✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 161 - 170 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Setting up with another- Part 4

When the next day arrived, Catherine Barnes was more than excited to leave her home to go to the village of East Carswell, which was where James Heathcliff lived. She had dressed as usual, the dress was made of silk, and her hair combed that had a veiled hat that went with her attire. A servant man accompanied her, holding an umbrella to shield her from the sunlight.

Catherine had been in love with James for more than a year now. The first time she had met him, it was the time when she had gone to visit his shop with her mother and aunt to get new gowns stitched for her. At first glance, James appeared like any other man, but he was polite, a gentleman who heeded to what she was looking for; suggesting the right colour and fabric that would look good on her. It had taken her two more visits to be enamoured by the man. And he was also a handsome man, compared to the usual humans who were not eye-catching, and many women eyed him. This made Catherine Barnes want James even more. 

Vampires and humans never got along. One because of the status and two because of the kind they were, as to vampires, humans were a food source. 

The coachman had stopped the carriage not too far away from Heathcliff's shop. It was only a few distances between the carriage and the shop. Catherine made her way towards the entrance of the shop. The servant man who had accompanied her went ahead to knock on the side door that caught the attention of one of the men who worked for James Heathcliff. 

"Lady Catherine," the man greeted upon seeing the lovely vampiress who often visited the shop, "Your dress is going to take a week more to be prepared," he informed. The lady shook her head. 

"I am looking for Mr. Heathcliff. Is he here?" inquired Catherine, her eyes looking behind the man to catch sight of James. James would most of the times be here by this time, greeting her but not today. 

"Mr. Heathcliff told he was sick and would be taking the day off, milady," answered the assistant of the shop. Not well? Catherine frowned hearing this. How did she not know about it? 

"Thank you for the information," replied Catherine and took two steps away from the entrance. The assistant went back to continue his work along with the others in the shop while Catherine wondered what to do. She then turned to her servant to say, "We will be going to Mr. Heathcliff's home," she had to make sure James was alright, and nothing had happened to him, "I need you to buy a basket full of fruits."

Even though the distance was a short one as they were in the village, Catherine took herself to the carriage, riding in it for a minute before it came to a stop. After getting down from the carriage, she looked at the small house that stood midst the other houses. Not many carriages came to pass through this road. The neighbours who were outside their houses couldn't help but stare at the lady who had stepped down from the carriage. 

Catherine looked around at the humans. Though she loved James dearly, it didn't mean the vampiress took account of the other humans who existed. At least not the ones who lived in the village. 

Using her handkerchief, she tied it around her hand before pushing the rusted gate of Heathcliff's house that creaked. She would need to let James know that the gate was creaking. Stepping towards the front of the house, she finally knocked on the door. It took less than a minute before an older man opened the door for her. 

"Yes?" asked the man who appeared to be in his sixties. He wore a baggy shirt, his back hunched and his eyebrows had drawn in together. 

Catherine had spent more than enough time with James, asking him to accompany her everywhere and anywhere possible, pushing him to a corner with her efforts, but she had never been to his house even once. She looked down at the man who opened the door. 

"I would like to see Mr. James Heathcliff," Catherine said, her eyes moved away from the man to notice the windows which looked as old as the gates. She didn't understand why James was living in this broken house when he could afford a better place. He was a talented man who used to earn more than enough by stitching and making clothes for men and women. 

The man answered, "James is not well, milady. May I ask who you are?" 

"I am Catherine Barnes," the vampiress announced proudly. 

"Miss Barnes," the man nodded his head as if acknowledging her presence, "I have heard James speak about you," hearing this, Catherine's gaze turned to look at the man. Her eyes sparkled hearing this man say that James had spoken about her, "Please come inside," offered the man, stepping back to give her space to get in. 

Catherine stepped inside the small house. Somewhere it felt congested, but she didn't speak anything about it. She stared at the walls and the furniture.

"Please take a seat. Is there something you would like to drink?" asked the man, and Catherine shook her head. She had not come here to drink and eat but to speak to James. After hearing James was unwell, she decided to go directly to his house to meet him. Catherine took a seat on the plain wooden chair. 

"No, that won't be needed," responded Catherine before asking the man, "Who are you?" it didn't seem like there were any women in the house. 

"Pardon me for not introducing myself. I am Javier Heathcliff, James' father," he bowed his head, and Catherine quickly stood. She bowed her head. She had guessed the man was a servant. If she knew he was James' father, she would have been much politer. 

"Senior Mr. Heathcliff," Catherine bowed her head in a much proper greeting, "It is a pleasure to be meeting you," the man looked perplexed before smiling at the young vampiress. Catherine stood there awkwardly, her hands holding the basket of fruits, she placed it on the table, "Was there something urgent that you wanted to speak to James about?" asked the man. 

Catherine had meant to speak to James, but with him being sick, she decided to talk to his father, "My father wishes to meet James. I spoke to him about how wonderfully kind your son is and that I want to take our relationship one step further," hearing this Senior Mr. Heathcliff's eyebrows furrowed, "He is-He is looking for the possibility of us both getting married," she completed her words with a bashful look.

The older man was taken aback and utterly surprised by the girl's words. He would have taken it as a joke, but the lady appeared to be serious while blushing over what she just said. Senior Mr. Heathcliff was still processing when James appeared out of his room. Because of the fever, his brown hair looked messy, and his eyes looked tired and dull. 

"James!" Catherine cried his name, and she quickly made her way towards him which took less than two seconds, "How are you? You should be resting in the bed."

James had been resting in the bed, but when he heard voices come from the small hall of his house. He was drifting off to sleep when he heard the words Catherine had uttered that had his eyes snap open, 

"Father," said James, "I would like to speak to Miss Barnes alone," he said without addressing her as 'Lady Catherine' that brought distance between them. Even Catherine noticed this, but she took that it was the effect of the fever that was making him address her in such a way. When the older man left to go to the backyard, Catherine asked, 

"How did you fall sick? Did you eat? I can ask my cook to come here and make something for you-"

"No," came James' response. His head felt hot, and he wanted to rest, but there was something he wanted to clear on what he overheard, "Could you repeat what you just said to my father?"

Catherine's face turned pink, and she looked away from his gaze. She had fallen in love but to directly speak about marriage, she was shy about it, "That…" she trailed wondering how to put it in front of him, "My father and I spoke last night about my marriage to you. I have tried to convince him, and he would like to meet you so that he can get to know you."

James stared at Catherine as if he didn't understand what the vampiress was speaking about. Marriage to him? Convince her father? 

The girl noticing the blank expression wondered if James needed to rest, "I can come back to meet you once you are well. You c-"

James raised his hand for her to stop speaking, "Miss Barnes, I don't know why your father is speaking about your marriage with me and what gave the idea to you because I have no intention to marry you."

"What?" Catherine's face suddenly fell, and she stared at what James just said. 

Catherine was more than shocked, and her eyes went wide, "No intention to marry? I thought you liked me. Don't you?" the girl questioned, stepping closer to James, but then he stepped away from her. Her heart broke over this action of James, and she said, "You have been complying to my words, every single time-- coming with me to attend the soirees, the ball and other parties that have been taking place. Are you joking with me?" she asked, her smile faltering to notice James looked serious.
Setting up with another- Part 5

James didn't know how to refuse her without hurting her feelings, but he doubted being polite would help in his case right now. He had been polite to her, but that was all, there was no other meaning to it, "You are a good woman, Miss Barnes-"

"Why are you calling me 'Miss Barnes?" she asked sadly, "Why are you doing this? Stop joking-"

"I am not joking," came the curt reply from James, "I never held such feelings towards you, nor did I have any intention when I accompanied you. I did it out of politeness and nothing more to it. Please do not search for more meaning in my actions when it comes to you." 

Catherine shook her head, "No," she whispered, and her words turned louder than a whisper, "No, you can't do that. Every time the matter was remotely brought up in public, you haven't refused it. Why didn't you refuse it?"

"Because I didn't want to create embarrassment for you. It is not right to publicly reject a lady. A man's value is not easily broken, but a women's is. I was only protecting you from it," his lips pursed, not wanting to say anything rude to her whilst trying to get his point across to the lady, "I do not share romantic feelings with you, milady."

The vampiress found it hard to digest, and she stared at James, "I love you, James. I love you, and I am baring my heart to you. You do not have to live in this place. Your father will be taken better care of, we can live happily, just like now-"

James turned away. The headache from his fever was returning twice in pain, "Miss Barnes. I have accompanied you because you are a lovely woman. It was never in the intention of wanting to impress you. There has been a person whom I have liked for a very long time…"

The sadness in Catherine's eyes was replaced with sudden anger, "Who is it?" she asked him. 

To people around, Catherine was an innocent vampiress who appeared to be harmless and gullible to the world she lived in. It was something that had made James oblige to her words. 

But Catherine was far from being called gullible. She used her innocent face to get what she wanted, pushing people for her own purpose while acting oblivious. It was how she had trapped James in her world, trying to bring him where she was. But there was someone who was in his heart and her hands clenched in anger. 

Bringing tears in her eyes, she walked around to stand in front of James as he had turned away from her. Repeating her question, she asked, "Who is that girl who has your heart when I was the one who had been standing next to you."

She had been watching James and his surroundings like a Hawk, making sure no girl would try to get close to him while she claimed him openly yet subtle in every soiree, that made people believe they were a couple who were together. So far, the only person Catherine had her doubt on was the village girl Madeline Harris. In the past, James had brought up Madeline's name, but Catherine had never seen them together. Not to forget, the girl was going to get married to the King. 

"Is it that Madeline?" asked Catherine, not holding back her question.

"No, it's not her," answered James with a simple lie. He didn't want any harm to befall on Madeline. The King had announced about his marriage to her. James would have to do something as the person he was up against, was no village man but a person who held the crown. The highest position in Devon.

Catherine wanted to know who this person was, who was coming between her and James. Gritting her teeth while trying to calm herself, with her chin tilted upwards to look at the man, she said,

"Okay, if you don't want to marry me, I do not want to force you," Catherine said lowering her gaze from him, her eyes moist, "You should go and marry the girl then, that would stop from getting my hopes up."

James felt terrible that he was breaking Catherine's heart, but he didn't want to lie any more by keeping quiet, "You deserve a better man, Miss Barnes. A man with better value who will suit you," The girl did nothing but nod her head. 

"Yes," came her small voice, "What is keeping you waiting? Is the girl someone I know? Something I can help you with?" asked Catherine with an ulterior motive. She was waiting at the top of her toes to get the name. Whoever the girl was, she would be pushed aside so that Catherine would take to love James and he would love her back. 

"Thank you, but I would like to do that myself," James offered her a smile, "I should rest now," he said, and Catherine gave him another nod. 

"Do take care of yourself," she bowed her head and left his house. 

When Catherine entered her mansion, she walked to where her parents were and broke into fits of tears, "Mama!" 

"What happened, Catherine?!" asked Mrs. Barnes in worry, while Catherine continued to cry, "Tell, mama," coaxed the older vampiress, wondering what made her child cry.

Catherine gave out bits and pieces of information regarding what James said, that would make her appear like the saddest soul. 

By the time Mr. Barnes returned home, Mrs. Barnes had conveyed the news to her husband, "Isn't it good that he has refused?" she asked. 

"How dare that the lowly man break's my daughter's heart," raged Mr. Barnes, "He should be grateful that we even thought of taking him into this mansion. It is also the King's orders that we are ready to marry Catherine to that man. I will see to it that he marries her. If he tried to marry any other woman, she will be killed."
The girl who is cared- Part 1

The next days passed by slowly, and since the time the King had announced about their wedding that would be taking place in a month, Madeline had started to count the days backwards. The more time passed, the more isolated she was from the world and people, which she once belonged to. 

Life in the castle was easy, and Madeline was trying to get used to it. Trying to let reality sink in her mind while still trying to tiptoe around Calhoun as his gaze was always on her when they were in the same room. She didn't understand the way Calhoun loved her, because it felt like he was obsessed with her. Even if she went to hide in some corner of the castle, a maid or the King's right-hand man would be there to retrieve her, telling how the King was summoning her. 

Sophie had not returned to the castle since the day Calhoun had dismissed her food that was given to the servants. Madeline didn't need to know how Sophie must have felt. It was strange that a close relative of Calhoun was trying to get married to him, which could be for love towards the King or his position. Shaking her head, Madeline continued to walk in the grounds of the castle. Away from the eyes of the maids and the ministers, and possibly the King. 

That is what Madeline thought, not knowing the dark red eyes of the King was watching her from the castle. 

"There have been letters from the Warring's. We found them from one of the men who has been working in the castle," informed a minister.

Calhoun who was standing at the tall window that started from the ground to reach the ceiling, "Oh, he got caught," came the dull reply from the King. 

The minister raised his eyebrows, turning to look at Theodore who only pushed his glasses without looking at the minister but at the King, "You knew about it, milord?" asked the man baffled. 

"I did," replied Calhoun whose ears were in the room but eyes focussed on Madeline who bent down to pick a stick, "I wanted to see how smart my men were. I am sure the spy sent the letters back just the way I wanted it to be," saying this, he stretched his hand to the side as if he was waiting and the minister quickly walked towards the King, placing the bunch of letters that were retrieved from the spy and stepped back. 

Calhoun moved his eyes from Madeline to look at the letters which were written in old parchments, "Looks like he loves the Warrings," he murmured before opening the latest one, "This one looks new." 

"That is the one he was about to send," answered the minister, folding both his hands in front of him with his head slightly bowed. Calhoun started to read the contents inside it, one after another while glancing to look at the girl who was outside the castle. 

A smile graced his lips when he read the latest letter that was received by the spy, "Why don't you send a letter back to the Warrings. I am sure it will be something fun," Calhoun's eyes brightened as he turned to meet the minister's eyes. 

"What would you like it to be written, milord?" asked the minister, awaiting for the King. Calhoun walked forward and placed his hand on the minister who flinched at the thought of, if the King was going to crush his shoulder because he had seen him do it once before in the past. 

"Tell them that the spy has been caught while they couldn't find the spy we sent to their kingdom," said Calhoun, smiling and starting to walk further.

The minister furrowed his eyebrows in question, to say, "B-but, milord, we haven't sent any spy for the last four months." Calhoun turned his head over his shoulder,

"We know that. They don't. The easiest way to break the system and people, is to instil doubt when it comes to the trust that they have with each other. The humans are pathetic little creatures," Calhoun paused walking and then said, "Except a few handful ones. Send the letter. The sooner, the better for us."

Outside the castle, Madeline looked at the stick that she had picked for no actual reason. She was bored sitting inside the castle and decided to take a look outside, which was safe because the wolves were back in their kennels as it was the time of noon, thought Madeline to herself.

"Oh, no, they are not," said Madeline to herself. She jinxed it!

She noticed wolves running in the ground, and she looked around to see the guards were nowhere to be seen. Why were they left out in the open when they were supposed to be tied? Madeline turned around, ready to run because that was the best option. Maybe having Calhoun near her would be the best option. But he wasn't here. 

Before Madeline had the opportunity to start running, the wolves caught up with her, and they growled, showing their teeth at her.

At the same time, the black wolf, Maddox appeared. Strangely, it came to stand in front of her while facing the rest of the pack, growling back for the others to leave. Madeline stood there like a statue, staring at the wolf that turned around to look at her. Madeline wondered if it was safe to pat its head and tell it was a good boy like how Calhoun had done before but when her hand moved, Maddox growled at her like the rest of the wolves and then left. 

"That was strange," murmured Madeline and made her way back inside the castle so that she would not have to face the wolves again. 

She was walking when she noticed Calhoun in the middle of one of the many corridors of the castle and he was not alone. There was a young girl who had her arms around him, hugging him and he let her. Madeline frowned at the sight in front of her. The girl was a brunette with a lean figure, like many other women she had met. 

Madeline noticed how the girl pulled away but still had her hands around Calhoun, a smile on her lips as if she was happy to see him. Even Calhoun enjoyed the girl's company, and Madeline wondered if she should slip away as if she had not seen anything. But it was too late, as the girl's eyes fell on Madeline and those eyes were red. Another vampiress, thought Madeline to herself. 

"Are you done playing with the sticks?" asked Calhoun and Madeline walked towards them—not even bothering to question how he knew what she was doing.

Her eyes fell back to look at Calhoun and the girl, catching sight of his hand that was around her waist now.

Madeline didn't want to notice what Calhoun did, but she didn't know why her eyes were going to look at the way Calhoun was with this girl. She wondered if this girl was here to pleasure the King in his bed or was here to offer her blood. She did look pretty, thought Madeline to herself. 

When both the girls eyes met with each other, they both bowed at each other. The vampiress introduced herself, "I am Lucy Greville," Madeline remembered her name had come up during her time in the court. She was the person Calhoun was protective about. Maybe she was someone special to Calhoun. 

Was she Calhoun's first love? Asked Madeline to herself and her eyes shifted back to look at Calhoun. 
The girl who is cared- Part 2

Madeline stared at the girl, seeing how she had a pleasant smile on her lips, and she couldn't stop comparing herself to the girl. She wondered why, because Madeline never did it. Was it because she wanted to know if the girl was someone very dear who couldn't be Calhoun's woman? She pursed her lips before she realised she had been staring without a word. 

She quickly bowed her head and said, "I am Madeline Harris," Madeline introduced herself to the girl who gave her a nod. 

"I have heard about you. It is good to finally meet you," the girl named Lucy stepped forward and hugged Madeline which took her by surprise. 

When her wide eyes moved to look at Calhoun, she noticed how Calhoun's eyes were much calmer than it usually used to be. Was this the effect of first love? She didn't know how to feel about it. Somewhere Madeline felt sad about it, that he loved someone before her and the girl was already married. She had seen Lucy's husband in the court and heard Calhoun subtly warn the man. By Calhoun's words, Madeline couldn't help but think that maybe Lucy's husband was cheating on her and Calhoun was being protective about the girl. 

This was truly an awkward situation for her, thought Madeline to herself. Someone liked someone, and the chain of like or love continued. Did Lucy get married before Calhoun had a chance with her? 

But then...Calhoun told her that he loved her...

Lucy finally pulled away from her sudden hug, and Madeline put up a polite smile, "It is good to meet you too," said Madeline. From where they stood, they could hear the wolves barking and howling.

"Oh, are they left out open right now? It feels like it's been so long since I was last here," commented Lucy, "Can we go and have look, Calhoun?" asked Lucy. 

Just name? No King or milord? Questioned Madeline to herself. They must have been very close when they were young. 

"Do you want to meet them?" asked Calhoun to Lucy. The girl nodded her head, her demeanour sweet for a vampiress. 

"We can?" asked Lucy, and Madeline felt like she was interrupting the space between Calhoun and Lucy. 

"Sure. Before the guards have them sent into the kennel you can go and meet them," answered Calhoun. They walked out of the castle to make their way to where Madeline was all this time, "How are things at home?" questioned Calhoun. Madeline tried to detect if there was some longing in his voice, wanting to find if Calhoun missed Lucy.

"It has been good. You sent Samuel on work, it was a little lonely, but he's back," smiled Lucy, the girl smiled a lot, thought Madeline to herself. Even Sophie was not this excited to meet the wolves when they had gone to meet Calhoun's pets.

"Is he treating you well?" asked Calhoun and Madeline's eyes slowly moved to look at Calhoun who had nonchalant look on his face. 

Lucy's smile faltered on her lips, but she smiled back again, "Yes, he's been treating me well. I know I know, if something ever happens I must let you know," she laughed at the end. 

Madeline walked beside Lucy as the vampiress was in the middle while Calhoun walked on the other side. How odd, thought Madeline to herself. Brushing those thoughts away, she came to stand next to them when the wolves quickly surrounded Calhoun. One wolf which was brown in colour hovered around Lucy's legs, and the vampiress sat down without any care to pat the wolf's head. 

"Sir Howard, how have you been?" asked Lucy to the wolf. She might have been the only person who shared a friendly relationship between the wolves apart from Calhoun, noticed Madeline. Lucy continued to talk with the wolf while the wolf acted nothing less to a cat that moved around the vampiress, and it appeared to be pleased to get head pats from her. 

Somewhere along those lines, Madeline couldn't help but admire Lucy Greville that she could pet a wolf. As if sensing Madeline's gaze, the vampiress turned around to look at the human,

"Won't you come and pet?" 

This was a hard question for Madeline. She felt that if she were to go pet right now, one of the wolves would chomp on her hand like a dangling piece of meat. 

"Madeline is still in the process of getting acquainted, Lucy," stated Calhoun who left the wolves and walked to where Madeline was, "You have been very quiet," he said to Madeline in a lower tone. 

Madeline looked into Calhoun's eyes, gone was the mellowness that had appeared tame before, which was now replaced with a glint of wickedness as he asked her, "I have been listening," replied Madeline. She had been doing it very keenly. 

"Does my voice sound enchanting to your ears?" Calhoun teased her. She looked down at Lucy who was talking to the wolf, and her eyes darted back to Calhoun. 

"Just like the devil's," she answered to see him smile. 

"I love that you feel that way about me," said Calhoun, "It is said that the devil has a mesmerizing voice." Then it must be true; she thought to herself. Lucy was finally done playing with the wolves, and she stood up and Calhoun went to talk to her. It had Madeline wonder for how long Calhoun and Lucy knew each other, and for how long he must have been in love with her. 

The trio headed back to the castle and went straight to the dining room to have lunch together. The King sat at the head of the table while both the ladies took their seats on either side next to him. 

"How are you finding the castle, Lady Madeline?" asked Lucy, her voice kind.

"It has been very hospitable," answered Madeline and Lucy nodded her head. 

"I see," what a strange reply thought the vampiress but she smiled at Madeline, "I hope the King is looking after you. Not that I doubt he would not take care of you," she added, her eyes moving between Calhoun and Madeline. 

"Madeline is not shy when it comes to expressing herself if something is not right," stated Calhoun, "You will be pleased to hear that she cooks delicious food," Calhoun praised.

"That must be nice, one day I would love to eat something that you have made," came the eager voice of Lucy.

"It would be my pleasure to cook for you and the King," Madeline bowed her head. Politeness and subtly was the key, said Madeline to herself. 

Lucy took one bite of food from her plate before saying, "I never got to learn how to cook. As a vampiress, I got to drink blood directly from people," her words were direct, and she raised her hand to chuckle, "Pardon me, if it shocked you. If nana was here next to me, she would have scolded me for speaking like this." Madeline smiled before going back to eat.

"Did you go to visit her?" Calhoun asked casually.

"I will be doing it once I take my leave from here. I have asked the coachman to take me to the cemetery," answered Lucy, the excitement in her voice lowered that came to be normal, "It would be rude not to go see her."

Calhoun hummed, "Indeed. What do you do going there? Ask her for her forgiveness because mama killed her?" Madeline didn't raise her eyes too high, but she did notice how Lucy held on to her fork and knife tightly, "Don't worry, it's good to see you do that. You visit them while I don't."

"Would you want me to speak on behalf of you?" asked Lucy, her head turned to look at Calhoun. 

Calhoun exhaled air, "Anything that pleases you. Would you do that to your mama and papa too?" he put the fork into his mouth, to pull the food with his teeth. Madeline didn't know what exactly was going on because the room turned tense but still breathable.

"Okay..." replied Lucy and they continued to eat.

Lucy had later excused herself to visit the powder room in the castle, leaving Calhoun and Madeline behind.

"You have been quiet since Lucy arrived, feeling neglected?" asked Calhoun. 

"Why would I feel that, you can spend as much time as you want with any girl," Madeline responded without looking at him, whilst they waited for Lucy to return. Calhoun chuckled at her words,

"You shouldn't be telling that to someone who claimed your first kiss and will be stealing your other firsts as well. I can sense your jealously," he said before adding, "Lucy is my half-sister."
The weather is changing- Part 1

Music Reccomendation: Dominique Charpentier - La Tendresse


At the words of Calhoun, Madeline blinked her eyes at him. Half-sister? Calhoun had a relative? A sister, thought Madeline to herself as she wrapped her mind over the actions of the vampiress and the vampire. Rewinding what happened, one action after another, she now realised the mistake she had made when it came to Calhoun and Lucy. 

All this while, Madeline had thought that Lucy was Calhoun's first love which was why he was being sweet to her, caring for her. It was the reason why the King was kind towards his blood. Half-blood, corrected Madeline in her mind.

"Who knew, I would be seeing the little green in your eyes today. It was a wonderful sight," commented Calhoun. He had a smug look on his face. Madeline moved away from him instantly when she noticed how close they were standing. 

"What green?" Madeline asked even though she knew what he was speaking about. 

"Feigning ignorance," Calhoun tched, " I must not have told you and waited to see you fume at your feeling lonely, sweet girl," he said from where he stood but his eyes raking in her appearance.

"I was not feeling lonely," Madeline denied right away, her cheeks turning slightly red at the accusation and questioned herself, if that was how he had viewed her actions. 

She was quiet, but that was because she was trying to figure out what was going on between them. She had felt bad that Calhoun's first love had been rejected before there was a chance, with the way he was treating Lucy. But look at the irony, thought Madeline to herself. Madeline was Calhoun's first love according to the King, and she was stopping him from advancing. 

Lucy had still not come out from the powder room as it was only two minutes since she left. Hence, Calhoun took his opportunity to step close to the girl, "Are you sure about that?" he asked her, "The flower I know was wilting because it felt neglected but don't worry, I was only teasing you."

Madeline moved towards one of the pillars before her back hit against the wall of the pillar and Calhoun advanced, "Lady Lucy will be here!" she said, but Calhoun didn't heed to her words, he put both his hands around her, to cage her. 

"Lucy won't mind, but does that mean it is okay if Lucy was not here?" he asked, tilting his head to the side. Calhoun stared into Madeline's eyes, gauging it on her reactions and they were much better. More than he had expected. He could tell that his presence affected her and she could deny it right now, but she wouldn't be able to do it for a long time, one or the other day she would submit to his teasing and that day was not too far. 

"I never said that," whispered Madeline, her breath turning shallow because it seemed like the air around her often escaped in Calhoun's presence. 

Calhoun grinned at her, "What did you mean then?" As expected, when Lucy arrived, Calhoun had not let her go. 

"Everything alright?" asked Lucy, making her way towards them. 

"Hm, something went in Madeline's eye. I was helping her with it," stated Calhoun. Madeline was quick to nod her head. How was Lady Lucy, King Calhoun's half-sister? She was sweet, angel-like with her speech without hurting anyone and smiling but then Calhoun smiled too. Only that Calhoun's smile was one of the devils and nothing close to an angel. 

"Did it go?" asked Lady Lucy, her tone oblivious like she didn't suspect anything embarrassing taking place outside the corridor of the castle.

Madeline smiled, "I think it's gone," she couldn't stop looking at the Lady and comparing her with the King. She was more than curious to know more about Calhoun now. Madeline had never heard about Calhoun's sister. Her name had come up in the court only because her husband had made his presence in front of the King. 

She remembered the look Lucy's husband, Samuel Greville had given her the first time they had met. The man hadn't been polite enough to keep his eyes to himself. Calhoun liked to remind people their places and what belonged to him so that he could behead people later, in the name that the warning had already been given, and the person had failed to follow it. 

"That's good. If it hasn't, I can take a look," offered Lady Lucy. How sweet was the vampiress, thought Madeline to herself. She felt slightly embarrassed at the thought that she had assumed wrong things about the lady and the King. Thankfully Calhoun had cleared it, before Madeline would ask something that would not add up the situation. 

The three of them spent the noon together in one of the many large rooms when Theodore made his presence known in the room, "My King, the minister from Hancock is here to see you. He said his visit is short." 

Calhoun, who was sitting, stood up and went out by excusing himself. Theodore was still standing in the room, and he bowed at Madeline and then at Lady Lucy. Madeline returned the bow, but she noticed how Lady Lucy didn't return it. She stared at the man, her eyes hard on Theodore. At first, Madeline thought that the vampiress was thinking something which was why she didn't react, but Lady Lucy was staring straight into Theodore, and he smiled, 

"Good afternoon, milady. How have you been doing?" asked Theodore. 

Lady Lucy appeared almost doll-like right now, "I am doing fine. You must be busy, being the King's left-hand man and advisor can be a lot of work," came the cold voice that took Madeline by surprise. Was it a taunt in there? Asked Madeline to herself. Lady Lucy's entire demeanour appeared to change one that was unfriendly. Did she dislike Theodore? More than dislike, it appeared to be of hate. 

Theodore didn't seem offended by the cold tone. As if he was used to it, he offered the lady a polite smile, "Yes, it is. I hope you are doing well back in your mansion. The King worries about you."

Lady Lucy finally smiled, "I am doing fine."

Theodore offered another bow and left the room leaving the two girls sitting in there. Madeline didn't know what to take, with what happened but she didn't want to assume any more than what she had tried about Lucy Greville. 

"I am sorry about that," came the sweet voice of the vampiress, "Do you want more tea?" asked Lady Lucy. 

"Let me get that," Madeline reached for the kettle to remove the awkward silence where the air had turned cold. 

"That is fine," Lucy swatted Madeline's hand gently without using too much force. The vampiress' demeanour changed back to a gentle one compared to the ice princess earlier, "I might be the King's sister, but that doesn't mean I don't know my way around the teapots. Not that you told it to me," added Lucy with a smile, "People tend to believe that growing up in the castle, I wouldn't know anything." 

Madeline placed her hands on her lap, listening to Lady Lucy, who was a good company. After many days, she felt that there was someone who held the same frequency as her. Someone who was tolerable and not overbearing or pompous. 

"If you are getting married to someone in the castle, there is no need, but if you are marrying out of it, it becomes a necessity," Lady Lucy picked up the kettle with both her hands and poured the tea into the small teacups, "Not that I need to, we have plenty of servants. Before getting married, I liked to cook."

"Did they allow it?" asked Madeline. She had seen how Sophie had not bothered to cook until she had taunted and the royals' cooking was unheard of. 

Lady Lucy shook her head, "My mother used to be angry when she found out, not because I was cooking in there, but I often had the habit of spending more time with the servants than with the guests who came to the castle." 

Madeline couldn't help but smile at Lady Lucy's words, "That sounds nice."

"How about yourself, Lady Madeline?" Lady Lucy handed over the saucer with the teacup to Madeline, "How have things been in here in the castle? I hope brother Calhoun is not giving you too much trouble."

If it were someone else, Madeline would have started her complaints, but the girl in front of her was close to Calhoun, his half-sister. She was also a kind person where she didn't want to complain unnecessarily, "I have been trying to cope with things here. I miss my family," replied Madeline. 

"I am sorry to hear that. I know the King can sometimes be...overbearing?" asked Lady Lucy not finding the right word, "But he is a good person."

Madeline didn't know why it was hard to consider it. It was probably because of how Calhoun behaved with her, being wicked with her while trying to get under her skin. When she didn't reply to it, Lady Lucy said,

"We all get married to some place, and then we try to adapt to it. It is the story of most of the daughters of our era, don't you agree?" she took the teacup with her slender hands and took a sip, "We all go through it. It is either that or this. I know its not my place say this, but you aren't in a bad place. The King is surely difficult, but if he has fallen in love with you, he will love you until the very end."

Madeline stared at her teacup, looking at the pale light brown liquid that had small fresh flowers that were placed for fragrance before the tea was poured, "I would like to believe that one day," tearing her eyes away from the teacup, her eyes made its way to look at Lady Lucy who was watching her, "I wish he could let me spend more time with my family. It was too sudden for me to grasp anything, and I didn't get a chance to do things that I wanted to do."

Since the day Calhoun had announced about their marriage, Madeline was trying to come to terms of the situation, realizing there was no way out and she would have to go through it. If she had the chance, she would break away free, and Calhoun knew that which was why he was not letting her go. 

During the first week in the castle, which was days ago from now, she had noticed the gazes of the maids and the servants even though they didn't talk to her. It was as if they were questioning her, on why she was refusing the King when she could have everything. But was that all that people thought about? If it was not Calhoun but some other man, who was old and fat, would the servants still look at her like that or in pity?

Though she would have to agree to herself that things were different now compared to how they were before with each other, not to forget the kiss that had taken place. 
The weather is changing- Part 2

Compared to the last few days, Madeline and Calhoun's relationship had improved, something the King was looking forward to, and something Madeline had not realized that everything around her was subtly changing that included the way she was looking at things.

The need to accept was what Madeline was working on now. She heard Lady Lucy speak so fondly of the King; it was hard to match the qualities. But then Lady Lucy was too kind. Madeline had a feeling that if someone brought a giant spider in front of the vampiress, the lady would sit down to pat it and say how good it was. 

Though she didn't forget the icy demeanour of Lady Lucy in the presence of Theodore. 

"After the ball, the King wrote me a letter. It is not often that he writes a letter. I didn't get the opportunity to attend the ball for Hallow. He mentioned how he had found the girl he was looking for," Lady Lucy informed, in such a way as if two girls gossiping about others which weren't ill but in good mind. Madeline's face turned red by hearing this, and Lady Lucy only smiled, "Since then, I have been very eager to meet you. You are very beautiful, Lady Madeline. My apologies for my excitement when I met you." 

"That's alright," replied Madeline. Lady Lucy was pleasant to speak to, and Madeline was more than happy to have her company, "Pardon me, but I thought all this while all the vampiress are very uptight."

Lady Lucy chuckled hearing this, "I share the same sentiments. I would blame the upbringing. I guess as I grew up in the castle where my parents were busy with work and parties, I just happened to grow away from them."

Madeline remembered that Lady Lucy and Calhoun's parents were dead. But then they were half-siblings and each of them had one different parent. She wondered how their parents were. The way Calhoun acted, it was hard to say that they were kind, she didn't know why, but it was a strong feeling that they weren't like Lady Lucy. 

"It is why I am familiar with the King's wolves. I have spent more time around the average things," so that was the reason, thought Madeline to herself and she nodded her head, "If you ever feel bored here in the closed walls of the castle, you should go meet them."

"I don't think they like me much," answered Madeline, sipping her tea and then putting it back on the saucer to hear Lady Lucy say, 

"It is just in the beginning," the vampiress waved her hand like they were harmless creatures, "Once they know who you are and that you mean no harm towards the King, they are really friendly. The wolves are friendly only to Calhoun and me," she said thoughtfully. 

Madeline wondered how old Calhoun was. The humans believed that the night creatures were someone who came from the devils as a gift or were devil themselves. The gift of years with youth that would prolong, unlike the humans who came and went in a short period. And considering that Calhoun had wings, it only made the rumours that much more believable. 

Years had passed since Lucy was married, and it made Madeline question next if Lucy had any children. She wouldn't be surprised if she did, "Who is there in your family?" asked Lady Lucy. 

"My parents and my older sister, Elizabeth. They live in East Carswell," replied Madeline and Lucy nodded, acknowledging it before asking,

"Is your sister married?" 

"No, she is looking at the suitors. She will get married after that," Madeline wished that Beth would allow the King to look for someone for her, but she had refused it. And as polite as the letter was, it only made Madeline worry that she was possibly angry at her. Was Beth still upset about Calhoun not picking her? 

Lucy had a look of curiosity on her face, "She must be very popular if she's the one who is deciding whom she is going to marry. Very lucky," said the lady and Madeline agree. Beth could pick the man she wanted from the people who were trying to court her. 

While Madeline was pondering over it, the vampiress couldn't stop and wonder on why Calhoun had picked the younger sister. If the older sister was beautiful too, especially considering the way Madeline said, it seemed that she was fairly a popular maiden. 

When the time of noon started to pass, Lucy didn't stay for another tea, and she excused herself from the human's presence to go and meet Calhoun who was in the study, working through the papers that he had received from Hancock.

Lucy knocked on the door and entered the room. Calhoun raised his head to look at her. 

"Leaving?" questioned Calhoun. He dropped the papers down and got up from the chair. 

Lucy nodded her head, "I thought to see you again before I left," when they reached halfway together, Lucy hugged Calhoun. He patted on her back before she pulled away from him, "It was good to see you. Feels like it has been more than months." 

"The gates and doors of the castle are always open for you, I don't remember forbidding you from entering it," said Calhoun, his lips adorning a smile and Lucy smiled back. 

"Yes, I know that. Thank you for giving Samuel duties in the city," she thanked him. The last two months she had barely seen her husband who had been out on work, while she was alone in the mansion, "I was going to write a letter to you, but you wrote one first."

"Thought you would start crying if you didn't see your husband soon, and I think stationed work in the city is much more viable to Samuel than sending him far away to another kingdom. It is easier for both of us," Lucy didn't understand what he meant, and her eyes blinked on what it meant, "Don't stay too late out in the cemetery. There have been reports of robbery and other things that would not be considered morally well."

"I will keep that in mind," she said and noticed how Calhoun stepped away from her, "I wanted to speak about something."

Calhoun raised his eyebrows at Lucy, "What is it?"

Lucy pursed her lips and then said, "It is about the girl. Madeline," hearing Madeline's words, Calhoun's interest piqued. Both Madeline and Lucy had spent time together today, and Calhoun had left them alone while attending the court and people, "Have you planned to visit her parents with her?"

"Not anytime soon, why?" asked Calhoun. His eyes were calm as they waited for his half-sister to speak.

"I think she needs people of her own. She's come into a world that is unknown to her; you need to help her ease with it. Everyone needs family, Calhoun," stated Lucy, her eyebrows drawing together as she looked at him. 

Calhoun laughed, "Are you talking about yourself, Lucy?" 

"Mine and her situation is different, but if you want to win her heart, you need to win the people whom she cares for," said Lucy. 

"And what if I said that her mother didn't mind Madeline running away from the castle, even if it meant them getting killed?" Calhoun asked, he turned around, walking towards the desk and turning back again to face her while leaning his back against the wooden desk. 

"No one would do that," Lucy shook her head. 

"Trust me, it did. You know how families are," said Calhoun, "First it's care then comes poison in mind. With her here, there will be no need to associate with the life she once had. She is doing well so far. She will be fine. Madeline is a strong girl, and she will grow stronger.

Lucy sighed.

She knew Calhoun, and once he made up his mind, there was no turning back, "I hope it goes well. She is a lovely person."

"Don't worry. She has me. Travel back home safe, Lucy." Lucy bowed her head and then left him in the room. 

Before she could reach the stairs, she saw Theodore, who was coming from the opposite direction. By noticing her, out of respect to who she was, the man stopped walking and bowed his head. Lucy would have walked away, but the hate she had for this man for what he had done, she would never forgive him. 

"Have a good day, milady," offered Theodore. 

"I wonder how you sleep soundly at night," Lucy's words were even as she spoke to him. 

She didn't stay another second and walked away from there. The vampiress stepped into the carriage which pulled away from the castle. When the carriage stopped near the cemetery, Lucy Greville entered the graveyard that was deserted and lonely where her parents and others were buried. 

Her steps turned slower as she reached their graves. The tombstones had lost their colour to turn dark and dull because of the weather that came to wash on them over the years. 

Lucy placed the bouquet of flowers on her parent's graves. Standing there for a few more minutes thinking about how the years had come to pass and change. Bringing her hand forward to place it on one of the graves, she whispered, 

"I am so sorry."

Compared to the time of noon, the weather had changed from being pleasant to one where it started to drizzle. One drop after another and soon it started to pour down in Devon. 

The weather is changing- Part 3

Back in the castle, Madeline stood in front of the tall window that was made of glass. It had started to rain an hour ago. The surface of the window was getting blurry and hazy because of the temperature that had begun to drop. Due to this, she was not able to see anything, but that didn't stop Madeline from trying to continue to watch the rain that was pouring outside and the lightning that was taking place up in the sky. 

Bringing her hand forward, her fingertips touched the surface of the window to clear the glass that had fogged itself. Once she cleared the surface, she could again see the clouds and the grounds of the castle but not as clear as she did in the beginning. The surrounding right now was quiet under the sound of the rains that nulled everything else to bring in different kind of silence. 

Madeline had been standing in the high tower after Lady Lucy left the castle. She was spending her time alone by herself with no one around her. 

Moving closer to the glass, she leaned towards the window like a child. Madeline placed both her hands on the glass and continued to stare when the glass suddenly disappeared beneath the surface of her palms. Her heart slipped from her chest as she felt herself falling out of the window, feeling drops of water falling on her and she tried to stop herself from falling, but there was nothing to hold on to. 


Before Madeline knew it, she was already falling with her feet that twisted, to see the emptiness that she had fallen through that had caused her downfall. The rain and the force pulled her downwards because of gravity. She didn't know what just happened except that she was going to crash straight on the ground. 

In time, something swooped through with black wings that carried her just before her body would hit the ground like a broken watermelon. 

"What is wrong with you?!" came the growl from Calhoun when he placed her back on the ground, "Were you trying to kill yourself?!" he demanded in anger. 

Madeline shook and shivered under his voice. She closed her eyes, flinching when she said, "I don't know what happened! Why are you yelling at me!" 

Hearing not another word except for sound of the rain, Madeline opened her eyes to find Calhoun standing in front of her, his eyes glaring at her. She moved her hands to hug herself. The rain was ice cold. Madeline was drenched in the rain, and so was Calhoun who was yet to put his wings away as they were in display. 

"I don't know what happened…" she whispered, her heart continued to thud in her chest over the slip that took place. 

Calhoun ran his hand through his wet hair, a tired sigh passing through his lips. He had been on the other side of the castle, looking at the rain like her, but when he saw her falling from the high tower…he gritted his teeth. If he weren't there to catch her, she would have fallen flat on the ground. 

Madeline could still feel his glare, and she said, "The glass was there, and then it disappeared," she knew it sounded bizarre, but it was what had happened unless she was hallucinating, "I didn't do anything..."

"I don't want you catching a cold. Let me take you to your room," he said, his black wings ruffling as if to shake the water out before they disappeared behind him. 

Madeline moved away from the windows and walked towards the side of the walls so that even by mistake, she wouldn't fall as they walked from there.

In Calhoun's eyes, it looked nothing less to her trying to jump down from the tower to kill herself and his eyes narrowed as he walked with her. If Madeline had such thoughts about killing herself, Calhoun would not let her. Now that he saved her, her life belonged to him. She belonged to him. 

Madeline reached the room with shaky legs because of the memory of the fall that kept repeating over and over again in her mind.

"I will have the maids sent here. Don't leave the room," ordered Calhoun. Her words didn't add up right now and he didn't want her falling again. Especially with the heavy rain pouring it would be hard to hear anyone screaming. 

She only nodded her head.

Upon the King's orders, two maids had been sent to Madeline's room to tend to her. In the hot bath, she felt less cold. The maids helped her wash as much as they could before she stopped them so that they wouldn't touch things she didn't want to as she was not comfortable with it. 

She didn't stay in the bath too long and stepped out, to be helped by the maids again who dressed her and dried her hair by wiping it gently before Madeline dismissed them from the room. 

One second she was there leaning against the window, and the next second, the glass was gone, and she was falling. Madeline tried to comprehend what had taken place but she didn't know what happened. 

Calhoun left the front of the room, making his way back to the tower where Madeline was standing earlier. While checking, he noticed all the glasses were intact and none of it was broken. His eyes continued to search when his shoe made a splash like a sound because of the water that was present on the ground. His eyebrows furrowed. The water had got in even though the window was closed and there was no proof of water that had come from the stairs. 

Out of mere curiosity, he placed his hand on the window and his eyes narrowed, feeling the scorching heat under his palm. When he turned his palm around to look at it, he noticed how the skin on his hand had burns before it healed itself in a few seconds. 

Something was not right here, thought Calhoun to himself. 
Trying the gown- Part 1

Madeline sat on the bed with both of her knees pulled up. She was scared of what happened earlier back in the high tower. She didn't dare to go and stand near any of the windows of the room even though they were small and some had grills on them.

Deciding to get some sleep, she pushed her body down, pulling the covers up to her chest and placing her head on the pillow. But she didn't fall asleep right away. It took sometime for her eyes to turn heavy and she finally closed her eyes.

In her dream, Madeline was walking up the stairs of the high tower, a lantern in her hand and her legs bare with no shoes. The torches of fire had been exhausted, leaving the path dark with little light that came from outside with only the light of the lantern she carried with her. 

Madeline continued to walk up, passing by the tall glass made window through which she had fallen before. Even though her mind alerting her to stay away from it, she continued to walk up the stairs until she reached the tallest part of the tower. It was an open space with no covered windows that let wind to pass through. She had been here before, Madeline thought to herself. Walking towards one of the sides to take a look at the surroundings of the castle, she placed the lantern down on the ground which was still burning brightly, and she leaned forward to look down.

Though it was the time of night and she couldn't see things clearly, it still looked beautiful and made her question why she was trying to leave a place as good as this, where there was comfort, roof and food one would need. 

While Madeline was looking down from the highest tower of the castle, she didn't notice the flickering flame of the lantern that started to dim. She spent some time there, but when her eyes blinked, the next moment, she was not standing in the same place as she was before. 

Was this a dream? Madeline started to panic as she was standing on the edge of the cemented tall window that had no glass. How did she get on here?!

Her legs started to shake. The edge of the window was cemented that was not thick but narrow. High, which was why she had been leaning forward earlier but why was she standing up here?!

She could feel the wind trying to sway her movements. The weather felt wet and cold.

"Madeline?" spoke a voice behind her. She was scared to turn, "Get down from the edge," Calhoun said to her. 

His words were gentle, somewhere warm yet cold, "I have had a strange dream," she whispered, "No…"

Very carefully, her legs still shaking, she turned around, wobbling. 

"Calhoun," she said his name, seeing how he stood not too far away from her. He was in his nightclothes, "I don't know how I came up here."

Her eyes moved to look at the shadow and the light that fell on Calhoun face, a combination that made him look nothing less to a devil he was. He brought his hand forward, "Come down, and you can tell me about your dreams," he offered. 

Madeline shook her head, not knowing that she was not dreaming anymore. The dream she thought she was dreaming was taking place in reality. Calhoun's eyes hardened, "Do you want to kill yourself?" he questioned her. 

"I won't fall," stated Madeline. 

Calhoun had gone to check on Madeline when he noticed the door of her room left wide open. No one was allowed to enter her room except him. The orders were absolute, and the servants knew not to cross the line. Upon checking, he was greeted with an empty bed, and he found her right in time. Standing on the edge as if she was going to dive. 

"I feel like you are lying to me," said the girl who had just woken up from her sleep state, and he raised his eyebrow at her. 

"I don't think I have lied to you," which was a lie in itself because Calhoun knew it was not true. The lie came much more fluently on his tongue than the truth did. 

"I want to see my family," Madeline's words were firm, yet there was a sliver of pleading in there. Nobody could demand the King, instead it was the King who demanded it. 

"Do you think you will be able to go and meet them by jumping off the rails?" asked Calhoun, his words filled with sarcasm, "I had no idea that one would travel that way."

Madeline frowned, "I didn't mean to jump. I think...I was sleepwalking…" that was the only conclusion she could come up with.

"It gives me more reasons to have you shifted to my room," Calhoun's words made Madeline worried, "There are only a few days left before we get married. Surely, you don't think that I will allow my wife sleep in another room while leaving my bed cold." She gulped hearing this. Now that she was much more awake with her surrounding, she could feel the anxiousness slithering through her veins. 

"You said you wouldn't do something I won't like," came her low voice. That was the only hope she had. This big bad wolf had planned to gobble her up while she was still trying to see what to do. 

Calhoun who had a passive looking expression until then finally smiled at her, a smile that stretched broad and wide, "You have my word, beautiful girl. I don't think anything we have done together so far was not to your liking." He reminded her of the kiss that had taken place in the carriage, and though it was midnight, Calhoun noticed how her cheeks turned red. 

Madeline's lips parted, but no word came through her lips. 

"Do you disagree?"

"How can you expect a woman to reply to such things!" she looked away from him. 

"That means you agree. Come here, my love, I will show you many more things that the world and I have to offer," he moved slowly towards her. 

Madeline stared at his hand and then at his face, "You will invite them here?" 

"I did say, I would now. Didn't I?" Yes, he did, thought Madeline to herself. 

Instead of waiting for her to take his hand, he used both his hand to hold her waist firmly and placed her back on the ground,

"I would like to be excused to go back to my room."

Calhoun hummed in response and saw her quickly leave from there. He wondered if it was the stress that had made her sleepwalk in her sleep, but her eyes were wide open, and she was looking at things around her. 

Calhoun didn't leave the high tower and continued to stand in there, looking at the landscape when Theodore appeared from behind, "I thought I heard some sound coming from here," said Theodore. 

"She's like a child, a small baby chick or is it the kitten?" asked Calhoun, picking up the right description for Madeline, "Trying to act strong while still being cute. How was your day?" asked Calhoun, his head turned to the side to see Theodore make his way to where he stood. 

"It went, as usual, milord," answered Theodore and Calhoun nodded his head. 

"I thought it would be different after seeing Lucy. She still hasn't forgiven you," a chuckle escaped Calhoun's lips. He pulled out a box of cigars, picking one and offering to Theodore, who shook his head. 

"I am fine, milord," and Calhoun flapped the box back to place it at the edge of the open window. Lighting it, he took a puff from it before blowing the thick smoke in the wind, "I don't think she will ever forgive me."

Calhoun pulled the cigar away from his lips to say, "Understandable, isn't it. It is what happens when you aren't careful with your words. You broke her heart." Theodore continued to remain passive while the King enjoyed rubbing salt on the wound that was healing, "But I don't blame you. We didn't have the powers then, and what happened later, it was too late. Actually, it isn't too late," said Calhoun, turning his head to look at Theodore, "Samuel had been fucking women during the time he had been sent for the job to complete. The report says that he tells Lucy that the work has been extended for more days so that he can spend more time away from home."

Theodore continued to stay quiet. Not because he had nothing to say, but it wasn't his place to say anything. Lady Lucy was married to a man, a man of high position and status. 

"By the way, have you heard about a phenomenon where objects disappear? Not the kind where I kill people and make them disappear but actual disappearance," Calhoun laughed at the end. He remembered the burn that he felt under the touch of the glass. Though whatever it was, the effect didn't stay long as the next time he had checked, the glass reacted as any other ordinary glass would. 

"I don't think so, milord. I need to check about it," Theodore responded to Calhoun's question, "Was it what happened today?" Though Theodore was not there during the time of the incident, rumours spread fast in the castle, and the word went out that the lady was not happy and she had tried to commit suicide. 

"Yes, something very strange that I haven't seen before," answered Calhoun. 

When the next day arrived, Madeline slept until the time of noon, and when she woke up, there were two guards stood outside her room. Two maids were standing at the corner of the room without a word since the time of the morning, waiting for her to wake up. 

Madeline's head felt heavy. She got up and sat on the bed, her hand reached her head. The events that had occurred last night was blurry, but she came to realise she did something she was not supposed to do. While she was trying to get her head straight, one of the maids came to stand next to the bed, and the other went out of the room. 

"Are you alright, milady?" asked the maid and Madeline nodded her head. 

"I am fine. What time, is it?" Madeline asked the maid.

The maid wasn't sure as she was in the room and said, "It must be the time of noon, milady. The sun has moved up in the sky."

"I will get ready by myself," Madeline said to the maid, but the maid didn't move and continued to stand next to the bedside. 

"My apologies, milady, but it is the King's orders that we dress you up and look after you," replied the maid. 

Madeline sighed, "I am perfectly capable of doing that. I am not a child, nor am I sick. I will speak to the King if he questions about it," she said to the maid, forcing her to leave, and the maid unwillingly stepped out of the room. 

Yesterday was strange and last night was even stranger. Once she got ready and stepped out of her room, she made her way to the court to see if Calhoun was there, but he wasn't. Was the session in the court adjourned? When she found a servant who was trying to walk past her quickly, she stopped him, 

"Wait! Do you know where the King is?" she questioned. 

"M-milady, the King, h-he is near the gallery room that comes to the r-right," the servant stuttered as if he were scared to talk to her. 

"Thank you," she thanked him, and the servant quickly bolted away from the corridor.

Speaking to Lady Madeline was nothing less to walking on a room full of needles that were placed upright. Now that the servants knew who the lady was, they were extremely careful and prayed that they were not assigned to her. Similar to how they prayed not to be assigned to the King, yet they wanted to earn his favour. After all, he was the King. 

When she made her way towards the gallery room, she met a maid who led her exactly to where the King was. 

"What else do you have? I like this one better than the rest," she heard Calhoun speak to someone. 

On stepping into the room, Madeline took note of the sea of white gowns that were displayed on the ground. A man sat down on the floor while Calhoun sat on the chair. Her eyebrows furrowed at the sight of it. Theodore stood along with the four maids in the same room. Hearing Madeline's footsteps, Calhoun said, 

"Good morning, my sleeping beauty. Did you sleep well?" questioned Calhoun, "If you were going to sleep some more, I would have decided to wake you up with a kiss."

Madeline bowed her head in greeting. No matter how their relationship was, she was not supposed to forget that he was the King, "Good morning, King Calhoun." Calhoun didn't take note of the place and time of where they were, getting used to it was going to take time, "What is with the white gowns?" she asked him, somewhere in the back of her head she could hear bells ring. 

Calhoun smiled at her like a saint, "These? I thought I would take a look before running the best one through you. We will need a wedding gown for you, wouldn't we?" 
Trying the gown- Part 2

Madeline turned nervous. Of course, white gowns were used for wedding, came the dull thought in her head. This was happening. It was no more an idea, but they would be getting married. Her throat had turned dry at Calhoun's words. 

"Get Lady Madeline a glass of water or fresh juice to drink," ordered Calhoun as if he knew exactly what she was feeling right now. 

"I thought the groom is not supposed to look at the gown. It is considered as bad luck," Madeline stated, not knowing if he was aware of it or not. Maybe this was a sign that the relationship was going to doom? She asked herself. 

"Is that so? Maybe with the humans, but not in the world of the vampires. Come take a look at it," said Calhoun, the smile on his face turning to a wicked one like he was enjoying seeing her turn nervous. Calhoun didn't know why, but he enjoyed the plight of Madeline. There was some joy that he basked in, that he could do whatever he wants because she was his while not anyone else'.

After what happened last night, he had got the guards assigned to her room so that she wouldn't go sleepwalking. 

Madeline could feel Calhoun's eyes that were burning into her as she looked at the gowns that were spread out on the ground on the clean carpet, "Which one do you like?" asked Calhoun. She was still trying to wrap her head around as there was a sea of gowns placed on the ground and she was supposed to choose the one she liked. To pick a wedding gown for a marriage, she was not ready for…

Calhoun then said, "It seems like Lady Madeline didn't like any of the gowns, Barnby. Such tasteless looking gowns that not even one could catch the eye of the lady," he etched, and the man who had brought the gowns bowed his head. 

"I didn't say that!" said Madeline, not liking that Calhoun was looking down at the dressmaker. 

"But you are unable to choose even one from the lot of it. Unless you have something specific on your mind?" asked Calhoun, leaning forward in his chair, he used his hand to support his chin, "Perhaps you want to get your wedding gown stitched by James Heathcliff?"

Madeline gritted her teeth over Calhoun's suggestion. 

The dressmaker, Barnby, said, "Mr. Heathcliff? He doesn't have good dresses, milord. It might suit the place he lives in, but he doesn't know how to make a dress for a royal." The dressmaker had got the offer to showcase his gowns to the King, and he had brought as many as he could that would suit the King and the lady's taste with whom he was going to get married to. 

Barnby wanted to get the deal because this was no small house but the castle. If he was going to make a dress for the future queen, it would also mean he would get to make more dresses for her in the future while also he would be automatically invited to the wedding. 

Madeline didn't agree with Calhoun, but she didn't agree with the dressmaker either, "Mr. Heathcliff has good clothes. They have always been tasteful, and it is rude to comment about the place he comes from," she said. 

"Pardon me, milady," Barnby bowed his head in an apology that he didn't mean, "But it is the truth. There was a rumour about him, how he makes clothes that are made of cotton and not all silk. They are always mixed. My King," the dressmaker turned to look at Calhoun, "You should one day ask the magistrate to raid his shop."

"Are you feeling threatened by Mr. Heathcliff's work, Sir?" asked Madeline with a frown. 

"Of course not, milady. He doesn't give me a reason to feel threatened about his work. His work cannot be compared to my work," laughed Barnby, "Why are you supporting his work? There was also another rumour that he made clothes for the woman who was always seen with hi-"

"Are you not fond of your tongue, Barnby?" 

The question was not from Madeline but from Calhoun who was listening, to the exchange of words between the two of them in the room. Calhoun was not happy that Madeline was busy protecting James' work, but at the same time, he enjoyed seeing her speak to the dressmaker without holding back, with what she thought was right. 

What a pure thing, thought Calhoun to himself, it made him want to ink it in red.

"Milord?" the volume that Barnby was using turned small like a squeak of mice. 

"I asked if you are not fond of your tongue. When did you turn deaf?" asked Calhoun, his eyes moved from Madeline to look at the dressmaker, "Don't forget you are speaking to the future queen. Soon to be my wife."

The dressmaker quickly dived forward, pressing his forehead on the carpeted floor, "Pardon this lowly man if he has offended the future queen and the King." Madeline was startled by the sudden change in the dressmaker's behaviour. The King was the one to be blamed for it. Barnby had indirectly indicated that it might have been Madeline, who was the one hanging on James' arm, and she was possibly the muse. 

Madeline's eyes shifted to Calhoun who grinned at her, "Do you like anything in here?" he asked her. She noticed how Barnby looked at her, giving a pleading look.

"Let me go through them," she answered, swallowing the nervous thought that this was no regular dress but something she would be wearing when she would be getting married to Calhoun. 

Calhoun hummed for an answer, rubbing his chin, he said, "Barnby you take the dresses back with you. The lady didn't find anything interesting in here, and I wouldn't like to settle with anything less which she is not satisfied with," he dismissed the dressmaker. He raised his eyes towards the maids who quickly started to help the dressmaker to fold and pack the gowns. 

The King pushed himself from the chair he was sitting in to walk to where Madeline was. 

"I didn't say they are not good," Madeline slowly said to Calhoun, her head turning to look at the sad expression on the dressmaker's face. 

"You were speaking so passionately about James Heathcliff, thought we should give him a try. I mean who better than him to make your wedding dress?" asked Calhoun, his eyes shining in delight, "And," he said as if he was not finished talking, "I would like to give you the best of everything. From the dress you wear, to place you are in, to what you eat and drink. Company and the man you deserved to be with." 

Madeline was not someone who liked robbing someone's happiness. It could be the other way around, but she was the last person to do so.

"Please don't send him away with empty hands," she pleaded. 

"Some people are born with poverty; some are born rich. And some, they make their way up by persistence," answered Calhoun to her, "If I am going to give the man something, he will believe and expect the same from the next person who will only disappoint him."

Madeline asked, "So you will disappoint him now?" 

Calhoun shrugged his shoulders, "Better now than later. Don't you agree." 

Somewhere Calhoun had a point. Madeline saw the dressmaker leave the room upset, that she or the King had not picked a dress from the set of gowns he had bought to show them. 

"Theo," called Calhoun and Theodore came to stand in front of the King, "What happened to the cards that need to be distributed?"

"Cards?" asked Madeline, her eyes darting back and forth. 

"The invitation for the royal wedding will be sent to people in the towns, villages and some of the people across Devon to attend it," answered Calhoun. Theodore replied, 

"I checked with the minister who is assigned to it. He said he would be showing it to you by this evening." 

Calhoun held a pleased expression, "Wonderful. Now when shall we goto visit the talented tailor?" asked the King, the malicious look passing through his face and Madeline couldn't help but worry about it. 

Three days passed, and the royal carriage made its way towards the East Carswell village, which was Madeline's home as well as the place where Mr. Heathcliff's shop was located. Madeline could feel her heart beating in her ear because she didn't know how things would proceed once they would step into the shop. 

"Nervous?" asked Calhoun to her. 

"Are we going to visit my family?" Madeline changed the question.

"We will see about that. Depending on if my mood is good once we are done with finding a good dress for you," replied Calhoun and he started to hum something. Was he saying he was not in a good mood right now? In Madeline's eyes, Calhoun appeared to be happy. If the smiling person was not happy, what level of happiness would mean that he was in a good mood then? 

"I have been working on the letter to send to your family so that they can come to stay over in the castle. But for some strange reason, I haven't been able to find time to complete it," commented Calhoun thoughtfully to himself. Was the King writing a letter or a book? Asked Madeline to herself. 

"You can instead call them directly as we are heading to the village. They might like it better than a letter," said Madeline. 

Calhoun nodded his head, "Sure. Anything for you," he offered her a smile. 

He remembered how Lucy had mentioned about winning the people around her, which would make her accept him faster. 
Trying the gown- Part 3

If Madeline had to describe in one word, it would be a hard thing to do when it came to capturing Calhoun's outstanding qualities. But the closest possible one was that he was a sadist. He was cruel and a manipulating person. So far, Madeline had only been on the receiving ends of his manipulative words.

She did defend James' work, but that was all it was with no other meaning, which is why she didn't know why Calhoun had decided that he would get her wedding gown from James' shop. If she was not wrong, Calhoun must have already spoken to James, threatened would be the right word even though she didn't know what the exact words were, she could somewhere imagine it. She didn't understand why Calhoun wanted to go and visit James. 

"I thought you didn't want us to be together," said Madeline, her voice curious. 

Calhoun rolled his eyes, "I don't care if you are sitting next to him or talking to him, until and unless he's not looking at you longingly. Until then it should be fine. I am a fairly understanding person," he smirked, looking at her, and Madeline smiled with a fake smile. 

"Yes, you are, milord," she replied. 

"I am so glad that you understand me," came the next words of Calhoun that were filled with nothing but amusement. 

Calhoun had picked on the idea about making everyone know about them as he didn't find any better way to make it clear that Madeline was going to marry him and no one else. Not to forget, James would be getting married to Catherine Barnes. His mood elated at the thought of it. 

The ride of the carriage came to an end when it stopped near James' shop. At the sight of the fancy carriage, the people who were walking by couldn't help but ogle at it. It wasn't every other day a carriage as fancy as this one came to be witnessed in the village. The coachman jumped down from his seat, going to the door and opening for the King to step down. Some of them who had seen who the King was before, quickly bowed their head, offering their greetings. 

Madeline was the next one to step down, and the people turned to each other to start to whisper over the words they had heard from the castle that drifted to the village.

"Isn't she Harris' younger daughter?" asked an elderly woman who had tied a napkin at the top of her head. 

Another woman who stood next to her had a look of astonishment, "I thought I saw her somewhere before! Is she the one who has been betrothed to the King?" Calhoun and Madeline had made their way into the shop whilst the gossipers continued to gossip. 

"How odd, when I heard the rumours, I was sure it was of their kind. Why do you think he picked a human?" asked the first woman who had spoken.

"Maybe because its easier to drink blood from? Once she has no blood or turns dull, watch her being replaced with another young one later," the woman shook her head out of pity, "Though I am surprised that he didn't pick the older daughter, but the younger one."

The women turned around, continuing to talk, "Maybe that is why she's not getting married, and it is not about the suitor not being enough. She must be lacking in something, else why would the King leave the prettiest one out of the two?" asked the one who had the napkin tied around her head. "I heard that even a man who went by Mr. Danvers rejected the proposal. It must be something serious. Let me ask Martha and see what she knows," she whispered so that no guard would hear what they were speaking about. 

"How will Martha know about it?" asked the woman. 

"Martha said that her husband has been buying the logs of wood from Mr. Harris'. We all must know that the King is quite a gracious person who has provided the family with a shop and men. Soon you will see their house getting renovated. You must talk more with them," urged the lady, knowing what kind of favours one could take from the rich in the name of being friends or acquaintances. 

The villagers were not short on gossip. Both men and women equally contributed to the gossips and rumours that went around only to travel to the places, that was if one was popular. 

When Madeline stepped into the shop, the assistant named Greg was quick to recognize her, and he bowed his head, "Miss Harris, it is lovely to see you again! Are you here to see Mr. Heathcliff?" asked the young boy who hadn't taken note of the King's presence, until he finally stepped forward. 

Madeline wished Greg had not put his words in such way in front of Calhoun. The boy had meant it only in merriment and Calhoun would use his merriment in beheading people, "Good day, Greg," she bowed her head while seeing how Greg finally noticed Calhoun's presence. A look of shock falling on his face, 

"My King!" Greg gave a deep bow after realizing who was here. 

Greg's voice had turned high pitch, that alerted the other assistants who worked in the shop, and they quickly arrived at the front and greeted the King. The boy pulled the best stool they had, dusting and wiping it with a cloth if the King decided to sit. 

Calhoun scrutinized the shop, which was big for a village-like East Carswell. It was of modern size and space. His red eyes looked at every person in the room, four assistants, not bad, thought Calhoun to himself, "Where is the owner of the shop?" asked Calhoun. 

Greg answered, "Mr. Heathcliff went out to g-" the bell at the door rang, "He is here."

Madeline turned around to see James making his way inside the shop, who caught sight of her in his shop with the King. Calhoun had a bright smile on his lips, that made Greg the assistant wonder whether the King was fond of Mr. Heathcliff since they worked in the making of the clothes for royals. But then what was Miss Harris doing with the King?

Was she here to show where the shop was located?