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Chapter two, page seven
“If the people found out the king lied to them, they could demand an investigation.” I frowned. “And if he knew I was alive to tell them the truth, he’d have me killed.”
He bopped my nose. “That’s why we will make sure you stay dead.”
We. “Does this secret plan mean the other four will show up?”
“Eventually and not all at once. Not until everything is in place.”
Hmm. “Everything like what?”
He shrugged. “Conell has all the details. Once he fixed the books to show my father’s debt was paid and the king had no choice but to let me go, I came searching for you.” He leaned in and kissed my nose.
When I lived at the palace, I hadn’t asked Kieran a lot of personal questions. Our stolen moments of time together were always brief. There had never been a lot of time for small talk. “What kind of debt would a vampire have with the king?”
Kieran frowned, then his gaze darkened. “My father wasn’t a strong man. He suffered from bloodlust. I was a child when the king stumbled upon us. My father had slaughtered a small village. The king lured my father out into the sun. When the sun started burning my father’s flesh, the king promised to make it so he’d never have to hide from the sun again.”
A low growl rumbled from Kieran. The king kept all his vampires well-fed with blood, food, and a potion that allowed them immunity from the sun’s rays. A promise to be free from burning up in the sun would be one way to get a rogue vampire’s attention.
“What about the bloodlust?”
“The king promised him all the humans he wanted if my father would join his army. If he refused, the king said he’d tie him out in the center of town while the sun slowly burned him to death. Punishment for slaughtering a village.” A mask of sadness and anger fell over Kieran’s features. “Like I said, my father was a weak man. When he died in battle, the king demanded I take my father’s place in his army.”
I fisted my hand in his shirt. “That’s blackmail.”
Kieran uncurled my hand and kissed my fingers. “The king has ways of keeping the soldiers and guards in line. The ban on technology and magic doesn’t apply to him. He truly is a sick bastard.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “Why did you stay?”
“I hoped to get close enough to kill him.” Kieran watched me as if his words would scare me off. When I snuggled into him, not replying, he changed the subject. “By the way, it wasn’t easy for me to find you. You did an amazing job covering your tracks and your scent. It took me three days too long to find you.”
Pride bloomed within. If he had a difficult time then the Hounds would take even longer. “Tell me about the blood thing. What did you mean by a connection?”
He averted his gaze briefly and I thought he wouldn’t answer me. After a few moments, he said, “Vampires can track people they’ve fed on. But the connection weakens over time, especially if they don’t feed on the person again. You are different because you are my mate.”
My mouth fell open. “What? You knew then?”
He nodded. “I had to wait until you were of age and ready to understand what it meant to be the mate of a vampire. However, things have changed. With this plan and everything going on…things have come to light that makes it…complicated.”
I pursed my lips. I hated when he kept things from me. He did it the whole year after I saved his life with my blood. Even though we became friends, I always knew he kept me at a distance. Was this why? Because I was his mate?
“Don’t pout. There are still too many uncertainties right now.” He gathered me in his arms and pulled me close. His spicy scent enveloped me, warming me to the core. “You trust me, right?”
I nodded and snuggled against him. “I do.”
When my step-brothers got there, I would be demanding some answers. Especially if I was to stay dead to stay alive.