So by now it’s obvious that this is really a collection of deleted scenes making up most of a subplot I had to delete from THE VOICE OF PROPHECY
and couldn’t shoehorn into BEYOND THE PROPHECY.
Vatar looked back over his little column of riders to where Teran and Terania rode in a zone of isolation, shunned by Thekila. Even Quetza barely spoke to them. That had been going on for three days. Vatar couldn’t help thinking of the period in the Valley, before she chose him, when Thekila had treated Vatar similarly. And how it had made him feel. Well, they’d be home this afternoon. He’d speak to her then, when they could be alone.
Vatar opened the door to the room next to the one he shared with Thekila. The twins were soundly asleep. He shut the door quietly and continued to the room at the end. Pausing to watch Thekila brushing out her flame-red hair, he sat down to pull off his boots. Without looking up, he drew a deep breath. “You should let up on Teran.”
Thekila whirled to face him. “What?”
Vatar looked up to meet her eyes. “You don’t have to seek him out, or spend a lot of time with him, or even forgive him. That’s fine with me. Just . . . return his greeting in the morning. Nod or give him a word when he speaks to you. That’s all.”
Thekila’s brows creased. “Why?”
Vatar stood up and crossed to her side. He put his hand to her face, allowing his thumb to caress her cheek. “Because I remember how it hurt, when we quarreled, before you chose me. When you shut me out like that.” His eyes drifted slightly away from hers. “You drove me to tears, you know.”
Thekila blinked. “Tears?”
Vatar nodded slightly, still not meeting her gaze directly. “Late at night, when I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to make things right between us.” He looked back into her eyes. “Don’t torment him. It isn’t necessary.”
Thekila looked up into his eyes for a long moment. “You know, if your positions were reversed, I don’t think Teran would make the same request on your behalf.”
Vatar smiled crookedly. He caressed her cheek again. “That doesn’t matter.”
Thekila smiled back. “No. Vatar, you should know. I made the right choice.” Her voice grew harder. “But don’t do anything like that again until you talk to me, first.”
Teran waited until he could get Thekila alone for a moment. She’d smiled at him that morning, but not in a very natural way. That stiff smile. He couldn’t shake the thought that she’d begun to realize her danger. That she was beginning to see the truth. He had to try again, for her sake. “Thekila, have you changed your mind? Are you starting to think—?”
Thekila spun to face him, cutting him off. “Don’t, Teran.”
Teran took a step back. “What?”
Thekila’s lips thinned. “Don’t say it. I’m speaking to you because Vatar asked me to. But don’t try my patience by bringing that subject up again.”
Teran blinked. “Vatar asked you to?”
Thekila crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Yes. He said it wasn’t necessary to hurt you. Even though he’s never liked you. Even after you tried to come between us again. He’s a better man than you in every way, Teran. And if you dare to question his sanity in my presence again, I will never forgive you. Never.” She turned and strode away. Every footstep punctuating the distance that had suddenly grown between them.
Terania came up beside him. “I tried to warn you.”
He swallowed hard. “Will she . . .”
Terania shook her head. “She’ll never turn to you, now. No matter what happens.” She sighed. “We’ll still be here and we’ll try to protect her. But I doubt she’ll ever completely forgive you.”
“Even if I’m right? Even if Vatar is crazy?” he asked.
“Especially if you’re right.”
BEYOND THE PROPHECY released yesterday.