Throughout the night, I couldn't sleep. It was obvious I was worried about Gemma but why remained the question.
At this point she meant she meant nothing to me again.
Gaius' suggestion was painted on my mind like an art work as I pondered deeply on it.
"My look alike-" I mumbled still pondering as I stretched out myself on the bed with my back rested on the headboard.
The only person who could be correctly mistaken for me was Ocean. Well also Charles and Adrian to a great extent.
Although their resemblance theory was based on our closeness and the length of time we've known ourselves.
Maybe we could use any of them if it eventually came to that.. Gosh, this will be like fooling her. I didn't even know if it was going to work because Gemma was really one smart lady. She could decipher even in her unstable state that I wasn't the one.
I guess Ocean then is our best bet. I peered at Aris' face. She was sleeping so peacefully. I thought about how difficult the times will be for her worried and I felt really pained.
She's been through alot already and just when she should be enjoying herself as queen and ruling in peace, all these issues keep springing up.
Do challenges in life really expire? I breathed, kissing her forehead and she moaned in her sleep, turning slightly.
"Shhh....go back to sleep princess" I whispered, combing her hair gently with my hands to put her back to sleep.
When she must have dozed back, I quietly stood up from the bed, threw a black shirt on my body over the sweatpants I wore.
For fifteen minutes, my feet kept pacing in the living room with a glass of whisky in my hands. I needed to distract myself hence the drink.
Emptying the contents of the glass, I found myself later in my study buried in compiling the names of the new appointees and officers.
Although, we were halfway done but some positions were still vacant, they needed to be filled up and I wanted this cabinet reconstituted, hopefully the next week.
Scanning through the list, my eyes fell on Buros - The very outspoken man who obviously does not like me probably because he felt I deceived them. So keeping him on my cabinet will only frustrate my reign and I didn't want such drama.
As education minister throughoutmy fathers reign, what was he able to accomplish in Doxa's educational sector?
I further scrutinised his achievements carefully and discovered a big part of it was done only in Wayfort - his homeland.
Nah, that's not what I wanted. What I craved for was a leader for everyone and not just for a group of people.
I kept working, not realizing it was already the break of dawn. I yawned as a sign of tiredness after going through the last ministers records, stretching myself out on the chair.
My eyes felt heavy and I took it as my cue to catch a quick sleep before heading to the office much later.
Apparently, today was going to be quite busy for me and I was equally bracing myself up for the fire report from the forensics from Northshire.
Noises from within the castle drew my attention as I prepared to leave the study, so I walked out to be apprised of the happening.
"Good morning your majesty" a guard bowed, greeting me as I approached the source of the uproar.
"What's going on?" I inquired as a little smile appeared on his lips.
"Nothing much. Just a little argument amongst the servants"
"Oh.... I see. Okay " I shrugged lightly and walked away into the living room and then to the bedroom. Aris' was still sleeping curled up like a baby.
I pulled my shirt over and climbed into bed to join her. I pulled her up snugly to my chest while wrapping my hands around her.
She winced and moaned, but I pulled her into me again, kissing her hair as she opened her eyes.
"Hey" she spoke softly as I smiled. "Where were you. You weren't in bed" she gave me a concerned look.
"I'm sorry" I kissed her lips. "I couldn't sleep, so I went to work"
She brushed my face lightly with her hands while staring at my face. Her hands felt so warm on my skin. "You're worried" she stated the obvious. "Everything will be fine. You'll see" she whispered confidently and I nodded kissing the back of her palms.
"What do you think of Gaius' suggestion?" I asked her as her eyes widened with a-are-you-serious-look.
She breathed and sat up in the bed running her hands through her mussed hair. "You know I was too tired to utter any word last night. Gemma's parents would never permit you to look for a husband for her that isnt you and you know that"
I gaped at her unable to utter any word because she was somehow correct. They would never. To them, I was Gemma's medicine. What was Gaius even thinking in making such unworthy suggestion?
"We can't consider it. It's not an option. Let's think of more realistic ways"
"Charles" and I shot her a confused look.
"What about him?"
"Bring him to court....please"
"No" I shook my head. It was a terrible idea. She touched my shoulders as I sat up resting my back.
"Troy, you've punished him for so long. Please forgive him and reinstate him"
"Why? Have you forgiven him? Besides what role is he doing to play in Gemma's recovery?" I asked coldly and she smiled biting her lower lip, confusing me further.
"Never say never" she whispered. "And yes I've forgiven him but I want to see its genuine" I cocked my head to the side, studying her face and trying to understand her explanations.
What was the correlation between returning Charles to court and Gemma's recovery?
"And if you've not forgiven him, what happens?"
"He will still stay while I will work more on my forgiveness.... then"
"Please. Besides he could help Gemma. You never can tell"
Fuck. I breathed, my eyes closed as I rubbed my hands along my temples, calming myself.
Honestly I was still fucking mad at Charles but the queen has spoken and her wishes I promised to uphold.
"Fine" I muttered grumbling as she leaned forward to kiss me but before she could initiate her actions, I'd pulled her by her waist and gently tossed her on the bed, now hovering over her with alot of naughty things going through my mind.
I spent the next couple of hours napping after the morning exercise before rising up and preparing for the day.
Aris said she wanted to pay her parents a visit but I couldn't let her go alone so I promised to go together with her over the weekend because I also had lots of explanations to render to her parents.
Settling down in the conference room, the forensics experts were already seated, their faces brighter than when they first came.
Hopefully they had a positive news. They were a team of six persons who were now talking amongst themselves after acknowledging my presence.
Adrian was seated beside me on my left while Theon sat opposite him, beside Theon was Gauis and ofcourse beside Adrian was Steflos.
After a brief remark from Steflos, their team leader, Rignus spoke up, giving me a light bow.
"Your majesty, after a careful examination of the fire affected site, our conclusion is, the fire was caused by a substance called Arsenic"
"What?" Every one echoed at the same time with a shocked expression staring at him.
I knew it. I fucking knew it. Fires dont just start on their own without a trigger.
"H-How did it happen?" Steflos stammered.
"Uhm.... we think someone was deliberately trying to burn down the mine?"
I froze and stared at Rignus with a raised eyebrow. "What do you mean..... you think someone may have deliberately started the fire?"
"I'm sorry your majesty, but the thing is Arsenic is a metal that has no business with a gold mine. Whoever introduced Arsenic in the mine had an ulterior motive of burning down the place"
That was it. I turned at stared at Adrian, he half shrugged with so much worry written all over his face.
Darting my eyes across the faces of the others, they all had unreadable expressions. Someone was trying really hard to sabotage my reign.... Fuck!!
We listened to the remaining part of the reports for a while before the briefing ended. Once they were out of the conference room, I slammed my fist so hard on the table, letting all the suppressed anger out. Then l and began pacing uncontrollably.
My head felt like exploding, was this what being king felt like? I raked my hands through my hair so many times before halting my movement.
Taking in a deep breath, I leaned on the table again with my palms pressed onto it as everybody's eyes were fixed on me.
"We need to get to the bottom of this. Now we know, someone started it. We need to find the person or the group of persons before it's too late"
"But your majesty, I still feel, we shouldn't draw a conclusion yet" Steflos suggested and I shot him a burning glare that he immediately comported himself and apologised.
"Theon, issue an arrest of all the heads of department of the mine. Torture them till they spill the truth. Understood?"
"Yes, your majesty" he answered and went out when Steflos voice sprung up again.
"You can't arrest innocent citizens, your majesty. Remember you swore to protect them"
Steflos was deliberately provoking me with his constant and unsought suggestions. "Steflos" I growled loudly "This will be the last time, you try to teach me my job" I warned him sternly.
"I'm not teaching you your job, that's why I'm here, to guide you" he made an argument.
"Need I remind you that I've got Gaius for that" I literally meant for guidance and advice. "So tell me what's your job again?"
His shoulders immeditely slumped by his sides and he relaxed back on his chair, his actions attracting a light chuckle from Adrian and Gaius.
"You see that I really dont have any need for you. I could actually have you removed, resigned, retired....whichever but I chose to keep you because of my father. So please do your self a favour and quit teaching me how to rule my kingdom" I snarled at him fiercely burning with anger when Adrian placed a hand on my shoulders, calming me.
"Its okay man, let him be. He's just an old man trying to feel relevant" he teased and we all laughed including Steflos.
Dont get me wrong, Steflos was the royal advisor to my father but since he was no longer king and I am, he felt it would be wise to still engage Steflos' wealth of knowledge and experience in handling economic and royal issues.
"A little laugh to lighten the tension of the room" I muttered much calmer and gave further instructions to Adrian and Steflos before returning back to my office.
The rest of the day went by quickly and before I knew, it was quite late. I was exhausted and famished and going back to the chamber, all I wanted was to shower, have a nice dinner with my wife and afterwhich a nice together time into the night.
No worries, no challenges, no negative thoughts - nothing. Just my queen and I.
Walking into the living room and further into the bedroom, there was no sign of my queen anywhere.
Maybe she was in the bathroom. So I hurriedly stripped to join her but she wasn't there as I assumed, so I showered instead.
Pulling a grey shirt over the black trousers I wore, I ran my hand through my hair unevenly.
Then after I inquired about the queen and was told she was in the royal kitchen.
What the hell? Aris in the kitchen? That was unusual for a queen - the reason why we've got the servants and cooks. It was what they were employed to do so why would the queen be cooking or maybe she chose to supervise today.
I couldn't even recall ever been to the to the kitchen, so I scurried through, making my way to the royal kitchen which was attached to the Diamondsite.
Apparently, the king and queens chamber were practically attached to each other for ease of movement.
Passing through some guards, I could hear fuzzy noises as which made me chuckle because I understood they found my actions aberrant.
As I entered into the kitchen, without paying heed to the servants as they acknowledged my presence with a bow and shocking amusement plastered on their faces, I walked straight to my queen who got distracted and raised her head from the veggies she was cutting and looked at me with a small smile on her face.
"I come back home to the emptiness of my bed -" I commented once I stood close to her "Only to be told my queen decided to cook dinner today?" Then wrapped my hands around her waist from behind, my hands brushing the small exposed skin of her stomach, causing her to gasp.
I leaned towards her neck, lightly brushing her hair to the side with my right hand and kissed her neck up to the back of her ear then slowly down to her collar bone.
She moaned in light pleasure, closing her eyes as I tightened my grip on her, getting aroused but stopped halfway realizing the environment.
"Shhhh....... I missed you" I whispered into her ears, running my hands along the skin of her arms.
She gasped and swallowed hard in response to my teasers before muttering some inaudible words only to my hearing.
"I missed you too" then I spun her around to face me and without warning crashed my lips on hers with our bodies pressed against each other as our tongue fought for dominance.
Fuck the environment. I was on the verge of sending everyone out and taking her right here in the kitchen when she noticed my disposition, and stopped me.
Now, our foreheads were resting on each other with our nostrils touching, her hands were wrapped around my neck while my arms engulfed her waist, staring at each others lips and I knew for sure, I wanted to bury mine in hers again.
"Stop overthinking........You've got me for life, baby" she spoke in a soft voice that sent the right signals to all part of my body as I smirked at her, licking my lips.
"Fine. But I can still take you right here" I whispered as she traced a finger down my jawline.
"With all your subjects watching?" She teased me with a raised brow and I gave a half shrug.
"I don't care princess. My body craves for you. Now"
"One step at a time darling" she chuckled as I kissed her briefly, respecting her wishes and pulled away for her to continue making dinner avoiding being the topic for gossip within the court.
Settling down on a stool by the kitchen island, I leaned forward with my hands clasped together on the table, lost in admiration of my queen.
"So tell me, why did you choose to make dinner yourself tonight"
"Just wanted to feel like a wife, besides there's nothing wrong in cooking for my darling husband. Is there?" she turned around and winked at me as I bit and licked my lips with a possessive expression.
"You're beautiful princess"
"Your majesty......" she stressed the title "Please can you try controlling your emotions around here" she smiled whispering the later part as she leaned towards me on the table and I rolled my eyes at her.
It became obvious that my constant display of affection was making her shy and uncomfortable especially with the maids around, so I decided to change the topic and moreso be on my best behaviour.
Although every maid or guard was bounded by an oath of confidentiality when they were first employed, so I literally had no fear whatsoever.
Besides there was also a great penalty awaiting defaulters.
"So how was your day?" I asked her switching topics as she focused back on her cooking.
"Fine. Spent the day with Echo trying to reorganize the queen's chamber"
"Why? Are you thinking of moving in there?"
"No darling, but it's still mine. I wanted the place rearranged to suit my taste"
"I see and -"
"Besides I could receive visitors there" she added and I dropped the issue. There was no way I was letting her leave my bed to go stay at Ambersite alone. She belonged to me and by me always.
Moments later, dinner was ready, she thought of us eating at the dinning but I preferred we ate in the kitchen.
Breaking protocols and more protocols. I definitely knew Steflos will go wild if he got to know about this but fuck Steflos. I am the king and I've got every right to do whatever I want and when I want irrespective of rules, laws or codes of conduct.
Buffalo chicken, macaroni and cheese with a bottle of red wine arranged neatly infront of me. They looked appetising and I began salivating unable to hold in my hunger.
"Hmmmmmm" I moaned loudly with each spoonful that grazed my tongue. I don't think I'd really had a taste of Aris' cooking before but this here, was tasty, mouthwatering and heavenly.
My queen was perfect, she was a full package. She was everything and more making me one hell of a lucky man to have her. Alas, my heart had not betrayed me when it chose her.
Moments after dinner, we were snuggled up in bed, having spent the last couple of minutes appreciating her with my of words of affirmation and also some hot romance.
I tugged her towards me so my hands could travel down her body whenever. She squirmed and winced when they stopped on her stomach but I drew her closer again.
"Why did you stop there?" She looked up at me with a quizzical gaze.
"Nothing.....just love the feel of my hands against your stomach"
She scowled at me "That's not true Troy.....tell me"
"Its nothing" I smiled and flinched but she was obviously not buying it as she shoved my hands and pulled away from me.
"Hey.....don't do that" I begged her sulking, she sat up with her back against the headboard. Her face wore a serious appearance and I couldnt help but join her in that same position, none of us uttering a word.
After five minutes of silence, she whispered "How was your day?" For a minute, I thought she was going to keep pressing on my former actions but she didnt and I sighed relieved before responding to the later.
"Fruitful. The forensic team said someone had started the fire?"
"What?" she turned to me with her eyes widened and I nodded affirmatively.
"Apparently, Arsenic was found as the substance used"
"W-who would do that?" She questioned.
"No idea" I shrugged casually as she closed her eyes briefly in thoughts, exhaling deeply and processing the information.
Then I held her hands in mine trying to ease the weight of the words "Hey....its okay...Everything is going to be fine.. The culprit will be caught, I promise you" and pulled her into a hug, kissing her hair.
She leaned into my chest and I hauled her up that she was sitting in between my legs while I encased her with my hands.
We stayed that way in silence for a while, just the sounds of our breaths and beating heart could be heard. And then I took it as my cue to pop one of the questions that had been on my mind for sometime now.
"Mmhmm" she hummed.
"When do you think we can give Doxa kingdom a heir?"