|19| Conflicts of The Heart
“Stay still!” I said as I fixed his cloak.
Azriel smiled down at me. As I concentrate on his cloak knots. Satisfied with the results, I look at him. Azriel had his arms around my waist.
“Good?” Azriel asked, smiling.
It’s been almost three months since I started living with Lorcan’s family. I have adapted and somehow have gotten attached to them. Being here gave me a sense of security and hope. Even though I knew time was closing, I still enjoyed it. I tried to leave my curse on the side and live day by day.
During these two months, I had grown not only as a woman but as an individual. Everyone here cared for me, and I learned to appreciate that. But that wasn’t the only good thing.
Azriel and I had gotten closer. It was making him overprotective of me. The attachment was so big that he didn’t allow Lorcan to stay close to me. And somehow, that didn’t bother me.
On the contrary, I enjoy being around him. Maybe it was the lack of love from a family member, but having him this close made me feel safe. He is like a brother I never had.
Lorcan and the rest seem unbothered. On the contrary, Lilith found it odd. In the sense that Azriel was never a person to get attached to things. Being the youngest in the seeker’s family made him have a lot of disadvantages. But that didn’t stop him from being loved by his people. When I get to wander around the palace and town, I notice people respect him and fear him. After all, he was the rightful heir to the throne and not Lorcan.
But because he was the youngest, he was not given the right to have the throne. Instead, Lorcan took his place. Despite that, he looks like the king.
“I need to get ready,” I said as I pat his chest and start turning around.
“Leaving quickly?” Azriel whispered as he hugged me from behind. A slight blush spread on my face as I smiled at him. I’ve gotten used to his touch and seductiveness that I just crave for more.
“I need to get ready, Azriel,” I repeated, smiling.
“But stay, please,” Azriel begged as he kissed my shoulder.
Gasping, he reaches for my neck and undoes the knot of my robe. Exposing my skin. Leaving a trail of kisses down my back, I cover my mouth to prevent a moan.
“I want to hear you,” Azriel whispered seductively as I felt my legs quiver.
This last month’s Azriel touch has been a sort of medicine for me. My body reacted to him and put up a defensive wall whenever someone else approached me. Especially Alastair. Lorcan’s touch didn’t bother me, but Alastair was different. I rejected his touch. Maybe it was because we started on the wrong foot.
“You smell good, Amari,” Azriel whispered, moving his hand down my waist. I shudder under his touch.
Azriel carries me to bed.
Straddled by his heavy body, I pant. Grazing his teeth near my neck, I arched my back. Azriel smirked against my skin as he licked a sensitive spot, and I moan.
“God, I’m dying to fuck you,” Azriel whispered as he lowers his face.
“Enough, Azriel!” I said, pushing him. Stopping, he laughs and fixes his messy hair. Watching him sternly, I plop my body on my arms.
“Sorry, ok?” Azriel said, peeking at my cheek, “I just couldn’t control myself.”
Groaning, I glare at him. Azriel knew the effect he had on me. So teasing me was one of his hobbies.
“Asshole,” I said, pushing him. Getting out of bed, Azriel holds my hand.
“Sorry, ok?” Azriel said, kissing my hand. He smiles as I scoff.
“Stop teasing me!” I said. Raising his hand, he smiles. Since getting closer, Azriel learned to smile more. Liliths was shocked knowing her brother, who barely showed a smile, was changing slowly with me. Lilith even had the idea to mate me with him. But we both knew that I wasn’t Azriel’s mate. After all, I had fallen on his kissing traps more than once, and I would always spend two days next to him because of how sick I felt.
His kisses were still a mystery to me. After all, according to him, we share the same power. But it shouldn’t work on me, but it does, and no one understands why.
“Go get ready then. See you later,” Azriel said, letting go of my hand. I nodded and fixed my robe as I walked out of his bedroom.
“Wow, you look breathtaking,” Lilith said, mouth open wide, “Where have you been hiding? Look at that body!” she said, grabbing my breast.
“Enough, Lilith!” I said, slapping her hands off.
Surprisingly, a month ago, my breast started growing. Lilith said that maybe it was the nutrition I lacked for all the years of malnutrition and suffering. That idea never crossed my mind. But now that I exercised and ate more, I saw a change in my body. My scars were still there, but they didn’t bother me as they used to.
“My brothers are going to go crazy once they see you, dear!” Liliths said, clapping her hands in excitement, “What a good idea to choose a golden dress. You look like a true queen.”
I smiled back at her as I saw my reflection in the mirror. Lilith did a high ponytail and light makeup to make my freckles more visible. She chose a long golden off-shoulder dress with a corset and a long tail that was heavier than anything I have ever worn before. The dress was simple but with a brooch on the front that had a sapphire in the middle. Making my eyes look bluer than they already were—a set of earrings like the brooch and a pair of golden high heels.
“You look beautiful, Amari,” Lilith mumbled as she grasped my hand, “Be happy ok?”
I nodded as my eyes moved up and down.
My chest looked enormous with the corset. It amazed me to see the difference. Fixing some small hair strands, someone knocks on the door. Lilith excused herself and walked up to open it. I turned around to look at the back. Some of my prominent scars were visible, and it worried me.
“Stop doing that, face,” a voice said as I looked up. Lorcan walked up to me. I smiled as I looked at him dressed up formally. A black suit and vest with a long black and white cloak molded his lean body perfectly. He looked like a king with his hair tied neatly and his crown, a small yet eye-catching silver crown.
I noticed he had a brooch just like the one I had on my dress. Smiling, I greet him.
“Stop staring at your scars,” Lorcan whispered as he planted a kiss on my shoulder.
“I wasn’t,” I mumble, playing with my hands.
“Are you wearing gloves?” Lorcan suddenly asked.
“Oh, I forgot!” Lilith said as she ran out of the bedroom. Looking back at him, I find Lorcan with a serious face.
“Amari, every scar serves as a reminder of who you are, who you’ve become, and who you should never be. Don’t see them as something that makes you look awful. Because those scars may be signs of hope for others,” Lorcan said, making me smile.
“Thanks,” I mumble as Lilith runs back in. Squeezing my hand, he lets go, once done with the long golden gloves.
Lorcan approached me.
“May I?” Lorcan said as he stared at my reflection. Frowning, I just nod.
Out of his pocket, he pulls a small golden chain. It was so thin that it looked delicate. Putting it on, he kisses my shoulder and moves back.
“I think we are missing something, dear sister,” Lorcan said, smiling brightly.
“Of course, brother,” Lilith said as she walked into the closet and returned with a box. Opening it, Lorcan grabs a small golden crown.
“What is this?” I asked.
“This is for you, my dear,” Lorcan said as he put the crown. Liliths helped him fix my hair and secure it. “Now you’re a queen.” turning me around, I stare at myself. I looked like a queen.
“Thank you,” I said, shocking in my words. Toying with my hands, I feel Lilith next to me. I smiled at her as she beams happily.
“We should start going,” Lorcan said, offering his hand, “Shall we, queen?”
Laughing, we walk out of the bedroom.
Descending the stairs, I carefully walk down. Lorcan helped me as I made sure not to trip and fall.
“Fuck,” I heard Alastair say. Lifting my head, I find Alastair and Azriel with eyes wide. Alastair’s mouth hangs as Azriel just blushes.
“Is everyone ready?” Lorcan asked.
“Yes,” Azriel mutters, keeping his eyes on me. I blush at the intense gaze he was giving me. Letting go, Lorcan moves to talk with some people. Biting my lips, Azriel approached me.
“You look beautiful,” Azriel whispered, kissing my hand. His black eyes met mine, and for a second, I felt my legs quiver. Azriel was too much for my heart.
“Stop flirting, Azriel,” Lilith said as she slapped him with her gloves, “Let’s go.”
Giggling, Azriel grumbles. Reaching for the entrance, I find several carriages. It seems a lot of guards were joining us.
“It will be a long ride, so be ready. Where is he?” Lorcan suddenly said, looking around.
“Looking for me, sir?” A familiar voice said. I snap my head to find Jonathan clad in white, smiling my way.
“Jonathan?” I said, shocked, “W-Why are you here?”
“It’s so nice to meet you again,” Jonathan bowed, “I’m now working here.”
“You what?” I asked, smiling, “But what about Maximus?”
Everyone went silent as they watched me.
“I resign, my queen. And the king agreed that’s all,” Jonathan explained.
“Jonatha will be your butler. He will assist you now,” Lorcan said as he kissed my cheek, “happy?”
“Yes!” I said, running up to Jonathan and hugging him. “Welcome!”
Wasting no more time, we get in the carriage. Our luggage and everyone else were up. Parting ways, we head to the witch’s empire.
“Are you ok?” Lorcan asked for the fifth time.
“I am,” I said, smiling weakly.
We have been traveling for five hours already. The witches’ empire was close and, for some reason, started getting sick. We have stopped four times. I’ve been throwing up and feeling dizzy. The feeling I was getting as we got closer was driving me crazy.
Worried for my well-being, Lorcan ordered the coachmen to travel faster. What was supposed to be an eight-hour journey was now a five-hour one.
“We shall arrive soon,” Lilith said worriedly.
One more hour and we finally reached the place. Waiting for the entrance to the palace, I become desperate. I was feeling suffocated, locked inside this carriage.
“I need air,” I said desperately.
“Let’s get down,” Lilith said.
“But Lilith?” Alastair argues.
“Enough! Amari is feeling sick, and we are inside the palace. So let’s leave Lilith and Amari here. You shall be fine, right?” Lorcan asked Lilith.
“Yes, don’t worry,” Lilith nodded. Giving the signal to stop, both Lilith and I get down. The cold night breeze grace my burning face. Taking a couple of deep breaths, I calm down.
“Shall we walk around? There’s a lot of people,” Lilith said as I started looking around. We were in a spacious garden.
The grand palace stood afar. Lights and music were coming from the place. Nodding, we walk around. Several of the guests were enjoying the beautiful night, but I was feeling awful.
“I’m worried for you,” Lilith said as we stopped.
“I will be fine, Lilith,” I said breathlessly, “let’s just walk around.”
Nodding, she starts pushing me. My body felt heavy with every step. Holding my face, I stop. My head was spinning.
“Amari?” Lilith said worriedly. Holding her arm and hand, I try to close my eyes and calm down. I feel my knees give out when a muscular arm reaches for me. A fresh smell of mint and forest grace my nostrils. I started feeling relaxed in his arms.
“Amari?” I heard a familiar voice say. Panting, I keep my eyes close. Why did the person’s voice sound familiar?
Feeling a rough hand caress my face, I open my eyes and find a familiar face looking down at me. Worried was over Maximus’ face as I opened it and realized who it was.
“Maximus?” I whispered in shock. I tried getting up, but I had no strength.
“Amari!” Lilith said, “She has a fever!”
“I will take her,” Maximus said, lifting me.
“NO!” Lilith suddenly growled, “She is with me. She stays king.”
I heard him sigh as I clutched his shirt.
“I want a bed,” I murmured.
“Yes, my dear. I shall take you to our bedroom,” Lilith said, caressing my face. “Please, just help me take her to our bedroom.”
“Fine,” Maximus sighed.
“How is she?” Lilith asked someone.
“She’s just stressed out,” a woman’s voice said. I groaned in confusion. Where was I?
Sitting up slowly, I look around. The first to notice me was Lilith.
“Amari!” Lilith said, running to my side, “Don’t move!”
Laying back down, I look around. My eyes stopped on Maximus, who was looking at me worriedly.
“Where is everyone?” I asked tiredly.
“Lorcan left a while ago. He needs to tend to some things. Alastair is outside talking, and Azriel had something to do,” Lilith explained. I nodded and closed my eyes.
“Amari,” Maximus called. I open my eyes and stare at him. Looking away, I ask Lilith to bring me some water.
Leaving us, Maximus walks up and takes a seat next to me. I stare at him. None of us said a word. We only stare at each other.
“Hi Amari,” Maximus whispered as I averted my eyes.
“Hi,” I mumble.
“Amari I,” Maximus tried to say but stopped. He looked troubled.
“WHERE IS SHE?” someone said outside the room. Throwing the doors open, Azriel walked in. He quickly made his way and got to bed. “Amari,” he said, kissing my forehead. Maximus watched my interaction with him. A minor confusion crossed his face.
“Azriel calmed down,” I whispered as he kissed me all over the face, “I’m better, you see.”
“Better? You scared me, Amari,” Azriel said with sadness, “You should stay by my side.”
“Please, Azriel,” I said, sighing. Finally, noticing the other person, Azriel stops and throws a glare at Maximus.
“King Maximus,” Azriel greeted. I sat up as I looked at both of them.
“Azriel,” Maximus said back.
“Your Majesty Azriel for you,” Azriel spat back.
Scoffing, Maximus turned his eyes and looked at me. Azriel was holding me in his arms as I weekly looked at him. He gritted his teeth and fisted his hands. Without sparing me another glance, he stood up and left the room.
“Are you ok?” Azriel asked as I lowered my gaze.
“Yes,” I mutter as I close my eyes.
“Stay with her, Lilith,” Azriel ordered, “I have something to take care of. I already sent word to Devika, so she should be here soon.”
Nodding, Lilith walks Azriel up to the door. Sighing, I start thinking about Maximus. There was this strange feeling coming from him. He looked different.
“Amari?” Lilith snapped as I looked at her in surprise, “Are you ok? I called your name three times.”
“Yes,” I said, smiling.
“You’re thinking of him, right?” Lilith said, sitting in bed.
“Who do you mean?” I asked to feign innocence.
“Amari, you know who I’m talking about,” Lilith said, holding my face in her hands, “You’ve been lost in thought since he left. Can you tell me what’s bothering you?”
“Nothing,” I said, moving her hands, “I’m fine.”
“You’ve been repeating that, Amari,” Lilith said sadly, “You have feelings for him, right?”
Surprise, I snap my head and frown.
“No,” I said honestly, “Why should I?”
Lilith looked taken aback by my sudden outburst.
“Maximus means nothing for me,” I spat angrily, “He only, he,” I tried to say but stayed quiet.
Holding my chin, Lilith moves my face. Her eyes looked deeply into mine.
“Child, that’s the look of someone in love,” Lilith said.
“Excuse me?” I asked, backing away.
“Maximus,” Lilith said, pinching her nose and standing, “That man, it seems he finally realized.”
“Realize what?” I asked, not understanding.
“That he has feelings for you. I’ve never seen him worried like today. Even for a while, he even looked hurt,” Lilith said, leaving me all confused in bed.