He looked over to where Cassie was talking and laughing with a group of women, including Lucivar’s wife, Marian.
“Let him wait,” Gray said.
Lucivar chuckled. “Grayhaven can wait until the sun shines in Hell, but Lady Rhahn is a Green-Jeweled Queen. Trust me, boyo. You do not want to keep her waiting.”
The sharp warning in Lucivar’s eyes had Gray chaining his temper before Ranon or any of the others caught a scent of it. He wasn’t going to spoil this day for any of them, especially Cassie.
“Go meet her before you say or do something stupid,” Lucivar said.
Gray handed his glass of sparkling wine to Lucivar. “Here. That way I won’t be tempted to throw it in her face.”
Lucivar’s roar of laughter wasn’t the reaction he expected, so he slipped into the Residence, more curious now than angry.
Then he stepped into the visitors’ parlor.
Hell’s fire, Mother Night, and may the Darkness be merciful. The Green-Jeweled Queen was aSceltie?
“Hello, Gray,” Theran said, sounding uncertain. “May I introduce Lady Rhahn from the Isle of Scelt?”
“I am honored by the introduction,” Gray replied, bowing as he would to any Queen.
“Lady, this is my cousin Prince Jared Blaed.”
Rhahn wagged her tail. *You are called Gray. You are Cassie’s mate now. Are you going to have puppies?*
“Ah . . .” Was there a safe answer? He sent a psychic spear thread toward Lucivar. *You could have warned me.*
*Boyo, you have no idea yet. My darling sister sometimes has a wicked sense of justice.*
*Jaenellesent Rhahn to Dena Nehele?*
Aware of the silence in the room, Gray looked into Rhahn’s brown eyes and had a sudden urge to hide in the nearest clump of brambles.
“So,” he said, “are you the Queen of Dena Nehele?”
*No. Theran rules Dena Nehele, and I rule Theran.*
A Sceltie Queen ruling a territory made up of one Warlord Prince who didn’t outrank her. No wonder Theran looked like he’d gotten a hard whack upside the head.
May the Darkness have mercy on him.
*Rhahn!* Vae bounded into the room, dancing with delight. *You are here!*
Theran looked at Vae and turned a little green.
Gray took a step toward the door. “You two know each other?” A dumb question when the answer was so obvious.
He took another step toward the door.
*Rhahn is . . . * Vae appeared to be thinking hard. *Mother’s sister.*
“What?” Theran squeaked.
“Your aunt?” Gray felt something tickling inside his belly and throat. Might have been laughter. More likely, hysteria. “Rhahn is your aunt?”
*Yes,* Rhahn said. *Aunt. Vae will introduce me to the Queen. Then we will play.* She looked at Theran and growled. *This is a happy day. You will behave and not fight with the Queen’s males.*
The Scelties trotted out of the room.
“What is the ‘or else’?” Gray asked. “She didn’t have to say it; I heard it loud and clear.”
Theran hunched his shoulders. “With Rhahn, ‘bite him in the balls’ isn’t just an expression.”
It wasn’t kind to laugh, but he couldn’t stop himself. “Is she as bossy as Vae?”
“She’s twice as bad.” Theran shook his head. “Hell’s fire, Gray, when the Warlord Princes heard another Queen from Kaeleer was staying at Grayhaven, they came charging in, ready to fight.”
“Didn’t know what to do with her, did they?”He looks so confused and beaten, Gray thought, feeling sympathy for his cousin Theran even if he still felt wary of Prince Grayhaven.
“There she was, looking all furry and friendly, and before they realizedwhat she was, she was charging around, issuing orders and herding them where she wanted them to go, and they just trotted along with her, as docile as lambs.”
Of course, Gray thought. Why would they oppose someone who expected them to take care of their flocks and had connections to Cassie’s court as well as strong courts in Kaeleer? Theran might be the Warlord Prince of Dena Nehele and the ruler in public, but the court that truly ruled Dena Nehele would form around Rhahn.
You wanted a powerful Queen who would dazzle the Warlord Princes enough to serve,Gray thought.Looks like you finally got her.
Lucivar was right. Jaenelledid have a wicked sense of justice.
“I appreciate the invitation, Gray,” Theran said.
You didn’t get here in time for the wedding.Cassie would have been sad about that if she’d known, but Theran’s absence hadn’t been obvious. Noted by the First Circle, since they’d all been on the lookout for him, but not obvious. The village was packed with personal guests and representatives from every Province and reserve, and trying to pick out a particular psychic scent among so many had been damn near impossible, especially after Lucivar and Marian arrived to represent the SaDiablo family as well as Cassie’s other friends in Kaeleer.
“I figured my presence would piss off Cassidy’s First Circle, and I didn’t want to spoil the day. But Rhahn insisted that we come for part of the celebration.”
“I’m glad you came,” Gray said—and realized he meant it. He’d missed his cousin.
“I brought this.” Theran called in a small box and held it out. “A token for Cassidy. It’s a piece of Lia’s jewelry. I thought she might like to have one.”
“I know she would.” Gray didn’t take the box. Instead, he put an arm around Theran’s shoulders. “You should give it to her yourself.”
He guided Theran out the front door since Maydra had gotten snarly about people coming through the kitchen and snitching food from the platters before she got them set out.
As they rounded the corner, heading for the backyard and the guests, they heard Rhahn say, *Theran is not a bad human. He is just male and foolish. And confused.*
*Yes,* Vae agreed. *He needs you.*
Gray looked at Theran. Theran looked at Gray.
“Mother Night, Theran,” Gray whispered. “You are in so much trouble.”
When the two men reached the backyard, Cassie, Lucivar, and all the others saw Jared Blaed and Theran Grayhaven holding on to each other, laughing.