“You want me to do what?”
Belgretor reached for the pacing centaur. “Please, Claren, calm yourself. There is no other way.”
Claren whirled around, her four legs getting tangled . Her knees began to crumple. Jamros stepped next to her. Using his body, he blocked the mare from falling.
“Damn legs,” Claren cursed. She nodded a thank you to Jamros. “There has to be another way. You can’t ask me to…”
“Am I that disagreeable?” Jamros looked stricken.
“She’s not saying that, asshole,” Daniel growled at the centaur. “She doesn’t want to be joined to you. She has other plans.”
“I can speak for myself, Daniel,” Claren said. “Tell me again why I have to do this. I’m still trying to get used to the idea of having four legs and being dead. I am a bit dense.”
Belgretor looked at Thoeak. “Why don’t you tell her? You are the one with the firsthand knowledge of the situation.”
Thoeak bowed first to Belgretor, Jamros, Claren then nodded his head to Daniel and to his daughter.
“I implanted my daughters with tracking devices. There have been disappearances of young women for some time. I wanted to make sure of my children’s safety,” Thoeak looked at Jamros with apology. “I understand that is against tradition but my daughters are my life.”
“Do not concern yourself. Continue your telling.”
“When I lost track of my daughter and could find neither Claren nor Theesal, I feared the worst. No one knows who takes the female children. The males have been found dead but never the females. I was just about to follow the beacon from Theesal when Crudak called me to serve him. He was in conference with Gracsaddi of the High Council. They stopped talking when I arrived and continued when I left. I am ashamed to admit it but I eavesdropped on the conversation.”
“It is well that you did,” Belgretor stated. “Your observation confirms what I feared.”
“I heard Crudak speaking with the Councilwoman. He assured the High Council Lady Gracsaddi that the intruder—I assume he spoke of Daniel—was taken care of. He continued to say that the traitor—I am sorry but I believe he spoke of you, Your Grace—was dead. Crudak went on to say that it would be proven unequivocally the claimant was a fraud and would be killed. I knew he spoke of you Lady Claren. I feared for you. I knew my daughter would be with you if at all possible. I used the tracking device in my daughter and followed her here.” Thoeak bowed to Claren. “My lady that is the situation in which you find yourself.”
“So, Bel, how does my marriage to Jamros solve this problem? And how does my marriage to Jamros stop the mess on Earth I caused?”
“Crudak believes I am dead. Since talking with Thoeak I have implanted a memory in the doctor and nurse that they succeeded in killing me. Crudak believes Daniel is dead as well or will be soon from starvation. He knew you were too old to take the cyanomorph berry and I think he wanted you to die in the transformation. Even though you are alive, the problem is you are vampire. He can use that information to convince all of Cruento, the High Council, even the Emperor you are a fraud and an invader and should be killed. From what I have heard, society is fragile with the terrors of possible invasion by aliens and by the Galactic Council. So, your position is tenuous at best.
“However, if you married Jamros, in a ceremony that not only Cruento approved but the Emperor approved and was broadcast to the entire Twin Planet system, you would be safe. Crudak could not openly attack you. He might try something covertly but we,” Belgretor nodded to Daniel and Jamros, “could protect you from that.” Daniel and Jamros nodded in agreement. The three men looked at each other. Claren watched as a bond formed between the three men. A bond that included her.