LAST CHAPTER FOR TODAY. I HAD SOMETHING IMPORTANT COME UP THAT I NEED O HANDLE SO I WILL SEE YOU ALL NEXT WEEK!!
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Kahlem has sworn vengeance for the death of his precious Sen and Malich fears for Arya’s life. His brother moves against her using his army. He’d stop him if he could, but he fears what it would mean for his mother if he did. Kahlem has his hands tied and Malich can’t risk a move against him, not without having his mother free from Kahlem.
He glances beside him at his new bride, Queen Lizbet Grayson and her swelling belly. A son. He can feel the baby boys’ presence and no matter how hard he tries to ignore it, he can’t.
Perhaps Malich will have to make his peace with the wife he doesn’t want. She’s inexperienced sexually, but she’s teachable. For the most part she lies there waiting for his every command anyway. Even now, lying beside him she waits for him to command her to rise. Instead, he rises, dresses and leaves to find Dax.
“Report,” Malich requests taking a seat at the long rectangular table he had commissioned inside the great hall. Dax, several of the nobles and their trusted advisors are seated along both sides of the table.
“Fifty thousand soldiers from the Red Legion approach the Seelie Court as we speak headed by preceptor Killian. King Kahlem will be joining them and he’s requested your presence there as well,” Dax reports.
“Has he dispatched any of his own soldiers?” Malich asks.
“No, your Majesty. Just the Red Legion and the soldiers of the Spring Court.”
Malich sighs. “So in other words, he intends to let my army, my aunt Asherah’s army and Arya’s army kill each other, therefore weakening us all so he and his army can slaughter whomever is left.”
“I suppose.” Dax shrugs.
“Then you should all prepare yourselves for what comes next. If I should fall in battle, I want you all to protect my wife and my unborn son with your lives. Flee to the Redlands if you have to, but get them to safety.”
Everyone in attendance nods and Malich calls the meeting to an end. He needs to strategize his next move and he doesn’t trust the nobles at Court. Many of them would sell him out to Kahlem for extra coin or land.
He waits for the room to empty and turns to Dax. “Send word. I want fifty thousand more soldiers here the moment we depart. Kahlem will come for the Winter Court if I should fall. He’ll also come for my aunt and I want fifty thousand soldiers posted in the Spring Court as well. The one good thing I have going for me is that my dear brother doesn’t know just how large of an army I have. It’ll work in my favor.”
Dax nods and leaves to make sure Malich’s wishes are carried out. As Dax leaves, Lizbet walks in somber with a hand clasped to her belly. He resents her swollen belly. He’s responsible for the child growing inside her, which only serves to remind him of what he’s lost in return. He won’t allow himself to think of her, the beautiful assassin turned Queen who stole his heart. Not now. Not with both their lives on the line.
Instead, he fixes a smile on his face and welcomes Lizbet into his arms. This is the only time his preternatural sexuality works against him. It’s impossible for him to go more than a moon without engaging in some sort of carnal activity, causing his sexuality to conflict with his ability to remain faithful to Arya. The longer they remain apart, the harder it is to deny his sexual urges. Its yet another inconvenience he intends to make Kahlem pay for.
Arya loves him, but her love can only bear so much. She accepted his flaws, his temper, his domineering ways, and she accepted his unborn child. In return he broke her heart at his brother’s command. Yet when he needed her, she came to him and helped his father when she had no reason to. But she did. She did it for him. She still loves him.
Every time he lies with his wife whom he has every right to lie with, he feels guilty. It should be Arya, not Lizbet. If he could have it his way it wouldbe Arya, but Kahlem has made it impossible for that to happen now.
“A word please, your Majesty.” Lizbet requests.
Malich nods and takes her into the next room. Lizbet has been sad ever since her father’s passing and he’s tried everything he can to comfort her. It’s partly how they ended up in bed together last moon. She came to him crying, mourning her lost father and he tried to console her. She looked into his eyes yearning for a closeness he couldn’t give. As a consolation, he opted to hold her in his arms. It took every ounce of strength not to give in and satisfy his carnal urges, but thinking of Arya always seemed to give him the strength he lacked. He wouldn’t betray her a second time.
“What can I do for you?”
“When I awoke you were gone and I…”
“You what?” Malich asks.
“I thought perhaps you’d gone to visit the Seelie Queen,” she admits, sheepishly. “I thought you’d abandoned me in my time of need.”
He swallows hard. The thought had crossed his mind, but with the forces gathered at the border to Arya’s kingdom he couldn’t. “I thought about it.”
His answer isn’t what Lizbet wants to hear. She wants what he cannot give her. “Have you always been this cruel?” She asks.
“If honesty is cruelty, then yes. I won’t lie to you Lizbet. I gave my heart away a long time ago so I don’t have one to give you.”
Tears form in her eyes and he instantly regrets his honesty. “I loveyou,” she tells him with pain laced in her voice. “Surely that has to count for something.”
“I don’t know how to make my feelings for you, or lack thereof, any clearer. I care for you as duty and obligation permits, but I do not love you. I probably never will. If it’s love you’re looking for Lizbet, you won’t find it with me. I’ll provide for you and for our son, but as I told you long ago, my heart belongs to someone else. I was never yours to take and that hasn’t changed.”
“Our marriage cannot be undone Malich,” Lizbet snaps. It’s the first time she’s called him by his name and her tone is brazen. “Our union is everlasting and I doubt the Seelie Queen can wait that long to have you. In fact, I hear the Unseelie King visits her chambers these days.”
The lights in the room begin to flicker. It’s the only sign of his brewing anger, as his face remains stoic. Lizbet is trying to get a rise out of him and doing a damn good job. He keeps his thoughts on the child swelling in her belly, using it to keep his anger in check.
“Where did you hear that?” He asks.
“Your brother’s wives like to run their mouths almost as much as Kahlem likes to hear himself talk. According to Sen before she died, Kahlem approached the Unseelie King in the hopes of gaining his alliance. Once he found out whom Kahlem wished to rally against, King Rayne rejected his offer and went to the Seelie Queen instead to offer his allegiance,” Lizbet digs the knife in deeper. “According to rumors amongst the chambermaids, King Rayne and your precious Seelie Queen have history. They used to be lovers. And let’s just say that with you out of the picture, he has your precious Queen spreading her legs and shouting to the Gods every night.”
The last string tethering Malich to his resolve snaps and he lunges to clench a hand around Lizbet’s throat. He stops short before he could do something he might regret and focused on calming himself down.
Lizbet recoils realizing how much she’s pushed him…how close he came to striking her. Malich realizes it to and backs away. He’s never struck a woman before and is ashamed he allowed her to bait him to anger so quickly.
He starts to leave, but before he does he wants to leave her with a parting thought. “Before you fix your tongue to spew poison in my ears, make sure I do not know the inner workings of those you speak of. Arya and Ihsan were childhood sweethearts, but they never shared a bed until Imade the mistake of sending her to him. She entertains him because she needs to secure her Kingdom, which again is due to yourmeddling in my affairs. I haven’t forgotten, nor will I ever, that youare the one who took her from me. You have no idea how close to the devil you truly are girl.”
“The devil?” She stares at him with disbelief. “I am carrying your child Malich.”
“Your Majesty,” he corrects her. “Don’t ever address me by my first name.”
Lizbet shakes her head. “I bet the Seelie Queen is allowed to call you by your first name, so why can’t I?”
He sighs and then says, “You’re not her.” ns 18.104.22.168da2