Where Flowers Don't Belong

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Diamond Shadows

I stayed perfectly still, listening for any sort of movement in the pitch-black room. The bed dipped slightly and I sucked in a quick breath. I could feel the king laying down next to me, his body heat rolling onto me.

I waited for a moment, then two, but nothing happened. Well, I guess that was it. How strange. He didn't punish me. He didn't have sex with me. All he had done was put slow-acting poison on my wounds and put me in his clothing. None of it made sense.

I moved silently off the bed, ready to go back to my own quarters so that the king could sleep. I was grateful that he had decided to leave my punishment until tomorrow. I would accept any extra time that he wanted to give me.

I was eager to get back to my room, to sleep in a familiar place where I could process everything that had happened tonight. But as soon as my feet touched the floor, the king spoke.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

I hesitated. "I-I was going to go to sleep. L-Like you said." He had said that, right?

"Okay," he replied slowly. "Then where are you going?"

"To-to my quarters, your majesty."

I heard him chuckle deeply into the darkness. "That's not what I meant, baby."

Baby? Baby? Why would he be calling me baby if he wasn't attracted to me and didn't want to have sex with me?

"You will be sleeping in this room," he said.

My whole body stilled. He wanted me to sleep in here? In this room? I had never been anywhere as nice as this room. It was warm in here and the floors weren't wet. It would be a dream to sleep here.

"In here, your maj—Elijah?" I asked in a timid voice.

"Yes," the king responded. "In here."

I tried to look at him through the darkness so that I could tell if he was joking but couldn't see him. What about him? Where would he go if I was here? There was nowhere in the entire packhouse that was nicer than this room.

"Oh," I replied softly. I almost asked him where he would be sleeping but shut my mouth quickly. That was none of my business. He could do whatever he wanted. It was not my place to question him.

Choosing to just nod in response instead of asking more questions, I moved quietly off the bed, getting ready to move to the floor so I could sleep. I wanted to give the king space, so I moved all the way to the other side of the room, finding a corner that didn't have any furniture in front of it. I sat down on the hardwood floor, running my hands gently across the smooth wood. I never thought I would describe wood as soft but that's exactly what the surface beneath my fingertips felt like. I laid down on my side, bringing my knees up to my chest and curling into a ball on the ground the way I always slept. I sighed in content. I had never felt more comfortable in my life. I couldn't believe I got to spend the night here. Never did I ever think I would be allowed such luxuries.

"What are you doing?"

I jerked in fright. I couldn't see the king but I could tell that he was above me, looking down at me on the floor. Wow, he moved quietly. How long had he been there?

"I'm sorry," was my immediate response. "Had you not said— Didn't you want me to sleep in here?" I asked hesitantly. I was seriously getting sick of being so dumb that I needed clarification on everything the king said to me.

"Yes, I did say that," he replied. "So why are you on the floor?"

I shifted uncomfortably. Was I missing something?

After a moment of silence, the king sucked in a deep breath of realization. "Did you think you were going to sleep on the floor?" he asked.

I suddenly felt really stupid. I didn't know why though. "Well... Yes?" I admitted into the darkness.

"Do you usually sleep on the floor?" he asked, venom pouring from his tone. Why did he sound angry about it?

"Y-yes. I'm sorry," I whispered, even though I wasn't sure what I was apologizing for.

His hands unexpectedly wrapped under my legs and back, lifting me into his arms. I gasped, placing one hand on his chest to steady myself. "Come here," he said gently, as he cradled me to his large form.

He walked us to the other side of the room and set me down in the middle of the bed once again. Without warning, a light so bright that I had to cover my eyes illuminated the room. I gasped in shock.

The king was holding a giant ball of fire in the palm of his hand. My eyes widened. He was using his royal powers, producing fire out of nothing.

I couldn't stop myself from scrambling backward as fear consumed me. He was going to kill me with fire!

"Hey, hey, hey," the king said as he took in my scared expression. "It's okay. It's not going to hurt you."

I didn't respond. His words did nothing to relax me. Why did he produce the fire if he wasn't going to use it to hurt me?

"You'll have to forgive me," the king said gently. "I'm not going to harm you with it. I only wanted to see you better. I grew up around magic and forget that it can be shocking for those who have not witnessed it before."

Shocking was an understatement. I couldn't stop staring at the ball of flames floating in his palm. It was brighter than any fire I had ever seen before and much hotter. I could feel its heat from all the way over here. How was his hand not burning?

The king chuckled softly. My eyes snapped to his at the beautiful noise. He was smiling slightly, seemingly amused as he watched me. Had I done something amusing?

Still watching me, the king slowly moved his free hand over the fire in a single movement, covering it completely with his palm for a moment before taking it away. When the fire was revealed again, I watched in wonder as it changed from its usual red and orange color to a bright, stupendous blue.

The room around us changed. The blue flame cast diamond-like shadows all over the room. The colors of a rainbow painted the walls, moving around in refined dance that matched the flickering of the flame. It was beautiful--absolutely breathtaking

When my gaze fell back on the king, I noticed he was already watching me, a look of... adoration on his face. I understood why he felt that way. If I had the ability to conjure up the blue flame he held in his hand, I would be proud of it too. I would constantly bathe myself in its rainbow colors.

"Come here," the king's deep, soothing voice said. He gently grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards him. He turned my hand palm up, cupping it his own free one. He brought the blue flame towards me and, ever so slowly, tilted his hand down so that the flame moved towards my palm.

When I realized he was trying to put the flame in my hand, I jerked back. The king's grip tightened slightly at my movement, stopping my attempt at fleeing.

"Hey, it's okay," he said, his thumb rubbing soothing circles on the wrist he was holding. "Blue flames don't hurt." I met his eyes. His expression was sincere. "You can trust me. I promise," he whispered.

Not taking my eyes from his, I took a deep breath and nodded my head once, wordlessly telling him to continue.

The king smiled and squeezed my wrist in a gentle manner before letting go of it completely. He cupped the flame in both hands and brought them over my upturned palm, gently placing the flame into my hand.

I gasped at the strange feeling. I was expecting to feel the same sparks as I did when the king touched me, but this warmth was different. It was comforting, like what I imagined a mother's hug to feel like.

I lifted my other hand and touched the top of the flame gently, watching the flames wrap around my fingers and flicker with my movements. The colors on the walls and ceilings change too, dancing in synch with my touch.

"Wow," I whispered in wonder.

For a moment, I forgot where I was. For a moment, I didn't think about the rules or what the king would think of me and instead let myself get wrapped up in the magic I was holding in my hand. It consumed me, taking over my every thought and filling me with a happiness that I didn't know was possible.

Without thinking, I touched the side of the ball with one finger and carefully turned it with my other hand in a fast swiping motion. It began to rapidly spin in my hand, throwing rainbows in every direction. Then, before it could stop spinning, I lifted the ball to my lips and blew.

Like a leaf being carried off by the wind, the flame drifted from my hands and floated to the middle of the room, still turning.

Then something new started to happen. The shadows the flame cast started to change into something else, creating different shapes and morphing until they resembled something familiar. The shape of a young girl appeared in the corner. I couldn't see her face or any of her features, only her shadow. She was on her hands and knees, scrubbing the floor with a rag. A man was standing next to her, the outline of his mouth moving, making it clear that he was yelling at the girl. Suddenly, the man's foot lifted and flew forward. The two figures disappeared before his boot connected with the girl's ribcage.

Another shadow appeared on the other side of the room. It was the same girl as before, only this time she wasn't cleaning. She was standing in front of a woman much taller than her, looking down at what seemed to be a string that the woman was tying around her waist. They disappeared as well.

Shadow after shadow began to appear and disappear all around us. All of the shadows formed silhouettes of the same girl at different points in her life. She was curled into a ball on the ground crying. She was sweeping. She was putting on a corset. She was watching the people around her eat, an empty plate in sitting in front of her. She was helping a young boy who had just fallen down in front of her, lifting him up and watching as he ran off. She was being whipped with long, hard strokes against her back. She was sleeping on the floor in a corner. She was smiling as she put a plate away, the last one she needed to clean for the day.

One shadow, in particular, caught my eye. It was different from all the rest. In this one, the girl was standing behind a man who was much larger than her. He had his arm wrapped around her in a protective manner, pressing her into his back as he spoke to some other figures in the room. The girl was looking down at her fingers, studying them as they touched the man's back. She dropped her hands and leaned her forehead against his back.

More shadows of the girl continued to appear, one after the other, showing random points of her life.

My life. These were all moments from my past. I remembered all of them clearly.

My gaze seemed to be automatically drawn to the shadows with the king in them. Surprisingly, there were a lot of him, even though I had only met him hours ago. I watched one of them, recognizing it from when we were in the bathroom just moments ago. I was sitting on the counter, as the king stood between my parted thighs, his large hands gripping my hips. He placed our foreheads together gently.

Then, that same shadow of the king changed quickly, morphing into a different man, smaller than the king, but still extremely similar. Before I could look away, the shadow that was once the king grabbed me by the neck and slammed me into a wall. I watched in horror as he raised a knife he was holding and slammed the butt of it onto the top of my head with enough force to have me crumbling to the ground.

I gasped and scrambled backward. I had no problem looking at what the other shadows had depicted, but the moment the shadow changed from the king to the Beta Micheal, something inside of me snapped. It was as if the king punishing me. The thought of him punishing me was more terrifying than I ever could have imagined.

The king growled and I realized that he had been watching the same shadow as I was. With a flick of his wrist, the blue flame exploded with light. I had to look away and cover my eyes from the sudden brightness. When I looked back, the flame was once again its normal orange color. The shadows disappeared, much to my relief, taking with it the painful memories of my life.

There was a long moment of silence, the only sound coming from the deep breathing of the king next to me. I could feel his eyes on me, scanning up and down my shaking form. Embarrassment filled me. How much of that had he seen?

It was at that moment that I decided I would never mess with the king's magic again. Madame Melinda had told me countless times how evil magic is. Its only use is to cause harm. I knew that now. This was the first encounter I had ever had with magic, but it had drawn me in like nothing I'd ever experienced before.

"How did you do that?" His deep voice filled the quiet room.

I couldn't bring myself to respond to him. I was still in shock.

A gentle hand touched my shoulder in the dark. "How did you make the flame do that?" the king asked again.

"I--I don't know," I whispered.

He joined me on the bed and sat down next to me. It hit me that I was sitting on a bed in only a shirt with the most powerful man in the world, the king of werewolves. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be here. At least, not alive.

"I want you to sleep here on the bed with me," he said. "Is that okay?"

I was shocked to say the least. He wanted me to sleep on the bed? And even more confusing, he wanted to sleep here with me? That didn't make any sense. I had never, not once, slept on a bed in my entire life. Let alone one as nice as this one. And with the king of werewolves.

But the king looked so tired, beyond ready to be done with me and go to sleep. I didn't want to ask any more questions when he looked so tired. I could sleep here if he wanted.

I shouldn't be complaining anyway, it would be an amazing experience to sleep in a real bed for once.

Choosing not to question him or complain, I nodded. "I will sleep wherever you want me to."

He didn't like that reply for some reason. He shook his head, never taking his eyes from me. "No, I don't want you to agree with me because you are scared of the consequences if you don't. I want to know if you are truly okay with sleeping here with me."

My mouth dropped slightly in shock. No one had ever asked me what I wanted. I was always just told what to do, never given a choice in the matter. But even knowing that he was giving me a choice, my answer doesn't change. I wasn't about to tell the alpha king that I was too scared to sleep in the same bed with him. I was going to do whatever he wanted me to do. And he obviously wanted me here.

"I'm okay with it," I said, no hesitation in my voice.

He let his lips form in a small smile. He nodded once, happy with my response. Thank goodness.

He was the first to move, laying down on his back and looking at me expectantly. He pat the other side of the bed. "Please. Let us sleep."

I moved slowly, going as far over to the other side of the bed as I could be without falling off. I wanted to make sure he had enough room to sleep peacefully. Or maybe I should sleep at his feet?

I tried to ignore the fact that the king had turned onto his side placing his hand under his head and was watching my every move with amused curiosity. I wasn't sure why he was so interested in me. He was watching me like I was an animal at the zoo. I picked up the blanket and sheet from the bed and gently folded them over so that they were all on his side of the bed.

The king's brows tugged together. I swallowed but continued when he didn't stop me.

Next, I grabbed the pillows as well and placed them next to his head. I made eye contact with him as I sat back on my haunches. I gave him a nervous smile, hoping that my actions would please him.

A slave that had a normal life before coming to work for the packhouse had once asked Madame Melinda if she could have a pillow and a blanket to sleep with. I still remember Madame Melinda's response clearly even though I couldn't have been older than ten at the time.

She'd slapped the slave, saying she was ungrateful and shameful. "You are a disgusting human, worthless to this pack than the dirt on the bottom of my shoe," Madame Melinda had said. "You are lucky to have anything at all, ungrateful girl! We give you food and a bed and yet, you ask for more? You ask for a pillow? A blanket? As if you are worthy of such things!"

With that in my mind, I happily settled back down into the mattress. At least I knew that I had passed one of the tests that the king had set before me by making sure he would have all the pillows and blankets. I looked at him once more, making sure that was what he wanted. He met my gaze but didn't say anything, still only watching me.

Okay...

I moved back to the edge of the bed and settled down onto my side, bringing my knees to my chest yet again. I wasn't expecting how comfortable it would be. I felt my body sink down into the plush bed as it formed perfectly to my side. I had to keep myself from moaning at the feeling. Is this what a real bed felt like? It felt like a dream. I was seriously missing out.

Suddenly, I heard the king shifting behind me. Covers were moved and the bed dipped slightly. He was close to me. Very close. And then his hand was wrapped around my waist and gently tugging me back towards him. I let out a small shriek of terror.

"Hey, sh, sh, sh..." he whispered, his lips pressing against my ear. He pulled me so that my back was flush against his front. He kept one arm securely wrapped around my waist, his huge hand splayed over my stomach, and the other arm bent and under my head, acting as a pillow. "You're okay," he continued whispering in my ear. He left a gentle kiss there. "You're okay. I promise you're okay."

I couldn't do anything other than stay completely still against him. Completely still except for the uncontrollable shaking that I hoped he wouldn't notice. Everything about the king felt so hard and warm behind me. His body wrapped around mine so easily, like second nature, that it made me wonder how many girls he had been in this position with. For some reason, I didn't like that thought.

Without my permission, my mind began analyzing the feeling of his body against mine, basking in how absolutely incredible he felt against me. Even though I knew that I shouldn't be wishing for this due to obvious reasons, I still found myself hoping that this wouldn't be the last time that someone held me. This is what I had been missing in my life. I needed to be held, needed to feel physical contact, needed to feel affection from another human being even if it wasn't sincere.

The king let out a hot chuckle against my neck that reminded me of where I was.

"I know, baby. I like touching you too," he said in a deep, husky voice that sent shivers down my spine. He hugged me closer to him and moved his leg so that it was between mine, causing more physical contact.

I froze. Had I said that out loud? How embarrassing! The king didn't need to know that no one had touched me in so long that I would now do anything for just a little physical contact.

"I...I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to say that out loud."

He left a lingering kiss against the back of my neck and laughed again. "You didn't say anything, little one. There was no need. It was your body's reaction to being in my arms that told me all that I needed to know. Your breathing calmed, your heart rate slowed, your mind began to wander." He paused. His lips pressed harder against my neck as he spoke his next words. "You squirmed your little body against me, trying to get closer..."

"Oh," I said, completely mortified. Had I really done all of those things? "I apologize. I hadn't meant to do any of that, I promise. I am so sorry."

"I know you didn't mean to do any of it," he whispered. "But that didn't mean my wolf and I didn't love it."

He liked that? He liked that I enjoyed being pressed against him, squirming against him as if I'm using his body for my own selfish benefit?

Curiosity flowed through my body; curiosity and just the tiniest bit of pride. I had made someone else happy! Even if it was originally for my own benefit, I had still done something right. I had received praise for it, something I had never received in my entire life. It felt so good. Good enough for me to press my body back against him once again, moving my butt a little in the way he had described as squirming.

He groaned loudly in my ear. "That's right, baby girl." His hold tightened around me.

Suddenly, I felt something hard and long grow behind me, pressing up against my backside. Did the king have a third leg? That would be extremely strange.

"Fuck," he growled out. He began joining in on my movements, rotating his hips against mine. It was like our bodies were in sync, moving together as one. It was strange how much I loved it.

Abruptly, the king growled loudly. He shoved me away from him just hard enough that I flew a few feet towards the other side of the bed. I gasped when the sudden movement sent burning pain through my ribs and black dots dancing behind my eyelids.

Fighting through the pain, I turned my body quickly, looking for the king. He was standing on the other side of the room, facing away from me, breathing in and out harshly as he tried to reign in his wolf.

Fear and... sadness coursed through me like a freight train as I watched him. I thought he had liked me touching him. I thought he had liked holding me. But I knew now that I was wrong. So wrong. He was livid with me, pacing back and forth across the room, never-ending growls spilling from his heaving chest.

I had failed yet another test. God, how stupid could I be?

And what was even worse...not only did I feel ashamed for what I had done, I felt completely devastated over his reaction. Somewhere deep inside me had been hoping, praying even, that there was someone out there willing to like me. I wasn't even asking for love or blind devotion. I just wanted the king to like me, that was all. There was something about his gorgeous ocean-like eyes that drew me in from the moment I saw him and made me desperately hope for his approval over me, more than I had hoped for it with any other person before.

But, of course, I was wrong. No one would ever care for me. Let alone love me. I was just an ugly, fat, destructive human not worthy of life.

Feeling numb to the world, I crawled from the bed and tucked my knees under me on the floor. I bowed my head and pressed it against the floor, going back into the position of submission that I had spent much of tonight in. I didn't cry, I didn't say anything. I just simply let myself fall into an abyss of black and cold.

I had officially given up.

It took a few minutes, but I finally heard the king calm down and take in a deep breath. I was confused by the fact that he hadn't punished me for my stupidity (Touching a king--pah! Are you kidding me, twenty?) but I let it drift from my mind. I was done being confused. I was done wondering what I did wrong. Everything I do is wrong.

The panicked voice of the king rang through the room. "Baby?" he yelled.

I simply breathed in deeply, at peace with my decision to give up. He could do whatever he wanted with me now. Whatever he wanted and I wouldn't flinch.

I could hear him smelling the room before his thunderous footsteps came marching towards my form.

"Oh, baby," he said in a sad tone as he looked down at me.

Pathetic, I know, I thought.

He bent down and gently picked me up. I stayed limp in his arms as he brought me over to the bed and tucked me into his lap. He pressed his nose into my hair.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered. "Truly. You have no idea how sorry I am. I promise it's not what you think."

I kept my head bowed and my lips together. I was so tired. Mentally, physically, to the bone tired.

"Please just kill me," I whispered.

His body instantly stiffened at my words informing me that he didn't like what I was saying. Begging for him to end my life may have been low and cowardly but, at that moment, I didn't care.

"What did you just say?" he growled.
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