Born of Betrayal(8)

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon



“He’s your father, Talyn. I won’t have you insult him.”

The tic returned to his jaw as he looked away.

She moved to answer her link. As predicted, it was Tadara Cairistiona.

“What happened?” she asked without preamble.

Galene bowed her head respectfully. “Forgive me, mu tadara. I was caught off guard and allowed my emotions to get the better of me. I had no idea that you had adopted a new son. You should have told me we had a new royal family member to protect, and that he would be arriving with The Tavali.”

The look on the queen’s face was stern and lethal. “It’s just us, Galene. I want your side of this matter before I render verdict. And I want the whole story.”

Galene’s gaze went to Talyn. “Before His Highness was disowned by his Hauk birth mother, I was pledged to him.”

Cairistiona sucked her breath in sharply. “Fain left you for the human he married?”

She nodded. “Because of his actions, I was abandoned by my own family and turned out in disgrace.”

“Say no more, Commander. I understand. I would have shot him myself, in your place.”

Thank the gods the tadara was so understanding. But then they had decades of history together. And an unbreakable loyalty to one another.

“I am sorry, Tadara. Had I some warning about Fain’s identity, I would have handled it better. But this is the first time I’ve seen him since the day he told me I failed to please him.”

Cairistiona’s speculative gaze went past Galene, to Talyn. “Is he Talyn’s father?”

Galene clenched her teeth. Only two living beings besides her knew the identity of Talyn’s father. Talyn and his great-grandmother, who’d taken her in years ago when Galene had been living on the street, pregnant with him.

But it was a death sentence to lie to her queen. “Yes, Majesty.”

“Does he know?”

“I’ve never kept such secrets from my son. Talyn knows. His father does not.”

Cairistiona let out a bitter laugh. “Talyn?”

He cast a concerned glance to his mother before he stepped forward and bowed to her. “Mu tadara?”

“It appears you are now of royal vestiture, child. My grandson. A tiziran of Andaria.”

His jaw went slack. Until now, he’d lacked full lineage. As such, he’d been ineligible for many Andarion benefits, including marriage. It was something they’d both accepted a long time ago as a very bitter fact.

Now…

“What have you to say, Tiziran Talyn?”

He swallowed hard before he spoke. “I know not, Majesty.”

“Yaya,” Cairistiona corrected playfully, using the Andarion term for grandmother. She laughed at the stunned expression on his handsome face. “Breathe, child. Remember, you once sat in my lap to color and draw on paper, and do your homework for school… I know it’ll take some getting used to. Your father is having the same trouble acclimating to the title. But you will in time.”

She returned her attention to Galene. “It appears I cannot punish my grandson for protecting his birth mother. Even from his birth father. And while I would normally have your head for this assault, the circumstances were extenuating. As such, and given the fact that Fain will live and is remarkably understanding of your motivation, I’ll let this event pass unpunished. But let’s not repeat it, shall we?”

“Never, Majesty.”

“Cairistiona or Matarra, Galene. You are the mother of my grandson, after all. As such, I will send a contingency of royal guards for you both. And while Talyn, as tiziran, can be excused from military service, I’m going to assume that he has no intention of leaving your side while we’re at war.” She passed a questioning look to him.

“My place is with my mother.”

Cairistiona smiled proudly. “Spoken like a true Andarion.” Her gaze returned to Galene. “If you can refrain from slaughtering the father of your child, we shall proceed as if none of this has happened. Is that acceptable?”

“Yes, Majesty.”

“Cairistiona.”

Galene hesitated before she spoke again. “Cairistiona… I’m assuming you’ll want me to step down as—”

“No. I’d like to see you continue on as the commander of our combined forces. You are still the most qualified to lead us. And I’d feel much more confident with you at the helm than a commander from one of the other nations.”

“It will be my honor, Ma… Matarra?”

Cairistiona smiled in approval. “Very good. And have no fear that I will tell Fain about his child. That is your place.” She sighed heavily. “For now, I will say that the additional guard is to make sure the two of you don’t attack him. However, there are certain advantages our precious little lorina will have as a tiziran. I’m sure both of you will want them for him. When you’re both ready, let me know and I will make a public announcement for Talyn.”

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