“One hundred percent,” he answered.
“How?” I demanded.
A faint smile played across his full lips. His gaze too lowered and stopped…on my throat.
On the bite that I realized was barely hidden under the strands of hair. My blood. He knew after…tasting my blood?
Delano’s eyes went wide as he sat back, staring at me like it was the first time he’d ever seen me. Forgetting about the Hall, I looked at Kieran. I saw none of that. He arched a brow at me. This wasn’t news to him. “It’s rare, but it happens. A mortal crosses paths with an Atlantian. Nature takes its course, and nine months later, a mortal child is born.” Kieran paused and ran his thumb over the rim of his chalice. “But every so often, a child of both kingdoms is born. Mortal and Atlantian.”
“No. You have to be mistaken.” I twisted in my seat. “My mother and father were mortal—”
“How can you be sure?” Hawke cut me off—no, not Hawke. Casteel. The Prince. “You thought I was mortal.”
My heart lurched against my chest. “But my brother, he’s an Ascended now.”
“That’s a good question,” Delano tacked on.
“Only if we’re working off the assumption that he is your full, blooded brother,” he said, and I gasped.
“Or that he even has Ascended,” someone commented.
The glass started to slip from my fingers—
His reflexes were lightning-quick. He caught the glass before it could hit the table. Placing it down, he then covered my hand, lowering it to the table. “Your brother is alive.”
My heart had stopped. “How can you be sure?”
“I’ve had eyes on him for months, Poppy. He hasn’t been seen during the day, and I can only imagine that means he is an Ascended.”
Someone cursed and then spat on the floor. I closed my eyes. Part…part Atlantian? If that was why I was the Chosen and was the source of my abilities, then had the Duke and the Duchess known? The Queen? I opened my eyes. “Why would they keep me alive if they knew?”
His lips thinned. “Why do they keep my brother?”
I jolted, my entire body freezing. “I can’t do that. Right? I mean, I don’t have…the, uh, parts for it.”
“Parts?” Kieran coughed. “What have you been filling her head with?”
The Prince slid him a bland look. “Teeth. I do believe she means these.” Curling his upper lip, he ran this tongue over one fang, and my stomach dipped and twisted in a mixture of pleasure and unease. “They don’t need that. They just need your blood for them to complete the Ascension.”
If I wasn’t sitting, I likely would’ve fallen over. I wanted to refute his claim, but I couldn’t come up with one good reason for why he’d lie about this. There was nothing to gain from doing so. I bent slightly in my chair, wondering if it was possible that I was having a heart attack.
“I’m curious, Cas. Why must we go home?” Kieran asked, and I swore his voice rose with purpose. “When we will be going farther away from where your brother is held.”
“It is the only place we can go,” he replied, those golden eyes remaining fixed on me. “Did you know that an Atlantian can only marry if both halves are standing in the soil of their land? It’s the only way for them to become whole.”
My lips parted as a hush descended over the entire room. Still reeling from the whole half-Atlantian thing, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. That he was saying…
That damn dimple appeared in his right cheek and then in his left. Casteel Da’Neer, the Prince of Atlantia, smiled fully as he lifted our joined hands and said, “We go home to marry, my Princess.”