I had hoped to fit this subplot into BEYOND THE PROPHECY, but it just wouldn’t fit.
Thekila smiled as she watched Vatar carry the twins off to their tent to put them to bed. Both had fallen asleep cuddled up to his sides almost as soon as they’d eaten. She rinsed off all four plates and started toward the tent herself.
Teran stepped in front of her. “I need to talk to you.”
Thekila looked toward the tent, where the sound of Vatar’s pipes playing his lullaby called to her. “Can’t it wait? There’ll be plenty of time to talk while we ride tomorrow.”
Teran put out his arm to block her. “I don’t think it can. Thekila, you have to face the truth. Vatar is . . . dangerous. If you are becoming bound, then you have to end it, now. While you still can.”
Thekila’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
Teran reached out to take hold of her arm, as if he’d drag her away from her tent—and Vatar. “He’s obviously insane. Believing he knows what the lions are thinking.”
Thekila shook her head. “No. He didn’t say he knew what they were thinking. He knows what mood they are in.”
“And you believe him?” Teran asked.
Thekila frowned. Skepticism was one thing. She’d expect that of Teran. But he’d seen the proof twice now. He’d seen her sense the eagle before the others, when she couldn’t have seen it. And how did he think Vatar had known the lions were there if he couldn’t sense them? “Of course I do. I know he can feel the lions because I can sense the eagles in the same way. It’s perfectly true, Teran. He’s not crazy.”
Teran drew in his breath. “Thekila, are you pregnant with his child?”
She smiled and placed a hand over her abdomen. “Yes.”
“Then it’s that much more important that you listen to me. Staying with a mad man . . . It endangers you and the child. You have to think of that. Come back to the Valley with me. I’ll take care of you. I’ll even raise his child. But you can’t . . .”
Thekila pulled her arm out of his grasp and stepped back, out of his reach. Her voice rose. “Don’t try to tell me what I can and can’t do, Teran. Vatar was right about you. He tried to tell me that you wanted to break us up, but I wouldn’t believe him. I told him not to be jealous of you, that you were like a big brother to me. And all the time . . . Don’t ever try to come between Vatar and me, Teran. He is not insane. I could not be safer anywhere than with him.” She started to walk past him to her tent.
Teran grabbed her arm again. “He asked me to keep you safe. Even he knows that he’s losing his mind.”
Thekila whirled in one of the moves Orleus had taught her during their training sessions last winter, freeing her arm and placing herself nearer to her tent, where Teran would have a harder time stopping her again. “Vatar may doubt himself. That doesn’t mean that I will ever doubt him.”
She took another step back, out his reach, then turned and stalked off to her tent, back stiff.
Vatar looked up as she pushed aside the tent flap. His eyes narrowed instantly and he stood up from their bedroll. “What’s the matter?”
Thekila looked toward the sleeping twins and her lips thinned. “Can you come outside for a moment?”
Vatar looked toward the twins, too. They were soundly asleep at the back of the tent, curled around each other. “All right.”
Thekila walked a few paces away from the camp before spinning to face Vatar. “Did you tell Teran to try to persuade me to return to the Valley?”
Vatar’s eyes flew wide. “What? Of course not!”
Thekila nodded slightly. She really hadn’t believed that. “What did you tell him?”
Vatar reached for her, drawing her into a hug. “I asked him to try to keep you safe if I am losing my mind.”
Thekila wrapped her arms around him. “You were always jealous of Teran. Why would you do that?”
He stroked her back. “I need to know someone will look out for you, if it comes to that.”
“But why Teran? Have you changed your mind about him?”
Vatar huffed softly. “No. I’m not jealous any more—much. After all, you chose me, not him. But I still don’t like him.”
She pushed back within the circle of his arms to look up at his face. “Then why?”
Vatar sighed. “Because I know he loves you, too. He’ll fight for you, if necessary.”
Thekila bit her lip. “Arcas—or your father—would.”
Vatar shook his head. “Arcas can’t fight magic. And Father and Boreala would be trying to save me, not you.” He cupped her face with his hand. “I need to know someone will fight for you.”
BEYOND THE PROPHECY releases next Tuesday. You have until then to pre-order at the special price of $0.99.