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The moment she saw him standing up on that throne her feelings for him came flooding back. They tended to do that unless Malich was present. It only added to her confusion. Arya wasn’t sure if it was possible to love two men at the same time, but it had to be. She loved them both equally.
She saw the hesitance in Ihsan’s eyes. He thought she was here to kill him. It would be the first charge she couldn’t fulfill.
Ihsan couldn’t believe Malich would order her to go to him. She had to admit, its not like Malich at all to take such risks, and it’s probably a test, when he could simply command her to do as he wishes, but he was giving her a choice. She only wishes she knew what she wanted to do with it.
Arya could take Ihsan to bed, but she wanted whatever they shared to be more than that if the possibility was there.
“Brother, it isn’t a very Kingly thing to do, spending time alone with a woman,” his sister Imani let herself into his chambers to inform him. “Need I remind you what’s at stake here?”
“She’s a friend Imani.”
“No offense, but friends don’t look at each other the way the two of you look at one another. With our mother’s betrayal so fresh in everyone’s minds, its not wise to let the nobleman see you so enamored with an outsider.”
Arya bristles at being called an outsider. Ihsan nods. “Give us a moment.”
Imani leaves the room, but not before slicing her eyes towards Arya, a warning. “I’m sorry, but did I not just save her scrawny arse from the mob set to sever her limbs?” Arya asks offended.
Ihsan chuckles crossing the distance between them until only mere inches remains. “She means well. This Court has been damaged for some time and if we are not careful there will be another mutiny,” he sighs. “That being said…”
He drank from her lips tugging at her senses, her core, and her female instinct. His kisses take her breath away and his touch triggers a tingling sensation across her skin. Arya quickly backs away provoking questions in Ihsan’s eyes. This was why he sent her here. He knew.
“Did I do something wrong?” Ihsan asks.
“No, I just…I wasn’t sure what would happen if I came here. I think I was afraid of what still remained between us. And Malich…he knew. That’s why he sent me here.”
“Is it a bad thing?”
“No,” she shook her head, “Not at all…it just confuses me even more than I already am. And Navi…” Ihsan grimaces at the name. He owes her a great deal. “She deserves to be standing here, not me.”
“I’ve made arrangements for her to marry well,” Ihsan informs her.
“But not you?”
“I cannot marry her…not now. She’s lowborn and now that I’m King, I’ll be expected to marry a woman fit for my station.”
“Not me either then?”
Ihsan takes a deep breath and exhales. He knows where this was going and he didn’t want to think about that. He wants to hold her in his arms and bury himself inside her if she’ll allow it. “Technically, no, but I’d be willing to make a concession for you. Anythingfor you,” he tells her.
“Isn’t that what got your father killed and your throne taken away? Is that wise given the state of your kingdom?” She asks.
“Probably not,” he realizes.
Arya leans her head against his. “Thank you,” she whispers.
“Making my decision easier.”
“I want this for you. You deserve this after everything you’ve been through, and your people need you Ihsan. They need you more than I do.”
“Don’t. Don’t do this.”
“You’ll thank me for it later.”
“I’d give it all up…for you,” he tells her.
“No. I won’t let you,” she shakes her head. “You need these people just as much as they need you and Ineed you to be happy. If you’re going to make a concession, make it for Navi, she deserves it more than I do. She loves you and onlyyou. I can’t give you that. Malich is an arsehole and he’s controlling and domineering, but I’d be lying if I said he hasn’t crept his way into my heart. I don’t want to hurt you anymore than I already have.”
Ihsan stares at her in complete silence for a long while before closing the distance between them once more and drinking from her lips. “One night,” he whispers against her lips. “Give me at least that much for what was and what could’ve been.”
“He’ll kill me,” Arya clenches her eyes shut, trying to drive away the temptation.
“What kind of love is that then?” Ihsan sweeps his tongue over hers. “Besides, he sentyou here knowing full well what might happen.”
Two parts of Arya collided. One part desired to give in and the other implored her to resist and run before she does something she can’t take back. In the end, she knows she can’t share his bed and then leave it. She pulls away shaking her head. “I can’t. Once we cross that line, there is no going back and I will not be content with only parts of you. Nor will you be content with parts of me. If we share a bed I will be lost forever in confusion and I’m tiredof being confused, aren’t you? Your people need a King. Be that. Make a concession for Navi, fill her womb full of beautiful children and make her happy beyond her wildest dreams. Iowe her that much, even if you don’t. She did for you what I couldn’t, therefore, she should reap the rewards. Not me.”
This time it was Arya who drank from Ihsan’s lips and quickly left his chambers. Tears fall from her eyes as she walks away from him. It’s probably the hardest thing she’ll ever have to do, but she knows she’s making the right choice. He deserves more than she can give him. It would weigh heavily on her conscious if she took him to bed. His kingdom, Navi, Malich…all would suffer because of her selfishness.
Alone in her room with no one to hear, Arya mourns the love she once had but can never have again. More tears fall from her eyes, staining her cheeks and soaking her cloak, staining the tunic beneath it.
She came here looking for answers and found them. The boy she once loved grew up to be King, and as King he was not only out of reach, but he had the weight of a kingdom and the heart of another on his conscious. Arya’s presence in his life would jeopardize that. It would jeopardize everything he was meant to be and achieve. It would jeopardize his greatness.ns 184.108.40.206da2