Slumber Page 37

“I understand.”

Understand what? My head swivelled back and forth between them so much I was sure it was about to spin off. “Understand what?” I snapped in burning frustration.

Finally, Kir turned to me. “I told them about Wolfe being a mage.”

I gasped, “You knew?” Suddenly I felt hopelessly betrayed. What was it that these two men shared? Why was Kir so amiable to Wolfe? Why couldn’t he have told me he and Wolfe were friendly with one another? Why was I the only one that didn’t really know Wolfe?!

Kir nodded. “Yeah, I know. I managed to convince the Hawk’s that we could sell Wolfe to Solom.”

“No!” I yelled, outraged at the idea. “Over my dead body! No!”

The two of them raised their eyebrows at me and then grinned.

What on haven were they grinning about?

I growled in frustration as the truth dawned on me; for a moment I had forgotten my decision to trust Kir, but I wasn’t amused at him taking an opportunity to get rise out of me. “You’re not really going to sell him, are you?”

Kir huffed in indignation. “Of course not. I’m going to let them think I am. They’re sending a messenger to Pharya to have someone come and collect Wolfe. That someone should be here in a few days. For now I want you to rest up for the night, have some food. And then tomorrow when I come to get you, we’re going to pretend Wolfe blasted me with his powers and you escaped, when really I’ll be letting you out the back door.”

“There’s a back door?”

He grinned. “Of course. I’ll have a couple of horses waiting.”

Relief washed over me and I impulsively threw my arms around him, drawing him in for a hug. Kir laughed softly and tugged me tight against him. “Thank you,” I whispered.

“Worth it just for the hug.”

Later, after I too had had a chance to bathe and both Wolfe and I were fed, Kir apologised before leaving and locking us in the bedroom. Wolfe had claimed the armchair so I lay down on the bed, thinking about Kir, about Wolfe, about the horseshoe brand marring Wolfe’s body.

“I was surprised at your vehement refusal to let Kir sell me to the Markiz,” Wolfe suddenly said. “I thought you wanted me dead.”

“I thought you wanted me dead,” I replied honestly, turning to look at him. His handsome face was a mask of complete shock that soon melted into anger.

“What do you mean you thought I wanted you dead?” He snapped.

I was so tired. So sick and tired of my world turning upside down on me again and again. I wanted wildflowers and summers by the stream. I wanted tobacco in the air and lemonade on the tongue. Fighting tears, I turned my back to him, curling up to sleep.

Why would Kir protect Wolfe? Why was there friendship and trust between them?

Why did Wolfe protect me and look out for me?

“Never mind,” I finally answered. “I’m just starting to realise I don’t know you at all.”

“Yes you do,” came his hoarse response. “You just hate that I’m not what you need me to be.”

Trying desperately to ignore that enigmatic comment, I slammed my eyes shut… and dreamed of my little brother’s laughter.

Chapter Sixteen

Kir’s old bed was not comfortable. But I think my not sleeping had more to do with my awareness of Wolfe. I kept seeing that brand on his stomach, the pain in his eyes when he caught me looking at it, the soul deep look he and Kir shared as Kir asked him if he was alright. There was something I was missing. How could a man so committed to the protection of the crown and the principles of honour and loyalty be a charlatan underneath, waiting for his moment to exact revenge?

Oh right. Because his father had been one.

But Kir wasn’t hateful to Wolfe like I was. In fact, if my instincts were right (and who knew these days) I suspected Kir was protective of Wolfe. Why? Again, what was I missing?

Had Haydyn been right all along? Was I wrong to condemn Wolfe for the actions of his father?

My guilt was compounded by Wolfe’s tossing and turning. My whole body trembled with tension as I listened to his soft groans as he sought some kind of comfort in sleep. The need to offer comfort took me by surprise and I had to curl my fingers into fists to stop myself reaching out to him. When at last his breathing evened out, my body did too, relaxing into the lumpy mattress beneath me. With his fall into slumber, I finally found my own.

Too quickly, I was awoken, someone shaking my shoulder. Having been dreaming of Haydyn as I had been most nights, I automatically assumed in my semi-conscious state that she had come into my bedroom again and had some delicious secret to tell me. Last time she’d awoken me this early it was to tell me she’d fallen in love with Matai and had given her virtue to him the night before.

“What now?” I mumbled, swatting at her with my eyes closed. “You with child?”

“What? Rogan, wake up,” an irritated voice snapped at me.

Wolfe.

I shot up on the bed and cracked my head off of his. “Ow.” I winced, my eyes watering as I pulled back. Wolfe’s face hovered inches before mine, his pale blue eyes narrowed in pain. He rubbed at his forehead, already swollen in the upper corner from the cut he took to it yesterday.

“It’s like waking the dead,” he grouched and pulled back.

I rubbed my cheek sleepily and then cried out at the tender pain that shot up my face. “Wow, that hurts,” I whimpered and watched warily as Wolfe’s face turned black as a thundercloud.

“If I see him again, I’m going to kill him.”

No need to ask who he was talking about. “Is it really that bad looking?” I was afraid of the answer.

Wolfe walked over to me slowly and hunkered down to his knees so we were at eye level. The air whooshed out of my body as he reached up tentatively to touch my bruised cheek, his features etched with concern and some other emotion I couldn’t quite decipher. I had the sudden urge to buss into his touch like Haydyn’s cat, Z, when one of Cook’s cakes was in the vicinity. A hot shivery rush of tingles exploded across the top of my skin as our eyes connected. My stomach lurched. I couldn’t breathe. I needed him away from me.

Clearing my throat, I knocked his hand away and stood up, brushing past him, almost knocking him on his ass. There was a mirror above the fireplace, dirty and broken, but it had enough of a reflection to show the red and purple swelling on my right cheek. Beautiful.

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