“Well that was eventful,” he murmured, sitting down.
Kyra lay down beside him, her head on his knee. After a moment, Beth sat too.
“Was she telling the truth?” she asked.
“About you and me. That we were supposed to be...” Beth’s throat clogged up, not even allowing her to say the word.
Storm sighed. “Amylia doesn’t know the depth of my depravity. She has always wanted me to find another, but I have never felt compelled to look.” It sounded as though there were a few extra words to the end of that sentence but Beth couldn’t tell.
“‘Another’?” Beth asked, before realisation hit her. “Your necklace, it—”
“Belonged to my mate, yes, before she passed.”
“What happened?” Beth asked gently.
“My entire clan was massacred,” he replied, with no emotion or facial expression.
Beth gasped. “I’m so sorry, I—”
“Why do humans do that? They always apologise for things that happened a long time ago, things that had nothing to do with them. You weren’t even born when it happened,” he said in the same tone, or lack thereof.
“When did it happen?”
“When I was about seventeen. I wasn’t even in the forest at the time. I came home and everyone was dead.”
“What about the necklace?”
“Aria gave it to me before I left as a good luck charm. I got it for her as a mating gift.”
“Wait, you said you were seventeen...?”
“I was fourteen and Aria was thirteen.”
“And your parents were okay with that?” Beth asked, shocked.
He looked up at her. “It was their idea. Mother didn’t want either her or Father passing before their heir was in a stable mating. In our culture, we mate young; you’d be long mated by now if you’d grown up with your own kind.”
“‘Heir’?” she asked. He turned his head away and didn’t reply. “Are you a prince or something?”
“I am supposed to be the one on the throne, yes,” he said stiffly, as though this were an uncomfortable subject.
“And why aren’t you?”
“Because I can’t produce an heir. I no longer have a legitimate claim to it, so I do not take it.”
“But, if you found another mate, surely—”
“No, Beth. You don’t understand. I am incapable.”
She opened her mouth to argue further before she understood his meaning. “Oh,” was all she said.
She suddenly remembered what he’d said when he’d gotten really angry about the abortion thing: “Because there are those who don’t have the ability to create new life like that.”
He’d meant himself. She hadn’t realised.
“Oh,” she said again. “So... who’s next in line, or whatever?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
He looked over at her again and she suddenly didn’t want to know. “You are.”