Born of Betrayal(9)

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Galene inclined her head to her. “Thank you. For everything.”

“Don’t thank me yet, Lena. This has all the earmarks for disaster. We are at war with The League. If we lose, all of us will pay with our lives. We have committed treason against the organization that has reigned over all our worlds for the last five hundred years. May the gods be with us all.” Then, she cut her transmission.

Indeed. Galene turned toward her son. “Funny, this was not how I saw the day going in my mind when I woke up this morning.”

Talyn laughed. “Nor I.”

Her gaze softened as she digested his new place in their world. It was more than deserved and she couldn’t have wished better for him. “Tiziran Talyn. It has a beautiful ring to it.”

He scoffed at her words. “I’m not a tiziran, Matarra. This changes nothing.”

“It changes everything. It silences all those bastards who have mocked you for being a lack-Vest. All those spiteful bitches who have turned their noses up whenever you’ve glanced their way and they learned you held only my lineage. I can’t wait to see them choke on their own bile when they hear this news.”

And still he shook his head with blatant disregard. “I’ve never cared what they thought of me.”

That was sadly true and she knew it. But he had cared what they thought of her. She’d mopped too many tears from his beautiful face when he’d been a small child. Had tended too many bloody noses from the fights he’d been in with those who had called her whore and worse.

And she’d seen the silent hurt in his teenaged eyes when females had viciously spurned him because he had no paternal lineage. Only his mother’s broken one. They had been so incredibly cruel to him.

Even his military rank had been viciously stripped from him at one time because of Fain and his family’s feud with the Anatoles.

He’d suffered so much as a direct result of what his father had done. For Fain abandoning them. That, more than anything, was what she hated Fain for. She could handle her own humiliation. She’d chosen her path with her own free will.

It was what had been unjustly given to Talyn that burned bitterest.

What her son had been forced to endure that made her crave vengeance from his father. Her proud, precious baby had deserved none of it.

Tears choked her. “You have ever been my brave champion.” When everyone else had abandoned her, Talyn had stayed by her side. Ever the dutiful son.

Maybe not verbally. He did have his father’s limited fuse, and a smart mouth capable of lethal sarcasm that had tested her temper and restraint on many occasions.

But his heart had always been loyal. Always loving.

Always ferocious. Her fierce little lorina.

“You deserve to be a tiziran.”

“Titles mean nothing to me. You know that.”

Only his rank as her adjutant had ever mattered to him. He’d worked insanely hard to achieve his rank as fast as possible so that he could be with her and watch over her. Something that had been twice as hard for him since he’d lacked his father’s prestigious military lineage and had been under the direct command of his father’s childhood enemies.

It was why he’d been forced to become a prizefighter for the Andarion Ring as a mere boy. With every title he’d earned, his military rank was supposed to advance to match his proven martial skills. Yet he’d had so many boulders hurled at him that unlike other Andarions, it hadn’t happened the way it should have.

But even without his father’s lineage, even with her being harder on him than she was on her other soldiers, he’d risen to become one of the youngest officers in the Andarion military. Had attained his current rank at an age when most were only beginning their obligatory service. Had risked literally life and limb to keep them all safe.

He had done her proud.

“You may think nothing of those things, Talyn. However, that’s not true of others, and I know how much you want to marry and start your own family.”

He looked away, but not before she saw the bitter yearning that lived inside him for something he’d been denied all these years.

“Exactly. I do know you, my son. As tiziran, you will have your choice now of any female who meets your fancy.”

He scoffed at her words. “If I wasn’t good enough for them without a royal title, I damn sure don’t want them because of it. Besides, I love my Felicia. I’m grateful and lucky to have her in my life.”

Galene bit back a scoff at his words. While she adored Felicia for taking care of Talyn whenever he was allowed liberty, she knew the truth.