Slumber Page 70

“Lady Rogan?”

For once I didn’t argue with the title. “Wolfe,” I responded in a low voice, glancing around to make sure no one was close enough to overhear. “Marriage?” I asked, raising my eyebrow indignantly.

He exhaled heavily, sensing my tone. Wolfe dismounted and towered over me, standing far too close to me than propriety allowed. “We made love, Rogan,” he hissed in my ear, “I took your virginity. We have to marry.”

I flinched back. “No.” I told him stubbornly, crossing my arms over my chest and glaring into his face. All the reasons I had for not marrying him flew out the window. The only one prickling my pride was… well… he hadn’t asked me!

In his usual exasperation, Wolfe rolled his eyes, scraping a hand through his thick hair. “Rogan, don’t do this.” He glanced around, catching Chaeron’s eye (who quickly looked away, whistling under his breath as if he hadn’t been trying to eavesdrop). “We’ll discuss this later.” He eyed me sternly.

I harrumphed, “There’s nothing to discuss. I’m not marrying you.”

And like the society girl I tried to tell myself I was nothing like, I flounced away in a dramatic air of petulance and mounted Midnight without looking at Wolfe again. I kept seeing that smile he’d given me when I’d first approached him. It made me want to throw all my silly reasons out the window! I was such a befuddled mess. With no one to confide in without Haydyn, it seemed I was incapable of processing my emotions, sorting out the truths from the excuses. I smiled wearily at the Lieutenant as we set off through Raphizya.

Once Haydyn was administered the cure I could think about my feelings for Wolfe. Talk them over with her. I just needed time.

***

Wolfe wasn’t as convinced. He clipped orders at me like I was one of his men and snapped at me when I dared to wander away from the Guard when we took our lunch break. My whole body felt wrecked with the tension between us, and my chest ached every time I saw that damnable hurt flickering in his eyes.

When we crossed the border into Sabithia and began making our way through Lumberland, I found my head thumping from overuse. Despite my resolve to put aside my worries over Wolfe until we returned to Silvera, all the questions kept creeping back, mixed in with my anxiety over reaching Haydyn. I was still no closer to an answer when we came upon the village of WoodMill again. Wolfe sidled his horse next to Midnight.

“Lieutenant Chaeron, perhaps you can speak with Mr Dena again about accommodation for Lady Rogan.”

Chaeron grinned at Wolfe’s pointed dismissal and trotted off ahead of the Guard, dismounting as Jac Dena came out of his factory to greet him. I felt tense as ever, my body longing to lean across the distance between Wolfe and I.

“Rogan,” Wolfe said so softly I had to look at him.

Expecting to see pain and panic in his features I was surprised to see angry determination. I knew that look. Wolfe was ready to do anything to get what he wanted. I jerked back a little from him. “What?” I asked warily.

“Not marrying me… that means some time in the future you’ll marry someone else. I’ll marry someone else.”

“I have no intention of marrying anyone, Wolfe. That’s what I was trying to explain earlier.”

He nodded, as if he was actually listening to what I was telling him. “But I’ll marry, Rogan. I must, for the title. And I want a family. Could you stand to watch me marry someone else, Rogan?” His voice deepened. “Because I will.”

Now I was the one panicking. A deep, ragged cut splicing my chest open. I thought how painful it had been when I’d suspected he’d bedded Winter. If he married, I’d have to go through that pain every single day. “Why are you doing this?!” I snapped. “It’s unkind.”

Wolfe searched my face for a long moment and then he nodded. “You’re right. I apologise. I just wanted to prepare you for the future.”

Snapping his stallion’s reins, Wolfe took off to meet up with Chaeron and Dena, leaving me on Midnight, hyperventilating at the thought of Wolfe with someone else. Mayhap he’d marry Winter.

I struggled to draw breath.

***

Although the Dena’s were on their best behaviour, after their sons, Leon and Jac Jnr’s, performances last time, I pushed my food around my plate, not able to eat under the heavy emotional weight I carried. It didn’t help that Wolfe hadn’t taken his eyes off me the entire meal. The Dena’s had been surprised and happy to have Wolfe at the table this time rather than Chaeron, but I would have given anything for Chaeron’s easy company, and was thankful when dinner was over and enough time had passed for it to be polite to retire to my room.

This time I slept in the extra bedroom by myself. Or tried to sleep. I sat huddled on the bed, my brain refusing to shut down as I went over and over Wolfe’s warning.

What would Haydyn say? I worried my lip.

I shook my head, snorting out loud. Haydyn was a romantic. I knew exactly what she’d say. She’d tell me to throw off all my concerns. I held one palm out. On the one hand there was the pain I’d experience when I inevitably lost Wolfe. I held my right palm out. On the other, there was the pain I’d experience at having to watch him live his life with another woman; the children he’d have down the years that wouldn’t be mine.

“This is it, Rogan,” I whispered at myself angrily. “You’ve managed to overcome the fact that he’s the son of the man who killed your family but you can’t overcome your own fears?” I was a coward. How could I be a coward after all I’d gone through? Yes, I had made mistakes! Yes, there had been moments during this entire rescue mission that I’d fumbled and hated myself for it. But I retrieved the plant! I escaped ruthless gypsies, dirty rookery thugs, a perverted mountain man, and saved L’s life to boot! I’d even brought two star-crossed lovers together. I had faced a great deal in my life. How could I not find the courage to do the simplest thing of all…

… love Wolfe?

I loved Wolfe.

I loved Wolfe…

… it be as simple as that, I heard L’s smirking, know-it-all voice in my head.

At the sound of the door handle rattling, I froze. When it rattled again I slid one leg out of the bed, thinking of the hunting knife I still carried in my pack. Just as my foot touched the cold wooden floor, the door opened and shut quickly, a familiar shadowed figure leaning against it.

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