PROWLERS & GROWLERS
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“I don’t know your name.”
He blinked at her in obvious surprise.
“You don’t? Oh. Consider my ego fully deflated. Is that your way of saying you’d rather I leave you alone?”
She shook her head, smiling faintly.
“No, it’s my way of saying I’d like to know your name. Unless you’d rather I address you as Prince.”
“Well, if you do I’ll have to call you Lady Ileos, and I’d much rather call you Celly. My name is Maikel.”
“Maikel,” she repeated, nodding. Yes, she vaguely remembered hearing the name before, though she hadn’t known which of the younger princes it belonged to. “I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m afraid my family discusses your older brother far more regularly than they mention you.”
He burst out laughing at that, which she’d not expected.
“I can’t say I’m surprised. Leto can barely sneeze without half the castle knowing about it, but Glenn or I could break all our limbs and no one would know. Isn’t it the same with you and your brother?”
“To a degree, I suppose.” She couldn’t help grimacing. “Unless he’s the one trying to shine a light on me.”
“Is that why you were trying to escape last night?”
“Pretty much. I don’t know why he cares so much about finding me a husband. He should be concerned about finding his own mate.”
Maikel’s renewed laughter, though much softer than the previous burst, surprised her no less, and she was even a little hurt as she turned a questioning look to him.
“Leto is too concerned about his love life to care much about mine,” he said. “But Father only thinks of the throne. If I let him, he’d pick a wife for me and host a double wedding next spring when Leto gets married.”
“My mother was the same,” she confided, “until I told her I’d met a man back on Common Earth, and if she continued to badger me I’d go back, live there with him, and never set foot again in the Firelands. She backed off after that.”
“Aren’t you tempted to go back to him regardless?”
She tried to stifle a chuckle, but couldn’t quite silence it.
“If he actually existed, maybe.”
This time, they laughed together.