Seth leaned into his shoulder, and Tristan sucked in a breath, opening his eyes as he looked over at the younger man. While Tristan had seen nine centuries come and go, Seth was only in his mid-thirties. He was a pup compared to Tristan, yet he was still a man, a warrior…and sexy as hell. He was a good two inches taller than Tristan and had spiky brown hair that looked as if he’d rolled out of bed and ran his hands through the strands. He had a decent upper body, but it tapered off to a slender waist and hips. His legs were thick, though not as muscular as Tristan’s. Tristan had dreamt of what Seth’s tail would look like, but he’d never seen the man in his other form. Though Seth had never seen Tristan in his other form either, as he’d hidden his pointed ears with a cloaking spell. And since he wasn’t using his powers, his skin didn’t put off the faint glow that usually came with that.
Seth had his hands in his pockets and a frown on his face. Though his eyes wore the wide look of innocence, Tristan knew that was just a bluff. There was nothing innocent about a warrior of any realm. Seth just hadn’t been out of his realm much, and he was taking everything in. That much Tristan knew. If he could get his head out of his ass, Tristan knew he’d be able to help the younger man learn all about the new realms and explore their deep secrets.
Only he wasn’t sure he could do that and not lean close, not want to touch or find out every secret the merman held in his own right.
Tristan let out a breath. “Let’s head to the table and get this over with.”
Seth just shook his head. “That kind of attitude won’t help the situation.”
“And what will?” Tristan bit out. “Hmm? She doesn’t feel what we do. She doesn’t have the connection to us that she should. You’ve seen the way she reacts when we’re in the room. She stiffens up and acts as if she can’t stand to be with us. She’s lightning-struck. Meaning she’s not a regular human, and she’ll turn into her paranormal counterpart once she mates with her true half. But before that, she should at least feel something. All of the other women have in the presence of their mates. Amara does nothing. She doesn’t even suck in a breath or lean toward us when we’re near. There’s no recognition in her eyes.”
“There’s something there,” Seth said softly, his voice firm. “If we just ask her…”
Tristan shook his head. “And what will that do? It’ll only show us what we already know. She doesn’t feel the start of the bond. It’ll hurt. She shouldn’t be forced to feel that.” He couldn’t be hurt like that, and frankly, he didn’t want to hurt Seth either.
Seth just snorted. “Seriously? You’re how old? And yet you don’t know that if you just talk to a woman, you’ll learn infinitely more than glaring from a corner and thinking you know better.”
Tristan raised a brow. “I’m not an idiot.” Just because he was acting like one at the moment didn’t make him an idiot. “I know that if we were to actually have a conversation about this, we’d know for sure that she doesn’t feel the same as us, but…”
“But you don’t want to know for sure,” Seth finished for him. “Because once you do, then it’s over. We’ll end up pining for a mate we never had in the first place. I get it. That’s why you and I haven’t…” Seth trailed off, and the top of his ears turned red.
Tristan let out a sigh then turned to the man who would be his other mate if things were different. While the two of them could form a bond and find happiness…it wouldn’t be the same without their third. Tristan didn’t want to hurt the other man by allowing him to think he wasn’t enough—even if technically that was true, at least in a sense.
Hence, why all of this sucked ass.
Tristan cupped Seth’s face and met the other man’s gaze. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “So damn sorry.”
Seth gave him a sad grin and shrugged before pulling away. “I still think we should actually speak to her. In fact…” he paused. “I might do that without you. I was staying back because, well…because you’re older and more experienced. But I don’t want to risk losing something that could be it for us because we didn’t talk to her. Because we didn’t try.”