“Robert, I’ve been on a hunting trip with you and I thought it wasn’t pretty. Don’t take her with you.”
“I’m not. She’s going to a friend’s for the night while I go out.”
A shiver went down Beth’s spine. If Onyx thought it wasn’t nice to see Robert hunting, then she definitely didn’t want to see.
She started up the stairs again, smiling tightly. Robert watched her carefully as she walked into the living room. He wanted to make sure she was alright now, that the two of them were okay. Her smile widened and he seemed to relax a little. Robert and Onyx were sat at opposite ends of the sofa so Beth sat in Robert’s lap. She could feel his relief as he put his arms around her waist.
“Right, I’d best be off. Aaralyn will claw my eyes out if I’m not there for her.”
“Good luck with that,” Robert chuckled.
“Oh, Robert, will we be seeing you at the Assembly this year?” Onyx asked, standing up.
“Of course, I can hardly not go; Aneska would have my heart. Why?”
Even Beth noticed his eyes flicking to her briefly. “No reason,” was all he said. Onyx disappeared suddenly.
“Are we okay?” Robert whispered tentatively.
Beth nodded. “I’m sorry. I just... I can’t explain it.”
“How do you know Onyx?” Beth asked.
“He’s part of the nobility.”
“And so am I.”
Beth looked up at him. This was the first she’d heard of it.
“So what are you? Some sort of baron?”
“Prince. Heir to the throne when Aneska dies.”
“Wow. That’s cool.”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“There’s a price we all have to pay.”
The tone of his voice, as gentle as it was, warned her not to ask anymore.
“Why would Aaralyn claw Onyx’s eyes out if he’s not there for her?” Beth asked.
“Oh, um, well,” Robert cleared his throat and Beth could have sworn she saw a slight blush on his pale skin. Whatever it was, it was an awkward subject. “Aaralyn’s currently in her fertile period.”
“And that is...?”
“Something we don’t talk about much. It’s the only time a female is actually fertile and it lasts for two days. By the end of it, her mate will be absolutely exhausted. It happens every three months.”
“But... why would the mate be exhausted?”
Now there definitely was a blush on Robert’s face. That told her everything.
“Oh, I see.”
“It’s not pretty. Especially when the female doesn’t have a mate.”
“Vampires will only lie with another vampire if they are mated.”
After a minute, Beth said, “Do you remember when we found that ritual in the hunters’ house?”
Robert stiffened slightly. “Yes.”
“You said that even vampire have legal age limits. What did you mean?”
“Exactly what I said.”
Robert cut her off. “The legal age to turn a human is sixteen. The legal age for sex is eighteen.”
“That’s why you said no. Isn’t it?”
“Yes,” he whispered.
“Did you want to?”
“More than anything.” His voice was hoarse and quiet.