Chapter Nineteen – continued
Merike turned to King Gray, a cold smile on her lips, her eyes like chips off an iceberg near the Great North. The breeze played only around her, dancing with her skirts and laughing through her short hair.
“I hope you are ready to lose your crown, Your Majesty,” she said, her voice like velvet, before she turned and took the brewing sea storm with her.
“Fae!” Prince Grant whispered as the doors swung closed behind the mermaid royals. “A sea witch. How could they have kept that hidden for so long?”
King Gray shook his head, his body bowed over the table. “I don’t know. But they fooled Lawrence. That’s not an easy task. How long have they been planning this?”
Princess Aloise shook her head and placed her hand on her husband’s shoulder. “It doesn’t matter. What does matter now is James is missing and war is brewing.”
The king slammed his fist down on the table. “The mer king tricked us! What would have happened if James hadn’t vanished? We’d find a witch for a daughter-in-law.” He turned his eyes to where Adrian still stood with his sister. “I hate to do this, Grant, but I must make your son my heir.”
Adrian stiffened. He knew it was coming, what with James missing, but for it to be declared so quickly?
His father held up a hand. “Slow, brother. James might still return.”
But the king was shaking his head. “My son made his choice. He ran away with the handmaiden. It’s the only explanation. If he’d only come and expressed his misgivings…”
“James fell in love with the handmaiden,” Adrian said quietly. He cleared his throat. “Uncle, he ran from his duty because of a pretty face. Granted, the handmaiden is a far better choice, but it would have meant ruin.”
The king met his brother’s eyes. The prince sighed and threw up a hand as his head lowered. He muttered something to his older brother, but Adrian was too far away to catch it. He could guess, though, his father was giving in.
Adrian clenched his hands into fists. He’d sealed his own fate. Beside him, Andalissa gave his arm a squeeze before she stepped away. He lifted his chin, hope fluttering away in his chest that Abigail wouldn’t mind becoming queen.
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