✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 131 - 140 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Hop on - Part 2

Calhoun noticed how Madeline looked as if she were ready to fight with her hands clenched into fists, he asked her, 

"Why did you step away?" he asked, taking two steps forward towards her and before she could take another step, he had already caught up to her, "You really make me enjoy the chase, and some part tells me you love it," his lips twisted and Madeline stared back at him.

"You are wrong," her reply was quick, and he did nothing but smile further. 

"Are you sure about it? I have told you many times already that I love the chase and you only give me more reasons to chase and hunt you down."

"I am not a prey to hunt."

Calhoun chuckled, "You are mine to hunt. It is better you stay close to me than trying to keep away a distance because you should know it brings about an opposite effect on me contrary as to what you think it will do. Your skin looks red," he said, his eyes moving away from her brown eyes that looked guarded to trail down from her cheek to the jaw and the column of her neck before it went further to look at the top of her dress before moving back up to look into her eyes. 

Madeline's skin only turned redder as blood rushed up, with his eyes that had trailed on her skin, "You are my prey to hunt. Just mine," his words came out to be absolute. 

The King was overbearing and compared to how things were, when they first met properly to have lunch with her family, she felt like it had only gotten worse. She was not his!

"Say it out loud what you have on your mind," Calhoun probed for a reply, noticing how Madeline was resisting from blurting anything more. He wanted her to fall and make mistakes, mistakes just for him. 

"So that it makes things worse?" she asked him.

The sinister smile appeared on his lips, amusement in his eyes, "When did that happen?" he asked, "I give you the freedom to speak."

"Only in your favour," she replied to him. Anything that didn't go well with him he liked to turn it as if she was the one at fault. 

Calhoun shook his head, "I don't even remember when that happened. Maybe you can choose your words more carefully," she doubted that would help, "How did you sleep last night?" asked Calhoun, eagerness laced in his voice. 

"I had nightmares about monsters," answered Madeline, her eyes hardened knowing what he was hinting.

The smile never lowered down from Calhoun's face, and he took in her expression of resistance, "You must have been scared. Want to stay in my room so that I can drive them away?" he asked her, his voice low that had the ability to seduce anyone, especially with the way he looked.

This is what she was talking about, said Madeline to herself. 

"I think it will only make it worse," the words left Madeline's lips where she was gritting her teeth.

"How do you know that, when we haven't tried sleeping on the same bed?"

Madeline could tell that Calhoun was more than amused by her replies, and she was only entertaining him by continuing to answer him. Because if she didn't, it would only make him question her more, trying to make her talk. 

Ignoring his previous question, she bowed her head, "Milord, I have a request to make from you." 

"If it only sits well with me," came the condition and Madeline knew her request had been thrown out of the window before she could even propose it, "What is it?" he asked with a curious look in his eyes. 

Madeline raised her head to say, "Please take your meals regularly."

Calhoun tilted his head, "And?" he knew there was more, knowing exactly what she was going to say, "Let me save your breath, sweet girl. You are the dessert I will have, and I won't take a no for it. Do not worry; we will give some break before the blood replenishes back into your body." 

"Why?" asked Madeline, a frown came to settle on her forehead. 

"Because I get hungry? What a silly question you have asked," laughed Calhoun, starting to make his way out of the courtroom and Madeline quickly followed, on his heel. 

"I am sure there are many other people out there, who are willing to offer you their blood to take," she tried to plead with him. She didn't want to repeat what happened yesterday. The maid's neck was in line, which was why she had stepped in—not wanting to think that a maid's life was lost and the blood was on her hands. 

"Their blood doesn't taste as good as yours," the King's answers were simple. Madeline didn't know how to persuade him to go suck someone else, "Why are you against it? You said yourself many are willing to offer me their blood. Doesn't it mean it is a privilege to be of some use for the King?" 

"I can help you-" 

Calhoun stopped walking, turning to her and his eyes turned dark, "Help me in other things?" he asked. His feet moved forward and Madeline tried to create some space, "What will you do? I have a cook who cooks, servants who clean the castle, coachmen to ride the carriage and ministers who advise in the court. But all they do is bring problems, and the suggestions they give are usually useless. What can you offer me, Madeline?" he emphasized on 'you' that felt intimidating. 

He had pulled out all the things she could be of any use, but then she said, "I can be your friend…"

Calhoun stared hard at her. His eyes narrowed down that made Madeline feel small, "Be my lover and my wife."

Madeline refused it right away in her mind!

"I have better options if you feel the position of a lover is difficult. You can help me bathe." The corner of one side of his lips pulled up, to see how Madeline turned mortified at the idea, and it made him wonder if she imagined herself bathing him. 

"You have maids to do that," answered Madeline, and she didn't even know why she was arguing with him. She was stupid, a stupid village girl who was no match to the King's trickery. 

"I can have them to do something else," Calhoun suggested as if it was no big deal. Madeline turned her head away to hear him say, "I will not drink your blood once in a week. We will do it once every month. What is it going to be?"

There were two sides to the weights, one where it involved him not sucking her blood or skin, and on the other hand, she would need to bathe him. That would mean that she would be seeing him naked. After all, who bathed with their clothes on, asked Madeline to herself. She didn't like either of the two options. 

"You offer the things you want."

"I am not offering you," he said and Madeline looked at him perplexed, "We can discuss this over breakfast."

Calhoun started to walk, and Madeline stood there, staring at his back for several seconds before finally moving her feet. She didn't want to leave her stomach empty out of anger. 

Madeline didn't bring up the conversation during the time of their breakfast, and she ate as much as she could. Wondering if she turned fat, maybe the King would lose his interest in her. Knowing how speaking directly didn't work with him, all she could think was her options that turned out to be passive-aggressive. She didn't know how else to deal with Calhoun. 

While taking a bite, she slowly sneaked up from her plate to look at him, noticing how his hands moved with the knife and fork. She noticed Calhoun had long fingers. She shook her head to get rid of the thought that moved to the time when he had weaved his hand into the back of her hair. 

He had complimented the food she had made, having Sophie's food cleared from the table while giving her the priority. What went inside the King's mind? Asked Madeline to herself. The King was undoubtedly a handsome man who exuded power. Seeing him quiet and concentrating on food, he appeared to be a little more tolerable.

When she went to look back at him, she saw him about to take a bite from the fork. 

His lips parted to take in the food into his mouth, and two trails of the juiciness of the meat escaped from the corner of his lips when Calhoun brought his finger up. He caught them in time to put his finger into his mouth. 

Madeline's eyes were concentrated on the lower half of his face, entranced by the action where she failed to realise that Calhoun's eyes had fallen on her.

"Enjoying the little show?" asked Calhoun and Madeline's eyes snapped up to meet his eyes, "I can demonstrate it better," he said, and Madeline quickly turned her head to look at her plate before Calhoun would suck on his finger again. 

For the remainder of the meal, her eyes didn't move to look at him again.

The dining room was big with the long table that had the capacity to seat more than two dozens of people but the time she had been here, it was mostly Calhoun who was sometimes accompanied by Theodore. She wondered if he ever got bored, sitting here and eating by himself. 

Where was his family? asked Madeline to herself. 
Hop on- Part 3

The castle was big; the large space within it made it appear to be empty in Madeline's eyes. And the house that she had back in the village was small with less space that felt warm with her family in there. The question about his family didn't go away from her mind as she doubted she had ever heard about the King's family. And though Madeline's curiosity rose along with the black wings that had appeared behind Calhoun's back, she decided not to question about it as it would only make it look like she was interested in him. 

It wasn't her intention to give out wrong ideas, and she quietly continued having her breakfast. They finally stepped out of the dining room to walk out and behind the castle to reach the stables. She heard the neighing of the horses that were tied in their compartments. 

A man appeared to bring out a stallion which was black, pulling its reins to stop it in front of King. The man bowed his head who was in his late forties, a small belly that stretched over the front of his shirt.

"Good morning, my King," the stableman bowed his head, "Sir Theodore told me you wanted Robin ready for a ride."

So this was Robin, thought Madeline to herself. When the King had mentioned the name 'Robin', it had made Madeline wonder if this person Robin would be jumping off the cliff with them. 

"It's been two weeks since I took him out. Today is a bright day, it should be good to spend some time outside," said Calhoun, stepping forward to go near the horse and ran his hand over the horse' neck as if to pet it and the horse neigh in response, "Isn't it?" Calhoun asked and turned towards Madeline.

"Yes, it's a bright day," she agreed. When the stableman's eyes fell on the lady who he had not seen before, he bowed his head, and Madeline returned it. The King often brought many females as his company, and it seemed like it was another lady. But this one looked subdued than the others that he had seen before. 

Calhoun introduced the horse to Madeline, "This is Robin, my stallion. Have you ever rode a horse before, Madeline?" he asked her. 

"I do," and on Madeline's response, Calhoun looked impressed. 

"Good," responded Calhoun and his words weren't taunting. Still looking at Madeline, he ordered the stableman, "Get the finest mare we have in the stable for this fair lady, Walter."

Madeline looked alarmed. Was she going to ride one? The stableman left their side, and she looked at Calhoun. She had only hopped on the horse three or four times before which needed someone's assistance. Maybe riding wasn't the right word as it was more like she was walking.

"Scared?" asked Calhoun, his eyes shined by noticing how the gears in her mind were turning. 

"No," answered Madeline. She was, but she didn't want to show him any weakness. 

Calhoun turned to his horse, petting it to say, "It is okay if you are. You can ride with Robin and me."

The King was relentless when it came to his words towards her, and somewhere Madeline was scared. "I will be fine by myself," answered Madeline. 

She was not going to sit with him, on the same horse. Yesterday, she had shared more than enough time with him, maybe she could take the horse far far away to make an escape? Madeline thought to herself. She wondered if it was possible. Perhaps not today, but if she earned his trust where he would let her go by herself, she could do it...Madeline didn't want to jump into a quick plan where she didn't know how to proceed after that. 

But before doing that, she would have to think about her family. Calhoun was capable of doing anything, and she had to keep that in mind. If he had helped her father and was going to help her sister in getting a suitor, he could also snatch them away, to turn it worse than what was there before. 

Walter, the stableman, came back pulling a brown mare, patting its neck to make it stand next to the stallion. 

"Her name is Bonnie. She is gentle," said Walter before stepping away from the horses. 

"Thank you, Walter. You can leave," Calhoun shooed the man away so that Madeline could mount on the horse with only his eyes to witness, "The horse is all yours," he stated. Placing one of his feet on the stirrup, Calhoun sat on the saddle to wait for Madeline to take her seat on the brown horse. 

She stared at the brown horse, moving closer to it to raise her hand to pat its neck in the same way Calhoun had done to his horse. Madeline knew how to keep herself still once she would sit on the saddle, but in the past, she had always used someone's help to get on.

Her eyes moved from the saddle to the stirrups, her hand still petting the horse before finally letting it go. Madeline hoped to get her footing right and not fall. Calhoun who was looking at her, leaned to the side to ask,

"Need help?" 

Madeline was too stubborn to ask for his help. She tried to get a good grip as she placed her foot on the stirrup, pushing herself up, but the horse was tall for her to reach. Were the horses back in the villages small? With the dress that she wore, she couldn't go hopping on the horse as there were chances of her dress moving in an awkward position.

She tried again but she couldn't. If she knew this day would come, Madeline would have learned to sit on a horse effortlessly. 

Feeling the eyes of Calhoun, she looked up to meet his eyes. He had a teasing smile on his lips when he said, "Take your own time. I am enjoying watching you."
Who said what- Part 1

Hearing those words coming from Calhoun, it only made it harder for Madeline to mount on the horse as she was still trying to move her body higher; not to forget the way Calhoun watched her with the undivided attention of his. 

While Madeline was stubborn to ask his help, Calhoun gave her a minute more before he got down from his horse and walked around, "Done trying?" he asked her. 

Madeline had to agree to herself that she wouldn't be able to mount on the horse by herself as even if a day would pass by, she would still be struggling to get on the saddle. She turned her head to meet Calhoun's eyes. He took her silence that she had finally given up and was ready to take his help. 

"Take your position," he ordered, coming to stand behind her while she placed one foot on the stirrup. She felt his hand being placed on either side of her waist, "Ready?" he asked, his words coming to fall right next to her ear. When she nodded her head, Calhoun pushed her up high enough for her to sit on the horse.

"Thank you," she murmured under her breath, her eyes glanced once at him before looking at the mare she was sitting on. 

One side of Calhoun's lips had been pulled up, and he walked around before getting back on his own horse, "We will be taking a walk from here into the forest. I am guessing by your word that you can handle the horse?" he asked her one time, hinting that she could still come to sit with him, on the horse. 

"I will be okay," answered Madeline, her eyes finally going to meet his and he smirked.

"If you say so," saying this, Calhoun patted his horse for it to start to walk, its hooves clicking on the ground and Madeline moved her legs for the mare to start walking, hoping it would only walk and wouldn't gallop. Horses were strange, thought Madeline to herself because some were gentle, and some were too wild to handle. 

"Where did you learn to sit on the horse?" She looked up from her horse to see Calhoun, who was in the front. 

"My aunt has four horses in her shed." 

Madeline's family didn't have horses of their own. It was something she had learned from her aunt, who lived in the town. She wouldn't say she was fond of horse riding, but she didn't hate it either. She had been used to doing housework which she took great pleasure—helping her mother and father in their daily duties while being a good sister who accompanied her elder sister Beth everywhere. 

As the stableman, Walter had said, this mare was indeed a gentle one, as it moved without Madeline having to tap her legs many times to the sides of the horse.

"She seems to be a lovely person," commented Calhoun, pulling the reins of his stallion so that Madeline's mare could catch up to him and they could ride together. 

"Yes, she is," answered Madeline. To fill up the silence, she said, "Aunt Mary is a very kind woman. Though she lives in the town, she has been considerate enough to educate my sister and me with the etiquettes of society."

Calhoun asked, "How about your mother? Does she know how to read and write?" It was rare for women of Madeline's mother's age to be qualified with a full education. Especially when one came from the village, there were rare chances that they had the opportunity to be educated. But Calhoun wanted to confirm something more than that. 

Madeline's lips pursed, "Yes, she does," she nodded her head. Her mother usually kept her glasses somewhere and always searched for it. She felt sad remembering her mother. 

It seemed that the note was indeed written by Mrs. Harris, thought Calhoun to himself and it wasn't good news to him. To the man, the ties of the family didn't matter, and if something did matter, it was the girl next to him.

"You must be feeling fortunate then. The poor don't always have the facility to learn," he said, not being subtle about where Madeline came from, "Most of the women from the high families don't understand the importance and often don't bother with it without any taste for literature, or poetry."

"What people have, they don't appreciate it," and it was the truth, thought Madeline to herself.

"You should start appreciating our time together more then," stated Calhoun, his eyes filling up with amusement and the smile broadened on his lips for his sharp fangs to appear for Madeline to see. When she was about to say something, he beat her to it, "Are you going to keep insisting that you don't like me and you like a stranger, who is more unknown to you than what you know of me? You sound like a broken violin, sweetheart."

Madeline's eyes narrowed, and she gritted her teeth that he was calling her a broken violin, "You might find it to be broken violin, Milord because I feel you don't understand what I am saying."

"Are you?" 

"What?" asked Madeline with a frown on her face. 

Madeline stared at Calhoun who was next to her, his horse moving forward and he asked, "You said you have been trying to make me understand that you have feelings for someone. But you won't consider that you know the man barely."

"Isn't it because you didn't give me the opportunity?" asked Madeline, trying to keep the conversation calm. 

The King chuckled at Madeline's words, "You blame me as if I have been keeping you here in the castle for years. If a man really loves and wants you, he will make a move immediately without dawdling like an idiot. We should perhaps ask the tailorman on what he thinks about you being painted by me in your thin underclothes? What do you think he will say?"

"You are a vile man," she whispered, but Calhoun didn't take it to heart. He instead smiled at the compliment. 

"Vile would be if I were to bring up the topic about how I painted you. What strokes of brush I used when I was painting your hands, neck, legs. Or how I sucked your neck," he stated, "But then I did nothing of that sort. Let's have a quiet and peaceful day without you bringing up that tailorman, else I wouldn't mind having him hang here," said Calhoun as if it was not a big deal.

"If you learned how to court a lady this wouldn't be an issue," she muttered under her breath, agitated. Even though Calhoun was the one who had suggested that they have a peaceful day, he was the one who threw oil to the fire. 

"Isn't that why we are riding the horses," Calhoun turned his head to look at her, "I thought you would like some change in the air. To breath, and not by whispering to birds," at first Madeline didn't understand what his last words meant—whispering to birds? When realisation finally hit, her eyes widened.

Her lips slightly trembled, "H-how do you know that?" she asked. 

He was speaking about the time when she was at the window, speaking to the bird where she had shooed it away when she had heard the door knock. Calhoun, like many other times, gave her an oblivious look. Dropping the smile, he turned serious. 

Madeline, whose heart had been quiet started to beat loudly again. She was shocked at how he knew when the door of her room was locked. Her hands turned clammy, the reins of the horse slipping through her hand, which she had to hold back. 

She then heard Calhoun say, "I did mention to you, you need to be careful with what you speak and who you speak. You live in my castle, isn't it obvious that I am going to hear it?"

Was he out in the garden when she was speaking to the bird? Asked Madeline to herself. It was the only possible explanation for it, "I must say you had some fascinating words to say to the bird. Would you want to know what it actually means to be caged?" the smile returned back on Calhoun's lips- which was evil and ready to cause harm. 

She was scared with the words Calhoun had just uttered to her.

They had only entered the forest, riding on the backs of the horses when Calhoun decided to pull the reins of the stallion to stop it from walking anymore. He turned around to dismount from his horse.

Madeline didn't want to stop, but she knew if she didn't do it, Calhoun would be the one to stop the mare himself. She pulled the reins to stop the mare from moving forward. She stared at Calhoun who walked around to come to her side, and before he could help her, she had already got down from the horse. She was better at dismounting than mounting on the horse. 

Calhoun raised his hand in front of him, open-palmed towards Madeline who stood like a frozen statue because of the way he looked at her right now.  He took her hand in his and pulled her to walk with him. 

"Where are you taking me?" asked Madeline slightly worried, trying to keep up with his footsteps. What happened to his words to courting her politely without trying to scare her or be overbearing? She asked herself. 

"To show you something that might interest you," replied Calhoun.
Who said what- Part 2

Music Recommendation: A secret within by Alina Yanovna


It was hard to know if Calhoun was angry. 

They had left the horses behind, walking further and further into the forest and Madeline could only hope that this wasn't about another cliff ahead of them, "I can walk myself!" she said.

Calhoun instead of letting her go, answered, "You were the one who said its a cage. Shouldn't I make your words come true, of what you said in the morning?" he taunted her. 

"When did you last listen to what I said?" came the quick retort through Madeline's lips. 

"Like now? I am only complying to your thoughts," Calhoun said and Madeline felt her heart was going to jump out of her throat any moment. She didn't know where Calhoun was taking her and what he had on his mind. She wanted to go back to the castle, back to the room. No, she wanted to go home. 

She tried to pull her hand away from him, and when Calhoun did let it go, Madeline staggered back. Her back hitting the closest tree to lean back. Both Madeline and Calhoun glared at each other.

"What is wrong with what I said? You keep me here by force, not letting me go back home. Twist and turn my words, so that you can use it on me. This is a new and unknown place that I have never been to, and I don't know anyone with whom I can normally speak to without having to watch every word of mine. I get looks by people as if there's something going on, hearing words that is untrue! I am not that kind of woman! A whore," Madeline whispered the last word, stopping for a moment before she continued, "You cannot expect to get a woman's heart by force! This is not how it works. Maybe it is how other woman liked it. I am not that kind of person. I-I never heard or been called by those words before and because of you…" she trailed.

Tears filled up her eyes, refusing to spill out as they sparkled, glaring at Calhoun.

She saw Calhoun's eyes narrow down that looked furious and she was sure he was going to push her off the cliff himself this time. It didn't take much time for Calhoun to close in the distance and stand in front of her. Madeline continued to lean against the rough bark of the tree for support so that her knees would not give away.

"Who did you hear it from?" Calhoun's eyes had turned dark, similar to what she had seen last night, but it was for different reasons. 

With all the things she had tried to keep a lid on, trying not to offend the King had gone in vain. In an emotional breakdown of anger, she had blurted out something which she had thought not to mention to Calhoun before. 

The tears in her eyes had slowly evaporated, but her face turned pale. 

"What?" she whispered, her voice came out lower than the one she had used during the time she had vented out at him. 

When Calhoun raised his hand towards, Madeline closed her eyes quickly out of her fear. She heard him say,

"I won't hurt you, Madeline. Haven't I said that before to you?" Calhoun asked. Madeline found it hard to believe, with the way he had looked at her in pure anger even though it was not directed at her, "I want you to react to me, to my words but I won't hurt you physically nor let someone else hurt you. Look at me," he demanded, and she opened her brown eyes.

"I want to go back to the castle. I want to rest," she said. 

"We will go back, but I need you to tell me who said that to you?" Calhoun asked her, his hand petting on the side of her head with gentle hand movements. Since the day Madeline had arrived at the castle to stay, he had given orders to the main in charge that was to be passed to the other servants on how to behave with the human girl.

It seemed like there were some insolent beings in the castle who didn't get the message. 

Calhoun believed that it was only him, who could do things to Madeline- even if it was to make her cry or make her uncomfortable. But if someone else tried to make her feel uncomfortable, he would kill them. 

The girl was his and no one else's. 

Madeline who was already upset, had felt even worse, when she had overheard the maids speaking ill about her. That she was another whore of the King, who had been bedded by him. She didn't know how things in the castle worked. Maybe it was common for Calhoun to take women into his quarters and the maids liked to gossip, but it didn't sit well with her. But at the same time, she knew the consequences if she informed it to Calhoun what she had overheard and who it was. 

Trying to calm her breath, she tried to shift the conversation by asking, "Was that all you heard from my words?" 

His hand that was still petting the side of her head slowed down and her heart hitched, "I hear every word that leaves from that lips of yours. I don't miss them, sweet girl, because everything that you say does matter. Let's see how we can work out things but before that, I need you to tell me where you heard it."

Unlike the teasing expression, he often used on her, Calhoun was quite gentle with her and Madeline was not used to this side of him. Given he had never physically hurt her, she didn't know if the people she would mention would continue to exist the way they did right now. 

"Who was it?" Calhoun coaxed her for an answer, "Tell me," came his patient voice but only someone who knew the King personally, knew that there was nothing patient when it came to his actions and that it was only temporary. 

Madeline parted her lips, "I was just upset." Sure she was angry, and people gossiped all the time. It is what they did, but she didn't expect anything ill towards them, "I am okay now."

But Calhoun was not ready to let it go. To him, Madeline was the precious thing he had found out of luck, and she belonged to him. And if any person tried to even look at her with an intention to harm her, he would deal with the person in his own ways. 

Calhoun then said, "I might let things slide when it comes to you, but it doesn't mean it holds the same when it comes to others."

Seeing that Calhoun was not going to let it go, Madeline finally said, "It was just something I heard in the castle." 

"That is obvious. Who was it?" he asked her, "If you don't tell me it will only repeat. Is that what you want to hear?" If he let her go, there would be none of these situations arising, but there was no point bringing it up as Calhoun appeared to have made up his mind to keep her here forever, "Madeline," this time his voice was low and stern on her ears. 

She finally answered, "It was the maids." 

Upon hearing Madeline's words, Calhoun returned back to the castle with her. His shoes on the floor made a sharp noise on the floor of the castle as he walked and Madeline followed, keeping up with him. 

"What are you going to do with them, Milord?" she asked in a hurry. She was the one who had blurted out the words, and she was the person who didn't want Calhoun doing something bad to them. 

"To talk to them," he answered, his expression had turned from anger to a certain calmness that worried her. It was because of the way he walked. It didn't seem like he was only going to talk. The servants who were walking in the corridor halted their steps to let the King pass with a bow to raise their heads only when the King had walked past them. 

Madeline closed her eyes, cursing herself internally for the folly she had made and she continued to walk next to the King, "Please wait!" she pleaded.

Calhoun listened to her and stopped- as if to heed the words she had spoken to him during her little vent, something that had not come to his notice. 

"Yes, Lady Madeline," he said, facing her, his voice coming out politer than ever before. 

"People speak all the time…" she trailed. Her eyes requesting him not to do something bad to the maids. 

"But they don't speak about you in a distasteful tone," remarked Calhoun before saying, "You said you wanted to go back to your room. Go rest," he offered her a serene smile which made him look like a devil. 

She wanted to rest before he had decided to speak to the maids. Even if she went to the room, she would not get a wink of sleep now. 

When Calhoun started to walk again, Madeline was quick to follow him on her heel, and the King didn't object her from following him. It wasn't every day the lady took an interest in what he was doing. 

With the King back in the castle, Theodore was quick at Calhoun's service. Calhoun ordered, "Get the servants in the courtroom." 
Who said what- Part 3

Theodore's eyebrows subtly raised, and he asked, "Every one of them?"

Calhoun then turned to look at Madeline, "Was it men or women?" 

Madeline could feel her pulse rising, seeing how Theodore looked at her wondering what was going on but didn't interfere in the short conversation, "Maids." Theodore didn't have to hear the word from Calhoun as he quickly bowed and took his leave from them. 

It wasn't Madeline who had done anything wrong, but because of the slip from her lips, two maids were going to be punished. All she could do is follow Calhoun to the courtroom and wait for the maids who started to assemble in less than few minutes. The maids didn't know why they were being summoned and waited for the King to speak. 

Once everyone was in the court, Calhoun said, "It has come to my notice that there has been someone who has been not following the orders which were given down a week ago. The negligency is not only rude but disrespectful towards the King. It would be wise to step forward, considering your conscious of what you have done."

The maids looked at each other, wondering who had done what, waiting for someone to step forward. More than a minute passed since the King had spoken and none of them appeared to step up, owning to what they did. 

"It seems like no one has a good conscious," Calhoun chuckled like an internal joke he was having with him and Madeline could feel her palms turning sweaty. It was only the King who had a smile on his lips, while the rest of them had a look of dread knowing to be wary of the King's smile, "Lady Madeline, can you point out who it was, who dared to offend you," Calhoun said without looking at her. 

His eyes were moved across the maids, when he caught the maid. He raised his hand forward to move his fingers in a come hither motion. Before Madeline could say anything, Calhoun had found the second person who had a look of fear and guilt on her face. 

"Is there another lucky person we are waiting for?" asked Calhoun in a bright, enthusiastic voice. He finally turned towards Madeline to see her shake her head, "Wonderful," the King clapped his hands together, the sound moving across the wide room until the ends of the walls. 

The two maids walked through the crowd of the other maids, making their way to the front with their head bowed as they trembled in fear. Madeline was not one of the maids, but she could feel her heart pounding in her chest as every second passed by. 

"How shall we deal with you both?" asked Calhoun, standing in front of his throne while looking at the maids who were soaked in fear. The maids were too scared to utter a single word in front of the King. 

"What did you say tell to the lady?" asked Calhoun, placing one step down and away from the throne. The maids gulped, "Don't be shy. You weren't before; you shouldn't be shy now," came his taunting words.

The King was playing with the maids, and everyone could see it, "Theodore," said Calhoun and the man as if on cue walked towards the walls where different shields and swords were placed on the wall. Theodore walked back towards the King with a sword before it was handed over to Calhoun. 

When Calhoun raised the sword that was in his hand, the maid near him was quick to fall down on the ground. Pressing her forehead against the floor, "M-my King please forgive me! I-I did not mean any disrespect!" her voice wasn't loud as it quivered, "Milady please forgive us. We did not mean to offend you."

"You didn't mean it?" asked Calhoun, tilting his head with his eyes on the maid, "I wonder how that is possible."

The other maid who was standing as well got down on her knees, asking forgiveness while looking at Madeline. Calhoun said, 

"If there's something I don't like, it is when someone finds it hard to follow the instructions which are already given. Did you turn deaf when the order was given out?" asked Calhoun, "Now that you have spoken. I am curious to know what was said."

The maid near him shook her head, "Forgive us, milord. This won't happen again."

"What did you tell the lady?" Calhoun repeated, the spark in his eyes dying down along with the smile as his voice hardened. 

He tapped the end of the sword on the floor that clanked, and the maid said, "The h-human we thought y-you were b-bedding-" Calhoun lost his patience with the maid's slowness, and he twirled the sword to bring it up. In one movement, the sharp metal sliced through the maid's neck to separate her head from her body. Blood gushed out, and the maids who were present in the court didn't dare to gasp in front of the King. 

Before the other maid could try to plead for her life, Calhoun had taken two more steps forward to swing the sword again for another head to roll. Madeline turned her head away. Her face paled along with her hands to turn cold. Her head felt dizzy, and before she knew it, she fell unconscious. 

When Madeline's consciousness returned, she was lying on the bed. When she moved, she heard the voice in the room, 

"How are you doing?" It was Calhoun. 

Madeline turned her head away from the direction where she had heard his voice come from. How could he think she would be okay, after seeing two people get beheaded because of her? Asked Madeline in her mind. 

"You said you would talk to them," she whispered. 

"I did," he agreed, "I missed telling the part of beheading them." Of course, thought Madeline to herself. 

When she tried to sit up on the bed, pushing herself, she found Calhoun pulling up the pillow to place it behind her back. He had a glass of juice in his hand that looked like it was from squeezed oranges, "Drink it," he said, and Madeline took it in her hand—raising it to her lips to take sips from it before bringing it down. 

"If I didn't kill them, it would have set a bad example." Calhoun noticed her wary and quiet expression towards him, and he sighed. One hand of his fingers running through his hair. Getting up, he said, "Let me take you to the place where we were going earlier."

"To the cage?" she asked, to notice him roll his eyes. 

"If that is what you think, then yes. Come," he said, offering his hand for her to take. Madeline's eyes moved to his hand, seeing how it was those same one that had been used to kill the maids, which was now outstretched out for her to take. 

It would be a lie, to tell she was not scared of him at the moment, but at the same time, she couldn't refuse his demand as she noticed how the black wings behind his back appeared. 

"What is it going to be?" he asked her, knowing just well how her curiosity piqued at the sight of his wings. 
Not all cages are bad- Part 1

Madeline had seen the wings before, but she hadn't got a good glimpse of it as they disappeared quickly behind his back without a trace. Calhoun stood in front of her, his black feathered wings that had come out to bait her.

If he had brought it out, did that mean that they were going to fly to where ever he had planned to take her? Asked Madeline to herself.

She gave an apprehensive look at Calhoun, "I don't know where we are going." The way he had spoken during the time of the morning, it seemed like there was a cage or something she would not like waiting for her. 

"You will see," Calhoun said, his hand still waiting for her to take. 

After a second more, she finally placed her hand in his. When they stepped into the balcony of the room, Madeline couldn't get her eyes off of Calhoun's wings. They were truly big, like a bird's wings, but this one was much better. As she had grown up, she had heard the folklore of how it was angels who possessed wings. Wings that were big and made of white feathers but here they were black. 

Maybe it would have been ironic if Calhoun had white wings. Black wings suited the King for the personality he had, like the wings belonged to the devil who was handsome yet scheming one. 

"You were asleep for many hours," Calhoun said and Madeline finally broke her gaze away from his wings to look at him and then at the sky which had changed colours. The atmosphere didn't feel warm anymore as the time of noon had passed like it was trying to welcome the evening wind. "It worried me that you had hit your head hard," saying this, Calhoun's hand moved to the back of her head. Rubbing it gently and Madeline felt the tenderness his touch held. 

The shock of seeing two maid's heads roll had been something she found hard to digest. She didn't know she would faint, but she did, and she must have fallen on the ground in the court. 

"How did I get back to the room?" asked Madeline, her eyes staring at Calhoun where his gaze moved back from her head to meet her eyes. 

"I carried you. I wouldn't like someone else touching you in my presence," stated Calhoun, a hint of possessiveness laced in his voice. Madeline noticed how his hair looked dishevelled as if Calhoun had been running his hand through his hair over and over again, compared to his regular hairstyle where his hair was usually combed back. 

His eyes didn't look bright and overbearing. It seemed rather mellow, making Madeline question herself if it was the change in brightness that put him under such light in her eyes now. But then looks were deceiving and so was this devil who stood next to her. 

Calhoun had not let go of Madeline's hand. He saw how her eyes looked curiously at him like she was trying to figure out something. He enjoyed, taking pleasure that she was taking interest in him even if it was for dark reasons. 

Back in the court, he had done what he had to do, and he didn't hold a sliver of remorse for his action. Calhoun made sure that every person in the castle heard through whispers to beware of what would happen if they were to speak a single word about Madeline, that would hurt her. But he hadn't expected her to faint; after all, she had held up fine last time. 

It had got him worried when she hadn't woken up and he had stayed by her side, in the room. Waiting for her to wake up while letting Theodore to look after the court proceedings until he would return. The King had never left court duties for a woman's sake because no one was worth it. Women, he had bedded many, and he wasn't ashamed of it. They were nothing but pawns. Even if they had tried to reach out for him, it had always been to claim the position next to the throne.

Everybody loved the throne, but he loved it more, enough to not want to share it with someone until Madeline came. 

"Ready to fly?" he asked her, noticing how there was a spark of interest along with hesitancy in her eyes. 

Madeline nodded her head, "Yes," she answered while not knowing exactly what she was supposed to do and Calhoun chuckled. His eyes filled up with delight, to think that something so sweet could exist. He wouldn't have believed it before, but the more days were passing by, the more enchanted and entranced he felt towards her. 

When he turned to her, Madeline turned her body to face him, feeling his hand let go of the side of her head before he stepped forward. He then bent down to pick her up in his arms, carrying her, "Put your hands around my neck. You won't fall," Calhoun added to see the alarmed look in her eyes, letting him know that she had not thought through it before agreeing to him. 

What if she was going to fall?! Asked Madeline to herself. They wouldn't be walking on the ground but flying, up in the air. 

Hesitatingly, she wound her hands around his neck. This was more intimate than what she had thought, and she looked ahead of her, not meeting his gaze but with him continuously staring at her, it was hard not to look. 

"What if I fall?" She was still young and wanted to live a life, "Have you done this before?" she asked Calhoun. 

"Carrying people in my arms?" asked Calhoun and Madeline could feel his strong arms below her legs and on her back, holding her. 

"Yes, carrying people," she affirmed. 

"Will you be jealous if I said I have?" 

Madeline stared into his red eyes, "Why do you think I would be jealous, milord?" she wanted to know the answer from him, 

"It is not every day a person gets the pleasure to be in the King's arms, the person who holds the crown on his head. Especially not someone who has wings," when he said this, Madeline noticed how his wings moved for her to look at. She had the urge to touch it, wanting to see if the feathers were as soft as they looked, which was inky black as his hair. 

"I never thought of flying. I wouldn't be jealous. I like to keep my feet on the ground," on Madeline's reply, Calhoun's smile widened at the corners of his lips.

"Come, fly with me then," he said. He stepped up on the edge of the railings and Madeline had to tighten her hold on his neck, her face scrunching in worry that she might fall, hoping Calhoun would not drop her- even if it was by mistake. Calhoun, who noticed Madeline, who had closed her eyes, said, "Open your eyes. How will you see the world that is there with your eyes closed."

On Calhoun's words, she opened her eyes in time to see the wings behind his back starting to flap together, and in two seconds they had left the railings of the balcony of the room, soaring up in the air. 

"Does everyone know about your wings?" asked Madeline, her voice higher than usual.

"They do," answered Calhoun, who appeared to be enjoying the flight. 

He smiled looking at Madeline, who quickly averted her gaze away from him. Taking the courage, she looked down at the castle that turned smaller and smaller as they flew higher in the sky. The castle and the land around it was indeed vast, and it made her question how she had even managed to run almost half the distance towards the gates. She had been desperate that day, and she had done what she thought was possible at that time to escape, but now she realised it was impossible. 

She was scared yet fascinated and excited to see something that no one would have ever seen except for the King…

"Do all vampires have wings?" asked Madeline, her curiosity increasing about the night creatures and wanting to know more about them. 

"No," he answered her, "You won't find night creatures having wings in here or anywhere around." 

The next question that popped up in her mind was why? Was it because he was the King? Was that why he had wings? 

Looking back down, she noticed that they were leaving behind the grounds of the castle and moving towards the forest which they previously had entered. 

Calhoun's wings continued to flap, keeping them up in the air and when they finally reached down towards the forest ground, he was the first one to land, and then he let her down—seeing how Madeline took two steps away from him as a reflex and his eyes narrowed, picking up that movement. He took a step towards her, closing the gap. 

Madeline felt his presence, and she gulped. 

It wasn't that she was doing it intentionally, but every time she was this close to him, she didn't know why she felt the need to run away from him. Maybe it was because of the first time they had met. Calhoun had cornered her when she had got lost in the castle looking at the painting. 

He took another step forward, and just when she was about to give some space, she saw Calhoun's eyes zero down at her. His face held an irritated look, "Stop trying to get away from me."

"Stop coming so close when there's more than enough space for you to stand!" blurted Madeline.

Calhoun stared at her, seeing how she looked like a frightened animal and he just wanted to eat her up. 
Not all cages are bad- Part 2

She had a scared look on her face, like she was ready to run away from here. But Calhoun could tell that she was trying not to do it as it wasn't a good idea.

Madeline was beautiful, and she didn't have to run away for him to chase as the girl's very presence entranced Calhoun. He was holding back himself with a very fragile leash which if broke, it would only pounce and ravish the girl. It was possible that Madeline who wasn't familiar with men would resist him, but Calhoun was a skilful lover in bed, and he knew how to make her give in. But at the same time, he didn't want to use that approach. She was more than precious and not something to throw away later but to keep with him forever. 

"Let's keep some distance between us," suggested Madeline, her eyes warily looking at him but it would be so unlike Calhoun, if he listened to her. 

In quick footsteps, Calhoun stood right in front of her, and he had a scowl on his face, "I will not allow it. Don't test my patience, Maddie," he said to her, the expression on his face changed to a calmer one, "You keep refusing, I will have to use other measures for you to understand."

Madeline stared at him, not going to utter another word, and she looked at the ground. 

She then heard Calhoun say, "You might not know anyone in the castle, but you know me. You have my word that you can come to me anytime, and I will always make time for you, to sit and listen. Even now," he said, raising both his hands up.

"How can I talk to you, about you," Madeline frowned and Calhoun's lips twisted into a smile. 

"You can bad mouth me, in front of me," he said, not minding to hear ill words or complaints that she had in regards to him, but it was given. Calhoun enjoyed all those things, and Madeline sighed, "Don't look like a lost puppy. With me here, your day will never go dull. If you are missing the routine life that you had back in the village, I can give you my clothes and me to wash."

Her cheeks turned red at what he said, and she said, "Where are we going?" 

"I thought you would not ask and would like to stand here and talk," stated Calhoun, a mischievous smile appeared on his lips and when he started to walk, Madeline followed him. He had not told her where they were going, a surprise that was enough to have her worried because she didn't know what kind of surprise laid ahead of her. 

Madeline, who was walking behind Calhoun noticed how his shirt was intact again, without the wings ripping it apart, and she bit her lips, "Walk next to me, Madeline."

She quickly moved her feet to walk fast, so that they could walk beside each other, "Can I ask you something?" when Calhoun turned to look at her, awaiting her question, she asked, "How do those- wings work, I mean how do they come out from your back?"

Madeline had never heard about vampires having wings and Calhoun had told it was just him, but how did the wings disappear? Birds didn't make their wings disappear. She frowned thinking about it.

"From my back," came the simple answer from Calhoun. 

Madeline shook her head, "I mean, they don't come through your shirt because they are not torn."

"Do you want to know?" asked Calhoun, and she gave him a nod. 

"Sure?" he asked her, lowering his voice as if it was some secret. 

Madeline, who was extremely curious while fascinated with those wings of his, answered, "Yes."

"Come to my room, and I will show you."

She blinked at his answer. What kind of answer was that?! "You can explain it to me. I don't need to see anything."

"Anything?" Calhoun raised his eyebrow, his lips broadening, "My, what are you thinking about, that you think I will let you see?" his words only turned Madeline redder than before who muttered,

"Forget it. I don't need to know, Milord," she bowed her head, but Calhoun was not ready to let her go. 

"How rude to dismiss the King when you were the one who was curious about it. Don't be shy, not many are brave enough to ask me directly what they want," said Calhoun, his eyes looking at her before he moved to look ahead with the smirk still plastered on his face. 

Madeline was sure that people didn't ask because they feared that their head would be the next one to roll on the floor. 

"What do you think about the offer?" asked Calhoun.

"I refuse," came the quick answer that left Madeline's lips to hear Calhoun sigh, one that was fake. 

"Looks like you are not brave. Scared little kitten." 

Madeline wanted to retort, but then she realised how childish it would be. She decided to be civil and composed instead of feeding coal into his already existing excitement of seeing her flare-up.

They continued to walk, to wherever Calhoun was planning to take her. The walk through the forest was a quiet one where Calhoun didn't poke her any further or try to tease her. It made the walk bearable where Madeline felt like there was no need to lock horns with each other.

She still hadn't got a reply about his wings, and for now, she decided to let it go, as she didn't want to take a trip to his bedroom. Especially now that it was evening, there was no guarantee that Calhoun would not invite her to his room at the time of night. But then would morning be any different? She asked herself. 

When they finally reached the place, Madeline's eyes furrowed looking at the barbed wire and fencing in front of her. Calhoun stopped walking, but Madeline took herself to walk until she was able to place her hands on the fence. Inside the fence were little creatures of fur that hopped around. There were rabbits of white, black, brown and a few mixed colours. A little confused, she turned around to meet Calhoun's eyes.

"There are many animals in this forest. The wild creatures have been killing these small ones, leaving the bodies everywhere on the ground a year ago. A request had been put to save them," Calhoun said, he walked up to her, coming to stand beside her, and said, "What are your thoughts on it?" 

Tearing her eyes away from him, Madeline looked at the rabbits- some seated and some hopping around. One came as close to where they stood, "They are protected?" she asked him. It was only right that the creatures were placed here, to save their lives from being eaten. 

"Yes," agreed Calhoun, "They are protected, inside the fencing, which is no less to the cage you spoke about."

This caught her attention and Madeline looked at Calhoun. This is what he meant by mentioning about the cage earlier this morning. 

"Just because something looks like a cage it doesn't mean that it is bad but it is for your ownsake, to protect you," explained Calhoun, his eyes shifted to look at the rabbit that had come close to them. He bent down, bringing his hand forward for the rabbit to move its nose, sniffing his hand before getting close and he caught hold of it, "There are a lot of bad things outside, and when one wants to protect something, they will keep it safe and sound near them. Don't you agree?"

Madeline looked down at the rabbit that he was holding, the big bad wolf with a rabbit. How odd, thought Madeline to herself. She had thought the worse thing when Calhoun had dragged her away from the horses, ready to see floating heads or people being tortured. It seemed that she was wrong. 

She had misjudged him on it. 

"Humans are not rabbits though," her voice was soft and gentle, "I was living fine when I was in my village. No harm ever came upon me."

"Can you speak with guarantee, that it would be the same in the future too?" on Calhoun's question, Madeline furrowed her brows. 

"Why wouldn't it be?"

Calhoun shrugged his shoulders, his hand going to pat the head of the rabbit, "Who knows. There can always be ambush from neighbouring lands or villages or towns."

"You are the King of Devon. I don't think you would let any harm come to befall on us," Madeline had indirectly praised him, and Calhoun chuckled, seeing how Madeline was smart and not a naive girl. 

"I would like to take better care of things that are precious to me. Haven't you heard about it- precaution is better than cure," he then handed the rabbit forward, if she wanted to hold it, and Madeline was quick to take it.

Holding the rabbit in her arms like she was carrying a child, her eyes softened and so did her entire demeanour, that she had been carrying in front of the King to show the vulnerable side to Calhoun who was watching her. 

Madeline looked at the rabbit that was healthy and well-fed. Her thoughts went to what Calhoun said before, but it didn't justify him keeping her in the castle. 

"Have you ever thought that you can win me by letting me go back home," she asked him, her voice lower than before, not knowing if he would snap at her. 

"You want the King to move back and forth between the castle and your house? Do you think the King has nothing else to do?" Calhoun asked her. His hands slipped into the pockets of his trouser.

Not all cages are bad- Part 3

"Good to see that you agree," stated Calhoun. Madeline was sure now that if she went to check in front of the mirror, she would find more than one grey hair that would have been caused because of Calhoun, "The rabbits are much safer here. Fed with the right food, and taken care of by my men," he said, and Madeline saw there were two guards who were standing at the back. 

"What about the wild creatures eating them?" asked Madeline, her eyes glancing at the two guards who were in charge here. 

"They can defend themselves. Even if they can't, one or two wouldn't matter," Calhoun's eyes twinkled. It seemed that the King was ready to sacrifice the men's life for the rabbits. Was it noble that he thought about the rabbits? She didn't know.

She wished he hadn't killed the maids today. Mistakes could be rectified by words, by a lesser punishment and not by death sentence that was put in place right away. She went back to looking at the rabbit, seeing how it started to struggle in her hand, and she placed it back inside the fence. The rabbit went back to the other rabbits. While Madeline stood looking at the rabbits, Calhoun had walked towards one of the guards to speak to them. 

"Good evening, milord," the man guard bowed his head before raising it, "We caught twenty more and have added them in today."

Calhoun turned around to see Madeline who was watching him, before looking somewhere else, "That is good to hear. The tender ones have a unique taste to it. Blood much sweeter than the older ones."

"Yes, milord," the man bowed his head again, "We have been sending the smaller ones to the castle, hoping it would suit your taste."

"It did. Not all humans taste good and the one I want, I cannot have all of it," muttered Calhoun under his breath. There would be a sea of bodies if he was being choosy. This was one of the best ways to avoid increasing the count of bodies in Devon. 

"Would you like to taste the new breeds, milord?" the man asked, and Calhoun smiled, his lips stretching. 

"It would be better not to scare the lady today. You can send it to the castle," and when Calhoun started to walk back, the servant bowed his head. The King reached where Madeline was, his eyes trained on her, and he asked, "Ready to leave?" 

Madeline gave him a nod. The forest felt much better than staying in the castle because there were no walls. 

She couldn't stop but ponder over his words. A small worry marring her forehead at the thought that if there would be any ambush, then her family would be unsafe. The more she thought about it, the more she realised how nowhere was safe but the castle, the castle was guarded and Calhoun was someone who looked as if, he would protect everything that mattered to him. 

"I am sorry about earlier," she apologised, receiving a questionable look from Calhoun as it was sudden. 

"What are you apologising for? Have you decided to give your heart to me?" he teased her, his eyes shining when he knew it was not so. 

"Not yet," the words slipped out of Madeline's lips, and she noticed how Calhoun's wicked smile graced on his face. 

"I can wait for that yet of yours," Madeline wanted to tell him that he looked terrifying when he smiled like that. The smile that could frighten someone to their wits end. But then she had seen him serious, which was worse. Actually, she couldn't decide which one was worse. 

Madeline didn't want to apologise, but she felt the need to, "For judging you."

"What did you think about me?" asked the devil King. 

She was walking next to him, and she didn't look at him, her eyes roaming in front of her, "In the morning, I...I thought I would be seeing people getting tortured. I didn't know you were protecting the rabbits," and Calhoun gave her a saint-like smile, "May, I ask, about how you found out about what I said to the bird?" 

Madeline would need to be careful next time to keep her thoughts to herself. It seemed like even the whisper leaving from her lips would be heard by the King. 

"The bird told me," came the teasing answer but Madeline didn't believe it. It was because of the way he was smiling right now, she knew he was lying and it wasn't the bird. She turned even more worried. 

They walked in the forest, heading towards the castle by walk without Calhoun bringing out his wings again to fly. Madeline didn't mind the walk, as there was peace in here and she was doing something, instead of sitting in the room and staring at the walls.

Her thoughts started to drift in a different direction, and she wondered where this forest stopped. If there was a way from here to escape… It wasn't about James, she cared about the man, and there was no time for their relationship to blossom but...but she didn't want to live in the castle. It wasn't what she wanted. She didn't know if she would be able to see the deaths again. 

While Madeline's eyes were looking at the forest, it moved to the ends of where she could reach. Calhoun who was walking next to her, his eyes were on her, that was subtly noticing how her mind was trying to conjure to an escape route. It was because of her expression that looked anxious, and her eyes were moving to the horizon. 

His expression was relaxed though. If Madeline was planning to escape again, he would bring her back to the castle again. It was as simple as that. 

She had turned quiet since the time she had woken up, her words and actions even more cautious than before. She would get used to it, thought Calhoun to himself. Death was something common that occurred in the castle, when someone found it hard to obey the order that was given by the King. 

"Has there been any other suitors for your elder sister?" Calhoun asked, indulging her in the family conversation, and her eyes snapped to look at him quickly. 

"Mr. Danvers was the last person who had come home to speak to Beth. After that, I don't know as I have been here," she answered him, "There have been men who have courted Beth, but she hasn't been too keen on meeting any of them." 

Madeline wished the best for her sister Beth. She wanted her happiness, and previously she had hoped for the King to take note of Beth as she was interested in stepping into the castle life and not Madeline. But the King had dismissed it. 

"I could speak to Mr. Danvers if she wants to marry the man," proposed Calhoun. 

Madeline looked at him, surprised, "You will?" 

"Sure. It would be rude, not to help my sister-in-law," came the response from Calhoun and Madeline pursed her lips. When Madeline had still not given a yes to him, Calhoun was far ahead of her by calling her his wife. But Madeline didn't know what her sister might have written in the letter, that was sent out to Mr. Danvers. 

"Maybe I will ask Beth. If she is still interested," Madeline didn't want to hurry right away without knowing what Beth wanted. After all, she was popular in the village as well as in the nearby towns. There might be someone in her mind, thought Madeline to herself, not knowing that the person Beth had her eyes on was none other than Calhoun, the King of Devon. 

"Thank you," said Madeline, appreciating Calhoun's who was willing to support her family and sister without forcing upon her except for keeping her in the castle. 

That was progress, Calhoun thought to himself. Slow baby steps. He had been observing Madeline, and he knew the change in the wind was subtle, but it was moving in his favour. 

Calhoun didn't respond, and he walked next to her, closing the distance so that there wasn't too much of a gap between them. He wanted Madeline to get used to him. His patience was thin, and he didn't know when his instincts would claw out, to take her and his tongue ran over his fang, wanting another bite as he felt insatiable. 
Terms- Part 1

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Calhoun had taken a step back, letting Madeline walk ahead so that he could admire the girl which he didn't often get to do as she was either upset or glaring at him. Instead of using his wings to get back to the castle, he had decided to walk with her. Forcing her to spend time with him like this as Madeline was stubborn enough not to ask him to get back quickly by making use of his wings. 

He wanted her to make a move as he was waiting for her to open up, but that didn't mean he would be waiting forever, because he would close the distance himself. He noticed how her blonde hair cascaded down her back to stop right above her waist. She had two braids that had been made at the sides of the back of her head. 

Madeline was busy looking at the forest since the time she had left the rabbits behind, walking in front of the King, while she tried to see for a possible escape from here. She never knew when she would need them. Her brown eyes kept moving until she finally realised that the King had fallen one step behind, who had told her to walk beside him. 

When she turned around, she noticed how the King's eyes were on her, and she quickly turned back, looking ahead of her while her face turned red. Since how long had he been staring at her? Asked Madeline to herself. 

"Are your feet tired?" asked the King from behind. 

She was tired, but she could walk until the castle. She was used to walking long distance when she had to help her father carry the logs of woods from the forest, "I am fine," she answered. 

"Let me know if you are unable to walk, it would be a pity if something happened to your feet," Calhoun said and Madeline slowed down her footsteps for once, taking the initiative to walk next to the King.

"I am not made of sticks to break," she answered him, and he stared at her. The colour of the sky was changing quickly from the multicolour to move towards a dark blue. A sign that the night was arriving quickly, and Madeline didn't realise how fast the time passed. 

"No, you are not," agreed Calhoun, "You are like butter that heats up quick," Madeline blinked turning her face away, "I was only saying how soft you were, what are you thinking, Maddie, to turn red?" he asked her. 

What kind of remark was that? Asked Madeline to herself. Who referred someone as a butter? 

"You don't like my compliment," the King continued, a hum at the end of his words. 

"I don't think anyone has ever addressed or called someone as a butter," the King was an odd person, and she had already come in terms with it. Though he had killed two maids today for her sake, at the same time, he had shown another side of him that there were some things that he cared about like the rabbits. 

A cruel man saving rabbits thought Madeline to herself. Maybe there was a good side of him, but it still didn't justify his actions of her keeping her here. Madeline didn't know what to do. Calhoun was not going to let her go, and it seemed like she was stuck here. 

Was there no way she could negotiate with him for her freedom? Or was this the freedom he was talking about? Inside the castle, near him where she would be safe...He had also spoken about speaking to Mr. Danvers for her sister's sake, and it made her look at him in a better light. At least a little. 

"You can write a letter to your sister today," said Calhoun and Madeline turned to him. Her footsteps gradually came to a stop. She was happy. Her heart soaring only until she heard him say, "You will be writing the letter in my presence, and it will be handed to Theodore so that you are assured that the letter has indeed left the castle."

She stared into Calhoun's eyes that looked dark because of the lack of light around them, the shadows of the trees turning darker along with the sky, "Okay," she agreed. Right now, Madeline would accept anything she could, so that she could still feel she was connected to her family. So that she wouldn't lose her sanity while feeling alone even though Calhoun was there around her.

She then asked, "Can I write it now?"

Calhoun only smiled at her, "Of course," and Madeline knew there was some hidden meaning in that smile of his. 

Once they reached the castle after walking in each other's company, Calhoun had led Madeline to his room, opening the door for her to step in. Madeline stepped inside the room, and when she took two steps forward, she heard the door click behind her, and she had to wipe her palms against her skirt. 

Calhoun walked to the desk that was present in the room, pulling out the chair before looking at her, "Sit here," the smile on his lips had toned down.

Padding her feet across the room, she took a seat on the chair before he had pushed the chair towards the desk, "Comfortable?" he asked. 

There was no one in the King's bedroom except for the King and herself. Madeline wondered how many other women he had brought to this room. The candles were already lit and the fireplace crackled with logs that would be suffiencent enough to burn until the time of midnight. 

She didn't turn to look at him but continued to sit like a statue.

His hands were yet to move away from the sides of her armrest which he had used it to push the chair she was sitting on. When he finally moved them, she finally let out an internal sigh of relief. She noticed how he went to pull the drawers, picking up parchment with an ink bottle with a quill to be placed in front of her. 

"What am I allowed to write?" asked Madeline, not knowing if there would be something Calhoun would not like that would end up with another argument between them, only for her to lose. 

Calhoun pulled the next chair to place it next to Madeline and sat down, "Things that would please me," came his words. He brought one hand of his forward to support his chin as he looked at her, 

"You can write whatever you want, but if it doesn't sit well with me, it will join the fireplace," he offered her a smile, "Don't disappoint me, Maddie," stated Calhoun. With the candle stand in front of them, she could see his red eyes flickering like the flame. 

Madeline had to tell herself that the letter was for her sister Beth. So that she could have a better life, something she would like, with that thought, she decided to not argue with him and took the quill in her hand-dipping it in the ink.

She started to write the letter under Calhoun's supervision, who had a grin on his face, staring at her continuously while she tried to concentrate on it. 

"Why did you stop writing?" he inquired. 

Madeline pursed her lips, staring at the parchment that was in front of her, "Can you please do something else than stare at me?" her eyes shifted from the parchment to look at Calhoun. His gaze was too intense for her to handle, and she felt like he was trying to dissect her soul. 


Her toes curled inside her shoes as she stared at him, "I cannot concentrate on writing the letter." Her hands had started to shake at the awareness that he was looking at her. 

"Try again," he said, his eyes didn't move away from her. She went back to writing. Her words had started to turn messy. Breathing softly, Madeline looked down at what she had written.

'Dear Sister Beth,

I hope this letter finds you well. The King and I shared a few words and during that time, you happened to come up. He said he would help by speaking to Mr. Danvers about you so that you could rebuild the connection you shared with him. I thought it was only right to ask you if you are still willing to consider the man for a possible alliance. Tell mama and papa that I am sending them my love. If you do, please do write back.

Lots of love, Your sister Madeline'

When Calhoun finally stood up from his seat, Madeline exhaled, but her relief was short-lived as Calhoun had come to stand behind her back and he leaned forward.

"Why are you nervous?" Calhoun breathed the words next to the side of her head. 

Madeline had expected him to walk around the room instead of staring at her, but the King was someone who did what pleased him, "I think it's because of the lack of a-air," she stuttered at the end. 

For a second, Calhoun didn't say anything, letting her sink in with the silence, "Is it because of your corset? I can help with it, if you need me to. Much better as we are in the room now," his words were low, and Madeline felt a shiver run down her spine. 

The remaining air that was in her body slipped away because of Calhoun's words and actions, "No, it's not the corset," she whispered. Why was she whispering?! Asked Madeline to herself, feeling too aware of Calhoun's presence behind her. 

He allowed the smile to return to his lips, one which was cunning as he baited her in stepping into his room, with the thought of allowing her write a letter to her dear sister.

Calhoun leaned forward, picking up the parchment whilst standing behind Madeline, his eyes taking in what was written to place it back on the table to say, "You did well. Your sister will be very grateful to have a younger sister like you who thinks about her well being even after you have left home."

"I haven't left home," replied Madeline to hear Calhoun chuckle. 

"What is it then?" he asked, his words at the shell of her ear and he blew the air deliberately slow to see how she struggled to stay unaffected, "Are you going to say I kidnapped you, right in front of your parents? Carrying you on my shoulder. If that was so, it would be a completely different scenario now. Wouldn't it?" he asked her. 

Terms- Part 2

"You forced me to stay here," she tried to correct his words. Even though he had not uttered a response yet, she could feel his evil aura that was haunting. 

Calhoun pulled away from her, turning her chair around in one movement without much effort. Madeline had to grip the sides of the chair because of the sudden movement, "I did, didn't I?" Calhoun asked like he was enjoying keeping her here against her will, "The more you run, the more I want you to keep. I like to see you rebel," he said before adding, "The innocent red riding hood who didn't realise what she was getting into, when she stepped into the wolf's den."

When Calhoun had invited her to write a letter, Madeline had not considered that there were other things running in Calhoun's mind, "I came here to write the letter," she stated.

"And you did," he agreed again to what she said. 

"I must go back to the room. To rest," she added and saw how Calhoun placed both his hands on either side of the armrests.

"You can rest here in this room," came the short reply from Calhoun. 

Madeline didn't know if he was only teasing her or was serious about it. Though Calhoun had told her he wouldn't do something forceful, she found it hard to believe, especially with the way he was looking at her with those dark eyes right now. As if, one wrong move from her would lead him in pouncing and dragging her to bed. 

She gulped at that thought. 

"My King," she bowed her head from where she sat, "Allow me to go to my room, and I will return to join you for dinner," she said to him. 

But Calhoun found that offer less enticing compared to her being in his room, "My dinner is right here in front of my eyes." Madeline noticed, the wind had dishevelled his hair further when they were up in the sky. 

"I am less appealing right now. I don't think it would be something you would like to have," said Madeline quickly, "Sweaty, salty, tired, dirty..."

Calhoun's eyes trailed to look at her face that looked anxious, wanting to escape from his clutch as quickly as she could, but he was having fun with her, to let her go. 

"Dirty," Calhoun repeated the word she said, and he smiled with his fangs for her to view, "Shall I bath you then? It should be really uncomfortable sitting there by feeling all sweaty and dirty." When Calhoun's eyes reached for Madeline's hand, she moved it away from him. 

Madeline didn't know what to say to him. Being careful was completely impossible because Calhoun was a master of words, and he knew just what to say to her, bringing out the words he wanted to hear from her. He then stepped closer to her, leaning forward in such a way that Madeline leaned her head back to keep eye contact with him. Their faces got close to each other. 

"You tricked me," she whispered.

"Your accusations are always so high for the King," Calhoun responded to her, his hand moved to place it below her chin and his thumb moved up to feel her soft lips. His eyes fell on her parted lips, staring at it. 

Madeline was alarmed and she couldn't get away from him. It reminded her of the time a honeybee had come flying to sit on her skin. The bee was hard to shoo away because if angered, there was no saying how many times it was going to bite her, and her situation with Calhoun was nothing less to it. 

"I thought I could hold back, with you as an exception but I don't know how much longer I can do it." His hand moved away from her face, Calhoun's lips came to whisper on her own lips.

She would have told him to find someone else, but she had tried it before. If it hadn't worked before, it wouldn't now. He had blood from the woman who had visited him, "I am not used to this," her words were innocent, and it had Calhoun shift his gaze back from her lips to look into her eyes. 

"I know," answered Calhoun, "It only makes it worse but good at the same time. I need to drink your blood, Madeline," came his solemn words. 

"There will be nothing left if you keep drinking from me," her eyebrows furrowed, "Please find someone else…" and when she noticed how his eyes flared, she added, "To drink blood from."

"You have yourself to blame for it," Calhoun said, his hand that had previously been placed below her chin moved to the side of her slender neck, "Your blood is too sweet, and I wish for no one ever to taste it. Only for me to know."

Madeline felt the tingle of sensation that Calhoun's fingertips left as he moved his hand to her shoulder. But Calhoun didn't stop there. The index finger continued to trace the lines of the edge of her dress as he said, "You are someone I care for now. It might sound and look strange, but you should know that the night creatures are different compared to humans who live and die."

"I am a mortal too," she reminded him, feeling her stomach turn when his finger continued to trace down from the side of her neckline, moving towards the front, making her heart hitch.

"I can change that," stated Calhoun, "I will change it. Live with me Madeline, and I will offer whatever your heart wants and one day even that freedom that you so much crave, the same way I crave for you."

His fingers moved forward, moving back and forth at the front. His eyes flickered down where his hand was, noticing the swell at the top of her chest and his fangs ached, wanting to take a bite at the softness of the skin. 

It was evident that Madeline was affected by his words, actions. Calhoun knew how to seduce a woman, and when it came to Madeline he had been doing the right things, yet at the same time. He wasn't the flowery man like an angel who would woo her the way she wanted. He was a devil in disguise, letting her know what he was capable of. 

With Calhoun's every touch on her skin, her heart flipped and turned. Madeline might not feel the same way as he was, but it wasn't too long before her emotions would start changing. 

Madeline gripped on the sides of her chair, not wanting Calhoun to see her shiver and break. 

She didn't know if this was part of courting but having never been seduced before, Madeline didn't know how to react to it. The room was warm enough, but she was shivering, and it wasn't just fear. 

"How would you like to spend your day with me?" he asked her, for once giving her the option. His fingers then moved to the other side of the neckline before it crept up her neck, and he held the side of her face. 

"You are going to twist things once I agree to it…" it had happened before, she didn't know why it wouldn't happen again. 

Calhoun smiled at her, "We'll do it your way. Just one day."

With him standing this close, it was hard to think. Every time Calhoun invaded her breathing space, she felt like her nerves turned errant, and her body froze, "You mean it?" 

"You have my word," he promised. Deciding it was worth trying, she then said,

"I would like to sit on the other side of the dining table during our meal. Opposite to you," the table was long, and it would create enough distance between them, "I would like to stand with the others, probably near the wall when I have been called to the court."

Calhoun stared at her before saying, "Consider it done," and he finally pulled away from her. Leaving her skin cold. 

Madeline blinked at him, at the thought that he actually agreed to it. Would that mean one day of peace? Calhoun had turned his back as if walking and Madeline bit her lip. But why now? Asked Madeline to herself. 

Madeline stood up from her chair, her eyes glanced at the letter and then at Calhoun who had opened the door. Noticing the look Madeline had on her face, Calhoun asked, "What is it?" and she shook her head, "I will have the letter sent through Theodore and see you at supper," the smile continued on his lips, and she couldn't help but question to what happened just now. 

When she stepped out of the room, walking towards her own, she turned back to look at Calhoun's room where the door was still left open. 

Was it because of what she said today in the forest? Was he taking account of her feelings? 

During the time of dinner, Madeline sat at the dining table, and Calhoun was late. The food was brought to the table and she couldn't resist but ask one of the maids,

"Where is the King?" 

The maid bowed her head to answer, "It was told that the King has some urgent work and wouldn't be appearing to have supper tonight."

"Oh, okay," and Madeline bowed her own head in thanks. 

The dining room was quiet except for the sound occasionally made by Madeline because of the fork and the knife touching the plate. It wasn't that it was the first time she was having her meals alone, but she found Calhoun's reaction and words to be strange. The King of Devon was strange to begin with. One moment he was trying to seduce her, and the next moment he told she would get the space she needed even if it was just for a day. 

Maybe he had a change of heart? Thought Madeline to herself. A man who could protect those small creatures, perhaps he wasn't that bad? But then she remembered the maids death. 

After her meal, Madeline decided to take a walk alone in the castle, but with the looks she received from the servants, or rather the way they behaved with her, she started to head towards the King's quarters where her room was. She could feel the fear where the servants appeared not to want to do anything with her. Hoping she would not stop them as they quickly scattered at the sight of her. 

Madeline didn't like the feeling, but she would have to deal with it. Wondering what urgent matter might have come for Calhoun to turn busy. It wasn't like she was complaining, thought Madeline to herself.