Beneath the Crown

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Chapter 36

Ash

“You sure you going to be ok here?” Connie asked when she came to me by the lounge window.

I turned to her, “Yeah, I’ll be fine. You guys go have a good walk. I need to stay here. I want to talk to the king anyway. There is some stuff I need to say to him.”

She nodded, “Ok. If you need me, just call, ok. We’re not going far.”

“I will,” I said, and she leaned in to give me a hug. I watched them leave through the kitchen door, and when I came back into the lounge, I saw one of the guards that came with the king coming down the stairs.

I need to go talk to him. Tell him how I feel. But I want to go get my phone first. There are some photos of my past he needs to see.

I gave the guard a smile before making my way upstairs.

Shit, did Raylon say my room was the third door or the fourth? I think he said third. Yeah, third.

I walked down the hall and gave the guard standing at the end a polite nod. He nodded back in greeting and I turned to open the door.

My eyes at my feet, my mind still tumbling around with thoughts, I stepped in and heard the door shut behind me.

“Ash?” The king said and I looked up.

“OH MY GOD!” I breathed out at the sight of his incredibly naked and wet body, standing in front of me.

I turned my eyes away and held up my hand, but I couldn’t help taking a small peak at the full package.

What the hell is he doing in my room, naked!

I shook my head and spun around to open the door. I stopped at the sight of a glass door, with no handles, no screens or anything that I could use to open it.

“How do you open this damn door?” I said to myself as I waved my hands wildly around.

I heard his bare feet move on the stone and as he approached, my body went stiff and I began to shake.

He won’t hit you, Ash. He won’t. He is NOT like that. . . Please don’t be like that.

I felt him stop just behind me, the heat of his skin on my arms, and the water dripping from his hair landing on my feet.

He gently took my hand into his and lifted it to the center of the door. As he placed it onto the glass, the dark patch appeared and the door clicked open.

“Now you’ve seen it all,” He whispered into my ear. I was tempted to just spin around and kiss him. To let it all happen right here, right now.

But as soon as the door opened, I came face to face with a very pissed off guard.

In a quick motion, he grabbed me by the arm, twisted it around my back and shoved me so hard into the wall, that the little box in the back of my mind, the one I locked everything Dave in, burst open like a dam.

All the memories of every hit, every punch, and every kick. Every time he threw me down the stairs or slammed my head against the wall. Every black eye, broken bone and ripped out chunks of hair. Every hospital visit and every dreaded night came flooding back to the front of my mind in an instant.

I screamed out in terror, unable to stop the fear in my voice.

“STOP!” The king shouted and the guard let me go.

I cowered away in the corner of the room, sinking down to the floor as the flashes played out in my head like a vivid, technicolor movie that I couldn’t stop. I felt the pain of every time Dave hit me at that moment, as I sat on the floor shaking.

“GET OUT!” Zasrus shouted to the guard and, in a distant way, I saw his boots move out of the room.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the king drop to his haunches and reach his hand out to me. But in my mind, I saw Dave’s fist. I jerked back and hid my face in my arms.

I heard him move away for a moment, then return. When I peered out from under my arms, I saw that he now had a pair of black baggy pants on.

He stayed a short distance away from me as he dropped onto his haunches again, “Ash, I am far away,” he said as he knelt down on the floor, “My hands are here, in front of me. You’re safe. You’re with me, Zasrus. You’re safe with me.” He placed his hands on his lap, palms up and left them there. I peered out more from under my hands as my body trembled and saw that he knelt at least four feet away.

I tried to calm my breathing, the tears falling from my eyes in an endless stream.

“You are safe now,” He said in a soft voice, “You are here, with me, and you are safe.”

I swallowed and stared at him.

“He is far away, and he cannot hurt you anymore.”

I let out a long, ragged breath, “He’s always here,” I whispered.

“So am I,” The king said. He stayed still, his hands on his lap and his eyes calm.

“I’m sorry,” I said as I began to pack my little box away again. One memory at a time, I placed them back, locked the box and found the next memory.

“No, I am the one who is sorry. I wish I could take it all away for you.”

I swallowed, my body beginning to calm, “So many years,” I said as the tears returned again.

He remained quiet, on his knees, not moving with his hands still on his lap.

“No matter how far I run, or how much I hide, he will always be there to remind me.”

“Remind you of what?”

“How weak I am. How pathetic I am.”

“How can you be weak, when you have brought a King to his knees?”

His words made me smile, but the tears still came.

“How can you be pathetic, when you are the most incredible, and the strongest woman I have ever met?”

“I’m not strong,” I said as I tried to force my body to relax, “I put on a brave face, but inside I am always scared. Always terrified that it will happen again.”

“I can assure you, Ash, it will never happen again.”

“You can't promise me something like that,”

“I can. I am the King, and if I say it, so it will be done. And I say that no one will ever hurt you again. Not unless they want to deal with me and the wrath of the Vara Kings army.”

I met his eyes, the green in them calming my shattered nerves. My little box almost packed away and the shaking in my body easing.

I dropped my head onto my arms, “I hate that you had to see that. I feel so embarrassed now.”

“May I come to you?” he asked.

I met his eyes again and nodded.

He stood up slowly and reached his hands out for me to take them. I let him lift me up from the floor and when I met his eyes, I saw a calm, protective look in his eyes. Not the anger, pitty, and loathing I thought I would find. Without thinking I threw my arms around his neck and held onto him for dear life.

He held me to him, and with gentle words, he said, “If you let me, I will be your shield. I will protect you, and I will always be by your side, to talk, to cry, or to kill anyone who dares to harm you. Never be embarrassed around me, for anything. When you are ready, I will be here to help you deal with each memory, to replace it with a new, better one. Until they are all gone.”

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