Uthyr ignored him. He felt woozy, almost mindless as he gazed into Eigyr’s sparkling eyes. “The comet is the cause of it all. A blaze, hurtling through the sky, shaped into a fiery dragon with two serpentine tails. One lashed out beyond the old Celtic land of Gaul, the other reached towards the Irish Sea and unraveled into seven sparkling threads.” He winked at Eigyr. “Menw, son of Teirwaedd, prophesied the fierce dragon tail that blazed beyond Gaul heralded a son, a king to hold power over all the kingdoms beneath his reach. Its other exhilarant tail symbolized a daughter, whose sons and grandsons would rule over Logres.”
Eigyr laid her hand on the table by her plate. Uthyr covered her hand with his. “This morning I was crowned king, just as that comet foretold. Today I ordered my goldsmith to cast two mystical dragons of pure gold, one for each ray, my future heirs.” The king gave her soft hand a squeeze. “Would you like me to have my goldsmith fashion a memento of this day for you? Perhaps a dragonhead brooch?”
The annoying duke cleared his throat loudly and Uthyr tilted his head toward him. “It is a tradition of Celtic hospitality for a chief to give gifts to his guests. Is it not?”
“You are generous, my king, but my wife has no need of a gold token to remember your coronation.” Gwrlais spoke calmly but there was a hint of anger in his eyes.
“No, I do not, my king.” Eigyr swallowed hard, clearly affected by the tension between her husband and her king. “I shall never forget this day.” She spoke with sincerity.
“Nor I.” Uthyr eased his hand off of hers but held her eyes with his gaze. Eigyr smiled at him with her mouth and her eyes.
Despite Menw’s prophecy of children, Uthyr hadn’t given any thought to settling down to a wife. Until now. He smiled back at Eigyr. The draw he felt toward this woman, the feeling she was his, overwhelmed him. Uthyr didn’t think for one moment that Eigyr wouldn’t prefer him to her husband. He’d been favored all his life. He was always the tallest, the fastest, the most handsome. Everyone loved Uthyr as a boy, and when he’d grown into a man … he expected that same favoritism. And he always got it.
He tore his gaze away from Eigyr to look around the banquet hall, seeking his druid. Once his eyes fell on Menw, the statuesque, regal druid nodded at Uthyr.
Within his mind, Uthyr heard a smooth, calming voice that rang with wisdom. Without opening his mouth, Menw said to him alone, “She is the one. The Pendragon’s mate. God Dewy, shapeshifter of the dragon, deems it so.”
Menw knew all. Uthyr did not doubt him. But a moment of confusion flitted through his mind. Eigyr is married to one of my nobles. He popped a hot cockle in his mouth and chewed slowly as he gazed at Eigyr. Does that matter… if the gods chose her as the mother of my children…the woman who will birth the mighty hero king of Britain and beyond?
His hunger grew for more than food. How he longed to touch that silky hair plaited into six braids. He envisioned freeing each braid and watching the wealth of hair spill loose and spread across his bed as she lay upon it, ready to give herself to him.
“Scrumptious,” he rasped as he smiled at her. He wanted her. Needed her. The gods wanted him to have her.
Eigyr returned his smile and he knew she wanted him, too. Uthyr’s moment of doubt in pursing Gwrlais’ wife vanished. Gwrlais no longer mattered to him.
“Yes, the cockles look delicious.” Eigyr lifted the goblet to her lips and took a sip.
He meant her, not the shucked, steamed shellfish, but now he could offer her some since she seemed to like them. “I am served the choice bits of all.” He scooped up a small pile of cockles with his spoon and deposited them on her plate. If only he could feed them to her. Touch her luscious lips, watch them part, and push a cockle into her mouth. But her husband sat at her side and would no doubt make more foolish comments at such a gesture.
Of course, Uthyr was king. And a better man for her. Should not the most beautiful woman in the kingdom be with the most powerful man? She deserved nothing less than a true hero. Eigyr should be with the champion of Britannia…him…the Pendragon.
Her blue eyes gleamed with surprise as he shared the shellfish from his plate. Eigyr picked up a cockle with her slender fingers. She pressed it to her full lips, which formed a perfect circle. A surge of heat shot through him. He stiffened as she sucked the soft flesh deep into her mouth.
“Delicious.” She licked her lips.
Uthyr’s mouth watered with desire for this scrumptious woman. “Delightful.” Still, he could not say the things he wanted to, here at the feasting table with her husband by her side. He had to keep his desire secret from Gwrlais. Otherwise he might try to stop Eigyr from coming to Uthyr. If he did, Uthyr would kill him.
As Eigyr devoured the cockles with relish, Uthyr shifted his gaze to his trusted friend, Ulfin, who sat further down at the table. Uthyr gestured to him and soon Ulfin stood at his side.
Ulfin leaned his head down and Uthyr whispered to him, “Have the cupbearer bring Eigyr a goblet with a note. It shall say she is more comely than any woman in Britain. And I beg to have a private word with her in my chambers after the feast. Sign it, Pendragon. Eigyr will withdraw the note, then the cupbearer will brim the goblet with mead.” Uthyr fluttered his fingers in dismissal.
Ulfin headed toward the cupbearer to see to the task.