There are different kinds of pain. I know them all.
I thought I have felt all of them, but nothing prepared me for this. It felt like my heart was ripped out of my body causing me unbearable pain. I couldn’t breathe because each breath I took, the pain intensified.
It wasn’t just the thought of her rejecting me that was killing me. It was the look of betrayal and hurt in her eyes. For the first time in a long time, I am at a loss for what to do next. I didn’t know what I can do to fix this. If I can even fix it.
“Anna...” I whispered.
My voice came out in a gruff, breathy voice. The demons inside of me were clawing at my skins. Fighting back these emotions was like needles on my skin. It threatens and spreads through my body like hot coal.
She turned her back to me. Her body shook slightly but she was lost in her thoughts. She didn’t speak another word to me and I knew she needed the space. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to demand an answer, but this was not the time.
I started for the door but was stopped when she spoke up.
“I hate you.” She whispered.
With those words, she had unknowingly plunged a knife to my heart. I stopped in my footsteps but couldn’t find it in me to turn around. I closed my eyes tightly and fisted my hands at my side. The soft movements of her satin skirt invaded the silence.
“I hate you for what you have done.” She sounded closer.
My back stiffened, and I dug my fingers deeper into my palms. This is my life. No one wants me, everybody hates me. Those words I have heard all too often. Hate. There was no room for love in my life because no one can give me that. Everyone hated me. I am unworthy and a nuisance in this world. This was nothing new but coming from her was like a blow to my stomach.
“There are so many things going on inside of me. A flood of emotions. I am angry with you, Raiden. Why did you do this? How could you? You brought me here with what intentions? That I will not question your decision? You hid things from me-important things! My memories! I feel like a fool.” She continued.
“Stop,” I ordered but it came out as a plea.
She walked around me and blocked me from leaving. Her cinnamon colored eyes were still shiny with anger, but streams of tears were running down her face. She indignantly wiped away the tears before glaring back up at me.
“You don’t get to walk away from me.” She said in a tenacious tone.
“Anna...” I shook my head before trying to move around her.
Instantly, her arms wrapped around my waist, her front pressed against my back. She held me tightly in her arms. Shock ran through my body.“You didn’t let me finish, Raiden. I am angry with you. I hate you so much right now but there is something else there too.” She clung to me, her arms tightening more around my waist.
“You said that it is up to me now.” She continued.
I swallowed the lump in my throat, “It is.”
“If I stay, you will make me yours?” She asked.
“Yes,” I confirmed.
“You waited for me all this time, does that mean you love me?” I felt her tear stained cheek leave my back before her lips touched the area between my shoulder bones. My stomach clenched, and my body jerked in response.
I closed my eyes once again, tightening my hands into fists once again. She doesn’t understand the power she holds over me. I am weak underneath her.
“I do,” I replied with the truth. There was a brief silence between us. My words hanging in the air. She was absorbing those two words.
“You left me before, are you leaving me again?” She spoke up. Her hot breath fanning my back.
I ran a hand over my face roughly, fighting back the tears and the emotions clawing at my skins.
“I can never completely leave you, Anna. I just- “I paused, trying to tell her that I can’t break down in front of her seem to fall short from my confession.
She released me and moved to stand in front of me. Her eyes were red and swollen but the anger in her eyes have disappeared. In them, there was something else. Something new. Something that rushed through my veins and suddenly, my heart was pounding hard against my ribcage again.
“Raiden, you are to be King. Choosing me as your chosen mate, you do realize it will go against all traditions in your Kingdom. I will not be a concubine or consort to you. If you really do want me then I want all of you. I am selfish and unwilling to share. I will not stand behind you. I will stand next to you. I won’t keep quiet when I disagree with you.” She explained. “Can you handle all that?”
With all her crying, her face had tear streaks running down her cheeks. Her lips were wet and pouty. Her eyes and cheeks red. I moved to smooth back some of her hair behind her ear before cupping her cheeks.
“I am not my father, Anna. I will not control you. I know you are outspoken from the very moment I have seen you. You are different but to me, different is good. I want you. Nothing will change that fact. I will take no other women to bed. I will love no other besides you.” It’s you. Will always be you.
I moved to wipe her tears with my thumbs. She closed her eyes and focused on steadying her breathing.“Those memories-they are real?” She said a little hesitantly.
“Every last one of them,” I replied. There was no indication of doubt in my tone. I would never lie to her.
Her eyes flew open and a small smile appeared on her face, “They were beautiful.”
She sniffled before leaning in and wrapping her arms around my waist. She pressed her cheek to my chest and tucked her head underneath my chin.
“I’ll give us a chance.” She said softly.
“You know what you are saying right, Anna?” My heart was beating so fast in my chest. An overwhelming emotion fell over me. My arms managed to wrap around her torso, holding her close. I felt her nod against me.
The throbbing in my chest slowly ebbed away. I swallowed the lump in my throat and closed my eyes, tossing a silent prayer of relief. She wasn’t going to leave me.
The flicker of the candle out from the corner of my eyes caught my eyes. I glanced at it before my eyes fell to the window behind it. It was dark outside. I pulled back enough to look down at her.
“It’s late. You should go to bed.” I told her.
I lifted the sheets and she crawled in and settled herself on the other side facing me. She patted the place next to her and my eyes floated to hers.
“Don’t leave me.” She whispered sadly. “Not yet.”
Nodding, I slipped underneath the covers. She scooted closer to me and I opened my arms for her to fit inside the crook of my body. She rested her head on the arm that was underneath and placed her palm on my stomach. My muscles contracted upon contact.
It was late. I can feel her exhaustion, but she fought it. Sighing, I turned to my side to face her, I pulled her body close and her hand slid from my stomach to my back. Her lips pressed against my throat. I focused on my breathing and she focused on sleeping.
After a few minutes, she spoke up, “Your father doesn’t like me.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I told her.
“He won’t let it go.” She pressed further.
I sighed, “Stop thinking and go to sleep.”
“Raiden?” She ignored my command.
“Yes?” I replied.
“I can understand why you didn’t tell me. Ironically, I think I sealed my fate when I asked you to come back for me.” I felt her smile against my chest and my heart skipped a beat.
“When I first saw you swimming in the water, I thought you were a senseless child,” I told her. She scoffed, and I grinned into the night, partially glad she didn’t see me.
When I entered her world, it was pure curiosity. A way to escape my father’s demands and the look of disgust from my stepmother. I didn’t realize that by going up there I would see her. What I felt for her at that time wasn’t a kind of love that one would have with their significant other. I felt protective over her because she carried a glow around her. She carried happiness and love. She was cherished. It was something I didn’t have.
It wasn’t until she returned, and I saw her swimming with the children that I felt something other than protectiveness. I was completely attracted to her. The way her body swam languidly in the water and the laughter in her voice. Her once adorable smile turned into my own sun. Carrying a light to my darkness. I was entranced with the woman she has become.
“Anna?” I whispered in a gentle voice in case she was asleep. Her soft hum told me she was on the edge.
“Thank you for giving us a chance.”
Shortly after she fell asleep, a knock came at the door. I slid out from underneath her and pulled the silk covers over her body before seeing who it was. When the door opened, General Takashi stood before me.
General Takashi was around my age. He was one of the child orphans we accepted into the Grenagon army. He served the royal family ever since then. Trained to assassin, effectively wield a sword, in the arts of hand in hand combat--he was a worthy fighting companion and a dangerous enemy if you ever found yourself at the other end of his sword.
Good thing we are good friends.
“Raiden, your father request your presence.”
“What does he want?” I asked.
General Takashi glanced behind me before his eyes met mine. Without saying a word, I knew what it was about. I ran my fingers through my hair and stepped out of the bedroom, closing it softly behind me. He followed alongside me as we made it out of my wing.
After a few minutes of silence, General Takashi spoke up. His dark eyes grew curious.
“Raiden, there has been a rumor...is it true?” He asked. “Did you really take in a human as a chosen mate?”
I glanced his way, “Do you have a problem with it?”
He chuckled and I returned it with a smile.
“She makes me happy.” I told him honestly.
He nodded, “You need that. To be honest, I will not go against your decision. I want to let you know that I am here for you.”
He didn’t say it but I know what he meant. He had pledged his loyalty to me.