Raja was an interesting character.
A couple of months had passed since I had stayed in his castle with him. Sometimes I could see his face, but sometimes I couldn’t. I guess it depended on his mood, or maybe his thoughts on his physical appearance that specific day.
When we first met, I thought that I would never see Raja’s face, or anything about him, based on our first meeting. Drenched in shadows, he talked to me, assuring me that everything would happen in its own good time. I thought that it would take years, or maybe I’d never see him. I just didn’t expect him to approach me days later, dressed in black, a shadow covering his face.
I still remember my first impression of him; of his dark blue skin, of his rippling muscles and golden irises that poked from the shadow around his eyes. His lips were visible to me, smooth and curved, red and plump.
I don’t know what he was so afraid of; he was very handsome, and extremely kind. Sure, it didn’t take very long for him to grow out of his shy behavior, but he still refused to show or tell me anything else. Hell, I didn’t even know his name!
Somehow, that didn’t bother me very much. I was used to living with secrecy; I’d lived with it my entire life! I’d lived indifferent to the problems around me, indifferent to the words spoken behind my back, searing into my skin. Over time, I learned to ignore them and to only care about what I thought of. If only Raja could think the same way.
His mask was beautiful, though. Dark noir plastic with golden curles around his already dark eyes and gold irises. At first, I thought it was just a metaphor that he used, that the shadow tumbling from his hood was his mask. It was only when I saw him without his hood on for the first time, that I realized he was literally wearing a mask, something that cracked me up more than it should have.
Raja’s home, despite the vast emptiness it had, was actually very beautiful. The grounds around the palace were dark, cracked, and cold, but he had a beautiful garden behind the palace. Flowers colored with every color of the rainbow swayed in the hands of green, limp leaves.
The cobblestone there wasn’t a gloomy grey. Instead, it was a dark tan color, little gems glimmering in the purple light of the sun. A clear fountain sputtered in the middle of the garden, moss covering the bottom of the marble.
I found myself thinking more and more about Raja as the days passed. He was growing immensely on me, like how the moss grew on the marble. It stuck to the pattern, continuously growing until it would one day cover the entire thing up. I would be the marble, Raja would be the moss.
He had gone from shy to seductive in not even a week, and our kiss happened on the second week of my stay. I didn’t regret it, though. I didn’t regret anything that had conspired between us, even if I was almost killed for it.
An involuntary shiver crawled up my spine, and my grip on the damp stem of the flower faltered, my eyes darting around the garden closing on me. Even though Raja said that he had the situation under control, I couldn’t help but still be cautious, especially because he was working so often that I hardly saw him around anymore.
I felt like a Disney princess; frolicking amongst the flowers while waiting for her Prince Charming. It annoyed me, annoyed me at how useless I was in my new situation. I was forced out of my home, trying to make an adventure out of it, and instead, I became another problem an innocent person was forced to deal with.
Just like a burden, I thought bitterly, tossing the flower away. Just like the burden Dad always told me I was.
The situation was sadistically amusing to me. I usually didn’t listen to my Dad’s nonsense, especially if it was drunk nonsense. Why now, whenever my life was in a turbulence of up and down, did I think of every pathetic little word he’d ever spoken to me?
“I didn’t expect to see you out here,” the slither of Saira’s words curled around my ears and I looked up, meeting her expectant orange eyes.
“Oh, Saira. I-I didn’t hear you come here,” I mumbled. Something jumped onto my lap, bringing a grunt out of me, and Chandra giggled.
“You look sad,” she noticed, tugging at my cheeks. “Be happy! We’ll be having another friend for you soon!”
“Friend?” I asked, my eyes drawing to Saira.
She smiled gently, her scaley lips twisting. “She means the Master’s visitor. Do not worry; we don’t usually meet him. The Master forbids it.”
“Forbids it? Why?”
Saira shrugged, tugging Chandra out of my lap and pushing her towards the flower beds, an indication for the nagani child to leave. Chandra, ever the innocent child, dashed to the colorful bed, her tail wagging like an excited dog behind her. The flakes on her tail rattled, a flurry of bees high-tailing it towards the next flower bed.
“I don’t know. I’ve never questioned Ro-I mean, the Master’s decisions,” she said softly, her beady eyes observing the slump in my frame.
I glanced at her. “What were you going to say?”
“What was I going to say?”
“You said Ro, and then stopped.” I sat up, the sticky strands of hair stuck to my cheeks blowing back against my head. “Who’s Ro?”
Sairas tail curled around her body, her lip pulled between her glistening fangs. “I shouldn’t say. It’d be against my oath.”
“Oath? What oath?” I pressed.
“An oath every member of the Master’s castle takes whenever someone new appears, or is brought here. Unless the Master says so, we aren’t allowed to reveal anything about him,” she explained.
I raised my eyebrow. “Isn’t that against the freedom of speech laws? Or is that only in America?”
That made Saira chuckle. “Unfortunately, only in America, darling. It’s not like he’s a bad King, Radha. He’s only a recluse, something that you’ve been changing.”
“Changing? How so?”
“...Well, like it or not, the Master is a beast. He’s technically a demon, but he prefers beast, because it scares less people,” she began, a fond smile playing on her lips.
I giggled. “Really? Does he really think that?”
She shrugged. “Apparantly. It’s worked with our guest that’ll be coming. Besides that, though, he never really took his hood apart. Rarely, in fact, would any of us see him without his hood. With you around, though, he’s been showing off more of hs face. Sure, he keeps his mask on, but he shows us more than he’s ever shown us, and it’s all because of you.”
“How? I’ve only been here for maybe a couple of months?” I asked, astonishment seeping into my voice.
Again, Saira shrugged. “You’d be surprised how quickly love works with tow people.” She must have seen me ready to protest, for she hastily added, “But I know neither of you are ready to say that yet, so I won’t imply it any more. You have to know, though, that I haven’t seen the Master this lively and happy, not since...Mohini.”
“That’s her name?” I asked. “Mohini? That was his old lover?”
Saira nodded “Yes. Her name was Mohini, and she was the Master’s first lover. He’d had flings before, but Mohini was his first serious lover. I’m positive they were planning on marrying, but then, well, she messed their relationship up. She hurt him so badly that she left a permanent scar on his heart, which is why he’s so afraid to enter a new relationship with you.”
“He doesn’t seem very scared,” I noted. “Sure, he’s pretty private, but he didn’t hesitate once to kiss me, to let his desire known. How does that make sense?”
“The Master has always been one to sleep with someone before pouring his love out,” Saria explained, whispering so that Chandra wouldn’t hear. “He was probably looking for the connection, if there would be any. Since he’s still pursuing you, then he feels something for you. He may use his desire to explore more of whatever relationship you two may have, but you’ll know if he wants another. You’ll sense it with him.”
“Wait...so, you’re telling me that if I kiss well and I fuck well, he’ll stay with me?” I asked. Slight anger fizzled inside of me, burning up my throat. I was not an object. My feelings weren’t something to toy with.
Saira backtracked quickly. “No! No, absolutely not. What I’m trying to tell you is that the Master may explore...well...you before he tells you the big three words,” she clarified. “He’d been hurt before, Radha. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen again. It’s why he’s so cautious.”
“I get that, but if he’s so cautious, then why does he want to have sex to understand feelings?” I exclaimed, throwing my hands up above my head.
Saira shook her head. “Because words do more damage than actions,” she said. “Like I said before, if he doesn’t feel a connection, he’ll cut it off. His desire for you is obvious, Radha. Everybody can see it, even though you’ve only been with him for a few months. He wants to feel a connection with you. He desn’t want to make a mistake, not like before.”
“So, this Mohini person. He used his words before his actions?” I asked.
“Yes, and she took advantage of that. I know many books say to place a concrete relationship first before you sleep with each other, but sometimes, it doesn’t work. That’s all I’m trying to tell you-to explain to you why the Master is so secretive, and why he might...work fast,” she said, rubbing her hands together, despite the warm weather.
I hummed, a warm flush rising on my cheeks like an overheated blanket. “So...if he does...um...”
Saira smiled, grasping my hint. “Then yes, he’s feeling something for you. He’s simply hopping onto the next step.”
“Who’s hopping onto the next step?” Chandra’s lispy voice rasped, her dark eyes glowing into mine. “Are we playing hopscotch? Is that why you’re hopping?”
Saira and I laughed, and I ruffled Chandra’s fluffy hair. “No, Chandra. We aren’t playing hopscotch. Your mommy and I were...talking about adult things.”
“Adult things? Like cooking and cleaning?” She continued, intent on grasping whatever we were speaking about. “Those are boring things.”
“They are,” I agreed, unable to hide the giggles slipping my lips. “But you’ll be talking about it with your mommy one day too, Chandra. Don’t worry.”
She pouted, poking her upper lip and lashing her tail. “No, I won’t.” She asserted firmly. She slithered away before I could counter her, and I glanced at Saira, who shrugged indifferently.
“She’s very stubborn, isn’t she?” I asked.
“She is. She’s just like her father,” Saira said, a wistful sigh leaving her lips as she gazed at her daughter. “She’s so much like her father...”
“Is she?” It was a rhetorical question, one that wasn’t meant to be met with an answer, but a deep exhale left Saira’s mouth and she turned to me, a dark shadow cast over her bright eyes.
“We met years ago, before the curse was placed. Before the Master turned into a Beast, he was a human, just like we all were. The curse wasn’t meant to extend to anyone else except him, but it did, and fast.” She picked for a rock in the dirt, skidding it over the fountain water. “Select few were chosen to stay with him; Damien, Lucifer, Chandra, and I. My husband...well...he died that day. Was killed during the explosion.” She picked up another rock, throwing it into the pond this time. “Mohini was always vague about her spells, that witch. We all gathered in the castle, providing the Master company for centuries, until you came.”
“Well, it was Damien’s idea. He suggested that Ro-the Master start trying to find another woman in his life, after his last disastrous relationship,” she said. “I can’t tell you why, that’s Rohan’s place to say. All I can tell you is that we all are rooting for you. We all hope that you’re the one.”
“One for...?” I trailed off, watching a dark pair of eyes following me from the balcony above us.
Raja’s noir orbs swept around the garden, his only colorful artwork left in his prison. I knew that he had seen me, his eyes constantly flickering to me. He glanced behind him, walking away from the balcony with a sweep of his cape, and I wasn’t sure if it was an indication for me to follow him or not, but I stood up. I brushed my clothes, smiling at Saira.
“Thank you, Saira,” I said.
Saira shook her head, brushing my thanks aside. “Of course. It is no problem. And remember, he will ask for your consent. You do not need to worry about anything. He is a gentleman, he always has been.”
The curtains were drawn when i reached my room.
Granted, it was already dark by the time I had dragged myself up to my bedroom, but I never drew the blinds, mostly because I was afraid of sleeping in complete darkness. My Dad had always mocked me about my “irrational fear” but honestly, I could give two shits what he thought anymore. He wasn’t in my situation...my wonderful situation.
Seeing as I only needed to change, I seated myself on my bed, a sigh escaping me as my fatigue throughout the entire day took its toll on me. From learning more about Raja to thinking about what my Dad would be calling me by now (aka: slut), I felt the dire need to just close my eyes and take a nap.
I don’t remember the last time I actually took a nap. In my house, the rules were that you’d only be able to sleep in the morning, and in the night. (Sorry, only women weren’t allowed to sleep. Dad was allowed to sleep day in and day out like a pig).
If I wasn’t taken by Raja, and if my Dad would have let me take better courses at my university, then I definitely would have studied to be a lawyer, or maybe even a CPS officer. I was really tired and furious at the behavior of men in my village. Tired of being treated inferior to them.
Raja didn’t treat me like that.
He treated me like an equal, his equal. He was dominating with me, but in the romantic sort of sense. He knew when to back off, and he knew which lines he was allowed to cross. I won’t lie, the thought of feeling him underneath me, or even looking at him above me, made excitement spike in me.
Immediately, I shook my head. I shouldn’t be thinking these things, even if he was thinking about them. I should just get ready for bed, focus on what Saira told me today.
It surprised me how much Raja had been hiding from me, but honestly, it didn’t surprise me. He had mentioned a woman many times before, and while I knew I could never compete with her, I was still shocked that she hurt him. Him, a nearly ten foot demon with bulky muscles and some type of power that he refuses to exhibit in front of me.
No, she didn’t hurt him physically, she hurt him mentally, I thought, clenching my jaw. Anger at this Mohini person fueled in me, filling me, suffocating me. How dare she hurt him. He was everything every girl dreamed of in a man. I was extremely lucky to get a man-er-demon like him.
Demon, beast, he may have the physical attributes of there creatures, but Raja acted every bit of a man, maybe even better than they did.
Now, after listening to what Saira had to say about him, I felt as though I understood more about Raja than I did before. I didn’t fully understand why he hid himself, but at least I had some insight as to why he acted the way he did; why he ksised me so early into our still budding relationship.
Dark purple moon dripped through my curtains, an indication that night was approaching. I was sort of getting the hang of the whole day/night thing with the sun/moon, but sometimes, it was still confusing to me. I remember once I went to bed at noon (something Raja still teased me about to this day).
Raja...King. The name suited him, considering his physical characteristics, as well as his title from his previous life. He may not like to admit it, but deep down, he knew that everyone in the palace still saw him as their King. He did do most of the work and conduct the meetings, after all.
I wasn’t completely stoked to meet whoever was coming, as I had an unsettling feeling that this person would be coming from Mukhauta, but if Raja needed me there, then I would be there, even if I despised it. He would have done it for me.
I stripped myself of my clothes, tossing them onto the floor beside me. I needed a shower; I smelled (and you know you need one then, if you yourself can admit that you stink). I took a step towards the doorway to the bathroom, the clothes once covering my body sliding against my smooth skin, when the lights to my room flickered, drenching the room in darkness.
What the fuck...I thought, fear igniting in me. Adrenaline pumped through me, but nostalgia peaked in me. I had been in this situation before, but when?
The door cracked open, and with a squeak, I dove onto my bed, searching for anything I could cover myself up with. Heat crawled along my body, and despite the urge to stop, I continued, brushing my blush aside.
The footsteps neared me, as did my dreading feeling of what might possibly conspire tonight. Was I ready? Would I be good? Would he enjoy it? Why didn’t I change in the bathroom.
I felt his rigid chest against my back and I paused abruptly, words dying in my throat. I was forced to my knees, my heart pounding erratically in my neck.
His claws gently strode down my back, calming me, his voice soft in his throat. I didn’t know if he would speak or not, so I decided to, considering we couldn’t sit in quiet to whole night (and also because I was naked and he was not).
“I can’t see you,” I whispered, the darkness looming above me, the shadow pressed up against my bareback. I shivered when I felt his lips traced my neck, biting gently on the place where my pulse thumped loudly in my body. He had never done that before; he was really searching for something tonight.
“Does sight matter?” He murmured, his voice deep, rich, and husky all together. His arms encircled me, wrapping me firmly against him. He nipped my ear, licking the lobe.
Damn, where did this Raja come from?
“Y-Your...” I stammered, my heart hammering in my chest, his lips locked on my neck. I didn’t know if I was shivering from the cold, or from the way he made me feel inside. My mind went blank, my visions fading from hazy to clear in quick, hot seconds. I was certain I knew how to speak seconds ago. Why was I feeling like this? Why was this so soon?
“Sight, touch, smell, these are all feelings. What are you feeling right now, Radha? What do you want me to do? Tell me, and it is yours, just as I had promised when I took you here,” he snarled lowly, his voice dripping in my ear like rich velvet. Well, God damn it...
I took a shuddering breath, my nerves shaking. His fingers brushed against the slope of my belly, twirling the strands of hair there. He was very overt about his desires, something I could tell he had been forcing to keep hidden for months.
“What do you want, Radha? What is it you desire right now. Tell me, and it is yours,” he growled again, pressing closer to me. The rough fabric of his cloak wrapped around my bare body, the warmth seeping into my skin, my shivers dying.
I turned around so that I could be eye-level with him, wherever eye-level with him was. I could hardly see his eyes, the golden irises a mere line in the dark. He stiffened, his claws sinking into my hips gently, pulling me closer to him. The shadows danced around us. I knew what I wanted.
“I want your name.”