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As You Wish

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I Love Hating You

~In a Parallel Universe~

“What is it you want, Jauhar?”

Defiant, emerald eyes clashed with the smokey chestnut of his intense gaze. Clenching her fists, Yahari stood at the foot of the stairs and looked up at his regal likeness.

The palace’s high, cathedral ceilings seemed to lower, suffocating her. Short of breath, vivid images of walls closing in on her invaded her brain.

She gulped shakily, attempting to stay calm.

The warm wood and pungent myrrh aromas in the air were a reminder of her childhood and how long it’d been since she’d stepped foot at the palace.

Seven moons to the day.

Reflected in her eyes, were defeat and disappointment.

Facing her, was the hand of the king. Jauhar. Mystifying and handsome. She wished the last half dozen plus months would have aged him terribly, or he’d look different in some way. But he did not.

Her heartbeat ticked wild against her rib cage. Yahari wasn’t expecting his beauty to impact her as it did. Time stood still, and for a moment, he was who he had always been to her, a friend, before his betrayal. But now the man towering above her was as guilty as her father. Perhaps even at greater fault.

Yahari was no longer who she’d been. They'd killed that girl. A naive princess green behind the ears. That terrible experience long ago changed her. She was resentful and disappointed in herself for responding the way she did to her father, but she’d felt forced to make the abrupt decision to leave. Irrational actions she’d felt compelled to make.

Perhaps she’d reacted stubbornly--a little too stubbornly, instead of reasoning with them. She wasn’t proud of her obstinance, but sometimes she saw it as a precious gift. A show of strength. And even though she was not pleased by the choice she made, she’d run out of options.

Regardless, that combination of emotions was the kindling needed to ignite me. Wake me. Move me!

As she faced him and saw herself in his eyes, Yahari swooned and almost collapsed from lack of oxygen. The forced meeting suffocated the princess. The crushing pain in her lungs reminded her he’d never loved her the way she did.

Yahari crossed her arms in front of her chest in a futile attempt to shield herself from the intensity reflected in his pupils.

“Why have you summoned me?” Her voice shook, and she focused her vision on the crimson keffiyeh placed on his head. It covered soft, brown curls she knew he possessed.

Wistfully she reminded herself he used to be her best friend. No- her confidant, someone she adored. Today, he was a figure of the man she thought to have known in the past.

Without taking his eyes off her, Jauhar bowed. There was a hint of cynicism in his voice, “Marhaba to you too, Yahari.”

Stepping down the white marble stairway she discerned his breathing changed. As if difficult to take air and the inhalations caught somewhere in his chest. Coolly he scanned the soft curves of her body, making her shiver.

“Don’t hate me, Princess.” His lips pressed into a thin line.

Rolling her eyes she scoffed, “Pff.”

“Please, don’t,” he insisted.

“Not hate you? I can’t believe you ask this of me—oh! I can give a few reasons why I would.”

Heaviness swayed his chest, his exhalation, deep and methodical. “Why?” he dared ask.

“Why?” he dared ask.

Lifting a hand, Yahari counted with her fingers, “You’re selfish, uncaring, greedy—”

His thick brow lifted at the tone of her voice, and he placed both hands on his heart. “Ouch.”

“I’m getting warmed up.” She leaned closer to his face, “You force me to see you, against my will ... knowing I want nothing to do with you. After what you and father pulled off?”

Yahari’s voice cracked, and she closed her eyes shaking the memories out of her head.

“It wasn’t my decision, Princess.”

“Wasn’t it?”

“No, and you didn’t have to be impulsive and disappear,” he spat back.

“Didn’t I?! What do you know about making the right decisions? There were no other options for me, but to leave.”

“If you’d stayed—”

“If I stayed?! I had to go. And he—A-Amir—was my only option.

Jauhar grimaced at the sound of him.

“You almost forgot his name, didn’t you?”

Almost. The sight of Jauhar’s coffee irises following her every move unnerved her.

“Ugh!” She rolled her eyes, balling her fists at her sides controlling the need to lunge at him. “That’s what you’re going to say? Nothing regarding your motives, right?”

He caressed her with his eyes. The look of melancholy and desire was fleeting and easy to miss, but she saw it. The gradual movement of his sight drifted from her tight closed fists to exposed shoulders that lingered at her clavicle. Apprehensively, she swallowed.

“Why am I here, Jauhar?

Tracing up her neckline his gaze ended on her lips. He licked his with the pink of his tongue before reaching the green of her eyes. There was a fire in them. The spark she’d always had since they were children.

The way he looked at her reminded Yahari of that awkward kid she’d been. The one who felt silly emotions for him that never came to be.

He chuckled.

“What’s so funny? The situation between you and me is real. It’s serious.”

Jauhar opened and closed his mouth but did not answer.

“I detest you.” Although she didn’t mean it, she said it with disdain. The words slipped through her lips. She didn’t, Yahari loved him. Always had. But at that moment, Yahari wanted him to feel a sliver of what she’d felt when he deceived her.

Narrowed, bushy brows framed the look of concern he sought to conceal.

“Do you take me seriously? Have you ever- taken me seriously?”

“Yes, of course, I do! I—”

“When? When you were ready to marry me off?”

Sternly he stared. “You think you’re so clever, Yahari.”

Reacting as if he was her enemy, Yahari closed the gap between them and stuck her right leg behind the curve of his knee. She tripped him knocking him down. He fell flat on his back hitting the floor but managed to grab a hold of her arm pulling her with him. Ungracefully she crashed atop of him with a loud thud.


“Damn it, Jauhar!” She gulped.

Forced to feel the length of him, limb over limb unsettled her. A whiff of the oil he wore, his signature scent of sweet musk and pheromones, invaded her nostrils and she lost herself in the moment.

He moaned and quickly rolled pinning her beneath him. For what seemed an eternity, their eyes locked and stared at one another.

“Remember when we were kids? We, trained together ...”

Yahari held her breath and shivered at the memory. Tiny bumps cover her body as the warmth of his breath tickled her ear. Unfortunately, she wasn’t good enough to cover a reaction like that.

She wrinkled her brow, why would he bring that up?

“I always succeeded,” his words a soft vibration.

The warm, rapid air, expelled by his voice, awakened dormant pleasures buried deep inside her. Her body responded on its own accord ignoring her plea to react favorably to him.

“Y-you were a boy and five years older,” she felt breathless.

With a strong push, Yahari created a gap between their bodies. Then she twisted their bodies and pinned him down instead.

“Now, I’m a grown woman. I’m better and faster than you.” She cockily smiled.

His eyes became intensely dark and traced her flushing face.


She sprinted off him.


“What do you mean, what?! Don’t pretend you don’t know what you’re doing!”

“Doing what?”

“That you ... Your erect—this excites you!” Her eyes grew round.

He hoisted an eyebrow unable to hold back a chortle.

“Humph! I beat you at this stupid game and you laugh excited by it?”

He sheepishly shrugged. “Naam, I won’t lie Yahari, I am excited by you. Always have been.”

A gasp escaped her and the information struck her like frozen rain. Those words had never been revealed by him before that moment.

“Men can’t hide it when turned on. It’s as simple as that.”

Yahari made a face. He’d hidden it pretty damn well in the past.

Yahari frowned. “What are you playing at?”

“What would you have me do to hide the response my body has to the nearness of yours? The strength as it pins me under you? Tell me?! It can’t be done. No man could fake it.” Grief lined every word. “Everything we had, I tore to shreds ...”

Why can’t he stop rambling about feelings he never disclosed and kept buried all this time.

“Stop! Why am I here?”

Picking himself off the floor, Jauhar took the time to adjust his attire. Then went back to be the man she was familiar with, solemn and precise.

“The King needs to see you.”

"Abi? I have nothing to say to my father.”

“Princess, he’s not getting any younger, or better. He’s dying, of sadness. His heart is broken.”

“He should have thought about that before he promised me to Prince Rodrigo. I’m not an object to give away. I’m his daughter.”

“Being with that alssariq is not a better option.” A hint of jealousy coated his words. “And I—”

“It is Jauhar,” she interrupted, hands flared above her head. “Being with that thief, as you call him, is my choice, not his, nor yours.”

“What, do you see in him?”

Without faltering, she looked at him annoyed.

“Well?” His brow lifted. “You can’t answer, can you?”

“It’s none of your business Jauhar. I’m done. I have nothing to say.”

She strutted past him. Jauhar reached for her and held Yahari by the elbow, drawing her against himself.

“You’re so impulsive, Yahari! It wasn’t my fault the king tried marrying you off. He had his reasons. I couldn’t do anything about it,” the words came out as a harsh whisper.

“By the time I thought of a solution, you were gone. You’d trusted Amir before giving me a chance. So, you wouldn’t know what I did, or didn’t do for you, would you?!” Contemptuously he gave her a look. “After growing up together, you chose to trust him within a few months instead of me?”

She pulled away from his fingers.

“Bull-shit! You could and you didn’t. I was desperate! Do you know what it feels like to be told your opinions don’t matter? That your life is not your own and you’ll be given away to a man, so he can do as he pleases with you? Without concern that he will be good to me, or abuse me?”

Her body trembled. Out of rage, out of nervousness.

“You’re his adviser. You should’ve advised him to keep me here. I would’ve never left, had you not forced marriage on me. My father gave me away as property! And you let him! Do you think I am overreacting? I don’t want to see him. How would you feel if it was you? If I had the power, to discard of you to whom I pleased?”

Jauhar’s eyes teared and his hand reached for her, but she flinched away.

“It wasn’t what I wanted, but what your father thought best for peace between our kingdoms.” Enigmatic eyes gave a lackluster look. “Many would have died.”

“Without me here—you have more control over him. You might as well be King! Amir was willing to help and get me out of a union I did not agree to.”

Gazing at her for a long moment; hurt in his eyes, he sighed. “Your impulse almost had us go to war!” he growled after a long silence. “It was, selfish.” His words came across as knives to the heart and she reacted to them.

“Selfish?! My little stunt, helped us realize, that the prince wanted me as little as I wanted him. Everyone found out women are not his first choice.” A smile of satisfaction appeared on full lips, “You have no right to call me that. You,” she pointed at his chest, “know nothing.”

"No! You know nothing! You got lucky it happened before they came to annihilate us. Every single one of us. Your escape was a slap, in the Spanish King’s face.”

“A slap in the face is what you’re going to get if you don’t let go of me. Out of my way!”

As if she burned him, he let go. When he spoke, his voice trembled, “Fucking try Yahari—”

Before he could react the palm of her hand struck his stubbled cheek. It resonated in the almost empty room. Dark unblinking eyes gaped at her and his lips became a fine line.

Lifting her hand to slap him again, he caught her wrist mid-air and dragged her body closer to his. A cloudy stare fogged the look in his eyes, and she quivered unable to recognize the emotions his eyes revealed.

She’d only seen a similar look on him once before. As teenagers. Ages ago.

“Let me go,” she murmured.

Jauhar looked at her with longing.

“I should forget what you’ve meant in my life. How important you’ve been. I don’t deserve you,” he whispered. “Never have. But, for some reason, I-I can’t. A force greater than myself ...” Jauhar steered closer and dipped his lips hard against hers.

His beard felt glorious on her delicate skin. Rough and enticing.

With a quickened breath, Yahari feebly shook her head striving to remove his mouth from hers. He slipped his tongue inside her mouth and a weird sensation in the pit of her stomach got hold of her emotions. Her face became aflame, and heat burned the back of her neck. Her tongue, weak with yearning, eagerly followed his demanding mouth.

The kiss was uninhibited. The pressure of his fingers on her skin tightened and for a split second, she transported herself to when she was sixteen, and she wished he would never release her.

The taste of fine wine was on his tongue and it was making her drunk with longing. His warm hands ran the length of the bareness of her back, heating the skin on their trail.

Long fingers wrapped at her neck, others circling her waist and with a tender force, he drew her against the leanness of his body. Open palms came to rest on his chest making tight fists that bunched the material of his blue tunic as she drew him closer.

She could feel his excitement against the top of her pubic bone and a tingle traveled from her hips up and down the length of her body. Breathing hard against each other’s mouths, neither could stop the fury of kisses, nor the pent-up synergy of emotions.

Jauhar’s hand journeyed beyond her nape to the dark, flowing tresses on her head. Threading his fingers in them, he pulled her mouth further unto him. His lips moved against hers, tasting every corner.

Burning a path of opened-mouth kisses down the front of her neck, he felt every square inch of her with his tongue, keening out her name. With pain. With desire. With love.


At the mention of her name, she snapped out of his spell. Opening her eyes she pulled back blinking in confusion. With all her strength, she pushed away catching him off-guard. He let her go to steady himself.

“Fuck you, Jauhar.” Yahari’s low tone was foreign, even to herself.

Except for the rapid in and out movements of his chest, he did not move. His face turned cold, expressionless.

“He’s changed who you are. You play with fire, Princess, the flames will consume you whole.”

With her head held high, Yahari stepped away. A defiant expression and a rehearsed smile covered her face.

“Don’t call me, don’t talk to me. I want nothing more to do with you or Abi.”

“Yahari, if I could justify why I never explained it to you before—”

The softness of his voice evoked a nervous twinge in her stomach. “Jauhar—” her frosted stare met his igneous irises, “keep my name out of your mouth.”

Jauhar followed the vision of her as she turned away with a slow breath and a deafening silence. Maroon, silk locks, bounced at her waist and the sharp, swaying strides of her hips, mimicked the echo of her sandals, on the marble floor.

That sound would resonate in his head for days to come.

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