✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 81 - 90 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


King and the tailor man- Part 2

Madeline stood like a statue under his touch. Her body turned frigid like ice that didn't move an inch. It had been barely a week since they had come to know about each other and maybe it was normal for the King to be touchy touchy, but no man had ever touched her like this. Calhoun took every single chance to caress her skin either by words or by his touch, which was subtle, but Madeline was aware of it. 

Calhoun's fingers were cold, but it was not what made her shiver under his touch. It was because it was him who was touching her, the same man who could use the axe today, or worse his hands and she could do nothing but pray for James' life to be spared. 

"You keep showing him so much concern that it makes me insanely jealous. What will you do if he is pushed from the stairs, Maddie?" on Calhoun's question, Madeline's eyes turned wide.

"What?" she asked in a whisper. 

"Always making me repeat," he tched before iterating what he previously said, "It is just a hypothetical question. Like an if. You cannot blame me if he trips over the stairs, to fall and have his head cracked open."

Madeline looked at him pleadingly, "If you do things like that, it will only make me hate you more. Is that what you are looking for?" It was better to speak out her mind on what could happen if he wanted her to be able to see him in the eye. Hurting the people whom she cared for was supposed to be the last thing Calhoun was thinking about. 

"Tell me, what will make you to love me then," he grinned, and Madeline turned her head slightly away to look at the plain walls of the court. 

"There is no rule book on how to make someone love you. If they like you, they do. If not, then no. If you plan to win my heart the least you could do is not create anxiety in me," Madeline knew she was being bold, but she was taking the privilege of him liking her and using the same liberty. 

Calhoun's fingers moved away from under her eyes and traced down to the side of her jaw before letting her go, "Now, that is where you are wrong. I like to toy things that belong to me, after all, they are mine to spoil and take care, don't you agree?"

Madeline pursed her lips and parted her lips to speak, but Calhoun was done talking to her. 

"Do you think a man would allow his woman to think about another man who keeps her awake the entire night leaving her restless when it is my job to do that to you and not his," Calhoun stated who uncrossed his legs and pushed himself to stand on his feet, "You are foolish to think that anyone would ever allow it, less that person being me. You worry so much about him that it might cause problems for us in the future."

Had Calhoun not heard a word she had said or did he conveniently decide to ignore everything she said a few seconds ago? 

"I know what you're thinking, sweet little girl," Calhoun said, going to step in front of her and Madeline this time took a step back. She didn't see why she should stand in one place when they had the entire court for themselves.

"What is it?" asked Madeline, her eyebrows furrowing while she took another step back when Calhoun took one more step towards her, with a smile on his face that could be used to scare people during the night of Hallow. 

"That your words are not considered...I ignore things according to what I find to be pleasing to me. Don't worry, some of your words have been considered—things like how you can make use of those handkerchiefs in the room. You should have told Sophie about it, maybe you would have got the garter back," Calhoun chimed at her, but Madeline knew it was not true. 

"You would have only made it worse. The garter is of no use for you, give it back to me. It is mine!" she whispered the words to him before taking two more steps back. By now they had covered some part of the courtroom and Madeline was sure they would be covering the whole room with the way Calhoun kept moving forward towards her. 

"What is yours is mine now," Calhoun stated, and she didn't know why the King's eyes had fallen on her that night during the time of Hallow. He was utterly vexing! "Don't look so bummed about it. I will have the gentleman who stitches the clothes to let him know what kind of garter to make for you." And even though the incident hadn't taken place, Madeline could feel the embarrassment splashing across her face. 

"You wouldn't…"

"Watch me," came the reply and before she could take some more steps away from him, Calhoun's long legs had caught up instead of continuing to play. Pulling her by her arm towards him, he said, "Maybe if he didn't affect you the way he was doing now, I would have let it go. Girls and boys have their infatuation, but you keep trying to protect him. That somewhere irks me." The smile that was on his lips had fallen from his lips, and he got her close to his body. 

Madeline gulped. She hoped somebody came to interrupt or call the King but who would dare to do it when they knew that the King took a fancy when it came to chopping people's heads? 

"Brother Calhoun!' and there was the person she was thankful to! It was Sophie, King Calhoun's cousin sister, "Brother Calhoun, are you in there-Oh you are here," said Sophie on seeing the King and Madeline standing close to each other. 

At first, Sophie had not seen the human and it was only Calhoun's back that she had noticed until she came closer to see the girl who was hidden because of her small stature in front of Calhoun. Like Madeline, Sophie had woken up early, but for different reasons of wanting to meet Calhoun and spend time with him as she wasn't able to do it last evening. In the past, Sophie often dropped by the castle to talk to Calhoun, and he had given her the attention, but clearly the attention was getting diverted since the human had shown up at the castle. 

The vampiress' eyes fell on Madeline's arm which was held by Calhoun. She put on a smile to ask, "What is going on in here?" even though it was apparent by the way the two people were standing in front of her. 

Madeline's eyes fell on Sophie, and she pushed herself away from the King, "Something went in my eye. The King was kind enough to take a look at it," she said, who had somewhat started to notice that the attention Sophie was giving Calhoun was not of sisterly affection but one of a jealous girl who wanted the man for herself. 

Calhoun didn't take her action to be rude and instead said, "I don't think the dust went out of your eyes. Let me take another look."

King and the tailor man- Part 3

Sophie didn't like the way how Calhoun was paying the human attention, and even though she wasn't fond of the girl, she offered, "Let me take a look at it," she took three steps towards them, and Madeline replied,

"I think it's gotten better. The dust must be out," Madeline didn't want Sophie poking her eyes with her fingers and calling it to be an accident. Madeline knew she wasn't dreaming and could feel Sophie's dislike towards her. The vampiress smiled at Madeline, who felt as if the dust had been only a ploy by the village girl who wanted to get close to the King. 

"It is good to see that everyone is up early," Sophie clapped her hands together, "Maybe we can make some plans together and maybe go out later at noon?" she asked Madeline as she was the subject of her interest right now who had to be kept away from the King. 

Calhoun had been looking at Madeline's eyes that didn't meet his when he said, "I will be busy here in the court. I would rather prefer to have Madeline stay in here, and it includes you too Sophie. I wouldn't want Aunt Rosamund to complain like one of those times when you almost got attacked by the Jackal."

Sophie blushed hearing this, as if she was embarrassed by Calhoun's words of that particular incident, "That was just one time that happened."

"Indeed," said Calhoun, breaking his gaze away from Madeline to look at his cousin, "Once is enough. There won't be a second time in my presence."

Madeline couldn't help but wonder how exactly the family dynamics worked around the King. It was because Calhoun called Sophie's mother as Aunt and Sophie addressed Calhoun as 'Brother Calhoun' where there was nothing brotherly about it if one looked closely.

She wondered if it was common for close relatives to get married to each other when it came to the night creatures. Maybe not direct brothers or sisters, but perhaps it was okay for cousins to marry each other to keep the blood clean and thick without bringing the humans into the picture as they were considered to be weaklings. 

Calhoun had returned to take his seat on the throne. After a few minutes, Theodore entered the courtroom where the three of them were present. 

"Milord, the tailorman has arrived," informed Theodore. It didn't go unnoticed by Calhoun on how Madeline's heart skipped a beat when Theodore mentioned about the tailor. 

The time Madeline had been dreading was here since she had found out that Calhoun had planned to get James in the castle. As she heard the footsteps come from behind Theodore, her eyes darted towards Calhoun who was looking at the entrance of the courtroom. She bit the inside of her cheek so that her nervousness didn't appear to be apparent. 

And then James entered the court with a man who appeared to be working for the King too. Somewhere she was happy to see him, a man in whose presence she felt at ease compared to the one behind her who brought stress with every action and word of his. James bowed his head when he saw the King and he then lifted his head, his eyes wandering over the room to fall on a vampiress and then on Madeline, their gazes locking with each other and Madeline offered him a smile. 

Calhoun noticed this little exchange and smiled, a smile that was pleasant but one that had scheming ideas in the back of his mind. 

Madeline was quick to lower her gaze so that they wouldn't share anymore looks in front of the demon who was present in the room. She heard James speak,

"Thank you for taking the time to see me. It is a privilege to be in the presence of the King," he bowed his head. 

She turned her head so that she could look at both of them and she noticed how Calhoun had his chin tipped slightly that showed the authority he held in here or the lands everyone now stood on. 

The moment the tailorman had stepped foot into the courtroom, the King had put him under his intense scrutiny. His eyes looked unmoving to an onlooker, but that didn't mean Calhoun was not gauging the man who was under keen observation. There had been several times the tailorman had arrived at the castle to take in the measurements but never had he directly dealt with the King as there were other tailors who did that. 

By looks, the man was average to look at, which made Calhoun question what Madeline saw in this man, and as he thought this, his lips twitched. 

"The honour is all ours," replied the King with a smile on his lips that didn't turn the tailorman as wary as he was supposed to be, "I have heard so much about your work and decided it was time that I saw what use you can be for us."

Madeline gulped at Calhoun's words. She didn't know if he was speaking casually or if she was reading too much between the lines right now. She would continue to worry until James left unharmed from the castle.

"It will be of great privilege to be able to make clothes for you. If you allow me, milord," James answered with a polite tone. The man didn't know by first hand on how the King was except for the fact that he was holding Madeline as a hostage. It was only yesterday did he come to the castle to meet her, but when he had proposed to speak to the King, Madeline had refused the idea, and she looked scared. 

The King was smiling at him with a kind smile that made James wonder if he told the King that it was him who Madeline liked, the King would let her go.

"Theodore here needs new clothes, so does Mr. Flaren. They have been working very hard to keep Devon in a good state and out of danger. I thought it was only right I shower them with some presents. What do you think, Mr. Heathcliff?" asked Calhoun to James. 

James looked slightly startled that the King knew his last name. The King was an important person and to have him know his name, he could only wonder if it was because of his tailoring skills or if it was because of the girl in the room with brown eyes. 

"You are a generous man, milord," answered James. 

The first one to be measured was Mr. Flaren, who had come with James inside the court, and once he was done, he was dismissed from the room. Then came Theodore's turn, where James asked the man to raise his arms so that he could take down the measurement. During this time, Madeline's eyes kept moving back and forth between James and Calhoun. 

Sophie, who was standing there, said, "Lady Madeline had lost her handkerchief. Maybe you can ask the tailor to get some of them done for you," she reminded, letting everyone know how thoughtful she was. 

Hearing Madeline's name, James who was done taking the next set of measurements from Theodore turned to look at Madeline to say, "I will be sure to make them if you let me know what kind you are looking for." 

Madeline only nodded her head as she didn't want to ignite a spark of fire in the room. 

"On that same note," started Calhoun and Madeline's heart felt like it started to slip down from her ribcage, "Do you only work with men's clothing or with women's clothing too?" He inquired even though he knew the dress Madeline had worn during the ball was stitched and made by James. Madeline didn't know why Calhoun asked this, and she looked at the King. 

James answered with a smile on his face, "I have worked on women's clothing, milord. The dress that Miss Harris wore for the Hallow was made by me." James had made sure to let Calhoun know that he knew the woman.

"That is good to hear. I have been thinking about getting something stitched," upon Calhoun's words, she wondered if the King had just brushed away James' words until he continued, "A pale peach garter that is made of lace with frills that I can give. Not to have too tight elasticity so that it can be easily removed." 

Doubts- Part 1

Upon hearing the King's words, the courtroom that was already silent with just some slight rustling turned dead. Madeline wanted the ground to swallow her so that she would never be seen here again because of the King's demands regarding the garter which he had asked James to stitch. Her face had turned utterly red, and if one were to look at her, they would know that Calhoun was making such a demand to the tailor for not anyone but her. 

He was being scandalous!

Madeline only stared at the ground, not daring to look at either James or Calhoun right now. She had come here so that the King wouldn't kill him off without any reason, but she didn't know he had plans of mortifying her indirectly in front of everyone in the room. It was only Calhoun who appeared calm as he was the one who had given the order and Theodore being the right-hand man of the King, barely changed his expressions from the polite demeanour as if he were unaffected by the King's words. 

"Did you get the description?" asked Calhoun when James didn't reply to the King's previous words. 

Madeline softly gulped and moved her eyes from the ground to look at James who looked startled, and she didn't blame him. No man would speak about a woman's intimate garment so atrociously, and to James, it was a first time aside from the requests he had received from the women themselves. 

"Make sure it is light peach in colour and you can make use of satin if needed," Calhoun continued to speak to James, "The girl I want to gift it to, she has soft and milky pale legs. I wouldn't want marks on her skin unless I gave it myself to her," blood had rushed all across Madeline's face by Calhoun's words and by the look James had on his face, she could tell that James knew who the King was speaking about. 

James was dumbfounded with the King's forwardness, and his mouth was left agape before closing them. Though the King had put his demands forward, there was no saying if the girl he was talking about was Madeline or if it was another woman. Though the villagers and the other town folks didn't get the chance to see the King, many rumours surrounded him and it was hard to say which was right and false. 

To confirm, the tailorman said, "I might need to see the lady's thigh to make sure about the elasticity and the circumference that it needs to be stitched with." There was a high possibility that the King was talking about Madeline, James thought to himself. 

He noticed how King Calhoun smiled down at him, his eyes crinkling with amusement when he spoke the words. 

"And what if I say you will need to imagine a petite woman because it's quite scandalous for you to ask to look at the girl's thigh. Unless what you're saying is that every time you have made garters with other articles of clothing for women, you have looked at their bodies to measure," asked Calhoun to James. 

James bit his tongue over the King's words. He had only wanted to make sure that the person, the King was talking about was Madeline or not but instead, his highness had turned it around in such a way that it could paint him in a different light in Madeline's eyes. And James could feel her eyes on him. 

He put up a brave smile and said, "I am a tailorman, it is only right that I take the measurement from the women so that they are satisfied with what I make for them. Every lady has different sizes, even if they don't appear to look much different," he kept his words to be polite to the King who didn't nod or utter a word at him. 

If it was really Madeline to whom he was getting a garter for and from what he had described, it meant the King had seen Madeline's legs, or maybe more which he didn't like. He frowned at that thought. Did the King do something to her? Or did he see her bare? His hands clenched together. 

"Customer satisfaction must be your number one point, isn't it, Mr. Heathcliff," commented Calhoun, looking down at the tailorman who appeared slightly ruffled after his previous words, "You don't have to worry about the size. I will make sure it fits when I help the person to wear it," he smiled at James. 

Madeline snapped her eyes at Calhoun. Was he really thinking of making her wear it, and did he expect her to sit doll-like and let him do what he pleased?

In the courtroom, apart from them, there was also the vampiress who looked utterly shocked. At first, she had thought it was for her and if it was true, Calhoun would have asked the tailor to get her measurements but somewhere along the lines, she felt the King's gift was not for her but to the other girl in the room. 

James continued to take Theodore's measurements, his eyes quietly darting towards Madeline who stood there in the courtroom with both her hands holding each other in front of her. A worried look on her face that made him happy, only because he felt she was worried about him. But he knew nothing would happen to him, not when there were so many people in the room. 

But James didn't know that the King didn't care about how many people were there in the room. He wouldn't mind snapping his fingers to kill someone even if there were hundreds of people around them. 

Sophie took a few steps towards Calhoun, and said, "Brother Calhoun?"

"Hm?" came the short reply as the King was looking at the tailor. 

"Who is that for?" she asked, behaving shy to not take the word 'garter' in front of him.

Sophie's words were not a whisper while she asked the King, everyone in the room heard the question loud and clear to give their ears to hear what the King had to say. 

Madeline prayed that Calhoun would not embarrass her any further than what he had already done. She wouldn't be able to live with it if he confirmed that it was her, who he wanted to help wear the garter. Her eyes moved from James to look at Calhoun, her heart thudding in her chest as she waited. In the spare second, she noticed how Calhoun's eyes met hers before he looked back at Sophie. A wicked yet sinful smile played on his lips.

"Who do you think it is for?" Calhoun asked the question back to Sophie, "For you of course," and his words brought a broad smile on Sophie's lips. The vampiress had had her doubts, but with him telling it out loud, she could only confirm her position of being closer to the King compared to this new human toy who was living in his quarters. Sophie blushed at his words, and James appeared to look relieved, but it was only Madeline who knew that Calhoun was playing with his words.

Because Madeline noticed the look Calhoun gave her when Sophie turned her head away.

Doubts- Part 2

With Sophie happy, the vampiress had stopped glaring at Madeline for a few seconds. But the angst Madeline felt in her chest with the way Calhoun was looking at James ready to throw him somewhere never to be found again was something that threatened her, but the man had other plans on his mind. 

"Madeline," the King called her to his side, raising his hand and Madeline made her way towards him. James had finished taking Theodore's measurements, and he was now free to look at Madeline who walked to where the King sat. 

Calhoun was not going to let James go that easily, not when he wanted to make sure to drive him away from Madeline's life. It was evident that Madeline was holding on to the idea of James in her life when they weren't even lovers. Because of this, she wasn't willing to look or think of the possibility of opening her heart to him. But Calhoun didn't mind it. He didn't mind going round and round for her, even if it meant his ways were crooked.

He raised his hand, similar to the way he had done two nights ago and Madeline bent forward to kiss the back of his hands gingerly before pulling away.

"You said you met Miss Harris before?" asked Calhoun, interviewing the man to his pleasure. 

James bowed his head, "Yes, milord. We have met before." 

"Close friends, close family?" asked Calhoun and he raised his hand for Madeline to stay where she was before she could leave his side. He wanted her by his side. 

The tailorman shook his head, "No. Miss Harris used to come by the shop with her older sister for clothes."

"Would it be safe to say then, that you share some kind of acquaintance like a relationship with each other? Speaking to each other frequently or maybe being invited to dinner by the family if you were friends?" Calhoun continued with his questions. Madeline, who stood there didn't know what Calhoun was trying to get to by asking these questions.

James' eyes looked at Madeline and then back at the King, "I didn't have dinner with the family."

"A pity," stated Calhoun as if he dismissed the tailorman.

When James looked back at Madeline, he said, "But I have known Lady Madeline for months now. We have had a very good relationship with each other and..." Madeline shook her head, not wanting him to utter anything more than what he just spoke.

Calhoun's eyes moved between the two before he asked, "Lady Madeline, please let James speak," he smiled looking at her. If James were to say anything more, it would cost his head, and she didn't want him to declare anything more in here, "Let him speak, unless you think he doesn't have a mouth of his own." 

Calhoun was trying to instigate James to speak up, to confess the same words to see if they matched with Madeline's words. The more time passed, the more the smile on his lips broadened. His suspicion seemed to be right from the very beginning. James and Madeline might have liked each other, but it never moved forward, or they didn't have the opportunity when the time was plenty. 

"I have spoken to Lady Madeline before. It was in the shop but often," answered James who didn't heed to Madeline's head shake to not talk about anything without knowing the dangers that were approaching his way, "I wished I could have had a dance with her but I couldn't during the time of Hallow." Saying these words, James didn't look at the King, but he looked at Madeline in the eye, "I was looking forward to spending time with each other so that we could know each other better. I like her, and she likes me," Madeline's eyebrows furrowed at his words. 

"Oh my! Who would have known that the tailor would have something for Lady Madeline," Sophie chirped happily. She was in a good mood after Calhoun had told the garter was for her, and now with the tailor here, she could finally be able to shoo both the humans away from the castle and continue with her plans. 

Sophie went to Madeline's side and said, "Do you like him too?" 

Calhoun's red eyes shifted from James to look at Madeline, who stood there like a statue. He gave her a smile, one that was encouraging. But she knew this wasn't for her happiness. One word and it would push James off the cliff. Madeline wanted to say yes, but she knew she would have to bear the consequences if she didn't give an answer that would satisfy the King's ears. 

The room heard Calhoun chuckle, and their attention shifted to look at him, "Like is very common, Sophie, so I wouldn't doubt that the tailorman here likes the lady. We all like a lot of things. I like the smell of blood on my hands, the screams when people defy me and are tortured for the treason they made. When someone tries to steal something that belongs to me, that is something I don't like." He smiled at Madeline who had a look of horror on her face, "But I also like the walls, the ceilings. Sophie, don't you like Lady Madeline too?" asked Calhoun to the vampiress who blinked at him. 

She didn't like the human girl one bit and was only tolerating to put a show in front of Calhoun, "I like Lady Madeline," answered Sophie despite her actual feelings towards the human. 

"Right. Lady Madeline is too sweet, she likes James, but then she likes other things too," commented Calhoun. 

If the King thought that he was going to accept anything that was said by him and was intimidated by his words, he was wrong, thought James to himself. 

"I think you mistook it, my King. Madeline is the one woman I care about and look forward to spending my life with," and just as James uttered these words, Madeline's face turned pale as blood drained down from her face, "If you allow me, I would like to take her back with me. Her family will be worried as she's not been home for-"

"Her family knows she's been living in the castle. Madeline stayed back in the castle after getting her parents approval. I am sure Madeline will enlighten you about it," Calhoun then turned to look at Madeline who looked paler than a ghost and her eyes slowly moved to look at him. 

"That is not true!" James said as he had got the letter, as well as Beth, Madeline's elder sister, had confirmed about it, "You are keeping her against her will."

Calhoun's lips twisted, and he laughed. Nodding his head he said, "Madeline, Mr. Tailorman is waiting for you to speak."

Madeline's hands had turned cold out of nervousness and a certain headiness occupied her mind. Gulping softly, she then said to James, "I stayed here on my own will."

"That is a lie!" James stepped forward to only be held back by Theodore, who had placed his hand forward to stop him from moving, "She is being made to lie. You are forcing her to stay in here. You probably scared her and her parents! Madeline!" James looked at Madeline's face that was warped in anxiousness, "You don't have to fear the King. Tell the truth in front of everyone," he stared into her eyes.
Doubts- Part 3

To stop her hands from shaking, Madeline clutched the sides of her skirt. 

The truth was that she wanted to answer James' question, but how far would her truth save James' life? It was apparent with the way Calhoun was trying to bring up the subject that he was trying to instigate James, to do something that would be considered enough treason against him to land him in one of the King's many prestigious dungeons. 

All the eyes were on her, and the most intense was not from Calhoun but James as he wanted her to speak up. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath to say,

"I am staying here willingly."

James appeared hurt by her words, and he could only think that Madeline was scared in the King's presence which was why she answered that way. Even when he had arrived yesterday in here, to meet her, she had refused to come with him. 

He said, "You don't have to worry about anyone, Madeline. I am here. I will support you. Don't fear anyone." But James didn't know there was no support when it came to stand against the King of Devon. 

The smile on Calhoun's face didn't leave, and he said, "Mr. Tailor is right here. You are free to go. Nobody is going to stop you."

On Calhoun's words, Madeline stared into those dark red eyes wondering how much he meant it. For a person who had put her in the maze for his amusement and brought her back to the castle after a small escape, he had no intention to let her go since from the very beginning. Madeline found it hard to believe that he would free her. 

Sophie had taken herself to walk towards the tailorman who she considered to be a fairly handsome man, "Maybe the lady doesn't feel that way towards you," she conjured. The vampiress had not been there when the Harris' family had been invited to have lunch with the King. 

She didn't like Madeline, and she wanted her out of the castle, but Sophie was the kind of person who enjoyed looking down at people. Even if there was a little truth that the human girl liked this man in here, then she would definitely speak and be kicked out by the King himself for two-timing the men. She wouldn't blame her as when it came to a lowly tailorman and the King; any sane person would pick the King. 

James furrowed his eyebrows, and he spoke to the vampiress, "Believe me when I say this that we do like each other. Forgive me, but who are you?" he asked politely. 

"I am the King's...cousin," replied Sophie, "By the looks of it, I will say that she has had a change of heart and has decided to stay in here. Maybe she caught someone's fancy?"

Madeline who was about to speak heard Calhoun's words, which was only for her to listen, "He seems like an idiot. Not knowing when to speak and blabbering words. Try speaking for him and I will make sure he's treated better than any other guest this castle has ever had." He warned her, the smile still in place. 

Madeline slowly asked, "Why are you doing this?" She had listened to him. At least since from the time, she had been caught and brought back to the castle.

Calhoun gave her a look of confusion and asked, "What am I doing? I was only asking him questions."

"No, you're trying to get him to confess," she whispered to him, and Calhoun leaned forward from his seat. 

"Such accusations. I don't see any harm in asking the questions. Maybe I should let him see the painting I made of you. Hair sprawled and your body facing me as I had painted you. Hem up your beautiful thighs that showed the length of the stockings," his words were casual, but Madeline feared, "What do you think James will think when he sees it? To have the person he likes to be displayed in front of another man, and the woman agreed to it."

"I didn't agree to it, I was forced and threatened!" 

Calhoun clicked his tongue, tching at her, "You try so hard to protect him, I cannot help but bring him to light where you won't be able to do anything."

Calhoun was the epitome of evil.

"If I am not wrong, I don't have to do anything. Watch," said Calhoun, shifting his gaze to look at James, who was speaking to Sophie. 

"That is not possible," disagreed James.

Sophie looked at Calhoun who had a bored look on his face now, with his hand supporting the side of his temple, "People change their feelings, Mr…." Sophie had not bothered to register his name as she didn't feel the need to do it, "Who knows it might be Theodore who she likes. He is a handsome man after all."

James had hoped that Madeline would step in and clear the claims, but she stood there next to the King mum. He then remembered something and pulled out an envelope that he carried today with him.

"Here's the proof!" said James waving the envelope in the air, "Here it states how she is unhappy and is being forced to stay here because of the King," he didn't know he was going to do this today, but the King and Madeline had not left him with any other choice. He was going to fight for Madeline's freedom. 

"Who is the letter from?" asked Calhoun, his eyes narrowed at the piece of envelope. 

"It's from Madeline," answered James confidently, "You can see there clearly that she wants to go home. And if she took the time to write the letter, it only shows how much she cares for me. Read the last lines," he said. Sophie took the envelope and started to read the letter that was inside it. 

Calhoun's eyes shifted to Madeline with a hidden glare. He had made sure that no letter would be passed in and out for Madeline, which was why he didn't understand how the letter came to be in James' possession. 

Madeline's eyes widened, and she gulped. James was digging his grave further and further into the ground by every word he spoke. When James had mentioned about the letter last morning, she had believed it was Beth as it was what he had said. That it was her sister who had brought the letter to him, but she still wasn't sure if Beth would go so far to write a letter in her name. What if her sister had mentioned it to him and had never given him the letter? 

She wanted to retrieve the letter and confirm it. 

"Looks like a love letter from a departing person who entered the castle," stated Sophie, who read the letter, "If you love him, you should go back to him, Lady Madeline. Poor man," the vampiress shook her head. 

From behind, Madeline heard the King say, "You have the nerve to send a letter to the man. Makes me wonder if you want to see his head on the spear."

Madeline snapped her head and said, "The letter is not mine!" 

"Then whose, is it?" asked Calhoun, raising his eyebrow wanting an answer from her.

I will take care of you- Part 1

On Calhoun's questioning glare at Madeline, she didn't know what to say. Not that she didn't know the answer to it, but she wasn't sure how she was going to save any person because she could feel the King's wrath from where she stood. The brewing anger which he was trying to keep under the lid, but she didn't know for how long and somewhere she knew she was going to be the one to face the consequences. 

"I would like to see the letter," said Madeline and Calhoun's eyes narrowed even further. 

"Bring the letter to me," Calhoun demanded, his voice hard and cold that made everyone look at him warily. Sophie, who was the one holding it, walked to the King and she handed the letter to him. 

Madeline wanted to read it. She wanted to confirm that it was Beth who had written it herself before she would take Beth's name but would it be wise to take her elder sister's name? Asked Madeline to herself. She didn't know in what state the King was because he was already ready to breathe fire, that Madeline had somehow sneaked the letter under his nose that reached James Heathcliff. 

She knew some contents of the letter as James had spoken about it yesterday when they had met in one of the rooms of the castle. But she didn't know the other lines that were in there. Madeline noticed Calhoun whose eyes fell on the letter, starting to read the lines and he threw it on the ground. 

"Did you write this letter, Madeline?" asked King Calhoun, and Madeline's hands started to sweat. 

To stop her hands from shaking, Madeline clenched both her fists together. Sophie tipped her chin looking at Madeline who was nervous. She couldn't stop but smile, her lips twisting in amusement to see the plight in which Madeline had been placed in. 

"I didn't," Madeline whispered, but Calhoun was not satisfied with the number of words she used. 

"I didn't hear you. Speak louder," he ordered, and she looked down at the ground. 

"It wasn't me...who wrote the letter," she said loud enough this time for the entire courtroom to hear. She didn't have to look at James to know that he looked utterly shocked and taken aback by her confession.

Calhoun's glare had not been tamed yet, and he continued to speak with the same tone, "So you're telling that this letter, which the tailorman has brought along with him, is not written by you. Yes?" 

"Yes," Madeline's words were firm, but it was painful. She wished she had written the letter, but at the same time, she was glad she wasn't the one to write it. 

James finally recovered from Madeline's confession, and he said, "Why did you not deny it when I brought it up yesterday when we met?"

Calhoun's expression turned from anger to one which was of amusement. This was what he wanted, the actual confession, and he waited for the foolish human to utter more words on it. 

Neither Madeline nor James knew what trap had been laid for both of them. James didn't understand why Madeline was refusing to acknowledge the fact that she was the one who wrote the letter. He knew there was less chance with him against the King, but if Madeline proved that she had indeed written the letter, the King would only be called a barbarous man to pick a woman and place her in the castle against her real wishes. 

Though James had not spent enough time with Madeline in the past, he had noticed her, noticed her enough to know that she was a simple girl who was like a breath of fresh air in the meadow where the light fell. He didn't want her to be scared,

He was a simple man, a man whose occupation and bread of living was making clothes for men and women, and it was a reputable one. And compared to the King, who was not only handsome, the man held the crown. The absolute power who could have anything, which could either be by money or by force. But then at the same time, Lady Sophie, the vampiress, had put a doubt in his mind. 

"Why didn't you tell me yesterday that it wasn't you when I spoke about the letter?" James iterated his question, wanting an answer from Madeline who looked into his eyes with a pleading expression to not go any further with his questions. 

Calhoun, who stood close to her, said, "The man is asking you something. Answer him, Madeline." 

Madeline wanted to stab this person. He was pushing her into a corner, "I was in shock yesterday when I found out about it. I am sorry for causing you trouble," she apologised, hoping James would not speak further, but it didn't stop. 

"You are scared of the King, and so am I," Calhoun smiled at James' words, "But you don't have to hide the truth," James' words were also limited because he remembered how the letter was written about not bringing up her family into it as it would cause trouble. He could ask Madeline's elder sister to testify, but he didn't know how far things would go in their favour. 

Calhoun stood up from his throne and took a step down from the platform to stand next to Madeline,

"I think you have received the answer you have been seeking, Mr. Heathcliff. Madeline didn't write the letter nor is she being held in here against her will." He then put his hand around Madeline's waist and said, "It would be wise if you stop pursuing the woman. I am sure there are plenty of other women who fancy you. Don't go for something that belongs to the crown," came the low, threatening warning, which was clear. 

When Madeline tried to leave his side, Calhoun tightened his hold on her waist to stop her from trying to escape. 

James stood there with his eyebrows furrowed, and he looked at Madeline who didn't utter a word of protest. It was only yesterday they had shared a moment, and now she acted as if she didn't meet him. This only told him how much the King might have threatened her. 

The wisest thing would be to be quiet so that he wouldn't make an enemy of the King. James bowed his head. 

Calhoun continued to glare down at the man and then said, "My man will lead you out of the castle. I will be expecting that garter to be made soon," he added and noticed how James's jaw ticked, but he couldn't say anything. 

Good, thought Calhoun. At least he had the sense not to keep talking unless he was fond of his tongue. He had told Madeline he wouldn't do anything to James by beheading him, but it didn't mean he couldn't use other means to achieve his goals. The entire time the tailorman was in the courtroom, Madeline had an anxious look on her face, and most of the time, she couldn't keep her eyes off of the human. 

"Thank you for seeing me," James bowed his head like a true gentleman, and Madeline's heart ached when James didn't spare her another look. Turning around, he left the room with Theodore and another minister of the King who had been standing outside the courtroom.
I will take care of you- Part 2

James wasn't the only one who had kept his anger within him, but there was another person who was utterly furious. If Calhoun wasn't here in the room, the vampiress would have torn Madeline's head herself without waiting for anyone to help her with it. And Sophie couldn't wait to do it. 

Calhoun had openly declared more than once, his keen interest in this pathetic human girl who was the most disliked person in her list now, "Poor man, you should have given Lady Madeline and the man some time to speak, brother Calhoun. They seem like separated lovers." 


Sophie blinked at the word, and she stared at Calhoun, "Of course, I will stop speaking about it-"

"I said leave us," Calhoun glare at Sophie's way. The smile on his lips had fallen and he wasn't in a good mood, not when the woman he wanted to claim for himself was thinking about the well being of another man, "Don't make me repeat myself, Sophie." 

Sophie pressed her lips against each other, wanting to speak, but she had been ordered to get out of the room. She quietly glared at the human who was standing next to Calhoun, and she bowed her head. Every time something happened, Sophie had to remind herself that the only way to achieve one's goals was to be patient. In time, everything would come to belong to her and then she would take her revenge on the lowly beings who had dared to challenge her. 

Madeline heard the footsteps of Sophie as she left the courtroom leaving only Calhoun and her alone. She tried to push herself away from him, but Calhoun was quicker and sharper than her. He pulled her to him, both his hands holding her arms on either side.

"How did he end up with that letter," he snarled, and Madeline didn't dare to look at him, "Because I made sure that your letters would not go out of this castle."

"I told you, it wasn't me," she denied the claims because truthfully she had nothing to do with it. 

"Then who was it? Perhaps you speak to him telepathically that got him here yesterday?" asked Calhoun and Madeline flinched. 

The King's words were sarcastic, and she would have laughed at the joke, but she didn't dare to do so, "Why won't you believe me that I didn't do it?" This time, her eyes snapped to look at him, and she glared back, "You cannot even trust me, yet you claim to love me. What kind of love is this?!" she rebutted back at him. 

"The kind of love that makes you insane," was the answer that came from Calhoun's lips and for a moment Madeline felt one string of her heart snap, "You haven't been with the man, not even once as much as you have been with me and you prefer to pick him over me." 

"That's because he wouldn't imprison or force me. What did I say about love being set free?" asked Madeline, and she finally stepped back from him, "Even when you hold the sand tighter, it slips through your fingers."

"You are not sand, Madeline," he rolled his eyes, "Its a bunch of rubbish words that people think they use so that they can get away in situations like these. He was an utter idiot. What even made you like him?" asked Calhoun and Madeline was not happy to hear Calhoun calling James an idiot. 

"He is not an idiot."

"No? I was wondering who was digging his grave as he spoke. He or you?" Calhoun raised his eyebrows at her, and Madeline could not deny it. Because it was true that James had bravely spoken in front of the King as if he had his perks when in truth, all he was, was a tailorman, "You agree," chuckled Calhoun. 

Madeline frowned, "I did not say anything for me to agree."

"Your silence said everything that I didn't have to wait for your words," Calhoun said, his eyes taking in the girl's expression which looked upset right now, "What else did you do yesterday with him which I am unaware of?" he asked, and Madeline's eyes widened. 

"We just spoke!"

"What did you speak?" came the question from Calhoun, "He mentioned the letter to you, but you didn't bother to correct him? How convenient," he hummed, his dark red eyes continued to stare at her. 

She wished she could rewind her days, just so that she would never have come to the ball. If she could, she would lie to her family about feeling unwell and stay back. That way, the King would have never seen her, but the sad truth was that it was not possible now, and she was stuck here. The man gave her chills. 

"You deserve so much better, sweet girl. To be more than a tailor's wife," stated Calhoun, walking towards her, but he didn't stop to stand in front of her. Instead, he walked further to step behind her and then turn, "You deserved to be showered with the nicest things in this world. He couldn't even stand his ground, but then I would have enjoyed seeing him die if he accused me of something more."

"You were threatening him…" Madeline whispered.

"Did I?" came the thoughtful words of Calhoun, "I don't think I told anything that would cause him any harm. If it did, the guards would have dragged him out of the courtroom. You should be thankful for it." 

"Do you know, what's going to happen now?" asked Calhoun who leaned towards the side of her head to speak, "James is going to think that you indeed like me which is why you said a no. If he is as smart as you think he is, he will know that the garter which I ordered him to make was not for Sophie but you. For your beautiful milky thighs." The words of whispers in her ear made her shiver.

"You are a cruel man."

Calhoun's lips twisted into a smile when he heard Madeline say those words, "I never said I wasn't."

The King's admission only made Madeline worry more and be cautious of him. Someone who was bold enough to accept the negative quality where he didn't care about what others thought. That was exactly the kind of person Madeline should be wary of. 

She knew since the time she had found out that Calhoun had invited James to come to take his men's measurements, that was only a ploy so that he could instigate the man. She was mad at Calhoun for mentioning about the garter, and God only knew what James had interpreted or misinterpreted from it. Every word Calhoun had uttered regarding it had only made it appear scandalous enough that she felt embarrassed to even think about it. 

At the same time, Madeline was thankful that Calhoun hadn't dragged James to show another scandalous time they had between him and her- to show the painting he made. 

"He looks weak. Find someone else who is worthy of you. Someone who will shower you with needed attention."

Madeline, who couldn't keep her tongue to herself said, "Like you?"

This broadened the smile on Calhoun's lips, "Well, I wasn't going to say it but if you are admitting that I am the best person, how can I deny such opportunity?"

Madeline knew she had to learn a lot, and no matter how much she tried to be smart in front of the King, the man would always outsmart her. He was the King after all, and she told herself never to underestimate the man who carried the crown. 

"You aren't wrong with your choice," he had pulled himself back from her and Madeline turned her head in the direction where she could see him, "Imagine if you turn out to be the tailorman's wife. You will see him only during his free hours as he will need to make both ends meet. I have heard how shops can be robbed or mobbed to be destroyed." There was a subtle warning in his voice, "It would be very difficult for you, lonely in the house, waiting for him."

"I will work with him then," said Madeline and Calhoun smiled, knowing well this was coming. As quiet as the girl appeared to be, she wasn't exactly the quiet one.

I will take care of you- Part 3

The first time he met her in the ballroom, though he sensed how she felt lost in the sea of people, he had seen the spark in her eyes. 

"Such a tiring job. What if things don't work out. The man will need to find another job, and that would only bring distance between the two because of the lack of time and care. But if you come to my side, Maddie," he paused so that she could take in his words, "You will never feel neglected. I will see to it that you are showered with love and care."

"By maids doing my bidding of bathing and washing me? Making me wear clothes?" asked Madeline. 

Calhoun finally walked back so that he could come to stand in front of her now, "Don't be upset. If you don't want the maids helping you, I will personally take my time to do all those things," and Madeline gulped hearing this because she knew he wasn't joking. She would have considered it to be a joke if he hadn't dressed her before. But having the first-hand experience of him tying her corset and making her wear clothes as if she were not capable of doing such a minuscule task. She shook her head. 

He then took her hand in his, holding it and kissing the back of her hand whilst his eyes were on her, "I won't disappoint you."

He wasn't disappointing her in scaring her, thought Madeline to herself. 

"Stop thinking about negative things. Give me a chance by looking beyond the things that have happened in the past," he said to her and Madeline frowned. Her lips pursed, and it felt like the kiss on her hand had left a burn on her skin that started to inch across every part of her body. 

Due to today's court session, Madeline had come to know the difference in where Calhoun and James stood. Unless the King wanted to let her go, which he wouldn't, there was no way she would be able to run from here. James was as helpless as her and neither of them had any powers to do anything but to comply with the King's orders which were resolute. Calhoun had only warned this time, but if James did something more, Madeline doubted things would be this calm. 

"What if you hate me?" she surprised him with a question. 

Calhoun tilted his head at her question, "It is hard to hate someone you love."

Madeline's lips trembled, "What if you desert me in the future?"

It was a question she knew was equal to the edge of the sword. And as expected Calhoun didn't like the idea. He pulled her by the hand he was holding before, bringing her close which she didn't stop.

Calhoun's other hand made its way to her hair, patting it gently and this was enough to turn her nerves jittery, "Why do you ask that question?" he asked her back, his voice calm and cold. His eyes didn't look angry. Maybe it would be much better if he were angry than having the passive expression on his face, "Hm?"

If it were possible, Madeline's soul would have passed out of her body because of the stress she was feeling right now, but then she was the one who had brought it on herself. Somewhere it made her wonder if she was some kind of masochist to keep poking the lion only to be pounced, "I need some space," she whispered, and to her surprise, he let her go. 

"There you go. The space you need is all yours," he said to see her tense shoulder relax a little, "But…"

There was a but, thought Madeline to herself to look into his eyes. 

"The space is only until where I give you. I wouldn't like it if I am not able to reach out for you."

Madeline didn't know how to react to this. He gave her space, but at the same time, he didn't. 

"Come join me for breakfast," he said to her before taking a slow and deliberate step backwards. A smile appeared on his lips, which was mischievous. 

He hadn't pestered about the letter again, and Madeline decided to sway the topic elsewhere so that her family would not be put under his questioning gaze. She couldn't guarantee herself that Calhoun would not bring up the scandalous events in front of them that happened in the last few hours and days since they had last seen her. 

When they entered the dining room, Madeline could feel the breathing dragon who had already taken the seat next to Calhoun's chair at the dining table. Calhoun took his seat, and so did Madeline. She took a look at Sophie, who was glaring at her. Calhoun had dismissed her from the court so that he could have his time with the human, and if Sophie were a ferocious canine animal, one would have easily seen her growling and snarling at Madeline. 

When the food brought, even Theodore was asked to join the table, and Calhoun asked, "Did you send the man back?" 

"Yes, milord. He said it would take some days to complete his work before he would be able to bring the clothes here."

"Something to keep his mind occupied from saving the princess," commented Calhoun as if Madeline wasn't here, but Madeline didn't react to it. The more flustered she appeared to be, the more he enjoyed, and she was slowly starting to calm down around him. 

On the other hand, Sophie was immensely displeased that Calhoun had kicked her out of the court. Not literally but the dismissive tone he had used was something that didn't sit well with her. When breakfast was done, the vampiress quietly slipped away from them to walk towards the gallery room. Since she had arrived at the castle and seen Madeline walking in Calhoun's coat, she couldn't help but wonder if the King had painted the girl or if something else had taken place. 

If she was able to walk, it meant Calhoun had not done her, but she wanted to confirm. Reaching the room, she started to look for the new canvas that was painted when her eyes fell on the painting that was covered. Biting her lip, she walked towards it, and her hand reached out when she heard footsteps behind her. 

Turning around, she noticed it wasn't Calhoun but his right-hand man, Theodore, "You shouldn't be here Lady Sophie," he said with a bow. 

Sophie's lips twisted. She walked towards him and came to stop right in front of him, "Why not?"

"Because this is the King's personal space and he doesn't like it when someone intrudes," Theodore answered her with polite words. 

Sophie smirked, hearing this, "You don't have to worry about that, Theodore. When I am the person the King decides to be with, little things like these won't matter," she took a step forward, "You know that, don't you?" 

The man didn't move but stayed quiet. Sophie Wilmot was not anyone but the King's cousin. Her mother was the sister of the previous King, which made her important. It wasn't anything new to the man to hear her intentions on being the Queen of Devon. Since the time she had come to understand about the kingdoms and the lands, the power that involved that came with it, she had started to pursue the position of the Queen. 

"Yes, milady," he obliged to her words. 

"That's good to hear," she stated, and the sweet demeanour on her face changed, "How long will you continue to behave like Calhoun's personal servant? You should think about yourself too. You have been helping and have been with him for so many years now. You should be rewarded by more than clothes. I will be sure to give you a higher position when the time is right," she said, placing a hand on his chest with a small confidant smile on her lips. 

"That is very kind of you to think about levelling up my position, Lady Sophie," he said as if he were grateful.

Sophie knew the man would agree, "Now let me take a look at that painting. It is only right as I am the possible queen," she said dismissing the words Calhoun had earlier said when it came to the pitiful human. 

Before she could even take two steps, Theodore stopped her and Sophie turned her gaze to look at the man.

"It is the King's orders that no one is supposed to step inside this room without his permission. I cannot disobey his words."

"I am the future Queen."

Theodore gave her a bow, to say, "I will be at your absolute support when you are the Queen," he then offered her a polite smile, "Let me take you back."

List of adjectives- Part 1

James, who left the castle, couldn't help himself but turn back to look at the castle and wonder on how things had turned out. He was unhappy with Madeline's denial, and he wished she had told the truth, but instead, she had flatly refused by saying she hadn't sent the letter. But somewhere at the same time, James questioned himself if what she was saying was true or if she was only trying to hide so that no harm would come to befall him. 

Now sitting in the carriage, James turned back to look at the wooden wall in front of him that had no window to speak to the coachman. This carriage wasn't his, it belonged to the King and the castle which had picked him up earlier. 

Yesterday when he met Madeline, he noticed how she had been relieved and happy to see him. But within a few minutes she had ushered him to leave her side and go back home. James had never seen or met the King before, this time being the first, he could tell that the King of Devon was an intelligent person. At the same time, he was handsome to look at and if James himself wasn't good looking, he would have felt daunted the way the King looked. 

He wanted to help Madeline to get out of the castle. She had barely smiled today, and he had not missed the look on her face which was filled with nervousness. He had taken the measurement from the two men, and he was going to take the measurement of the King or so did he think as it was King Calhoun who had called him to the court today. But the King wasn't looking for stitching his clothes himself but he had given the descriptions for a woman's garter. Had the King done something to Madeline already? Had he seen her naked? And at that thought, James' hands turned to fists. 

When he reached the village, the coachman dropped him and instead of going to his shop or house, he made his way to Harris' house. 

He knocked on the closed door, and when Mrs. Harris opened the door, he bowed his head. The woman looked startled by seeing him. The elderly woman appeared to be tired. 

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Harris. I am James Heathcliff," he introduced himself by offering a bow to the lady. 

The woman returned the bow and greeted back, "Good afternoon. I know who you are," her eyebrows had drawn themselves together, "If you are here to look for Madeline, she isn't here," informed Mrs. Harris. 

"I have heard about what happened," the man tried to pay his sympathies for the recent events as their daughter had been torn away from them to stay in the castle, "But I am not here for her. Is the elder Miss Harris home? I have something to talk to her." 

Mrs. Harris continued to frown as she didn't know what he wanted with Beth but she nodded her head and said, "She's in the backyard. Please come in while I go call her."

"That's fine. I will wait here for her," James said and Mrs. Harris didn't force the man. The woman nodded her head at the man and then got inside the house, calling for her elder daughter who came in, 

"What is it, mama?" asked Beth with a little irritation in her voice. 

Beth had a napkin tied around the top of her head and an apron tied around her waist. Her complexion had turned slightly red by standing under the sun for a longer time than she was used to. Since from the time Madeline had been asked to stay in the castle, Beth had to take up Madeline's chores and help her mother, which had turned her dull and even more bitter. Mr. Danvers was still trying to court her for marriage which she was previously interested in, but after she and her family had falsely interpreted the King's invitation, she had lost interest in the man. And it wasn't just him but every other man who had tried to court her. 

The life she deserved was stolen by her very own blood sister. She could have been reigning as the Queen of Devon, but here she was, working in the house by cleaning and cooking. Her hands were turning rough, and her nails had started to chip away, which she had tried to maintain for months. 

"Mr. Heathcliff is standing outside. He said he wants to see you," said her mother who gave a look of suspicion. It was because Madeline had mentioned to Mrs. Harris about how she and Mr. Heathcliff were going to meet each other. So why was he meeting her older daughter?

Beth walked past her mother and stepped out of the house, "Mr. Heathcliff," she bowed her head to show her manners. The man bowed his head in greeting. 

Seeing the man here all dressed, she wondered if he had visited the King. Because as far as her knowledge went, the tailorman never dressed like this in the village. 

"How may I help you?" asked Beth.

James' eyes moved to the open door to see Mrs. Harris, not in sight and he then turned to look at Beth, "I had been to the castle today," he confirmed her suspicion. Beth was pleased that this man had come to be of some use but she couldn't find her sweet sister anywhere in sight. 

"Did you see Madeline? How is she doing?" asked Beth in concern and her face turning to worry. 

"She's being held as a prisoner in the castle. Not in the dungeons of course, but you know," murmured James, "I believe apart from it, she's being kept well. When it comes to clothes or jewels, the King has given those probably to make her happy."

What Beth wanted to hear was not this but James' information, instead of soothing her soul where she wanted to hear that Madeline was sad and suffering, this was like throwing more coal into the burning fire. 

Beth had hoped to hear something that would compensate for the unjust feeling that she had been holding since the time she had found out about the King's interest towards her younger sister. According to Beth, when Madeline had found out about the King's interest in her, she should have taken the opportunity of declining the order firmly.

Instead, Madeline had been half-hearted. Beth was the elder sister. She was to be given the first preference and her marriage was to come first but her sister had stolen everything from her. 

"She must be doing alright then," came Beth's plain voice as she stared at the ground. What more did a girl want? Madeline could deny she didn't want the castle life but the truth was deep down she wanted those things too and Beth could tell it because she was her sister, "Did you speak to her?" asked Beth.

She had hoped that James would be of some use but if he had come back without Madeline, it only meant he was unsuccessful in it.
List of adjectives- Part 2

James nodded his head, "I spoke to her, and she was happy to see me yet worried. She also denied the fact that she wrote the letter to me," and saying this, the man looked at Harris' elder daughter.

"Why would she do that?" Beth asked with a frown, "She was the one who wanted the letter to be delivered to you," she acted oblivious to it. 

James shook his head, "Maybe she is scared...but the King has taken a liking towards her."

Was that it? Asked Beth in her mind. This spineless man was not going to fight for the woman he was in love with? Beth had a look of disappointment in her eyes.

After a few seconds, she said, 

"Madeline must be terrified right now. The King appears to be a Violence man," she said, her voice dropping to a whisper, "I worry for her, Mr. Heathcliff. What if he does something to her? Something unspeakable. You know how Madeline is, she might have just wanted to protect you."

James weighed her words.

"Did you tell her to speak to the King?" Beth asked him, her words slow, and she turned around to make sure her mother wasn't listening to their conversation now. 

"I spoke to the King," James replied, and Beth raised her eyebrows, "He is not willing to free her, and he claims that she is staying there out of her own will. Madeline also agreed to it." 

"What?" Beth narrowed her eyes. 

"That's true. She denied the letter and then said that she was staying back in the castle without anyone's force," James raised his hand to his forehead and rubbed it, "I don't know why...but somewhere I felt that maybe it is true." 

Beth let out an empty laugh and she shook her head, "I don't think that's true. She might be getting threatened by the crown. She told my mama and me how much she loves you. She wished to marry you, Mr. Heathcliff and Madeline is not someone fickle."

James sighed, "I will think about something after I reach home. Thank you for your time," he said to bow his head and left the front of the Harris' house. 

The older daughter of Harris continued to stand outside the house, looking at the retreating figure of Mr. Heathcliff. If what the man said was true, Beth was glad that she had cursed her younger sister. In front of them, she had cried big fat tears to gain pity but in truth she was happy. When she entered the house and locked the door, she heard her mother,

"What did Mr. Heathcliff want from you?" asked her mother, "And how did he find out that Madeline is in the castle?"

Beth continued to walk before saying, "He must have gone for some work there and met her. Said, she's happy there and unwilling to return."

Hearing this Mrs. Harris frowned, "Is that what he said or what you want to hear, Beth? You forget that this is your sister and not any girl. You should know her better."

The girl rolled her green eyes, "Mama, when are you going to realise that she might like the same things that I like?! You never listen to me. Since the time we returned back from the castle, it is always been about Madeline this or that. Did you forget you have another daughter who exists?"

"Elizabeth!" her mother scolded her, "You know it's untrue. Both your father and I love you and her equally. We worry because she never wanted a life like that."

"But guess what mama, she is enjoying those things while you worry about her," said Beth, walking further into the house to be followed by her mother. She finally stopped walking and turned around, "She is happy, and it is what she wants. Isn't that good? She will not have to work because she will be the queen. Be happy for that…" she had a look of concern on her face as she said this. 

Mrs. Harris walked towards the dining table. She pulled out the chair and sat down with one hand supporting her forehead. 

"You are not mad at her anymore?" asked Mrs. Harris as the woman knew how Beth had been excited that day only to have her dreams shattered by the few words their King had uttered. 

Beth walked forward to where her mother was and sat down on her heels. She then placed her hands on her mother's knees to say, "I was sad initially. Angry too but I think we both know that she can have a life like that. The King even said that he would help papa with his shop and the shop is being built. It is good, isn't it?"

Beth had changed her entire demeanour and words, her words sweet to encourage her mother. 

"You are right," exhaled her mother. 

Beth then said, "How about I go visit her? See how she is doing?"

Her mother's eyes shifted to look at Beth and she said, "No," for Beth's face to fall.

"What? Why not?" asked the young girl. Her jaws gritted together. 

"The castle is not safe. I don't know what will happen to you."

Beth smiled, "Madeline is safe."

"Madeline has the King's protection. You don't," and these words only made Beth more bitter, "We don't have the protection, my child. The King is not someone to test."

Beth had wanted so much to visit the castle right now. It was something that had been on the back of her head. She had hoped to go and pull out her charms to show that she was the better choice out of the two sisters. The Kingdom of Devon was vast, but it was often told how it was the village she lived in had pretty girls with blonde hair and Beth was one of the most attractive brunette beauty.

"Mama, you don't have to worry about it. The King knows how much Madeline loves us. He would never harm us," she assured her mother, but her mother continued to shake her head. 

"Let us wait for the next invitation from the castle. Until then, we cannot enter," her mother stood up and left the room, leaving the fuming young girl behind. 

Back in the castle, Madeline was walking next to Calhoun in the garden. After breakfast, Calhoun had dragged her here. The atmosphere in the morning felt warm on Madeline's skin, and she walked without a word being spoken to him. She hoped that if she didn't show any interest towards him or didn't heed to his words the way he wanted, it would finally make him look for another girl. 

Didn't the King have other duties that he now took his time to walk in the garden? Asked Madeline to herself. 

"You are quiet. Is it because you saw the tailorman?" asked Calhoun who didn't turn to look at her but was looking ahead of him. Walking next to him, she felt short as Calhoun was a tall man. 

"Aren't I always quiet?" Madeline asked back. She turned her gaze to look at his sharp side profile. 

"Hm. You didn't speak much back in the courtroom, I thought you would take out your frustration now," the man taunted, his eyes then moved to catch hold of her eyes that quickly looked away. 

Madeline wasn't stupid enough to complain to the person when he was the problem, "I don't think any of my words would have mattered or stopped you from speaking what you said back there." 

"Now now, don't blame me. If you had asked me to stop, I would have done it. I am a gentleman who listens to the woman I am affectionate with," his affections were harmful; she thought to herself. And she didn't believe those words. 

"I doubt that," came her small voice. 

"If you keep doubting, you will never be able to see how beautiful the other things are," Calhoun's words appeared to be speaking of more than one subject in here, "Did you like what I wanted? I thought maybe you would have your specifications when it comes to what kind of garter you want to wear."

"I never asked for it!" Madeline's mind finally fizzled out. 

"No?" asked Calhoun thoughtfully, "But you were the one asking for it saying how you wanted it back. I thought I would get you new ones as a present."