✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 91 - 100 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Lists of adjectives- Part 3

Madeline had been utterly mortified when Calhoun had asked James to make the garter. The information could have been relayed in parchment as it wasn't the outer clothes but what he had asked for was a female's intimate possession in front of everyone. 

"You did it on purpose. You wanted to create doubt in his mind. That is why you called him today, isn't it?" questioned Madeline, stopping her feet from walking any further. Calhoun took one step before turning around. 

"Sorry, what was it again?" he asked her and Madeline ground her teeth. 

"Nothing," said Madeline to start walking again. But before she could walk past him, Calhoun caught hold of her arm. 

"I think someone needs to learn some manners on how to behave," Calhoun stared at her. He did not go of her arm and neither did Madeline try to resist. What was the point of resisting if he was only going to catch her when they were barely a few inches away from each other. 

"What you did was something I did not like," she confessed, "I thought men who were affectionate and loved the woman didn't speak about things like that."

"Let me tell you. You thought wrong," he responded and noticed how she frowned, "Confused?" he asked her. 

Madeline felt her arm finally free without her needing to tell him and she stared at him. 

"You," said Calhoun and Madeline turned attentive, "I was only getting rid of the unwanted people out of your life. What is the point of pinning hopes on a man when he can't even trust you."

"And you do?"

A wicked smile spread out on Calhoun's lips hearing the words that came out of Madeline's lips, "I do. Very much do. We must be pronounced husband and wife if there was a priest in here," and Madeline blushed by his words of how elegantly he twisted things around making him look like a saint but Madeline knew he was anything but a saint. 

She turned her head away from him and tried to get her mind sorted where she would not have to look at his face.

"Such a shy girl. I can barely wonder what would happen if I were to take you to bed," Madeline snapped her head and glared at him. 

"Please stop making me uncomfortable. If you want to win my heart you will need to know what I am okay and not okay with," she didn't know for how long she would be able to handle his teasing. 

Calhoun turned around and picked one of the white roses that was sitting quietly amongst the other roses next to it. Isolating it from the others. 

"Madeline, I see you like this white rose. Something so pure and serene," Calhoun said to her, "I am a man who is surrounded by different wildflowers but you are the one who caught my attention because of the way you are. I will accept you the way you are but you will need to open your heart to me. Trusting and placing your feelings stubbornly with a man you barely know. Wouldn't you say you know me better than that tailorman?"

"Why do you keep calling him tailorman when he has a name?" she asked him, staring into his red eyes. 

"Isn't that what he is?" Calhoun tilted his head in question, "It would be a different scenario now, if he was dead. It would be dead man," he joked, which Madeline didn't find to be funny, "You lack humour, sweet Maddie." 

"I don't think our definition of humour is the same."

"There's a satire in the dark humour, sweetheart," the King chuckled before getting back to the previous question he had asked her, "Tell me. Do you know him better than me? We have spent even more time together than you have with him."

Madeline would have agreed if she wasn't stubborn but the King was more stubborn. It was true that she hadn't spent much time talking to James as much as she had spoken to the King. 

"Tell me about him. Describe him with adjectives," the King's demanding words surprised her as she thought he didn't want to hear her praising James. 

"Is this a trick question?" She didn't know what more trap the King had placed for her to step into so that he could catch her. 

"I don't know. Is it?" asked Calhoun, his words playful and she gave him an apprehensive look, "Adjectives like how he was an idiot, stupid, arrogant-"

"He is not arrogant," Madeline defended.

"Mhmm, whatever you say but then you agree with the rest. Interesting," Calhoun's smile was wide and his eyes shining with amusement. 

"He is a good man. Humble, kind, polite, thoughtful, handsome, a gentleman, respectful," stated Madeline. 

"And? That's it?" asked Calhoun raising his eyebrows at her, "I thought you would have a parchment full of words for him and it looks like you are trying to use him to wiggle your way out of here."

"No, I didn't," Madeline frowned. 

"Alright. My turn now. What are your adjectives for me?" asked Calhoun to her, "Feel free to speak," he said with those intimidating eyes that made Madeline want to run away from him. 

Both Madeline and Calhoun stared at each other for long seconds, "Rude."

"Just one? I was expecting some more. I know you want to say it. Tell me," he coaxed her. 

If Madeline was able to express her feelings by actions instead of words, she would have stabbed Calhoun with a blunt knife over and over again for embarrassing her, "S-shameless. Pushy. Overconfident, overbearing, impolite."

"I am listening. What else?" he pushed her with a smile which was patient. 


"What about my looks? You called him handsome, now if you call me anything less he will be nothing but useless trash," he chuckled, savouring how her expressions changed one after another. 


Calhoun's eyes narrowed down, "What is with the questionable answer? Every word of yours will be held in the courtroom under my testimony and the ministers will see how you called the King names," he tched. 

"You were the one who said to speak freely." Her innocent words had him look away from her face to see the other trees in the garden before he looked back at her when she said, "What if I am not this white rose? You might only like the idea of me," she swallowed down the nervousness that had reduced compared to the time of the morning. 

"Is that what you worry about?" asked Calhoun. 

"I might not be the white rose that caught your eyes. I might be a red rose," and she noticed how the smile on Calhoun's lips never died down. 

"I never miss a thing."

He then looked down at the white rose that he had been holding. Madeline's eyes fell on the white rose in time to notice how the white petals had started to change its colour. The petals of the rose slowly started to turn from white to red and she looked shocked. Her eyes moved back up to Calhoun, to __ him say, "I know what I chose, Madeline."
 Dungeons- Part 1

Author's note: If you have read my previous books, you should know I am a fan of writing slow-burn romance, so please don't expect quick love and roll in the hay (bed). We haven't completed a week since Madeline's parents last saw her. 


Madeline stared with a mixture of awe and shock at what just happened. Blinking her eyes, she stared at the red rose that had turned from white to red in less than two seconds as if the flower had been dipped into ink of red. Her eyes then snapped at Calhoun's eyes that were as red as the rose. 

"W-what happened?" she asked him, her voice holding fascination and Calhoun smiled at her. 

She had never seen anything like this before. None of the fair that claimed to show tricks had ever pulled something like this, which was why she now looked at Calhoun, "How did you do that?" 

"What do you think?" he asked her. His intelligent eyes looked into her brown eyes, "I am a vampire. I have some tricks up my sleeve," Calhoun said. So it was because he was a vampire and he was able to change the colour, but that wasn't the only thing that Calhoun was able to do.

"I didn't know the night creatures possess magic with them." The place from where Madeline came, people didn't speak much about the night creatures. Because of what they were capable of and the terror they had plagued into the lives of the humans who were wary and scared of them. 

The smile on Calhoun's lips didn't leave, and he looked down at the rose that he was holding in his hand, "Not everyone does. Just some of us." He said, twirling the stem of the rose, "That is why I told you I know what I want. I have never been doubtful about what I choose for myself. If you think you are not the white rose in the lot and I have not noticed it, then maybe I knew you were the red rose. I am not indecisive on what I want, and I can hold my ground pretty well, unlike the man you claim to be interested."

"What about my choice?" asked Madeline, "Shouldn't I have the choice of what I want?"

"It is better if your choice coincides with my interests, sweet girl," Calhoun said, and Madeline who was looking at the rose heard him say, "I wouldn't take it any other away if you decide on something else," as he said this, the rose in his hand suddenly turned to black ashes to fall on the ground. 

Madeline didn't know what more Calhoun was capable of. She knew he wasn't the King for no reason. He was a person not to play with. While they continued to stare at each other, that they were doing quite often in silence, they heard the voice of Lady Sophie that came from the other side. 

"It seems Lady Sophie wants your attention," Madeline said to Calhoun, and when she tried to move away from him, Calhoun only pulled her close to him, "What are you doing?!"

"The only person I would like to give my attention to is you."

"You are insane," she whispered to him, her head turning around to see if Lady Sophie had arrived. If there was one thing she had tried to understand, it was the relationship Calhoun and Sophie shared. Lady Sophie was trying to pursue the King, but even if Calhoun was not interested, he humoured the girl which was questionable, especially with the way his character was. 

"Now that is one adjective you forgot to mention. Did you notice," Calhoun whispered to her, "The adjectives you used for the tailorman were generic. Something that could be applied to any other man. But for me they were unique." They were unique because till now he was the only overbearing person she had met in her life, Madeline thought to herself. She then heard him say, "Do you think I am going to hide you like some dirty secret in front of my relatives and other people?" he asked her. 

At times, with the way he had been vague in front of Sophie, Madeline agreed that, that is what she had perceived, "I am a poor girl. Let me live a life that I deserve." 

"And I will give you the life you deserve," answered Calhoun, "You mistake me that I am like other people. I make exceptions to things that are important to me." 

Madeline pulled herself away from him and took two steps further before the vampiress had finally made her way to where they were, "There you are, Lady Madeline," chirped the girl. Both Madeline and Sophie didn't like each other. For one because the person had kicked her out of the carriage and for the other person because she felt threatened that the crown of the queen was slipping out of her fingers. 

"Where were you?" asked Calhoun, his eyes shifting from Madeline to look at his cousin sister who walked down the path of the garden to stand next to Madeline finally. After the time of breakfast, Sophie had excused herself and slipped out of the dining room.

Sophie's smile was bright on her face, and Madeline wondered if all the night creatures smiled like this. A smile that was so wide that her cheeks would have hurt if she had smiled so much. And her expression looked bland in front of the two night creatures. 

"I went to take a stroll through the corridors of the castle," Sophie lied. She wanted to look at the painting Calhoun had made, but Theodore had chased her right away like she was some pesky annoying fly that was hovering over the gallery. Her hands clenched together, but she didn't bring the expression out on her face. Like many others who were brought up in the environment of the castle, she had learned the art of deception and lies, "I returned to the dining room but heard that the King and Lady Madeline were out taking a walk. If I knew you had plans to take a walk, I would have waited. Are you enjoying the gardens, Lady Madeline?"

Madeline didn't know why Sophie wanted to talk to her when she knew the vampiress didn't like her, "It is wonderful." 

"Of course, it is wonderful. There are so many rare flowers and plants that have been brought from different lands to be planted in here. Sadly I heard that they don't survive," commented Lady Sophie who took two steps forward in front of the many flowers that surrounded them. 

Madeline couldn't deny that there were many beautiful flowers of different colours, "They die because they cannot handle the change in the weather and the new environment is sometimes not suitable to them," she spoke back to Sophie's words, "Some plants grow up to live in their existing conditions. Taking them away, forcibly to place them in a new environment is often not advisable as they wither away." 

"Who cares about it," Sophie shrugged her shoulders, "You need to keep people to look after them. In time they get accustomed. Don't they, brother Calhoun?" asked Sophie, unaware of what Madeline's words actually meant and the underlying meaning of it which the King picked up on immediately.

"Lady Madeline doesn't know that we have a glasshouse to keep the newly arrived plants," Calhoun said. He picked up another white rose from the lot, and he then gave it to Madeline to hold, "We get the plants accustomed little by little to the outside atmosphere until they finally can grow independently."

Madeline took the flower which he had given to her, and she looked down at it. Calhoun had plucked not just the rose, but he had kept part of the stem that had thorns along with the flower. With this little gesture, she felt a pair of glare that was coming from the side. It seemed like Calhoun was only putting her in the spot where Sophie could burn her with just her eyes. 

"Brother Calhoun," Sophie called his name to bring his attention to her, which he did, "Did you find out who wrote the letter in the name of Lady Madeline?" Hearing this, Madeline's body froze as she had hoped the matter had been brushed away. This little vampiress was bringing her more problems. Madeline shifted her gaze from the rose to look at Calhoun who said,

"It was written by the man himself."

"Not by Lady Madeline?" asked Sophie tilting her head in question, "My apologies, Lady Madeline as I couldn't keep the curiosity regarding what happened today." The vampiress gave an apologetic look that made Madeline frown from where she stood. 

Calhoun chuckled, "I have seen her handwriting that is why I know it isn't hers."

"Okay…" drawled Sophie, "The man must be very desperate. And how rude was he to imply that you were keeping Lady Madeline here by force, isn't it? You should have punished him for being impolite to you."

"I should," agreed the King and Madeline looked alarmed by his words.
 Dungeons- Part 2

Madeline doubted Calhoun would go through it. Especially when she had clearly stated to him that hurting the people whom she cared for would only put him on her wrong side. She wanted to believe that it was why James had been spared today, but she doubted that his life would be forgiven if the day was going to repeat. 

"How would you like to treat the people who are rude to the King?" This question was directed to Madeline by Calhoun, giving her the option to choose.

"You are the King, milord. You know the best," she bowed her head. Calhoun liked the obedience she showed. Instead of retorting with childish words, her words appeared calm. 

Sophie stared at the flower Calhoun had given to the human. She had been visiting here since she was a child and she remembered how Calhoun used to offer her flowers or sometimes jewellery but then it had stopped. It was like her position had been stolen and given to other women. 

Stepped closer to Madeline, she put her hand around Madeline's arm to hold it, "Let's take a walk in here. It is not often that brother Calhoun takes his time to walk in here." And this had Madeline take a look at Calhoun who raised his eyebrow at her as if to say 'I told you so'.

"I didn't know you took a liking towards Madeline," said Calhoun as they started to walk in the garden. 

"Why do you say that?" asked Sophie in an oblivious tone. 

"I heard you kicked Madeline out of the carriage."

Sophie snapped her eyes to glare at Madeline. This little dumb bitch couldn't keep her mouth close, Sophie thought to herself, "I think Lady Madeline misinterpreted what happened because she chose to step down. Didn't you?" Sophie tightened her hold on Madeline's arm to make the human flinch internally. 

Madeline was not going to take this vampiress blame, and she said, "My apologies beforehand, but I think I smell something very strange...when you speak," saying this she stepped away from the vampiress who looked at her with a shocked expression on her face, "It must have been because of the meat you ate." 

Sophie's face turned red as it was the very first time someone had ever pointed something like that to her and she looked embarrassed. She was also angry because Madeline had spoken about it out loud without being discreet about it. 

"You-" Sophie had started only to be interrupted with Calhoun's laughter. 

"Isn't she lovely, Sophie?" asked Calhoun. 

If Calhoun weren't here, Sophie would not have thought twice before raising her hand to slap the human for calling her smelly. She gritted her teeth, and she wanted to say something but Calhoun was laughing like the lowly human hadn't been rude to her. Sophie smiled, but the smile kept faltering on her lips because she wanted to show the human girl her place. 

Madeline knew that speaking things directly was not the right approach. At least not in the castle where people of higher power could try to retaliate back at her. Her words were polite and at the same time she had replied to Sophie with what the vampiress wouldn't want to hear about herself. 

"Looks like you will need to wash your mouth more frequently, Sophie," commented Calhoun, throwing more oil to the raging fire. The vampiress turned her head away to raise her hand to her mouth and breath the air, which appeared to be perfectly normal and fresh. 

While Calhoun was having a good laugh, one of the men who worked for the King walked down to bow his head at the King, "My King, the man is ready to be questioned for one last time. Would you like to take part in it or let the guards handle it before he is sent to the town?" 

Calhoun gave out a thoughtful look before turning to the two girls, "How about a trip to the dungeon?" 

The vampiress hearing this had her eyes lit up at the words, but Madeline didn't know what a trip to the dungeon meant. She had heard one time when Calhoun had mentioned about it. And with the threat he lowly gave her, she doubted it was anything like the garden. They left the garden and reached the underground dungeon where the man who had come to deliver the message to the King, held a lantern in his hands even though the walls had torches of fire burning in them in equal intervals of distance. 

All this while, Madeline had seen only the beautiful side of the castle, not this dark path that they were walking in. Her eyes took in the walls that were made of rocks, and the ground was unclean where the girls had to lift the hem of their dresses so that it wouldn't pick up the dirt. The place smelled and Madeline's eyebrows furrowed at the smell of rustic iron which was strong in the air.

The further and deeper they got in, Madeline's eyes fell on the cells that were built on both left and right side. Some cells were empty, but some of them weren't, and she found people who laid against the wall. Lifeless looking people who looked almost dead because of the way they appeared. 

"It looks like people have finally started to obey the words of the King," commented Sophie, an air of superiority in her voice and the way she walked in the front and behind the King. She turned around to meet Madeline's eyes and said, "There used to be a lot of people in here, people who wanted to be punished."

"What for?" asked Madeline, her eyebrows had drawn themselves together as she looked at one man who was lean and almost skeleton-like as if he was not given food. 

"Mostly the lawbreakers. Also, the ones who didn't know how to respect our King. You will find only humans here. Because humans often lack common sense and like to think that revolting is what they should do," laughed Sophie. 

Madeline didn't know the people in here, and the reasons why they were locked but they appeared to be in bad condition. 

She felt sorry for them, but she continued to walk until they came to one part of the dungeon to see cages hanging with a chain at the top. For a moment, Madeline felt as if she had stopped breathing and it wasn't because there were people in it, but it wasn't just alive people, but in some, there were skeletons. 

Her feet had stopped moving in shock. Her brown eyes moved around in this so-called dungeon where the King punished people. For standing against him. All these years her parents had protected her and her sister Beth from the gore that was passed down by the current as well as the previous King where people were often killed in front of people. To send out a warning so that no one would ever commit a crime again and it worked, thought Madeline to herself. 

The humans were curious about the night creatures as well as the King who ruled Devon, but they had always been apprehensive about the man even though they hadn't seen him. No one spoke about him out in the open and also if people wanted to speculate they did it in whispers so that the officials would never come to hear any of it. 

Calhoun noticed how Madeline had stopped even though he didn't turn to look at her. It seemed like it was too much for her to take in and he finally turned around to see her stand like a statue, "Madeline?" he called her name, her name sweeter than honey on his tongue and this broke Madeline from her daze. 

Her eyes met his. 

"I have someone to introduce you to," Calhoun's words brought worry on Madeline's face. Someone he wanted to introduce her to? Had he truly captured James in here after they were done talking in the morning? Gulping, she started to walk towards him.

Sophie was too eager to see the prisoner and she walked forward, taking the next corridor, "Why the worry?" Calhoun asked her, "I didn't put James in here, but I would love to see him here one day if he continues to pursue you," he whispered to her. 

Madeline wouldn't want James ending up here, "He won't do anything," she gulped. 

"Are you sure?" asked Calhoun to her, "It is not every time a man finds a woman to love and stand against the King and challenge. And if I were him who loved you, I wouldn't give up."

She frowned. Was he telling James should pursue her? But at the same time, if James challenged Calhoun, Madeline was aware that the King would not spare the man's life again, "Your words are sometimes confusing." 

"They are meant to be but let me break it down for you," Calhoun's words were low only for her to hear and Madeline waited for him to speak, "If I were in the tailorman's place I would make sure you were back with me but then even if the man claims to be in love with you, it is sometimes not enough, is it? But then I am not him. I am madly in love with you, and I would go to the lengths of doing anything to keep you by my side." 

"That's not love," she whispered to him. 

"There are different kinds of love. And we all have our own way to pursue it."

Dungeons- Part 3

Calhoun's words rang in her ears, and his steady eyes did not once move away from hers. This love, this love he felt was not right where he wanted to keep her, and it was because it scared her. When he raised his hand, catching hold of one piece of her blonde hair to feel the soft texture of it, he said, 

"Don't look so scared. I did tell you I wouldn't do something you wouldn't want," and Madeline gave a look to him, "You don't believe me. It seems like we need to build trust between us if we want to move forward. I will tell you what happens when a girl is often forced to get married to a man for political reasons, and here the girls are as young as you or sometimes even younger. They are dragged to the man's bed, abused physically until they are broken and have no other way out. In the world we live, it isn't anything new."

"I know that," said Madeline. 

She wasn't as naive as he thought her to be. She knew the stories she heard of the families who belonged to the high status. Though the things she heard always came out to be rumours that were never acknowledged as the girls were happy with the position they received, she knew there were truths in there that were never openly spoken or discussed. It was considered to be normal. 

Calhoun had scared her enough to make her think he would do it, but he hadn't, "Thank you for not forcing me," she said, but if he never kept her here, there would have been nothing to be thankful about. 

He hadn't let go of her hair as he continued to play with the length of it. He saw how her gaze turned away, the goosebumps that formed on her neck, which he noticed under the light that fell from the torched fire on the wall. He had the urge to trace it under his fingers, but Calhoun had other plans. 

There were times when one didn't have to use physical methods, and as much as he would love to take her to his bed, he was being patient in waiting for her to open. He had noticed the change in the garden, and his words had been right that she wasn't close to the tailorman. He wouldn't do something to her, and even if he did, he would see that she enjoyed it. 

There were other ways to break a person's resolve, and Calhoun knew how to do it. 

"Why are we here?" she asked him. The last time she remembered, when someone loved a person, they brought flowers or gifts or did something sweet, but this was anything but that. It was a dungeon where the smell of death floated in the air. 

"I want to show you the life that you are going to be part of. It would be best if you find it through me than from someone else, like Sophie or any other person. I want you to know the person I am Madeline. The good things, the terrible things I am capable of, because isn't that what accepting means?" he asked her. 

Madeline didn't know what to reply to it. Somewhere she was impressed that instead of putting the good foot forward like the others in the world, he was putting both his feet forward for her to know the kind of person he was. 

"Sophie wants to be your Queen."

"She can keep dreaming about it. It is good to dream," his lips twitched. 

She pressed her lips together. Everyone was tolerating someone here in the castle. She wondered if it ever got tiring. He had finally let go of her hair when it came to the tapering ends.

"Shall we?" said Calhoun and Madeline nodded her head to follow him further into the dungeon. 

Both their footsteps echoed until they reached the place where Sophie had a grin on her face as she looked at something or someone. 

When Madeline's eyes fell on the man who was placed behind the bar, she took one step closer to see a badgered looking man who was covered with blood which was possibly his own. 

"Would you like to hear what the man did?" asked Calhoun as he slipped his hands into his pockets. The man on hearing the King's voice stood up, but when he tried to do that, he fell on the ground. The man had been punished to the point that his legs had turned weak. 

She turned towards Calhoun to hear him say, "The man tried to poison me."

"No! No! My King, I would never do something so cruel to you! Please believe me!" the man cried from where he was.

"What a gutsy servant," commented Sophie, "You should know better than try to do that. What an ungrateful mongrel," huffed the vampiress. The way the servant appeared, it wasn't anything new to Sophie as her own family had a dungeon to torture the people and make them behave. 

"Please, I swear on my children. I had nothing to do with it. I was there in the wrong time," the man's words pained Madeline as she sympathised with the man, "Please! I didn't do it. I would never-" the guard who stood at the front used his metal rod to bang it against the rods of the room to get the man quiet. 

"When is the trial? We should have him hanged in front of everyone, maybe then no one would dare to do it," suggested Sophie. 

Calhoun looked down at the man, "He will be executed tomorrow in the afternoon."

"What if he's not the one who done it?" 

The people who stood outside the solitary room turned to look at the human girl who had spoken like she said something she shouldn't have said.

Madeline came from a place where people trusted each other. At least, the ones she knew did and seeing this man swear on his children. She somewhere felt he hadn't done it. 

"Lady Madeline, brother Calhoun said this person tried to poison him and they found evidence of it," reminded Sophie, "He should be lucky that he is even getting the extra days to live before his execution. Or are you telling us that you doubt our King's judgement?" Everyone continued to stare at Madeline, waiting for her to answer the question. 

She shook her head, "I would never doubt the King's judgement, but the man is swearing on his children, and people don't do that."

Sophie looked at Madeline as if she was dumb, "It is not necessary that everyone needs to have a clear conscience. Look at the man. It is evident he tried to poison brother Calhoun, and it is an unacceptable action. When it comes to money, people will stoop as low as they can to gain favours; after all, it is easy to sway them." 

Madeline didn't like the way Sophie said it. It was like telling every servant was the first prime suspect just because they were poor. Unable to keep her tongue to herself she said,

"Is it because it resonates with you when it comes to the conscience?" 

The vampiress took sometime before her eyes narrowed at Madeline, "What do you mean? Are you saying I have no clear conscience?" glared Sophie.

"I only mentioned conscience. I never said about you not having a clear conscience," Madeline responded to Sophie, "Next time who knows, someone will frame me that I was the one who poisoned the King."

"Who knows. I wouldn't be surprised if you did, especially the way you appeared here out of nowhere," Sophie shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. 

"Then we can also agree that someone from the higher status or a relative would have done it just to overthrow the King. Yes?"

Sophie fumed. Taking one step forward, she asked, "Are you pointing at me? You should know that I am the King's cousin sister. A close relative, unlike an outsider who came only yesterday."

Madeline had a soft smile on her lips, "I don't think you are the only relative of the King, and there are many more. First, second or more families of his holding a possibility. I don't know why you feel I am pointing at you."
 Innocence- Part 1

If Sophie had the power to burn her through her eyes, Madeline would have turned to a pile of ash by now. The vampiress glared at her, but Madeline had a point when she said that she hadn't picked up her name and she had merely spoken about relatives in generalized terms. What Madeline was trying to insinuate was that if Sophie was not involved in it, she shouldn't feel guilty about it.

Calhoun stood there in the dungeon looking at the two young girls, one vampiress and one human. His lips pulled up at what Madeline had done. It seemed like even she didn't know what she told because her expression was innocent and her eyes looking straight into Sophie's eyes that continued to glare at her. 

"The man will be put up for execution tomorrow. It has already decided, and there is nothing more to discuss it," said Calhoun to them and Madeline turned around to meet his eyes on the decision that had been made. 

Madeline could only tell that the life in the castle was hard, and one mistake could lead to death without any trial because it directly involved the King. Her eyes then shifted to look at the servant who looked terrified and scared. Even she would have been scared if she was sentenced to death which would be taking place in less than a few hours. 

Sophie finally looked away from the human who she had to remind herself to tread carefully. She had been underestimating the human since the first time they had met each other. The human was far more capable that if she decided to stay in the castle, it would cause nothing but problems to the vampiress while also pushing the crown she had been eyeing on for so long that it would turn out of reach. 

"Brother Calhoun is not a King for no reason. If he's decided that this is the punishment the man deserves, he should be right," chimed Sophie, her eyes looking down at the lowly mortal who she was not interested in being around. 

Madeline could think only one thing when Sophie uttered those words. Sheep. Sophie was a blind sheep who would follow others, and she doubted she used her mind. But this time, she decided to keep her opinion to herself. 

"And playing with the crown even by mistake is not acceptable here," continued the vampiress, "There are rules in this castle that every servant or guests should follow. The main thing being, never to bring harm to the King. I would be very upset if something happened to brother Calhoun," she turned her head to look at Calhoun who offered her a smile. 

"My kind cousin sister, Sophie. It is good to see how much you worry about me," praised the man, and this brought a smile on Sophie's face. 

"It is my duty to serve you, my King. I will do everything to protect and stand by your side," and saying this, Sophie stepped in front of Calhoun and leaned forward in time for Calhoun to raise his hand. Sophie kissed the back of his hand to show her appreciation before standing up straight, "You can always count on me," she promised, and Madeline noticed the gleam in Sophie's eyes and the ambition the vampiress held for herself. 

"We should get going now," Calhoun said to the ladies and then looked at the servant who was behind the bars of the cell, "I will see you tomorrow."

As they got ready to leave, Madeline heard the plea of the man, and she couldn't help but turn to look at the servant who was calling out to the King for his forgiveness for the crime he hadn't committed. At the same time, Calhoun placed his hand on Madeline's back, and her eyes met his. 

"I think it's enough for the day. Don't dwell on something which you have no control over," he said to her.

"Even when the innocent are subjected to a death sentence?" she asked him, her voice quiet but with no one around them except for Sophie who was walking on Calhoun's other side as she didn't want to be left alone. The vampiress rolled her eyes over the human's sympathy. 

"You need proof to call him innocent or a criminal who had caused treason. What makes you think that he didn't do it? Do you know that the time when the poison was found, it was the same day and time when we were having dinner together," Calhoun said, his strides longer because of his long legs and Madeline tried to keep up with him similar to Sophie. 

"How fortunate you are, Lady Madeline," commented Sophie from the other side, "If the man wasn't caught you would be dead by now. Do you realise the severity of the situation?"

Madeline frowned as she comprehended what Calhoun just said to her. As she didn't belong to the world of the castle until now, it had never occurred to her that she would be one of the pawns to be killed without a thought. 

"It makes a difference, doesn't it?" she heard Calhoun question beside her. 

After a second, Madeline said, "I just don't think anyone would blindly swear on their children. Especially not when they come from a poorer background."

"You will be surprised to know the number of times people have lied and sworn on their families on what they did and didn't," chuckled Calhoun at Madeline's naive thought. She was a village girl who all these years had lived a simple life, someone who had never been subjected to or had heard people lie with their families name, "I can swear on Sophie and tell that I wouldn't kill someone tomorrow, but that doesn't mean I am going to go through it now?"

Sophie didn't know why she had turned to be the person to be sworn on by the King. Even though she didn't believe it, even for a vampiress she was uncomfortable with the thought that she was being sworn on for a lie. 

"Brother Calhoun, why did you take my name to be sworn?" asked Sophie, her lips pressed against each other after her question. 

Calhoun turned around to look at Sophie, and he answered her, "Isn't that a good thing? I thought you would be happy about it," the vampiress gave a confused look because there was often a saying that went by that if you lied after swearing on a person, the person would die, or something terrible would come to befall on them, "By picking your name it only shows how dear you are to me."

To Sophie, these words were like honey to her ears, and she beamed in joy when Calhoun said how important she was to him. But only Calhoun knew how many times he had lied since from the beginning and swearing on something mattered very little to the King. 

Once they were out of the dungeon, Madeline finally felt the light compared to the dark atmosphere they were a few moments ago. She was looking at the rose Calhoun had plucked for the second time when she heard Calhoun whisper close to her ear to say, 

"I wouldn't want to swear on you."

Innocence Part 2

On Calhoun's words, Madeline turned her brown eyes to look into his red eyes that peered down at her. Sophie had turned the other way to look at when Calhoun had taken the opportunity to whisper those words into Madeline's ears. The words he had uttered were little, but they held too many meanings if she tried to decipher them. His gesture made it almost look like they were secret lovers who were hiding their love in front of people, and it seemed like Calhoun enjoyed it the most even though it wasn't true. 

Somewhere, it made Madeline question what kind of childhood Calhoun had when he was young that had turned him to be the person he was today. Now that they were out and close with no shadows to hover over them, she noticed how red his eyes were. They were almost the colour of her blood. 

"You keep looking at me like that, and I am going to think that you have fallen for me."

Madeline quickly turned her eyes to look at the nearest tree, her cheeks slightly warm over his words. She had never met a man like Calhoun, who was so forthcoming when it came to his words. The men she had met until now, in her village or others, they weren't aggressive like Calhoun. 

"So easy to be ruffled, Maddie," he teased her, "I wonder how you will react if I whispered other things in your ear. Things that can make you embarrassed," Madeline's eyes snapped back at him with a small glare. 

"We should get back to the castle, isn't it? I feel my skin is burning," said Sophie who turned around to look at Calhoun and the human who had a look on her face as if she did something she was not supposed to do, "Lady Madeline, you look red too. We wouldn't want your pretty skin to be burnt because of the rays of the sun."

Madeline was impressed with the young vampiress' skill to switch her attitude from throwing a jab to showing concern which was confusing her. 

Sophie waited for Madeline to speak before sending a glare to have the human to say, "I would like to spend some more time here. I will see you later," Madeline bowed her head to Calhoun but she didn't offer her bow to Sophie as she was not the King nor the Queen of Devon. She was only the cousin of the King who had been hostile towards her. 

Calhoun didn't stop her and he gave her a nod. If she needed air, he would give her. The only condition was that she was not allowed to step out of the castle grounds. She could stay out and do what she wanted until it held his best interests. He saw her leave and Sophie who was standing behind walked forward to come to stand next to Calhoun. Glad that the human had finally left the King's side. 

"Did you see that?" asked Sophie with a miffed voice. 

"Hm?" asked Calhoun who looked at Madeline's back before turning his gaze on his cousin sister. 

Sophie said, "She is a rude girl, brother Calhoun. She didn't even offer me a bow before leaving," the vampiress was used to people showering her the same attention as any other high standing lady as she was related to the King. 

"You should have offered her first then."

"Why would I be the first one to do it? She is a human. Aren't we taught not to bow at the humans?" Sophie retorted back, "Why did you bring her here? Is it true that you have your thoughts on making her the Queen?" Now that they were alone, Sophie didn't see why she should not clear her doubts that were left in the shadows. 

"Why do you bring it up?" asked Calhoun, who gave one last look at Madeline before starting to walk back inside the castle. 

The vampiress was quick to follow him, walking beside him and not behind him only to let the other servants know who she was and what she meant to Calhoun so that they would respect her, "Brother Calhoun, you mentioned about her being the Queen and how she will learn things eventually. I am just being curious." 

"Haven't you heard of the phrase 'Curiosity killed the cat', Sophie?" 

"Yes. Yes, I have, but I wanted to know if you meant it or if you were only teasing her," Sophie would have stopped herself from walking to get him to stop too, but Calhoun was not any man. If Sophie decided to stop walking, Calhoun would drop her there without turning to look back or wait for her and she would only make a fool of herself. 

In the past, Calhoun humoured women to please their ears and gain favours from those connections, but this time, the person here was a human. What possibly could a human offer him? Especially when she came from a poor background with her father being a woodcutter. 

"What are you going to do by knowing it?" asked Calhoun, his words were nonchalant, "You should not stick your nose in my matters, Sophie. You know how I hate when people do it," and though his words were casual, Sophie could sense the underlying warning in his voice. 

Sophie knew how much Calhoun disliked when someone tried to go against him. Most of the times it had turned with the other person being found in the dungeon or dead, "I am sorry, I didn't mean to cross you!" she bowed her head quickly. 

Calhoun finally stopped walking when they were in the corridor with no one around. He stared at Sophie, who was his first cousin who had her head bowed down at the moment in apology. 

"You should go back to your room and rest. I have other important matters to attend," said Calhoun without giving any attention to Sophie's apology. He turned around and left the girl alone without another word. The vampiress had grown up watching and looking up at the King of Devon, which was why she knew when to shut up and when to speak. And as much as she took the leverage with other people about her connection to the crown, she couldn't do the same when it came to Calhoun. 

She was left there standing alone, her hands turning to fists at the thought that Calhoun had dismissed and brushed her words. 

"If she is someone you are interested in and are planning to make her your queen, I won't let that happen," stated Sophie to no one in particular, "I have worked hard to where I am, to be in your sight. I won't let a lowly human like that girl try to steal my place in this castle," she promised before going back to the guest room. 

Sophie was not in a good mood when she entered the room with a maid who followed to attend her. Going to the couch that was present in the room, she plopped herself on it and looked at the maid who was standing in the room. 

Sophie said, "I have something for you to do."

Innocence- Part 3

When Madeline had said that she wanted to walk in the garden, she stayed there only for five minutes before she made her way back to the dungeon where the servant was imprisoned in the cell. 

"You cannot be here," one of the guards stepped forward to stop her from entering the dungeon. 

Madeline knew getting inside would be difficult as this wasn't a garden where she wouldn't need permission from the King, but she was a smart girl, and she had dropped one of her jewels in here before making her way out. Hoping she would be able to return here without the vampiress hovering and throwing rude remarks at her. 

"I dropped my bracelet in here," she said, raising her bare hand, "I would like to retrieve it before I head back to the castle." 

The guard was a buff looking man. He looked almost like a giant, and she saw how he stared at her, making sure she was here for what she claimed for, "Stay here milady. I will go look for it." 

When the guard didn't arrive after one and a half minutes, which she had been counting, she said, "He doesn't know what it looks like. I would like to go look for it myself."

"I cannot let you pass through without the King's permission," said the other guardsman who was standing outside. 

"The King is busy in the court, and I don't think he would appreciate it if anyone of us go and interrupt his work for something so silly," Madeline tipped her chin up, looking at the guard with a hard gaze and the man finally let her pass. 

Madeline walked for a few steps before she quickly ran to where the servant was being imprisoned. It seemed like the guardsman who had come to search for her bracelet was not here, and she took the opportunity to speak, "Mister?"

The man who was on the other side of the cell had leaned himself against the wall who looked startled hearing a woman's voice, "Please! Please help me!" came the desperate voice of the man who was covered with dried blood. Madeline had never seen anyone in such a state where his body looked like holes from where the blood had dripped out. 

She didn't know how the castle worked, but if there was something she believed in, it was the gut feeling that had brought her back here in front of the cell. She didn't have the power to free the man because he was under the suspicion of trying to poison the King. But Calhoun told her that the court would need proof and the proof was that the man was caught red-handed. 

She pursed her lips and then said, "Do you know who would have set you up for this?" she asked him. Her voice was much gentler than the guards or the other men who had tortured the man. The man shook his head.

"I didn't do it."

It seemed like the man kept repeating the words, hoping someone would listen to him and let him free from here. The pressure and fear of death approaching the man, Madeline couldn't comprehend how scared he was. 

"Okay," came Madeline's words and the man looked at her with hope that she believed him, "What do you work as in the castle?" she asked him. 

"I-I am the mopper who mops the floors of the castle. I have been working in the castle for twelve years," stated the man. Madeline wondered if twelve years were not enough to trust someone or if twelve years was too much to bear working under a tyrant King. She had a gut feeling but that didn't mean she eliminated the possibilities, "I was there in the kitchen. Moping when one of the men caught hold of me and then started to search for something, pulling out a bottle from my pocket." 

"Was that the poison?" she inquired. And when she heard a plop of water sound, Madeline turned her head to see if the guard had arrived before turning back to look at the man in front of her. 

"I think so. I-I don't know how it came to be in my pocket," the man shook his head. 

Madeline gave it some thought and then said, "Can you try remembering what happened that day? Before the guards came and brought you here," she looked at the man who looked away from her to look at the wall, his eyes frantic to remember anything that could help him get out of here. 

"I finished cleaning the halls that day and some of the rooms. I then went to the kitchen to mop there. It wasn't the time to mop, but I thought I would get it done so that I could rest myself for a few minutes before continuing my work," said the man and he shook his head, "I should have waited, and this is what happened."

"Anyone who would have put the bottle in your pocket?" on her question, he shook his head. 

The man's words were not helpful at all, and it didn't seem like he suspected anyone. She gave it some thought, and she realised maybe she couldn't help the man after all. He was the one who carried the bottle, so it was obvious that the guards had suspected him. When the King's officials were not able to get the answers, she wondered what made her special that she could get an answer by herself. She was just a mere human in here. 

"It was a small bottle with a bulbous end and long narrow neck. I did not feel someone slipping it," he said to her. Her eyebrows furrowed together on hearing this. 

"Milady, you are not supposed to be here."

A voice came from behind and Madeline snapped her head around to see Theodore, who stood there at the end. He was the last second person she didn't want to be seen by. The first person being Calhoun. The first guard who had gone to look for her bracelet had arrived to stand behind Theodore. 

"The dungeon is not a place for a lady to be walking in," Theodore said politely and then turned to the guard to hear the guard say,

"I found the bracelet."

Madeline stepped away from the cell she had been standing in, walking towards them and took the bracelet which wasn't anything fancy but a cheap one that she had with her before she had entered the castle. The guard stood behind while the King's trusted man saw Madeline out of the dungeon. 

Later in the court, when Calhoun and Theodore were alone discussing the land's conflicts when Theodore took the chance to mention about the human who was found in the dungeon, "She seemed to have dropped her bracelet in there," informed Theodore, "But she was standing in front of the prisoner." 

"Did she now," Calhoun murmured, picking up the glass of wine that was placed next to him on the stand. He raised the wine to his lips before he said, "Such a fascinating creature, meddling herself with something she doesn't know. Let her roam freely in the castle," ordered the King, not wanting to restrict Madeline's movements and want to see what she could. His lips pulled up, and he drank the wine. 

 * *
 Whispers on the lips- Part 1

Instead of sticking to stay inside the room which Madeline had been eager to do before, she walked in the corridors of the castle to receive the quiet looks that were passed on from the servants who walked by. Somewhere she felt that the maids were curious to know and see who the human was, who was freely walking in the castle. Though their gazes were not direct, she could feel them.

After she had spoken to the man who was in the dungeon, she had come to find out something which wasn't too obvious of a hint, but she felt maybe it could lead her to something—the bulbous bottle. Four years ago, when both she and her sister Beth, had gone to visit the fair that had been set up in the village, she remembered her sister whose eyes had fallen on the different shapes and sizes of bottles. 

'How much are these?' asked her sister, who was a year older to her. Beth's chin had been tipped up as she looked at the vendor. 

'They cost twelve nickel coins,' the vendor answered, not paying any heed at first to the voice but after seeing the beautiful young girls, he stopped what he was doing to pay attention to them.

'Twelve?' Beth had huffed at that time, 'For a single little bottle? Don't you think it is too much?' she questioned to hear the man laugh.

'You can pick the cheaper ones that are for four nickel coins. These are rare,' he picked up the bulbous looking glass that looked like a miniature bottle, 'These are made by a person who once used to live in Yorkshire and by a particular person. Almost five decades old and you won't find them being sold anywhere else.'

Madeline who had recollected the memory wondered if there could be any duplicates that were created that looked like the original ones. After all, people liked to copy and sell them by calling it their own. But at the same time, she hadn't come across such a bottle after that. She wondered if she should ask the King to allow her to take a look at the bottle because she would know what kind it was and if it was the same, all she would have to do was check who came from Yorkshire.

Continuing to walk, Madeline stepped deeper inside the castle. To the parts, she had never once stepped into until now- the kitchen of the castle. 

The servants who were working there turned to look at the lady before they continued to work, and the man who watched over the kitchen came forward. 

"Is there something I can help you with?" The man was bald, and he had cleaner clothes than the rest of the servants in this room. His eyebrows were raised, and red eyes stared at her. 

"Are you the head cook?" Madeline asked, and the man gave her a nod, "I was looking for the recipe you made today for breakfast. Would you mind iterating it to me?" her tone came out to be polite. 

The head cook would have questioned her on her identity if he didn't notice the clothes and the jewels on the lady, "Which one would you like to hear?"

Madeline raised her hand and wiped the back of her hand over her forehead because of the heat that was filled in the kitchen. 

The man who noticed this, offered, "Let's step outside. It is hot in here because of the fire," and Madeline gladly stepped outside the kitchen room to be followed by the cook. For a person who lived in a small home where the kitchen didn't have enough windows to release the heat from the fire, she was used to it, but she had to get the man outside so that she could ask him questions.

Madeline didn't want herself to be heard or told as the person who was snooping around this place. But then, she didn't have any plans to stay back in the castle, and the goal to go back home was still there in the back of her mind. She just happened to feel sorry for the man who was behind bars for something he had not done, at least that is what she felt, and she asked,

"How do you make the broth from the lamb? There was pepper in there, but I felt something more."

"Lady Madeline, what are you doing here?" came Sophie's voice. Sophie had asked the maid to keep an eye on Madeline, and after getting the information about how the human was roaming in the castle, the vampiress had made her way out of the room.

"Lady Sophie," the head cook bowed his head at the vampiress, and the girl only smiled.

"I thought you would be resting, which was why I didn't come to bother you earlier. If I knew you were outside, I would have avoided from boring myself," Sophie said, the smile still on her lips. 

How strange that the girl was bored with her own company and was here only to kill time, thought Madeline to herself. 

"What are you doing here?" asked Sophie, her eyes holding curiosity. 

Madeline returned Sophie's smile, "I was looking for some recipe that was made by the castle's kitchen today."

"Hm? You don't know how to cook?" Sophie raised her brows as if Madeline had sacrificed an animal, "I thought girls from the village knew how to cook. What a shame that you were not able to tell after tasting it."

Madeline knew what Sophie was trying to do. The vampiress didn't leave even a single opportunity to look down at her and remind her where she came from, "You know it?" she asked Sophie who rolled her eyes. 

"Of course, I do. Did you think I wouldn't know how to cook? I come from a high standing family, we are taught to learn those simple things," answered the vampiress with an air of attitude in her voice. 

"That is good to hear," praised Madeline, "Because mostly with what we hear in the villages and towns, it is that girls and women from high social standing families only know to dress up like a doll and look pretty without knowing how even to comb their hair." The smile on Sophie's face faltered, but she couldn't go to punish her as the human had not pointed her finger at her but had spoken about the other people which might or might not have included her. 

Sophie was going to be in a much higher position one day, and when that day appeared, she would make sure to teach this human her place. 

"Now that you know, you don't have to carry wrong assumptions about the females who belong to the high class," Sophie smiled like she meant no harm to Madeline when in truth she just wanted to get rid of this girl from the castle. The vampiress didn't stop there but continued to say, "You should be careful while hovering over the kitchen though. Especially with the attempt of poisoning that took place. You wouldn't want the suspicion to fall on you now, would you?" 

Saying this, Sophie walked away.

 Whispers on the lips- Part 2

Watching Sophie's retreating figure, Madeline was glad that she had left the front of the kitchen so that she could talk to the head cook. The kitchen was on the other side, which was how Madeline confirmed that Sophie had not come just strolling through the corridors but she had come looking for her specifically. By now, Sophie's apparent interest in King Calhoun was no mystery to Madeline, and if the vampiress felt threatened by her, she was a plain idiot. 

Not giving much thought to her right now, Madeline's gaze shifted back to look at the head cook. Once the man was done iterating the ingredients that were used in the broth, Madeline thanked him. Her head bowing at the man who was ready to leave but she asked, 

"I had something else to ask too," she stopped the head cook from leaving, "I am new here; therefore I don't know where to get or whom to ask," she whispered to have the head cook frown wondering what the lady wanted to ask. Madeline then asked, "Do you know if I can get something small to put salt in?"

"Like a container?" asked the head cook. 

Okay, maybe that was a wrong question to ask because the head cook had a look of suspicion in his eyes as he looked at her, "No," she shook her head. Her head turned around to see if anyone was around and she asked, "How long have you been working here? I mean, how long does it take to be the head cook of the castle?" 

"I have been here since from the time the King appointed me to be the cook. Since the start of his reign," answered the cook, "I used to work in Rutland, and the King, who was still young used to visit the shop."

She now knew that this man didn't come from Yorkshire, unless he decided to go to Yorkshire and bring the bottle along with him. It was tough to pinpoint the culprit who had tried to poison the King because the path wasn't a straight one and one little information led to many different possibilities. 

Madeline had never done something like this. Finding answers on if the person was innocent or not because her life had always been simple. There were only three people who were important to her- her parents and her elder sister, Beth. That had been her life. Helping in the chores, if needed going to get house supplies with her father, carrying the log of woods, and for years that was what her life revolved around. Not this castle, not the King, and not knowing there were people in this very castle who wanted the King to be dead.

This itself brought the question of why someone wanted their King dead? Maybe the person had been teased and tortured by Calhoun too, and they thought this was one way to take revenge? She knew the severity of the punishment when it came to attempting to kill the King. 

"That must be nice. To be shifted from Rutland to the castle to work in. I think many dreams to work for the King?" 

"They do!" replied the cook, "To be moved from the hut to the castle and get the benefits. I couldn't be happier."

Madeline nodded her head, "I see."

While Madeline was thinking something, the man said, "Was there something else you wanted to ask me before I head back and continue my work?"

"One last question," said Madeline before asking him, "Do you know if there's someone from Norfolk or Yorkshire? I wanted to ask if they get good wool from there."

The man was quick to nod his head, "There's one maid, Josian who comes from Norfolk. You can ask her."

Madeline was looking for a person who came from the later town, "Thank you for the information," she said, ready to leave as this was all she could get from the man and before she could leave, the head cook said,

"There's Nicola's subordinate maid who is from Yorkshire. Maybe you can ask her."

"Ask what?" 

Hearing the strong male's voice, Madeline turned her head to see Calhoun walking down the corridor towards her. What was he doing here? It seemed like the King barely had any other work as he was found either teasing or torturing her since the time she had arrived. Madeline tried to think as quick as she could, to make a lie, but then she realised she had already made the lie when she was speaking to the head cook. 

"What are you doing here talking to the head cook?" asked Calhoun. His eyes were looking down and demanding an answer. 

"I-uh, I came here to ask the cook something," she answered.

"And what is that?" his gaze shifted from Madeline to look at the cook who had his head bowed in respect and Calhoun whispered to her, "I am glad that the cook is not handsome else I would have suspected for an early affair," Madeline's eyes widened hearing this to have Calhoun chuckle at her reaction, "It was a joke, Madeline. What are you doing here though? Planning to cook something delicious for me?"

When the King's eyes met the cook's, the servant answered, "My King, the lady wanted to know how to make the broth which was served for breakfast this morning." 

"Such a sweet girl. Wanting to impress me, by cooking for me," smiled Calhoun looking at Madeline and the girl stared at him. How did he do that? Asked Madeline to herself. To turn and twist things by making it about him and her, "If you are eager to cook, I would like to have some of your very own favourites to be cooked. Let me see how good you are at cooking."

Madeline blinked her eyes, and then bowed her head, "Pardon me, my King, I don't think I am as skilled as the people in your kitchen. My food might not appease to your taste." 

"I will be the one to pass the judgment once I am done eating what you have made," Calhoun was not going to leave the opportunity of eating something which Madeline made, "I need some change of food. Pick a fine day so that we can enjoy your delicious food. You can go back to your work, Javier," the King dismissed the cook. 

In the corridor, it was only Calhoun and Madeline who stood there alone, Calhoun staring at Madeline. 

"Did you get your suspects?" on Calhoun's question, Madeline's eyes snapped to look at him. 


"You didn't expect that it wouldn't come to my notice now, did you?" Calhoun raised a single eyebrow of his, "So what did you find so far? Any information to prove the man's innocence?" 

Madeline had been extremely careful, but she should have known that Theodore would have brought up about him finding her in the dungeon. She shook her head to his question, "Does it mean you believe he is innocent?"

"I told you, I need proof. A judgement cannot be passed on a person without solid proof, and so far the only proof was that the servant was found with the bottle of poison," Calhoun observed the frown on her face, and he said, "You should be careful in the castle, Maddie. Don't trust anyone and __ that you hear. Sometimes even sight is deceiving."

Whispers on the lips- Part 3

Calhoun's wicked smile appeared on his face, and he could tell how Madeline was trying to bring justice, and he was amused by it. Instead of thinking about how to run away from the castle or escape, she was thinking about saving someone who Calhoun didn't care much about, but it was good to see how it had favoured him with Madeline in it. The more time Madeline would stay in the castle, knowing and talking to the people, the more accustomed she would get, and it would leave less space in her mind to think about leaving the castle. 

"There is something I found," she whispered, and Calhoun tilted his head, waiting for her to speak, "The servant said that the bottle he was found with was having a bulbous end. When I was young, someone told that such a shape was made only in Yorkshire. It was stopped as the maker died." 

"And?" asked Calhoun.

Madeline's lips pursed before she said, "What if it's from someone who is from Yorkshire?"

"That's a very broad accusation. That won't be anything less to what you said to Sophie a few hours ago in the dungeon," replied Calhoun with how she had told Sophie that just because a person was poor didn't mean they were going to do something bad, "There are only a few hours left. You should give up."

"But he is innocent," she said, which had Calhoun smiling. 

"Is he?" asked Calhoun, bringing doubt in her mind, "When your time is near death, you will say anything and everything to get yourself out of the sticky mess. Sometimes even the man who helps the drowning man ends up getting drowned because the drowning man uses the help that is given to him to push himself up the water, not caring if the helper drowns. Do you understand, my sweet love?"

Calhoun was letting her play, giving her things to keep her mind busy. 

"I have something to ask you," she said to him, and Calhoun couldn't be any more happier. 

"Apart from your freedom, anything," he chimed. 

Madeline wasn't going to ask that, but with him reminding it, she wanted to.

"Don't the servant's get a trial in the court?" she asked him, her eyes looking into his mischievous dark ones. 

"No, they don't."

"Why not?" 

"Because there is no privilege to the servants. The ministers are the ones who handle them, to send them to the dungeon, which is where the questioning takes place. Don't think it is unfair, because there have been times in the past where even some of my relatives have visited in and out of the dungeon. To be guests in there," his words were calm as he spoke. 

"It seems like not many like you," she commented, her words coming like a whisper. Hearing this, Calhoun laughed. A good hearty laugh that made Madeline stare at him. She had tried to be careful with her words, not knowing if he would be offended, but he was laughing. 

He then took a step forward, and Madeline tried to get away only to realise she had been standing near the wall, "I am not here to make people like me, and I don't care about it. The King is often not liked because of the decisions that need to be taken. I will be fine with just you liking me. What do you say?"

"Why do you often try to step into my space?" asked Madeline because Calhoun had stepped even closer to her. 

"Because you always like to run away. Skittish little thing that makes me want to catch as quickly as I can," the smile on his lips had died down, and he placed both his hands on either side of her on the wall, "You smell like flowers," he said to her when his face got closer to her head, and Madeline stopped breathing which she couldn't hold forever to let it go finally. 

Madeline had her back against the cold wall of the castle where she stood in the middle between it and Calhoun. 

She wished Calhoun would give her some space, but the man was not having any of it, "We can speak without you-" she stopped speaking when Calhoun bent forward and levelled his face to look straight into her eyes. 

"I loved the adjectives you gave me but let me give you some more to remember along with it," Calhoun's eyes looked dark, and Madeline could see her reflection from it. He didn't blink even once as he said, "I am very possessive when it comes to what belongs to me. I don't care what others think, I will claim you in front of the whole damn world. I believe there are a few things that should be between us, isn't it."

"Is that why you brought up about the garter in the courtroom?" asked Madeline, her throat softly moving because of the gulp. 

A wicked smile spread on Calhoun's lips, "Isn't that good? The person who needed to know understood and left. Don't you think it would be funny that the tailor will have the thoughts of me with you as he makes it?"

"He didn't do anything to you, for you to treat him that way."

"Like what?" he hummed, finally blinking his eyes, "I was nice enough to have him use the carriage that belonged to me. To have him picked and dropped safely," and Madeline noticed how Calhoun stressed on the word 'safely' like he had other plans, "I gave you my word and didn't pull a single strand of his hair from his head." The daunting smile had settled itself on his face.

"Even in the future?"

His lips parted, and she noticed the fangs, "We will see about that. I have been very thirsty. You know...I usually take the blood from the maids or any other lady who is willing, but since the time you have stepped into the castle for the second time, every time I feel thirsty I wish to sink my fangs in your neck."

This was what Madeline was scared about. He was going to bite and kill her. Calhoun then surprised her by bringing his hand up to place below her chin, and his lips hovered over her pale pink lips. If she moved now, it would only end up in her lips touching his. 

"Like a person in the desert who hasn't had a sip of water to drink," his cool breath reverberated on her lips that sent down a shiver down her spine. 

"No one is stopping you from drinking another person's blood," she replied. 

"I thought you would take it to be cheating." On his words, her eyes fell on his full lips where the smile only widened further where his tongue ran over his lips. 

The crazy King was telling it as if they were already in a relationship with each other, when there was nothing like that for her even to consider to be cheating, "You can do whatever pleases you. I won't question it," stated Madeline to notice how his eyes flickered when her breath fell on his lips. 

"Are you sure you won't regret it" she heard him question her.


"What a sweet girl, saying I can do whatever pleases me," he chuckled, and Madeline's eyes narrowed. She didn't mean it that way!