“He likes you,” Lucius whispered to her.
“Mary said the same. What do you mean?”
“Storm often doesn’t take to newcomers very quickly, if at all. But he’s seemed fond of you since this morning when we were outside,” he said, more to himself than to her. “What about you?” he added.
“I like him too,” Beth nodded. She saw Lucius raise an eyebrow at her, a slightly worried look in his eye. “Not like that,” she said quickly, realising what he was thinking.
“I should hope not. You’d only be setting yourself up for misery and hurt,” he replied, relieved.
“And I have Robert anyway.”
“Well, he would rather you lived your life for the moment than sat around waiting for him.”
Beth sighed exasperatedly. “You’re beginning to sound like your mother,” she muttered, moving away from him.
He stopped her, holding her elbow gently.
“No, I only repeat his words. Of course, then it was a hypothetical answer.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at him slightly.
“Once when we were headed to the front, in one of the many wars our races have fought alongside each other, we made camp in the forest near Parerë. It was dark; it was cold; the only others with us were some of the brotherhood. It had been a long journey and we had not yet reached its end. I asked him if he ever thought he’d find a mate. He practically laughed at me. He asked me if I was serious. He clearly didn’t believe he would fall for anyone. He could still be quite cold then, even with us—with me. He said if he did find someone he wouldn’t make them restrict themselves to him. He’s always believed in the free will of others.
“And when I asked him what would happen to his mate if he was taken as a POW—”
“‘POW’?” Beth asked.
“Prisoner of war,” Lucius explained. “Vampires make the best prisoners apparently; they can endure such torture for vast periods of time before they break, or die. Imagine the information you could get.”
Beth didn’t want to imagine it.
“But when I asked him this, he simply said that he would rather she lived her own life, even if it was with someone else. He wouldn’t want you to go through every day wondering if he was okay.”
She looked at him for a few moments in silence, taking in what he’d just said. She felt tears well as she met his white eyes.
“It hurts so much,” she admitted for the first time. “It hurts to remember all of the memories we shared together. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to...” she trailed, letting her words hang in the air.
“Take your own life?” he finished for her. “We wouldn’t let you, Beth. As for the memories... I can take those away – permanently or temporarily.”