“Robert never...” Beth trailed, both surprised and not at the same time.
“No, I doubted he would. The feelings weren’t mutual, and he told her so, very politely I gather. She took it alright, considering.”
Beth’s mouth flapped slightly, unsure of what else she could say. Aaralyn took the basket from her and separated the contents into two of the three larger baskets which were labelled “Lights”, “Darks” and “Leathers”.
“Caleb came to see me earlier,” Beth managed to say. It was all she could think of.
This gave Aaralyn pause, though she didn’t turn. “What did he say?”
“He wants me to talk to Onyx when Caelan tells him. He thinks Onyx is going to want to kill him.”
Aari sighed, a very resigned sound. “He will. Zeke is a good man. He looked after me in my pregnancies with Kalila and Elandra. He’s looked after us all at some point.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s very good at creating medicines and finding cures for illnesses. He’s not a doctor as such, but he’s a decent surgeon. And he’s more than good enough for sewing the Brothers back together when they come home injured.”
“So why would Onyx have a... problem with him and Caelan?”
“Everyone knows that Zeke... isn’t exactly faithful.”
“Caleb said that was just a front.”
Aari sighed again. “Whether it is or not, Onyx doesn’t like him.”
“I’m going to talk to Zeke and Caelan now, to ask when he’s going to tell Onyx,” Beth said quietly.
Aaralyn nodded slowly. “God, I feel old.”
“My eldest is twenty-five years old,” Aari murmured, sagging against a washing machine.
“You’re not old, Aari,” Beth said gently.
“No? I feel it. Sometimes I wonder if I should go home for a little while. I could do with a stay at my parent’s.”
“Then why don’t you?”
“I don’t want to argue with Onyx anymore. All it’s been recently is... arguments.” Her face was hidden behind palms that trembled as she sank onto the floor.
Beth glanced at the door, grateful that there was a bolt on it. She threw it across and sat down beside Aari, looping her arm through the other woman’s.
“What’s been going on?”
Aaralyn took a deep breath and removed her hands from her face. “He’s just been... so stressed recently. And worried about you and Robert. At the tiniest thing, he’ll just snap at me. I try not to blame him but sometimes I can’t help it. I never expected my mating to run onto the rocks like this,” she whispered.
Beth wrapped her arm around her shoulders. “It’ll be okay, I’m sure. You’ll work it out.”
There was a knock on the door, to which Beth immediately replied, “Go away!” without caring about who it was.
“Beth, are you two okay?” Onyx’s voice said through the door.
“We’re just fine, can you leave please?” she asked as calmly as she could.