✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 151 - 160 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Liquid on the lips- Part 3

On their way to the carriage, Madeline felt her head starting to feel dizzy as she had never felt before. She tried to make sure to keep her footsteps firm, and she cursed herself. To spite Calhoun, she had drunk everything from the glass but who would have thought that the alcohol would be this strong? 

Calhoun who was walking behind Madeline couldn't stop the grin on his lips. He noticed how Madeline tried to walk straight, but somewhere after they stepped out of the castle, she had started to sway. The King was a sadist when it came to seeing the person who he loved struggle, wanting her to submit to him even if it was in the form of asking his help. He had his twisted ways and wanted her to want him. 

Not to forget, it wasn't him who had told her to drink. Madeline had chosen to drink despite his warning. 

Even though he had left the open room to talk to Mr. Jennyings about needing his assistance on some work, his eyes and consciousness was still where Madeline was. A King never had friends, but only foes who would be waiting to strike him or steal what was precious to him, and Calhoun was not the man to leave his treasure unprotected. Out of all the people, his eyes were only concentrated on Madeline because she was the only person who mattered to him. 

His blood had boiled when he found her with that human who was trying to catch her attention. To Calhoun it would be easy to have the man dead in less than a second but he knew how Madeline would react to it. Though Madeline was still resisting him, he could see how delicate their relationship was. She was finally coming around even though it was subtle which she herself had not noticed. It was possible that even though Madeline would grow feelings for him, she would be scared and try to shut it out, and it was something Calhoun was not looking forward to. 

Claiming her openly in front of everyone was to show her that he was serious about her and he wouldn't let a pest come between them. 

"Do you need help?" Calhoun asked looking at Madeline who was walking while her body swayed. If she were to fall, he would be there to catch her, unlike last time where she had fallen while he was still enjoying the sight of blood in front of him. 

He raised his hand to weave his fingers through his hair. 

"What for?" came Madeline's voice, her breath breezy. 

"You're having trouble while walking," stated Calhoun, "I wouldn't want another bump on your head."

Madeline, who was walking in front of Calhoun, didn't turn to look at him as she was trying to focus on her walking. What kind of berries were those that were making her head go round? She closed her eyes for a second and then opened after squinting. 

"I will be fine," she murmured under her breath. 

When they reached the carriage, the coachman pulled open the door of the carriage so that they could get in. Madeline pulled up her dress so that she could step on the pedestal of the carriage to get in, she almost missed her step, she felt Calhoun's hand around her waist.

"I got you," he whispered to her, helping her get in and Madeline's cheeks that were already flushed because of the wine turned pink. She sat down, moving to the corner end. Calhoun followed into the carriage to sit next to her. She held her hands on her lap, holding them close while staring at the wood that was in front of her. 

The carriage started to move, and Madeline was quiet, her eyes once in a while moving to look at Calhoun who was strangely not looking at her. Was he giving her space to breath? Especially after what he did back in the mansion!

"I-Is it true?" came the small voice from Madeline, which was the opposite in her mind. 

Calhoun turned his head to look at her, "What is true?" he asked. 

"Have you planned for the marriage? That it's going to be in a month?" she asked him. Calhoun noticed how her brown eyes looked more black, and mellow where her cheeks had been splashed with the colour of pink and red. 

He took note of her parted lips that were tinted with pink, and he had the urge to lean forward, to see how it would feel against his lips. 

"Yes," he answered, "We will be getting married someday, why wait when it can be done right away. Your family will be invited to come stay in the castle so that you feel they are near with you while they can be involved with the ceremony."

Madeline turned her body from where she was sitting on the seat, "But I am not ready for it…I haven't prepared myself for that."

And Calhoun turned too, "I am not an indecisive man, sweet. I know what I want, and I won't shy away from it. Is it too hard to digest?" 

Madeline, who was staring at him, whispered, "Yes."

Calhoun moved closer to her, to see how she didn't move back but continued to sit still, her eyes focussed on him, "Tell me what is hard and I will make it easy," he spoke to her gently. 

"You are mean," came the first answer from her, and he had to agree to that. But he did it only to see her different expression especially the one where she glared at him. He liked it the most, but then there was the time when she faintly smiled, and he had seen her near to tears.

"I will try to tone it down." 

"Did you hurt him?" On her question, Calhoun's eyes hardened that she was still thinking about James, but he wanted to be patient with her. 

"No, I didn't. Didn't misplace a single hair on top of his head," replied Calhoun, "You saw him," and it was the truth. All Calhoun had done was push James against the wall by holding his neck and letting him know how it would feel if he were to be hanged. 

On Calhoun's words, Madeline had a look of relief on her face, and she felt her heavy heart lighten, "Thank you," she said, not realising she had moved closer to him. Madeline continued to stare into those dark red eyes which she felt like she was drowning in. 

Then she frowned, lowering her gaze to say, "My head hurts."

Calhoun pursed his lips with a grim expression on his face, "Is this your first time?" he inquired to see her shake her head. Alcohols that were made for vampires consumption were not suitable for humans as it would hit the human system with thrice the force, "Why did you drink when I told you not to?" he asked. 

Madeline lifted her gaze to look back at him. Calhoun used the back of his hand to caress her cheek.

"You are being nice to me. Why?" Madeline asked, a shiver running down her spine at the tenderness he had in his eyes for her. Was it the wine that was making her look at him differently? "You were being mean to me earlier."

"I have always been nice to you. You didn't look past through my intentions," Calhoun replied. 

Madeline furrowed her brows before saying, "You lied about your parent's death."

"You were sad after hearing it." 

"Does that mean it was true?" she asked because the way Calhoun had told it to her, she felt terrible for him. 

"It is far worse than what I told you. Bloodier. Gorier. Cold. I will tell you one day, but that is not today," Calhoun leaned forward towards her to ask, "Can you wait until then?" Madeline's curiosity piqued and she nodded. She couldn't help but wonder what Calhoun's story was and somewhere she wanted to know more about him. 

Calhoun then asked, "Are you sad? Lady Catherine is a beautiful girl."

"You should get married to her then," the instant reply from her made him chuckle. 

"It sounds like you are jealous. Catherine doesn't hold my heart, she holds James' heart," Calhoun said and Madeline pulled away from where she had been sitting leaning her upper body.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you," she asked, peering up at him.

"I am trying, but it's hard not to," came his sincere reply that was hidden with sarcasm. Madeline took her hand away from the empty place of the seat to place it back on her lap. 

Madeline felt hot, and she opened the window for air, but the dress had many layers that made her want to pull them out of her body so that she could breath. The corset was tight and uncomfortable. 

Calhoun noticed the heat getting to her as she kept shifting from one position to the next, "Drink some water," he advised, picking up the water bag and passing it to her.

Murmuring thanks, Madeline tried to turn the top, but for some reason, her hands kept slipping, and she heard Calhoun sigh. 

He took the bottle from her hand to open it for her, but that wasn't all he did for her. 

While Madeline was waiting for the water bag to be passed back to her, she turned her face in time to see Calhoun raised it to drink the water from it. He then dropped the bag down, and his hand went around her waist, bringing her to him. Just as her lips parted to speak, his face descended to hers.

Madeline's eyes went wide when Calhouns' lips touched hers, pushing the water into her mouth, for her to drink directly from his mouth without the need for a bottle. 
It's too hot! - Part 1

Music Recommendation: Morphee by Jordane Tumarinson (automne piano)


Even in midst of her intoxicated mind, Madeline felt Calhoun's warm lips on hers. Her eyes went wide in shock, the effect of alcohol trying to lower down and her hands tried to push him, but they were weak against him. Calhoun was like a rock who was difficult to move, and she felt him pull her even closer than before, letting the water pass through his lips into hers, and she could do nothing but gulp it down.

Madeline moved her head to the side, trails of water dripping down the sides of her lips, "W-what are y-you doing?" came her stunned voice, but Calhoun was not done with serving her water, "I can do it m-myself!" she said, noticing how his other hand went to pick the next water bag.

With Calhoun's other hand around her waist, he used his teeth to open the top of the water bag, and Madeline could feel her heart beating in her chest. She tried to get away from him, her face completely turned red with embarrassment as he had kissed her without her permission! Once he had taken sufficient gulps of water, Calhoun placed the bag of water back, using his free hand to place it behind her head as he descended back down on her lips. 

She used both arms to push him away, seeing how his eyes were staring back at hers and out of reflex she gulped down the water, her slender throat bobbing up and down to take in the water through his lips. One mouth full of water in his lips were like three gulps in her small mouth.

Calhoun held her waist firmly against him, feeling her beating heart against him and listening to the way they skipped their beats every now and then. Her lips were soft and sweet on his lips. Sweeter than the water he had passed to her. He had waited for a good minute before taking the bag of water from her, seeing her struggle, how her hands kept slipping away while she tried to concentrate.

He had intended only to pass the water to her, but now that he had tasted her lips, he wanted more, and he sucked her lips. He heard the hitch in Madeline's breath and heart. He had been holding himself back for almost two weeks now and that was the most he could. He wanted to stake a claim on her. 

Madeline, on the other hand, turned into a mess. She felt a jolt run down her body when Calhoun sucked on her bottom lip. Her hands were crushed between their both bodies. He had completely taken her in his arms, kissing her.

"Wait!" said Madeline when there was a little gap when he had pulled away. She could see how his eyes had darkened.

"You might deny it, but I can hear the way your heart is beating. I can see you are scared to feel it. Don't deny what you're feeling now," he coaxed her with honey-like sweet words. He looked straight into her eyes before looking down at her lips. 

The alcohol Madeline had consumed was not a normal one that would lose its effects in a short time. It had only started to affect her body, trying to push her further into intoxication.

Calhoun leaned forward to capture her lips in his again, and Madeline's hands that were trying to push him away with all her strength turned weaker. She tried to move away from him, but with them being in the carriage, there was nowhere to go, only to be cornered at one side of the carriage.

Madeline, who had never been kissed before, felt like she had never been felt before. Calhoun continued to suck on her bottom lips, his teeth nipping it and she felt her fingers and toe curl at that action. One hand still on her waist, the other one which was on the back of her head, his fingers weaved through her hair to feel the softness while it moved down to settle on her neck. 

Madeline felt Calhoun run his tongue over the seam of her lips, prying it open and she didn't know why her lips parted, letting his tongue sneak into the hot cavern of her mouth. Her breath was laboured. Calhoun was not gentle, but neither was he rough with his moves. It was a mixture where the kiss was near the danger zone that would free the wild instincts that he had tried to chain, but it had loosened, and it wanted more from her. 

"Calhoun," she whispered when his lips were hovering back on hers after pulling away, and his eyes snapped from looking at her lips to her eyes. 

"What did you say?" he asked, his eyes smouldering in heat and want. 

Even though her body was weak and maybe sloppy, Madeline could sense the darkness in his voice. His face looked serious where he had no smile carrying on him with the mischievous evil deeds that he liked to impart on people or her. 

"N-no more," she said, her chest heaving for air. She didn't know if it was because of the alcohol or if Calhoun had the ability where he did something to her. Her mind was turning to a mess and at the same time, Calhoun looked different. They weren't even married, to be doing something like this.

"Repeat what you said before," there was a certain growl in his voice and it made her jump. Repeat what?? Asked Madeline in panic but before she could ask what it was, Calhoun pulled her closer, diving and indulging himself with her sweet mouth. His lips were much more demanding this time, coercing her to open up to him. 

Calhoun's hand moved to feel her back, and he couldn't stop to think about how it would feel to run his hand over her bareback. The thought only tipped him off, and the grip on her tightened, hearing her moan softly into the kiss which was music to his ears. 

"Tell me," he repeated, and Madeline didn't know what he wanted her to tell. What she wanted to say was not being taken into consideration. 

"I don't know, what you want me to tell you," she said hurriedly, her back was leaning against the side of the carriage with him over her, "We should not be doing this-" she started only to have him place his finger on her lips to shush her. 

"You will be my wife soon. I don't see why I should stop when you look like you are enjoying it. Feeling it," he said, staring at her. 

Madeline turned red, "No, I am not!" she denied. This was wrong; it was not right!

"No?" he asked. The way he looked at her now as if he was going to eat her up, Madeline gulped. 

Madeline stared back at him. Seeing his handsome devil-like face in front of her, "You were the one who kissed me."

"I agree, but it would be rude to say you didn't like it," he whispered to her, "I can hear your heart beating. Your eyes closed with every touch of my lips on yours, your skin feels like its on fire. You like it, but you are scared to embrace it. Am I wrong?" Calhoun asked Madeline. 

"The alcohol-"

"Come here, sweet. Let's see how much the alcohol worked on you or if it's your undiscovered feelings that you have been trying to curb, in the name of freedom of wanting to leave," Calhoun ran the back of his hand over her cheeks, caressing her, "I warned you not to drink it, but you drank it anyway. To spite me. Are you going to blame on the liquid? How does it feel to be intoxicated? Imagine the same intoxication I feel when I see you, how hard it is to resist myself not wanting to take you away from this world."

Madeline shuddered over his words, "D-don't do that," she didn't want to make the situation worse for her.

Calhoun had a faint smile on his lips, "I won't do that, Maddie. But at the same time, I prefer you look only at me. Your smile kept just for me to see and for no one else."

Madeline didn't know what to say. It wasn't because she wanted to spite him, but it was because she was upset. She had thought it would be a peaceful day where she would not step on the wrong lines with Calhoun but not in her dreams she would have imagined that James would be attending the same soiree. 

She had felt bad. Bad that James and Lady Catherine had appeared to be close, whispering to each other and talking. Even the others knew about it. Now it seemed like it wasn't the time that was wrong, but that, neither James nor Madeline had put an effort to make a move. 

A shiver ran down her spine when Calhoun's fingers gently brushed her face, "Now tell me."

Her eyes momentarily closed to open and look at Calhoun who was seated in front of her, "I will tell you if you tell me what you want me to tell you."

Calhoun's eyes moved on her face, towering over before they came back to settle to look at her brown eyes, "Say my name," he ordered. 

"Milord?" Madeline had not realised that in haste, she had used his name. She looked at him with wide eyes. At her word, Calhoun's hand moved down from her waist. His eyes narrowed because of impatience. 

"Without the honorifics. Just my name."

"Calhoun…" she whispered his name for him to hear. 
It's too hot! - Part 2

When Madeline had been asked to call the King by his name, she didn't know if it was some trick. No one ever called the King by his name, unless it was his family member. His eyes glared at her but not out of anger. The heat in his eyes didn't dissipate, and it burned even more brightly when Madeline had called his name. 

Some of the strands of his hair had fallen on his forehead, and his lips were parted as if waiting to catch hold of her lips again. Madeline's back continued to stick to the side of the carriage wall while looking back at him. Even though she had drunk some sips of water from him, she was still thirsty. 

But Madeline was too shy to ask for more water. Asking it would only mean she was looking forward to more kisses from him. Her lips trembled, remembering his lips on hers. Moving against it...Both of them continued to stare, and as if knowing she was thirsty, Calhoun asked her, 

"More water?" the way he asked her, deep down she felt something in her soul, her body reacting in a way right now which she wouldn't have let it react, "It's going to be a while before we reach the castle. I don't want you passing out," hearing this she doubted she would pass out because of water, but because of his presence alone. 

Madeline was torn as her body had only heated up because of his touch, making it worse while the water was not enough. She could do nothing but blame herself for taking in the alcohol despite Calhoun's warning, and now all she wanted was sink herself in the bathtub of water. 

"No, it's okay," she answered stubbornly. Though the alcohol was affecting her, it didn't mean she had lost control of herself. After a few seconds, she said, "I will take the water bag."

In time she saw Calhoun's face change and a sinful looking smile graced on his lips, "You will get your water through my lips. Agree?" now that he had tasted her, he wanted to have more. His eyes sparkled, waiting to hear what Madeline's answer would be. 

He could see how she was uncomfortable in the clothes that she wore right now. If she would take a couple more sips, it would help her.


Calhoun smiled at her answer. Her resistance was commendable, and it made the chase only that much enjoyable. 

The way Calhoun grinned at her right now, it reminded Madeline the time she had been sitting in the church, attending prayers with her family. During that time, the pastor of the church had once said how the devil was once an angel. An angel with white wings and a pure soul who was later corrupted to turn to have black wings with a sinister smile on the face. Waiting to charm the next person so that they could invite the prey on the web like a spider.

He let go of her waist and the other hand that was placed at the side of her bottom, pulling away his hand to move back against his seat. His hand itched, but he decided to keep his hands to himself for now. 

The journey back to the castle felt long and torturously slow to Madeline. She felt like a child wanting to throw a tantrum, but she bit her cheek. Biting her lips only made her body alive over Calhoun's touch, and she blushed with embarrassment. 

When the carriage stopped, Madeline was in an internal mess. The liquor had hit her body hard to its peek. Calhoun was the first one to step outside the carriage, a wicked grin playing on his lips to show one of his fangs as he knew exactly what Madeline was feeling. He had seen many humans who had drunk the liquor which was made for vampires, thinking they were better than the night creatures. Turning his head around, he saw Madeline, who was still sitting in the carriage. 

"Leave," Calhoun ordered the coachman who was holding the carriage door open, to see the servant leave the door as it was to go stand at the front of the horses. 

Madeline clenched her hands, taking a deep breath before she started to make her way towards the door by sliding across the seat. Her body felt prickly, like needles that were poking into her skin because of the heat, and was it this bright earlier? asked Madeline to herself.

"Stop being stubborn," stated Calhoun, raising his hand and Madeline didn't refuse. She had done enough for the day. She wanted to go to her room and probably sleep in the bathtub. That's what she would do, thought Madeline to herself. 

"Why is it so hot?" she asked him.

"Might be your body heating up after the kiss," came the reply from Calhoun and she stared at him, "It is the reaction to the vampire liquor. Close your eyes," he said when she stepped down from the carriage. 

Madeline had a small ache at the back of her head, her footsteps not stable enough to walk and suddenly she felt herself being picked in Calhoun's arms, "I don't want you dropping down," and he started to walk into the castle. As Calhoun walked up the stairs, Madeline instead of closing her eyes, looked at him. 

"People are going to see! Put me down!"

The servants in the castle had their eyes widened at the sight of the King carrying the lady who had been living in the castle for almost less than two weeks now. A human, who most of them believed to be was one of his another conquest looked shocked before schooling their reactions to continue their work. The last time two servants had spoken about the lady, they had ended up with their head being beheaded from their body. Not one but two servants. And no one wanted to remotely get to the King or the lady's bad side. 

As Calhoun made his way, carrying Madeline in both his arms, Theodore, who was talking to one of the ministers noticed the King from afar like many others. There were some more, one of them being the head maid, Nicola, who stared from the other side of the corridor at the sight, that was presented to all of them to see. 

When Madeline and Calhoun reached the King's quarters, Madeline felt relieved. The heat in her body was unbearable. Both her hands were around Calhoun's neck for support. She had been staring at the walls when her eyes slowly moved to look at Calhoun who looked serious again. 

She wondered which one was the real Calhoun Hawthrone. Was it this one? The one where he was serious and intimidating, his eyes dark where there was not a hint of emotion on his face. Or was it the one where he smiled, enjoying people's misery, like seeing her being denied of water which he was ready to offer only through his way. Her eyes trailed from looking at his jaw that moved towards his full lips. 

She closed her eyes now. How did that even happen?! This was not how she had imagined being kissed. 

Though Calhoun had his eyes at the front, his consciousness was at the person who was in his arms. 

He was listening to her heartbeat and breathing. Hearing the hitch and the line of sight at where she was looking, he muttered under his breath.

"Fuck it." 

Calhoun had at first decided to take Madeline to her room, but with the way she looked and the taste he just had of her, it was hard not to want more. His feet changed direction, and by the time Madeline opened her eyes, they were in the room. With her head starting to spin, she tried to catch sight of where they were, blinking her eyes as her eyes started to focus.

Madeline realised they weren't in her room, by the decor, this was the King's room. It was Calhoun's room, and she felt her heart almost slip from her chest,

"W-what are we doing here?" she stuttered. Did he bring her here to kiss her? She looked up at him, meeting his dark hooded eyes. 

"It is very normal for a human to feel hot after drinking a vampire's liquor. I am sure you are burning up with the way you have been squirming uncomfortably," replied Calhoun to her. Her eyes went back to see that Calhoun had walked past the large bed and her eyebrows furrowed. 

"W-wait-" Madeline was trying to conjure words when Calhoun continued to walk into the next room and down the stairs, for her body to be dipped in the water while still clinging on to him. 

"This should do," she heard Calhoun say while the cold water hit her body. He was right. Her body felt so much better right now. Calhoun had taken Madeline to his grand bath which was filled with a pool of water, dipping her body that had risen with the temperature because of what she had consumed. 

It felt like the fire in her body had finally calmed down, and so did her mind. She could feel Calhoun's gaze on her, watching her intently. She was glad that Calhoun had not thrown her into the water, instead walked into it, carrying her. Both of them were wet because of the water. 

Madeline continued to cling on to him, her hands holding tight around his neck. 
It is too hot!- Part 3

Calhoun continued to hold her in his arms in the water, letting her skin cool down from the heat, she had been trying to get rid of. Some drops of water had splashed on his face. He took another step further, where the level of water was higher than where he had been standing earlier. 

After a few minutes, Madeline finally started to feel cold, and without looking at him, she said, "I think I am okay now." She found it hard to look at him. For heaven sake, he had kissed her on her lips. On the mouth with his tongue...in her..mouth, she gulped at the thought. A cold shiver ran down her body, raising goosebumps on her skin, "Please," she added.

"If I drop you here, the chances of you drowning are high," he said in a serious tone. 

Madeline pursed her lips. Maybe he was right, "Will you take me back?" she asked him. Her eyes were still dilated, and her speech was slower compared to what she used. 

Calhoun wondered if Madeline knew how she looked right now. The way she pleaded with that doe-like eyes with the whisper in her words, he only felt right to have her stolen away from the world to bring her here to where he was. 

"I am feeling hot now," Calhoun said looking down at her before looking at the surface of the water that was moving back and forth. 

Madeline didn't understand what he meant, but when he started to move further and deeper into the water bath, her eyes widened in time, for him to dip down in the water with her. 

Before, the upper part from her chest was dry. But with Calhoun who dipped both of them, she had to take a deep breath when they resurfaced from the water. Had he decided to torture her? Her hands were slipping from his neck, and she noticed how water dripped down from Calhoun's head, trailing down on his face. 

"What are you doing?!" asked Madeline while water dripped down from her own face. 

"Getting off some heat as it is not possible in the bed," came his direct answer. 

Turning around, Calhoun finally walked back out of the water, up the stairs before putting Madeline down. Not in the water anymore, she shivered due to the cold. She saw Calhoun walk towards the platform to pick up two towels. Using one to rub his head as he strolled towards her.

Madeline looked down at the ground and then at the water. The King had a grand bath that was filled with water until the very brim. Because of them being in there, some parts at the edges had been splashed with water outside. 

Calhoun's hair which was previously combed back earlier with only a few strands that had come to fall on his forehead, now had his wet hair completely dishevelled. His red eyes stood out, staring at her as he made his way to her. Before he had picked up the towels, he had discarded the coat he had been wearing. 

He handed over the towel to her, and when she was going to take it from him, he pulled the towel so that she would stumble, to come to where he stood, "I don't know why I am being punished when you were the one who drank the liquor."

"You kissed me," she said, not happy that he stole her first kiss. 

"Don't look upset. I am not satisfied with just one. There are so many more to come," the wicked smile appeared back on his face. Her body still sluggish, she quietly took the towel from him, which he finally decided to let go, chuckling as he turned his back against her, walking while wiping his wet hair. 

Madeline stared at Calhoun's wet shirt that was sticking to his back before she looked down at herself. Her hair stuck to her face and neck. Her clothes wet along with her. She looked like a cat which had been thrown into the water. Starting to wipe her wet hair which would take a lot of time to dry, she wondered how she was going to get out of this room to get back into her room. 

That was right. Her room, she sighed. 

She was using both her hands, drying the ends. 


Madeline jumped from where she was, hearing the maid's voice that came from behind. It was the head maid, Nicola who had entered the bath, "Get Lady Madeline's clothes here."

Here? "I will be okay. I will go back to the room and change," responded Madeline.

The maid turned her eyes to look at Madeline and then at the King who didn't appear to change his order, and she bowed her head. 

"W-why bring my clothes here? I can change my clothes there," Madeline fretted. She didn't know she could stand anymore in the presence of Calhoun as much as she had today. She needed some space, and without waiting for him, when he had turned around, Madeline bolted out of the bathroom holding the front of her dress, her wet clothes leaving a trail of water drops on the floor. 

Calhoun turned around in time to see Madeline who had run straight to the door, and he stared at the drops of water on the ground, "Seriously, this girl."

The cold air touched her wet clothes, making her shiver more. Making her way quickly to the room, she saw Nicola who was looking through the clothes to pick out a dress of hers. Hearing the footsteps, of Madeline, the maid turned around with a furrowed expression. 

"I will be changing here. You can excuse yourself," Madeline said, catching breath. The maid bowed her head, keeping the dress back which she had picked up to place it in the cupboard and walked out of the room. 

Madeline closed the door turning the lock, while knowing a simple lock as this would not help when it came to Calhoun. She felt herself swaying and accidentally hit her head against the door which she didn't realise she had been standing close to. Touching her head, she walked in to the room to change her clothes.
Midnight snack- Part 1

Madeline had fallen asleep right after changing her clothes and climbing up the bed for her head to hit the surface of the bed without waiting to get to the pillow. For a human, who was unaware of the ways of the night creatures, Madeline had downed the drink to have a headache and finally slept; the room quiet except for a pair of footsteps that came to hover in front of her room that was closed. 

The person's shadow could be seen from the other side of the door, which stopped moving before pushing the door open. The footsteps moved to step into the room, walking towards the girl who laid on the bed with her back against the surface of the bed. Madeline's eyes were closed, and the sound of the door had not woken her up, which only told she was in deep sleep.

The person continued to watch the human girl, and her legs were hanging out of the bed while her blonde hair was let out loosely, cascading on the bed like the rays of the sun. Her breathing was controlled as her chest moved up and down with every intake and exhaled air through her lips. The presence of two continued to stay in the room for a few more minutes, the person staring at the girl before leaving Madeline alone with the door of the room closed again. 

On the same side of the castle, Calhoun stood outside in the balcony of his room. Once Madeline had run out of his room, he had discarded the clothes before taking a bath, in the water he had stepped in earlier holding Madeline in his arms. As water poured on his face from one of the fountains of the lion that was built in the corner, Calhoun couldn't get rid of the thought of the way Madeline looked. 

The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to keep her near him, and near didn't mean just in the castle because that was not enough for him. Calhoun wanted her in his bed. Like her blood, he had got the taste of her lips, and he had heard her moan. The soft cry escaping her lips when he had bit and scraped his fangs over her tender lips. He could only think how it would be to hold her in his arms, without anything between them.

Back in the balcony, his dishevelled hair moved with the evening wind. Today had been far more exciting than what he had thought it would be. 

He heard the sound of his door that opened to his room, the footsteps approaching him and he didn't bother to turn around to see who it was, as he knew by the weight of the sound of the footsteps on who had entered his room. 

"Good evening, my King," Theodore greeted Calhoun, "I have brought you a drink."

"Did you bring one for yourself?" asked Calhoun, and he turned his head over his shoulder to see Theodore smile. 

"I did. I thought you would like some company," answered the brown-haired vampire. 

Theodore raised the glass and handed it to Calhoun while holding another glass for himself, "I have written down the documents that were the highlights in the courtroom. The Warrings have been creating some problems at the borders. I don't think they will sit still for long."

Calhoun brought the glass to his lips, staring outside at the garden and the other part of the castle grounds, "News came up that they were planning to attack Devon. Wanting to take the kingdom and the lands that surround it."

"What do you have on your mind? A treaty? Another route is to attack," commented Theodore, holding his glass for some time before taking a sip from it. 

"Treaty is good when you have enough resources that will satisfy the other party but by the way they have been behaving for the past few months, I doubt they are looking for a peace treaty. Even if we do, they will still try to worm their way. That's how the Warrings are. It is in their nature to take as much as they can," Calhoun said before cracking the side of the neck, "Get the men prepared. We will need to attack them before they do. This will only mean more land to expand Devon." 

"Yes, milord," bowed Theodore, obliging the command. 

Calhoun had worked for his share of Devon, and even more, after coming to the castle, "It feels good, isn't it? To see the castle from inside rather than from outside."

"It's been long," came the short reply from Theodore, his head nodding to an agreement, "But you always knew you would be the King."

"I did," saying this, Calhoun placed his glass down which still had half of the liquid in it. With both his hands on the railings, he stared far away at the sky, "I was the heir to the throne. People who wanted it and opposed it, couldn't do anything but watch, and the same people kiss the ground I walk."

Theodore didn't comment anything further as Calhoun hummed something before turning around to say, "I need you to fix a meeting with Mr. Barnes. Call him to the castle. I need to tell him a piece of important news about his daughter, who has taken a liking, no, who has fallen in love with someone."

"I thought you were going to help with Lady Madeline's sister first. Did she find someone?" asked Theodore, who had an idea of what was going on as he was not only the King's advisor but also a close friend or alliance. 

"Elizabeth Harris has refused the favour of the King. The girl thinks she's the goddess of Devon and will have everyone around who will fall at her feet and ask for her hand in marriage," chuckled Calhoun at the thought of the human girl. He found it ironic on how two sisters could be so different in nature. 

Calhoun had taken note of Madeline's sister since the first time they had stepped into the castle, during the time of the ball. Though by blood, they were sisters, the older girl had gone as far as to condescend her very own sister during a conversation that took place on the dance floor. Calhoun had been dancing with Lady Keaton, and his ears were set close to the girl who was talking to the man she was dancing with. 

To get things back to a square, when they met over for lunch, Calhoun had showered the older girl with his attention. Almost making it look like he was courting Elizabeth Harris and his letter had been vague too. At the right time, he had dropped the information about how he was interested with the younger daughter of Harris and not the older one. The wicked smile continued to hone on his lips. 

"Mr. Barnes' daughter is interested in the tailorman. The same tailorman who is a small but important obstacle," stated Calhoun and Theodore finally connected the dots. 

"Would you like me to send him a letter or want me to go see him myself, to invite him through word?" asked Theodore. To be swayed by the King's words, there was a process. Pushing the person subtly enough to receive the desirable and favourable answer. 

"Letter should be fine. Tell him that the King has something very important to talk with him. We can leave the details, when he comes to meet me."

The sooner the tailorman would be out of the picture, the lesser reasons Madeline would find in wanting to escape because all her reasons would turn null. The tailorman's presence in soiree had turned out to be beneficial, and so was Lady Catherine's. Her affections towards the man were genuine and not something frivolous, which was why James was finding it hard to refuse. 

James might be a good man, someone who was trying to keep a woman's heart without trying to break it, but this was no child's play. The tailorman was not man enough to woo Madeline in time, which had fallen in Calhoun's advantage. It would have been harder to part Madeline and James if they were together. At that thought, the grin on his lips broadened. Madeline...the thought of her brought satisfaction to his soul. 

"I mentioned about the parents to her today," on Calhoun's words, Theodore, who was looking to his right at the scenery, turned his head to look at the King. 

"How did she take it?" 

Calhoun turned his eyes to meet Theodore's eyes which was shielded with a pair of clean glass, "No details, just mention. She was curious. She might run away faster than before if she finds about the truth," his eyes filled with amusement. 

He could barely wait to see her reaction when he would speak about it. Her beautiful face would be filled with shock, and if she knew about it right now, she would try harder to leave the castle.

"It would be better to hear it from you rather than from another person who might present it to her differently," said Theodore. 

"That is where the fall of trust will come into play. Trust is never given blindly. I need her to trust me, instinctively. She's in the right direction. I would have preferred to fasten the process by getting the tailorman out of the picture, would an accident sound bad?" he cocked his head to the side, staring at Theodore. 

"I believe you have the ability, my king. To make it look more like an accident than a murder," Theodore bowed his head. 

Calhoun picked up the glass, drinking it slowly. He had the ability, but Madeline would have her suspicions at him. As much as it was easy, he wanted to use the underhand methods to get rid of the man so that Madeline could solely focus on him. 
Midnight snack- Part 2

When Madeline woke up, it was the time of midnight. She didn't know what time it was as the room had no clock and the only clock was the bell that rang far in the distance in one of the villages or towns. She had a headache, and she felt thirsty. The room was dark to let her know that night had prevailed, and the castle grounds appeared to be quiet. The crickets outside continued to chirp. 

Getting down from the bed, her feet met the cold floor, and she padded her feet across the room to look outside the window which looked empty. By the looks of the stars and the ambience, she knew it was late in the night. Once she had got on the bed, she didn't know when she fell asleep, and it was a deep and a good one. Who knew having liquor would end up in her having a good sleep which she hadn't had in a long time. 

At the same time, Madeline started to remember the events that took place hours ago. One image falling over another, where she remembered meeting James and his possible alliance with Lady Catherine. The carriage...Oh the carriage, she closed her eyes. Her body slid down while holding the grills of the window to sit down on the floor, on her heels. 

The feeling of Calhoun's lips on her made her tremble and shiver that raised goosebumps on her arms at the thought that they had kissed. No, no! Madeline corrected herself. Calhoun was the one who had kissed her, and it wasn't her who had initiated the kiss. She had felt his lips moving against her, coercing her to open herself to him, and she had…

"Kill me," muttered Madeline to herself. With the kiss that took place not just once but over and over with their lips touching each other and the tongue, she didn't know how to face the King anymore! 

How did that happen?! One minute she had been feeling extremely hot and wanted Winter to come right away because of the unbearable burn she felt all over her body. 

Unconsciously her hand moved to touch her lips, tracing it and remembering the way it felt when he had kissed her. Thinking about it, she felt something in her stomach, and she put her head between her knees, "What am I going to do?"

Standing up, she fanned her hand over her face that had turned red. She wished she could ignore it easily by saying it was nothing. But it was her kiss. On her lips. How could he steal it away from her just like that! Leaning forward, she tried to see if there was anyone outside, noticing how clear it was with no guards or wolves, Madeline decided to step out of the room. She had eaten in the afternoon, and she was hungry now. 

Picking up a coat that was hanging on the stand, Madeline wore it, tying the sides before stepping outside the room. 

She was greeted with low burning lanterns that hung on the walls. Some places held the torches of fire that burned in low flame because of the possible lateness in the night. The corridors were clear without the maids. When she leaned forward, she noticed the guards who were situated in the bottom ground. Now that she was out, in the quiet night, she forgot about her hunger and decided to spend some time alone without being watched or hovered. The maids weren't there to attend her as they would have thought that she was still sleeping and would wake up only in the morning. 

As Madeline made her way, she took note of the King's room whose doors were closed. There was no light in there, and it made her wonder if Calhoun was in there or was out for work. The village she came from, it was told that the night creatures were the children of the devil because they indulged themselves in drinking the human's blood and killing them for sacrificial purpose. That the vampires never slept during the time of night but only slept during the time of the morning, which was a lie.

Did Calhoun sleep?

She would have told that the bed was used to sleep, but with Calhoun in the picture, there were other purposes of the bed apart from resting. 

Walking away from the rooms and the corridor, she made her way down before sneaking away from there. It felt good to be out like this, thought Madeline to herself. When her eyes moved up to look at the sky, she noticed how the moon was full—the clouds blew across the stars and moon because of the wind. 

Madeline made her way through the other part of the corridors, spending her time walking aimlessly but freely this time where she didn't have to find the fearful expression directed towards her by the servants of the castle. 

While trying to make her way towards the kitchen, she heard something rustle behind her. When Madeline turned around, there was nothing in there. But when she turned to look forward, she felt her blood drain out of her face at the sight of the large four-legged creature that looked nothing less to a shadow. 

Out of fear, she took a step back to hear the black wolf growl at her lowly, and she froze. 

Madeline had come out of her room to have something from the kitchen and not to turn to someone's food instead. 

Madeline wanted to run away, but she was scared that it would only increase the chances of her being bitten by the wolf who was Calhoun's favourite. Calhoun had told her that they were left out loose at night to roam around the grounds of the castle, but she didn't know it also included inside the castle. 

The night was quiet and cold that the growl of the wolf frightened her. The creature was bigger than the size of a dog. The growl that started low started to increase, and Madeline was sure she was going to turn to wolf meat tonight. Or maybe she should just lay down on the floor and act dead, thought Madeline to herself, maybe that way the wolf would leave her. 

"What was your name?" asked Madeline, trying to remember the wolf's name. Calhoun had mentioned the name, and she tried not to move from where she stood, "Maddox!" she remembered, but the wolf didn't like her calling its name. Stealthily, it moved towards her, pulling its mouth wide and she noticed how white its teeth looked because of its black fur and the darkness around them. 

When it growled and snapped its teeth, Madeline couldn't stand still anymore. She bolted from there by turning around and started to run. This didn't help but only worsened as the wolf was quick to jump on its feet, following her like a devil had unleashed hell into her life. All she wanted was some peace, not to be turned to pieces instead!

Madeline was only a human who could run only a certain distance who would be caught by the wolf before it would swipe its paws or claws on her. She turned to look at the wolf that was about to get her, she noticed it was close which was when she turned back to find Calhoun. She jumped right into his arms for protection. 

Utterly scared to her wits end, Madeline shivered out of fright, "Save me!" she whispered, her hands trembling whilst they were holding the front of his shirt awkwardly. It wasn't just her hands but also her legs that were shaking. It was a miracle that Madeline was not crying right now because the wolf was something to be scared of. 

She had her eyes closed hoping she was safe, after all, it was Calhoun's pet. The silence continued to fill back where the air was not gushing through her ears, and the growls from the wolf had quietened down. 

"I was wondering who was playing out in the corridor with Maddox. It looks like you two are getting along well," said Calhoun above her, his hand moved to place it on her small back. It would be rude not to provide comfort to the girl when she was openly seeking out for it. 

"He is going to eat me!" cried Madeline, her eyes continued to stay shut as she clung to his front. 

Calhoun took note of his beloved pet who now had taken his position in front of them. Sitting as its tail wagged like a well-behaved boy, "I don't think Maddox wants to eat you. He only meant to play with you," Calhoun pacified her with his words before adding, "The only wolf who will eat you here is me."

Madeline was too scared to take the flirtatious words of him, and she slowly pulled away, turning around to see the wolf right in front of them. When she felt it was okay to step away from Calhoun like a damsel in distress, the wolf who was sitting stood up, taking a step forward that led to Madeline quickly fall into Calhoun's arms again. 

"Please ask him to go away," she pleaded. It was as if the wolf was waiting to scare her. 

"Why? He is a harmless thing. Look, how cute he is," replied Calhoun, but Madeline's eyebrows furrowed. 

"He is cute?" she asked as if it was the ridiculous thing she had ever heard. That wolf was nowhere to be cute with its sharp teeth which had tried to snap at her. 

Calhoun noticed how Madeline tried to cling to him like her life depended on it. If Madeline had been listening to his words closely, she should have known that no thing or person could hurt her with him around, but he didn't want to remind her. Not when he was enjoying her holding on to him. What a lovely creature, she was, thought Calhoun to himself. 

He had seen Madeline slip away from his quarters. Her robes sweeping through the clean white floors of the corridors, her fingers tracing the walls mindlessly. Though the other wolves often roamed outside the grounds of the castle, it was only Maddox who walked inside and outside the castle. 

His wolf exactly knew how to scare a person.

He wasn't the kind of man to let an opportunity slip through his fingers. He was someone who made opportunities possible. When he leaned forward, he smelt the flower-like fragrance waft from the top of her hair. 

While Calhoun was enjoying having her in his arms, Madeline was not ready to leave his side. She didn't know why the wolf was growling and wanting to snap its teeth at her. 

"Maddox is only trying to familiarize himself with you. Why don't we make a proper acquaintance?" Madeline heard Calhoun hum at the end. The hand that was on her lower back, moved to her waist so that he could have her turn around, "Watch," ordered Calhoun and Madeline noticed how Calhoun stepped forward. His hand reached the head to pat the wolf and give the wolf a scratch below its ear. 

"You are his master. He will listen to you," stated Madeline. Creatures who were brought up by people were always loyal and harmless towards their master. 

Calhoun then replied, his hand still giving the wolf an ear rub, "He will listen to you, once he knows you have accepted me," turning around, Calhoun smiled at her, "Come here, Maddie." Madeline was not sure about going close to the wolf because the first time she had tried to pat it, the wolf had shown her its beautiful teeth. 

Seeing Calhoun wait for her, Madeline took one step towards them, and she sat down next to where Calhoun was. Under Calhoun's touch, the wolf was indeed harmless, but the same could not be told otherwise when it came to others. 
Midnight snack- Part 3

Maddox had been tamed in seconds by Calhoun, and Madeline stared at the wolf and then at the hand that was patting and rubbing its ear. She remembered Calhoun telling her how he had the wolf for a long time.

"Is it a vampire thing?" asked Madeline softly without wanting to disturb the wolf's time with its master. She had taken glimpses of the wolves in the past to run away before they could spot her—seen bodies of the villagers that were left by the wild wolves on the forest grounds. It was something that had worried her in the past as her father had to go to the forest to collect logs of woods. Because of the trouble that was caused in the forest by the wolves, many villagers often went hunting, that had pushed the habitat of wolves away from civilization. 

But not anymore, and it was thanks to Calhoun. 

Calhoun responded to her, "It is my thing. Master of these wolves can be only be the big bad wolf," The wolf that was getting petted, growled lowly in approval at the touch of its master. "He was in bad shape when I found him. Not exactly a pup but a wolf who was growing and had been hunted." 

The wolf moved its head to rub its head against Calhoun's hand.

"Who hunted him?" asked Madeline. 

"It was Markus Wilmot. Sophie's brother," he answered her question, "We were hunting the deer when the arrow went to this one. My cousin used to have a terrible aim in the past—someone who could not differentiate between a deer and a black wolf. When we reached, Maddox had an arrow that went through the front of his leg. Usually, animals die when they have an arrow running so close to the chest. And even though he was wounded, he wanted to take a bite," Calhoun's voice appeared to be much gentler as if he was remembering the fond memory. 

Madeline saw Calhoun raise his hand in front of her. She went to look at his hand to notice a faint bite mark and her eyes widened. 

"He bit you," she frowned. 

He retrieved his hand back, "He did, and look at him now. He's the most loyal person you will find. Someone who won't think twice before ripping them apart. He protects things that are important to me."

"He almost bit me," Madeline reminded him to hear him chuckle. 

"Are you telling me, you want to be that special person, Madeline? If you will, he will swear his loyalty to you, but of course, I will be his master then comes the next." Calhoun's question resonated in her mind. The words repeated as she stared into his red eyes. He then shifted the topic to ask, "Did you sleep well?"

Madeline nodded her head. Realising how close they were, she stood up.

"I came down to look for food to eat," she was hungry, and she could feel the sound that her stomach made right now.

"You could ask the guard to send the food to your room," replied Calhoun, giving a final pat to the wolf, he stood up, his height towering her. 

It wasn't that Madeline didn't think about it. She knew how to cook, and she had fed herself in the past. She didn't feel the need to cause trouble to the maids or the cook who would have to cook for her at this odd hour. She had already received the unwelcoming look from the servants; she didn't want to be despised. 

Noticing Madeline's hesitation, Calhoun said, "Servants here in the castle are not guests but to work for the King and the King's guests. If they didn't, there would be no point in having them in here, would it?" The wolf got up and left the corridor, "You must be hungry," his eyes moved to look at her stomach and then up at her. 

When they reached the kitchen, Madeline looked at Calhoun who was looking at something else while she cut some vegetables for herself. Something quick and easy so that she wouldn't have to wait long to eat. Once she was done, she heard Calhoun ask,

"Where is my share of food?" Madeline bit the inside of her cheek. 

"You can have this," she said, pushing the bowl and ready to make another one when she saw Calhoun shake his head.

"I was joking," and he pushed the bowl back to her. Madeline sat down and started to eat the food she had made for herself. When the head cook of the castle appeared at the kitchen door, Calhoun waved him off. 

Madeline concentrated on her food, not looking at Calhoun who was idly playing with the glass of water in front of him which he had been drinking. She tried hard not to remember the time the kiss that happened, but the more she tried not to, the more she remembered. 

She didn't know how Calhoun was sitting there calmly, drinking water as if nothing had changed. After she was done eating her midnight meal, Calhoun took her back to her room, seeing her off with a goodnight, without mentioning anything about the kiss in the carriage or the dip they had taken together in his bath.

As the next day approached, Madeline was glad that Calhoun had not teased or whispered about anything embarrassing which only made her question, if he would, every time he spoke to her. It ended up so that her thoughts were occupied by him.

In one of the many rooms of the castle, Mr. Barnes sat with the King, not knowing why he was invited today, "I was very surprised when one of your men came to my mansion, asking me to come to join you. I hope I haven't caused any trouble," said Mr. Barnes, who was seated in front of the King. 

Calhoun offered the man a smile, "You have been a very resourceful man for years now, Mr. Barnes. Especially your work. I thought it was time, I give you something in return," and Mr. Barnes gave a look of surprise at the King's words. 
Setting up with another- Part 1

Mr. Barnes stared at the King, in shock waiting to hear what the King had to say. It wasn't every day a normal man or a woman got an invitation to come and have tea with the King. The King had other affairs to attend to and giving time to people meant a lot. Mr. Barnes had a cup of tea in his hand, when he heard the King ask,

"Mr. Barnes, since how long have we known each other?" the King was stirring his teacup, round and round looking down at it.

"It must be more than two decades, Sire," answered Mr. Barnes. Though the man himself was much older than the King, it was because of the power the King held, that made Mr. Barnes appear to be slightly timid. One had to be extra careful when speaking to the King. A relative or family members words could be dismissed, but it wasn't the same when it came to outsiders. Sometimes even the relatives were not shown mercy because the amount of betrayal that ran in the cracks of the bond never closed. 

Once Calhoun was done stirring his tea in the cup, he tapped the side of the cup with the spoon before placing it down on the saucer, "Two decades is long, isn't it? I have known your family, Mrs Barnes and your lovely daughter Catherine. She had grown up," he paused before saying, "Your girl, I mean."

By the mention of his daughter, Mr. Barnes wasn't sure if he was supposed to be happy or worried about it. Happy, because the King was considering his daughter for something and with the years of experience he had in the court that even included serving the previous King, he knew this was heading in the direction of a possible prospect for his daughter. There were hundreds and thousands of girls awaiting out there in the land of Devon, but the King had thought about his daughter. 

Not every proposal was a happy one; daughters were usually used to create peace, an alliance and Mr. Barnes didn't know what the King had on his mind. Patiently, he waited.

"It is time you get her married. She has turned to a fine and beautiful woman, there must be a lot who are trying to get her hand in marriage," Calhoun raised his teacup to his lips, taking a slow sip and letting the older man reply. 

"There have been some, my King, but Catherine has not shown keen interest in any of them," Mr. Barnes shoulders slightly drooped at the mention of this, "We have been trying to get the best suitor."

"Did you ask her if she likes someone?" Calhoun asked him casually. His gaze moved from the cup to look at Mr. Barnes. 

"No!" Mr. Barnes looked opposed to the very idea of his daughter, bringing a man by herself.

"Word is that young Catherine has taken a liking towards a man. A very good man, who is handsome, talented, has fingers that can create threads of different fashion. He is a good man, and you must have heard about him at least. His name goes by something cliff...Ah, yes! James Heathcliff," said Calhoun with a subtle smile on his lips. 

The older vampire frowned as if remembering who the man was, "Forgive me, my King. But when you said he works on threads, did you mean to say he is a tailorman?"

"A high one at that," Calhoun's eyes brightened, "I have heard excellent things about him. He is a kind and polite gentleman."

Mr. Barnes' replied, "I never thought about marrying my daughter to a mere tailorman. Forgive me again, but I will need to think about it."

"Why?" came the pushy question from Calhoun, "If you are worried about his status, I can get it fixed. He is already working for my ministers and me by making clothes for us. And some others. That shouldn't be a problem, and not to forget, Catherine is very infatuated with him. I met them when Ms. Jennings hosted a party in her mansion. They appeared to be happy together, might I add, very right with each other."

The man raised his teacup, taking a sip and then another as his eyes moved to the front. 

Calhoun stared at the man. He wanted to get Catherine and James married as soon as it was possible. This way, there would be little to nothing, when it would come to Madeline giving reasons to him, on why she didn't want to stay in here or get married to him. 

The King then continued, "As I have known Catherine for a long time now, and though I am the King, I feel obliged to be part of it. Like a brother, I would like to be part of the occasion. I have already picked a wonderful place where she might love to get married," he smiled at the end.

Mr. Barnes felt unnerved in the presence of Calhoun. He had heard many things about the King, things that were from close information, and he was somewhere upset that Catherine had not been able to entice the King. Like many fathers and mothers of high social status, they preferred their daughters marrying for status and money than for love. Love could be found once they married to wealthy families, such was the thinking, and it didn't matter if their sons or daughters liked it or not. 

The old vampire had tried to make his daughter sway and bed the King, hoping it would bring good fortune to the family. It wasn't anything new, and it had been running through generations. Even if a King was already married, he sometimes had a mistress or two who were either meant to be kept for his pleasure or to bear children to produce an heir to the throne. 

He had hoped his daughter would come to be of use, but the King clearly had shown no interest in her. He let out a sigh of disappointment in his mind and then said, 

"I would like to talk to Catherine about it before I answer anything to you, my King," answered Mr. Barnes, bowing his head so that the King would agree to it. 

"Of course," replied Calhoun, "Once you have spoken to young Catherine, I hope the answer will be a yes to the wedding between her and the person she is in love with. She is a young girl, it would be pitiful to have her love stolen," saying this, Calhoun drank down the rest of the content in the teacup, "More tea?" he asked, his red eyes bright and the man nodded his head. 

When the time came to leave, Mr. Barnes bowed his head with polite words before stepping into the carriage he had come in.

Madeline who had taken herself up to the tower of the castle where the wind blew with more speed because of the tower's height, she noticed a carriage leaving. At the same time, another one entered through the gates that were situated far away from the castle. 

She wondered who it was, who had come to visit the castle today because Calhoun had appeared to be occupied and he wasn't in the court, leaving the court duties to his man, Theodore. The hair that she had tied into a braid had been slightly pulled out because of the wind. Some strands came to fly in the direction of the wind, and she didn't bother to tuck it back behind her ear. 

After drinking the liquor yesterday in Lady Ellen Jennings soiree, Madeline decided not to try something like that again. She had met James yesterday, and he looked just the same as he did before, but he had Lady Catherine with him. Her lips pursed as she stared at the grounds of the castle. Calhoun had sent her away from the powder room, and she didn't know what had happened between them in there. James looked unharmed, but Calhoun had other ways to intimidate a person. 

Evening drew near when she heard a voice calling her from behind,

"Lady Madeline," she turned around to see Theodore, who had entered the tall tower of the room, "I didn't know you would be here. The King has summoned to see you."

Madeline didn't know if she was ready to meet Calhoun right now. First came James, then came the kiss from Calhoun, and then came the wolf where she had ended up clinging on to Calhoun. She stared at Theodore. The man looked more normal than Calhoun, but she wondered what normal meant in the land of Devon, in the castle. 

Was Theodore hiding who he really was, unlike Calhoun, who didn't bother to hide himself?

"You said you wouldn't tell him," said Madeline to Theodore, her eyebrows furrowed. He had told he wouldn't mention it to the King, but he had told Calhoun about James and her meeting in the castle. 

Theodore took a moment at the sudden words that the lady spoke. Both of them had never spoken much to each other before, and it was only a word or two. Quickly thinking about what she might be talking about, Theodore said, "My apologies, milady. I did not say a word about it. The King must have found out about it by himself."

Madeline stared at the brown-haired man. He didn't?

She heard him speak, "I wouldn't break my word. There was no direct harm. Therefore, I didn't feel there was a need to mention about it," and he had answered the same to Calhoun when he was questioned on why Theodore had not informed him. 

Madeline had not moved from where she stood, "Okay…" she trailed, starting to walk and make her way out of the tower to be followed by Theodore. While walking down the spiral staircase, she asked him in a curious voice, "Do you know what happened to the King's family?"

"Yes, milady. I do," came the sincere reply from Theodore. 

Though Madeline was intoxicated and her body was weak with her senses, it didn't mean she had forgotten the conversation she and Calhoun had in the carriage. She stopped her footsteps and turned to ask him, "Can you tell me what happened?"

Theodore stared at the human whom Calhoun had taken a liking to. Truthfully he saw nothing special in her, and he didn't know what the King had seen that had made him keep her here in the castle. As Theodore worked for the King, he was only going along with his majesty's orders and wishes. 

"Apologies, but it would be best if you heard about it through the King and not from me," Theodore bowed his head. 

"I did, and he said his parents died because of an attack that took place here. The neighbouring kingdom had attacked them," Theodore pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, "He then told it was a joke."

The man offered her a smile, "He has a dark sense of humour. I am sure you will come to like it in time. Please," he then showed his hand towards the front of the stairs, and they started to walk down the stairs. Calhoun was a jealous man, and he wouldn't like it if he were to know that someone else was trying to take the woman's time apart from him. 

Madeline, who was holding the front of her dress, continued to place her feet down the stairs one after another. 

"He is rough around the edges, but he is a good man, milady," she heard Theodore speak from behind, and Madeline smiled, it wasn't out of happiness. 

"Have you not met the King?" she asked him.

As Madeline was walking ahead of Theodore, she didn't notice the smile on the man's lips,

"I have, milady. But the King does things only to protect people he cares and loves. You might find it wrong, and somewhere I do understand, being torn away from the family and to live somewhere you have never lived before, sometimes it can be daunting. And that might be the only dark side of it along with the blood, but if you try to find a good side, you will find many. I hope you will give  him a chance."
Setting up with another- Part 2

When Madeline reached the room where the King was, Theodore took his leave right away so that it was only Calhoun and Madeline in the room. Calhoun stood with his back against her while standing in front of the tall window that was draped with maroon curtains at the sides to be tied for one to see the world that was outside. 

Madeline noticed, the room was big, and the furniture took less space. She had not been to this room before. There were too many rooms in the castle that she had not even covered half of it. 

"How has your day been?" Calhoun asked, who was yet to turn around. 

"It was okay," she answered, and he finally turned around, his eyes meeting hers.

"Only okay? Perhaps you were missing me and that is why it has not been fantastic?" he asked with one eyebrow-raising at her. 

Madeline noticed the way Calhoun walked towards her, each step of his slow towards her, "How was your day?" she asked him, not wanting to give him an opportunity to tease her. Calhoun was pleased with her question because Madeline never asked him anything except for her freedom, but she had stopped speaking about it since the day they had visited the forest. 

"I missed you," replied Calhoun, picking up her hand when he came to stand in front of her. With his red eyes still on hers, he kissed the back of her hand, his lips lingering on her skin that left a burn while also sending a jolt through her body. 

His lips were not on hers and he hadn't teased her with his words but Madeline remembered the time when those same lips were on hers. Kissing her as they moved- she took a deep breath and brought her thoughts back to the present where they were standing. 

"I can see that I have been occupying your thoughts. I can see it in your eyes," a grin appeared on his lips before he let go of her hand. 

Madeline didn't comment on it, and the grin on Calhoun's lips broadened, "Did you have something to ask me?" he had summoned her, and she could only think if there was something she would have to be wary about. 

"I wanted to ask how your delicate ankles have been doing," saying this, Calhoun's eyes trailed down from her gaze to look at her neck which then moved to her chest and down to her waist before it fell on the hem of her dress. 

Madeline quickly answered, "It is doing great. Good as a horse."

"Good," Calhoun had a satisfied look on his face, and when he noticed her frown, he cocked his head to the side, "Are you upset that I won't be massaging your ankles? We can do that even if your ankles are not paining," he offered, and she shook her head, "Let's take a walk outside in the garden. I was thinking about getting some air and which best person to walk with, at the time of the evening?"

She didn't refuse, instead played along. She had to learn quickly if she was trying to keep up with the King. The more she would deny, the more enticed he was with her. The sky had turned orange with inky hue, and she walked next to Calhoun in silence. Calhoun didn't seem to speak, and it gave her more time to talk to herself in her mind that went in circles. 

"How long have you been living alone in the castle?" asked Madeline.

"Without the family or with family?" Calhoun shot another question at her. 

"Without family," she cleared. She was curious about the King's past, especially after he had made up a story only to tear it down. It made her question if it was the truth what he had spoken or if it was far worse. 

"Nearly two decades," Calhoun answered with a smile on his lips as he was happy to see Madeline ask about him. 

"Doesn't it feel lonely?" 

Madeline wouldn't know, how she would have lived in this huge castle without having anyone as her own, "Do you?" she heard Calhoun ask her. 

She pursed her lips at his question whether she was feeling lonely, "Would it matter if I said I am feeling lonely?" she asked him.

"Initially, everyone feels lonely, because of the new people and new place. You feel foreign at first, but then you start getting familiar," he answered her, "I don't think I have ever felt lonely. Never felt there was a need to feel such an emotion. I have been a self-sufficient person, Madeline. I grew up that way."

Was he speaking about it after his parents passed away? 

Calhoun's eyes moved to the corner to take a look at Madeline who appeared to be in a deep thought. Yesterday, he had asked her to be patient as she was drunk, but she appeared to be back to normal, "You know…" he drawled, catching her attention before saying, "I have a liquor room. If you ever feel the need to drink, we can always make a trip there."

"I don't want to drink the wine," replied Madeline, her hands twisting the long beaded chain that went past her chest. 

"Aww, I am going to miss the sloppy person," he teased her, "What a shame. I thought we could drink and pour out our hearts to each other." Madeline didn't know how to revert from what happened, but her gut said to let it rest without bringing it up in front of him. She felt Calhoun's eyes on her, but she didn't turn to meet his gaze. The blood started to rush up through her neck, making way up to her face because of the unbroken gaze from the person beside her. 

When Madeline didn't turn to look at him, he couldn't help but decided to trick the girl.

With a small snap of his fingers, something appeared near Madeline's feet to make her trip, and Calhoun caught her in his arm. He doubted he would be able to keep his hands to himself anymore because it felt like a clock was ticking to come to its end, which was near. Madeline looked more beautiful under the moonlight. 

"Thank you," Madeline murmured, her eyebrows furrowing and she turned around to see what she had missed, but there was nothing. 

"Tripping on air," chuckled Calhoun and once Madeline stood straight, he moved his hand gingerly away from her waist, "I am delighted tonight."

"Why?" came Madeline's careful words. 

Calhoun cocked his head to the side, "Are you saying I shouldn't?"

"No! That's not what I meant," replied Madeline, she came to doubt if there was anything good to other people when the King was happy. It was something to worry about. 

She heard him hum and then speak, "Someone I know, will be getting married. A love marriage with the approval of parents. Don't you think it's fantastic news? Parents rarely approve of such things."

Madeline nodded her head, having no clue of who Calhoun was talking about, "It is good news," she agreed, "Not everyone's love is accepted." Madeline and Calhoun had started to walk again in the garden of the castle.

"Who are you speaking about?" asked Calhoun with a hint of curiosity. 

"There was a girl who fell in love with a boy, but she was married to another person who hailed from a town. I remember seeing her cry."

"Did you cry at the thought of you being torn away from your infatuation?" she hadn't expected him to ask her this question. It made her ponder, and she only gave him a stare. She did cry, but it was mostly at the thought of her being forced into something she was not ready for, "Shall I take your silence to be a no?" asked Calhoun, wanting a clear answer. 

"I think my condition was different compared to the girl from my village. They both were in love, and I was one of the few people who knew about it," and she looked away from him, "Yes, it's an infatuation, a beginning path," she said talking about her. 

"Thought I would never get to hear that," chuckled Calhoun, and Madeline wished she could stab this vampire as she sensed the words that felt like he was mocking at her. 

"How did you turn the fork into petals?" more than curious, Madeline was fascinated that something like that was possible. The village used to have an annual fair that took place close to the market, and the towns held them too. She had witnessed people trying to do magic which was nothing but tricks, but nothing came close to what Calhoun had shown her until now. 

She noticed how Calhoun moved away from her, picking the rose that was yet to bloom. 

"What do you really want to know?" he asked, going back to her. 

Madeline responded, "The truth. Only the truth."

"You won't be able to digest some things," replied Calhoun, "You are like this rose, soft and unopened, who doesn't know the ugliness of this world."

"Why did you bring me here, then? If you think it is ugly?" she demanded without raising her voice. 

Calhoun's smile broadened as he looked down at the bud of the rose that was yet to bloom, "Because I was attracted to you and I was intrigued. Will you disagree that you weren't intrigued by me the day you met me at the ball?"

"I was intrigued for a different reason than yours."

"But you were," he said, and her eyes went down to look at Calhoun's hand that was playing with the rose, which slowly started to bloom in his hand. He moved his hand towards her hair and pushed it in, "I thought you would be my salvation." 
Setting up with another- Part 3

Madeline was left speechless by Calhoun's words almost sounding like a confession to her. Somewhere her heart ached, and she wasn't sure if it was for him or her. She stared into his eyes.

For once, a smile came to appear on her lips in front of Calhoun, "I think you are more than capable," she shook her head, "You are someone who doesn't need to be saved because you are capable of doing it yourself."

Calhoun had not let go of her hair where he had pushed the rose, "It is not about me being able to save myself, you and me both know I am capable of doing that but there are other things. You know, things are not always about physical strength." Madeline slowly understood what he meant. What was one supposed to do when a man like Calhoun said she was the person who could keep his sanity. The King had a dark nature and she wondered if he wasn't like this before and maybe he was turned like this for a reason. 

Softly, she asked, "Why do you kill people then?" Madeline didn't need to be told that Calhoun was someone who would walk the path like every other man, or maybe she had less knowledge when it came to people outside the village. 

Calhoun tched, like there was nothing he could do with a sigh, "I can't help it. I was built that way. My hands are too deep to pull away right now."

"It is never too late."

Their conversation was vague and Madeline tried not to step into his territories which she was not allowed to step on. She felt Calhoun take one step closer to her, closing the distance that was there a second ago. 

He didn't speak another word, and moved his hand away from her hair. The back of his fingers traced her skin from the top of her shoulder, down her arm that left when it reached her wrist. 

Calhoun was yet to lean his face, and Madeline could feel the unevenness in her breath at the thought that he was going to kiss her, "You are right. It is never too late," she didn't know what he meant by that. Calhoun's words were often vague, which made her question on what he meant by it.  When she thought he was going to kiss her because of his parted lips, Calhoun pulled away from her.

Calhoun took in her expression that was filled with anxiousness and anticipation, "Let's get you back inside."

"You didn't answer my earlier question."

"Which one was that?" asked Calhoun, stepping away from her.

"The magic…"

"It is part of being a vampire. A special one," he grinned, "Come on, little one." Calhoun had started to walk, and Madeline followed him quickly when she heard the howl of a wolf from far away.

Far away from where the castle was situated, in the Barnes residence, Mr. Barnes broke the news first to his wife, on why the King had summoned him to the castle to speak. Mr. Barnes was not keen on getting his only daughter married to a mere human whose occupation was cutting fabrics and making clothes. 

"Do you think Catherine got the King to speak to you because she was unable to tell you?" asked Mrs. Barnes. They were in their bedroom during the time of night, "Catherine didn't even mention of her interest in getting married to him. I thought she was only attracted to the man."

"I told you to stop her from going around too much," whispered Mr. Barnes, "She could have used the same time in getting the King's attention instead of wasting her time on someone who is beneath us. Look at what has happened now!" he sighed in frustration. 

"Let me bring Catherine here so that we can get it settled," said Mrs. Barnes, leaving her husband in the room who was standing in front of the fireplace. 

When Mrs. Barnes returned with their daughter Catherine, the young vampiress had a perplexed expression on her face as she didn't know why she was called to her parent's room. Catherine was about to sleep when her mother came to call her; her eyes darting between her mother and father. 

"Catherine," her father spoke to her in a stern voice that caused her to worry, "I have come to hear that you have been spending more time than needed with the man named James Heathcliff. That you have openly shown interest to him." 

Catherine opened her mouth and then closed, not knowing what happened, "I love him, papa," confessed the vampiress. 

"Have you forgotten, what is the status between him and us?" her father questioned her. By his voice, Catherine could feel that her father was not pleased with her choice. 

"He is a good man, papa. He has his shop, and he has a great talent which can reach heights if given more opportunity."

"If he needs opportunity, I can help him. There is no need for marriage," came the curt statement, and Catherine quickly moved towards her father. She could feel her heart break at the thought that she would not be able to stay next to James. 

"Papa, please. He has all those qualities that I have admired. I love him dearly, and I cannot imagine a life without him. He is a human, but I will turn him," Catherine pleaded to her father, "He is a good man, and he will keep me happy. You can meet him and find out more from him. Please," she turned around to look at her mother, who was quietly listening to them, "Mama, please. You have met James."

Her mother looked at her father, who had folded both his hands behind his back, still staring at the fire. Minutes passed by in silence, and Catherine waited to finally hear her father say, "Invite the man home. I would like to see him for myself," stated Mr. Barnes.

"Yes! Yes, I will!" replied Catherine with excitement, "Thank you, papa!" and the girl left the room with the thought of how she could barely wait for her father to meet James.