Brayden sat against the inner wall of the training facility and watched as Talon put the others through their paces. His hand rubbed absently over his slightly distended stomach. The truth was he was worried his pregnancy was going to make whoever was after him more determined to capture or take out their prize. Worse was that fact he didn’t even know why they wanted to kill him was making him really upset. Yes, he could technically turn into a cat, but it was something he’d never even attempted. Quinlan had forbidden him from trying until after the baby was born—he knew his husband was concerned for the safety of both he and the babe.
A strong part of him wished this wasn’t happening at all. Everything still seemed like a dream. Here he was Consort to the King—and a man at that. He was carrying the child of the king and third in line for the throne of Panthea. This was just the sort of things fairy tales where made up of. Things like this never happened in real life, yet here he was as living proof that it could happen.
Sighing, Brayden stood up and tenderly rubbed his back. The damn thing would ache endlessly if he sat in the same position for too long. Walking around the perimeter of the training yard Brayden stretched out his body. He was tired of being outside, but Quinlan had requested that until the babe was born they shouldn’t be apart—safety in numbers, or something to that effect. Brayden heard Quinlan yelling out instructions as Mylo and Talon sparred. The day was getting hotter by the second. Brayden made his way over to the small communal well to get a drink of water to cool himself down.
“Let us help you highness.” Brayden smiled as one of the servants ran forward and extracted water for Brayden to drink. How sweet, most of the population still didn’t know how to take him—it was nice that these two were willing to try.
“Thank you.” Brayden brought the cup to his lips and grimaced at the bitter taste of the water. For some reason it almost tasted off. Brayden didn’t even have time to call out before he realised what had happened, and he fought like crazy as the darkness came rushing up to claim him. He saw the others were still training. All eyes locked on the two men attacking each other. They didn’t notice other men come in and help carry Brayden away.
This was so not good.
“Where the hell is my husband?” Quinlan stormed furiously around the great hall as yet another search came up empty handed. “How could Brayden have disappeared without one person seeing him being taken away?” Quinlan demanded from everyone present.
Quinlan knew he was just as guilty as any of the others. For crying out loud Brayden was his husband—his to protect, and this had just proven how royally he had screwed up. When he realised Brayden was missing he ordered his children be brought to him, he needed them close by to make sure neither of them were also being targeted. He found it hard now listening to them both sobbing because they missed Brayden terribly. The man they called papa, and come to love just as much as they did Quinlan. He wanted to soothe them, and hold them in his arms until telling them everything was going to be alright. But deep down he didn’t know if he would be telling them the truth. His heart broke as he thought about the many horrific things that could be happening right now to the man who had always owned his heart.
Brayden woke to find someone gently tapping him on the face. His eyes fluttered open, and he confusedly stared into the eyes of a man he’d not seen since his childhood. How was this even possible?
“Father?” Brayden asked in shock as he started at the thin and ragged man who knelt at his side.
“Shhh, my beautiful son,” tears glistened in Thayer Caldwell’s eyes, “I had wished to see my children one last time before I passed on to the great beyond. My wish has been granted.”
“Father, how? You’re supposed to be dead. Quinlan is now King of Panthea.”
“It is a long story, my son. I’ve been kept prisoner here since the day they killed your mother and brother. I was told you had died in the slaughter as well. Are you a dream?”
“Oh, Father,” Brayden slowly rose into a sitting position. He needed his father’s help as the room was still spinning slightly, and that was making him feel nauseous. “Father, Javier still lives. He was rescued the same as I—except he went to live with Ingrid’s family, and Uncle took me.”
His father nodded as he listened. “How have you been my son?”
“I’m now married to Quinlan. I’m the Consort of Panthea.” Brayden said warily.
Again his father nodded. “That would be correct and as it should be. With our kind we need a male partner, if we are to reproduce. We need the added strength that comes with a male partner.”
“Then you know what I am?” Brayden paled and tried to move away. “You know what Javier is?”
“Yes,” sadness filled his eyes. “You’re as I am—a descendant of the ancient ones.”
“Then what about Mother? If you needed a male partner, then who?”
A tear slowly tracked its way down his father's cheek. “Your uncle... Fane was my fated mate.”
“Lord Dalziel?” Brayden spat. “He kept me a prisoner from the time I was ten.”
His father shook his head. “He would have been protecting you. Fane knew what you were. He would have been protecting you because you’re also his son.”
“What?” Brayden all but screamed.
“He sired you. Your mother is his sister. She always knew what Fane meant to me—that we needed to be together. Lillus married me so I could love Fane with my whole heart, and not worry if others would try and take him away from me. And then in the end she was the one who betrayed us. She and her lover decided they wanted to rule in my stead. They sent Fane away and then tried to wipe out our family.”
“What of Ormand?” Brayden asked as he moved close to his father to offer comfort. “Please tell me he’s not my brother.”
“Ormand is the child of Lillus and Orran.” He had been sent away with Fane. “She must have thought she was protecting him by doing so.”
“Father, what are we going to do? How do we get out of here? I need to be with Quinlan when the babe is born.”
His father stared down at his stomach. “How far along are you?”
“I have four more months until the child is birthed. I can’t do this without Quinlan. I’m not strong enough to go through this alone.”
A thoughtful look settled on his father’s face. “Then we’ll have to escape. I’ll make sure to get you back to your husband if it the last thing in this life that I accomplish.”
“Uncle…Fane is still there. He lives just outside the city limits on the family estate. They both do—he lives there with Ormand.”
“I will get you home.” His father repeated.
“Both of us, Father. You must get us both home. Promise me.”