I was standing in our bedroom when Angel found me. She didn't say anything; she just wrapped her arms around me from behind. I hid my tears from her. I didn't want her to know how much Ingrid's words had hurt me.
I hated this cane more than anything at the moment. I just wanted to throw it out the window and force my ankle to heal. More than anything, I wish I could rewind the clock and stop myself from hurting my ankle to begin with. Perhaps things would be easier. Despite what I told the wolves, I didn't like how my ankle showed who I was as a man.
Angel began to hum and kissed my shoulder. I rested my arm on hers, closing my eyes as I listened to her beautiful voice. It was her lullaby and I turned to face her. She caressed my cheek, wiping away the few tears that betrayed me. She stood on her toes and kissed me gently. She pulled me to the bed and we got in.
She didn't say anything. She pulled the blankets over us and put her head on my chest. I wrapped my arm around her as she continued humming. I glared at the cane that was leaning against the bed post. But, as Angel continued to sing, I felt a strange peace descend on me. I told her.
"I always felt the same when my mother would sing to me," she whispered, her hand on my stomach.
I held it and placed with her fingers, twirling the wedding band and engagement ring I had made her.
"What are the words?"
"I can't remember. I just remember the melody." I kissed her fingers. "It's okay to cry in front of us, my love."
I sighed. "I know. But... after what Ingrid said-"
She made a noise like an angry cat. "I was so close to throwing her in the dungeons myself. Who is she to say those things to you!? Did you know her when you lived in the village?"
"Not personally. But I knew her family by reputation. Her mother spent a lot of time with my father," I added, remembering how they had danced together at the ball. "They're not the friendliest of people."
"Then why in the world is Hugo marrying her?"
"Her mother probably approached him. Hugo has always been the kind to see the best in people; even when it's not there."
"I take it her father is dead?" she asked and I nodded. "The house you sent her to; was that the one you built?"
"Yes. I figured someone might as well live there."
She kissed my collarbone. "You're the only one who had the right to make that choice."
"Have you checked in on our guest yet?" I asked.
"But but I've been reading about her race."
I got more comfortable. "Tell me."
"Are you sure? You seem tired."
"I'm not," I promised. "I love listening to your voice."
She giggled. "Very well. Like my father said, they normally populate mountains and places with water. Her mother was an elf, though, and turned her into a nymph because she fell in love with a human. Then, like I told you, she was cursed to serve the master of the Sword of the Thousands. Nymphs have an incredible power over men; especially men who are not in love with another woman."
"Which is why Tiberius was so convinced she was Christina."
"Yes. Tiberius has strong feelings for Christina but he does not love her. At least, not yet. Anyway, nymphs don't mind getting their hands dirty. I'm worried about Rosebud."
"What do you mean?"
"It's not below a nymph to kill."
I sat up and stared at her. "What are you saying?"
Her face was dark. "I'm saying that she is to stay away from any male in this palace."
"How would she kill someone?"
"By temptation," she answered. "If she can get a man tempted enough to try and bed her, she can... eat him."
I curled my lip in disgust. "You mean eat his body."
"No. His soul."
I shuddered at the thought. "Only women are immune?"
"Not necessarily but we should all be safe."
"That makes me want to toss her out," I admitted.
"But we can't. Not until we find out how to break this curse."
Angel bit her lip. "Yes but you're not going to like it."
I narrowed my eyes. "What is it?"
"We break the Sword."
"Not going to happen," I said immediately and she nodded. "Anything else?"
"We find her mother," she answered and stared hard at me. "And I mean we. Me and you. I'm not letting you go into danger alone again."
I sighed. "Angel, that's putting you in danger, too."
"I don't care."
"But I do!"
"Do you know how hard it was?" she asked. "I couldn't eat or sleep while you were gone to the north! I tried my best but nothing worked. All I could see was you dead. That or you came back as a werewolf. I can't go through that again! If we seek out Rosebud's mother, we're going together."
I kissed her deeply, burying my hand in her hair.
"You're very brave," I whispered. "Yes, we will go together."
"When do you want to leave?"
"Soon," I answered. "We need to plot a course and make a plan. We'll bring Rosebud with us."
"Do we have to?" she asked, cringing, and I laughed.
I kissed her again. "Yes, my love. But don't worry. I know what to do."