Born of Betrayal(10)

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Felicia was still a paid companion – a contracted mistress who lacked full lineage, too. One Talyn had been forced to pay top dollar to keep in a style that was unheard of for others of Felicia’s birth standing. And the unfair terms of Felicia’s original contract still sickened Galene. No other Andarion male would have been forced to sign such a travesty, or spend the credits Talyn did for her services.

Or to buy out her contract from her agency, as he’d been forced to do. Galene flinched as she remembered that particular nightmare, and what it’d cost Talyn.

But because of her and Fain, Talyn’s social standing ranked below even that of a slave’s. It didn’t matter how many fighting titles he’d earned. How many citations and awards he gained as a military hero. He was still unable to legally marry.

Even a paid companion.

Worse? Only one companion brokerage in all of Andaria had been willing to contract with him at all. The rest had rudely slammed their doors in his face, leaving him with no other options for a female in his life.

Title and lineage were all that mattered to their race. The purer the lineage, the better, and the more choices an Andarion had.

Had Fain married her as he was supposed to, Talyn would have had all the pride and dignity of a military prince. Instead, Fain had abandoned them and taken his lineage with him.

But now that Fain had a new family lineage, Talyn might be able to salvage the rest of his future. “Your father’s blood gives you everything I never could.”

“You’ve given me the only things that matter.”

Cupping his cheek, she shook her head. “You should have married long ago. We should be planning the Endurance for your eldest child by now.”

He rolled his eyes at her. “I don’t need a wife nagging me. I have a viciously overprotective mother for that.”

Before she could respond, her office door pulsed open. She glanced past Talyn’s shoulder to see the arrogant beast himself entering without being announced. Her lips curled involuntarily.

Talyn pulled her against his chest and held her so that she couldn’t attack Fain again. “Don’t kill him,” he whispered in her ear. “Cairistiona won’t forgive you that.”

Laughing, she hugged him close. “All right.” She kissed his cheek before she let go.

“I’ll be just outside.” Talyn passed a threatening glare to Fain. “Call me if you need anything, Commander.”

“I will, Talyn. Thank you.” Forcing herself to remain calm, she faced Fain. “What are you doing here?”

Grimacing in distaste, Fain watched Talyn until the door was closed behind him. “You just can’t keep your hands off him, can you?”

Galene arched a brow at the jealousy she heard in that deep, sexy tone of his, and couldn’t resist egging it on. “You should have been in here a few minutes ago when I was physically spanking his little ass. I think you would have enjoyed it. I know I did.”

He twisted his lips up in disgust. “You really live with him?”

“Yes. I have for years.”

“And what? Do you have to burp him after you feed him, too?”

“I’ve been known to.”

Fain gaped. Even though he tried not to judge others, he was nauseated by her and her lifestyle choices. How could she be so flagrant with a boy almost half her age? Did she have no dignity whatsoever?

“What happened to you, Galene?”

“I was stripped of my family and forced to live homeless on the street. You?”

That took some of the fire out of him. “I never meant to hurt you.”

She gave him an arch stare. “Wow. If the damage you did me was without effort, I shudder at what you could do if you actually applied yourself. What did you think would happen when you left me for a human? That my parents would throw me a parade? Send flowers and celebrate the shame of it?”

“I assumed you’d pledge another male. Merrell or Chrisen Anatole. Actually.”

Shivering at two names that revolted her, Galene looked away as old memories flared. Had she not been pregnant… had Fain not been disowned over a human… she might have survived the scandal. But once her pregnancy showed and after his mother had publicly disavowed him as a traitor to their race, no family would accept her. Not while she carried a lack-Vest baby of an Outcast father.

And no matter how much better her life would have been, she couldn’t bring herself to destroy her child. Nor could she have given him up. Not with what happened to abandoned Andarion children. She’d refused to save herself by sacrificing Talyn. His conception had been her stupid mistake.