The Queen's Command

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Chapter 9

Maddoc walked out into the bright sun-filled front lawn of the estate. It was such a pleasant day for him to feel so miserable. How could so much be wrong in his world, when the birds were singing, the sun was shinning, and the cool wind was perfect. He would love nothing more than to stroll across the vast grounds with Anwen on his arm. To be able to do nothing more than to feel her small arm in his as they laughed and talked together sounded like heaven.

Instead, they had argued. She wanted to leave him to go to her kingdom. He knew she was worried about her mother, her friends, and her people, but could she not see he could not be without her? To think of her away from him, was impossible. How could he stay there and focus, speaking with his lords while he worried about her traveling on dangerous roads? How could he sleep at night without her in his arms to comfort him and remind him she was well?

He had almost lost her forever once, and he would not let it happen again. He needed her. More than he needed his crown, his kingdom, or anything; she was essential. He regretted how harshly he had spoken to her. He should have just explained how he felt. He only had to tell her he could not be without her. It should have been so simple.

“Regretting your unnecessarily harsh words, I take it?” asked Lady Phaedra as she came to his side.

“Have you come to tell me off for your queen?” he asked.

“No, I’ve come to tell you off for your own good, my king,” said Lady Phaedra with a small laugh. “You cannot speak to your wife like that. especially in company. She has more patience than many women it seems. “

“I did not mean to sound so harsh or embarrass her in any way.”

“Well, I am sure you did. Maddoc, you knew who she was before you married her. You knew she had a responsibility to her kingdom. You cannot expect her to give that up.”

“I do not expect her to give it up. I want her to care for her people and rule Lucidala, and I want to help her.”

“Then why did you command her to stay here? Why not let her do her duty?” asked Lady Phaedra with annoyance. “If you wanted an obedient queen, you picked the wrong woman.”

“I do not want an obedient queen. I like that she knows her own mind. I depend up on her intelligence.”

“Then what is it?”

Maddoc walked off for a moment and then turned around. “I cannot do without her. I almost already lost her, and It broke me. If something were to happen to her, I could not go on. Her even being out of my sight for too long causes me pain. To think I would have to sleep without her or not be able to see her for even a day is unimaginable.”

Lady Phaedra’s posture sagged, and she shook her head slightly. “You know you cannot be by her side every day, Maddoc. Both of you will have to be a part at times; it is unavoidable.”

“Maybe, but not right now, and not so soon after all that has happened. Besides, there is more danger out in the kingdom than ever. I know my uncle would love to get his hands on her. Whether it’s to hurt me or due to the strange obsession he has with her, I hate to think what he would do to her.”

“She is strong, and I hear she has an amazing Gift. I believe she is more than capable of taking care of herself.”

“But I want to take care of her. I want to keep her safe. So much of the pain she has had lately is because of me. Often, I can’t believe she actually agreed to marry me. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she fled from me back to her kingdom multiple times.”

“She is an extraordinary woman, I think. You have chosen well for your wife and queen.”

“It wasn’t a choice. Loving her came so naturally and easy, there was no alternative,” said Maddoc.

“You need to talk to her. You need to go to her and be open and honest. Tell her how you feel. She will understand, and together you can come up with a solution. You just need to keep your temper in check.”

Maddoc crossed his arms and turned from Phaedra. He did not want to yell at Anwen again. He knew he owed her an apology for his display in front of everyone, but he also needed her to understand how he felt.

“Come, my king,” said Lady Phaedra as she walked to his side. “It is time for lunch, and we should get back to the house.”

He nodded and offered her his arm. They walked together to the house and into the dining room. Anwen was already sitting in a chair between Prince Rillian and Avery. She looked at Maddoc with a frown as he walked in with Lady Phaedra. He tried to smile at her but wasn’t sure he was successful. He pulled out a chair for Phaedra and sat between her and Elias. Anwen continued to look at him over the table for a moment before Prince Rillian commanded her attention.

Maddoc knew he had nothing to fear from any man, and he did not distrust Prince Rillian. It was still hard to watch Anwen smile and laugh at things he would say. It was difficult to see her tease him back, giving him a mischievous smile.

“Are you feeling better, your majesty?” asked Elias causing Maddoc to look at him.

“I’m not sure,” said Maddoc as he picked up a cup of wine in front of him. “I do feel some shame.”

“I suppose you should. That was quite a display earlier and no way to speak with your queen,” said Elias very quietly. “I hope you don’t mind me saying it.”

“No, not at all. Your aunt has already dressed me down adequately. I know I have some apologies to make to Anwen.”

“You could start by not looking so severely at her. You will scare her from wanting to be in the room with you with such a face,” said Elias with a small smile.

Maddoc frowned. “I didn’t realize I was looking at her so.”

“Since you have sat down, you have looked at her sternly. She must think you very displeased with her.”

Maddoc sighed and looked over the table at Anwen, hoping to give her a reassuring smile, but she was turned towards Avery as he said something. Prince Rillian said something in response, and she laughed, putting her hand on his arm for a moment. She looked a Maddoc as she turned, her laughter dying down quickly as she frowned.

“There it is again. I must say, Maddoc, I did not think your marriage would turn sour so quickly,” said Elias with a teasing laugh.

Maddoc spent the rest of the meal, trying to keep his face neutral. Anwen barely looked his way again as she spoke with others. He was distracted towards the end by something Elias’s mother said, and he missed Anwen getting up and leaving the room. He tried to leave as soon as he could with politeness. He was desperate to find Anwen alone. He did not wish to spend a moment more with any disagreement between them. He owed her an apology, and they had to figure out the best course of action together.

“I will write the lords telling them they must come here as soon as possible,” said Elias. “I will send out a few riders instead of using birds. Hopefully, the messages will make it that way. I will set a meeting date of a week from tomorrow, and whoever shows up, shows up. Does that meet your approval?”

Maddoc nodded. “Do you need help writing the letters?”

Elias smiled. “I should say yes just to antagonize you, but no, I can handle them. I believe you have a more important matter to attend to.”

Maddoc nodded and rose from the table. He walked from the dining room, wondering where Anwen would be. He first checked their rooms but found them empty. He looked in all the downstairs parlors and sitting areas and found nothing. He finally went outside, thinking she might have gone for a walk.

He spent over an hour searching the grounds, but he could not find her. By the time he walked back towards the house, he was somewhere between agitated and worried. He had no idea where she could be and was worried she was avoiding him. As he came close to the manor, he was met by Lady Phaedra who was walking with her son. The young boy met Maddoc very enthusiastically, taking his hand.

“Come see the pond,” said the young boy.

“I am sure the king has other things to do, Thomas.”

“No, it is fine,” said Maddoc as he let the boy take him to the right of the house towards the water.

He spent some time at the edge of the pond as the boy reached down and played with the water. Maddoc skipped some stones along the surface, making the boy laugh. Eventually, the boy grew tired and took Maddoc by the hand. Thomas led him to his mother, using his other hand to take hers. They looked out over the water together as Maddoc saw a flash of color out of the corner of his eyes. He turned to see Anwen standing close to a group of trees with Prince Rillian at her side. She looked at Maddoc for a second with wide eyes, before turning and hurrying towards the house. Rillian cocked his head and looked at Maddoc before jogging to catch up with Anwen.

Maddoc looked at Lady Phaedra. “I have to go.”

“Yes, you do. Remember to be gentle with your words. Do not let your anger get the best of you.”

“I will not. I feel no anger at the moment, only shame and regret.” He let go of the boy’s hand and walked towards the house.

As he entered, Prince Rillian was coming down the stairs. He stopped when he got close to Maddoc and bowed. “If you are looking for the queen, she said she needed some rest and retired to her room.”

Maddoc nodded. “Thank you.” Maddoc hesitated, wondering if he should let her rest.

“To be honest, I am not sure how tired she really is. She seemed more agitated as she entered her room. Perhaps some reassurance from her king would go a long way to helping calm her.”

“Reassurance?” Maddoc narrowed his eyes, trying to understand the prince.

Prince Rillian shrugged. “She has some strange ideas in her head. I think you could quickly correct any misunderstandings with a simple conversation.” He bowed again and walked on, leaving Maddoc to look up the stairs.

He finally moved up the stairs and to the door of their rooms. He knocked before entering the large sitting area. He found her sitting on a sofa by the window looking out over the grounds.

“Did you have a pleasant afternoon with Lady Phaedra and her son?” she asked without looking at him.

He moved to her and sat down on the sofa next to her. “I spent most of it looking for you. I was headed back to the house when young Thomas asked me to go to the pond with them. How have you spent your time?”

“I found Elias’s library and looked at his shelves. There wasn’t much there to tempt me. I hope Lady Alys will encourage him to attend to his book collection when they marry. I decided to go for a walk and check on our horses. Prince Rillian found me outside of the stables. We decided to walk to the pond and came across you and your companions.”

“Why didn’t you join us?” asked Maddoc, wishing she would look at him.

She sighed. “You were all three a charming picture. I didn’t want to interrupt.”

He sat back against the plush back of the sofa, confused by her answer. “You could never interrupt anything I am doing, Anwen. Don’t you realize I long for your presence at all times?”

She turned to look at him, and he noticed her eyes were red and her cheeks wet. He realized she had been crying.

“You are angry at me, and you have every right to be,” he said quietly. “I never should have spoken so to you, especially in front of all the guests. I want you to know that I understand your responsibility to Lucidala, and I would never want you to neglect your kingdom. I am only afraid to let you go. I can’t stand the idea of you being away from me at the moment.”

“I am not angry, Maddoc. I know you only acted out of concern. I was being impulsive. I know it is not wise to go out riding through the kingdom without a good plan. I am only concerned about my mother and others. I do wish to see her.”

He took her hand. “I know, my love, and I will find a way soon. Elias says we will hold a meeting a week from tomorrow, but if you feel you cannot wait that long to see your mother, I will accompany you to Lucidala. Elias can meet with the lords without me.”

She shook her head. “I can wait a week. You need to be at the meeting, and I would like to be there as well. I made you a promise that I would serve as your queen, and I meant it. I am sorry I let my fears and worries forget it for a moment.”

“You are not at fault, Anwen. I am the one who lost my temper. I am the one who demanded things from you. Please do not dismiss my bad behavior. I need you to hold me accountable. Let me tell you how sorry I am. I endeavor each day to be a man that deserves you, but I often fall short.”

She shook her head. “You never fall short to me. Everyone has their misunderstandings and times of anger. Even my parents had their moments of annoyance. Neither of us is perfect, Maddoc.”

He picked up her hand and kissed it. “Maybe not, but you are as close to it as I have found in anyone.”

She smiled a little as a small tear came out of her eye. “If you only knew how silly I was, you would take your words back quickly.”

“What do you mean?” asked Maddoc as he wiped the tear from her face.

“There are so many serious things going on around us. You have so much on you as king, and I have been worrying about something so petty and trivial. I am ashamed of myself.”

“It cannot be petty or trivial if it has caused you to be upset. Tell me what it is, Anwen. I will do whatever I can to make it better.”

Her cheeks turned red and she let go of his hand as she turned away. “You are very close to Lady Phaedra.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” asked Maddoc wondering why she was bringing it up. “I suppose we are close. I have known her for a very long time. She has often spoken wisdom to me when I needed to hear it.”

“And you have done other things with her besides talk. She is a very charming and beautiful woman. Her son is handsome as well. He has such lovely dark hair and blue eyes even though it is nothing like his mother’s looks.”

It took Maddoc a few moments to realize what Anwen was trying to say. He let out a laugh before he could stop himself.

“See, you do think I am silly and ridiculous.”

“You are being silly if you think any woman could ever take my attention and love away from you. Anwen, please look at me”

She slowly turned towards him, and he saw she had more tears running down her face. He took her hand pulled her closer to him on the sofa. “I know being so petulant at such as time as this is terrible and not befitting of a queen. I don’t even know why it has struck me so hard. I do not believe you would do anything to dishonor me with another woman, and I don’t believe Lady Phaedra would hurt me in that way either. It just struck me how well you both look together and how natural you are in your actions towards each other.

“Then when you pointed out that I needed to listen to you as your queen, I had a wild thought that perhaps you should have married Lady Phaedra before you met me. I thought she could be a much more proper queen to you than I could ever be.”

“Lady Phaedra as my queen and wife?” asked Maddoc with a small laugh. “She is almost ten years older than me.”

“I don’t believe that stopped you from doing one of the duties of married life with her.”

Maddoc sighed. “No. You can count that as one of the many things I shouldn’t have done in my past, but I never once wanted her as my wife. I doubt she would ever want to be my husband. She spent most of our times together trying to correct my wrongs.”

“I even thought perhaps her son looked a little like you.”

“The late Lord Thomas had dark hair and the same eyes as the boy. He is a duplicate of his father. Lady Phaedra was not indifferent to her husband whatever she says. She was very unhappy when he died though she tried not to show it. It was well after the boy was born before I ever spent time with her.”

“I am afraid you might regret your choice with the way I am acting. I am sorry, Maddoc. I don’t know what has come over me.”

“You have no reason to be sorry. It is I who should apologize for so much. If you thought for one second I could ever look at another woman over you, I have not been clear enough with my feelings for you. Not to mention how awful I was to you in the parlor. “

He reached up and ran his hand through her wonderful hair. “You are everything to me, Anwen. I was only so upset earlier because I could not bear to be away from you. To think of you riding out in the kingdom so vulnerable without me unsettled everything within me. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see you lying so still in my arms that day outside of the palace.” His voice broke a little as he took a breath. “I can’t lose you, Anwen. I can’t.”

“You won’t,” she said as she moved closer to him. “You are right that I shouldn’t just ride out with no plan or thought. You may have been too harsh with your words, but I know you meant well. I don’t want to be away from you either.”

He smiled as she leaned forward. “You know I can sympathize with your feelings of jealousy. I am tired of Prince Rillian grabbing your hand every chance he gets.”

She giggled. “You do not need to worry about Rillian. I can tell you with confidence that the man sees me as nothing but a good friend. You know I feel the same about him. You are the only man I want.”

He leaned in and kissed her so forcefully she made a noise before putting her arms around him. He moved to her jaw and then down to her neck, slowly laying her back on the sofa.

“We will have to dress soon for supper, Maddoc,” said Anwen breathlessly.

He pulled back slightly. “Hang supper. I want you to make sure you do not leave this room again without understanding just how impossible it is for me to think of any other woman in any way. You are all I see, Anwen. You are definitely all I need.”

He went back to kissing her neck as his hand moved to her back. He felt around for her ties, undoing them until he could move her dress down. His kisses went further down as he pulled at her dress, exposing more and more of her chest. Her hands went into his hair as he kissed her breast. She signed his name, and he moved his hand down to the hem of her dress. As he moved his hand up her leg and to her thigh, his need for her was growing, but he didn’t want to rush things. He wanted to love her thoroughly, making sure she knew exactly what she meant to him.

He quickly brought her skirts up as he moved down her body. He kissed her thigh before spending time pleasuring her as she made the most wonderful noises. She finally gasped his name and put her hand in his hair in a way that he knew she was close.

“Maddoc, please,” she said as she sat up slightly. “I need you to love me.”

He looked up at her, happy to oblige her. Leaning up, he made quick work of his pants, groaning as his intense desire for her had made him uncomfortable. It had been too long since they had been able to be together. He entered her slowly as she moaned, putting her hands under his shirt so he would take it off.

He leaned over her, kissing her neck, as he moved deep inside her. “Tell me you know I could only love you, Anwen.”

“Yes,” she said quietly before she moaned again as he moved out and then thrust again inside of her.

“I need you to understand I only want you. I only need you.” He leaned up so he could look into her eyes.

“Yes, my king,” she moaned. “There is only you for me, Maddoc. I only ever want you like this.”

He moved faster in her as she moved her hands down his back. The noises she was making and the way she was moving under him, let him know he would reach his end soon. He could feel that she too was coming to her peak as she arched against him. He had loved many women in his life, but since he had been with Anwen they had all faded from his memory. As she cried out his name and shuddered against him, he thought only of her and the love and desire he felt for her. He put his hands behind her back and pulled her close to him as he buried himself inside of her and found his release.

He kissed her neck and her mouth, saying her name before he collapsed and rolled slightly so he was not directly on top of her. He put his arm around her and gazed down seeing how lovely she looked with her swollen lips and flushed cheeks. Her golden hair was splayed all around her. He brought his hand up and caressed her exposed breast, feeling how hard she was breathing. She looked up at him with a small smile.

“I suppose we could always ask for supper to be brought to us,” she said as she reached up and touched his chest.

His desire for her was not sated, and he leaned down and kissed her. He sat up and let her go as he stood from the sofa. She looked up slightly and stared at him before he picked her up.

“I think that is a good plan because I will not share you with anyone this evening.” He took her to the bed, planning to spend as much time as possible with his queen, making sure she understood the depth of his love and passion for her.

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