The alliance begins to crumble, and Sullyan finds herself caught between two monarchs: the king she’s sworn allegiance to, and the man she loves as a father. To betray either one would break her heart, but if conflict is inevitable, she must make a choice…
Bull planted himself in front of Robin. “You young idiot! What the Void do you think you’re playing at?”
“Nothing,” spat Robin, his own temper rising. “I’m playing at nothing, Bull. Ask Sullyan what she’s playing at. Ask Taran!”
“I would, only you’ve driven him out, haven’t you? Well, I hope you’re proud of yourself. Oh, come on, Robin! Can’t you see you’re mistaken? If you believe for one minute that either of them would betray you like that, then you’ve no more sense than a mule’s backside!”
Robin rounded on him. “What do you know about it? I’ve spoken to people who saw them, Bull! It’s not just hearsay or gossip. This is fact.”
“Oh, fact, is it? Says who? Denny? And what exactly did he see, Robin? Two good friends working together, that’s what. That’s why she took Taran with her, for the gods’ sake! What did you expect her to do, ignore him? She would have behaved the same way if I’d gone, do you realize that? Would you have believed the rumors if it had been me instead of Taran? Because I love her just as much as he does, I can tell you that! And I know for a fact that she loves me too, because she’s told me often enough.
“But she doesn’t feel the same way about either of us as she does about you, gods help her! You know that perfectly well, yet this is how you repay her. One stupid little rumor from a man who’s bored out of his brain, a man who knows no better than to elaborate on some overheard, spiteful comment, and you throw away everything you’ve achieved over the last four years like a broken bowstring. Not to mention the love and trust of your life mate! What kind of a man does that make you?”
Robin looked as if he wanted to strike Bull, and the big man would almost have welcomed a fight. He thought he could probably still beat Robin in a fistfight, owing to his greater mass and size, but even if he couldn’t, it would give the young man a chance to work some of the poison out of his system. The Major controlled his fury with a huge effort, although his fists remained balled. Ignoring Bull’s question, he flung one of his own.
“If they’re so innocent, Bull, why did she turn her powers on me? Tell me that, if you can! If that isn’t a betrayal of trust, I don’t know what is.”
Bull shook his head. He was still dismayed at how overwrought Sullyan must have been to forget herself so thoroughly. He retorted forcefully. “You drove her to that! Something else to be proud of. You’re the only one who’s ever succeeded in making her lose control. That alone should tell you the depth of her feelings!”
He turned his head briefly before facing the furious young man again. Dropping the anger, he tried appealing to Robin through sadness. “Dammit, Robin, she’s hurting so badly. She needs her friends around her right now. We all do. Artesans should stick together at times like this, not tear each other apart.”
Robin’s hand cut the air in a desperate gesture. “Well, I’m hurting too,” he cried, a note of hysteria creeping into his voice. “Only no one seems to care about that! You’re all turning against me and I’ve done nothing wrong. If all you can do is blame and berate me, then I’m better off without you. Just leave me alone in future.”
He flung himself away and stalked off, but not before Bull saw the tears glittering in his eyes.