Across the room, Joscelin shoved himself to his feet. "Phedre."
"Yes?" I glanced up from the table.
"Leave them out of it." His expression was unreadable. "If you insist on playing dangerous games, so be it, but don't drag these poor, besotted boys into your intrigues. I can't protect the lot of you."
"Did I ask you to?" I felt my ire rise. "If it disturbs you so greatly, then leave. Throw yourself at the feet of the Prefect and beg forgiveness. Or go tell Ysandre I release you from my service, and beg leave to attend her. She's used to having Cassilines around."
Joscelin gave a short laugh. "And let you go hurtling into peril with three half-trailed sailors to ward you? At least allow me to keep from dishonoring the last vow I've kept, Phedre."
I opened my mouth to reply, but Fortun cleared his throat, intervening. "Quintillius Rouse does not pick half-trained sailors for his flagship, brother."
"It's not the same." Steel glinted from Joscelin's vambraces as he shifted in frustration. "You're trained to battle, not to protect and serve. It's not the same at all."
"I am learning." Fortun's voice held steady.
Theur gazes locked, and I held my tongue. What would it profit, to come between them? Joscelin had to choose freely, or not at all. After a moment, he threw up his hands with a sound of disgust.
"I wish you the joy of them," he said harshly to me, and left the room.
I hadn't thought he'd go. I stared after him.
"He'll be back," Fortun said calmly. "He cares too much to leave you, my lady."
"I'm not so sure," I whispered. "I didn't think he'd go at all."
Hm... I'm going to have to dig up my Kushiel icons.