Cross To Bear (Book 1)

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Amari POV

I flinch as Fae put some medicine on my back. The aching pain was becoming unbearable. Gripping the bedsheets, I let a tear fall. I thought the injury I received wasn’t too much, but after Jonathan brought me in and Fae saw me bleeding, I knew I would have an enormous bruise. And that’s what happened. One of my old wounds opened as another one covered it. Fae looked at it in complete shock, but more because she finally saw my back.

I could see she wanted to ask what all those wounds were about, but she kept her question to herself.

As we hear a knock, Fae stood up and went to see who it was. I stayed still as I listened intently. After a brief exchange of words, Jonathan walked in. His eyes were falling on my back. Gasping aloud, he runs towards me and towers my injured back.

“Y-Your highness!” Jonathan stuttered in shock. His eyes did not believe what he was seeing.

“It’s nothing,” I said, smiling sadly.

Jonathan furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head. A look of disapproval washed over his face.

“How could that be nothing? Who did this?” Jonathan complained, “You shouldn’t look like this. And I’m sorry if I speak out of line, your highness. You’re just a girl. How can you look like that?”

Surprised by his words, I chuckle. Lifting my gaze back at him, I say, “This has been my life. What could I do?”

“The king needs to know,” Jonathan said as he started leaving the bedroom. Scurrying up, I reach for a robe and attempt to cover myself.

“No!” I said, grasping his arm, “He already knows… that new bruise was his.”

Jonathan looked down at me like I’ve grown two more heads. Sighing, he grasped my hand and squeezed it.

“Fine, but we need to treat those,” Jonathan said, smiling wryly.

How did I end like this?

A while ago, Jonathan had excused himself. By the time he was back, it was past midnight, and to my shock, he didn’t come back alone. Instead, he brought ten more servants.

Gulping nervously, I looked around my room. Why were they all here?

“Calm down, your highness,” Jonathan said, smiling brightly.

“Yes, we are all here because we want to meet you and help you,” the woman called Nora said, smiling my way.

Nora was the head maid here in the palace. Her role was to serve the king most of the time.

She looked older than anyone else here. And to my surprise, she was a witch.

“Here, have this tea,” Nora said, handing me a porcelain cup. Smiling wryly at her, I took a sip.

Cinnamon and vanilla mix filled my lungs as I sigh unconsciously. Opening my eyes back, I look at everyone. Embarrassed, I look away. Did I just sigh in relief?

As everyone notices me, all embarrassed, laughter erupted in the room.

“You know we are happy you are here,” Nora said, chuckling, “Finally, someone other than the king to serve.”

“Yes, finally,” another girl named Miriam said. Miriam was around my age, and she assisted in the kitchen. Her brown hair and hazel eyes made her look like a doll.

“We are sorry about earlier,” Jonathan suddenly said, making me frown at him confusedly.

“For what?” I asked innocently.

Everyone exchanged looks before Jonathan’s eyes landed back on my blue ones.

“For the king,” Jonathan mutters, making the room feel tense.

Setting my teacup down, I smiled at everyone.

“No need to worry,” I said honestly. “I am already used to being beaten.”

Feeling a soft hand over mines, I didn’t even know I was fisting. I look at the person. With a conflicted look on her face, Nora exchanges another look with Jonathan.

“No, your highness. The king he doesn’t understand,” Nora tried to say, but she seemed lost.

I kept my eyes on her. Trying to find something to say, but my lip started trembling as tears threatened to escape.

What was even wrong with me today?

Sobbing suddenly, I apologize and clean my tears.

“Your majesty…” Nora whispered as she looked at Jonathan. “Can we ask you what happened to you?”

Inhaling deeply, I feel my hands shaking. Nervously, I look at my toying hands. How could I tell them? They wouldn’t believe me a princess. If I said to them that my family was the one who did that, they would take me by a crazy person—defaming the royal family.

“Nothing,” I mumble, “This is nothing…”

No one asked again. I knew they were judgemental towards me, a mere girl who her family beat. Tortured, maltreated, and cursed.

Frowning to myself, I recall for a second my curse. With everything happening, I had forgotten about my affliction. How could I?

It was my first day, and too much has happened that I haven’t thought about my damn curse. The one that would end my life sooner than expected.

After a long chat and bandaging my wounds, everyone left. I bid my goodnights as Nora closed my bedroom doors. Seated in my bed, I sigh. With an aching back, I stand up and walk towards the balcony door.

Earlier I didn’t notice it, but after Jonathan explained to me, I had a balcony outside my room. I’ve been feeling curious to come out and see. But Jonathan advised me not to because the night was cold and I could get sick. But curiosity was driving me crazy.

Opening the glass door, I walk out.

The night breeze makes my entire body shiver. Embracing myself, I sigh and stand near the edge. Jonathan was right; it was cold.

Leaning against the rail, I look down. My room had a forest view.

Tiredly, I plop my arm in my hand.

“What could I find behind that forest?” I mutter to myself.

Another sigh left my lips as my back started aching. I needed to rest, but my mind didn’t want to. Thinking about what to do, an idea suddenly pops into my head. It may be a bad one, but there would be no problem in trying to write?

Chuckling, I head back in and shut the door. I was taking my slipper off and grabbing my robe.

I open my bedroom door and looked down the eerily quiet hallway. Not a soul around. I know I had said I would never wander this place during nights, but something got into me. This adrenaline started pumping through my racing heart. Biting my lips, I quietly close the door and start walking down the hallway.

Jonathan mentioned earlier that there was an enormous library on the second floor, one with millions of books. He briefly described the place and where it was. My curiosity got the best, and I had to explore that place. Now here I was heading to god know where.

Making sure no one was around, I peered around corners until I started seeing a familiar place, just like Jonathan explained. Smiling, I ran quietly down the hallway. How big was this place?

Finding two enormous dark wooden doors, I quietly push them. They were making a creaking sound. I curse. I didn’t know if someone was still awake or if the guards were roaming the palace. But I needed to get in quickly.

Once the doors shut, I sighed in relief. Leaning against the doors, I rest my head. The adrenaline is still pumping in my heart. Opening one of my eyes, I look at the place. A smile broke on my face as I saw it around me.

Jonathan didn’t lie when he said this place was enormous. This place was like another building. Rows and rows of shelves and tables filled the entire wooden room. Walking, I started moving my eyes around to the point I was feeling dizzy. How many books did this place have?

As I kept looking around, I somehow ended up on the second floor of the library. I gasped as I looked down. I was leaning my body the most I could to look up and down. That is when I notice there were at least two more floors full of books to explore. Excitement rushed in my body as I skip the halls.

Passing by, I noticed that some shelves looked dusty. Did no one ever come here?

Dusting my hands, I kept walking until a specific row of books caught my attention. Crooking my head, I look at it. My eyes were falling on a book of curses. Feeling like a moth pulled, I move my hand unconsciously. I reached high as I could. I smiled and pulled the heavy book out of its dusty space. It was time to read.

Carrying it with both arms, I look for a spot. The fireplace on a corner looked like a comfy place to read. Unaware of my surroundings, I take a seat on the couch and pull my legs up as a stand. I open the old dusty book. With delicate fingers, I turn the pages. This book was older than me. Some letters were no longer visible.

Reading carefully, I check the contents. I was so engrossed; I didn’t think about time. Slowly, I started dozing off until my hand fell on the side.

Something warm left my cheek as I turned over. Scrunching my face, I slap something away. I didn’t know what it was, but I didn’t care. Deciding to ignore it as my body ached with every move. I suddenly feel something over my body. What was that soft thing?

Groaning, I open my heavy eyes just to be greeted by darkness. How long did I sleep?

Sitting up carefully, I look over my body. A red blanket was over my now warm body. Who put it here? I frown as I look around, wondering who it might be. Deciding it’s best to get back, I stand up and grab the book.

Folding the blanket and leaving it on the couch, I headed back to the same row I found the cursed book. Trying to reach for the spot, I tiptoed high as I could. But I was tiny to reach back, especially since the book was heavy.

“Seriously?” I groan in frustration. Annoyed, I lift my arm higher when suddenly someone abruptly takes the book and puts it back. Tensing up, I shut my eyes. Begging not to be who I think might be. Cursing, I groan internally.

“Shouldn’t you be in your room?” the rough voice of a certain fucker I didn’t want to hear reached my ears. I could feel the king close behind. Gulping, I muster some courage and turn around.

The hand above my head and body was leaning dangerously close to me. Hover over my tense body. I lifted my head to look at him. His red crimson eyes played with dangerous darkness as he looked down at me. He was wearing an open shirt and some pants that hung way too low. My eyes wander slowly to his toned and muscular body. A v line forming down below where his pubic hair was visible.

Gulping, I felt my legs quiver as this enormous man looked down at me without a word. My blue eyes went up and locked with his. Moving closer to me, I back up against the shelves. Books poked my back, but I didn’t care for the pain. All I had on my mind was that this man was dangerously sexy, and I was drooling for him. Which was strange?

Distracted by his looks, I hear a door slammed somewhere in the library. Squealing in surprise, I unconsciously reach for his chest. I felt like they caught me doing a deed that I was unaware of what I was doing.

My eyes kept looking towards the stairs waiting for whoever came in to show their face. But no one came up. Nervously, I started leaning closer. My mind ignores the king’s presence. Suddenly a warmth started invading my thoughts as I lifted my head and stayed stunned. His face was inches from mine. I could feel his breath against my lips as his eyes kept staring down at me. He had a soft look that I couldn’t comprehend. Why was he staring at me like that?

Moving, he puts his other hand lower to my other side, caging me like a bird. I just looked at him. Why was this making me feel so comfortable?

As a comfortable silence got between us, Maximus reaches for my face and removes a hair strand. His big calluses fingers softly grace my skin as he puts my hair behind my ear. I licked my lips unknowingly. Maximus sharply inhaled as his eyes lowered to my lips. I still had my hands on his chest.

As the king leaned closer to me, I lowered my face and stared at his chest. Eyes wide, I stare at a long scar across his pectorals from side to side. Frowning, I move my finger. I was slightly moving it across, following the scar.

“What happened?” I whispered so softly that I thought he didn’t hear me.

Not hearing a reply, I look at him again.

“What happened, Maximus?” I whispered as he sighed. Reaching for my wrist, he grasps it, stopping my movement.

I bit my lips as his hand softly squeezes my wrist. Moving his red eyes back to my own, he intensely stares at me. There was something strange to him. But as my mind wonders, he brings my hand to his lips and tenderly kisses every knuckle.

That took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting that. Realizing what was happening, I yank my arm from his grasp and apologies. Leaving him standing there as I ran back to my bedroom.

As quickly as possible, I run back until I close the door with a slam and slide down in relief. My beating heart was slamming against my chest.

“What was that?” I mutter in shock as I hold my head in disbelief.

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