“IT IS DONE,” Privanax grunted, the sizzling sound of his lasers ceasing.
Cara relaxed at Devix’s side. She knew it had to hurt, getting those claw marks closed up and the wound disinfected. But her mate had showed no outward signs of discomfort, had only kept her gaze during the entire thing.
Rixavox had left shortly after bringing Devix to Privanax’s labs. He’d gone just down the hall, to oversee the imprisonment of Pidixa, and to meet with Vaxa’an and the council of elders. Not only was Devix vindicated, but Rixavox as well. The council had called for Rixavox’s resignation eight rotations ago, after all, simply because he shared Devix’s blood.
Cara blew out a breath, hardly believing everything that had transpired. And now that Privanax had closed up Devix’s wound and had endured her endless questions that her mate would be okay—the healer had assured her he would be—she could finally relax.
Devix murmured, “Are you well, Cara?”
“Dev, I’m fine,” she said.
“Truly? You have endured a lot, luxiva, leading up to that trial. And during the trial, you saw…” Devix swallowed, trailing off his words. “I had hoped to spare you from that, from seeing that violence.”
“I’m not a child, Devix,” she murmured lightly, but she was touched by his concern. “The fight wasn’t pretty. I saw everything and I’ll remember a lot of it, but the most important thing to me is that you came out of it okay. I don’t care about anything else and I definitely don’t want you to worry about me.”
Privanax returned after putting away his lasers, interrupting the conversation.
“It is your turn now, female,” he told Cara.
Cara looked at him. “My turn for what?”
“We agreed the offspring would be closely monitored,” Privanax replied, eyeing her, probably wary from the last time they’d been in the same room together, when she’d laid into him for what he said about Devix. “It has been long enough.”
Devix squeezed her hand and she nodded, knowing it would reassure her mate if anything else.
“Alright,” she said. Trading spots with Devix, she took her place on the table, lying back, just as she’d done the first time. Privanax retrieved his scanner and started up his equipment. When he came back with a familiar needle, she bit her lip and held out her palm, letting him prick her finger for a blood sample.
And as his machine did whatever it needed to do with her blood, he ran his scanner over her body, before zeroing in on her pelvic area.
The room was silent as he ran his tests and it was ten or fifteen minutes later when he finally finished.
“How is the baby?” she asked him.
“Healthy,” Privanax replied and she felt Devix relax next to her. “I see you performed a blood bond during the ravraxia. Your blood has changed. I believe it will benefit the offspring’s growth, if it hasn’t already. Your gestation will begin to accelerate rapidly, now that you have the sire’s blood in your veins.”
“Okay,” she murmured.
Privanax looked at Devix for a brief moment before his gaze flickered back to Cara. “Have you decided whether you will stay on Luxiria until the offspring is birthed?”
Cara looked over at Devix, but his expression was careful. She knew what he wanted, that he believed they should stay on Luxiria until the birth. It was the safest option, not only for the child, but for her. If something went wrong on Rozun…
“We’ve decided to stay,” she murmured, meeting her mate’s gaze. His breath hitched and he touched her hand, hopeful. She returned her gaze to Privanax. “But we may be staying in Velraxa, not the Golden City. Are there healers there that can assist with the pregnancy if anything goes wrong?”
“Tev,” Privanax replied. “Rixavox would not allow his luxiva to live there if there were not. Kirzalla is an accomplished healer. And she will be able to transmit scans to me here, so that I can monitor your gestation as well.”
Cara nodded. “Thank you.”
Privanax jerked his head in a nod and began to put his equipment away. When he was finished, he hesitated but then straightened his spine.
“Devix,” he said, addressing her mate, “I wish to say that I was wrong about you. I heard what happened, that Pidixa confessed during the trial. I can hardly believe that a Luxirian warrior would dishonor another male that way, that a Luxirian female would allow what happened to happen and say nothing.”
Devix inclined his head, but Privanax continued.
“I wronged you, in believing them. I ask for your forgiveness.” His eyes met Cara’s. “And your forgiveness, as well, for what I said to you during our last meeting.”
“You have mine, Privanax,” Devix said. “I do not wish to hold you against your beliefs. It was a difficult tribunal. I am just glad that they finally confessed.”
Privanax inclined his head. “Thank you.”
When he met Cara’s gaze, she gave him a small smile. If Devix forgave him, so would she. Of course she would. “I forgive you as well. I’m glad we can move past this.”
Privanax’s shoulders relaxed and the male actually smiled. It was small, but it was there.
“Thank you, female,” he said. He jerked his head in a nod. “I will depart now. Take your time here, if you need to rest more.”
Then the healer left, leaving them alone in his labs.
The room was quiet, except for the humming of equipment and Cara met Devix’s gaze, happy, relieved.
He sat next to her when she pushed up from her position and, despite his injuries, drew her into his lap so he could hold her.
“You make me the happiest male in the universe,” he said to her.
“That’s funny,” she replied, “because I was thinking something similar about you.” She blew out a breath, feeling the weight of the day leave her body. “I’m so relieved, Dev. About everything.”
“I told you I would never leave you,” he rasped. “Ever.”
“You better not,” she warned. He was still covered in blood and grit from the fighting floor, but she didn’t care. They would wash it off together once they got back to their dwelling.
“Did you mean it?” he asked after a brief moment of silence. “About staying here until the offspring is born?”
“Yes,” she said, turning to meet his eyes so he would see that she was serious. She cupped his face, stroking her thumbs over his cheekbones, careful to avoid a painful looking cut. “I know that you worry about me. And you’re right. It’s safer if we stay here until our baby is born. We don’t know what can happen.”
She felt his relief through the blood bond. She hadn’t realized how much her decision weighed on him until just that moment and she felt ashamed for making him worry so much.
“And Velraxa?” he asked next.
She gave him a small smile. “Well, Cecelia kind of invited us. And I’m sure you want to be close to your brother, while we’re here. I just want you to be happy, Dev. And I know being close to him, reconnecting with him, would make you happy.”
“You make me happy,” he told her, his chest beginning to purr. She smiled. “But tev, I would like to be close to him, to take advantage of the time we have together. I have missed him.”
“I know.” Cara leaned forward to place a small kiss on his lips. Then she murmured, “Do you think your exile will be lifted now?”
Devix blew out a breath. “Nothing like this has ever transpired before. There are no laws in place that would dictate what happens, so I truly do not know.”
“But what do you think?”
Devix met her eyes. “I think it will be lifted.”
Cara grinned, relief threading through her limbs, making them feel heavy. She would sleep so well that night. They both would. “Thank God.” Teasingly, she said, “Maybe now you can start growing out your hair again.”
He chuckled, but then stopped, no doubt due to the pain from his healing wound. “Tev, perhaps. I know you would like that.”
“I most definitely would.”
Devix’s expression sobered and he reached up to brush back her hair from her face. In a soft tone, he murmured, “I love you, Cara.”
“Say it again,” she whispered, her heart fluttering in her chest.
“I love you,” he repeated, leaning down to kiss her lips. “I love you.”
Cara closed her eyes, feeling her mate against her body, feeling his warmth. It reassured her in a way nothing else could. Though their future was uncertain, she would always have him. Always.
“I love you too, Dev.”
And no matter what happened next, she always would.