When Nathaniel is told the identity of his cariad-the person he is supposedly fated to love-he finds himself reliving a pain he's spent a year fighting. He'd been trying to forget his love for Reese, only to be told by the seers that he's meant to be with Reese's sister. Nathaniel had never planned on letting his people's beliefs dictate who he would love, but his heart makes the situation so unbearable he has no choice but to walk away.
Seeing Nathaniel again awakens a restlessness in Reese that he doesn't understand. He thought he'd been glad to be rid of the prince, but Reese finds he's never lost his hunger for the man. When Nathaniel says he wants Reese's love or nothing at all, Reese has to decide what he actually wants from the prince.
Nathaniel accepted the drink Alexander offered him. They'd spent an entire day preparing for their father's trial. Alexander's twin, Henri, and their younger brother Rory had just left. Nathaniel downed the whiskey in one gulp and leaned his head back on the couch, his gaze wandering over the stones of the ceiling. The trial would be more like a formality, since Grayden's guilt couldn't be denied, but Nathaniel had welcomed the distraction.
"Have you seen him since the day he came here?" Alexander asked.
Nathaniel rose to pour himself a second drink. "What?"
Alexander waited until he turned around to say, "Reese. He stormed out of here about a week ago. Ran right into me. He scowled until he saw who I was. Then he apologized and hurried away. Louis told me who he was."
Nathaniel flopped back down onto the couch. "I'm amazed you waited this long to ask me about him."
"What he does isn't really my business. But you are." Alexander sat forward, holding his drink in both hands. "You look terrible."
"Of course I do. I made a fool of myself yet again."
"But things are over between the two of you?"
"That remains to be seen." Nathaniel looked up at his brother, wanting to tell him yet too ashamed of his own weakness. "I won't pursue him. I'm done hoping."
Alexander took a large gulp of his drink. "One of the worst things about being king is that you can't tell people what you really think of them."
Nathaniel rubbed his eyes before looking over at his brother. "You can tell me anything. I can take it."
"Not you. Him. He's obviously hurt you again."
"He can only hurt me if I give him that power."
Alexander actually rolled his eyes. "You believe that?"
"I want to. I'm tired of feeling this way."
He treated me like garbage yet I went down on my knees for him anyway. I let him use me and flay my heart open. And yet I want him to come back. "He said he came to settle things. His words. And yet I think the situation is worse than ever. Even less closure than before, if you can believe that. We settled nothing."
"Perhaps you could go away for a while. Travel. Like you did before all this trouble started."
"I won't run away this time. That's what I was doing before when I stayed in the human world for months at a time."
"Then what do you mean to do? Simply wait around for him?"
That's what he asked of me. What choice do I have? "I told him I'd leave him alone."
"He obviously doesn't love you, and you deserve better."
"I know," Nathaniel said softly. He finished his drink and set the glass down. "I'm going to bed."
Alexander studied him. "Good night then." He shifted to lean on the arm of his chair. "But you'll let me know if you need anything?"
Nathaniel nodded. "Of course. Good night."
Little could be heard in the halls at this hour. Almost everyone had retired for the evening, just a few maids and pages on duty, checking up on things and preparing for the next day. Nathaniel undressed as soon as he reached his room, but he stopped on the way to his bed. The balcony door was slightly open, and he drew his trousers back on to step outside. He saw no one, but then he walked over to check the trellis. The greenery seemed to have been disturbed, and he bolted back into the room to look around. Silence greeted him, but he still checked everywhere. Nothing. After securing the door, he moved to get into bed and found a note on his pillow.
I came aching to sink my cock into you, but you weren't here. I suppose I'll have to find someone else tonight.
Nathaniel wadded the note up, cursing himself because he half wished he had been there. He tossed the paper into the fireplace and waved his fingers, causing the note to go up in flames. "You're right, brother," he said softly, thinking of Alexander. "I deserve better. And I'm going to demand it."
His new resolve eased the ache in his chest.
For a few minutes, at least.