"I think you've confused me for someone else."
His eyebrow lifted questioningly.
"I'm not this Keriam Ezahdhee person and we are not married."
"We are married. In a manner of speaking." He grudgingly allowed.
"In a manner of–-" she repeated in disbelief, then shook her head. "Are you insane?"
"We were betrothed as children. It is a Gar'Ja union," he explained, not meeting her eyes. With an irritated grunt, he added, "Today that means you are my Alliance wife."
"Alliance wife? And what do you mean I was betrothed to you as a child?" Her temper rose and she fisted her hands on her knees to keep from pitching the remaining fruit at him. "I've never seen you before."
Eric extracted a silver disk from his belt pouch. A circle of air glowed between them, then Keriam saw herself as a baby. Her mouth went dry as she stared at her image, wincing when her baby-self yowled fiercely. As the image looped back to its beginning, Eric did something to the disk and the image vanished. "This was taken at our Gar'Ja celebration shortly before you and your mother disappeared."
Stunned, she sank back against the tree. The young toddler was her, she had no doubt of that. The image matched photos taken of her right after she and her mother were found. Photos that were plastered over television and newspapers across the country. She hated that. It made her seem an object of curiosity. A freak who didn't have a past.
"Of course I don't remember the ceremony--" Eric continued as he put the disk away. "--being a youngling myself. Not many of us follow the old ways but clan Ebrur and clan Sadhe are more conservative than most. The Sadhe are an old and respected clan while the Ebrur are relative new bloods. The alliance benefits both of us." He eyed her consideringly. "I have no wish to bind you again, Stonebearer. Give me your word of honor you won't fight me, or try to escape, and I'll leave you unbound."
Heartstone Available in Trade Paperback or E-Formats at Mundania Press