God of Malice (Legacy of Gods #1) by Rina Kent
I think I’m going to throw up.
The low word coming from behind me startles me and I flinch as I turn my head to face my brother.
The more approachable of the twins—thankfully.
Brandon stands near the door, wearing khaki shorts and a white shirt. His hair, a realistic imitation of dark chocolate, flies in all directions, as if he just rolled out of bed and landed in my studio.
He throws a finger in the general direction of my horror-esque canvas. “You did that?”
“No. I mean, yeah…maybe. I don’t know. I certainly wasn’t in my right mind.”
“Isn’t that the state of mind all artists strive for?” His eyes soften. They’re so blue, so light, so passionate, like Dad’s. So troubled, too.
Ever since he developed that strong aversion to eyes, Brandon hasn’t been the same.
It takes him a few steps to reach my side and wrap an arm around my shoulder. My brother is about four years older than me and it shows in every contour of his face. In every sure step he takes.
In every calculated move.
Bran has always been orange to me—warm, deep, and one of my favorite colors.
He doesn’t speak for a moment, silently eyeing the painting. I don’t dare to look at it or how he studies it.
I almost don’t dare to breathe as his hand lies nonchalantly on my shoulder like whenever we need each other’s company.
Bran and I have always been a team against the tyrant Lan.
“It’s…absolutely fantastic, Glyn.”
I stare at him from beneath my lashes. “Are you teasing me?”
“I wouldn’t do that about art. I didn’t know you were hiding this talent from us.”
I would rather call this a disaster, a manifestation of my fucked-up muse, than talent.
It can be anything but talent.
“Wait till Mum sees this. She’ll have a blast.”
“No.” I step away from him, the reassurances from earlier fading into terror. “I don’t want to show her… Please, Bran, not Mum.”
She’ll see the violation in the bold strokes and the chaotic lines.
“Hey…” Bran pulls my shaking body into a hug. “It’s okay. If you don’t want Mum to see, I won’t tell her.”
“Thanks.” I bury my face in his chest, and I must dirty his clothes with all the oil paint, but I don’t release him.
Because for the first time since the ordeal, I can finally let go.
I feel safe from everything.
My own head included.
My fingers dig into my brother’s back and he holds me. Silently.
This is why I love Bran the most. He knows how to be an anchor. He knows how to be a brother.
After a while, we break apart, but he doesn’t allow me to leave. Instead, he perches down to stare at me. “What is it, little princess?”
That’s what Dad calls me. Little princess.
Mum is the original princess. The one Dad worships at her altar and makes all her dreams come true.
I’m the princess’s daughter and, therefore, the little princess.
I wipe at the moisture in my eyes. “Nothing, Bran.”
“You don’t sneak to the basement at five in the morning, paint this, and then say it’s nothing. It can be every word under the sun, but nothing should not be on the menu.”
I grab a palette and start mixing random colors just to keep my mind and hands occupied.
Bran, however, doesn’t drop it. He takes a long detour, then stands between me and the painting I’m totally going to throw in the nearest fire.
“Is it about Devlin?”
I flinch, my throat bobbing up and down with a swallow at the name of my friend.
At one point, my closest friend.
The boy who understood my haunting muse as much as I understood his lonely demons.
Until one day, we were ripped apart.
Until one day, we went in different directions.
“It’s not about Dev,” I whisper.
“Bullshit. You think we haven’t noticed that you haven’t been the same since his death? His suicide is not your fault, Glyn. Sometimes, people choose to leave and nothing we could have done would’ve stopped it.”
My eyes blur and my chest constricts until it’s impossible to breathe properly. “Just drop it, Bran.”
“Mum, Dad, and Grandpa are worried about you. I am worried about you. So if there’s anything we can do, tell us. Talk to us. If you don’t express yourself, we’re unable to go anywhere with this situation.”
I feel myself disintegrating and losing ground, so I stop mixing and push the palette into his hands. “You can probably make a beautiful forest à la Bran style with all that green.”
He doesn’t refuse the palette, but he sighs deeply. “If you’re so intent on pushing us away, you might not find us when you actually need us, Glyn.”
A small smile grazes my lips. “I know.”
I’m good at keeping it all in.
Bran isn’t convinced and stays around to try and fish information out of me. This is probably the first time I’ve wished it was Lan who found me and not him. At least Lan wouldn’t push.
He doesn’t care.
Bran cares too much.
As do I.
After a while, however, he takes the palette and leaves. As soon as the door clicks closed, I fall to the ground in front of the painting of a dark cliff, a black star, and reds of passion.
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