“So, Angelina was a witch?” Beth asked quietly.
“Yeah. She’d taught herself by studying all the grimoires we had in our library. I never knew, not until she enchanted the ring,” Robert said. “I think she was the one who did Alex and Catalin's too.”
“Why would she do theirs?” Beth asked.
Robert sighed. “Affanculo,” he murmured. “You know what, seeing as Alex is never going to tell you, or you just aren’t going to ask him, I’m going to tell you.”
“Before I knew that Alex was my half-brother, he was my best friend.”
“I promised you I wouldn’t lie, remember?” Beth nodded slowly. “Not only was he my best friend, he was my famulo, my servant, hired by our father. Though I never let him do much for me. I even took the lashes myself when I made a mistake, I was the one to be locked in the pantry for three days without food. Of course, duty demanded that he see to other tasks. He would lay clothes out for me; fill the bath, et cetera. But that was it, most of the time we just went out and played. Everyone found it odd that he was four years younger than me; you don’t usually get that.”
“What about Catalin?”
“Catalin was my sister’s maid, and the one who introduced me to Alessa, the girl I fell in love with. Catalin was always Angelina’s favourite, the one that would accompany her to balls when she felt strong enough, and the one who cared for her when she was bedridden. Angelina and I practically grew up with Alex and Catalin, never for a moment suspecting they were out half-siblings.”
“That’s why you felt betrayed, isn’t it?” Beth asked quietly. “Because you thought you knew them. And they lied.”
“Yes, but it’s not that they lied, principessa, it’s that they didn’t tell the truth. If they’d told me before the whole country found out that there were two of the king’s bastard children living in the palace, I wouldn’t have hated them for two hundred and thirty-nine years. And I wouldn’t have killed every single girl that Alex has ever fallen in love with,” he said, ending in a whisper, not meeting her eyes.
Beth stared at him, suddenly terrified of being in the car alone with him.
“Don’t be scared, farfallina. I would never hurt you on purpose,” he promised.
Robert got out of the car and Beth noticed they’d been stationary for quite a while. She got out of the car and ran to catch up with Robert. She hugged him and felt him kiss the top of her head.
“Thank you for telling me,” she whispered.
“You only need to ask, mia cara. Now, let’s do something illegal, shall we?”