Brayden frowned at his father. Everything they’d done to try and escape had failed. Now his father had found out the real reason they were still alive. Just the mere thought of the truth was enough to send Brayden into a panic attack—this couldn’t be real… it just couldn’t
“They can’t have my baby... it’s mine” he said as he wrapped his arms protectively around his stomach. “They’re not taking another piece of Quin away from me... this baby is all I have left. I’ll kill them all before I let that happen.”
“They won’t take your child.” His father laid his arm gently around his shoulders. “We won’t let them.” Brayden never protested as his father wiped away the tear that ran down his cheek.
“Quinlan will come for me he won’t let them keep me.” Brayden shuddered. He had to believe that with all his heart. “Quinlan will find me.”
Thayer hugged him tighter. “I’m sure that he’s out there somewhere right now heading in this direction. Why don’t you tell me about him?”
Brayden knew his father was just trying to distract him from what was happening around them, but a part of him needed to talk about Quinlan; because if he talked about him, then maybe it would work as a homing beacon and bring them back together.
“Quin has always loved me... right from when we were little.” Brayden turned and smiled sadly at his father. “He used to always tell me how when we grew up he was going to take me away and protect me from the world. Protect me from Ormand. Quinlan hated the way Ormand would find ways of hurting me. He always did it in a way that no one would ever find out, but Quin always knew. I never told him, but he always knew.”
Shifting his father rubbed his back as Brayden continued. “Quinlan said I didn’t have to be king when I grew up if I didn’t want to be. He told me we could go away, just the two of us, and live together forever and always.” Brayden sniffled. “I gave Quin my heart from the first moment I saw him in that tree looking over the wall at me. He had heard me crying and wanted to see if I was okay. He climbed down and just held me tight to his body while I cried.”
“Why were you crying?” His father asked quietly.
“Ormand had twisted my arm up behind my body until it was hurting so much. I was only five and Ormand was a lot stronger than me even back then—hell, he’s still a lot stronger than I am. When Ormand came searching for me to hurt me some more, he was surprised to find me with a commoner. We didn’t know at the time that he was Lord Macallister son.” A faint smiled crossed Brayden's face, “Quinlan got so angry, he just stood right up and punched Ormand in the nose. Ormand ran away crying. Then Quinlan told me I belonged to him, and no one was going to hurt me ever again.”
Thayer chuckled, “I remember that day. When asked if he was sorry, Quinlan said no and he would do it again if Ormand continued to be a bully. I was so proud of him for standing up for you.”
Brayden grinned, “Remember when Lord Macallister had to travel and he took Quin with him. Before they left Quin presented me with Ingrid, and told me she was going to be my bodyguard while he was away.”
Thayer laughed into the dank prison cell they occupied. “I remember what a fierce little thing she was. She followed you everywhere, even took to sleeping on your chamber floor of a night. Whatever happened to her?”
“She’s Quin’s personal bodyguard now. She guards him as she once guarded me, except now she sleeps in a room joining ours and not on the floor.”
“Her family were always good people.” Thayer mused.
“Yes, her family raised Javier. He was blinded in the attack. It was only recently that he and I have been reunited.”
“Blinded,” it fell as a whimper from his father’s mouth.
“Yes… but now he can kind of see. After he changed for the first time, his sight came back, but he can’t see any colours. And now, his eyes look like cat’s eyes.” Brayden bit his lower lip in thought. “Javier’s a lot stronger and a lot braver than I am.”
“I can’t believe you’re both still alive. For years they’ve told me you were all dead. That even Fane had been killed upon his return. I thought your mother was now in rule over Panthea. It was only in this past year I’ve learnt the truth. One of the guards told me she was killed on the day that I was captured. She was betrayed by those who had sworn loyalty to her.”
Brayden began to tremble. “I think Uncle Fane killed Mother. I was only half conscious, but I remember him striking her body over and over.” He screwed up his face in concentration. “I think I remember her laughing and him crying.”
“Fane is your father just as much as I am.” Thayer said softly.
Brayden sighed, “It is hard to think of him as such because he has been my uncle for as long as I can remember. I can’t change my way of thinking over night. Remember, he held me prisoner for ten years, which is something that is hard to forget.”
“He was a good man—is a good man. What he did to you, he did out of love. We had promised each other on the nights of yours and Javier’s births that if anything was to ever happen to either of us then the other would take over the care of and protection of the children.”
“I know... believe me, I know that. In my heart I know that, but my head is fighting against that very same knowledge.”
Braden and his father both turned at the sound of the door opening. Brayden gasped as he saw who came to stand before them.
“Hello, cousin... uncle.” Ormand grinned down at them both.
Brayden shuddered at the madness he saw in his cousin’s eyes.