Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(7) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Seraphina winced as that long-ago night replayed through her mind. Nala had almost killed him. “I was young and stupid, and I’m dragonswan enough to admit it.”
“It’s too late. I would rather live out eternity in monastic celibacy than suffer one more day with any of you. Now go! Your sisters are waiting.”
His rejection stung her more than she would have ever thought possible. Not that it mattered. She wasn’t here to beg him back to her bed. She was here to plead for his help. “It’s not that simple.”
“It is that simple. You and I are finished. I accept the fact that I can’t take another lover, but you’re free to find whatever fool you can to satiate your hunger. Now go. Bother me no more.”
Seraphina choked as she remembered the last words he’d spoken to her so long ago as he glared up at her with eyes haunted by betrayal – I told you when we mated that I would gladly give you my heart, my life, and my love, but that when I did so they came with one condition. Never abuse me. Love is not abuse. And you have harmed me for the last time, my lady. I am done with you. Forever.
But Fate had forced her back to him.
And she had no choice. She needed his help.
Her throat tightened as she thought of the best way to tell him what she needed to. He would hate her even more for the secret she’d kept. And she couldn’t blame him for it. She’d been so wrong for what they’d done to him.
What she’d personally done.
Arcadian. Katagari. In retrospect, it all seemed so stupid. And the bitter agony in his eyes tonight told her exactly how much damage their cruelty had wrought – the lingering scars they’d engraved on his loyal soul.
You have to tell him.
But how? The human race had already done so much to him and his brothers before she’d even met him, and by way of her own cruel hands, they’d done him even more harm. He had every right to despise them all.
Stop being a coward. You have to let him know. He has a right to hear it from your own lips.
Honestly, there was no easy way to do this.
No quick or easy, or even gentle method.
And as he headed for the door to leave, she had no choice except to blurt it out for him.
“Your children need you, Maxis. If I don’t hand you over, they’ll kill them both.”
Max blinked slowly as Seraphina’s words hit him like a sledgehammer. For a full minute, he couldn’t breathe as they sank in and he realized their full implication. “Children?”
“Son and daughter.”
The room tilted. Yeah, that really was what she’d meant. He hadn’t misunderstood her.
Max reached out and braced his hand against the wall as he struggled to comprehend everything she was telling him.
He was a father.
“I don’t understand.”
“It was the night before your rebellion…”
His rebellion. Nice word choice, there. Screw the truth and what had actually happened. Skew everything out of proportion. Sure. Let him be the bad guy in all of this.
Nothing ever changes. And that right there was why he’d walked away and left behind the only real home he’d ever known. Why he’d had no choice. To them, to her, he was nothing but a mindless animal that needed to be controlled and collared. Something to be placed in a cage and fed table scraps.
Or viciously put down.
He’d been forced to leave before they’d taken the last vestige of his sanity, along with what had been left of his shattered pride.
He’d stupidly thought all this time that she’d already taken everything from him.
Now this. She’d hidden his children from him. Hated him and his heritage so much that she’d purposefully kept him out of their lives where he couldn’t even be there to participate in the raising of his own dragonets.
Max clenched his teeth as pain racked him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was going to… that night… you know… Then afterward, you were long gone. I had no way of tracking you.”
Because a pregnant dragonswan couldn’t time travel and he’d left her Amazon village far behind, vowing to never, ever return to her or her world again. She was the only reason he’d ever stayed in ancient Greece.
And he’d only ventured there because of his brother’s Bane-Cry that had summoned him to war from his own home and time period.
After Hadyn’s brutal death, his intent had been to leave that time period and country far behind… but in Max’s darkest hour, she’d found him. There for a little while, he’d mistakenly thought that she’d been divinely sent to comfort his pain…
He couldn’t have been more wrong. Seraphina had never been anything but his own personal hell.
“You could have sent one of your sisters,” he spat that hated word out, “after me.”
“I did. You covered your trail admirably. No one was ever able to find any trace of you.”
It was just as well. As pissed as he’d been back then, he’d have most likely slaughtered them before they could speak. Only time and distance – and absolute shock – had allowed him to spare them on their arrival here tonight.
She swallowed hard before she spoke again. “You would be proud of your children, Maxis. They are an honor to us both.”
Those words were a dagger through his heart. “Their names?”
“Hadyn and Edena.”
He repeated the names silently in his head and let the warmth of fatherly love spread over him as he tried to imagine what they would look like. Be like.
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