[This post is from Cameron’s point of view.]
“Your father sounds like he was a complicated man,” Cameron said carefully. He always felt as if he might be walking on eggshells when the subject of her father came up. There was a part of him that was grateful that he’d never have to formally meet the man, but at the same time, part of him ached for her and her brothers—even for Phelan—because of their obviously difficult relationship with him. While he’d never been terribly close to his parents, their loss still stung. When Neve and the others talked about her father, their late king, it was with relief tinged with bitterness—relief that he was gone, bitterness because of all that had gone before.
At least, that’s what it felt like to him.
“That’s putting it mildly,” Neve said softly. “But rather succinctly, really. He was pretty complicated. I loved him—he was my father—but he was difficult. I think in a lot of ways Seamus and Teague had it worse off, though. He threw them to the wolves. Me he always tried to protect.”
“Knowing you, I’m sure that went over just swimmingly,” Cameron murmured.
“Oh, you have no idea. I was a nightmare—I was defiant and willful and those are the mild terms that were applied to me in my father’s court. As far as half of them were were concerned, I was some kind of hellcat incarnate, that if anyone somehow managed to bring down the entire structure of society, it wouldn’t be my brothers. It would somehow be me.”
“But you didn’t.”
“No,” Neve said, reaching over to rub his arm gently, smiling at Artorius, fingertip brushing against his soft cheek on its way to Cameron’s arm. “No, I didn’t. Things started to change, but slowly, and then he gave the order to leave, to go away—so we did. We had to.”
“Except you didn’t, really.”
“Phelan didn’t,” she said. “Seamus didn’t. But Teague and I—we did. For the most part, we did.”
“Do you regret it?”
“Every day.” She sighed. “And at the same time, no. I look at Phelan and I think about the hell he’s been through and wonder if maybe leaving really was the right choice. He’s suffered so much and while it wasn’t easy for Teague and I, it was a lot easier for us than it was for him. That leaves an ache, you know? It leaves a mark—on both sides.”
“At least you’re here now.”
That made her smile. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.”