Laria hated her.
It had been two days since Laria’s brother, Mani, had died. He had loved Somia. He’d supported his sister in her pursuit of Malar, even confessed to her his love of Somia. He had planned to make his move once he hit breeding age. He’d been so confident, so proud, so ready…
And now he was gone. Dead. Torn from his sister’s life by a fatal blow in the depths of Woodland Path. Lost to the wilderness, like so many others.
Laria had broken down crying, pawing at her brother’s corpse, bawling like a hatchling. Her mother had choked before burying her nose in her husband’s long neck to hide her tears. Her father had stood strong like the mighty Imperial that he was, but his eyes were glassy with unshed tears.
Somia had stood by in shock. Somia had mourned. Somia had cried.
But she would never realize what she missed out on. She’d never know Mani’s laugh. His love. His life. She’d never know. All she knew was that he was Laria’s sister, Remia and Thrax’s son, a smooth-talking Wildclaw with a knack for mischief.
And Laria hated her for her ignorance. Just hated her.
That hate would fuel her to confess to Malar that very night. Laria refused to be robbed of love because she had wanted to put it off for another day, like her brother had. If she was going to die, she was going to make sure Malar, her crush, knew that she loved him. Then there would be no ignorance at her funeral.
Her hate was soothed by Malar’s smile. His acceptance. His warmth as they cuddled under the moonlight.
But the hate refused to die. It would live as long as Laria did. As long as Somia did.
Malar’s love had stopped its growth. For that, Laria was grateful.
Even if she’d still hate Somia for the rest of her days, it was worth it to get Malar.