Seymour de Winter was six feet, eleven inches tall. Factor in the heels of his boots, and his height easily topped seven feet—which still was quite short for a male Aechyed. But now as he stood at the top of the goblin tower, the cold wind blowing his hair back from his face and sweeping his cloak out behind him, he felt very tall and very powerful indeed.
He glanced down at Seoc, and without intending to, met his eyes. Immediately, the illusion of strength was gone, replaced by an overwhelming sense of self-loathing.
Seoc’s eyes were just so very much like Raif’s.
Seymour sighed heavily and dropped his gaze to his feet. A sickish feeling settled in his gut, that familiar guilt that only alcohol could cure.
But no. He must not. He had made so much progress.
“What’s wrong, Sey?”
“Nothing,” he lied, forcing himself to look into Seoc’s face once more, enduring the pain for as long as he could muster before turning away. “I was just thinking of something. But it doesn’t matter.”
Standing on his toes, Seoc reached up to touch Seymour’s cheek. His skin tingled where the human’s gloved hand had brushed it. “You can tell me the truth, you know,” Seoc informed him quietly, in a voice so soft it was nearly lost to the wind.
Seymour shook his head. “No,” he replied, perhaps too bluntly. “I can’t tell anyone. Especially not you.”
Seoc froze, then drew back, plainly hurt. “I’m sorry if I did somethin’ wrong.”
“You didn’t d—!” Seymour protested, but Seoc had already retreated into the stem of the tower and had begun his descent. “Wait, Seoc!” he shouted, starting after him. “You didn’t do anything wrong!”
But the gradually diminishing clatter made by Seoc’s wooden soles on the spiraling staircase did not cease or even slow. Had they been on even ground, Seymour could have easily caught up with him, but the Aechyed’s flat, flipper-like feet were too large and clumsy for the narrow staircase. If he gave pursuit, he would certainly fall.
“Mother of bloody fucking Rezyn, Seymour,” he muttered to himself. “Is it your fucking goal in life to alienate everyone who likes you? Is that your problem? You’re an idiot, Seymour. A fucking idiot!”
He sat down on the top step and slouched over, propping his elbows on his knees. He felt like he might throw up. Pressing his hand to his mouth, he rocked from side to side until the sensation had passed. Then he shut his eyelids and hid his head in his arms, breathing deeply to calm his swirling thoughts.
Was he doomed to see Raphael Greenwood every time he looked into Seoc’s eyes? For six long years, he had watched Raif burn to death in his nightmares. Must his agonized face haunt his waking life now as well? And why did Seoc—the first person to be fully and genuinely kind to him in Rezyn knew how many years—have to be the trigger?