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Chapter 131 –Innuendo & Implications– Raine's POV

His wife?!

I didn't know why this revelation surprised me so much. My grandmother, a bloodline human, had died giving birth to Brialle. It made perfect sense that Acheron would seek the company of another woman.

"Welcome," Lady Sofielle murmured. Her tone was calm, her head postured toward the floor submissively. But in the split second her gaze flickered up to meet mine, I saw it. Her eyes were the color of the ocean in the midst of tempest, azure blue with specks of stormy pewter. And within their turbulent depths, shimmered stone cold animosity. Hate.

Oh shit, we were in trouble.

I clutched Cage's shirt tighter. Just as Acheron needed no introduction to me, Lady Sofielle obviously knew my identity as well. Maybe Acheron had not met Lady Sofielle after my grandmother died. The barely hidden glare of violence in her gaze made me wonder if there had been a bitter rivalry between the two. It was oddly reminiscent of Queen Ileana's immense dislike of my mother, Brialle.

Cage reached back and pried open my hand, pulling me to his side. He kept his fingers entwined with mine. There was no use hiding me now. He gave a low bow toward her. "Thank you for extending us the courtesy to dine in your home, My Lady."

Lady Sofielle's icy gaze cut to Cage in surprise. Her response confused me. She seemed startled by his action or sentiment. Was it not common in this world, for a man to bow or express his gratitude?

Acheron cleared his throat. Instantly, Lady Sofielle's gaze snapped back to the floor, and she hurried out of the room. Acheron motioned toward a large dining table at the far side of the space. "Please, join me and my son. Your men are welcome to stay here. Lady Sofielle will take care of serving them."

Cage made eye contact with Echo and Talon, an unspoken command to join us at the table. Acheron's eyebrow rose just slightly at Cage's selection of Talon, but I had no intention of clarifying the reason for Cage's choice. From the outside, most viewed Talon as my pet, my slave, or even as Cage described earlier, my vassal. But Talon was much more. He was my family. More than Acheron would ever be. As far as I was concerned, my connection to Acheron by blood meant nothing, and I had no intention of giving him more information than was absolutely necessary.

Talon's bulky frame was stiff as he strode over to the table and sat down. Echo's steps were more fluid, but his gaze cut furtively around the room, watchful for any danger or aggression from our unknown hosts.

The rest of our company stayed on the other side of the room and settled into comfortable looking couches and chairs. Acheron sat at the head of the table with Skoldr on his right. Skoldr was silent, but his dark gaze was piercing. He seemed to enjoy smirking at me as though he harbored a secret.

Lady Sofielle directed four handmaidens as they served food and wine. I watched her from across the room. I wasn't the only one. Several of our men seemed entranced by her breathtaking beauty. Her flawless alabaster skin shimmered and reflected light from the crests of her high cheekbones. Thick lashes bordered her almond shaped eyes.

Even though she was small in stature, a tight-fitting corset, the rich color of boysenberries, pushed up her full breasts, and highlighted her tiny waist. Gathered chiffon draped over her plentiful hips and fell to the floor. On each ankle and both wrists, she wore emerald encrusted infinity bands, no beginning and no end, no clasps.

Acheron pulled my attention back to him. "Tell me, granddaughter, how is your mother?"

Tension rolled through me. I lifted the wine glass to my lips, letting the cool liquid soothe my throat before answering, "She is very well."

"Indeed. Any status must be better than presumed dead," he stated dryly.

I gave no reply.

"Be sure to give her my regards." He raised his glass to his lips. A large ring on his left hand glittered in the light. It had the same emerald crystals as Lady Sofielle wore.

I nodded. "I will do that."

"It was shocking, to say the least, to hear of her miraculous recovery. But even more shocking was the discovery she bore twin girls. Tell me about your sister. Her name is Natalia, yes?"

"Yes. She is betrothed to Prince Alaric and quite happy. She bears a striking resemblance to our mother."

Acheron studied me for a long moment. I maintained his gaze, a bit defiantly. My shoulders back. Head high. I would not let him or my unsavory uncle intimidate me.

"But you certainly do not. Save your blue eyes, your features are quite unlike either Brialle or Armand."

There wasn't a question in his words, so I remained silent.

"No, if I didn't know better, I would say you much more favored her dear friend...what was his name again...Felaern?"

Anger rolled through me. My eyes flashed. I snapped, "I have no use for innuendo. Speak clearly. What is your implication?"

Cage's hand found my knee under the table. He gave a light squeeze trying to calm me down. But I was in no mood to be placated.

Acheron chuckled, "No implication, just observation. There is a fire in you." His tone was approving.

My lips were set in a thin line. I had no use for flattery from him either.

Skoldr cocked his head to the side, one lip curled into a smirk. "I don't know father, she seems pretty tame to me."

Tame?

That smug son of a bitch.

I'd had just about enough of his threatening little glances. Power roared to life inside of me. Acheron's eyebrows shot up. I suspected my eyes were glowing quite blue right about then. I faced Skoldr with a smirk of my own, flashing him my fangs, meeting his less than subtle challenge and purred, "Maybe you are right."

Cage's hand tightened painfully on my leg, a severe warning. I shifted, trying to free myself, but his grip was immovable. Acheron's lips spread into a wide smile. "Oh no, I think it is I who am correct."

Skoldr was silent. A muscled twitched in his jaw.

The rest of our meal was filled with useless chatter about kingdoms and politics. I was impatient to get to the point. I didn't want to stay here any longer than necessary. Finally, the food was cleared away. Acheron reclined back in his chair. "So tell me, what is it that you seek from me?"

Cage spoke before I had a chance to. "Your associates informed Queen Ileana that you are able to break the mate bond she shares with Armand."

Acheron looked over to where Ileana sat next to York. Her spine was ramrod straight. Her chin high. The posture of a Queen.

"I could arrange for her bond to be broken...for a price. I will need to make some calls this evening. Please stay the night, as my guests. By tomorrow afternoon, I will have the solution for you. Are you prepared with payment?"

Cage looked to Queen Ileana. She nodded stiffly. She had previously told us she moved enough money into an account to cover the cost. Cage turned back to Acheron. "Yes, we will have payment."

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You do not want to miss the next chapter. It will be in Marku's POV.

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