It didn’t hurt to talk about this. Not with him. I always got a pit in my stomach when I spoke about my life with Dave to anyone, but as I sat there, under the most beautiful night sky I had ever seen, I spoke of it with ease.
“How did he take your children?” The king asked and my heart felt the sadness of those times.
I swallowed down my emotions and said, “The first one I didn't even know I was pregnant. I went into the hospital because he kicked me so hard in the stomach that I was throwing up blood. That’s when I found out I was pregnant and that I had lost it. The second one I found out about a few years later. I told Dave and for a while things were great. A little girl. But then one night, Dave got home so drunk . . .”
I paused and let a stray tear roll down my cheek, “ I tried to stay out of his way that night, but he was just out to get me. He caught me at the top of the stairs and pulled me down by my hair. I woke up in the hospital two days later and found out she was gone. Then the third one I found out about but didn’t tell him. I was already so broken inside that my body couldn’t carry it, and I lost that one too. That was when the doctors told me I could never have kids again.”
He didn’t say anything. I risked a look at him, and the anger in his eyes at what he had heard made me feel scared.
He’s not like that. They can’t all be like that.
I turned my face away and kept my eyes down as I waited for him to do something.
He shifted closer to me, and I watched his hand slowly lift to my cheek. He wiped a tear away with the gentlest of touches before he turned my face to look at him.
“I do not know the words to describe how sorry I am that this happened to you.”
His hand still held my chin gently, and his face so close as his eyes stared deeply into mine. I stared into his stunning gaze and could see his mind working.
Put your happy face back on, Ash. Don’t let him see you so vulnerable.
I smiled as he watched me, his green eyes soothing the storm inside my broken heart.
He inched closer to me and my heart flipped, is he going to kiss me?
I swallowed and licked my lips as I waited.
“Father!” A voice called out from behind us.
I moved away from him and heard his disappointed sigh before he turned to look behind us.
“What is it Laylar?”
“The Ful’s Heylam is here.”
“I will be in shortly,” He called to her and I stood.
He followed me off the bench and when I met his eyes he said, “I’m sorry. My duties are never-ending.”
“It’s fine,” I said feeling a little relieved that she interrupted us, “I think I’m going to go to bed anyway. It’s been a long night.”
“Will you allow me to show you to one of the guest bedrooms?”
“Thank you, that would be very kind of you.”
He led me back inside and to the back of the hall. We went in through a door and towards a wide set of stone steps. At the top, he opened another door and beyond it lay a long hall lined with doors. A lonely guard standing at the end.
As we walked down the hall, I wanted to say something. Anything so that the night didn’t end on such a sad note.
I opened my mouth to speak, but he spoke first, “If there is anything you need, please tell me. I am unsure of the human sleep routine, but if there is anything I can do to make you more comfortable, please let me know.”
“Thank You,” I said with a smile, “But us Humans, we’re pretty low maintenance. Just a bed and a hot cup of tea will do the trick.”
He turned serious eyes to me then, “Oh, but beds are forbidden in my kingdom”
I spun to him with a frown, “What? But. . . How do you sleep?”
“Like everyone else, we hang from the ceiling by our feet.”
What! No… He must be kidding, I thought but my eyes moved down to his feet.
They look normal.
He stopped by a door and opened it. I took a quick look inside and smiled.
I thought so!
Inside the room, standing in the center was a massive four-poster bed with stunning wooden pillars engraved with what looked like some kind of flower.
“We are not that different after all.” He said with a smile and gestured for me to enter.
I stepped into the room, looking around at the vast space. Enormous windows looked out at a forest, and elaborate gold finishes on all of the wall art. I spotted an archway and sighed in relief when I saw it led to a bathroom.
“I will have your things brought up for you. If you need anything at all, I insist you ask me,” he said from the doorway.
I turned to him, “Thank you, your highness. Good night.”
Once he was gone, I took another look around the room.
My head spun at the lavishness of it. The sheer size of the bed alone made me smile wide.
That must be the size of two doubles at least. Who needs that much space?
I reached down and took my annoying shoes off. As my bare feet touched the stone floors, I smiled at the warmth.
Of course this place would have underfloor heating.
I dropped them next to the bed and went to the bathroom. As I entered, a light came on. There was a large square hole in the floor, with steps leading into it, a glass shower box and to my immense relief, a toilet.
I chuckled, “Even royalty need to shit,” I said to myself.
Against the far wall of the bathroom, I spotted the four-armed contraption, the same one I used on Billy and Bob’s ship to get ready.
I thought about getting into it again to make something to sleep in, but figured no one would just walk in on me, so I can sleep naked like I did since I left Dave.
I left the bathroom and made my way to the bed. I walked around it, looking a the detailed carvings on the wooden frame. I pressed my hand onto it and smiled at the soft comfort of it.
I stripped off my dress and pulled the covers down. When I got in, I let out a relaxed sigh and closed my eyes.
It only took a few minutes for me to fall fast asleep.