Nowhere to Hide

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4 - love is hopeless

Phaedra had been staring at the grey-white cement wall for what felt like an hour as her hands rhythmically stirred a pink powdery substance in a small bowl. Watching Xander slice Irene’s throat open played repetitively in her mind like a broken memory.

She tried to bite back her tears as they fell into the small bowl that she held in her hands. She rocked back and forth in her bed, randomly tugging at her curls as she tried to block the trauma from her mind.

She had never felt more alone than in that moment. She desperately missed Fiona.

Cringing in distress, she let out a desperate cry that she stifled with a hand to her mouth. The last thing she wanted was for someone to come and check up on her.

She just wanted to be alone.

She quickly patted down the pink powder and hid it in a small cupboard beneath her bed. 12 years later and she still remembered her mother’s recipe. She only hoped it worked the same.

Falling over in her bed, she pulled her knees to her chest. Her whimpers were the last thing she heard as she cried herself to sleep.

~

Phaedra barely got a wink of sleep before she was woken bright and early.

“RISE AND SHINE, MY LADY! TODAY IS YOUR WEDDING DAY!” Several women barged into her room with several items of clothing, makeup, perfumes, and jewelry.

Covering her head with a pillow, she groaned in frustration. “Please... just leave me alone...” Phaedra muttered.

“I’m afraid no can do, my lady. You have quite the day ahead of you and the Lords of Argon have ordered us to make sure their bride is prepared for the ceremony,” Tindry said strolling towards the bed.

Phaedra felt the bedsheets get ripped off of her body before she stared up into Tindry’s unforgiving gaze.

“You’re already late,” Tindry advised.

“You just woke me up,” Phaedra grumbled.

“I gave you an extra half hour of sleep considering your unfortunate circumstances last night. You are now a half-hour late,” Tindry informed her.

Phaedra let out a deep breath as she rolled her eyes. Tindry snapped her fingers and several women gathered around Phaedra, helping her sit up on the bed. She glanced out the window and saw that outside was just as busy as it was in her chambers.

“The heck is wrong with everyone?” Phaedra muttered as she sat down in a chair in front of a large mirror.

“It’s not every day the Lords of Argon take a wife,” a woman chirped as she took her side.

“Let alone the same wife...” another woman muttered.

Phaedra furrowed her brows as a beautiful young woman with long curly blonde hair stood in front of her. “My name is Ria,” she smiled brightly. “I will be your bridal maidservant for the duration of your big day.”

Phaedra swatted with her hand as another random woman grabbed at her hair. “Watch it!”

“Sorry...” the woman muttered.

Phaedra looked up at Ria as she continued to speak an octave higher than Phaedra’s fatigued self was awake for.

“My job as your maidservant is to make sure that you look presentable for the ritual. That you are fed and taken care of and that you are prepared for your wedding night,” Ria continued.

“Wait, what?” Phaedra said trying to dodge the combs flying at her hair. “What ritual?”

Tindry rolled her eyes.

“The ritual for which Lord Malachi and Lord Xander claim you as their mate, silly! Oh! That reminds me. We must also do a thorough examination to make sure your hymen is broken. Though if you ride horses, you should be relatively fine,” Ria said tapping her chin.

“I’M SORRY, WHAT?!” Phaedra blurted.

“Don’t worry, my lady. The examination is rather quick,” Ria smiled sweetly. “Can we get some balming for Lady Phaedra’s wings? They look damaged.” Ria clapped her hands and another woman kneeled behind Phaedra. She held a thick balm with a strong minty fragrance that she started to rub onto Phaedra’s wings.

“OW! CAREFUL!” Phaedra snapped.

“There will be 3 wardrobe changes for the day,” Ria continued as she looked at her list. “Your garment for the ritual, your gown for the celebratory feast, and your garb for your wedding night.”

“3?! Wha-” Phaedra started.

“Where is Lady Phaedra’s breakfast? And we need to get her measured for her fitting immediately!” Ria said clapping her hands.

“I’ll be outside preparing for the ritual,” Tindry said leaving the room. “Do let me know if you need me.”

Tindry walked out of Phaedra’s chambers just as two more women walked in, one carrying a platter layered with fruits, cheeses, and bread, and another carrying a jug of milk.

“After you’re done being fitted,” Ria continued. “You must soak in a bath for 30 minutes before we move on to finishing your hair, trying on your wardrobe, and-... do your wings always get in the way like that?”

Phaedra looked at Ria like she was crazy. “They’re not in the way, they’re a part of me!”

“Hmm...” Ria pouted with disappointment. “I cannot imagine not being a shapeshifter where I can morph parts of my body... We may need to find a way to bind them so they don’t get in the way for tonight.”

“You’re not binding anything-” Phaedra started.

“My lady, please try to be less...combative and view this day as a joyous and momentous one,” Ria smiled.

Phaedra’s eyes widened in shock.

“May I remind you that I am not here of my own free will! The monsters that I am being forced to marry massacred my entire kingdom and killed my father in front of me! This is not a joyous day for me, IT’S A NIGHTMARE!” Phaedra growled angrily.

Ria blinked at Phaedra, rather startled by her outburst.

She turned to one of the maidservants. “Return the milk and bring some wine for the Lady Phaedra,” she ordered.

Phaedra sucked her teeth as she averted her gaze from Ria who leaned against the dresser in front of her.

“I am very sorry for your misfortune, my lady...”

Phaedra looked up at Ria and saw the sincerity in her bright eyes. “I can only imagine you must be feeling angry, hurt, and confused.”

Ria gently grabbed Phaedra’s hand. “But your treacherous father is the reason my son is fatherless and I am a widow. I wish I could have seen his bloody head go flying myself... your so-called oppressors are my saviors. Thus, my remorse is limited.”

Phaedra looked at her speechless as Ria put on a smile. “Do you prefer earrings that dangle or studs?” Ria asked.

~

Phaedra stared at herself in the mirror as several women tended to her. She had tried to drown out all of their chatterings, only to get a bit of relief for her 30-minute bath. But when she returned, she was subjected to the gossip once more.

“If only you knew how lucky you are,” one of the girls said as she painted Phaedra’s fingernails. “The Lords of Argon are the most sought after in all the land.”

“So I’ve heard...” Phaedra sighed with frustration.

“They weren’t going to marry anyone, you know?” another girl spoke up from the floor as she painted Phaedrea’s toenails. “They were notorious for sleeping with many women. I never got the chance,” she pouted.

“Nor I,” the other girl sighed.

“Do you want them?” Phaedra asked. “Cause, sweetie, you can have them.”

The girls chuckled as if Phaedra had told a funny joke. She merely rolled her eyes with irritation.

“You’re so funny, Lady Phaedra,” the girl painting her toenails said. “Lord Xander loves girls who can make him laugh.”

“So I have to irritate him. Got it,” Phaedra said sarcastically.

“You have to understand the gravity of your situation,” Ria said standing in front of her again. “The Lords of Argon intend to reclaim this world for us shapeshifters. For those of us who endured generations of oppression from the faerie and elven folk alike. It was never their intent to have a mate let alone a queen, yet they’ve chosen you. Both of them. Clearly, there’s something they saw in you for they have never made such an impulsive commitment before. You must truly be special.”

Phaedra didn’t know how to respond. These people practically worshipped the men that she hated. She understood why. They viewed them as their salvation.

But for Phaedra, they were her captors. Unforgiving, violent monsters who were forcing her to marry them against her will. No matter how much they pampered her, Phaedra wanted nothing more than to escape from this prison.

She thought about Archibald and how she saw him working in the field.

“I need a moment to myself,” she said quickly. “Just... to clear my mind.”

Ria looked at her curiously and nodded. “We will be here upon your return, my lady...But please be quick. You cannot afford to be late for your own ceremony.”

Phaedra stood to her feet and glanced at the women before she quickly walked out of her room.

~

With her dress bunched in her hands, Phaedra ran down the long-winding stairs, trying to be as light on her feet as possible. Her eyes darted as she beelined for the exit when someone stopped her.

“Lady Phaedra,” a tall, husky and rather hairy man asked her from beneath his helmet. “Where are you going?”

“I... I just wanted to go on a quick tour. You know... see what everything looks like,” she said anxiously. She tried to smile, though apprehension danced in her eyes. “If you don’t mind? I don’t have much time,” she insisted.

He looked her up and down before he slowly moved out of her way. She gave him a quick curtsy before she cautiously walked out of the castle.

Phaedra stepped into the crisp air of fall, breathing in the outside air for the first time since her kidnapping. She slowed her steps as she walked down the path and noted several pairs of eyes on her.

No one seemed to be looking upon her with friendly eyes. They seemed just as suspicious and wary of her as she was of them.

Phaedra made brief, quick nods as she walked across the grass where she saw several people working in the field. Standing on her toes, she tried to spot Archibald when someone quickly grabbed her arm.

“Can I help you?” one of the farmers asked her with an irritated gaze.

“No, thank you. I’m finding my way just fine,” she said snatching her arm out of his grasp. She grabbed the hem of her dress again and moved through the tall grass.

“Archibald... Archibald,” she whispered loudly. Several farmers turned to look at her as she passed. But none of them was her dear friend.

Growing impatient, Phaedra lifted her hand and watched a small blue light surround her fingertips. A gentle whisper fell from her lips before the tall grass to her right parted. She immediately spotted her red-haired friend.

“Archibald!” she gasped. Taking her dress into her hands again, she ran between the grass to get to him.

Archibald wiped the sweat from his brow and pushed a shovel into the soil when he heard the faint noise of someone calling his name. Taking a minute to catch his breath, he turned around and his eyes widened. He caught Phaedra in his arms just as she jumped on top of him.

“ARCHIBALD!” she squealed.

“LADY PHAEDRA?!” Archibald gasped in shock.

“I can’t believe it’s you!” Phaedra said excitedly as she hugged him tightly. “I mean I thought it was you! I saw you from afar, but I wasn’t sure! And now you’re here! You’re alive!”

“As are you, my lady! By the gods, I have never been happier to see your face,” Archibald said hugging her back. He quickly pulled back from her and looked at her seriously. “Are you injured? Did they harm you?”

Phaedra smiled sadly. “...just my heart...”

Archibald frowned. “I am so sorry, my lady... about your father...”

A tear slipped down Phaedra’s cheek before she quickly wiped it away. “What happened? How did you survive?”

“I guess they thought me useful,” Archibald said grimly. “They spared a few of us as long we agreed to serve them. I would have gladly fallen on my sword than serve under these wretched beasts, but there were rumors among the survivors that a few of the faerie princesses and the queen were taken alive. I held out for hope. Where are the others?”

Phaedra shook her head as she choked back a sob. “...I’m...I’m the only surviving of my family...”

Archibald’s bushy red brows furrowed with sorrow. “...I... my lady...”

Phaedra swallowed hard before she looked at him with more determination in her eyes. “Archibald...we have to get out of here,” she whispered.

“But, my lady, it’s too dang-” he started.

Phaedra quickly covered his mouth as she looked at their surroundings. She pushed him back further into the grass. “I’m planning my escape,” she whispered as she looked into his eyes. “Tonight.”

“Tonight?” he whispered back. “I heard there was a celebration happening tonight.”

Phaedra’s jaw tensed. “...there is... today is supposed to be my... wedding day...”

Archibald’s eyes widened. “One of them intends to marry you?!”

“Both, Archibald! Both of them!” she panicked before she quieted herself. She swallowed hard as she tried to calm her breathing.

Archibald looked at her with desperation and remorse. “Then we must get you out of here. Immediately.”

“Both of us,” she said searching his eyes. “We’re both getting out of here.”

She glanced over her shoulder when she heard her name being called. She looked back at Archibald and took a deep breath. “Have you seen any openings? Exits?”

Archibald twisted his mouth as he tried to think. “Not yet... I’ll do some exploring as I work-”

“That’s fine,” she said quickly. “Anything will do. We’ll make it work.” She looked over her shoulder again before staring back at him. “Meet me here two hours after dusk. We’ll leave together.”

Archibald slowly nodded his head. “I’ll be here...stay strong, my lady...”

Phaedra smiled at him gratefully before she bunched her dress in her hands again and ran back through the tall grass again.

As she headed through the towering blades, she saw a small squirrel leaping from blade to blade. She looked at it curiously and saw it’s mouth moving frantically as small squeaks came out.

“What...” she said confused.

The squirrel leaped from blade to blade again as Phaedra followed it. She finally arrived at a huge hole beneath the gate.

Phaedra’s eyes widened as she fell to her knees. She pawed at the soil and stuck her head in. She could see just underneath the gate. Hearing her name being called again, she quickly pulled back out and looked at the squirrel rubbing up against her leg.

“Thank you...” she breathed out as she petted its tiny head.

***

Phaedra stared at herself in the mirror, her eyes wandering over the delicate white lacey material that draped beautifully over her lush body. She had never worn such a revealing dress before as her large breasts were pushed up, exposing part of her cleavage.

The women had spent another hour working on her appearance and...

...she barely recognized herself.

Phaedra had never felt more beautiful... and more terrified in her life.

She had always imagined her actual wedding day would be filled with joy, love, and excitement.

Not dread, fear, and anxiety.

She imagined her father to be the one giving her away to the man of her dreams.

Not forcibly betrothed to the men who killed him.

“You look beautiful, my lady...” Ria smiled as she fixed Phaedra’s veil. “The Lords of Argon won’t be able to keep their hands off of you when they see you like this...”

Those threatening words struck fear in Phaedra’s heart. She still couldn’t believe this was happening. She couldn’t believe what her life had become.

“Is she ready?” came Tindry’s voice from the door.

Phaedra glanced to the side and even Tindry looked beautifully-dressed despite the impatient scowl that distorted her face.

“Just about,” Ria beamed. “Come, my lady! They’re starting!”

Phaedra reluctantly followed Ria and Tindry out of her room while several women trailed after her. The moment she got outside, the atmosphere felt transformed. Excitement electrified the air as she heard music playing in the distance.

Ria slowed her pace until she fell in step with Phaedra.

“The Shapeshifter Binding Ritual has been passed down within our kind from generation to generation,” Ria whispered as they followed Tindry. Phaedra could see a large body of water in the distance that grew bigger the closer they got.

“When a Shapeshifter finds his or her mate, they form an exchange of life essence. They mutilate a part of their body as a symbol of sacrifice for their mate. Then, the Shapeshifter marks their mate for all the world to see who they belong to. Any creature who violates the mark of a shapeshifter is subject to death without reprieve,” Ria continued.

Phaedra’s breathing got heavier as they got closer to the water. Her heart beat fast in her chest as she passed several shapeshifters standing to the side, watching her walk down the long-winding path.

As the sun slowly started to set, she spotted the massive bodies of Malachi and Xander waist-deep in the water as they spoke to an elderly man who waited in the water with them.

Her wings ached as they folded neatly beneath the cloak that draped around her. The moment her feet touched the sand, Malachi and Xander looked in her direction. Her breathing picked up as she felt herself starting to panic.

“Be still, my lady...” Ria whispered as she gently touched Phaedra’s arm. “For today is a good day. Today, you become one with your mates.”

Phaedra wished that Ria would realize every word that seeped from her lips was pure horror for her.

“When a shapeshifter claims his mate... the bond between you will become that much stronger. You may not love them now... but you will...” Ria said kindly.

“I’d rather kill myself...” Phaedra muttered.

Ria smiled kindly. “They won’t let you...”

Ria nudged Phaedra forward as she stumbled into the water. She froze for a second, not wanting to take another step forward.

“Come forward, Lady Phaedra,” the elderly man said loudly.

Phaedra let out a short breath before she started to wade into the water. She could feel the weight of her dress and cloak grow heavy from the water that soaked them as she reluctantly headed towards the bane of her existence. The setting sun bounced off of the golden skin of the shirtless shapeshifters waiting for her.

When she finally reached them, Phaedra averted her gaze as she stared into the rippling water that had consumed her. She didn’t dare look up at either Xander or Malachi who loomed over her like foreboding shadows.

She could hear the elderly man speaking, but tuned him out as she went back to thinking of her escape plan. She thought about when she’d have a moment to sneak away, find Archibald, and make her way through that hole in the gate. They’d have to rely on their own feet. Perhaps Archibald knew of a nearby village they could hide until they figured out what to do next.

Phaedra was so deep in thought she didn’t hear when the elderly man directed Malachi and Xander. She jumped startled when she saw them both take out mid-sized daggers and violently slice their forearms with the blade without flinching.

Phaedra covered her mouth in shock as she watched their blood drip and mix with the water as it stained her white dress.

“The sacrifice of the shapeshifter,” the elderly man spoke. “The mark of your mate.”

Phaedra looked at the elderly man with confusion before Malachi roughly grabbed her by the waist and pulled her body flushed against his.

She looked up into light grey eyes that stared down at her so tenderly she almost questioned herself. He was so close that his soaked dark blonde hair curtaining his face brushed against hers.

He leaned in as if to kiss her. But instead, he wrapped his hands around her thick thighs and easily lifted her onto his waist. Phaedra stared at him wide-eyed as he pushed his face into her large bosom, nudging the cloth covering her breasts to the side. She let out a startled squeal when she felt his teeth puncture her skin as he bit into the side of her breast.

He loosened his grip on her as she slid back down into the water to stand on her own two feet. Phaedra went to rub her sore chest that was bleeding through her dress when Malachi grabbed her hand to stop her.

“You’re mine now,” he said searching her eyes. “Every part of you... belongs to me...”

Phaedra’s lips parted with panic as she frantically ripped her wrist out of his grasp. “I-... I belong to myself,” she said anxiously.

She heard a deep chuckle behind her before Xander wrapped his hand around her throat and pulled her back against his chest. She grabbed at his hand on her throat, but it felt cemented to her neck.

“You can be as stubborn as you want, little bird,” Xander whispered in her ear. She cried out in pain as she felt his teeth sink into the back of her shoulder. “You’re still ours...” he said licking at her skin.

Phaedra slapped her hand against her bleeding shoulder as she tried to stumble away from him. But she only bumped into Malachi in front of her as he firmly grabbed her face between his fingers, squeezing her cheeks in his grasp.

“Our Phae...” Malachi said softly before he pushed his lips against hers. His tongue was demanding as he pushed his way between her lips to claim her tongue for himself. His mouth moved furiously against hers as she struggled to breathe.

Phaedra only had a moment to catch her breath once Malachi released her lips only to have her breath stolen again by Xander. He held her head between his hands as he bit down hard on her bottom lip, drawing even more blood.

She stumbled back into the water, shivering from both her fearful anxiety and the cold air against her damp skin. She cringed as she felt Xander wrap his arms around her waist and pull her back against his chest while Malachi took her hand in his and slipped a large diamond ring laced with gold and silver unto her finger.

Phaedra looked down at the massive stone in awe.

“This is custom for your kind, isn’t it?” Malachi said looking into her eyes.

“See? We can be....thoughtful,” Xander grinned as he sucked her earlobe between his lips.

Phaedra was rendered speechless as the elderly man spoke again.

“This union sparks the beginning of a new age for the shapeshifter kingdom and the end of the reign of the tyrannical faerie folk. May the gods bless the womb of Lady Phaedra that she may bear our lords many children,” he nodded.

Phaedra looked at the man like he was crazy before the crowd around them erupted into cheers of joy and celebration.

She barely had a second to wrap her mind around what was happening before Malachi crouched down to pick her up in his arms and carry her out of the water.

She could hear Xander cheering loudly as he let out an animalistic roar that was met with a thunderous roar of praise.

Phaedra trembled in Malachi’s embrace as he carried her towards a wide, grassy area littered with a variety of beautiful flowers. He gently placed her down on her feet and several lightning bugs lit up the beautiful garden.

Phaedra’s mouth dropped in awe at the beautiful sight before her.

“Mal told me you loved gardens...” Xander said walking up to her. She glanced back at Xander to see a wide grin on his face. “A wedding gift... for our wife...”

Phaedra felt a mix of emotions run through her. Should she be happy? Grateful? But she was still appalled. She had never felt so confused.

“And let us not forget...” Malachi said motioning to one of his men.

Phaedra watched as one of the shapeshifters walked up to Malachi and handed him a small box draped with a cloth. Her eyes widened in shock when he removed the fabric.

“FI!” she blurted.

Malachi opened the small cage and Fiona fluttered out, immediately slapping against Phaedra’s face.

“Fi! My dear, Fiona! I missed you so much! Are you alright?!” Phaedra cried as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I am now,” Fiona squeaked.

Xander grinned as he watched Phaedra get reacquainted with her sprite. He glanced at Malachi who stood with his arms folded across his chest and a serious look in his gaze.

“Smile, Mal. Our mate is content,” Xander said playfully nudging him in the shoulder.

“...for now...” Malachi grumbled.

Xander chuckled as he set his eyes on Phaedra. “She looks fucking delicious, doesn’t she...”

“I fear I might break her... why did she have to be a bloody virgin,” Malachi growled.

“I thought that’s what you wanted,” Xander said with a raised brow.

“What I want is to dive face-first into her cunt until I’ve had my fill...” Malachi grumbled. “... my hunger for her has increased twenty-fold. These celebrations irritate me.”

Xander chuckled with a grin. “Let us first fill our wife’s belly before we fill up her cunt...”

Phaedra’s eyes followed Xander and Malachi as they headed towards a large bonfire stacked with wood. Large baskets and trays of food were carried out by several people and laid on large blankets on the ground.

Ria walked up to her with a hopeful smile, carrying a white dry garment in her hands. “I see you’ve been reunited,” she said peeling Phaedra’s damp cape from her shoulders. “Your mates must truly care about you to get such a wonderful gift for their wife.”

Phaedra twisted her mouth as she slid on the delicate white garment. “...I can hardly call them returning my sprite with me a ‘gift’ when they stole her from me in the first place...”

Ria smiled politely as she dried Phaedra off and put a balm over the bite marks that Malachi and Xander had left on her skin. “Lord Xander and Lord Malachi ordered several people of this kingdom to work on this garden for 36 hours until it was perfect for you. They wanted to make sure you enjoyed their wedding gift.”

Phaedra sighed as she settled into her new outfit. “...I hope they’re not expecting a gift back.”

Ria chuckled. “My lady, your gift for them is between your thighs. Do make sure they get their fill.”

Phaedra looked at her appalled.

“You must be starving!” Ria beamed. “Come! Let us eat! You’ll need the energy for tonight.”

Phaedra felt her stomach tighten as Ria grabbed her hand and led her towards the festivities.

She could barely get through the night. Everyone seemed so happy while she was utterly miserable. The bite marks that Malachi and Xander had left on her skin throbbed as she absentmindedly rubbed at them to soothe the dull pain.

She sat on the ground, a few feet from the blazing fire, watching several people dance, laugh, and sing. One would have thought they had just won a historical war. Several people walked up to her, placing gifts at her feet. She had no idea how to react so she merely nodded.

It was such a strange thing for Phaedra to see a smile on Malachi’s face as he watched several children dance in front of him as they presented him with their own gifts. Even if it was subtle, he looked less intimidating when he did.

“Give your mother my gratitude,” Malachi said ruffling the hair of one of the children.

Phaedra wondered how a man who had torn the face off of her sister could be so gentle with... children. It was as if he were a completely different person among his own kind.

But the moment he set his eyes back on her, that slightly warm feeling she felt immediately disappeared. There was a ravenous hunger in his gaze that left her deeply unsettled. She pulled her knees to her chest and rubbed her arms as she averted her gaze.

Xander’s laughter was the loudest as usual. He seemed to be having the most fun out of anyone. Phaedra soon learned that these shapeshifters loved to party and Xander had a tendency to hold the spotlight. He attracted people like bees to honey. Everyone seemed to love this man she hated with every ounce of her being.

Phaedra poked at her food as she tried to drown out the noise. Drown out the music, the laughter, the singing. It made her sick. It made her think of her own family, her father before he was brutally murdered by the men who made her their wife.

“Don’t cry, Phae...” she heard her Fiona squeak as she settled herself onto Phaedra’s shoulder.“We’ll get through this. Just stay strong.”

Phaedra swallowed hard as she remembered Archibald’s words. “...stay strong...”

She made a promise to herself that she would leave that night.

Though she mainly kept to herself, Phaedra constantly found herself falling apart under the gaze of her new mates. She looked up when she heard Xander’s loud voice as he spoke to one of the cooks.

“This tastes fucking incredible!” Xander said licking the honey from his thumb. “But I’ll have to pass... I’m saving my appetite.”

Xander glanced at Phaedra as he slowly sucked his finger into his mouth. “I’ve got a craving I’m itching to satisfy...”

Phaedra breathed heavily as her gaze switched from a naughty Xander to Malachi who was beckoning Ria over. She watched curiously as Malachi whispered in her ear. He seemed rather impatient and frustrated.

“Of course, my lord,” Phaedra heard Ria say before she walked over to her. “Have you eaten enough, my lady?”

Phaedra looked at her confused. “What did he say to you?”

“Are you still hungry, my lady?” Ria asked again.

“No,” Phaedra said quickly. “What did Malachi-”

“Then, it is time to prepare you for your wedding night,” Ria smiled. “Come with me.”

“Wha-” Phaedra started before Ria grabbed her hand and yanked her to her feet.

***

Phaedra sat in the warm bath as the scent of lavender and honey infiltrated her nostrils. She watched as Ria placed a silk robe over a rack in the large bathroom built with limestone floors and granite walls.

“You asked what Lord Malachi said to me,” Ria said lighting a candle. “He wanted to throw you over his shoulder and take you inside to rut with you,” Ria chuckled. “I advised him that would be unwise...”

Phaedra sunk further into the water as she wrapped her arms around herself.

“They are trying their best to be... gentle with you,” Ria explained. “They are going against every instinct so as not to scare you away.”

“They could just let me go,” Phaedra said quickly.

“You will be sleeping in the master bedroom with both of them tonight,” she said ignoring Phaedra’s comment. “They want you waiting in bed when they arrive so your bath must be quick.”

Tears streamed down Phaedra’s cheeks as she listened to Ria give instructions for what would be the worst night of her life.

“Lord Xander likes to use ropes,” Ria continued as she lit mor candles. “Lord Malachi has a tendency to bite. They are both very demanding. Either attempt to take control in the beginning or accept submission for the rest of the night.”

Phaedra moved towards the other side of the tub and looked up at Ria with hopeless and desperate eyes. “Please, Ria. From one woman to another. You have to help me. I can’t- I can’t go through with this. I can’t stay here.”

Ria turned to face Phaedra whose face was wet with tears. She put on a friendly smile. “With all due respect, my lady. My allegiance is to Lord Xander and Lord Malachi. Not to you. So ‘from one woman to another’... just do as your told and everything will be alright.”

Ria headed toward the door and glanced back at Phaedra. “Who knows... you might even enjoy it.”

~

Phaedra had tried several times that night to make her escape, but no matter where she turned there were several pairs of eyes watching her. She was incredibly upset that Tindry had locked Fiona back into a small cage that she kept in her room. Phaedra desperately wanted to spend more time with her, but instead, she was forced to a different chamber for the evening.

The master bedroom where she would be staying for the night must have been twice the size of her own room. It was circular shaped and decorated with several windows draped with silk. Numerous candles decorated the room as the scent of frankincense lingered in the air.

She held the champagne-colored thin bedsheets to her nearly naked body as she hid against the furthest edge of the bed.

Phaedra breathed heavily as she gently touched her wings still laid flatly against her back. She couldn’t remember the last time she was able to fly.

She thought back to Archibald once more. She was already a half-hour late than when she said she would meet with him. Malachi and Xander had yet to arrive. Maybe she could still make an attempt.

She went to crawl out of bed when the door to the room opened. All the air left her lungs when she saw Malachi and Xander step inside.

“Going somewhere, little bird?” Xander asked with a taunting grin.

Phaedra’s bottom lip trembled as she clutched the bedsheet tighter to her chest.

Malachi raised an irritated brow as he started to unbuckle his pants. “Drop the sheet,” he demanded.

Phaedra merely looked at him and swallowed hard as she moved further back until her back was against the wall.

Malachi’s brows narrowed. “Drop the sheet... or I’ll rip it from you.”

“Perhaps we should just tie her up if she doesn’t want to listen,” Xander mused.

Phaedra looked at him startled and instinctively dropped the sheet, exposing her large drooping breasts barely covered by a thin white lace.

“See? She listens,” Xander snickered as his eyes roamed over her body. “Look at her... ready for the taking...” He kicked off his pants and Phaedra’s eyes widened at how much more massive he was when fully erect.

Malachi licked his bottom lip as he crawled onto the bed.

Phaedra cringed as she tried to pull back from him. But Malachi roughly grabbed her by her neck pulling her forward. He could feel her trembling against him as he ran his hand down her chest. He groaned with hunger as he massaged her soft supple mounds within his palm.

She felt his hand roughly push her large thighs apart and her breathing became more haggard as his fingers trailed up her inner thigh.

“P-please...” she whimpered as she felt his fingers move the thin fabric blocking him from what he craved.

She let out a startled gasp as Malachi roughly palmed her core, his fingers moving between her lips to feel her wetness.

“You’ll be doing a lot of begging tonight...” Malachi said as he thrust two thick fingers inside her tight canal and swallowed her squeal with an invasive kiss.

***

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