His eyelids slipped closed as he sank further into the warm water. Gentle music from a harp glistened along the marble tiles. His fingers pushed bubbles across the pool’s water. A sigh tumbled from his lips before he heard the splash and felt the waves lapping against his bare chest.
“Go away,” he said, refusing to open his eyes.
“Oh, Edonys, get over yourself, dear brother.” A burble of laughter struck him at the same time the water did.
He sputtered and wiped the suds from his face. “Dite, go away.”
She pouted with her full lips, and if she wasn’t his blood kin, she might’ve gotten away with that look. “Don’t you want to know why I came?”
“I don’t really care.” He settled back on the pool’s bench. Nothing she could say would make him care.
“Father’s looking for you.” She reclined in the water, her golden skin glistened under the sun’s rays. Her reddish-blond feathers on her wings appeared almost crimson from the water.
“Then he can find me.”
“He says it’s time.”
“Time for what?” His gaze focused upon her as she stood in the water. Drops splattered into the pool from her body.
“Don’t you know?” She crossed her arms and stared at him.
No playing coy now. His heart dropped to his toes like water draining from the pool. He lifted himself out of the water, shook his own golden wings, and padded over to his towel.
“I don’t have time for this.” His ran the cloth over his body, but it couldn’t remove his knowledge. Of course Father would send her, but couldn’t she see he wasn’t ready? If he didn’t accept, then his father couldn’t—
“You must take a wife, my dear princeling.” Dite’s voice grew soft, nearly melancholic in its beauty. She’d gotten out of the pool and touched his arm with her damp hand. He gazed at those perfectly manicured fingers. “The Cupidians need our next king before our dear father dies.”
“I know.” But they couldn’t have a new king until he found a wife, and he refused to choose because his new wife meant his father’s death.
Their planet couldn’t ask this of him, could it?
He wouldn’t choose.