Ora watched the decision flow over Silas’ face and body, his fangs vanishing, his smile coming back. There wasn’t that much to watch, but after this many years, she knew her mate well enough to see the shift.
A blind man could have seen the possessiveness as he welcomed her former Kept into their house. Ora didn’t mind. Silas had a right to be possessive when someone was challenging his right to their family.
She looked Adder up and down as he entered their property. The boy looked thin, wan, grubby. Worn down. “You said the world was falling to hell.” She would never have the arch skill with language that Silas and his late family did, but she could put make herself sound calmer and more innocent than she was. “What about yourself?”
Adder tried not to look as relieved as he was when Ora’s… what, husband? Keeper? Nobody was wearing a collar… when the man calling his son son invited him in. Act calm. He didn’t mean them any harm. He wasn’t sure he could do them any harm.
Ora’s question threw him right off his calm. “What?”
“Falling to Hell?” She was laughing at him. Damnit. She’d always found him funny. Adder swallowed and reminded himself that funny was better than a threat and a lot better than useless right now. He wanted her to remember she liked him.
He twisted his lips in an aping of a smile. “Oh, well, you know. I’m surviving.”
“Just surviving?” It was the first thing Hunter-Hale had said in a while, and Adder found it stung how disappointed his son sounded.
“I do all right for myself.” The boy who said he’d given Hunter-Hale his name shrugged. Hunter didn’t know what to think about him. He looked like a refugee, like one of the lost ones that wandered through sometimes, like a drowned rat just looking for a hole.
Hunter stopped in his tracks and stared at the man for a moment.
“Dad wasn’t kidding. You really are a charity case, aren’t you?”
The man flinched. He couldn’t quite meet Hunter’s eyes, either. “Those were your father’s words.”
“That doesn’t mean they’re not true.”
“No… I suppose it doesn’t.” Mom and Dad had stopped a few yards away. Adder looked over at them, and then back at Hunter-Hale. He shrugged again, looking young and lost. “Yeah. Some people didn’t end up as lucky as others.”
Mom’s voice carried, and she was back in Queen mode. “Luck had nothing to do with it.”
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