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A blow that made my head twitch but he either didn’t catch it or decided to ignore it and he kept talking.
“This matters not. My men speak the language of the Vale which is spoken throughout the Northlands, except in Fleuridia.”
“Oh…well, okay,” I murmured.
“You have other questions?” he prompted, raising a dark, thick eyebrow, every line of his body indicating he wanted to be anywhere but there.
“About a million of them,” I told him and he pulled in a sharp, annoyed breath through his nostrils.
“I don’t have time for a million questions, Ilsa,” he stated.
I took a step toward him and stopped, but lifted a hand. “Apollo, I’m kind of at a loss here. Your world is not like my world, like, in any way. Sure, we have tuna and you have tuna—”
Another sharp c**k of the head accompanied by his brows snapping together and he cut me off to ask, “Tuna?”
Right, they didn’t call it tuna.
I lifted my hand higher and circled it, “It doesn’t matter. What I’m saying is, things are very different here and I’ve been thrown in the deep end—”
Another brow draw but this one was ominous.
“You’d have me send my children on a journey such as this without me accompanying them?”
“No,” I replied quickly. “But just pointing out, I don’t know what kind of journey that is seeing as I don’t know anything.”
He jerked up his chin and said, “I will talk with my men. They’ll explain things to you.”
“You’ll be safe with them.”
“And I’ll have time to explain things to the children, prepare them for your arrival.”
“And that would be—”
“Now, if there’s nothing more,” he stated, his body moving as if he was preparing to leave.
He was barely letting me get a word in edgewise and preparing to leave!
So much for Valentine saying he wouldn’t want to be separated from me.
I took two more quick steps toward him, calling swiftly, “Wait!”
He settled but he didn’t look happy about it.
“You can’t just bring me here and then leave me here.”
“You’d rather be with a man who kicks you?” he asked curtly.
“No, of course not. That’s not what I’m—”
“You’re safe from him here. You’ll be safe from what’s happening here with my men. Then you’ll be home with the children and you can settle.”
“Maybe we can talk about that,” I hurried to say.
“We shall. I’ll meet your sleigh in the village outside my estate and we’ll have a discussion before you meet the children.”
“Now, I’m away,” he murmured, turning to leave, his cape swinging out behind him and it was cool, that cape and how it moved with him, and weirdly hot at the same time.
But I couldn’t think about how cool and hot his cape was because I was beginning to lose my temper.
“Apollo!” I cried, taking two more steps toward him.
But he turned back, his cape wrapping around him, his eyes leveling on me.
When I saw what was in his eyes, I quit moving, quit talking and stared.
He didn’t stare.
And when he did, his voice was a low, angry rumble that felt like it shook the room.
“You know of her and yet you seem not to understand how difficult this is for me.”
I was following, but I wasn’t.
I mean, he was the one who brought me here.
“Of course I understand,” I said quietly, “but that doesn’t mean—”
Again, he didn’t let me finish.
“Just gazing on you, it feels like brands searing into my eyes.”
That sucked. Seriously sucked. That had to kill and I felt for him. I really, really did.
“I understand that,” I kept my tone low and gentle, “but—”
“You look like her. You sound like her. You even smell like her.”
That sucked too.
I pressed my lips together.
“But you are not her,” he finished.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “But you brought me here and you knew I wouldn’t be her. And right now, it seems urgent things are happening. Things I don’t understand in a world I don’t understand and you’re responsible for bringing me into this world. Now you’re leaving me alone in it without even giving me time to ask questions, the answers to which might help me to know how to conduct myself, what I’m dealing with, both giving me a hint of peace of mind.”
“And I explained, my men will answer.”
“Okay, that’s great, but we have things to talk about regarding my future here and—”
He was back to interrupting me and he did it by saying, “And I explained that as well. We will talk when you reach Lunwyn, before you come to the estate.”
Was he crazy?
My understanding was that would be two freaking months from now.
“I’d like to do it now,” I requested carefully.
“And I don’t have time now,” he denied me, not carefully.
I took in a deep breath and held his eyes.
Then I shared, “It’s important, Apollo.”
“It’s important for me to get back to my children and make haste in getting them to safety. Your future here is secure. That’s all you need to know”—he paused— “for now. Now, I’m away.”
Was he serious?
He turned and started toward the door.
He was serious.
“Wait!” I called, going after him.
He didn’t wait.
He kept going.
I kept following, crying, “Apollo! Hang on a second!”
His legs were longer than mine so I had to jog to catch up.
This I did at the front door.
And when I did it, I made a mistake.
I said his name and wrapped my fingers around his bicep.
The instant I did, he pulled it forcefully from my touch, rearing back. And with my history, he did it appearing like he was preparing to strike
Instinctively, I lifted a hand in front of my face, palm toward him, and backed up, tripping on my train but managing to right myself before I went down. I yanked it from under me and took another step back, my eyes glued to him, my body prepared for anything.