By Brenna Lyons
Lord Sevryn is home for a visit with his intemperate mother and spoiled siblings. Between rants about lowborns, courtesy of his mother, Sev makes a wondrous discovery; one of the maids his mother hired in his absence is his Goddess-destined soulmate.
Or is she? Bettina is his soulmate, to be sure, but otherwise she's not what she seems. Her reasons for avoiding Sev are complicated. Mates don't hide things from one another, and there is a lot Bettina is hiding. For one thing, she's not lowborn. Raised in the lap of luxury, she decided to run rather than embrace a power that threatens her mind and heart.
The estate of Lady Valree Spring, Hanford, Planet Kielan
May 25th, 3756
“Really, Mother,” Sevryn Spring drawled, sipping the brandy clenched between his fingers. Before the visit was over, he might need a bottle instead of a glass.
“The whole thing is simply scandalous,” Valree continued.
“Scandalous?” he half-laughed. “Finding a soulmate is scandalous these days?” His humor was bitter and brittle. If Sev found his soulmate, her class was the last thing he’d worry about.
“He was the filthiest little rag, Sevryn...and he was all over her.”
He didn’t reply to that. Nothing he said would change his mother’s mind, not even the fact that she knew herself how powerful the connection between soulmates was. By all accounts, Valree had been half-undressed and full of his father’s cock within minutes of setting eyes on him. He sipped the vintage again, nodding to half-heard comments.
Father would have understood. There was little question about that.
But his father was dead, and his mother’s dislike of lowborns got worse with every passing season. It was upsetting, in some way he couldn’t define; his mother’s bias made him uncomfortable with being in her company.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Valree snapped.
“My apologies, mi’lady.” The servant was already on her way back to the door. No doubt she’d come in, thinking the room was empty, simply following the schedule she’d established for her work.
“Rude little tramp,” his mother grumbled over her blue amber tea.
“Really, Mother,” he repeated, his cheeks heating as the servant stiffened at the insult.
“She probably came in here to catch your eye. All these servant girls want to bed noblemen with some thought of...”
Sev didn’t hear the rest. His emotions were suddenly a riot of embarrassment, outrage, and indecision. He had to change the subject. “And how are Lewin’s studies progressing?” he inquired.
Valree snapped her mouth shut, and a smile curved her lips at the mention of her younger son. “Splendidly. He’s all the architect of your grandmother and more.”
He took down a swallow of the drink instead of a sip. There it was again, the hint that there was something lacking in Sev, because he was neither a healer like his father, grandfather, and sister Elewyn were nor a creative type like the rest of his grandparents and Lewin were. Sev’s talents ran to machines, and machines were simply too common a talent for his mother’s tastes. They never spoke about his work.
His mother went on and on, gushing about Lewin. Sev let her, his gaze straying to the closed door, his mind to the woman who’d disappeared through it.