✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 171 - 180 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


A dark place- Part 1

Madeline noticed how James' eyes met hers for a few seconds before they looked at the King. He bowed his head in greeting. Madeline had to say that even though Calhoun and James were not in obvious good terms with each other, James was still behaving politely with Calhoun, and the main reason could be that it was because Calhoun was the King of Devon who could crush James like an ant. 

"Welcome my King, to my humble shop," said James, "Milady," he finally greeted Madeline who gave him a nod with a small smile. The last time she had been looking at James, it had warranted with Calhoun's hand moving up on her thigh. She was learning, Madeline was a fast learner compared to the other girls whom she knew, and she prided herself on it. She hoped it was true. 

"Good day to you Mr. Heathcliff," no tailorman? Asked Madeline to herself. Was Calhoun nice because James was polite? Also, it would be rude to look down at James when they were not in the castle but in James' shop. 

Calhoun had a big smile on his face and said, "I am here on Lady Madeline's word that you make excellent clothes compared to the others in the towns," upon the King's words, James turned to meet Madeline's eyes, "And I have to agree on her word. You do have beautiful clothes, indeed. The one that she wore during the night of the Hallow in the castle. Beautiful creamy white that was smooth to touch."

"Thank you for your praise, milord," James bowed his head, and his assistants bowed their heads too, "It was made of cotton silk which was mixed with linen. We were hoping to make something-"

"Mr. Heathcliff, I was speaking about Lady Madeline's skin," chuckled Calhoun and this had everyone's eyes widen, but James was not exactly pleased hearing this. James' lips pursed, "I meant the cut around the shoulders was extravagant, showcasing her slender shoulders."

Madeline didn't know what part of it was more mortifying with what Calhoun just said. This was no closed court but a shop that was outside the castle. Before Calhoun could say anything, she said, "We were looking for gowns for me."

"Wedding gown," added the King just to make sure the others didn't miss. 

"Miss Harris, are you getting married?" asked one of the assistants, astonished. 

"I would have never thought that it was going to be Lady Madeline first, before her sister," came another assistant's words who was a young woman. 

Madeline could feel James staring at her, and all she wanted to do right now was run away from this shop. Even if it meant, going back to the castle with Calhoun willingly. She made sure not to look at him and kept her eyes on the shop's assistance who questioned her. 

Calhoun happily chirped the answer, "Do not worry, unlike the invitations of the Hallow, the one for the wedding will be sent to everyone. Madeline and I would like everyone to be a part of it," he smiled at them, and the assistants looked overjoyed at the fact that they would be invited to the castle as they hadn't received the invitations to the Hallow before. 

And when they realised it was in the castle, they looked at Madeline and then at the King. Miss Harris was getting married to the King?!

"Congratulations, milord! Milady!" the female assistant looked more excited than anyone and Madeline put up a smile, "It is good to hear that there's going to be a wedding."

Calhoun chuckled, "I am sure you will have the opportunity to attend more than just ours," his eyes moved to look at James. 

James' hands clenched at his sides at the helplessness he felt right now. If Calhoun was not a King, but a normal person, a human, James would have plummeted his fists into the man's face. But he knew better than to do that. 

If James even went to try it, he would not only be beaten, but there will be much worse things that would await him. Taking a deep breath, he kept his tone polite, "We will need to take the lady's measurements unless you would like to take a look at the wedding gowns that we already have here."

"Please," said Calhoun, walking towards the stool which was placed by Greg, he sat down. Madeline's body was measured by the young woman who worked for James. Starting from the hands, asking how they would like to it when it came to the designs, "Something that could match Lady Madeline's beauty and also simple enough to remove," the King had no filter and Madeline tried not to react so that they could be done with it quickly and leave the shop.

James, on the other hand, was trying to control his anger. 

In the meantime, Calhoun sat there with his legs crossed one over another. Staring at Madeline as if she was his world. His eyes then slowly moved at James, his lips moving up with a sinister's smile. Calhoun had asked Mr. Barnes to speak to James, and he was hoping Mr. Barnes had done the job. Mr. Barnes' daughter, Catherine, was in love with James. As it was the King's order, Mr. Barnes could not refuse it. And if James refused, it wouldn't be Calhoun's problem at all. Mr. Barnes' ego would be hurt, and he would make sure to get James married to his daughter. Either way, it was a win-win situation, and all he had to do was sit back and smile. 

"Madeline and I will be returning here to check the gown. Thank you for your assistance," Calhoun said, once they were done, he shook James' hand in his, not so gently.

"It was my pleasure," answered James, his eyes finally moved to look at Madeline who didn't look at him. When the couple eventually left the shop, Greg, the assistant moved to stand next to James,

"Miss Harris is lucky, isn't she, Mr. Heathcliff?" asked the boy, "It is not everyday one gets married to the King."

The female assistant who had come out to peek at the handsome King commented, "Miss Harris is so pretty, I wouldn't be surprised even if the Gods came for her," Greg laughed along with her, but Mr. Heathcliff was in no mood to join their little chatter. To make a wedding dress for someone who he loved, his teeth gritted at the thought. The King was going to marry her, and there was nothing he could do. 

Madeline walked beside Calhoun. As it was only about measurements, their visit to the shop was a short one, and she was glad for it. The men and women of the village couldn't stop looking at the King and the lady next to him. Whispering, words of gossip that had already started to spread in the village the moment they had seen the couple step down from the carriage. 

"Relax, Maddie. I feel a duck is walking next to me," commented Calhoun when he noticed her stiff shoulders. 

"Do you blame me for that?" she asked because she was not used many people staring at her. 

"I have a feeling that when we grow old, we will still be that bickering couple," whistled Calhoun and Madeline turned to look at Calhoun,

"Can we go and visit my family now?" She had made sure not to upset him, and he appeared to be in a good mood. 

"Soon," he answered, and she frowned. 

"Soon?" she repeated his words. 

Calhoun nodded his head and got into the carriage before her and offered his hand for her, "I have someplace to visit before that. Accompany me, sweet girl. After that I promise to visit your family with you today. How about that?" he asked her. 

It wasn't like Madeline had another option apart from agreeing to him.

Now that they were away from the crowd, she felt much more relaxed when she was seated in the carriage.

Calhoun's hand out of habit went to touch Madeline's head, smoothening it with the back of his hand. Unlike before, Madeline didn't move away from Calhoun's touch. With the amount of time she had come to spend with Calhoun, she was more aware of his presence around. Even without touching physically, Calhoun had the ability to touch her with his gaze. 

"Where are we going?" she asked him. She doubted it was a soiree as she had come to take note of the change of his hairstyle when it came to attending one or when he was in the castle. They were always different. 

"There's a man named Raphael Sparrow," Calhoun gave a reassuring grin, and Madeline nodded her head. Not knowing exactly who the man was. 

Madeline's eyes that were on Calhoun slowly wandered away to look outside the window of the carriage.

There had been a question that Madeline had for her sister as she was the one who shared the room with her all these years. She wanted to ask Beth if she had sleepwalked before because she didn't remember sleepwalking in the past. Maybe she didn't know, or it was the first time she had done something like that. Her heart raced when she remembered how she had found herself standing on the edge, feeling the air. She could tell that she was scared of heights or go near the windows after the incident had taken place. 

"Thinking about it again," Calhoun asked her, who had not mentioned what had taken place four days ago. It seemed that Madeline needed time and Calhoun had given it to her.

He had asked Theodore to find the person who could help them give more insight on what had happened. Calhoun doubted that it was someone's doing because a glass didn't appear and disappear by itself. Not to forget the burn it had left on his hand when he had touched the surface of the window. But the person, Raphael, had been out of town since the last two weeks and had arrived only yesterday.

Therefore, all Calhoun could do was keep a close eye on Madeline to make sure nothing happened to her. 

Madeline turned her head to look at him. She met his dark red eyes that had a look of curiosity in there. 

"It is not every day one falls from the window," she said while having a aloof expression on her face. 

He continued to pat the back of her hair, "You are right. Not everyone has such luck and hobby to do courageous things like that," stated Calhoun. He could see the fear in her eyes. She was scared of the unexplainable incident that had happened with her, "Don't worry, you can do that because I will be there. You know," he leaned forward as if he was going to tell her a secret, he said it in a whisper, "Because I have wings."

Madeline could tell that this was Calhoun's way of cheering her up.

Just so that she would not think she had gone mad, she had not discussed what happened since that night. Wanting some time to think. She noticed how Calhoun looked at her, his eyes filled with intrigue. 

He then said, "At the place where we are going now, do not mention about the wings," Calhoun's words made her question on why.

"But everyone knows about it," replied Madeline. 

"Some are unaware of it. We don't want to scare them."

Out of her own curiosity, she decided to ask, "Who is Raphael Sparrow?"

Calhoun's eyes slightly narrowed in thought, before he said, "He is a card reader. The one who reads cards," and he smiled at her expression. Madeline knew who card readers were, the one who were present in the fairs. They were nothing but a sham who told things one wanted to hear. 

Did Calhoun believe in such a thing? Or was there something more to it?
A dark place- Part 2

Madeline stared outside the little window, the trees passing one after another. She noticed the carriage crossed one of the towns and continued to move. She didn't know where exactly they were going because Calhoun's answer about the man appeared to be vague. A card reader? Why were they going to meet someone like that?

When the carriage finally came to a halt, they stepped down from the carriage. Madeline saw a building that looked old. A board hanging at the front of it that read 'Sanguis Peccatum'. Her brown eyes looked at the doors and the windows of the building, and the name was something she didn't understand. 

She noticed a woman and a man stepped out of the oak doors. The woman looked posh with red eyes, and a smile on her lips while talking to the man who was holding her. The man was human. 

"What kind of a place is this?" asked Madeline because she didn't know why she had a bad feeling about this building. The woman was looking in such a way as if he was a prey who was going to be sucked dry by her. 

"A place for people like me and for some of the elite humans," answered Calhoun, "Come, sweet. Stay close to me." They walked towards the doors which were guarded by two men who stood like statues who greeted the King. 

As they stepped inside the building, the doors were pushed for the King to step in. Madeline did as Calhoun had advised her to do, to stick close to him. She noticed a desk at the right, and the man who stood behind it, bowed his head. 

"Milord," greeted the man. 

"Is Raphael here?" asked Calhoun. 

"Yes, milord. Mr. Sparrow is in his chambers. Would you like to see him?" asked the desk man, his curious red eyes shifted to look at Madeline who stood next to the King, who was now busy looking around the place. 

"She's with me," the words came from Calhoun and the man quickly bowed his head. 

Madeline, who was staring at the walls made of dark wood, couldn't help but question at the quietness of the building. There was some eeriness present in here. Not too far away from where they stood, she could hear noise coming from the other side of the door which was not the way they had stepped in the building but the opposite side. 

The man who was standing at the desk gave a look at the lady with a curious look in his eyes. Without questioning, he moved away from the desk and led them through the door. As expected, when she and Calhoun stepped in the next room, she noticed there were people. A lot of people, where some were seated at the round tables while some stood near the bar counter. Men and women there were mostly vampires which Madeline noted because of their red eyes. 

Each and every person stopped what they were doing when they noticed who had entered the room, leaving the room suddenly quiet. They stood up from their chairs to give the King a deep bow. Calhoun didn't bother to greet anyone, and he continued to walk. 

Madeline could feel the eyes on her, which was even worse compared to when they were in her village. There was something strange in the way when the vampires and some of the humans who looked at her and she gulped the nervousness she felt. In time, Calhoun moved his hand to place it on Madeline's small back, as if claiming who the human girl belonged to. As much as Calhoun enjoyed to flaunt what was his, at the same time, he didn't like the fact of people eyeing the girl like she could be preyed upon. 

The vampires in here could have anyone they wanted except Madeline. And the rule didn't apply only in 'Sanguis Peccatum' but outside in Devon and other kingdoms. 

Madeline for the first time welcomed Calhoun's hand. 

She didn't know anyone here, and if there was someone she did know, it was the King himself. It was better to stick to him. She caught sight of a woman who had a man in her arms, and the man had his head leaned back, almost lifeless. If the man had not bothered to bow the King, it only meant one thing. He was either dead or in the process of being dead. 

They walked through another set of doors, and the people in the room resumed to continue what they were doing. 

"Please wait here," the man who had accomapined them said before going inside the room. 

Madeline turned to look at Calhoun and said, "I didn't know there were places where the King had to wait."

Calhoun was running his tongue over his teeth smiling when he heard Madeline's words, "Sometimes, with some people. Yes." This made Madeline ponder, who was Raphael Sparrow. Was he an important man? "How are you doing so far?" he asked, his red eyes had turned even darker than before, and Madeline wondered if it was because of the lack of light that was present here. 

"It seems very dark in here. A vampires cave…" she trailed, her voice low so that by mistake no one would hear it. 

"You are not wrong about that. Do you know what does 'Sanguis Peccatum' mean?" he asked. 

Madeline shook her head. It sounded like a made-up word from vampires, "What is it?"

"It means 'Blood Sin'."

Blood Sin, Madeline repeated the words in her mind, "It's interesting," she commented. Considering that a man was almost dead back in the room they had just walked by. It suited the place. 

"It's Latin," said Calhoun.

Madeline gave him a nod. She hadn't got the opportunity to learn many languages. When her Aunt Merlin offered to teach her and her sister, Beth, they had jumped at the chance because not every girl had the luck to learn, especially not village girls. 

"I never knew you were the kind of person who believed in tricks of cards," she said, something that she was still trying to understand. 

"Why do you think that?" Calhoun asked her, with delight in his eyes, "There are a lot of other things I believe in. Are you interested to hear it?" when his lips twisted into the wicked smile Madeline shook her head. 

She had a feeling that it would be something embarrassing and she didn't want to hear it right now. The man finally returned back from behind the closed doors. And with him, another man stepped out, who had blonde hair who bowed his head at the King with a smile before leaving the place. 

"Mr. Sparrow is ready to see you, milord," informed the desk man, opening the doors for them to step in. 

Calhoun walked in, and Madeline was quick to follow before the door behind them closed. Torches of fire burned on the walls. Madeline saw that the table was clean where a man stood behind it.

"King Calhoun, it is a surprise to see you here," said the man who Madeline pegged to be Raphael Sparrow. The man was probably two inches shorter than Calhoun. He looked a little older to Calhoun. His hair was black which was combed backward that reached up to the level of his shoulder because of the length. The clothes that he wore looked old that was tied with a rope around his waist. 

Raphael bowed his head, and Calhoun said, "I thought I would pay a visit to you as it has been quite some time."

"Indeed, it has been quite some time," answered Raphael. The man didn't have red eyes; instead, he had black ones. Madeline had grown to notice the eyes of the people, to see who she was talking to if it was a vampire or a human, "And who is this lovely lady you have in here?"

Madeline observed the way Raphael smiled as if she was a piece of meat and it got her worried, moving unconsciously towards Calhoun. 

"This lovely lady is going to be your sister-in-law," answered Calhoun and Raphael snapped his eyes to look at Calhoun with surprise. 

"Oh," was all that came from Raphael, "What a pity," he came around his table to take a better look at her, "Raphael Sparrow," he introduced himself, stretching his hand towards Madeline. 

Instead of Madeline going to take his hand, Calhoun moved his hand to hold Raphael's hand. Shaking it enough for Madeline to hear a crack.

"Madeline," she greeted back, bowing her head. 
A dark place- Part 3

Once Calhoun let go of Raphael's hand, the man wiggled his fingers, "The King sure has a good shake," he complimented, with a smile on his face, "Please take a seat. I am guessing you are not here just for a visit now?" Raphael walked around the table and sat down after Calhoun had taken the seat first. 

Madeline noticed the table wasn't clear and clean as she had noticed earlier. There were some engraved markings on the wooden table—designs which she didn't understand. There were lines and circles around, inside which the words were written. While her eyes curiously were looking at the table, the man in front of her noticed Madeline looking at the table. 

"I want you to take a reading of her," ordered Calhoun, his back leaning against the chair and Madeline's eyes stopped roaming around on the table to look up at the two men. Were they here for her? When Calhoun had told her that he had work, she had guessed it was for his sake. 

Raphael looked surprised as Calhoun had never brought a lady in here to take a reading. Mr. Sparrow looked like a madman because of his dull face and droopy eyes. Because of his appearance, most of the people outside this building look at him like he was a drunk man. 

Calhoun took women from here, but he had never brought one from outside. It made Raphael continue to look at the human girl curiously. 

"It doesn't look like the lady believes in it," commented Raphael. How did he know that? Asked Madeline to herself. Was it so easy to read her expressions? "But that is alright. It doesn't matter if one believes it or not. Are you ready for me to read to you?"

Madeline didn't know what that exactly meant, but according to the fair in the village, one used to tell about the fortune and future, answering questions that were asked to fill their pockets with coins. 

She heard Calhoun say, "Raphael is an expert when it comes to reading. You can ask the questions you have been having in your mind. You don't have to speak it loud."

Though she was a simple village girl, Madeline had always kept her feet on the ground without building castles up in the sky with empty clouds. She didn't believe in things like these, but with Calhoun who was telling her she could question, it somewhere made her put her faith with him, that she would get the answers. 

"Okay," she replied to Raphael's question. The man pulled out a pack of cards, shuffling it in his hands. 

Raphael placed the cards on the table in a curved line before looking up at her, "Please pick three cards from the lot," he said, his eyes focussed on her hand when Madeline randomly pulled out the three cards one after another and he cleared the other cards to place them aside, "This is always the fun part." 

Madeline had once accompanied Beth in her reading, but she had not taken part in it. One reading costed a whole silver coin, and it was too much money. She now saw the man turn around the first card she had pulled. Leaning forward, she saw it was a skull. Her eyebrows furrowed as she had never heard a skull being part of the pack of cards. 

Raphael had a grim look on his face, and he turned the second card that had a flower, a tulip to be specific. When he went to the third card, Madeline pursed her lips to see there was a tombstone. 

"Am I going to die?" asked Madeline on seeing the tombstone, her eyes lifted to look at the man who was dealing with the cards. 

"The cards don't mean exactly what you think they are, milady," replied Raphael, "You have a strange order in here. First is the representation of death; people usually have it in the opposite order."

"What does that mean?" Madeline had an unsettling feeling in her chest. 

"You had a near-death experience," said Raphael, his eyes looked her curiously. 

Calhoun was the one to say, "We were hoping you could answer that."

Raphael's eyes shifted to look at Calhoun before going back to look at the girl, "If the incident has taken place already, it won't happen again."

"She was found standing at the edge of the tower window. Sleepwalking," commented Calhoun and Raphael's eyebrows went up.

"It is possible that you are trying to get to something, that you have not found out yet?" Raphael asked her, "The dreams that we see need not always be bizarre of the day but it sometimes tries to reach out for the window that is shut. Do you know that vampires don't dream, if they do, it is considered to be something very important, unlike humans."

Madeline remembered the night of the ball when she was sleeping. She had woken up covered in sweat as the dream was about Calhoun finding her back in the castle. It was a nightmare that day. When her eyes slowly drifted to look at Calhoun, he didn't hide the chuckle, "Selective dreams, Maddie," he said to her. 

She then asked Raphael, "What do you think it meant in my case?"

"You are trying to go back to what belongs to you. More precisely to say something that once was part of you," Raphael started to explain, "When our body goes to sleep, it goes to a state where the soul is at ease, making it easier for it to move. I am no God, milady and only a card reader. The second card speaks of a love which is the representation of the flower, but then it also speaks about mortality. Acceptance of who you are and the tombstone is your association with death," saying this, Raphael's eyes went to fall on Calhoun. 

Madeline's own eyes followed the sight of the man that was on the King. 

"It means you either kill or get killed," said Raphael. 

That was not helpful at all, thought Madeline to herself. Her head was even more muddled than it was before stepping into this room. 

"You're confusing her, Raphael," came the calm voice of Calhoun and Raphael who had a serious look on his face quickly put up a smile.

"Lady Madeline, if I may speak further," asked Raphael to have Madeline nod her head. She wanted to hear something that would make sense to her, "I will not tell you what you want to hear, because I don't hold such information, but I can tell you that there's something that is trying to reach out for you. There are wide possibilities of what it might be. This phase that you have right now is the one where it is pleasant, after which comes the destruction. It is your choice what you will pick…"

"Pick what?" asked Madeline, her eyebrows furrowing further, and she leaned forward from her seat, waiting for him to continue for his words.

Raphael said, "I don't know about that. Only time will tell you," Madeline felt her shoulder droop slightly, "We can have another reading after two or three months later to see if there's any change in the combination of the cards." 

Madeline nodded her head, "Thank you," she thanked the man. 

Calhoun who was quietly listening to them, stared at the cards that were on the table. He heard Raphael ask him, "Would the King like to have a reading?" 

"No thanks," replied Calhoun, a smirk falling on his lips. Calhoun had got his reading only once from Raphael, and he never got it again. Calhoun believed, that sometimes the suspense was better than knowing everything. 

He could see that Raphael's hands were itching to shuffle the cards so that Calhoun would touch the cards. Seeing they were done here, he stood up, and the others stood after the King. Calhoun said to Madeline, "I will be out there in a minute."

Madeline bowed at Raphael and took her leave from the room as it seemed that Calhoun wanted to speak alone with Raphael. When the door closed, Madeline stood between the two rooms- one with the room full of people while the other where Calhoun was. 

With Madeline who left the room, Calhoun stared at Raphael, "If you will be kind enough to cut down the bullshit and tell exactly what was with the card reading," he smiled at the card reader. 

The smile on Raphael's face rose up, "I told her what she needed to hear. It seems like you have taken a liking towards her. Planning to take her as your wife?" Calhoun stared at Raphael, not wanting him to deter from the main subject, "She is not like us. I am not sure about the combination."

"Explain," said Calhoun, his red eyes on Raphael. 

"She appears to be the complete opposite. And when I say opposite, it means a direct opposite," Calhoun raised his brow, understanding what Raphael was speaking about, "You might need to look at the lineage. Might find some answers there."

After a few seconds, Calhoun said, "Thank you for your time, Raphael. And for the lead."

"Anytime," Raphael bowed his head. 

Once Calhoun made his way out of the doors, the card reader picked the last card, adding the three cards back to the deck. Shuffling them in his hand, he spread them on the table. His index and middle finger walked across the cards before picking one of them. The first and only card Calhoun had picked years ago, which had hands that were covered in blood. The destructor. 

"I wonder...did the card change but I have a feeling that it hasn't," murmured Raphael looking at the card. 

Madeline watched Calhoun smile at her, his eyes looking at her in fascination. The intensity in his eyes didn't reduce when it came to looking at her, which she was still getting used to. 
A dark place- Part 4

When Calhoun said it was a minute, Madeline had stepped out of the room and within a minute he was out. A man of the time.

As they walked back into the room that they had passed through before to talk to Raphael, the eyes around the room discreetly looked at them without being too obvious. It wasn't the first time for Madeline to be in a room which had more vampires than humans, but the atmosphere in here was much darker, that made her feel that she wasn't in the same world. 

It wasn't just the people or their behaviour but even the ambience. There were no windows. It was strange. She was sure she had seen the windows on the walls from outside, but there were no windows in here. 

Unable to resist herself not looking at the people, her eyes came to meet a man who was drinking blood from a woman whilst he looked at her. Before they stepped out of the building, Calhoun pulled out a coin and threw it towards the man who was standing behind the desk for the man to catch it, 

"Thank you for your visit, milord."

Stepping out of the building, Madeline felt the air was lighter compared to the density inside. Greeted by the sunlight, Madeline's eyes momentarily flinched. 

The coachman on seeing the King and the lady step outside the building brought the carriage to the front where they were. Once they were in the carriage, Madeline pondered over the words of the card reader. 

"How do you know, Mr. Sparrow?" she asked Calhoun.

"Coincidently we bumped into each other in the past. He was in one of the Duke's houses, giving a reading," he replied to her question. Calhoun's eyes were back on Madeline, weighing what Raphael had told him before he left the room. 

He wondered if that was the reason why he strongly felt attracted towards Madeline, a subtle smile came on his lips but he knew that wasn't the whole reason. Madeline was not aware. Some readings were misinterpreted, which was why he would have to find out if the readings were indeed true. 

The truth was, Madeline had not expected Calhoun to believe her when she had told him about the disappearing glass. She remembered how she had fallen. She had looked at the space with no glass, and there was no one. 

"Thank you," she said, looking him.

"And what are we thankful about?" he asked, tilting his head. 

Madeline was sure if she would have told the same to someone else, they would label her crazy. A mad girl who was blabbering nonsense. But she was grateful that Calhoun had not questioned her after he had rescued her not once but twice in a day. She had not stepped anywhere close to the tower since then. 

"For trying to help me to get answers," and not thinking I am crazy, she added the words in her mind without telling it through her lips. 

"Who would I help, if not you?" asked Calhoun like it was the obvious thing to do. For the amount of embarrassment that had occurred today because of him, Madeline could look over it for the help he had provided her. Madeline watched Calhoun smile at her, his eyes looking at her in fascination. The intensity in his eyes didn't reduce when it came to looking at her, which she was still getting used to. 

"Why did you refuse to have your reading?" she asked him, her eyes darting away from his gaze. To keep herself busy, she smoothened the front of her skirt on her lap. 

"I took my reading years ago, by mistake," he said, noticing her dainty hands, "Still nervous around me," he smiled and she turned to look at him. 


Calhoun said, "Raphael dropped his cards at the table when he was going to leave. One card fell at my feet and out of politeness I picked it up to hand it over to him."

"Are those kinds of readings counted?" the card reader had shuffled the cards before placing all the cards on the table for her to pick without looking at what was behind it. 

"It does. At least to Raphael who looked at the card and went wide-eyed. It was very satisfying seeing the shocked expression, on his face" said Calhoun. Madeline who was curious continued to ask,

"What did you get?"

Her brown eyes looked at him, anxious for an answer. If he had a similar vague reading as she did and if he had done something about it, "How about we trade something? A kiss on the lips for an answer of what card I picked?"

"No," her reply came to be breezy. 

"It is a very good card. I was told not many get a card like that, and here it picked me," Calhoun coaxed her, "It is worth it."

Madeline was definitely curious because he had not picked the card at the intention of wanting to know what it would mean to him. But that didn't mean she would trade her lips shamelessly with him. 

"A shame," commented Calhoun, running his tongue over the top of his lips. The carriage rode back to the village of East Carswell, and Calhoun kept his word of having Madeline meet her family in his presence. 

Last time Madeline's mother had sneaked in a note to Madeline. Having been caught red-handed, Calhoun could only hope that the older woman wouldn't pull a stunt like that again. He was merciful only because it was Madeline's mother, but if someone dared to come in between him and her, he wouldn't mind pushing them away from Madeline. 

He had gone as far as to change the letter Madeline had written, just to put his point across that Madeline was trying to get used to the mansion which was not a lie, considering how she was finally easing.

When the door of the Harris' family was knocked on, Mrs. Harris was the one who had opened the door, and she saw her daughter who stood at the door.

"Mama," Madeline greeted her mother and Mrs. Harris, seeing no one around her quickly moved forward to hug her daughter. 

"Madeline!" exclaimed the older woman, squeezing her younger daughter as she was happy to see her here. The evil King was nowhere to be seen, and there was no sight of the carriage. She asked, "Did he finally let you go? Did y-"

"Mother-in-law, you have grown some good potatoes," came a voice from the side as Calhoun finally stepped into Mrs. Harris' view. 
Visiting in laws- Part 1

PS: Super long chapter incoming...


Mrs. Harris was filled with joy when she had saw her daughter, Madeline standing at the door. Especially with the King not around her daughter, she had thought that either her daughter had run away from the castle or the King had finally let her return home. It had been more than two decades since she was married to Mr. Harris, having two beautiful daughters, that she often found herself imagining to marry them to a wealthy family. 

And it seemed like part of her dream had come true, the same which she now found to be dreadful. Mrs. Harris knew both her daughters; after all, she was their mother. Someone who had helped them while growing up while giving them her love and care like any other mother would. When they recieved the invitation from the King to have lunch, like others in her family, she was delighted. 

Both her and Mr. Harris had been alright only until the point before the King had ordered Madeline to stay in the castle while the rest could leave. Right now, the older woman wouldn't even let Beth to marry someone so forceful.

But her happiness was short-lived as the King came to stand in front of her and she bit her tongue. 

"Do you sell these?" asked the King as if he hadn't heard her ask Madeline if she was back home for good. 

"No, my King," Mrs. Harris mustered a smile instead of the frightened expression.

"Please call me, son. It would be odd for my future wife's mother to address me formally," Calhoun smiled, knowing exactly what effect his words had on the lady. Out of purpose, he had stepped away from the door, letting Madeline stand there alone, and Mrs. Harris walked straight into the trap he had left. 

Madeline's mother looked queasy and his eyes shined in mischief. She bowed her head, "Forgive me, milord. I wouldn't want to cause any disrespect towards the King even if the King is going to marry my younger daughter Madeline."

Madeline turned around to look at Calhoun who had picked up a potato, "We have many more vegetables in the backyard. Mama has always grown them. Sometimes she gives them to our neighbours or other people in the village."

"What a wonderful mother-in-law I have. Any praises to her would be less," complimented Calhoun. His words were coated with sugar to please the lady and Madeline. 

"Please come in," her mother invited both of them in, and Madeline waited for Calhoun to first step inside, noticing how her neighbours were trying to catch the sight of the King, "Please take a seat," her mother offered. 

Madeline was happy to see her mother again. She was grateful that Calhoun had agreed to take her to see her family without expecting any favour from her. 

"Is there something you would like to drink?" asked Mrs. Harris with her hands folded in the front. 

Calhoun took a seat on the chair, and he gave a thoughtful look at the older lady. Unable to resist pushing the buttons, he asked, "I don't think you might be having blood, would you?" 

Mrs. Harris' hands turned sweaty by hearing the King speak about blood. B-blood? Madeline quickly turned to look at Calhoun, where she was finally getting to know his ways, "The King loves tea, mama," she answered, and Calhoun's eyes shifted to look at Madeline before it went back to look at Mrs. Harris.

"Yes, tea would be wonderful," he chimed. The woman nodded her head and went inside the kitchen, "Why don't you go and help your mother, Maddie."

Madeline was not sure why Calhoun was being sweet, letting her talk with her mother without him in the same room. She followed her mother, seeing how her mother picked up the utensil to boil the water under the fire. Going to the old, creaking cupboard, Madeline pulled out the box where the tea powder was usually stored in, and she brought it forward. 

"Do you work in the castle?" asked her mother being curious, even though somewhere she knew the answer, she still wanted to know. 

Madeline shook her head, "No, mama," and Mrs. Harris nodded her head. 

"Did you come here on some business?" asked her mother, doubting why the King was letting her talk to her daughter much more freely, especially after what she wrote in the note. Something didn't feel right. She might have been a human, but she was old enough to know that nothing came easily, especially not when one was dealing with a vampire. 

Hearing her mother's question, Madeline didn't know how to break the news, "We went to visit Mr. Heathcliff's shop, for some gowns," said Madeline, not able to bring herself to use 'wedding gown' as it sounded strange in her mind. In the back of her mind, she knew that Calhoun was listening to their conversation even though they were in a different room. 

"Milord," Madeline heard Beth's voice, and she came inside the kitchen to see Madeline, "I thought I heard voices. What brings you here?" Beth's tone was unwelcoming while she smiled at her younger sister. 

"Beth," said Madeline, a smile instantly rising up on her lips, "We came to see gowns."

"Must be nice, isn't it. To live the life of riches," stated Beth when she came close to stand next to Madeline. 

Madeline didn't know what to say to it. When the tea was prepared, Beth took hold of the tray so that she would be the one to offer the King tea, "Allow me," said Beth. At the same time, Madeline placed her hand on her mother's hand. Squeezing it, she smiled that she was doing good.

Mrs. Harris saw her younger daughter smile, and she wondered if what was written in the letter were Madeline's true feelings. That she was genuinely trying to adjust to the life that she had in the castle. If it was, Mrs. Harris would not ask her daughter to change the path. All she wanted was her daughters being happy. It was all that mattered to her. 

The woman had never expected or dreamed of her daughters getting married to someone like the King, but with the way things were heading, she doubted if there was anything that could be done. Mrs. Harris was wise with her age. She knew that for what she had done before, it would have warranted death, but she had been spared because she was Madeline's mother. She didn't like the King, but if Madeline was well kept in the castle and happy, like her daughter, she would try to accept it too. Not to forget that her husband now had help. How could one refuse when it was this generous?

Madeline saw her mother was thinking about something, and she asked, "Is everything alright?" 

"Yes, my child," her mother replied, leaning forward to kiss her forehead, "Your father left an hour ago for work. He said he is going to visit the forest with the men."

"I see. That's alright. I will come to see him again," hopefully, added Madeline to herself.

Mrs. Harris then realised something, and she tried to ask as softly as she could, "Did you meet...him?" It took a second for Madeline to understand who her mother was talking about, and she quickly nodded. 

"Yes, we did. He seems to be doing well," answered Madeline. It was James. It was best to keep her answers short and not get too deep on the topic. 

Next to the kitchen where the hall was situated, Calhoun had taken the tea from Beth who stood next to him with the tray in her hands. He stared at the tea, without taking a sip. Noticing this, Beth asked, 

"Is something wrong, milord?" Beth's voice came sweeter and more pleasing. 

Calhoun raised his eyes to ask her, "What is added in this?" 

Beth smiled, happy to enlighten the King. It seemed like he didn't know how the tea was made of, "It has milk, sugar, tea powder and a little water."

"Are you sure?" asked the King, his red eyes looking at her. 

Beth didn't know what else was added, "I think that is all that's there, my King."

"I thought there might be a pinch of poison in here," the King said it with a straight face that had Beth's smile fall instantly. 

"P-poison," Beth stuttered, and the King laughed. 

"I was joking," and he took a sip from the teacup. Madeline and her mother who heard the King and Beth's little conversation came out of the room immediately at the mention of the word 'poison', "My apologies. You can never be too sure about it."

Madeline closed her eyes at the little joke that had got Beth worried as she looked pale.

While Calhoun took slow sips from the teacup, Mrs. Harris looked at him, wanting to make amends to the words that had escaped through her lips when she had seen Madeline at the door. 

"Thank you for looking after my daughter," Mrs. Harris bowed her head. The King was forceful, but Madeline was dressed in silk and jewels. She didn't look like she was being starved or had turned to a mistress in the bed. Considering all those, she hoped the King would not do anything bad to her daughter. Mrs. Harris didn't mind taking the blow, as she didn't want her family to be on the receiving end of the King's wrath. 

Calhoun placed the teacup on the side table, making a clinking noise, "It is my duty to look after her. I was expecting to meet Mr. Harris here, in the house. I was hoping to have him present, but it must be something urgent if he has gone to the forest," by his words, Madeline was affirmed that Calhoun was listening to the words she and her mother had spoken in the kitchen. 

"I can tell Beth to go and fetch him, milord," offered Mrs. Harris, but Calhoun raised his hand. 

"I wouldn't want to disturb him," remarked Calhoun, his eyes looking at the things in the hall before saying, "In the next twenty-six days, Madeline and I will be marrying in the castle. As you are her family, Madeline wants everyone to be present in the castle with her during the time of the wedding. You can come and stay there for a while," he informed them. 

Mrs. Harris bowed her head, and Beth's eyes popped wide and followed her mother. Beth couldn't believe that Madeline was going to marry before her when Beth was the one who was older than her. Sure, she had answered the letter as if she didn't mind, but she had expected Madeline to wait or at least put some effort. 

Calhoun's eyes fell on Beth, and a broad smile stretched on his lips, "Miss Elizabeth," and this had Beth's attention, "You look upset." 

Beth smiled nervously, "U-upset? No, not at all! I am happy for Madeline," somewhere Beth cursed herself for not being composed. 

She wanted to be the one to marry the King. A marriage with the royal family was what she dreamed, no that was not true. She had thought of marrying Dukes or the Lords, never considering the King because of the status. Now that her sister Madeline was getting married to him, she wanted to shout and cry but she couldn't. Was there no way to gain his favour? She had often heard many stories of how the intelligence of words could sway a King. History had spoken about the King's debauchery and how mistresses turned to queens. But Beth was no mistress. 

"I am delighted to hear that, Miss Elizabeth. In times like this, sisters rarely show support to one another. I once heard that a sister was so jealous that she killed her very blood," Calhoun chuckled like it was nothing but the family continued to stare at the King, listening to his words where Beth was the one who was most affected. 

Beth said, "There's nothing I wouldn't do to see my sister happy. She is a lamb. Innocent and gentle in nature," and the older sister offered an encouraging smile to her younger sister, "I cannot wait to be part of the wedding."

"That's lovely. Madeline shared the letter you wrote back to her, are you sure you don't want to get a suitor for yourself through my recommendation?" asked Calhoun. 

As a vampire King, Calhoun was calculative, and he had seen many girls like Elizabeth Harris. The girls were beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. Words that were refined to suit the person they spoke to, which were smart but as much as they looked pretty, they were the females who were scheming enough to climb the social ladder. Not that he had anything against the scheming personality, but he preferred it was him in the end who was a better schemer in the room. 

Beth wanted a suitor, and she wasn't planning to be a spinster for the rest of her life. She put a polite smile on her face, "If there's someone in your eyes that you feel is worthy, I would gladly meet the person, my King," she said with a bow. 

"Maybe you can find someone in the castle when you come to stay for the wedding," Calhoun said before standing up, "Isn't that right, Madeline?" he asked the brown-eyed girl. 

Madeline nodded her head, "It would be nice to have everyone in the castle."

"We should get going. Please convey my regards to Mr. Harris. Until later then," said Calhoun to have the women bow their head. Madeline hugged her mother and then her sister. Before she could follow Calhoun, Madeline asked Beth,

"I have a question to ask you."

"What is it?" asked Beth curiously.

"Have I ever sleepwalked?" At Madeline's question, Beth looked surprised as she was not expecting it, "Have I?" 

"Not that I could remember. Why?" asked Beth at the strange question. 

If Madeline had a lot of time in her hand, she would have stayed back to explain to Beth on what happened. But deep down in her heart, she felt that her sister would look at her strangely. They were sisters who had accepted most of the things about each other. But since the time the King had chosen her to marry, she could feel the invisible wall between them, not realising it was not the King but her sister Beth who had created the wall out of envy. 

Madeline shook her head, "It was somthing that came in my mind," offering a smile, she finally left her house to follow Calhoun who was waiting for her outside the gate. 

On their way back, Madeline stared outside the carriage window deep in thought. It was possible that she had sleepwalked out of stress, and maybe it was a one-time thing that had not happened before, and she hoped it wouldn't occur in the future. 

Madeline was content with the way their trip had come to an end peacefully. There was no need to fear that someone would be beheaded. She questioned if it was her or him who had changed, or if it was both. 

Calhoun noticed how Madeline stared outside, without actually looking at the trees but thinking. She was thinking about the card reader's words which had been softened when she met her family. 

"I didn't know you have a brother," blurted Madeline turning to look at him. 

"Brother?" asked Calhoun, cocking his head on who she was calling his brother. 

Madeline stared at Calhoun, "The one we met today. Mr. Sparrow." They had different last names, but she had pegged that they were close cousins.

Calhoun rolled his eyes, "The closest blood sibling I have is Lucy. Raphael is not my brother."

No? Asked Madeline confused, "You said 'sister-in-law'."

He laughed, hearing her words, "So that he wouldn't get a wrong impression about you with me."

"Is it because you have bedded many?" Realising how it sounded, she said, "My apologies. Please forget that."

Calhoun shook his head, "I am very much interested in talking about it. To answer your question, yes, it is because of it."

Seeing how she went back to looking outside the window, the smile on his lips fell. He wondered what was the opposite of vampires. Dark creatures that took blood and were brutal. The humans were weak and fragile, easily breakable. There were only a few who had shown strength, but their heads only ended up on the spears.

Madeline's family looked normal, but then even she looked normal. Having the family in the castle, it would be easier to confirm and see if something similar would take place even with the other daughter of Harris. It was apparent that Madeline was the child of Harris. 

"Feeling better?" asked Calhoun.

"Yes, thank you for today," she thanked him. Calhoun was pleased to see Madeline accept his help. 

The royal carriage had left the village of East Carswell, riding through the streets that passed by the tailor's shop where a man felt troubled when it came to his feelings. His thoughts went back to the time when the King and Madeline had visited the shop an hour ago, to give measurements of Madeline's body so that the wedding dress could be made for her. 

He stood in the room where many gowns were placed in the racks. His hand held the dress that was of beige colour. His fingers ran to feel the fabric. It was the same gown that was worn by Madeline at the time of Hallow. Though the red dress that her sister, Elizabeth, had picked up was a beautiful one, he had personally made the beige dress with Madeline on his mind.

It was made for her. Therefore undoubtedly, it would look good on her. 

"Mr. Heathcliff?" the door of the room was knocked by Greg as James had closed the door. 

"What is it, Greg?" asked James, placing the gown back in the rack carefully before going to the door and pulling it open. 

"There is a man who is looking for you at the front of the shop. In the carriage," Greg informed him. 

James frowned, "Who is it?" 

Greg shrugged his shoulders, "No idea."

"Okay," said James, walking out of the shop, he pushed the door and the bell tinkled that was attached to the door. He stepped out to see there was indeed a carriage parked outside. He walked towards the carriage to see the coachman, who stood next to the door.

Walking towards the carriage, he saw a man who had black and white hair on his head, wearing clothes that didn't belong to a place like this village. A stern expression on his face who turned his head and James caught sight of the red eyes of the vampire. Out of politeness, James bowed his head,

"Take a seat Mr. Heathcliff," said the man, his words came out more as an order than an offer. 

James wondered if it was a new customer, and he stepped inside the carriage. Once he took his seat, the door of the carriage was closed, and he looked at the man wearily, "Don't be alarmed, Mr. Heathcliff. I am here to talk. I am Issac Barnes. Father of Catherine Barnes."
Visiting in laws- Part 2

Mr. Barnes stared at the young man who his daughter had feelings for. He observed the man who was young and handsome. But he was a human. Though he was against the idea of his daughter marrying a human, he had agreed because the word came from the King.

But how dare he try to refuse his daughter's hand?! Mr. Barnes had seethed in anger; his pride hurt because of this lowly human. Yet, he sat there with a stoic expression, without offering a smile to James. 

James waited for Mr. Barnes to speak, who already knew why Mr. Barnes was here, "It has come to my notice that you and Catherine have been spending a lot of time together. Word has also reached that my daughter is in love with you, and it is why I have planned to accept you as my son-in-law once you get married to Catherine." 

James bowed his head, "My apologies, but I have already conveyed my answer about it to Miss Barnes." It was wise not to use her name to make it look like Catherine was not close to him. And he had done the same when she had come to visit him. 

"I heard it," replied Mr. Barnes before saying, "I would prefer that you reconsider your answer." 

"I am sorry but-"

"I did not ask for reasons, Mr. Heathcliff," interrupted Mr. Barnes, "If you have spent time with my daughter, I believe it was in the intention to marry her because you liked her. Or are you telling me that you want to defame her?" the older man's eyes narrowed looking at James. 

Somewhere in the back of James mind, he knew something like this was going to happen, but he had been very clear in his intentions when it came to Lady Catherine. It was true that he had accompanied her, but he had made sure to mention about Madeline in their conversations, to let the lady know that his interest laid somewhere else and not her. 

"Pardon me, Mr. Barnes. As spoken to Miss Barnes before, I was with her only as a friend and not with an intention to marry her. It would be only right for you to find another man-Argh!" James struggled when Mr. Barnes caught hold of his neck, squeezing it. 

"Listen to me, you filthy little thing," threatened Mr. Barnes, "Do you think you can play around with my daughter's heart? You will marry Catherine, do you hear me?" the vampire squeezed James neck further while the human tried to get Mr. Barnes hand off of his neck. 

"L-let g-" James tried to speak. 

Mr. Barnes glared at James before letting go of his neck to have James gasp for air, "Do you think it is every day that people like you get to sit in my carriage? To get married into a house like mine. I heard you live with your father. He must be an old man. You would be sad if something happened to him, wouldn't you? I will give you a day more to think about it."

To think that he was getting threatened to marry someone he was not interested in, James glared at the man. 

"You can leave," said Mr. Barnes.

The coachman pulled the door open for James to get down, and he did.

When Mr. Barnes returned to his mansion, he went to where his daughter was who had been in anguish since the time she had visited James Heathcliff. She had not eaten, nor did she drink blood that was served to her. She had stopped going out of the mansion and stayed inside her closed room. She was not speaking to anyone because of her broken heart. 

"Catherine," Mr. Barnes called his daughter, walking to where she was seated to say, "How is my daughter doing?"

"I am okay, papa," answered Catherine, mustering up a smile on her face. 

Mr. Barnes then said, "I heard from your mother that you haven't been eating well," not receiving a response to this, he said, "You don't have to be sad about what happened. I spoke to James on my way back home."

Catherine's eyes slowly moved from the ground to look at her father, "What did you speak?"

"He said he needs two days to reconsider the proposal. Do not worry, dear. Your father will not disappoint you," assured her father, "I am sure he will understand and come to know how fortunate and lucky he is, to be marrying a girl like you."

Catherine frowned, "But he doesn't want to marry me," came her upset words. 

"He will come around," he patted her back, "I will see you at dinner," and he left the room. 

Catherine saw her father leave the room, closing the door behind him. She finally smiled. A small laugh escaping her lips, "I know papa would not disappoint me," she said to herself. Every person needed a right approach, similar to how she had approached James time after time, to get him to accompany her while making it look like she had no one else to go out with. 

Getting up, she walked towards the door and locked the room. Walking around to the other side of the bed, she bent down to pull the maid she had hidden before so that no one would notice. She had dismissed anyone who had tried to enter the room. Bending down, she placed her hand on the maid's neck, 

"Looks like there's no more blood to drink," she sighed to stand up, "I am sorry, Magda. I was too hungry, but I couldn't go and eat in the kitchen or dining room. If I didn't, it would have been hard to get father to speak to James. I love him too much. I hope you understand." Catherine was unaware that it was not some stranger from the soiree but the King who had spoken about her feelings for James with her father. 

When night arrived, and everyone was fast asleep, Catherine paid one of the servants who worked in her mansion to keep the matter quiet of what she did with one of the maids. Asking the servant to dig the body somewhere in the forest without anyone's knowledge. 
The news- Part 1

"Lady Madeline, would you like to try this wine?" asked the voice of a lady who stood next to her, holding a glass of wine in her hand.

"No, I am fine, thank you for asking," replied Madeline, her eyes looked at the blue liquid which had left some memories of the ride in the carriage with Calhoun. It was best not to drink anything that was not supervised by Calhoun, but he wasn't here in this room. 

Madeline wondered where he was. 

"You don't speak much do you, milady?" asked Lady Euphemia, "If you are going to take the Queen's position, you should start mingling more so that you would be able to form relationship else people are going to think that you are a mum doll," Madeline detected the envy in her voice.

"I believe everyone is familiar with the fact that it is not the queen who goes to people but the people who come to her," said Madeline, a constant smile on her lips that had started to ache her cheeks now. 

The women who stood around laughed. If Madeline was not promised to be the King's wife, people would have looked down upon her.

"Lady Madeline is a humble woman," came a familiar voice and Madeline turned to see it was Lady Catherine. The young vampiress made her way to stand next to Madeline, and she locked her hand around the human's arm as if she had known Madeline for years. 

"Lady Catherine, you speak of Lady Madeline as if you know her for months now. Has the King perhaps been hiding her and letting only some of his close acquaintances know about her existence?" asked another lady who was a human. 

The vampires smiled, "Lady Madeline's aunt lives in the same town that I live. It is how we are acquainted with each other." Madeline noticed how Lady Catherine, who had been giving her the cold shoulder all these days had suddenly turned friendly towards her. Specifically, after the soiree, they had last met each other, "She has a very good heart. It is why the King chose her to be his wife. Any praises to her would be less."

"You should be careful about what you say, Lady Catherine. The last time I heard, your mother was keen to get you married to the King," said Lady Euphemia, trying to dig and brew some drama. 

Catherine threw her head back, letting out a hearty laugh, "Oh, Lady Euphemia, don't worry about that. Actually, I have some news to share with you lovely ladies," the women keenly waited for her to speak, "I will be getting married soon."

"Oh my..! Who is the lucky man?"

"Have you picked the day?" asked another lady. 

Madeline turned to look at Catherine, a question on her face, but in the back of her mind, she knew the answer. "It is James Heathcliff, the man you saw me with. All of us are very excited about it," saying this Lady Catherine turned to meet Madeline's eyes who offered her a smile,

"Congratulations Lady Catherine," said Madeline. 

If Madeline was back in her home, she might have heard it from her sister or mother about it. Being in the castle, she didn't receive any news. It took her some time to absorb the news that they were getting married. Was she sad that James was moving forward with his life? No, she didn't think so, thought Madeline to herself. She was the one who had asked him to move forward, not to wait because she was with the King now. 

A part of the reason why she was trying to come to terms with the current life was because of what happened the day she had fallen from the high tower. She didn't have an answer for it until now, but Calhoun saved her, and it meant something to her. 

If James and Catherine were going to marry, it also meant that they liked each other enough to go ahead with it, thought Madeline to herself. It had been awkward that day when she had entered James' shop.

She felt her heart was slowly settling down and it didn't hurt as much as she thought it would.

Madeline spoke to the women there for some more time before excusing herself out of the room. Walking to the balcony, she placed her hands on the railings and sighed. 


Madeline turned around to catch Calhoun who stood behind her. 

"How long do we need to stay here?" asked Madeline. 

"We can leave right now," answered Calhoun. He walked towards her, standing next to her. 

It had been not even five seconds since she had come to stand here and Calhoun had come to meet her. It made her question if Calhoun always had his eyes on her, but then he wasn't even in the same room she was sitting in. 

"Something bothering you?" asked Calhoun, noticing how her eyebrows had drawn together. Madeline shook her head. She didn't want to bring up James' name, not when he was going to get married to Lady Catherine. 

Did Calhoun know about this? That Catherine and James were going to get married? 

Madeline, who was staring at Calhoun, looked away from him. It had been four days since they had visited her family, but her family were yet to visit the castle. The gown would take more than two weeks; therefore, there would be no need to visit the shop anytime soon. There was a possibility that James would be asked to come to the castle with the dress.

While Madeline was looking ahead, Calhoun came to walk behind her. Placing both his hands on either side of her on the railings that had her alarmed, "W-what are you doing?" There were people, and this was someone else's mansion!

"I thought it had been quite some time since I had you in my arms," came Calhoun's words next to her ears, "Madeline," he hummed her name. 

Madeline unable to resist, turned around to meet him face to face. Sure they were going to get married, but he didn't have to display it out in the open, not that she was ready for it in private either, thought Madeline to herself. 

She stared at his red eyes, seeing how they were turning dark, and realised what was going on, "How long has it been since you last consumed blood?" she asked him. 

"Three minutes ago. It was low-quality blood," he replied while stepping closer to her. Somewhere from the corner of her eyes, Madeline noticed some of the guests who were watching at her and Calhoun in the balcony, "I need to drink from you," he stated before stepping close, his head leaning towards her neck and sniffing her neck. 

Madeline had stepped out for some fresh air, and not for Calhoun to drink her blood. Since the time in the castle's dining room, Calhoun had not taken her blood, and she was thankful about it, but this was not a place to be drinking her blood. 

Noticing Madeline's hesitation, Calhoun said, "We can go to one of the rooms. I doubt Mr. Reeves would mind it."

"You are the King, why would he," Madeline whispered, her eyes stared at the coat that he wore. 

"Isn't that great," chimed Calhoun, "You smell exquisite."

"I smell the same as usual," she quickly said, placing her hands on his chest and pushed him to keep a distance. Calhoun had never behaved this way openly with her in public before; therefore, she didn't know what had him behaving like this now. 

Calhoun moved his hands from the railings to place it on her waist.

Her face turned red, and she tried not to look at the curious eyes that were watching them from behind, "Calhoun…" she called his name to have his eyes looked at her. Slowly she was learning, knowing what caught his attention, "There are a lot of people."

"You said that already," stated Calhoun, there was no smile on his lips and it had made her tense. His hand moved up to tuck her hair back before it trailed to caress her neck, "If anyone has a problem, that is not my problem," he said. Madeline wanted to bang her head. It might not have affected him, but it would to her, "One bite shouldn't matter."


Her no sounded like a yes to Calhoun's ears as he pressed her to him, "No? No, one bite doesn't matter?" Madeline shook her head. 

"You can take my blood once we reach the castle," she whispered, not wanting to cause a scene in front of the people. This was going to turn to another gossip and Madeline could only hope she wouldn't come to hear about it. 

Calhoun stared at her, "On the bed?" 

"On the couch."

The grin was back on his face, "I can barely wait," he said, running his tongue over his teeth, "Let's not waste the precious time here." Taking her hand in his, he tugged her to walk with him. Calhoun didn't bother to say to anyone that they were going to leave.

Somewhere Madeline was worried that the guests heard what they spoke. She didn't look at the people and continued to walk with Calhoun, who took her out of the mansion, in the carriage, to head to the castle. 
The news- Part 2

Music reccomendation: Johnny Rain EP1 - Fuck 


Madeline's face had turned red with embarrassment by thinking how she was going to face the same people next time when they were going to meet. Calhoun had in no way been discreet about what he wanted. His actions and words spoke volumes as if he was claiming her in front of everyone, on how much he wanted her. 

The King was shameless, and he didn't hold back on what he wanted. 

On their way back in the carriage, Calhoun had not touched her, but that didn't mean Madeline had not sat with her defences up as if he would attack her. Once they reached the castle, Calhoun stepped out, walking up the stairs and Madeline dragged her feet. She was worried that he was going to pounce on her. He did say he wanted to bite her. Her nerves were going haywire, and her nails dug into her palms. 

Madeline wondered what would happen if she detoured to go somewhere else and hide until Calhoun's thirst for blood would die down. But she doubted it would end well. 

"Looks like your legs have turned weak," said Calhoun when Madeline had fallen back, "Need me to help you with it?" he asked her. She gritted her teeth, walking a little faster to close the gap.

Which prey ever eagerly went to present itself in front of its predator?

Asked Madeline to herself. He was alright in the morning, their conversation much more normal, which had not hinted anything about him wanting to drink blood from her nor touch her. What happened suddenly? Wait...did he drink the wine made for vampires? But then he had drunk it before too, and she was the only wobbly person. 

The servants quickly bowed their head, moved back towards the wall to give more space without hindering the King's path. She noticed that they were not heading to the place where Calhoun had taken her blood the first time. This was the place where he had taken blood from the woman Julianne. 

When they entered the room the doors were already open as the maids were cleaning. Calhoun ordered, "Out."

Within a second, the maids quickly stepped out from the room as commanded by the King, closing the door behind them like an unspoken order, they left Calhoun and Madeline alone in the room. 

Calhoun turned around to look at her, "One of these days you should pick the bed. It is much more comfortable than the couch."

Madeline didn't believe things would go well if she were to pick the bed. Having him take her blood on bed sounded too erotic in her mind. She shook her head to get rid of the thoughts.

Calhoun took his coat off, throwing it to the side before he sat in the middle of the couch. Madeline's eyes moved to look at the space on the couch. Any side she would pick to sit, it would be the same distance but then was there a point in her keeping a distance between them when he was going to drink blood from her. 

He sat in a comfortable position. His hands stretched on both sides of the couch. He smiled at her, mischief mixed with wickedness in those eyes of his, waiting for her. 

"Come here, Madeline," he coaxed her, an order which was unlike the one he had given the maids a minute ago. As sweet as his words were, Madeline knew they were only used to ease her tension. The intention of Calhoun was only to lure her in, "Take off your shoes," he said, and Madeline didn't know why he was asking her to remove her shoes. 

"Why?" she asked him.

Calhoun tilted his head, his eyes raking over the girl standing in front of him, "I like my couches clean. Is that a good enough reason?" 

It wasn't, but she complied. Pulling her shoe one after another, she placed it in the corner, her movements slow so that it would prolong the time. Not able to push any more time, she finally made her way towards the couch.

Madeline saw Calhoun raise his hand for her to take, and she moved her hand to place it in his. In one single swift movement, Calhoun pulled her to him. This had her fall and straddle him uncomfortably with the number of layers her dress had. 

"Looks like we will need to reduce the layers," murmured Calhoun, one hand of his moved across her waist, before it pulled out the first two layers to drop it on the ground. 

"Wait! Wait!" Why was he undressing her?! Madeline's eyes turned wide-eyed. 

"I have waited enough," said Calhoun. With the fabric out of the way, he asked her, "I would prefer you in your chemise of petticoat, but then you haven't given me any opening lately that I could get your extra clothes out," he said in an unashamed tone that turned Madeline's cheeks red.

"Is that all you think about," she glared, her eyes moving to look at the skirts that had been discarded. How did he remove them so easily?? Her attention was brought back to Calhoun, who was in front of her. 

Calhoun chuckled, "I think about what I can do once I have your clothes disappeared from my sight." 

There was a teasing smile that adorned his lips, as he touched her waist. Things were getting better between them, so much better and Calhoun was pleased to see how Madeline reacted to his touch. The first time, there had been nothing but fear, but since the time that incident that took place, it seemed that unconsciously she had started to open her heart and he was seizing every opportunity. 

Madeline caught sight of his sharp fangs. She realized it wasn't just the fangs that scared her, but it was Calhoun's lips, hands and words that whispered to her. In the room alone with him, Madeline could hear her heart flipping in her chest. 

"You cannot undress me," she said when his hands moved to her back testingly.

"Why not?" he asked, his eyes on her waist, "Put your legs on either side, sweet girl," he instructed her. 

Calhoun was pushy, and Madeline had come to taste it over and over again since the very moment he had laid his eyes on her. It had started with a dance in the Hallow, to end up here on the couch where he looked like he wanted to devour her. She was compliant with his orders only because she knew there was no way out. The more she tried to run and push away from him, his hold on her tightened. 

She was not a child, but she listened to him. With no layers of skirt, it made it easier to sit, and it looked like she was straddling him. 

Madeline didn't know what was going on in Calhoun's mind. They weren't married yet for him to take her clothes off without notice. If she reminded him, she felt he would prepone the wedding which Madeline was not ready for. She decided to close her mouth shut, and Calhoun noticed this. She wondered if there was anything he didn't catch. 

Calhoun was not a fair King, he was the King who played dirty, and she was yet to learn the things he indulged in apart from her. 

She heard him say, "Tell me what's on your mind."

"That you're going to drink my blood," she answered, and Calhoun's gaze moved to meet her eyes. The room was bright when they had entered because the doors let the light in, but with it closed, and the windows draped over by curtains, the light had reduced in the room. 

"You haven't perfected your lie," he said, "Let's try again, shall we?" saying this his hand moved towards her bottom before pushing her to sit closer to him. Calhoun moved forward, making more room for her legs.

Madeline didn't want Calhoun to know everything she thought. His eyes were always eager to catch each and everything about her, "Why don't you guess it yourself." 

Calhoun didn't reply to this, and this had her wondering if he was trying to guess. 

"I don't need to guess. Giving me such an opening. Have you been waiting for me to bite?" asked Calhoun to her, "I can smell fear. But I also smell the tinge of eagerness in there that is laced with nervousness," Madeline shivered when his nose moved across the side of her neck.

"You want to bite a scared person. How can you enjoy drinking blood from a scared person?" Madeline asked with her eyes closed. 

Calhoun laughed next to her ear, "You want to know how? Let me tell you a secret, sweet stuff," he said, "The emotions heighten the taste of the blood. Most of the night creatures like to take blood from the people who belong to high status because of what they consume. The emotion of fear is the second most tasteful a blood can be. The first being sex, but it can also include when a person is aroused. If you taste like heaven right now, I wonder how you will taste later."

"You cannot speak to a woman like that."

He pulled away from the side of her face, "Right, but I can speak to my future wife, can't I?" Calhoun's hand moved up to feel her back, "Need any help with the corset."

Madeline glared at Calhoun. She said, "It is loose enough."

"Maybe we should tie it then," he suggested to her, "Shall we see how your blood tastes when you are aroused?" His words were playful, but the look he gave her told a different story. 
The news- Part 3

Hearing this was enough to have Madeline starting to get up from where she sat. It seemed that Calhoun had decided to scare her today, and her heart and mind were running awry. But she didn't go too far as Calhoun had got up for a moment with her in his arms to push her down on the couch they had been sitting on, to have him on top of her. 

The sudden shift in position had made her heart race. Calhoun stared into her eyes before it trailed down to look at her lips, "Don't be scared. Think it to be a treat in front of your eyes. If you haven't tasted it, how will you know if it's good or bad," his words were coated with honey. 

Madeline was trying to keep up with Calhoun's fast-paced emotions but did he forget she was a human? 

"You are not food," responded Madeline.

Calhoun leaned forward, not giving any space between them. His forehead touched hers.

"No. But you are," he whispered to her. 

"You were only supposed to take my blood," she reminded him, feeling his weight slightly on hers. She was lying in an awkward position that she had never been before. 

"Just adding some more flavour to it," he grinned. Madeline felt Calhoun's hand move up from the side of her thigh to her hips. Her hands shot forward, but he caught both of her hands and held it on top of her head.

The fire in her eyes didn't disappear, but at the same time, she could feel his hand moving to place it on her bottom. Calhoun knew what a feisty thing she was. He had continuously been eating up her space so that she could get used to it. The fabric had moved up when he had placed her back on the couch, and he pushed it further when he caressed her leg. 

Madeline's heart hitched when she felt him touch her bottom, and she stared at the devil's face. The devil had laid a trap, and like it was nothing new, she had walked into it, complying to his words, because there was no telling what would happen if she refused him. He had ways of making her listen to him. One which was covered in sugary words, and another which she had seen only glimpses of. 

Calhoun was taking full advantage of the situation. When he squeezed her bottom, Madeline was sure she would faint due to embarrassment. A shuddering breath escaped her lips. His hands were firm on her bottom and his gaze unwavering. Leaning forward, his lips came near her neck. She waited for the bite, but it didn't come. Instead, Calhoun pressed his lips on her neck. Without biting with his fangs, he sucked on her tender skin. 

Madeline who was expecting pain, felt differently. The movement of his lips and his hand started to stir her, and an unexpected sigh escaped her lips. 

For an untouched maiden like her who had no experience except for the past touches of Calhoun's hands and lips, Madeline felt her toes squeeze together. His lips boldly continued to suck on her neck before biting into it that would leave a bruise for everyone to see. 

When he bit into her skin, without sinking his fangs, Madeline cried at the nip, and this only urged Calhoun on. The movement of his lips and teeth were harsh on her whilst his hand continued to squeeze her bottom to feel the softness. He could smell the fragrance around her turning rich and his eyes darkened than before. His lips smiled against her neck before he widened his mouth to sink his fangs, letting the blood seep into his mouth. 

He pulled away from her when he was done drinking her blood, enough to keep her conscious and aware of her surroundings. Her face was flushed, her lips parted. His hands released her only to have one of his fingers to run down from the column on her neck, and just when it reached the surface of her chest, Madeline's eyes flew open that were closed earlier.

Before she had the opportunity to swat his hand away, Calhoun moved away from her--leaving her alone on the couch. She watched him walk towards the table that had bottles of wine placed on it. 

When he was pouring wine into the glass for himself, Madeline sat up and pushed her dress, making it proper. He then came back to sit next to her. 

"You drink a lot," commented Madeline. 

"Vampires don't get drunk that easily. It helps in curbing my urge to drain blood from your body to drink," he answered, and her shoulders suddenly turned stiff, "Relax. If I wanted to do it, I would have done it during the time of Hallow."

How considerate…

"Why don't you take blood from others then?" 

"Others taste like trash. Some are bearable, but it is good that we have the rabbits," came the casual words from Calhoun.

Madeline looked startled, "You said they were there to protect them from the wild animals."

"Indeed. Animals who lived in the forest," replied Calhoun, "I never said they were not my food."

"...why are you telling me?" she asked him. 

"I would rather have you hear it from me than from someone else." 

Madeline stared at Calhoun who wasn't facing her, instead looking at the fireplace. Somewhere she was glad that he wasn't lying to her and was telling her the truth. 

"Lady Lucy's husband...is he cheating on her?" asked Madeline.

"Yes. For some time now. She doesn't know about it," replied Calhoun, his chin tilting up to look at the ceiling and then sigh, "It was a marriage done in haste and for benefit. Maybe if some more time would have passed, Lucy would have a happier marriage."

Madeline had met Lucy only once, but it was enough to know that she was a good-hearted person. She felt terrible at the thought that Lucy's husband was cheating on her. 

Calhoun then said, "I should have killed them sooner. The previous King and the Queen."
Stemmed emotions- Part 1

Madeline stared at Calhoun who revealed something she had least expected him to say to her. Did he mean it or was he trying to joke with her again, trying to scare her? She watched him raise the glass that he had loosely held in his hand while his left arm was resting on the armrest. Silence filled the room, where neither of them spoke. Madeline heard the wood that was in the fireplace crackle and made a small bursting sound in there because of the heat that had picked up in the logs of the wood. 

"W-were you serious?" asked Madeline. Her eyebrows drew together and her hand unconsciously touched the side of her neck where Calhoun had bit her. 

"What do you think?" he asked her back. His gaze moved from the front to turn to look at her. His face serious, the shadow falling on the left side of his face that made the atmosphere around her that much serious. 

Madeline, like the rest of the people in the village, had heard many stories. By what she had heard, the last King and Queen had been killed because of some tragedy that had taken place due to the attack made by the neighbouring kingdom. Calhoun was dropping the information out of the blue and her head started to reel. 

"Why?" her question came out as a whisper in the room when it was just Calhoun and her. 

A dangerous grin broke through his lips, and he said, "Because I always wanted to kill them."

She didn't know what to make out of it.

Madeline had tried to figure out, the relationship of Calhoun through Lucy to realise, that out of the previous King and the Queen, one of them was Calhoun's parent. But she didn't know who it was. When Madeline had entered the castle, her thoughts were filled with nothing but wanting to escape from the castle, from here, from the King so that she could go and continue the life she belonged to. 

They hadn't spent many days together, but staying around Calhoun had made her curious enough to want to know what Calhoun's story was. Why he was the way he was right now, or if it was his inherent nature—cruel yet sometimes gentle with her. 

She waited for him to speak. She watched Calhoun staring back at her, the smile faltering on his lips to take the form of the seriousness he previously held on his face. 

"Why did you kill them?" she asked, unable to keep her burning curiosity to herself. Calhoun was taking his own time in gauging her expression. 

Calhoun looked as if he gave some thought over it, and he said, "When the stem of hate is strong, it is hard not to want to get rid of those people you despise."

Madeline was someone who loved her parents dearly. It was hard for her to relate to Calhoun's hate towards the King and Queen. But his story was different, "Didn't people know about it?"

"Only a few of them. Barely countable in hand," he replied to her, chuckling at the end, "It was a beautiful day, Madeline. Walls, floors, hands that were deep down covered in blood until the elbows. I haven't always lived in the castle. The King was my father, but the Queen was not my mother. She was Lucy's mother."

"What happened to your mother?" she asked. The previous King's who had ascended the throne so far, had never made an appearance openly to the people, who belonged to the lower status like her and her family. 

"She killed herself," Calhoun smiled, and Madeline didn't know what to say or how to react to it, "It was a long time ago. When my father was the King, he married Lucy's mother, who was incapable of giving birth to a child for a long time. You know how impatient people get after a couple of tries. At the same time, my mother was taken in as a mistress of the King. But she was kicked out of the castle by the King's grandmother."

Madeline's lips pursed at the thought of it. She had heard about this. Many stories often came to be heard about the castle and court life, not just about the King or the Queen. Of how men took mistresses in the name of wanting to have an offspring. The girls were often too young who could barely be able to bear a child that would often lead to a stillborn or miscarriage. 

"Why did she get kicked out of the castle?" asked Madeline, "Didn't she have the King's protection?" That was the least one would expect from the King, but many didn't take responsibility for their debauchery. 

Calhoun laughed in dry humour at Madeline's innocent question. 

"Mistresses don't get protection, not when the Queen is present. People don't welcome the thought of a mistress in the castle even though it is allowed," he answered her, "The King didn't bother with it. People get bored easily. No matter how wonderful a person is, one day you will come to see the thing or person to be something ordinary. Then seek for a fresh one, something that will excite and tingle your thoughts. The King was involved in getting my mother thrown out of the castle because he was bored, and my mother was forced to leave; not knowing that she was pregnant." 

"The royal family were unaware of the growing child in her stomach, and when the time came, she gave birth to me in a village. She lived for a few years before killing herself out of heartbreak. She had tried to speak to the King, and I can only tell how much of a fool she was," tched Calhoun.

Madeline didn't know how Calhoun was speaking so calmly about his mother because her own heart ached for the way his mother was mistreated, "I grew up, away from the castle for some more years. In the meantime, sweet mother Queen was unable to give a male child to the King. It must have been my mother's curse. Because no matter how many other women he beded, all their children died before they could be born," Calhoun smiled, his eyes twinkling maliciously.

"But you turned to a King," said Madeline for him to nod. 

Madeline would have never guessed that something like this had happened to Calhoun's mother. The stories of the debauchery that ran in the castle was heard outside the walls. There were only a few stories that ever came to be heard of the women who were the King's mistresses. 

The sad part was that many young girls agreed to it. Indulging themselves with men who were already married, in hope to replace the wife and to take the place of the new position. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. 

"That is because the King couldn't have an offspring. When the previous Queen finally gave birth to a baby, to the Crown's disappointment, the baby turned to be a girl."

"Lady Lucy," murmured Madeline.

"Yes, Lucy. After some time, he decided to bring me back into the castle. I was his only heir," Calhoun's lips twisted, his tongue going to play with his teeth, feeling the sharpness, "The King and the Queen, along with my lovely grandmother, they decided to mould me into what they would want as a puppet but they couldn't."

When Calhoun paused, she asked him, "How old were you when you entered the castle?" 

"Probably eighteen or nineteen? It is hard to keep count of the years when you are a vampire. Age turns to be insignificant but not time," stated Calhoun. Madeline didn't understand what he meant by that. 

She didn't know how age worked when it came to the vampires. It was because the mortality of humans was less while for vampires; it was more. 

Before Calhoun could go on, Madeline had started to question, in her mind of what might have happened for him to kill the King and Queen. It also made her question how he was still here, as the King, because killing the royals was nothing less to treason. It was the highest treason one could commit, so how did Calhoun get away with it? 

Calhoun turned back his eyes to look at the flaming fire, and she heard him speak, 

"The first few years, I listened, and I watched. Then I learned," he paused for a second before continuing, "Lucy was still a young and small girl. Growing up, therefore she didn't hear much of what happened, but she did get some idea. When you are in the castle and around high profile people, you don't speak about the mistresses. At least not the old one's who are useless."

Carefully, she asked, "Did your father ever bring up the topic of your mother with you?"

It would be strange not to, thought Madeline to herself. 

"No. He didn't care about it," came the calm answer from Calhoun. 

The woman died, killed herself, and the previous King didn't even care...Madeline didn't know how much she was allowed to question to know more about Calhoun because it was something personal.

"And after some years of careful planning, I first killed my dear grandmother. I wanted to keep her for some time, but at the same time, I could not stand the sight of her. She was quite a person," Calhoun laughed, twirling the glass of wine that was in his hand before he took another sip from it, "I put a rusted rod right through her mouth."