Brayden looked toward Cleric Saskia, and Mylo, pondering of exactly what had just taken place. “Does either of you even like men?” He blurted out without thinking what he was going to say through.
Cleric Saskia shook his head. “I can honestly say I’ve never felt drawn to men before. Even though I’ve always known from what the seer told me my mate would be male. Though, the fact has never bothered me either. He’s my mate, and that’s all there is to it.”
Brayden turned his gaze to Mylo and waited for an answer.
“Yes, I’m attracted more to men than I am women. My mother told me from very early on I would grow up and marry a very important man one day. So I never fought against my attraction to men. Mother was a seer, if she said it would be so then that’s the way it would be.” Mylo ended with a shrug.
“So how do you...” Brayden let his words trail off, and blushed deeply as he remembered sometimes it wasn’t appropriate to enquire about someone else’s love life. Especially, when that person was the castle cleric. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean... I just...”
Quinlan chuckled beside him. By the time he got himself under control tears streamed down Quin’s face. “I’m sorry, but that was so funny.”
Ingrid patted his husband’s shoulder, “Sometimes, Quinlan, I wonder how we’re 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. Brayden almost fell off his lap. “And don’t you forget it, young lady.” Quin burst out laughing again as Ingrid snorted and slapped him up the back of the head.
“I think everyone here knows I’ve never claimed to be a lady.” Ingrid declared with a straight face.
“No,” Quin sobered up. “You were born to be a warrior, my warrior, and it’s a job you do exceedingly well.”
Ingrid bowed formally, “Thank you, my liege, my king, my friend.”
Quinlan smiled, “I’ve entrusted to you not only my own safety, but the safety of those I love dearly.”
“And I won’t fail you again,” Ingrid said fiercely.
“You’ve never failed me.” Quin 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. He thought whoever killed my family was coming after me next.”
“I could have done something.”
“You did. You took care of the piece of me I had to leave behind. You took care of my heart. It wasn’t your fault my uncle locked me away from the rest of the world. He had his own agenda for doing that. Whenever he got melancholy he’d come and talk to me. He told me I was special. That deep inside me I held all the answers. He said he was protecting me from everything set on hurting me.”
“Yet, he’s the one who hurt you the most.” Quinlan said coldly.
Brayden shook his head. “I think he honestly wanted to protect me—from what I’m not sure. But he had my best interests at heart. He just went about it the wrong way.”
“Did he ever...?” Quinlan’s voice vibrated with anger.
“No, never.” Brayden laid a gentle kiss on his husband’s forehead. “He never touched me that way, nor did he ever beat me. Whenever I was hurt it was by Ormond’s hand.”
“I thought you’re uncle kept you prisoner?” Ingrid asked
“What?” Quinlan roared.
“Lord Dalziel kept him confined to his rooms in his estate.” Ingrid informed her king, and Brayden frowned.
“I didn’t want you to tell him.” Brayden said softly.
Ingrid shrugged, “He needed to know.”
“Tell me!” Quinlan demanded.
“Even though I hated being locked away, I knew he was doing it to keep me safe.” Brayden bit his lower lip in thought. “I can’t figure out why he stood beside Ormond at the claiming, the closest I can think is my cousin forced him to be there. My uncle always told me you were my mate. I loved him for keeping me safe, and I hated him because he kept me away from you. Does that make sense?”
Ingrid rolled her eyes at the men standing around her. “This talk of evil uncles, and finding mates isn’t getting us any closer to finding out why a price had been put on Brayden’s head. And by whom. She then addressed Mylo, “You say your mother’s a seer. Did she by chance tell you anything else of importance before she sent you here?”
“Yes,” Mylo nodded, “Mother told me through my first mistake here I would find my heart.” His gaze flickered to Cleric Saskia for but a moment before he went on. “Mother also said I must take my place beside the consort. I’m destined to watch over what once was precious to us all. I’m destined to be the guardian of the Originals in their next rebirth.”
“What?” Brayden asked in confusion. “Why are you standing beside me if you’re to become a guardian, and what the hell is an Original?” Panic filled each and every word that passed his lips.
“The Originals,” Ingrid said softly, so it was only perceptible to those standing close, “are the beings who began our race. They’re recorded as being descended from the Gods themselves. We are not as we once were.”
“What do you mean?” Brayden asked.
“She means the shifter, which currently lays dormant in us all is about to be woken up.” Quin looked toward 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 until all the pieces suddenly clicked into place, and he understood what Quinlan was getting at. Cold seeped through him at the implications of this conversation being true.
“Uh-Uh, no way. I’m not shifting into a... a... whatever the hell they were.”
“Cats, love,” Qin rubbed his hand over Brayden’s stomach, “somewhere deep inside you there’s a big cuddly, fearsome, cat just waiting to come out.”
“Fuck me drunk.” Brayden exclaimed in shock.
Quinlan grinned, “That will come later, love. Though I prefer us both to be sober so we can enjoy it more.”