Beneath the Crown

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Chapter 26

Ash

I got the king smacked in the face with a stick! I wanted to help him feel normal, and ended up getting him chased through the market and beaten up!

The guards led us through the main doors of the palace and stopped by the doors. I could see the king was in pain as I walked beside him. His breathing labored from the bat to the ribs and his face already getting red and swollen.

I felt so bad about what happened.

“Your highness,” I said getting his attention, “I’m really sorry.”

“You should be,” he said as he stopped and turned to me, “Because now I will want to do that more often. I fear you have started something.”

I let out a breath, “But you got hurt.”

“I will live. I was also promised by a beautiful woman that she will tend to my wounds.”

I lowered my eyes with a smile, “Yes, you were, but I think a doctor would do much better with that.”

“I do not need a healer. I have felt worse in my past.”

He gestured with his hand for me to walk with him, and he led us to the massive kitchen. Four long counters stood in lines from one wall to the other, huge open doors looking out at a garden and tall metal machines lined the far wall.

The old man from yesterday greeted us as we came in, “Good day my king,” he said before he noticed the red mark on his face.

“What happened?” he asked coming over to us.

“I’m fine, Marxan. But I am in need of some ice.”

The old man nodded and signaled for the woman to get the ice.

She nodded and went to one of the large metal machines in the back. She pressed a few buttons and I heard the ice falling into a wooden bowl in her hands.

She brought it over to us and held it out for him with her eyes to the ground.

He turned to me, “What now?”

I looked around the vast space and spotted the pile of dish rags laying folded neatly on the corner of the counter. I grabbed one with a smile to the man who stood there and went back to place a hand full of ice into it.

I returned to the king, “Here, hold this to your face,” I said.

He frowned at me, “I cannot lift my arms.”

His ribs. Shit, what if they’re broken? He needs a doctor.

I stepped forward and placed the ice pack onto his cheek carefully. He sucked in a quick breath before meeting my eyes.

I held it to his face and tried to look at anything else in the room. His green eyes stared at me. My face only inches away from his and all I could smell in this room full of delicious food being cooked was him.

“How long should this be on my face?” He asked in a low voice.

“Not too long. It will help with the swelling.”

“It’s dripping down my neck,”

I looked at his skin under the cloth and saw a drop of water running over his skin. The sight of it made a crazy idea flash in my head.

What would happen if I licked it off?

NO! Ash are you insane?

I took the corner of the cloth and gently ran it over the drop and the trail of water it left behind. I felt his skin as one of my fingers slipped off the cloth.

It was warm, soft, and it sent my mind spinning.

“Sorry,” I whispered as I shifted the ice pack again.

I had completely forgotten where we were. All I saw was his eyes looking at me. The smell of him all around me and the way he watched me made my heart race.

One of the cooks cleared his throat and I snapped out of my dream, “I think that should do it,” I said and took the ice pack away.

“What of my side?” He asked with a grin.

I took a quick look around the room, at the four people all watching us with wide eyes.

“Maybe not in here,” I said as their stares made me feel like I stood in the spotlight.

He nodded and as he tried to stand, I heard him take in a breath and hold his side.

I reached out and helped him to his feet. As we left the kitchen I heard a mumble grow from the people inside.

“You really need to see a doctor,” I said as he held his side and walked with labored breaths.

“I fear you may be right. May I ask for your help with one last thing, if you will.”

“Yeah, anything,” I said still feeling the guilt tearing me up for this.

“Help me get this shirt off. I cannot lift my arm.”

Oh boy.

I swallowed, “Uh, ok. Sure.”

I helped him get to a part of the palace that looked much more modern. Its bright white floors and walls gave it a sterile, hospital feeling.

He led me to a door and as it opened I saw a table in the center, and a man in a white suit came to us.

“My King, what happened?” He asked with panic in his voice as his eyes went wide. He looked at me as if it were my fault but the king just waved it off.

“I fell.”

“Please, come sit,” The doctor said, “I must go fetch a nurse.” He ran out of the room and I helped the king sit on the bed.

I gently pulled on the end of his shirt and lifted it up. He held up his arm and when I slipped the shirt off, I gasped at the sight of a big purple bruise on his ribs.

“Oh no,” I said as I leaned down to take a closer look and trying very hard not to take notice of his tones shirtless body so close to my face.

“How does it look?” He asked with a hint of a smile in his voice.

“Bad. I think you broke something.”

“I will be fine by the morning,”

Tough guy!

“I don’t think this will just go away after a good night’s sleep.”

I moved to his ribs again and gently ran my fingers over the mark.

The king hissed and flinched at my touch.

“I’m sorry,” I said and snatched my hands away, “Did I hurt you?”

“No,” He said with a smile, “Your hands are ice cold.”

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