Declan Riel Martel, Camarine grófja személy
– Én, Declan Riel Martel, ade Domininik, ade Logran, ade Rotibor, Camarine grófja, Longshire, Svyator és Veres lordja, itt és most felesküszöm rá, hogy mindhárom feladatot végrehajtom a következő két héten belül, amelyeket… – A lányra pillantott.
– Rose Drayton. – A pasasnak több címe van, gondolta, mint a TitleMaxnek. Talán néhányat zálogba csaphat, ha elfogy a pénze. Ilyen külsővel és vérvonallal valamelyik mágiabeli bárónő vagy grófnő biztosan boldogan hozzámenne.
Mit keres itt, miért teszi tönkre az ő életét?
– Ez a William. Hogy néz ki?
– Döbbenetesen jóképű – mondta Rose.
– Ez elég sok férfira illik.
– Nem kell tudnia, hogy néz ki!
– Persze, hogy tudnom kell. Ha találkozom vele, le kell
beszélnem arról, hogy udvaroljon magának. Nem akarja,
hogy összeverjek valami idegent, ugye?
– Esküdjön meg, hogy meg sem próbál molesztálni.
A férfi nagyon lassan végigmustrálta:
– Ha úgy döntök, hogy molesztálom, az nem próbálkozás lesz. És akkor maga nagyon lelkes lesz.
Rose érezte, hogy elvörösödik:
– Most, hogy jobban belegondolok, nem is tudom, hogy a házam van-e akkora, hogy az egója beleférjen. Kevés helyre férne bele. Vagy megígéri, vagy kint alszik.
– Gyulladáscsökkentő. Kicsit tompítja a fájdalmat, és megakadályozza, hogy megduzzadjon és bepirosodjon. Nyelje le, ne rágja össze.
– Azt gondoltam, feldugom az orromba, és rozmárt játszom, de ha ragaszkodik hozzá, le is nyelhetem.
“You didn’t tell them,”she said. “You had dinner with the family at Camarine manor. You helped little William catch fireflies in a jar, you brought presents for the girls, and you sat on the balcony and drank wine with Declan and your sister. A week later you were simply gone.”
“I left a note,” George said.
“A note that said you were going on a secret mission off-world and taking Jack and Gaston with you and that you would be back in twenty years. That is all you left by way of explanation. Do you have any idea how worried your sister is? Your nieces? Your nephew? You play with people’s lives like they are toys, George. We are all chess pieces to you. You move us around the board as you please. I could understand if you were oblivious to human emotions, but you fully comprehend our feelings. You simply choose to ignore them. I don’t understand it. You used to be so compassionate when we were children. Now we don’t matter to you at all.”
“It’s part of a job,”he said. She simply looked at him. “I was not permitted to say good-bye. The note was the best I could do.”
“But here you are.” Her eyes narrowed. “Didn’t you tell me that once you accepted this job, you could not come back? Are you breaking the rules again?”
“Of course I am.”
“So you have no problems breaking the rules when it suits you. Are you telling me that you couldn’t find any way to personally soften that blow for your family?”
“I’m a selfish bastard,”George said. “I didn’t want the pain of saying good-bye, so I avoided it.”
Footsteps echoed in the hallway. Declan’s voice called, “Mother?” He ducked into the doorway. “Mother, have you seen—”
He saw Rose and clamped his mouth shut.
“I’ve seen, and I approve!” the woman said brightly.
“Mother?” Rose stared at her.
The woman frowned. “I probably should have mentioned: that annoying habit of letting people come to the wrong conclusions and not correcting them? He got it from me.”
Declan’s face turned icy. “You just couldn’t leave well enough alone.”
“No, I couldn’t. But I absolutely love her,” the Duchess answered. “Don’t worry about the one-month requirement—it will take me that long to organize the wedding.”
Rose simply stared. An older version of Declan appeared in the doorway. “We’ve misplaced the bride . . . Oh, here you are.” He shouldered his way into the room.
An even older man followed. Gaunt and dressed in dark purple, he saw Rose and said, “Why, she is lovely.” He glanced at the boys. “Which of you is the necromancer?”
A young female voice yelled at the door, “Let me into the room! I’m his sister, damn it!”
Rose backed away, pressing against the freshly painted wall. They were too big, too loud, too full of magic. Jack hissed.
Declan stepped forward, pushed the double doors open, took her hand, and pulled her through onto a wide balcony.
“Did you see that?”the Duchess yelled. “He rescued her from us. This wedding is on!”
“You were right,” she said softly. “I never could’ve killed them all by myself.”
“What did you say?”
“I said you were right . . .”
He gave her a dazzling grin. “One more time, my lady?”
“You were right,” she told him with a tired smile.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing that. Unaccustomed to it as I am.”