Rose for a Thorn

“Why did you tell him?” Keelath asked Tyrric later. His brother was putting on muscle too, losing his boyish figure that had kept the village girls from eyeing him with much interest, though Tyrric was still prone to flashes of jealousy. Keelath uneasily wondered if such was what was driving his brother now.

“Because it’s not proper,” said Tyrric. “She’s not fit to be a baroness, with her upbringing.”

“She is more than smart enough,” Keelath snapped back.

“Oh, I’m sure of that. Someone has to be your brains! Just… think of it this way, brother. You only see her a few times a year. How many other men is she with between those times? How many other men has she kissed like she has you?”

“How dare you!” shouted Keelath, but Tyrric wasn’t deterred.

“Can you say for sure? She is a troubadour. It’s practically part of their job.”

“I would know if she was cheating!” Keelath claimed hotly.

“Would you?” Tyrric pressed. “How? Have you even Marked her yet?”

It was their word for ending one’s virginity, often by pledging one’s self to a single mate, before the ceremonial binding of a marriage. Keelath felt his cheeks grow hot, and he said nothing.

Tyrric knew that to be a no. “There, you see?” He had just enough grace to sound sorrowful rather than triumphant. “I don’t tell you this to hurt you, brother. I just want you — and all of us under you — to have a good future. A woman who sells her voice and looks on stage is hardly that.”

Keelath stormed off, but the next morning, he regretted it. He came back to his brother to apologize for his behavior, but Tyrric said not to worry about it, with a look in his eye indicating their troubles weren’t over.

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