Yannic woke at his usual time and turned over to look at his sleeping wife. His sleeping second wife. Rensa always slept at least an hour later than he did but she never complained about waking up alone. He was sure she at least liked him and she did seem to enjoy his company but sometimes the report Tuluc had made Sevrin write worried him.
It had been just after their marriage, in the early days of Sevrin’s rehabilitation. The dark haired girl had tried to be unkind to the newly fledged Empress. The report read:
I told her that her husband, Yannic, was still in love with his first wife, Kiriel.
Her reply was, “I know. He probably always will be. It’s not like they argued and broke up. She died. There’s no reason she wouldn’t still be in his heart. He’s nice and he’s kind, but he’s never going to feel about me the way he feels or felt about her.”
I asked her why she hadn’t been married before. She replied that her family had identified a suitable husband for her three times but on each occasion the rebellion had killed him before the betrothal could take place.
It wasn’t that Rensa was unavailable or distant. She wasn’t. She had made it clear that she wanted to build a relationship on what they did have and he thought that was respect and growing affection. She liked his mother and his cousin Mirren was now her best friend. She carried out the tasks that were asked of her and volunteered her ideas and experience. He thought she was an asset as Empress.
She was having his child, a baby they both wanted. She was just over three months pregnant now so an official announcement had been made and she’d almost been overwhelmed with the congratulations that had flooded into the palace.
Except sometimes, just sometimes, he thought he could still see the terrified young woman, her ‘disfigured’ face hidden by veils, hiding in a storeroom while all her family and friends died outside. He wanted, so much, to help her but the only assistance he could offer was his own blood-splattered hand.