if he would take back the hurt if he could?"
Sabine peered up. "One in a million?" If Rydstrom was, then Sabine might not have been completely in the right with her actions. He had warned her about how he would lose control. Still, how was she supposed to know what would happen? She'd never done anything with a demon before! "He didn't know I was a virgin," she admitted.
"Oh, Abie, no."
Maybe I shouldn't have head'butted him, or slapped him, or . . . "And I left instructions for him to be punished." Her infamous temper had gotten away from her yet again. "For him to be bathed. Thoroughly. It might not be too late to take it b-"
Without warning, the door to her chamber opened.
Omort entered. "Leave us," he told Lanthe. "At once!"
She had no choice but to hurry out, casting Sabine a fearful expression before she left them alone.
Sabine sat upright, apprehensive to be anywhere near him after that earlier show of power.
He paced the room, his cape snapping. "Your covenant . . . broke." When he faced her, his brows drew together. "I feared you would enjoy it. With him."
"Do I look like I enjoyed that?"
"I am sorry you had to go through it. You will not
She exhaled with impatience. "We can't be sure I'm
"The demon's seal is no more?" When she hesitantly nodded, he said, "Then another female can breed with him."
As Rydstrom's fated mate, Sabine was the one female who could bring forth his seed the first time. But now that that seal had been broken, Rydstrom could impregnate other females.
"You will not return to him," Omort said. "Lanthe or Hettiah will take over your duties-once she has healed."
"Hettiah shouldn't be alive right now. She almost got both of us killed."
"She has been punished accordingly."
"Why would Hettiah do this with the demon, any-way?" Yes, he could get her with child now, but... "The heir has to be mine. I am Rydstrom's queen." Saying that out loud shook her. I'm the true queen of this castle. And he's my . . . husband.
Omort gazed away. "The child only has to be of his blood."
"The rage demons won't recognize any but a legitimate heir."
"I might have . . . misspoken about the prophecy.
The boy need only be born from him."
Misspoken? "What exactly do you know about how he will unlock the well?"
Omort studied her face with those eerie yellow eyes. "I want to trust you. I need to. These hours have been agonizing to me."
"You plan for us to rule together, but you tell me nothing."
"I didn't want to put undue pressure on you." He twisted his ring. Lying to me. "The fact is that Ryd-strom's son will be sacrificed."
"What did you say?"
"His firstborn child will be given to the well-"
"You mean cast into it?" She wove an illusion over
her face as her eyes darted for a waste bin in case she vomited.
Sabine hadn't particularly wanted a demon son-the only reason she would ever have done this was for the power-but she'd be damned before someone harmed her offspring. Demon halfling or not.
"This is why I didn't tell you. I didn't think that you'd understand what had to be done. You're not as ... strong as you act."
Not as evil. He was assessing her reaction. If she was somehow pregnant from that debacle and became pro-prietary about the child, Omort would just punish her,
and still kill her son. Any sign that she might care for
her babe would be seen as weakness.
"What makes you think that Hettiah will have an
easier time seducing him than I did?" Sabine didn't
even bother mentioning Lanthe in this context. She
would never do this.
"The demon will be given an aphrodisiac."
Over my dead body. "Because the heir doesn't have to
"Exactly. Sabine, open your thoughts to me."
"Never, Omort. I'll tell you what I'm thinking. I couldn't care less about what I had to do to get the power from the well," she lied, meeting his gaze without hesitation. "But I am infuriated that you didn't believe you could trust me with this. Why?"
"Sabine, everything hangs in the balance."
He stood to pace once more. "Cadeon has taken up the charge. He has the Vessel and proves unrelenting. I wasn't going to worry about him since Cadeon has failed in every attempt to redeem himself. But in this, he continues to succeed. Because the very Vessel he's to deliver to Groot seems to be aiding him in her own
"Rydstrom said that Nïx has vowed the sword can kill
you. Is this true?"
Omort fiddled with his ring, even as he met her eyes. "No. Of course the sword won't work. Nïx isn't infallible."
He's lying'. Breathe . . . breathe . . . "You're not being truthful with me."
His eyes skittered over the floor. "It is . . . possible." This explained why he'd been so unstable! "I need to trust you. Can I trust you?"
Never! "Of course, brother." He can be destroyed!
"This is one of the reasons I seek Nïx in particular," he said. "So I could question her about the weapon."
To disguise her excitement, Sabine acted indignant. "Why didn't you tell me this? You keep critical secrets like this from me? This is a vulnerability we can't afford-especially not now. Especially since Cadeon might actually succeed."
The ne'er-do-well brother of Rydstrom was that close to having the means to give death to the deathless. How to use this information? How to exploit this vulnerability in him?
"I should have confided in you." Omort stopped in front of her, then reached for her face, murmuring, "I love you."
She jerked back. The last of her temper-gone. "You don't love me. You don't know what that is!"
What was worse, Sabine didn't know if she had a grasp on it either.
If Omort had been sleeping with one of his sisters, it hadn't been Sabine.