As long as Alara remains within the walls of Arya’s palace Malich will be worried. He can see the hope in Arya’s eyes every time she looks at her sister. It’s the same hope he used to have that his older brothers would accept him and welcome him back with open arms. It never happened and eventually he made his peace with it. He loves his brothers, but they’re not to be trusted. Ever.
From birth they were taught one thing and one thing only…duty to the crown. Malich covets the crown as much as his brothers do; only he was groomed for it. His ambition and intellect made him the better choice. While his brothers treated the crown as something they were owed, Malich worked for it.
They’d forsaken many lessons for pretty faces and the touch of soft skin. While Malich also had those wants, the crown always came first. It always would.
Arya’s relationship with Alara is the same way. She craves that closeness the way he once had and probably has hopes they will actually become sisters one day. Perhaps they can, but the potential cost of being wrong isn’t a price he wishes either of them to pay. Then there is the matter of Alara’s Darkin abilities. She wasn’t born with that power, it was given. And only someone powerful could have gifted her that.
Malich’s thoughts travel back to the day he and Arya first met. The day she was handed over to him…the day theywere handed over to him. Twins. Cassian Vale had asked him to keep them safe, but twins would stick out like a sore thumb, so he did the only thing he could think of. He took Alara to an orphanage and kept the feistier one for his army.
“If you’re planning to scold me, save it,” Arya enters the room and his thoughts.
“No,” he smiles shaking his head. “Your life…your mistakes.”
“No reverse psychology either,” she narrows her eyes at him.
He laughs, closing the space between them and setting a gift in her hand. Her eyes light up and she quickly tears into the box. Her smile fades when she sees what’s inside. “Hushstone?”
Malich had a ring commissioned with a hushstone placed where a diamond should be. “I knew you would go soft where your sister is concerned. At least if you’re wearing this it will keep you safe,” he explains.
Arya casts him a pointed glance then slides the ring on her finger. “I would’ve gotten a gift for you, but there wasn’t really anything I could find that said arseholethe way I wanted it to.”
Malich laughs, taking all of her in. He wants her as much as he wants the crown and refuses to let another moment pass without touching her. His fingertips caress the contours of her face and his lips graze hers. Her breath catches in her throat and he smiles. He likes that he can affect her breathing…her pulse, and watches as she flushes red.
Pulling her closer, he tastes her lips and groans. It’s been way too long. His hands move quickly, reaching to undo her clothing, but she stops him. “We should wait until our betrothal is complete,” she breathes against his lips.
He pulls away, “You’re joking, right?”
“No,” she laughs. “Not to mention my citizens are uneasy about you and Alara being here all the time. I don’t want to give the nobles any reason to question me.”
“It sounds like someone is enjoying being Queen,” Malich smiles.
“And soon you’ll be my King.”
As much as he doesn’t want to, he calms the throbbing in his pants. “What are we to do with our time now then?”
“Talk,” she suggests.
Malich arches a brow at her. “The last thing a male wants to do is talk, especially when there is a perfectly good bed in the room.”
Again Arya laughs. “Even if it has to do with politics?”
Now she has his attention. “Such as?”
“Have you received my requests?”
He has. “That isn’t politics Arya, it’s negotiations. Usually one party makes a request and then an offer of equal value in return. The former you covered, but the latter…the latterwe have yet to discuss.”
Arya smirks. She already knows where his thoughts drift. “If I were to concede, would you grant them?”
Malich thinks on it for a second before replying. “You can have Eli and Lola, but my soldiers will remain.”
“First off, it’s Lilaand second, why must they remain?”
Malich waves off the first part of statement, clearly focused on the latter. “I’ve already lost Navi, Ihsan, and you. I can’t afford to lose any more of my skilled assets Arya.”
“Okay but Lumi’s family is from the Seelie Court. I owe her the land her father owned and she doesn’t go anywhere without Jax. Ever since they’ve become lovers they’ve been glued together.”
“He’ll be hurt if I take Lumi and Jax but not him,” she pouts. He smiles at her attempt to garner his pity.
“You’re an extortionist,” he huffs a laugh. “Anything else?”
“A nymph. You’re the only one within the planes with a civil relationship with them.”
This raises his suspicions and he asks, “Why do you need a nymph?”
“I have need for their particular gifts,” she carefully answers his question without answering it completely. This only makes him more suspicious.
“For what?” He presses.
Arya’s eyes search the room before serving him a poor lie about servants stealing from her and wanting to keep her valuables hidden. He narrows his eyes at her and backs her up against the wall behind her. He’s amused she even attempts to lie to him. She never could. “You, my love,” he grazes her lips with his own, sliding his hand up to her throat. As much as she fears his grasp around her neck, it also turns her on. He leans in close, taking her lobe into his mouth with his tongue. “Are a liar. And a poor one at that.” Arya mutters a curse and he pulls back to watch her surrender to his touch, tracing her lips with the pad of his thumb. “Concede,” he commands.
“Sod-off,” she challenges him instead. “Give me what I want.”
He smiles, lifting her up by her neck. She wraps her legs around his waist and he presses his hardness against her core. She groans at the feel of it, her eyes pleading with him for more.
“I know what you want,” Malich rests his head against hers. “Concede.”
“So we’re back to this again,” Arya smirks. “We both know I won’t give you the satisfaction.”
“You want something from me and I want something from you. Concede, and we both get what we want.”
He waits for Arya to come to her senses. After an intense staring contest, she finally utters the words he wants to hear. It only takes a moment to get her out of her clothes onto her bed. They spend several hours tousling between the sheets to make up for lost time before coming up for air.
“I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives like this,” Arya smiles up at him. She lays on top of him, staring up at him from his chest, her chin resting on the back of her hands. “And I can’t wait to have children with you.”
Truthfully, it’s all he’s thought about lately. She’d be a horrible wife, objecting to his every command and forcing him to grovel whenever he wants something, but he has no doubt she’ll make an excellent mother.
“Soon,” he smiles, “But I have some things I’d like to accomplish before we start having children.”
“My parents…I need to find my mother and father.”
Arya knows better than anyone the void he feels not knowing where his parents are. She’s felt her own void since she was a young female, wondering where the people who were supposed to care for her had run off to. Now she knows they were citizens of the Seelie Court. A Court that died along with most of its citizens. Her parents had escaped, but where had they escaped to? And when the others had come back, why didn’t they?
Taking a deep breath Arya presses a kiss into Malich’s chest. They have so much in common. More than either of them had ever stopped to take note of. ns188.8.131.52da2