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After Navigating Lannamer (LJ.
Arinya kept her uncle pinned with her gaze. Did he know she’d heard him? Did it matter? Nothing he’d said had been specifically treasonous; indeed, he could say, and likely be honest in saying so, that he had been working for the well-being of the Empire.
He kept his gaze on her, but his eyes did flicker to Girey; she could see the moment when he made the connection. She couldn’t keep him hidden forever. She’d always known someone would recognize him. But now that she’d claimed his as her own, it would be harder for them to take him away from her.
“I don’t believe I’ve met your companion, either,” she continued smoothly. The man’s qitari was expensively worked, but gaudy even by Callanthe standards, the patterns a mish-mash of currently-fashionable designs. He was, she was fairly certain, not a relative, or at least not a close one.
“Ah, yes. This is Debnet, Lieutenant Debnet of the Emperor’s Army. But I believe that I have met your companion before, Arinyanca. Prince Girey.”
“I am no Prince.” Girey’s voice was far milder than Arinya had expected from him. “Although I have often been mistaken for one.” He fingered the bracelet on his wrist, and then stroked Rin’s fingers in a clearly affectionate manner. In Bitrani, in a sentence loaded with nuance, he continued, “Although I share a name in common with the former Prince of Bithrain, I am simply Girey of Princess Arinyanca.”
Arinya held back a surprised laugh - or gasp - and wondered if her uncle would catch the meanings twisted into that sentence.
Uncle Esnees was not stupid. “I must have missed the ceremony,” he answered smoothly in the same language. “Certainly my niece would not dishonor such a noble captive with a sun-on-the-water union?”
Mentally, Rin cursed both of them for putting her on the spot. A sun-on-the-water union was exactly what she’d had planned for Girey, a promise whispered over used sheets, a union with him as untitled far-junior partner. If Girey hadn’t claimed himself as exactly that, if her uncle hadn’t pushed the issue…
She smiled brightly at her uncle and his minion. “We’ve been back in Lannamer for less than a day, Uncle. While we’re certainly excited, I don’t want any announcement of ours to overshadow Elin’s wedding. Give it some time, please. The ceremony will come when it comes.” And the look on Girey’s face was well worth it.
Her uncle recovered faster than her captive did. “Well. I look forward to hearing when the happy day will be. Do tell me if you hear where the real Prince of Bithrain is, will you?” He’s still wanted for execution.”
“Certainly,” she smiled back at him. She would need to see if there had been an Imperial order to that effect. And she’d need to find that out soon. “Have a lovely day, Uncle Esnees, Lieutenant Debnet.”
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