The Cursed Kingdom

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TWENTY-NINE

**Warning: mature content ahead**

~ THE ECLIPSE ~

As soon as Henrik shut his bedroom door behind me, so gentle and slow as if not to startle me, my attention was stolen by the thick smell that invaded the air, causing my mouth to water and my empty stomach to rumble in anticipation. I could practically taste the sweet tang of freshly smoked meat already on my tongue.

My head snapped to the left and towards the table in Henrik's sitting area, the one located closest to a window and where we usually played board games because I adored its view of the mountains. Now on top of it were two covered platters the sizes of carriage wheels and a metal tin filled with ice and a bottle of champagne sitting in its center. Two China plates, a plethora of napkins and silverware, and glasses had been placed next to as well and I wondered if Henrik was trying to feed an entire village in our bedroom because that was indeed what it looked like.

"I perceived you wouldn't want to eat in the ballroom," Henrik stated, my eyes too transfixed by the steam rising out of the one on the left to consider looking at him, "so I had a few servants grab extras and bring them up here." As soon as he was done speaking, the sound of fabric met my ears. I looked behind me and watched him in a dazed-like state shrug off his jacket, open his side of the wardrobe, and place it on the hanger furthest to the left as I expected and next to a blue jacket I'd perhaps only seen him wear a handful of times.

Henrik wasn't exactly the most organized person ever and some of his habits irked me, such as how he bent the corners of books to save his reading place, squeezed his container of toothpaste from the bottom, and his office always had papers and books thrown around everywhere, but he did have a way of placing things that somehow seemed to work for him and his strange mind. An example of this was our wardrobe. His formal apparel he always hung on the left side while his casual outfits remained on the right, which was alright but I personally preferred to divide my clothes by both weather and color. Formality, I figured, could be decided while I was getting dressed. But I also understood that for Henrik perhaps that was all he needed to worry about.

He bent down and unlaced his black leather shoes with deft fingers, slipping them off and placing them in one of the cubbies of the wardrobe that was under the two shelves. When he looked back at me after he shut the wardrobe door, I could feel the inevitable tension enter the room as he processed that I'd been watching him.

My ears burned and I cast my eyes to the floor, imagining what'd be like to disappear into its wooden surface and never be seen again. He cleared his throat and walked swiftly past me to the table, taking off his crown and placing it on the small side table beside his couch as he did so.

"They couldn't bring everything but I hope this all will suffice nonetheless," Henrik told me as he lifted the platters' metal coverings and revealed a steaming plate of meat and one that was entirely filled with colorful bite-sized desserts.

My eyes mindlessly drifted away from the mountain ranges of food and trailed over Henrik's room, as if I was seeing it for the first time all over again. They took in the merpeople carved into his fireplace, every piece of furniture, the new bouquet of flowers on the table next to my side of the bed, before finally settling on the tidy bed itself, feeling my stomach grow heavy with the thoughts of what would take place on it.

My palms grew sweaty and I clasped them together in front of me, my nails digging into the back of my hands.

Although I didn't have any intimate experiences with a man besides kissing, in my adolescent years I learned about sex in school as well as stumbled across a few books I shouldn't have. There was a time where I'd come across an entire novel filled with provocative images in Tylem and Taylium's home hidden behind a pile of nicknacks and objects I'd perceived as unimportant in their living area. Whether it belonged to one of the twins or their parents, I didn't know. But I was young and curious, just beginning to walk through the first doorstep of puberty, and looked at almost every single page while everyone was asleep one night. Afterwards, I never thought about it againโ€”or at least tried not toโ€”having felt dirty, confused, and sinful as if the book itself had stolen my virtue, but I couldn't help but do just that as I stared at that damned bed.

"I don't know if I can right now," I admitted, biting my lip and twisting both my wedding band and engagement ring around my finger at the same time. "Eat, I mean."

"Oh," Henrik said, his eyes trailing over my figure as if he could see the fear flowing through my veins. His eyebrows furrowed, casting a shadow over his eyes in the room only lit by the lamp on his nightstand. Sighing, he turned to the bucket of ice and grabbed the bottle of champagne by its neck, pulled the cork out with his fingers as if it was nothing, and poured himself a glass. I watched him sip on the fizzing liquid, every bob of his throat for some reason making me feel more nervous. "I hope you understand me well enough to know I'd never force you to do anything you don't want to do," he said, his back still turned to me. It irked me for some reason. It felt like it was his subtle way of trying to hide. "We don't have to consummate anything tonight if that is what you truly desire."

Softening my heart even more towards him, his words just made me want him undoubtedly moreโ€”not in a sexual or even romantic wayโ€”but as a whole, in that moment, I wanted Henrik and his genuine words to be in my life forever.

It'd taken me months but I finally realized as I stood there, staring at the back of him, his respect went far deeper than just for my beliefs but rather for me as a person. Henrik could have easily had his way with me if he pleased, not just because of his physical strength but his title as well. Instead, he'd deliberately fought against his Lycan instincts for months, which were to consummate our relationship within the first few weeks of meeting, and had also gone out of his way for our wedding to make sure it followed all of my traditions.

And, even though it was our wedding night and marriage was the only condition I said I required of him before we did anything intimate, he was still willing to wait if I wasn't comfortable. Despite him practically pulling me out of the throne after an hour of watching people twirl and drink and shoving me up all four flights of stairs to his room, eagerness and excitement clear in every step, he would still wait if it meant my happiness.

That, to me, meant more than I could've ever hoped for in my husband.

"No," I said, watching his back stiffen, obviously misunderstanding the meaning behind the word. "I mean, I want to but can we... take our time?"

Henrik gave a single nod and took in a deep, calming breath. "Of course."

I hesitantly reached up and took my crown off, looking at it and shifting its weight between my hands and eyeing my pale reflection in its smooth surface. When I was little, I used to think crowns were what made a monarch a ruler. After all, whenever my friends and I played dress up, whoever was portraying the king or queen wore something on their head to symbolize themselves as such. But as I stared at it I recognized it for what it was: a piece of gold forged into a circle that fit my head and had points on top. With or without it, I was still the Queen of Galycia. But without me, it was nothing. There was something empowering about the thought and I felt my chest swell with a feeling I wasn't very well acquainted with: confidence.

I walked over and placed the crown on the table next to Henrik's, noticing just how much larger his was compared to mine. By the looks of it, my head was half the size of his.

I stood there awkwardly for another moment, fiddling with my fingers as Henrik continued to sip on more champagne. "Should I take my dress off?" My voice was squeaky and awkward but I didn't know how else I could say it.

The Cursed King drowned the rest of his glass in one go and cleared his throat. "No, I will do it." Henrik sauntered towards me, like an animalโ€”no, a wolfโ€”on the prowl. Just seeing the way he carried himself, the broad plane of his shoulders to the smooth sway of his hips, made me gulp and look away nervously. He walked around me and I held my breath, already feeling my body flare with heat from just the pressure and warmth that came from his fingers touching the back of my dress. "Why are there so many godsdamn buttons?" he muttered in a frustrated growl, making me laugh and forget all my nerves for a few seconds.

The buttons were indeed very small, all fifteen of them straight down the center of my spine and intentionally very close together to ensure there were no gaps. I could understand how Henrik's large fingers no doubt were having a hard time gripping onto them and maneuvering them through the holes.

Finally, after a couple, long, and torturous minutes, I felt him reach the last one against my tailbone and the dress was barely hanging onto my shoulders. All it took was very one gentle tug of the sleeves and it pooled at my feet and I apprehensively stepped out, dressed in only a corset and pair of thin underwear. Every hair on my body stood on edge when Henrik walked back in front of me and took a small step backwards. His gaze burned me and I awkwardly shifted from foot to foot.

At first I had been unsure of the corset, having never worn one before and being afraid it'd look too immodest, but Callie had insisted, telling me that a lot of females wore even more scandalous things on normal days. Now I finally understood her persistence. Nothing he hadn't seen before were on display but still his eyes dilated anyway, scanning the white material that had a low cut down the center of my breast and revealed their line of cleavage. He stared at me like I was a newfound piece of art, his eyes raking over every curve of my body like he was assessing and planning everything he planned to do.

I gasped in surprise when Henrik quickly knelt down and undid the straps on my heels one at a time, his fingers working so fast they reminded me of a spider crafting its web. As soon as he was done, I stepped my aching, red, and quite hideously swollen feet out of them with his help, the back of my heels feeling oddly as if they were sinking in sand. I vowed then and there to never wear such ghastly things again.

Henrik's hands mindlessly caressed over the smooth skin of my calves, his fingers stopping momentarily to circle a birthmark on my knee, and slowly rose higher and higherโ€”

"Now you," I said and he chuckled darkly and almost vengefully as I stepped away and headed towards the table, making sure to add an extra sway to my hips and hoping I wasn't making myself look more like a virgin fool by doing so. Not being able to help myself, I looked over my shoulder and saw him in the middle of undoing the buttons of his black shirt, staring shamelessly and hungrily below my tailbone.

I quickly turned around, not trusting myself enough to not faint if I watched him any longer, and grabbed the champagne bottle in a too-hard grip, poured myself half a glass, and sipped on it, trying to calm my nerves. It was smooth and sweet yet not too sweet to be nauseating, the burst of bubbles on the roof of my mouth giving me some comfort. Breathe, breathe, I told myself before downing the rest of it, savoring its gentle burn. We hadn't even started yet and already I was sweating, my whole body feeling as if it was standing directly underneath a large beam of sunlight.

It wasn't truly the thought of consummating with Henrik that scared me. I trusted him enough to know he'd make sure I felt secure and that the experience would be enjoyable. However, the thought of me doing everything so horribly so he would never desire me again entered my mind and made me physically ill, having to turn my face away from the pile of meat and stare at literally anything else. Although I knew the gists of what to do, a few ugly, dramatized illustrations and Callie's suggestive jokes did absolutely nothing to give me the confidence of knowing how to pleasure anyone, let alone a Lycan and a three century year old king.

When I looked back after settling down my glass, I was startled to see Henrik still standing in the center of the room where I'd left him but now in only his boxer briefs, his clothes thrown carelessly around him. It looked like he'd also moved my dress aside since it was now closer to the wall than before. It was a sight I wasn't unused to, since he always slept in his underwear, but it still shocked me nonetheless, having expected him to at least still be wearing trousers.

I slowly walked over, golden eyes calculating my every movement, every rise and fall of my breasts, every twitch of my fingers.

When I was just a foot away from him, my eyes in level with his chest, I reached up and softly touched a thick line of ink on his right pectoral, tracing its unique pattern. His skin was surprisingly smooth with thin patches of dark hair along his chest that trailed down in a single line on his stomach before vanishing under his briefs. Henrik's breath hitched which encouraged me to continue so I made sure my digits followed every swirl on the right side of him, only stopping if a line disappeared under his undergarment, until they led me around to his back, feeling his muscles continue to twitch and flex under my light touch.

My exploration came to a pause when my fingertip was met with a particularly deep scar and before I could think properly, I leaned forward and placed a light kiss on top of it and I felt Henrik shudder, muttering something under his breath. I swept my lips over it, making sure to still trail his tattoos with my fingers, and to the one next to it before pressing my lips firmly down on it like I had the other. I did this to all of the scars my short height allowed me to until finally I came to his side again, placing a kiss on his bicep right above his elbow where another thick pockmark was, and walked around, seeing his eyes screwed shut and his hands in fists at his sides.

My eyes snapped down to his boxer briefs where I could see the outline of what was causing him such turmoil. The sight had a new found confidence blossom inside me, knowing that I had this effect on such a large and powerful male. I trailed my hand down to the band of his boxer briefs, not stopping this time when the tattoo was no longer visible, and skimmed with a apprehensive curiosity over the black materialโ€”

Henrik grabbed my wrist, his grip tight but gentle. "Don't," he rasped. "I want to... I want to touch you first." He licked his lips, as if he physically couldn't help himself, and his Adam's apple bobbed.

Just like before, he smoothly strode behind me and grabbed onto the back of my corset. He snarled and I could practically hear his teeth elongating. "You females need to stop making your clothing so complicated." His breath tickled my ear. I felt each individual tug on the straps of my corset as he unlaced them one by one, sighing in relief as the pressure on my ribs and breasts slowly diminished. "Tell me, do females do it on purpose to aggravate their partners?" Henrik trailed his teeth over the curve of my neck and then nipped at it, the pain and pleasure making my toes curl into the wooden floor.

"No," I breathed, my breath hitching when he flicked his tongue out over the top of my mark. "I'm fairly certain they make them that way to aggravate us." Finally I felt the corset loosen all the way and I hummed in relief when the air met my clammy backside, immediately causing me to feel the slightest bit cooler. The only thing keeping it up were my hands which trembled as they held it against my chest.

Henrik came back around, hand mindlessly skimming over my shoulder and down my arm, and then leaned forward, locking our lips. Now that my heels were gone, I had to stand on the very edges of my toes while he practically was at a ninety degree angle with the floor. He instantly groaned at the first contact of our tongues and I quickly became victim to his spell just as I had always. My hands went limp and my corset fell, my nipples instantly hardening in the cool air and burning when they brushed against his chest as I wrapped my arms around his shoulders.

"My female," Henrik groaned and his hands came to rest under my breasts, his thumbs teasing the underside of them but not moving any higher. His words didn't sound possessive in the slightest. If anything, it almost sounded like he was reminding and confirming to himself that I was in fact there, that this wasn't a dream. "Mine."

He leaned back and looked at me with half-lidded eyes, his two suns for irises taking in every detail. My hands twitched to cover myself, a natural reaction, but I forced them to stay put and loosely clutch his shoulders, knowing he'd see me anyway so there was no point in hiding.

There was a moment of silence. And then another.

"You're so beautiful," he finally said with a smile just as I was beginning to grow nervous, making me blush and relax into his hold.

I'd always been so self conscious about the small, stubborn layer of fat that began below my belly button and trailed all the way around my sides as well as the white stretch marks that lined the inside of my thighs. My breasts weren't the perkiest either and if I really thought about it, I could probably list hundreds of other insecurities I found in my appearance. But as I stood there, only in my underwear, I'd never felt so accepted or free. I felt powerful.

"You're pretty too," I cooed and he growled playfully, leaning down, running his stiffened tongue over my mark, and making my laughter morph into a gasp of pleasure.

My mouth hung open, heavy puffs of breath leaving my parted lips as he reached up and cupped my breasts, his hands so large he could fit all of them in just his palms. I whimpered when he pinched the top of one roughly, feeling it instantly make the area between my legs throb.

"Is that okay?" he leaned back to ask, his words guttural.

"Yes," I moaned, not caring at the time how needy I sounded.

"Harder or softer? Slower or faster? C'mon, Raena," he growled, his breath fanning my neck as he trailed his lips over my collarbone. "Tell me what you want."

"I want." I gasped when he pinched down on both my hardened nubs at the same time and I arched into him, feeling his growing erection press firmly against my stomach. "You." I threw my head back, my body arching into him. "That's all I want."

He stopped and I whimpered, furrowing my eyebrows in aggravation.

"Say that again."

"What?"

"Say it." He gripped my chin and I saw the desperation in his eyesโ€”a vulnerability he usually kept hidden by an indestructible mask he'd perfected through centuries of war and loss. A mask he would only lower for me.

"I want you, Henrik," I told him desperately and truthfully, making sure my eyes never once left his. I doubted I even blinkedโ€”or breathed. "Only you."

I could barely get the last word out before his lips crashed back down on my own and without speaking, his hands trailed over my rear and to my thighs, gripping them and lifting me up so my legs wrapped around his warm and solid torso. The ease in the action and display of his strength caused my core to pulse in the sync with my mark, making my hips instinctively roll closer into his body in a primal search of relief.

His body swayed with each quick step he took as he began walking and I didn't need to use my eyes to know his destination. The thought of it only made me kiss him harder, scrapping the top of his mouth with my tongue, and I swallowed his groan.

My back met the bed, my head angled quite awkwardly on the pile of pillows but neither of us cared, too consumed by exploring each other's bodies for the first time that meager things such as the arrangement of pillows mattered as much as the weather.

Henrik leaned back onto his one elbow, his hand slowly skimming down the valley between my breast, past my stomach, and to the elastic band of my underwear, tracing it with a deliberate softness. "May I?"

I bit my tender lip, knowing full well that if I told him 'no' in that moment, with both of us half naked and sprawled out on his bed, that everything would come to an immediate stop. That despite how much he wanted to consummate that night, if there was even a hint of a doubt or discomfort in my response, he would walk away without an argument.

And I adored him for it, knowing that there were even some beings that called themselves men that selfishly put their own desires first without a thought for the other person.

"Yes, husband," I finally said after a slight pause, giving in to what we both wanted.

His hand disappeared underneath the lace material and I was gone at the first soft stroke of his knuckles on a bundle of nerves I had never realized were there before. I gave a choked sound and dug my heels into the mattress. Noting my reaction, he pressed down harder with his fingers and readjusted himself on his elbow into a more comfortable position before he kept gong, watching my face and analyzing every furrowing of my brows and noises that came out of me.

"Is that it?" Henrik asked, searching my eyes.

I had no idea what he was talking about and I couldn't find any words in my mind at that moment so I nodded, gritting my teeth together as I tried to contain all the sounds bubbling in my lungs. He started moving his hand faster, increasing the already unbearable pleasure into something almost excruciating, and every once and a while he'd stop and give a tantalizing flick with his forefinger that sent me reeling.

Then I felt it, like the rising of pressure caused by the steam in a kettle right before it whistled except it was located in my abdomen and I felt like I would burst from it. My body seized up, my back arching as I was met with a dark sky full of stars, my mouth stretching wide as a drawn out and satisfied moan left it. My whole body shuddered violently as wave upon wave of pleasure slammed into my very being. It was almost too much and my fingers gripped onto the pillow behind my head, trying to keep hold of some sort of foundation. I feared I'd fly off to be with the gods if I didn't.

Henrik groaned, his breath almost as heavy as mine as he watched me.

"Holy shit," I wheezed, trying to catch my breath and failing.

Before I could though, I registered that Henrik had somehow maneuvered himself down the bed during my moment of bliss so his knees were situated on either side of my own. He hastily pulled my underwear down my legs, which were still slightly twitching, with no help from me and tossed them behind his shoulder to join the rest of our clothes on the floor. I shuddered as the cool air met my folds as Henrik gripped the underside of my thighs and forced them apart, eliciting an embarrassed and quite girlish shriek from deep within my chest.

Callie had been dreadfully wrong about the wax not hurting and I barely had been able to complete the process, wondering if perhaps it'd been a form of torture before it became a beauty routine for some. So I could only hope that she was at least right about Henrik appreciating my hairless state and I watched his face closely, my face feeling as if it would burst into flames from embarrassment.

He groaned, his eyes fluttering with desire and his breath quickening as he stared down at what he'd been desiring for months. Again, a rush of cool relief ran down my spine and my muscles eased a bit but still remained alert of his every action. Swiftly, he lied on his stomach below me, his hands slipping underneath to rest on each of my butt cheeks as his shoulders pried my thighs further apart to accommodate the width of him.

His eyes flashed undeniably brighter. A flash of pink was spotted when his tongue darted out to moisten his lips.

"What are you doing?" I asked and propped my upper body onto my elbows, my voice shaking with adrenaline and my body jerking restlessly. Just having his face so close to there had me nearly crying out for every Lycan ear to hear.

"In all honesty, I have no idea," Henrik forced out, his voice sounding raw as his desire took over, and suddenly I couldn't see his face anymore as it darted between my legs and his hot breath fanned against my opening.

Immediately, my muscles tensed at the unusual sensation and I felt about ready to bolt for the door.

"Whatโ€”" At the first stroke of his tongue, I went silent, my eyes widening as my legs instinctively clamped around his head and my nails dug into the comforter. Henrik gave a satisfied grunt and did it again and again and again, lifting my rear up with his hands to give him a better angle. "Oh gods," I cried and only screamed louder when he continued, my hands scrambling downward to fist his hair and pull him impossibly closer.

He was eating me like he hadn't feasted in days, a greedy man trapped in the desert who'd just had his first taste of water. Henrik growled and the vibrations had my eyes nearly into the back of my head and my hips rolling to meet his movements only for them to be pinned down by one of his hands, his fingers splaying across my stomach.

Over and over again, he flicked his tongue and scrapped his teeth just where I needed him until finally a particular long and quite lazy grind of his tongue paired with the vibrations of his growls had me falling apart a second time, my head tossing back into the pile of pillows as I lost control over my body. My muscles were too consumed by pleasure to know how to do anything else but tremble for the male beneath me.

There was a pause of silence and I gave a jolt when Henrik suddenly nipped the inside of my thigh, his canines no doubt leaving behind a small wound from what I could tell from the stinging sensation the action inflicted. My one hand came up to my forehead which felt like it was doing loops around the whole planet at the speed of a shooting star while the other rested on my stomach, feeling the way it rose and fell with each of my harsh breaths.

"Was that alright?" Henrik asked, looking up from me as he panted.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, licking its corners clean. A gleam of hope shined in eyes, like a little boy desperately trying to make his adult peers happy. I was almost tempted to reach back down and pat the top of his hair, which looked absolutely ridiculous. Dark strands stood in every direction imaginable from my merciless tugging and I'd never seen him look so unkempt before. Even in his sleep, his hair looked better.

"No, I only orgasmed for fun," I drawled breathlessly, my mind trapped in a cloud and I never wanted to come back down. My ears rang as blood rushed past them. It was strange how in those few minutes I felt more worn out than an hour with Evander had ever left me.

Henrik chuckled, crawled up my body, and kissed me softly. I was a bit confused by the taste that covered his lips, feeling a sense of both disgust and desire when it was introduced to my tongue. It was purely strange and unlike anything I'd ever tasted before and I tried not to think too much about it, knowing I'd just freak myself out if I did. I relaxed the more I got comfortable with it and moaned into the kiss, my senses becoming absorbed by the feeling of his rough hands skimming the curve of my waist.

My fingers trailed over his abs, circling each individual bulge of muscle, and down to his underwear which I didn't hesitate to push down until they got to right above his knees, where I then had to use my feet to get them down the rest of the way.

Henrik kicked them off mindlessly, deepening our kiss and caressing my tongue with his own.

I subtly looked down past his chin and I wasn't fully surprised by what I saw, having grown up with two boys and seeing them naked plenty of times, but I was definitely intimidated by the size of him. It was official that every part of him looked like a king and the thought of him even trying to fit that angry appendage inside me made me shudder and repeatedly curse in my head at whichever god had made him.

Apprehensively, I reached down and grabbed him, feeling the velvety weight of him in my palm, and lightly traced the tip of my forefinger over a prominent vein near the base.

Henrik hissed, gripping my wrist on instinct. After he became familiar to my touch, he used his hold on me to guide me up and down, his mouth falling open as he met euphoria. When I had a rhythm, he let go of me to fist the bear fur comforter and his hips instinctively rocked back and forth to meet my pumps, his breathing growing shallower by the second.

"Shite," he groaned and a list of curse words I'd never heard before followed, some even in different languages, which both impressed and turned me on at the same time. They all came out in strings of pained hisses or primal growls, his face already beginning to morph into that beast I'd once feared. But now as I stared up at him, with him literally in the palm of my hand, I admired the way his jaw slightly lengthened and the muscles in his arms visibly shifted back and forth, at war between what to do. It was absolutely astounding what his powerful body was capable of.

Feeling more confident, I quickened my pace and kissed him harder, our teeth practically gnashing together and my lips felt almost beaten as Henrik left them with the promise of a bruise. I gripped his length tighter, wanting him to reveal more of his true, unleashed self to me, and at that, Henrik growled, his hand wrapping around my wrist once again but this time to halt my movements altogether.

My heart leaped in my chest, watching his heaving chest and gritted canines, which looked about ready to crack if he pressed them together the slightest bit harder.

"I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?" I asked hurriedly, searching his scrunched up and unreadable face for answers. Immediately I let go of his shaft and my hand hung limp in his hold.

"Noโ€”the opposite actually," he stated through his teeth, relaxing his hand around me but still kept a firm grip on my wrist as he brought it up to his lips to place a tender kiss where his claws had accidentally broken through the skin. I'd been so caught up with my worry of injuring him that I hadn't even felt it and I didn't shy away when I saw his hands, knowing that those dark, curved claws were just as much a part of him as his sincere actions. He licked away the small specks of blood and then kissed them, moaning breathlessly as he did so and I shuddered. "May I mate you now, Raena?" He leaned down and nipped at my bottom lip before rubbing his cheek against my own, the rumble that came from his chest sounding like a purr. "Please."

Without speaking, I opened my legs wider, lifted my hips, and felt the tip of him rub against where I needed him the most, knowing full well he could feel just how much I wanted him. He snarled, pressing down on my hip to stop my movements as if they pained him.

Henrik's eyes stared down almost angrily at me, like a parent scolding a child, and his grip on my hips tightened, the feeling of his claws poking my skin exciting me. It was his way of silently telling me there was no chance of him continuing if he didn't possess my verbal consent and I had no doubt he'd wait there in that exact position for hours before he ever dared move without hearing it.

"I'm all yours," I whispered in a way I hoped was seductive, trailing my lips over his smooth jaw and nipped at his chin, "mate." That wordโ€”a word I'd once hated and spat onโ€”left my lips in a smooth whisper.

Henrik growled and pressed his lips back on mine, reaching down quickly but not at all rushed between our bodies to align himself. At the first nudge of him, I tensed as my walls hurried to accommodate his impressive girth. My mouth swallowed his groan of pleasure and he did the same to my one of discomfort as he began slowly rolling his hips in gentle thrusts into me until finally, what felt like years later, he was seated at the hilt.

He stilled, allowing me to adjust as I winced and wiggled slightly and got used to the strange feeling of being so full. My fingers gripped the hard bulges of his biceps, my nails digging into their scarred flesh. It wasn't nearly as painful as I'd feared but I still needed a moment to just breathe and take in what was happening.

"How are you feeling?" he questioned and I could only groan, tightening my legs around his waist. I could feel sweat rolling down the sides of my face while I pinched my eyebrows together, the inside of my cheek throbbing from biting it while he'd been sheathing himself within me. "Tell me, Raena," he growled, the vibration of the animalistic sound going straight down to where we were joined. I unintentionally moaned, my toes curling almost painfully. "Are you," he leaned down and bit my earlobe not-so-gently between his elongated canines, "underwhelmed?"

My eyes snapped open at that word, a word I'd regretted saying since the moment it passed through my lips, glaring at him through the discomfort.

โ€œFuck you," I hissed and he smiled wickedly down at me, beads of sweat glistening along his hairline. That and the twitching of his biceps were the only things that gave away how much strength he was mustering to hold back from ramming into me until the headboard broke through the wall, stone and all.

"Is that a 'no' I hear?" he asked while he circled his hips, making me cry out as his pelvis rubbed perfectly against the area that still throbbed from his earlier attention. So much pleasure erupted from just that single action but it wasn't enough. It wasn't what I needed. "Ah, yes, I do believe so."

"Henrik!" I practically shouted, my muscles unintentionally clenching tightly around him in a vice grip.

That single action caused Henrik to growl the second loudest I'd ever heard him and suddenly he pulled back and then back in, the action so slow it was almost unbearable. I was tempted to reach down and force him to be faster but before I had the chance, he grabbed my hands in his and lifted them above my head, pressing them into the pillows and keeping his claws gentle against my palms. His thrusts were long and timed, with him kissing me gently in between, and slowly, as we got comfortable, he built up his speed and he started whispering wicked things in my ear, making my walls clench over and over again which I was sure was his exact intention.

Henrik's eyes glowed as they looked down at me, reminding me of a solar eclipse because of how large his pupils were dilated so that only slivers of gold were visible around them. They hypnotized me both body and soul and my heart fluttered with the realization that this male above me was bound to me in more ways than I could ever fathom. In both heart, soul, law, and body we belonged to each other. The thought made my eyes burn with an unspoken truth.

"Mine," he grunted through gritted canines as he met my eyes, quickening his movements ever further and making a familiar ball in my stomach expand. A hand reached down and hitched my leg up further so my knee was pressed against the side of his ribcage. "My mate. My female. My queen. Mine." With each word, his thrusts got harder and faster, pain mixing in with the pleasure to create the most sinful concoction.

Our lips met again but our kisses were sloppy and messy, our noses knocking together from the jolts of Henrik's thrusts. On a normal occasion, I would've found it repulsive but I was too far gone with lust to give a damn and so I simply rolled my hips into his own more urgently as the familiar pressure made its third appearance.

I cursed as yet another intense wave of pleasure washed through me and Henrik slowed, dragging it out as long as he possibly could and taking the opportunity to give me a real, passionate kiss.

But I wasn't close to done yet. So I decided to use the situation to my advantage, utilizing what Evander had taught me about distribution of body weight and taking my opponent by surprise, and swiftly flipped us over with my thighs, making Henrik eyes go wide up at me with surprise and his nostrils flare. I stilled, unsure of what his reaction meant until I felt him undoubtedly harden even further inside me, his eyes hungrily flashing towards my aching, heavy breasts.

I placed my hands on his chest, scaling every ridge of muscle and scar tissue, and began slowly moving up and down. Trying to figure it out as I went and hoping I wasn't messing it all up, my feet fidgeting little until they got situated and found good grounding and I bit my lip hard since the new angle made him enter even deeper inside me.

Henrik's eyes zoomed in on the spot where we were joined, growling primitively as he watched himself slip in and out of me, his claws poking against my thighs as he rubbed them.

"Mine," I panted and Henrik's eyes snapped up to me, his breathing rugged and shallow as they came out in short pants through swollen lips. I swallowed and my heart felt as if it was about to burst. "You're mine," I repeated more firmly and came down especially harder as I got comfortable, increasing the speed of my hips and adding a roll to them as I lowered and left no room for questioning.

Henrik tossed his head back, letting out the deepest and longest moan towards the gods themselves. "Yesss," he hissed and grabbed my hips, his claws and wedding band digging into the skin there as he helped me. Soon his knees bent as well to help him thrust his hips upwards to meet me halfway. The new position had us both practically shouting as my hips slammed into his own, both of us no longer caring about being intimate or loving but rather seeking the carnal pleasure we both craved.

A loud boom, like the strike of a drum, from outside had me halting momentarily, the sound feeling as if it was echoing throughout my chest off of every one of my ribs, and my head snapped to the windows whose curtains were wide open.

Thankfully, because of how high up we were, the angle his bedroom windows faced, and the many balconies below, I didn't have to worry about anybody seeing us. Besides, after seeing how jealous he'd been with me spending time with Jerium and Evander, I knew Henrik would never let a single person see us in the act of mating.

"What was that?" I breathed and caught a flash of red and Henrik kept moving, circling his hips and thrusting upwards, causing me to shudder and gasp at the same time. My nails dug into his chest further and that only seemed to encourage him to go faster. So he did.

There was a high-pitched whistle and I watched in awe as a flash of yellow darted into the sky, looking like what I pictured a pixie's appearance to be, and illuminated the outline of trees for only a second until it bursted into what looked like thousands of tiny blue flames.

"Fireworks," he stated hoarsely, his voice in between man and beast. "In celebration of your," he hissed through gritted teeth, "coronation." The last word was a struggle to bite out as I finally lifted myself and sunk back down onto him.

Fireworks later, I decided.

Henrikโ€™s face twisted with pleasure and I watched him closely, feeling every rumble of his chest against my palms, as his movements became rushed and almost sloppy. His hands were all over me, exploring every curve until his middle finger found that spot again between my legs. I cried into his ceiling as my movements became desperate, my limbs growing tired and my hips cramping but still I kept going as the pleasure possessed every fiber of my existence.

It was only a few moments later when Henrik gave out a particularly loud snarl amongst the clamors and shrieks of fireworks. His claws sunk into my hips and drew drops of blood as he quite literally exploded inside me, the heat of him filling me to the brim as his whole body stiffened underneath me.

With that, it was like a chord snapping into place or the mending of a dislocated shoulder as I felt his pleasure as if it were my own and I quite literally fell apart, my whole body quivering violently. Strength left my body and I collapsed on top of him, heaving and gasping to catch my breath as Henrik jerked himself a few more times inside me, his own arms shaking.

Henrik pecked my drenched forehead before lifting me up from under my armpits and we both simultaneously groaned when his still very stiff manhood slipped out of me.

He jumped off the bed and sauntered to the bathroom, myself blushing at the sight of his naked backside. He came back with a white washcloth that he'd ran under warm water in the sink and unashamedly wiped it over every area between my thighs, making sure I was completely clean before he draped it over the footrest, both of us fully aware that our night together had just begun.

He crawled back on the bed and pulled me to his chest, letting out a content purr. Our bodies still were hot and sticky from our lovemaking so we simply stayed on top of the covers, our limbs perfectly intertwined as they naturally seemed to do. He placed a kiss on my hair as I began tracing the scars on his arms, as I had many night before, my breaths beginning to even as I listened to the fireworks sounding from behind me. Despite me usually preferring the other side of the bed, I was too exhausted to even think about lifting a finger let alone switch which half of the bed I was lying on.

As we laid side-by-side, my aching body and hazed brain halfway close to sleep, my stomach gave a loud growl that I was sure King Caspolean could hear from his palace in Chrytolio and I said jokingly, "I think I'm ready to eat now."

Although I laughed, I couldn't help but feel embarrassed, my cheeks burning. Way to ruin the mood, I thought.

He chuckled, the sound sounding like music playing underwater to the ear against his chest, and he quieted staring at my face, outlining my lips with his fingers and trailing up to my cheekbone, until he stopped and pulled his hand away like I'd burned him. Suddenly he looked very somber. Almost sad.

"What is it?" I asked, propping my head on my elbow. My heart ached as if his emotions were my own, realizing perhaps that was because that's exactly what they were.

Ingrid had explained to me how after we mated, slowly our souls would start stitching together and it would take a while for us to get used to and understand what each other's tells were. It was like adding another limb to our bodies but in this instance it was an addition to our brains and souls. It would take time for this new bond to not only strengthen but become fully functional without errors. It'd taken her and Furkan nearly two years before they stopped starting arguments simply because they were frustrated and couldn't tell whose emotions were whose.

But I hadn't expected it to be so fast or overwhelming, feeling a new presence already begin to sprout in the back of my mind. Perhaps it was different for everyone because in that moment I could easily feel which emotions belonged to who, like water and oil in the same bottle, touching but never mixing.

"Raena, I..." he trailed off and swallowed thickly, sighing as he looked away. "It's nothing." I gave him a look, silently showing how I didn't believe him, that the new and ever growing bond between us wouldn't let me. "I was just thinking about how Lord Zayev from Lyro is unsure of how to go about punishing a few people refusing to pay the new taxes and he's asked for my intervention." Suddenly I couldn't feel his emotions anymore, as if a wall was placed there and I felt empty. I knew Henrik was skilled already with communicating with people through their minds and I hated how he was already using his ability to intentionally block me out. "I'll make you a plate." He slid out of the bed and walked over to the table and my eyes trailed over his muscles, scars, and tattoos appreciatively.

I sighed and looked up at the smirking faerie overhead, thinking back to my mother's warning. My hands skimmed over my shoulders, to the location where the scabs from her nails piercing my skin had fallen off long ago. But I couldn't help but remember their sting, my fear, and the pure hatred in my mother's eyes for Henrik. My heart skipped a beat.

Spirits visiting the living was not an unheard of phenomenon but still considered rare. People who conversed with them regularly were known as Seers, beings who could slip past the veil that split the physical and spirit realms from each other, and a part of me wondered if perhaps my father's family possessed the gift which would make sense since I would've naturally inherited some of that ability. It was unusual for me to think about my father, who had abandoned my mother and I long before I gained the opportunity to remember anything about him. But the first spark of curiosity began inside me, wondering if he had been of magical origin even though I was sure my mother would've mentioned something to me.

I looked over at Henrik, watching the tense muscles in his back as he piled macaroons onto my plate. I didn't need the bond to know he was thinking of something unpleasant.

He's my husband and my soulmate, I reminded myself, turning my face to the windows where I watched the multicolored flames light up the sky. He's done nothing but show me that I can trust him.

But I should've known better.


Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this chapter Xx

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