I wasn’t scared because people said that he was the devil’s son, they couldn’t be speaking literally. They were probably referring to his personality, that he maybe was a liar, a tempter, a murderer, manipulative or that he was just pure evil and that’s what scared me.
A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts, and shortly after a court lady came in.
“My lady, it’s time.” She informed.
I descended the stairs, careful not to fall or stumble, but it was hard with the long dress and the heavy jewelry. I was relieved when there were only a few steps left, but just then I stepped on my dress and stumbled forward, almost falling before a strong arm came around my waist and saved me ruining myself on my wedding day.
Straightening myself I looked up to see who it was. Who had dared to touch a princess like that? Not that I minded, I was just curious.
Looking up, my eyes met a pair of golden eyes. No, wait! Not golden, they had the color of flames or the lava from a volcano. I had never seen eyes like that before.
“Are you alright My Lady?” Asked the man in front of me with a frown.
If I had knots in my stomach before, now suddenly I had butterflies as I gazed into his eyes.
Who was this man? I had never seen him before. He was tall, broad-shouldered and his thick raven black hair fell over his shoulders down to his waist. You could tell from the clothes that he was royalty. Could he be one of the royalties who came to attend my wedding?
“Yes, yes… I am… I am fine My Lord.” I replied.
“My Lady,” He bowed elegantly before turning around and leaving.
“That’s one good looking man.” Ylva pointed as I stared at his back while he walked away.
Yes, I thought to myself. Very good looking but I was getting married and didn’t have the luxury to look at other men.
“Shall we?” I asked but Lydia and Ylva were too occupied to hear what I said. They kept following him with their gaze until he was out of sight.
I snapped my finger in front of their face to wake them up. “Yes, yes My lady. Let’s go.” They hurried to say.
The ceremony would begin with a greeting exchange between the bride and the groom and their families. I gave the guard a nod and he informed my presence, then motioned for me to enter.
Lydia and Ylva gave me a reassuring smile before I left them behind to walk inside. Now I was all on my own.
Taking a deep breath I strode into the hall carefully and immediately all heads turned to look at me. I walked with my head high but kept my gaze low, only looking at the floor until I reached the throne where my father was sitting with my mother next to him. While greeting them I felt my legs tremble.
Mother smiled at me nervously but my father just gestured for me to sit down at a table nearby. He was unbothered by the fact that he was marrying me off to a prince rumored to be the devil’s son.
Ignoring my father I smiled at my mother then went to my seat. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me, some stared at me with pity and others with repulsion as if it was my fault that I was getting married to whomever I was getting married to. They should blame my father not me.
After a while, the guard informed the groom’s presence and everyone turned their attention from me to the door. The room went quiet as the guests waited for the groom to enter. I, on the other hand, looked down quickly and rubbed my hands together nervously as I felt the knots in my stomach return. I wanted to look up but I was afraid.
What if I didn’t like what I saw? What if the rumors were true? Would he have red eyes and long nails, and maybe even black horns on his head? Don’t be ridiculous, I told myself and decided to take a look.
Slowly I glanced at the door as my heart hammered inside my chest and almost gasped when the groom entered.
This was the man from earlier with the golden eyes. He couldn’t be the groom, could he?
The guests stared at him surprised as well and began to whisper hysterically into each other’s ears. They must have been expecting someone with black horns to enter the room and not some tall, elegant looking man.
Not the least bothered by the whispers or stares he walked gracefully toward my father, taking each step with confidence.
“Your Majesty,” he said bowing slightly.
I dropped my jaw, so did the guests. No one bowed slightly to the king. This man was truly fearless and being disrespectful toward my father. I already got a bad feeling about him. Not because I thought my father deserved any kind of respect but because he was so daring with his actions already.
He must have noticed people’s reactions; it was so obvious, but he didn’t seem to care. My father, on the other hand, didn’t react, he just gestured toward me.
As I saw him turn to me I looked down quickly, then heard the clicking sound of his footsteps as he neared before sitting on the other end of the table, facing me.
He didn’t utter a word. Wasn’t he supposed to greet me or at least tell me his name? I don’t think father ever told me his name but I don’t think I gave him the chance either. I had fought and cried the day father told me he was marrying me off to some stranger, but my father was stubborn and had already made up his mind.
“Today we are gathered to celebrate my daughter’s wedding to the prince of the Decresh,” Father began to speak once everyone was seated. He raised his golden wine cup, “Let the ceremony begin, and enjoy yourselves.”
People clapped while dancers and musicians walked in to entertain the guests. People seemed to be enjoying themselves. I, of course, couldn’t see since I was supposed to keep my gaze down, because ‘that’s what a lady should do’. Well then, I hate being a lady.
“Don’t you like the music?” He finally asked breaking the awkward silence. I peeked through my long lashes, but once I gazed into his eyes it was hard to look away. They were captivating.
“I do Your Highness,” I replied.
“What do you have in store for the tea ceremony?”
Oh no! The tea ceremony! That was the traditional part of the royal wedding where the bride has to show one of her talents to entertain the guests and impress the groom. Hell with impressing. I didn’t want to impress anyone, especially not this man.
“It is a surprise, Your Highness,” I said, sending him a staged smile.
I was sitting in a chair in the middle of the room, everyone’s attention directed at me. It was time for the tea ceremony. The guests would sit and enjoy their tea while I would have to entertain them.
I took up my flute before lightly putting it on my lips, and started playing. Soon my nervousness disappeared. I loved playing the flute, loved the sound of it. Closing my eyes, I let the sound take me far away, to a peaceful place. Now and then I would hear some people praising me through my haze and then they applauded when I was done.
Opening my eyes I found him staring directly at me. He wasn’t applauding but there was a hint of a smile on his face.
Now it was time for the gift exchange. We exchanged our gifts, and then it was time for me to go to my new home. The knot in my stomach returned with such intensity that I felt like throwing up.
Mother came up to me while father spoke to my husband. Husband? The word sounded strange in my head. She took my hands in hers. “Everything is going to be fine,” she said, “just remember what I told you”.
Yes, I remembered very clearly our mother and daughter talk. To be a good wife, to listen to your husband and to not make him angry.
“Yes, I will,” I said, enveloping her in a tight hug. I wasn’t supposed to, but right now I didn’t care because I might never see her again.
The carriage was waiting outside. The prince, or should I say, my husband led the way. I looked behind me one last time and found Lydia and Ylva standing on the balcony, their cheeks wet with tears.
“I will miss you too,” I whispered.
We rode home in silence. I hated it because it made me nervous, and gave me time to think of what was waiting once we arrived. The wedding consummation. I had never even touched a man before, father made sure of that, and now I would… I shook my head. You’re scaring yourself, I scolded myself. Maybe he would spare me tonight if he had someone else to be with.
“Do you have another wife, Your Highness?” I asked.
I shouldn’t have. It was none of my business. Mother had told me to be careful not to ask a prince such questions, but I didn’t care. I needed to know what was waiting for me once we reached home.
He turned his gaze to me and narrowed his eyes. Did he get angry?
“No, I don’t.” He answered slowly.
I was surprised that I felt relieved when I shouldn’t have. This would only mean that I would have to spend the night with him. I shivered at the thought.
“But I have many mistresses.” He finished.
Oh, of course. Why didn’t I think about it? He was an attractive man and a prince. I wanted to curse, but he suddenly laughed.
“You don’t seem to like that,” He drawled.
Why would I? But I couldn’t say that, indeed.
“It’s not for me to like or dislike, Your Highness,” I stated simply.
He didn’t say anything to that.
I wondered what his name would be.
“You may call me Lucian when we are alone”.
Lucian. I repeated the name in my head. I liked the sound of it.
After a while, the carriage stopped, and then a guard informed us that we had arrived. Lucian stepped out of the carriage and offered me his hand. I took it, and he helped me down.
The castle was grand and the garden even more luxurious, with green bushes and colorful flowers. The castle was made of ivory walls and several tall, square towers. The towers were connected by large bridges and small windows covered its walls along with gaps for archery and artillery.
There was a big fountain in the middle of the garden surrounded by grass and bushed in all kinds of shapes. Different range of flowers were symmetrically scattered across the garden. It was truly a beautiful sight.
“Lucian?” someone called and I turned my head to see who.
Four men in royal robes approached us from a distance.
“We came to welcome you and your bride,” One of them spoke as they neared.
“Is that so?” Lucian asked.
“Of course, we are brothers after all!” The other behind him smirked.
“Why don’t you and your bride join us for dinner?” He suggested. “We would like take a closer look at your bride,” and then he shot me a glance.
Lucian walked up to his brother, standing only a few inches away from him. It looked like he was trying to intimidate him which clearly worked because suddenly his brother’s guards grabbed their weapons as if ready to attack.
Lucians guards reached for their weapons as well and there was suddenly tension in the air.
What was happening? I thought they were brothers or did I hear wrong?
“Thank you brother, but I must decline,” Lucian said in a polite tone, that didn’t match the menacing look in his eyes.
Turning his back to his brother, he took my hand, gripping it hard he dragged me through the halls of the castle. He was angry.
“Won’t we greet your parents, Your Highness?” I asked.
Lucian came to a halt and his grip on my hand loosened. “My mother is dead,” he said his voice void of any emotion, “and the King, do not worry about him, he does not matter,” he added then started walking again, only this time he didn’t drag me.
As we strode through the halls with Lucian still holding my hand two maids appeared in front of us.
“Your Highness,” they greeted with a bow. “With your permission, we would like to prepare Her Highness.” They inquired.
Prepare me for what? Preparing is what I have been doing my entire life.
At first, Lucian didn’t let go of my hand, but when the maids gave him a pleading look he released me and left without a word.
The maids motioned for me to follow them and led me to a dressing room where they helped me get out of my wedding dress and slip into a beautiful white nightgown with its matching robe, both made of silk. They took out the pins in my hair and let it fall in waves. After putting some scents onto my skin, they served me tea.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s a herb tea that will help you relax and decrease the pain, Your Highness.”
“What pain?” I said, but then realized what they were talking about.
They must have seen the horror on my face because I could see pity on theirs. Why did they pity me? Was he going to be rough with me? Well, he didn’t seem like the gentle type from the way he gripped my wrist earlier. It was as if his hand was made of steel.
“I don’t need it,” I said and stood up straight. “Just take me to the chamber”.
They hesitated but then followed my orders and led me to our private chamber where they sat me down on the bed. Adjusting my hair and gown they took one last look to see if everything was perfect.
“We will inform His Highness that you are ready,” they informed and left.
The worst scenarios appeared in my head and my heart pounded so hard in my chest that it was getting difficult to breathe. My hands started to sweat and my head began to spin. I waited for what seemed like hours but was likely just minutes.
After the long wait, the door finally opened and Lucian stepped inside. Closing the door behind him he just stood there for a while, studying me with those odd eyes of his before approaching me slowly.
“Aren’t you tired?” he asked standing a few steps away.
“I am, Your Highness.”
“Lucian,” he corrected.
“Lucian,” I repeated, in barely a whisper.
“Then we should go to sleep,” he said and lay down on the bed next to where I sat. “I am tired too.”
Lucian looked at the woman in front of him. She looked so frightened. He wondered if she was scared for the obvious reasons, or if she was scared because she had heard the rumors about him. Either way, he didn’t blame her. Most people feared him, even his own father. He never dared to look his son in the eyes. Lucian always wondered what he had done to make his father fear him.
He always knew that he was different. He had even scared himself when he was a little boy, when he had discovered what he could do.
When he, for the first time, moved an object with just a thought, or when he had wished his brother could burn, and then suddenly his brothers’ clothes were on fire. Everyone rushing to help him get out of the flaming clothes. That day he had been terrified. Running to his room he had cried in a corner, wishing he could talk to someone about it. But who? His father feared and hated him; he would just scare him even more, and his mother was dead. He wondered how she would react.
His brothers used to play with him at first, but then when they got older and started their training, they noticed he was faster, stronger and a better fighter. He was also a very skilled swordsman; his teachers always praised him. But his brothers, they mocked him, telling him to stop cheating. ′Cheating is what the Devil does,′ they would say.
The maids had mixed feelings about him. They were as attracted to him as they were scared. Some of them liked the thrill, the danger. The young ones would give him seductive glances, but the older maids would warn them. ‘Be careful,’ they would say, ‘tempting people and making them sin is what he does.’ Some would listen some wouldn’t.
The only people who didn’t fear him or hate him were his men. His soldiers. They were tough men who didn’t believe in rumors. They respected him. Still, they weren’t his family; he could only talk business with them.
Lucian looked at the woman now laying beside him. The woman who was his family now. She was laying so far out on the edge he was afraid she would fall from the bed. She didn’t even move, she was so stiff. Even though he told her to sleep, he could still hear her heart beating wildly inside her chest.
She had surprised him earlier with her bold questions. He liked her so far; she amused him. Lucian remembered the look on her face when he told her that he had mistresses. She was probably the jealous type. I guess I like jealous, he thought, smiling to himself. And when she played the flute, and when she had whispered his name.
Now she was as timid as a rabbit. That, he didn’t like.
That night I had a dream. I was running, terrified. I was running for my life, and something was chasing me. Something dark. Something with intent to kill. I couldn’t see it but I could feel its presence. It wanted me. It was hungry and angry and it wouldn’t stop hunting me until it caught me. I ran so fast that I stumbled on my own feet and fell. It was close now; it would catch me.
A dark figure slowly appeared from the shadows. It had red eyes and horns. Black horns, curling like the devils. It stretched its hands toward me. I could see its nails that looked more like claws. They were coming closer. I shrieked a high, panicked sound. It had caught me, and now it was shaking me.
“My Lady! My Lady!” a gentle voice urged. I shot my eyes open with a gasp and found Lucian looming over me.
“You’re ok,” He assured, brushing something away from my face. “It was just a dream.”
I was panting and sweat dripped down my face. I was scared and confused. Lucian pulled me to his chest. He held me in his arms and stroke my hair.
“It’s alright.” He whispered softly. “Relax and sleep.”
Eventually, as I lay in his arms, my heartbeat returned to a steady rhythm and I fell asleep once again.
When I woke up a few maids were already in the room but there was no sign of Lucian. I remembered last night while the maids helped me get prepared. I was surprised at the fact that I was still untouched. He hadn’t even tried. He must have been tired from the long journey, but tonight there was no escape. Maybe I should talk to him and tell him that I wasn’t ready yet, I thought. The question was how.
I got out of the bed and the maids helped me bathe and get dressed.
“His Highness wants you to join him for breakfast, My Lady,” One of the maids informed when she was done with my hair.
“Lead the way,” I said.
The maid led me to the garden just outside the room. There Lucian was standing with his back toward me and his arms crossed behind his back.
He turned around and I couldn’t understand why my heart skipped a beat. “My Lady, did you have a good night’s sleep?”
“I did, Your Highness. How about you?” He probably didn’t, but it felt courteous to ask. I must have disturbed him with my dream.
“I have slept well. Do you mind having breakfast with me?” I didn’t expect him to be so polite.
“I would love to,” I answered with a smile.
The breakfast smelled and looked delicious. There were several dishes and their food wasn’t much different from ours back home. But because of the knots in my stomach that still refused to go away, I couldn’t eat much. Instead, I would glance at the garden now and then. It was beautiful. There was a gorgeous range of flowers; roses, daisies, daffodils. Carved hedged depicted strange shapes all around the space.
We had a beautiful garden back home too, but it was nothing compared to this.
Suddenly Lucian stood up from his seat and walked over to me, holding his hand out for me to grasp.
“Walk with me,” he said and I blushed. He must have noticed me ogling the garden, but how could I not. Back home I rarely went outside because of my fathers’ strict rules and now I was walking through the most beautiful garden I have ever seen.
“You never go out?” he asked, with a curious expression.
“No, my father would not allow it.”
“So you have always been at home?”
“Yes,” was my short reply.
“Well, you can walk around here anytime. It’s our personal garden” He said with a charming smile.
“Really?” My voice was colored with excitement and surprise. He nodded.
After walking for a while in silence, I decided now was the best time to bring up the consummation.
“About the wedding consummation, I…I’m not ready yet.” I looked down quickly, afraid to meet his gaze. My heart pounded in my ears as I waited for an answer. A laugh, an angry exclamation, anything.
“I know, it’s alright,” he said gently. I looked up in surprise and breathed out in relief.
“I could just go to one of my mistresses to satisfy my needs.” He added.
The smile on my face died and I clenched my fists. Why was I getting angry? He could go wherever he wanted and fool around with whoever he wanted. He could go to hell. Suddenly he laughed. What was so funny?
“If you don’t want me to go, then tell me.” He said leaning closer.
“I don’t want you to go” I repeated.
Shocked at my own outburst, I put a hand over my mouth. He laughed again.
Eventually, he stopped laughing. “Hazel,” he said stepping closer and gazing into my eyes.
He knew my name.
Of course. Men got always more informed about their spouses then women. Unfair.
“I promise you one thing and I will stand by my word. I will treat you well.” He then took my hand in his and kissed my knuckles, his flaming eyes never leaving mine. My heart fluttered inside my chest.
Dropping my hand,”I have to go, make yourself at home.” He said before walking away.
A maid showed me around. The castle had several quarters. Every prince and his family had their own quarters and their own household staff, including servants, cooks, and guards. I had already looked around our personal garden and I especially liked the white swing with a ceiling, surrounded by white and pink roses in a half-circle.
We then went through the halls that led to several smaller halls. The smaller halls had several doors that led to different rooms. One hall led to the kitchen, the pantry, and the storeroom. Another hall led to the guest room and the dining room, and another one led to the library and study. There were several other halls, but we went through the hall that led to our private chamber and the bathrooms.
Inside our chamber, there were doors that led to other rooms. The maid opened one of them and I went inside. It was the dressing room from yesterday.
“This is the boudoir. It’s your personal room when you want to be alone, My Lady.” She explained.
“His Highness has one too.” She continued gesturing to the door at the other end of the room. I decided to take a look once the maid left but the door was locked. Why did he lock his room?
As I walked out of the chamber, a little boy bumped into my leg and fell backward. He stood up quickly. “I am sorry, My Lady,” he said, wide-eyed.
“It’s Alright” I smiled. He had short blonde hair and his big brown eyes stared innocently at her. “Who are you?”
“I am Prince Pierre’s son. My name is Levi, My lady.” I couldn’t help but smile at his cuteness. “I am looking for uncle Lucian.” He called him by his first name. They must be very close I thought.
“His Highness is not here,” I said with a gentle smile. “Do you want to leave a message for him? I am his wife.”
“Can I wait for him here?” He asked with a hopeful look in his eyes.
“Yes, of course. Come,” I said and led him to the garden. “I am having lunch soon; are you hungry?”
“Sit down,” I urged. The maids served us lunch – including baked potatoes and grilled chicken with vegetables.
“Please don’t tell my father I have been here, My Lady.” He pleaded. “Father doesn’t like me being here.”
“Why not?” I asked curious.
“He says Uncle Lucian is a bad man.”
Bad man? Why would his brother say something like that about him?
“Then why don’t you listen to your father? Why don’t you stay away?” I asked, treading carefully.
“Because I like being with uncle Lucian. He is nice to me even though he’s not nice anymore.” He said timidly.
“I don’t know, he just tells me I shouldn’t be here, he tells me to go away.” He looked hurt.
“What about the rest of your uncles? Why don’t you accompany them?”
“I just like uncle Lucian.”
“Levi!” someone shouted and shortly after a woman barged in. The maids behind her, wore an apologetic look on their face.
I stood up from my seat, and the woman looked me up and down.
“Mother,” Levi said stiffly, standing up.
“Come here!” She ordered, and he walked up to her. She put a hand on his shoulder. “I told you not to come here,” She scolded him. “Go now.”
Levi left running away quickly. Poor child, I thought.
The woman then turned to me. “I am Princess Elsa, the Crown Prince’s first wife,” She said straightening her shoulders and neck as if challenging me with her superiority.
“It’s nice to meet you, Princess Elsa. I am Princess Hazel,” I replied courteously, trying my best to not offend her. I didn’t want conflict this early on.
“My son won’t disturb you anymore,” she said, with finality. “Feel free to visit if you ever feel alone, my quarter is next to yours.”
“Maybe I will,” I said, and then she turned around elegantly with a high chin and left.
After having my lunch I went to the white swing in the garden and lay down while looking up the sky. I had many questions and thoughts that bothered me. Why would Lucian’s brother say something like that about him? Yesterday, they looked as though they were willing to attack each other. I remembered the menacing look in Lucian’s eyes, so different from the soft look he gave me today when he kissed my hand. My heart fluttered at the memory.
“What makes you smile so?” A familiar voice came from nearby.
“Your Highness.” I inclined my head. He had surprised me. I moved over to create a space for him on the seat. He took a seat beside me and put one arm over the seatback.
“How was your day?”
“It was fine Your Highness…I mean Lucian.” I corrected myself.
He just smiled.
“Your nephew was here,” I added.
His only reply was a short ‘hmm’.
“He said his father wouldn’t be happy to know he was here.”
“Yes, my brothers don’t like me,” Lucian replied, devoid of emotion.
“Haven’t you heard the rumors? that I’m the ‘devil’s son.'”
“But you’re not…?” I trailed off, confused.
He just looked at me for a while before finally replying; “I don’t know.”
All princes and their first wives were invited to have dinner with the King. When we arrived, the King welcomed us and we greeted him in turn, then we greeted one another amongst ourselves. While the princes chatted and laughed, except Lucian, the princesses just glared at each other. There was some kind of hostility between them.
Lucian didn’t go up to his brothers, he just stood beside me. None of them seemed to care about him, either. He had told me earlier that they didn’t like him because he was the devil’s son. I wondered if they really believed that kind of blasphemy.
And why did he say that he didn’t know if he actually was the devil’s son? I was confused.
Before my head imploded with questions, dinner was served and we sat down in our assigned places. Each prince sat beside his wife. The Crown Prince was sitting next to the King, they were talking about something animatedly, waving their hands around wildly. His wife Elsa looked at me now and then. I wondered if she had any problem with me. But I had to admit she was a beauty. Possibly the most beautiful of all the princesses, with her curly blonde hair and sky blue eyes.
Lucian and I ate our dinner in silence; he seemed uncomfortable as though he was forced to be here.
A guard came in and whispered something into the King’s ear and shortly after the king stood up from his seat. “I have a few things to take care of, but enjoy your dinner.”He said guardedly, and with that, he left.
As soon as the King left the Crown Prince rose from his seat holding his wine glass delicately in one hand and a spoon on the other. He tapped the spoon on the glass to grab everyone’s attention.
“First, we shall welcome or little brother’s bride,” he began, “and then..” he continued, clearly not fit to form complete sentences in his intoxicated state.
“And then,” the prince next to him picked up where his brother had left off. “We shall tell embarrassing stories about our little brother to his bride.”
Lucians brothers laughed. They may have been speaking of this as a joke, but something was off. Their laughs weren’t genuine and sounded evil to my ears. I could feel Lucian shifting uncomfortably beside me.
The Crown Prince walked along with the table and stood behind the prince and his wife who were sitting in front of us.
“You must have heard the rumor about our brother, about him being the son of the devil. What do you think about that?” He asked, cruel mirth clear in his tone. I could see Lucian clenching his fists under the table.
“It’s as you said Your highness, just a rumor” I replied. I didn’t know why I defended Lucian, but I felt a strange protectiveness over him.
The crown prince sent me a scrutinizing glare, but he wasn’t willing to give up. He was probably thinking of other ways to insult his brother. He had no right!
“So you don’t believe them?” He looked at me skeptically.
“Should I, Your Highness?” I said in a challenging tone, mock sweetness coloring my voice.
Clearly, the crown prince was not succeding with his insults so he got some help from his brother sitting in front of us.
“Even his mother didn’t want him after she gave birth to him,” he added.
I couldn’t believe my ears. How could he say something so cruel to his own brother?
Beside me, Lucian’s entire body tensed up, ready to spring at the brother sending cruel taunts to the both of us. I quickly reached out under the table and gently laid my hand atop his, willing him to stop and consider his actions.
Lucian stilled. He raised his incredulous gaze up to my eyes, clearly surprised by my contact. I gave him a reassuring smile, and by intuition, I could tell he had calmed down significantly. Turning to his brothers, I was furious. I hadn’t known Lucian for that long, and I hadn’t chosen to be married to him, but now he was my husband and I couldn’t change that. I had only one option: to make this marriage work.
His brother looked at me, calculating. He must have guessed what I was thinking.
“Well, I hope he treats you well,” he said slowly, backing off.
“Well is an understatement of how he treats me,” I said stiffly and his brothers sent me a disappointed look.
Lucian intertwined his fingers with mine under the table, as though he approved of me defending him.
*********** *************** **************
For his entire life, no one has ever stood up for him like this beautiful woman had done today. This woman, his wife who barely knew him, had surprised him with her touch and melted his heart with her words and smile. She hadn’t believed the rumors about him, that even he sometimes believed about himself.
Once they arrived at their chamber Lucian noticed that Hazel had a frown on her face.
“Is everything alright?” He asked.
“Yes,” She said her gaze slowly turning to the window. “Can I go outside to the garden?”
Lucian noticed that she liked being outside, so he decided to take her not only outside the room but outside the castle. Her eyes twinkled when he told her about it.
In the courtyard stood the stables, and he led her inside to show her his own horse, a beautiful chestnut with a white star on his flank.
“Can you ride?” He asked her.
“No” she replied, embarrassed.
“Then you should ride with me.” He suggested.
Lucian helped her up and she sat behind him on the horse. “Hold on.”
She seemed to hesitate, but then ever so slowly she put her arms around his waist and held him lightly, almost not touching. But as soon as they started riding, her grip tightened, pressing her soft and warm body against his back.
“Is it too fast?”
“No,” she replied but her tight hold around his waist said otherwise. Either way, he didn’t slow down; he liked the feeling of her arms around him.
He took her to his secret place, a beautiful lake located in the woods. Hazel looked happy walking on the grass with her bare feet, then dipping her foot in the water flicking the cool liquid with her toes. The water must’ve been cold but she didn’t seem to care. Lucian just stood there staring at her from afar. She was beautiful with her long reddish-brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. Her dress clung to her body in all the right places, showing off her beautiful figure. He still couldn’t believe that he was married. When his father suggested the marriage he had said yes, hoping that it would bring them closer, but unfortunately, his father still treated him like a stranger. Suddenly, he heard a shrill yell of pain as he was lost in his thoughts. “Hazel!!” She wasn’t in the water anymore; she was sitting on the ground beside it holding her knee. He rushed to her side. “What happened?” “Nothing much, I just fell,” she said. Her dress was torn and her knee bleeding. “Come on, let’s take you home,” he said, helping her up. Lucian aided me in getting off the horse, but as soon as I shifted my weight onto my leg, my knee started to ache. Not wanting to draw attention, I didn’t say anything, but Lucian must have known, because he put his strong arms behind my knees and my back, and lifted me with ease. “What are you doing?” I asked embarrassed. “Carrying you,” He stated simply. “I know that, please put me down I can walk,” I said, my face and neck flushing red. “Wife, if I was to let you walk, we wouldn’t reach the room even after sunrise and I would like to get some sleep.” Did he just call me wife? I liked the sound of it. As we moved through the halls, the maids and servants looked down quickly as soon as they caught sight of us and I was thankful for that. He stopped for a while and told a maid to bring something to clean the wound before walking again. Upon arrival at our chambers, he put me down on the bed gently as a maid came in with things to clean the wound. He took the kit from her and dismissed her shortly. Taking a seat beside me on the bed, he lifted my dress up above my knee. “Uh…it’s fine I can clean it myself.” I stuttered nervously. “Just sit still,” He ordered. He put one hand on the back of my leg, his hand cold yet his touch hot. I wondered how such a strong and tall man could touch so gently. Strangely, his touch made me yearn for more and I found myself imagining how it would feel like if he ran his hand down my leg or if he… A burning pain interrupted my thoughts and I hissed. “It will burn a little,” he said then continued cleaning my wound. I bit my lower lip because the burning was too much and I didn’t want to complain. As if sensing my pain he paused and then blew on my wound. When his hot breath touching my skin made me shiver and curl my toes. Good Lord, he was doing things to my body without doing almost nothing. “Feel better?” He asked. “Yes,” I whispered, “thank you.” When he was done he pulled my dress back down over my leg. “You should change,” he said standing up “Do you want me to call a maid for you?” “No, I can manage,” I said. Walking with an aching knee I went into the dressing room and slipped into my nightgown and a robe and then walked back into the chamber. Only a few candles were lit now. Lucian was laying down on the bed looking up the ceiling. His shiny black hair was spread across the pillow and his golden eyes glowed in the dim light. When I walked up to the bed he turned his head. “You should take your robe off. It’s very hot in here at night.” His observation was completely innocent, but it made my heart beat faster, and suddenly it felt really hot in the room. I opened my robe and let it slide down my arms. His eyes followed my every movement. I then laid down on the bed, facing the other way. Even though he told me he could wait to consume the wedding, I still felt nervous. I felt him shift on the bed and stiffened. “Hazel,” he whispered his voice a soft brush on my back. “Yes?” I struggled to keep my voice neutral. “Turn around!” he said with a commanding voice. I found myself turning around to face him. “I promised to treat you well; you don’t have to be afraid.” “I am not,” I whispered. He didn’t say anything for a while. He probably knew I was lying. “Goodnight,” he finally said. “Goodnight,” I whispered back feeling more relaxed until I eventually fell asleep. I woke up and tried to shift in the bed, but then realized that a strong arm around my waist was restricting my movement. Lucian! My back was pressed against his hard chest and I could feel his hot breath on my neck and some strands of his soft hair on my shoulder. He smelled good. He had a spicy scent, and somehow I found myself melting in his embrace. I liked it, liked the warm and secure feeling it gave. Suddenly, he slid his arm away and sat upon the bed startling me. “What is it?” I asked, sitting as well. He seemed to be listening to something. I looked around and strained my ears, but couldn’t hear anything. Climbing down he put his robe on. “We have a problem,” he said walking to the door. I quickly put my robe on and went after him. Some maids and guards were gathered in the hall arguing about something. They fell silent as soon as they saw us. “Your Highness,” they said and bowed. “What is the problem?” Lucian asked. They had a look of fear in their eyes. One maid, in particular, was trembling with her hands behind her back. “What do you have there?” Lucian asked. She was shaking now. Lucian went up to her and took the hidden thing from behind her back. It was a golden hairpin, my hairpin. One of the guards quickly came to the front and fell to his knees in front of Lucian. “I am sorry, Your Highness, it will never happen again; you can punish me instead” he begged. “Please spare her, she is just a child.” She did look quite young. The white-faced maid fell to her knees too, shaking as much as before. “No, please, it was my fault! Don’t punish my brother. He didn’t know” she cried. I had no idea what Lucian would do to them. For that, I both pitied and feared for them. They might get executed, or if they had luck they would get their hands cut off. I didn’t know which one sounded worse. Stealing was of course not okay, but I didn’t think anyone should die for it. I hoped Lucian would have mercy on them. “Since you stole from my wife, I should let her decide the punishment for you,” he said, walking behind me and placing his hands on my shoulders. I froze for a moment unsure of what to do. “How do you want me to punish them for you?” he asked. I looked at the young maid sitting on her knees crying and shaking violently. I went up to her. “Why did you do it?” I asked in a gentle voice. “I am sorry, Your Highness. I didn’t want to, but my mother is sick and her treatment costs a lot,” she said, crying hysterically. “Get up!” I ordered them both. They got up to their feet. “What’s your name?” I asked her. “Lisa, Your Highness,” she said meekly. “Lisa, you can have the hairpin but you need to promise me that you will never steal again. There are more honest ways to find money, besides putting your life at risk wouldn’t help your mother in any way.” Everyone looked at me wide-eyed. They clearly didn’t expect to be left alive. Lisa was in shock, she just stared at me. “Do you promise me?” I repeated. “I…I promise you…I promise Your Highness” she said. “Thank you so much…thank you” she began to cry again, but this time tears of relief. “Thank you, Your Highness” her brother repeated. His eyes were also glistening with unshed tears of gratitude. “Now everyone can go back to work,” I said relieved that the situation ended well. They walked away. Lisa was hugging her brother crying and he was scolding her. ” Never do that again!” I found myself smiling. I wish I had a brother like that. My brothers were spoiled brats. Turning around to go back I found Lucian standing there, his arms crossed behind his back. He looked at me with what seemed like admiration but I wasn’t sure. Crossing the distance between us he wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me into his embrace. “Let’s get back to bed.”
His voice, his scent, the warmth of his body, all filled my senses and made me unable to think clearly. Before I knew he was carrying me to our chamber, and then laid me down on the bed. Bed? Wait, no!
He lay down next to me and when I tried to get up, he put an arm around my shoulders and held me down.
“Lay still and let me hold you,” he said, taking his arm away from my shoulders and putting them around my waist instead.
“Because I like holding you and you like it when I do that” he replied.
“And how would you know?” I said, a teasing lilt to my voice.
“What? You don’t like it?” I was afraid that if I said I liked it he would want to take it to the next level, but I didn’t want to lie either.
“It’s… alright,” I said cautiously, a shy smile making its way to my face. He grabbed my chin and made me turn around to face him.
“Is my touch just alright?”
He let go of my chin and traced with his fingers down my neck and up my shoulder, removing my robe from one side. My pulse quickened and my skin tingled where he had touched. He leaned closer.
“I don’t think so,” he whispered.
“You… you promised not to do anything,” I said.
“No, I didn’t. I promised to treat you well.” Oh god! That was true. He never promised to not consume the wedding and who knows what treating well means to him. I pulled myself away from his grasp and climbed down from the bed.
Clearing my throat “I am hungry,” I said, “Aren’t you?”
He smiled a devilish smile “Oh, I am very hungry” he said scanning me with eyes that showed hunger for something other than food. My heart skipped a beat, but I ignored it.
“Then we should go and eat,” I said, turning around and walking away before he could say anything.
Lucian tried to ignore the burning need in his body and tried to focus on eating his breakfast. He glanced at his wife the same time she glanced at him. Their eyes met and she looked down quickly, her cheeks turning a light pink. He wanted to reach for her from across the table but stood up from his seat instead.
“I have some work to do,” he said and strode out of the room before he lost control.
What was wrong with him? Why was his body burning and his heart beating in his ears? He had never felt like this before.
He came a bit late to the meeting with his father and brothers. His father didn’t bother to look at him, and his brothers shot him angry glances. He took a seat and listened to how his father planned to take over other kingdoms. His greed had no end.
“That’s all for today. I expect all of you to fulfill your duties,” the king said, looking at each of his sons except Lucian, he then walked out of the room.
His brothers turned to him most of them looking angry and irritated while Pierre had a smirk on his face. He was the cruelest.
“Your wife seems very fond of you,” Pierre said. Lucian knew his brother was trying to pick a fight with him, as usual, so he ignored him, walking away. Pierre grabbed him by the shoulder to stop him from going.
“I am talking to you, Lucian! Don’t you dare ignore me. I am the crown prince, and in the future, I will be your king so you should be careful to get on my bad side.”
Lucian chuckled darkly. “As if I am already not on your bad side,” he said “and you know what? Even when you become a king, you will never become my king.”
His brother laughed “I will become your king and when I do,” he leaned closer, “I will get rid of you and make your beautiful wife my concubine.”
That was what finally tipped Lucian over the edge. He punched and kicked Pierre before his other brothers got involved and tried to hold him, but to no avail. He was too angry and nothing could stop him now. He sat atop his brother and started punching him, the rest of his brothers unable to hold him away. He was too strong for them. He took some time to knock down some of them before he continued with his punching. Guards came into the room and grabbed his arms.
“Hold him down for me,” one of his brothers said. Even though they were many they had a hard time holding him down.
“What are you doing?” Someone yelled from the door. Everyone froze.
“Your Highness, we were just…”
“Enough!” It was the king “You are not children anymore, and you dare to fight? Prepare for your punishment.”
“Your Highness.” A maid came running to the garden. “His Highness is in trouble.”
“What trouble?” I asked, worried.
“He is getting whipped.”
“What?” I shrieked in panic. What on earth could he have done?
We ran through the hall to the main garden. Several men were handcuffed on their knees, leather whips repeatedly being brought down across their backs. I looked for Lucian, and my heart dropped at the sight of him. He was handcuffed too, although he still stood, unlike the other men. His shirt was torn to rags with blood steadily soaking through it. One whip landed on his back, and I almost screamed but he didn’t make a sound. He didn’t even grimace. He was staring at something. I looked to see his brothers standing on the other side and watching.
“He is a prince. Why is he getting whipped?”
“His highness didn’t accept someone to get his punishment,” the maid explained. “He had a fight with his brothers.”
I looked back at Lucian. While the other men were almost falling to their knees he was still standing steadily. It was as if the whipping didn’t affect him at all, but I knew it did. He just didn’t want to give his brothers the satisfaction of seeing him get hurt. Another whip landed on his back and I felt a hand grasp my wrist.
“Your Highness, you shouldn’t get involved. It was the king’s order.” I didn’t realize that I was trying to get to him.
Please God, make this stop.
God must have heard my prayers because they started to uncuff his hands. As soon as they uncuffed him, he fell on his knees. I ran toward him, but some guards got to him before me and helped him up.
Once we reached the chamber he pushed the guards away.
“But Your Highness you need…”
“I. said. leave!” he shouted savagely, and the guards hurried away. He sat down on the bed.
“You should leave too,” he said lowering his voice.
“Then who will clean your wounds? Now take off what remains of your shirt and lay on your stomach,” I ordered, grabbing a bowl of water and a piece of the cloth that the maid had brought, but he didn’t move.
“Do you need help?” I said grabbing his shirt to help him get out of it. He grabbed my wrist to stop me.
“I told you to go,” he said with clenched teeth.
“I don’t want to. How can I leave when you’re hurting?”
“I’m not, so leave.”
“No, I won’t” I insisted stubbornly, then everything happened in a second. He grabbed me by the neck and pinned me to the wall, his face only an inch from mine. His eyes not golden anymore, the flames in them burning with intensity.
“Don’t make me break my promise,” he growled.