Fire crackled in the silence as Elon denied her a response, denied her answers. She finally glanced at him and found his gaze already on her.
His eyes were dark with pain. Yet how could he truly be sincere? He obviously didn’t regret his actions. Given that he had foresight, he couldn’t. He had knowingly allowed this to happen, so what right did he have to feel grief?
“Carissa. I never abandon my people.”
Choked laughter escaped her suddenly tight throat. “Is that so? I didn’t see you anywhere when they were being slaughtered. When mothers clung to their babes until they were cut down. When men defended their families until they were beheaded. When children screamed until they were silenced.”
“I left you with them, Carissa.” He stared out across the fire, the bright flames contrasting with the dark in his eyes. “As my queen, you’re my representative. And you were with them.”
She couldn’t even begin to understand the tangle of emotions his words incited. Shame that she was supposed to be their protector and had failed. Anger that he would foist this responsibility onto her while he ran from it. Grief. Confusion. Regret.
Once she felt the emotions settle in her chest, from frothing waves to undulating ripples, she spoke, “That is hardly fair, Elon. And if you didn’t abandon the people, then you certainly abandoned me.” She hoped he could feel the burn of her stare, hoped it would draw his gaze back to hers. “If the people had me, then I had no one.”