✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsessions Chapter 61 - 70 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Cage and shackles- Part 3

Calhoun stood in one of the tallest towers of the castle, looking at the landscape of the castle that stretched to the far ends before joining the forest. The cold breeze moved against his face, pushing the black locks of his hair behind while at times moving in a different direction to hover over his forehead which he didn't bother to tame and let it free and wild. 

The top of the tower was built to taper at the end, and the floor held nothing but space in the walls to allow wind to pass through it. Calhoun had both of his arms placed on the narrow platform while he stood looking at the land that belonged to him.

Hearing the footsteps coming from the stairs, he didn't care to turn to see who it was because it was only Theodore who came here at this hour. 

"I got the guards to shift the man to the solitary room," Theodore informed Calhoun to receive no reply from the King. He took a couple of steps more, going to stand next to the King to see what Calhoun was looking at. After a few seconds, Theodore asked, "Why did you ask to shift the man to the solitary room?" 

The solitary rooms were often used to place corrupt ministers, or family of the King who was related to him for the next punishment. The cell rooms in the dungeons were the ones that were given to the lowly mortals, the humans who were of no worth and had to be killed. 

Calhoun, who was still looking at the night scenery in front of him, smiled. His lips pulled up into a grin, "What do you think a man's last dying wish is?"

"To live a life of luxury?" asked Theodore as the servant was given a better room to lay down and rest than continue his time hanging in the cage with screws or iron piercing into his body. 

The King shook his head, "To be granted a pardon," said Calhoun, "But that holds good only for the ones who are innocent."

Theodore frowned, "You think he is innocent?" Then why was he not letting him go?

"I never said he was. There is just a sliver of possibility that he is innocent and is being framed by the main culprit who is sleeping soundly in the servants quarters," Calhoun picked up a leaf that was at the corner, dried and left alone. He twirled it in his hand.

Wondering if the King had only spoken about the execution to scare the servant. Theodore asked, "Would you want me to withhold the process with the ministers?"

"No. Get it ready because at the moment everything is a suspicion, and it was the servant who was caught with the bottle. It will take a week or two. In the meantime, find out which servant is responsible for this," ordered Calhoun to have Theodore give him a bow. 

"I will do as you have asked." 

Theodore wondered how Lady Madeline was since she had returned to the castle. He didn't let his curiosity get too far as the King would not like it. With all the years he had known Calhoun, it was always the women who wanted Calhoun's attention. Creating conversations or opportunities to stay close to him which he indulged only until he was entertained and once his entertainment died, he had them leave the castle, turning the King to a distant memory. 

"Did you find out how the lady escaped?" inquired Theodore as no other person had ever been able to leave the castle the way she did. Not to forget, when they had stopped the carriage she was in, she had travelled quite some distance.

Calhoun's lips twisted, his eyes narrowing at nothing in particular, "Rosamund gave her a ride out of the castle. Have the guards check every passing carriage on who is there. No matter if it is the minister or any relatives of mine. I don't care."

If it were a minister, the man would have readily agreed to drop her to the town or village. Madeline had been lucky and unlucky at the same time when his Aunt Rosamund had decided to give her a drop. 

He closed his eyes, the wicked smile returned to his face, thinking about the time he spent with her. 

"Have you ever been attracted to something, so much that you don't want it out of your sight? You want to touch it. Hold it in and maybe even squeeze it," asked Calhoun, the wind continuing to breeze against his face that moved his hair to the side.

Theodore gave it a second before he answered, "I feel like that when I look at rabbits and cats," a smile appeared on the man's face, and Calhoun nodded his head, "It looks like my King is smitten by her."

Calhoun moved his hand towards his head, pushing his hair from the front to move it back, "The word doesn't even cover it."

He understood what Theo said when it came to the animals that one considered to be adorable. It made a person want to pet it, but there were instincts when the need to squeeze and harm them passed across the mind. Not because they wanted to harm it, but it was the emotions that evoke in one when seeing something like that. 

There were ways through which he could make her agree and turn her obedient, but Calhoun was being patient as it wasn't the approach he wanted to take, not when it was her. At the same time, it didn't mean he wouldn't try them if she continued to defy him.

Calhoun wasn't used to being defied, and once he set his eyes on something, he took it for himself. Madeline had a long way to understand where she was, and no matter how much she would try to get away from him, he would never allow it. With an invisible chain tied around her, he would pull her back to him.

Anxious nerves- Part 1

Morning arrived quicker than Madeline had expected except for the ache she felt in her legs that kept her shifting positions in the bed. She felt the soft bed against her back, stretching her legs and her ankle, she sat up on the bed to push the blanket and step on the cold ground. 

Unlike yesterday, Madeline took a bath and dressed without waiting for the maids to arrive at the door to wake her up. She wasn't comfortable with the maids touching her body and her womanly parts. Maybe it was common in the castle for the King and his guests to be waited by the maids to have them bathed and clothed but Madeline came from a poor background who was not used to it. 

When the maid knocked on the door, Madeline stepped forward and opened the door. The maid had a look of surprise on her face. She bowed her head, "Good morning, milady."

"Good morning," Madeline didn't know what she was supposed to do here in the castle. At least back home she had something to work on.

"The King asked me to inform you that he won't be able to attend breakfast with you and to take you to the dining room to eat. He said he would be visiting you at noon. Would the lady want to have breakfast now?" asked the maid, her eyes taking in the guest who stood in front of her. 

Yesterday morning the girl had thrown tantrums that she wasn't going to open the door. It seemed like the King had gotten her on her toes without needing to be told twice. 

"Okay. I will have my breakfast now," Madeline replied to the maid's question who gave her another bow before leading the way. As they walked, Madeline couldn't help but ask the maid, "Do you know where the King is?" She was curious.

"The King had to leave the castle early this morning for work I am unaware of," answered the maid. 

"I see," thought Madeline to herself.

She had picked up the wrong day to run away from the castle. Only if she could rewind the day and have a run today in the broad-daylight where there would have been fewer chances of her bumping with the wrong people, maybe it would have been much more successful. But she didn't want to take any hasty decision right now. Madeline believed that there would be better opportunities presented to her where she would be able to leave this mansion without having the King breathing on her neck like last night. 

"What's your name?" she asked the maid. 

"Agnes, milady," the girl was young and she wasn't the head maid who she had met yesterday. Madeline offered the girl a smile to have a smile returned back, turning the maid to appear less stoic. 

Madeline decided that it was wise to befriend the maid as she appeared to be nice, unlike the head maid who had looked down upon her. Who knew when she would need the help of the maid. When she was on her way to the dining room, she could feel the eyes of the servants on her. It was odd how every time she looked at them, their eyes would be looking somewhere else. 

As if sensing the lady's mood, the maid pressed her lips before taking the liberty to talk to the lady, "They are very curious."

Madeline turned her brown eyes to meet the maid, Agnes' black eyes, "Curious?"

Did everyone hear about her yesterday's escape? She wondered if the servants thought if she was crazy to escape from the castle. She saw the maid make sure that there was no one to hear near them, before saying, 

"The King has never allowed anyone to stay in the same quarters as him. The servants have been curious to see who it is," answered the maid before she bowed her head as if she made a mistake, "Pardon me for speaking out of line. Please don't tell the King I said this!" There was fear in the maid's black eyes. 

"I won't," Madeline assured the maid who looked worried for the slip of her words, "You don't have to worry about it."

"Thank you," the maid bowed her head a couple more times and Madeline wished she didn't do it. The maid like the rest of them had been curious when the King had ordered the head maid, Nicola to lead the girl to a room near to his. 

When they reached the dining room, Madeline was somewhat relieved that she was the only person in here except for Agnes. With Calhoun being busy, she didn't have to worry about him feeding or touching her. Having him near her was not good for her health because every time he looked at her, she could feel the jitter in her nerves. But that wasn't all. 

It was as if he didn't have to touch but his words and the way he looked at her was enough for her to break under pressure. 

After she was done eating breakfast in peace, Madeline decided to walk in the castle instead of cooping herself in the room. When she started to walk, the maid started to follow her and Madeline said, "You don't have to follow me, Agnes. I will find my way in the castle." 

The maid replied to this, "The King asked me to keep you company and not let you out of sight so that you don't run away again." 

Hearing this, Madeline's face turned red. So the maid was following to keep an eye on her. Had Calhoun told this to everyone? "When did the King ask you to do it?" she asked him. 

"He had all the servants present in the court this morning. Telling us no one is supposed to try befriending you or helping you in things that have not been mentioned by him. Anyone who will help you will be punished." 

Madeline didn't like being tailed by the maid. She needed some space to breathe instead of having a maid follow her wherever she went but it was impossible to get rid of the maid who was following her when the order was given directly by the King. After an hour of following, Madeline finally said,

"I am feeling very thirsty. Could you fetch me a glass of water?" asked Madeline in a polite tone. 

Agnes was quick to nod her head as it was something the lady had requested for, "I will be back in two minutes, milady," said the girl to leave her alone in the corridor. 

Madeline took this opportunity to move to the next corridor, her footsteps this time quicker so that she could move to the other side of the castle. It would have been a different matter if Calhoun had asked the maids to be nice to her but instead, he had ordered them to not befriend her. Was he planning to isolate her from the rest of the world?

While she was still walking and admiring the castle even though she didn't want to live here, suddenly she felt someone close her mouth and was dragged her into the next room.

Anxious nerves- Part 2

Madeline struggled to get away from the person who had covered her mouth so that she wouldn't scream and she tried to move her hands and legs as she was dragged into the room until she heard a person yelp in pain because of her feet that kicked the man, "Ouch!" 

His hands released her and Madeline turned around with a deep frown until she saw who it was, "Mr. Heathcliff?" came the surprised voice of Madeline. 

What was he doing here?! She looked at the door to see that it had been pushed close to avoid anyone from looking in.

"Miss Harris," Mr. Heathcliff bowed his head, and when a smile came upon his lips, Madeline smiled back at him. She was happy to see Mr. Heathcliff. The man she had admired for months, who had promised to spend time with her was standing right in front of her. Somewhere her heart ached. 

It had been less than a week since she had last met him at his shop but spending time in the castle felt like an eternity had passed since she had last seen him. But from the time of the Hallow, Calhoun had made sure to invade her mind and thoughts until now. And at the thought of Calhoun, Madeline gulped to ask,

"What are you doing here?" she asked him, her eyebrows furrowing while looking at James' handsome face. He had dressed like one of the men she had seen in the courtroom talking to Calhoun. 

"I came here for you," answered the man, taking one step forward towards her while Madeline took one step back. Mr. Heathcliff gave her a puzzled look. 

"You should not be here," she whispered in worry. If Calhoun were even to hear a whisper about James being here, James would not step out of the castle grounds in one piece, and she didn't want that happening to this man. 

James could see Madeline was concerned for him, and he took steps forward, taking her hand in his, "You don't have to worry about me. You don't have to feel alone when I am here."

Madeline appreciated his words more than anything as he felt like a ray of hope where she would be able to leave this place, but King Calhoun was not a person to let her go that easily. The man would behead James without blinking his eyes. When her mother had mentioned about James in front of Calhoun, he had lowly threatened about James's head that would be stuck on a spear and the image itself had made Madeline worry for James' life. 

"You don't understand!" Madeline replied, shaking her head, "If the King finds out you are here, he will kill you," she whispered at the end. 

James squeezed her hands together, "Are you not happy to see me here?"

"I am more than happy to see you here, Mr. Heathcliff, but you don't know the King. You haven't met him!" Did James think this was a typical brawl for love and attention that the King would let him off without harming him? "How did you enter the castle?" she asked him, looking at the door that was now closed before her eyes fell on James. 

Mr. Heathcliff smiled looking down at her, seeing how much she was worried for him, "You forget I am the tailorman for the King and the ministers who work in the castle. I said I had to deliver clothes to the King that he had asked for and entered the castle. I didn't know where you were or where to find you, but I finally did."

Madeline had a mixture of emotions running in her mind right now. The thought of him coming here to meet her brought joy to her lonely heart. She was happy to see James here who had come to see her, but at the same time, she was scared if one of the servants would find them here in the room. Not to forget, one of the maids would be now looking for her. 

"After I read your letter, I decided to come to meet you as soon as I could," said James, before letting go of her hands, "Even though you said nothing about coming here, I felt it is what you wanted but couldn't tell it."

"Letter?" Madeline asked, slightly confused.

James nodded his head, "Yes. Beth was kind enough to deliver your letter as soon as she could. If I didn't get it, I would have never known what situation you are in. Frankly, I was a little surprised but thankful that your sister delivered it to me because there were times I felt that she was..." he paused trying to let the silence fill the sentence before saying, "Trying to gain my attention and affection but I guess I was wrong."

While James was talking about it, the only thing Madeline could think was that she had not written any letter to him. There was no way James would have known she was here unless someone told him about it. Did Beth write a letter to him in her name?

"Um, could you tell me what was written in there? I just seem to have forgotten about it," said Madeline with an awkward smile on her face. 

James didn't question her request and recollected some of the contents that she had written to him, 

"You mentioned how you were being forced to stay here against your wishes and asking me not to worry about you." Madeline pondered over his words. Why did Beth write a letter to him? James said he felt that Beth was trying to gain his attention, but with what she knew, Beth didn't think too highly about him. Not to forget, her elder sister knew the feelings she held for Mr. Heathcliff in her heart. Therefore Madeline could only conclude that Beth was only teasing and she hadn't meant any harm in the past.

"What's the matter?" he asked her. 

Madeline shook her head, "Nothing."

She looked startled when James moved closer to her, and she blushed over their closeness, "I am sorry that you had to spend these two days here. I like you Madeline, and I know you do too. Don't be sad," he placed his hand on her shoulder for comfort. 

Madeline could see the reflection of herself in his clear eyes. James had always been polite and was a gentleman when he used to talk to her or anyone in that regard. 

At the same time, she heard the sound of the carriage. She let go of her hand that was on James' hand, and he let go of her shoulder. Her head turned, and she walked towards the windows, not realizing which part or side of the castle she had been standing in. The room both she and James were in was the room that came before the courtroom, and she suddenly turned afraid as the person who stepped out of the carriage was none other than the King himself. 

Calhoun had returned to the castle.

Beating heart- Part 1

Her hands turned clammy at the sight of Calhoun getting inside the entrance of the castle, and her head snapped around to look at James, who looked oblivious that danger was approaching both of them. 

"What happened?" asked James with a slightly confused look on his face as to why she looked like she saw a ghost now. Since months, James had been trying to court the young maiden, and it was only now that they were alone. They had almost had a moment together, but Madeline had moved away from him to see what was outside the window.

James had fallen for Madeline the first time when they had crashed against each other as she was in a hurry, carrying vegetables in her arms. She had apologized profusely before leaving. 

"You need to leave now, James," Madeline informed him to have him look at her with a frown. 

"Why? I am not leaving this castle without you," he informed her and Madeline looked at him alarmed. 

"I cannot leave the castle without the King's permission." And even if she were going to leave, she would leave alone without putting James life in trouble. But James didn't move from where he stood. Madeline walked towards him and said, "The King has already threatened that if I leave without his consent, it will cause trouble to my family."

She didn't mention the part where the King had spoken about James head being on the spear. Calhoun had threatened her, and she doubted he would cause immediate harm to her family, especially when he knew how dear they were to her. But then this was Calhoun, would he consider it? He could take advantage of her weakness. 

"I will talk to him," declared James who had not met Calhoun. Madeline didn't wish for him to meet the King. Right now to Calhoun, James was just a mere idea in his head. She didn't want James to fall under the King's eyes, at least that is what Madeline wanted not knowing that Calhoun had already seen James during the time of the Hallow.

Madeline shook her head, but James said, "He cannot come in between two people who like each other. He cannot force you against your wishes. A King has to be fair with the way he deals with things. Surely he will understand my words and will let you go."

"No!" Madeline whispered to him when she noticed footsteps on the other side of the door. 

Time was ticking and with every second Calhoun was possibly getting closer to the courtroom unless he decided to ask the servants where she was. Madeline had slipped past the maid to end up here. This was not good! 

"Don't you want to go back home?" questioned James.

"Of course, I do, but I cannot right now. If we do, he will-"

"Kill me?" asked James fearless by the mention of the King as he appeared to be determined to take her back to the village with him today, "He would do no such thing." There were only two things Madeline could draw here. Either James was a courageous man, or he was ignorant about what King Calhoun was capable of. 

Madeline knew that the longer she stayed here in this room with James, the probability of them being caught by someone was going to be more. Her eyes kept darting from James to the door in worry. She then said, 

"I wish I could come with you now, but right now," she shook her head sadly, "Right now is not the time. I don't mean to turn you down, but the King is not someone to be messed with, and I say this after living in this castle for a short time. I am thankful and happy to see you, but I need you to leave right now."

James' lips were set in a thin line at Madeline's pleading request. She looked distressed with every second that passed by. After a few seconds, he asked, "Has he done anything to you? You can tell me, Madeline. I will make sure he pays for it. Has he?"


Madeline shook her head, ignoring the times when Calhoun had brushed the side of her lips with his thumb and had bandaged her leg. She was worried that speaking about it would only make James stay here with her longer. 

James then stepped forward to hold both of her hands in his that had turned cold, "I will revisit you. With a better plan." Madeline didn't say no, nor did she say yes because her heart was torn in wanting to leave the castle right this instant and at the same time, she didn't want to be the cause of James being hurt. Noticing her silence, James squeezed her hands, "Please feel free to tell me anything. I will take you away from here. I promise."

He then moved towards the door.

Before opening the door, he turned to see Madeline's innocent face that looked anxious. He offered a smile of encouragement, and Madeline returned it, a small smile coming to form on her lips which disappeared the moment he left the room. Alone in the room, Madeline felt her body turn weak, and she staggered two steps back, her eyes moist and her lips pressed together.

Now that James left, she wondered why she didn't take the opportunity to go with him. Was the King shameless enough to keep her here, if she openly declared that she wanted to be with another man? 

Maybe this was her chance of getting out, thought Madeline to herself.

She quickly made her way towards the door, pulling it open, she immediately started to run in the way she had walked in earlier. Knowing the direction of where the entrance was, she took a turn to only stop when she noticed Calhoun's right-hand man, Theodore standing in front of her. 

She felt her heart leap in her chest at the sight of the man. Her heart started to beat loudly in her chest to hear Theodore say,

"If I were you, I wouldn't chase after the man, Lady Madeline," he bowed his head to her in respect before lifting it to look at her, pushing the glasses that he wore up to the bridge of his nose. 

She saw James who was getting farther and farther away while she stood with the vampire who was loyal to the King, "I was...."

"I know. I won't mention about this to the King knowing it would upset him, but if you chase after the man, I will need to inform him about it," Theodore's words were still polite, only because the woman was dear to Calhoun, "The King has reached the courtroom and will be expecting you by his side. Shall we?"

It wasn't a request and she knew it. Her heart felt like it was sinking in her chest with the distance that grew between her and James who was leaving towards the entrance of the castle. 

Madeline had to tear her gaze away from James' back before following Theodore to the courtroom. As expected, Calhoun was already sitting on his throne with his legs crossed and listening to one of the men speak about the dire situation where the humans were rioting over the death of a man. 

When she stepped into the courtroom, Calhoun's attention was shifted from the man to look at the girl who had dressed up quite nicely today. She was a girl who stood out in his eyes. Ignoring the man, Calhoun locked eyes with Madeline whose eyes looked slightly dilated and her heart was beating fast. 

"I was expecting you to greet me when I returned. Where were you?" demanded Calhoun with his dark eyes not moving away from Madeline even for a second. 

"I was in the castle," Madeline replied, willing her heart to be quiet. 

Calhoun's eyes narrowed at her words and he stood up from his throne, stepping down to stand in front of her. He could hear her heart running faster than before. 

"Why is your heart beating so loud then? Did you try to make another run?" Calhoun lightly joked yet there was the burning question if she did, as he looked at her lower her eyes on the ground. He then asked,

"Or was it something else?"

Beating heart- Part 2

Madeline had to remind herself that Calhoun knew nothing about James who was possibly still in the castle, making his way out. James had mentioned about him being the tailor so even if he were to be checked, he would be accounted as a man who was here to serve the King and the other people in the castle.

Answer him! Madeline told herself, but her mind was feeling dizzy with the thought that Theodore had caught her chasing James before his intervention. 

"I was walking in the castle and thought I saw something," she responded to his question. 

Calhoun stared at her, and she could only hope that he wouldn't find out about James coming here, "What did you see?" he asked her. On the King's question, the man in the court who was earlier talking stopped talking for the courtroom to turn quiet. 

She should have known that it would be his next question to be asked, and she wondered what could be the most believable lie. She then answered, "It was a spider."

"A spider got your heart racing?" Calhoun raised his eyebrow at her, "I wish I was the spider," and he then turned to look over his shoulder to speak to the man, "Who asked you to stop talking?" The man bowed his head and continued to talk about the matter he had come here, for the other people in the court to listen. The King turned his head to look back at Madeline. 

"When you are scared about something, doesn't it get your heart racing?" Madeline chose her words to question him back so that he wouldn't ask too many questions. 

Calhoun's eyes assessed her expression before he said, "I am not sure about that. I have never been scared to have my heart racing, not that I remember." Of course, thought Madeline to herself. He wasn't the one to get scared because he was the one to instil fear in a person, "Wasn't the maid with you?"

"I asked her to get a glass of water for me."

"The spider must have found it to be a convenient time to crawl into your space," hummed Calhoun and the little gulp of Madeline had Calhoun stare at her, "Did you miss me?"

How was she supposed to answer the truth without offending him? The look in his eyes told her how he was enjoying asking her question in front of everyone. She had to remember that this wasn't any man but the King, who could by one word of his change the life of a person- for better or worse. Madeline wanted to leave this castle, and this man was speaking about her missing him? 

Even though the man in the courtroom was talking to other men about the death in the village and the disputes, Calhoun's attention was held by the human who was now looking at him with her brown eyes, "I don't know," she answered, being vague.

"You don't know? Shall I take it that you couldn't wait to spend your time with me then?" asked Calhoun, his eyes raking the dress that she wore, "Go to the gallery in the high tower. Wait for me there," he said before looking at Theodore, "What took you so long to bring the files?" 

Madeline turned pale on that question, and she wasn't sure if Theodore was going to let Calhoun know what he saw. Theodore bowed his head, "The files were placed in your study."

She turned around to look at Theodore, who was looking at Calhoun without looking at her. She didn't know for how long Theodore would keep it a secret because he was closer to Calhoun. It made her question why he didn't reveal about James being in the castle. The maid who named Agnes came to lead her out of the room, and Madeline left. 

When she was out of the courtroom, Madeline felt the heavy atmosphere being lifted from her shoulders. Her knees were about to give away with the pressure and fear she had felt in there. Her heart felt heavy at the thought that James was here, yet she couldn't leave the mansion with him. She wouldn't have been able to leave from here, not with the guards searching the carriages. 

"Milady, I was looking all over for you, but you weren't there," said the maid with a worried look as if she had got back to the wrong corridor which wasn't the place where she had left the lady.

"Pardon me, I think I got sidetracked," Madeline apologised. 

"That's alright, milady," responded the maid before asking, "Would you want me to get you a glass of water?"

"No, that won't be necessary." With Calhoun in the castle, there was no point in her getting away from him because he would find her. 

Once they reached the high tower, the maid took leave from there, leaving Madeline alone and she looked at the gallery that had many more paintings than some walls of the castle. There were paintings of landscapes, people, buildings. There were some paintings that belonged to the old villages which made her take a step forward to take a closer look at it. It seemed out of place, yet it felt something she could connect to. The paint on it looked like it was made of oil as some parts had a shine.

She started to move to the next painting, her feet taking slow steps until she found a canvas that was placed the other way round. She walked around and her eyes fell on the painting, and she gulped. 

It was a girl whose blonde hair was sprawled on the pillow as if she were laid on a bed, her eyes that were half-open looking to the side with her lips parted. There was only a crumpled looking sheet that covered her body until her chest that left her shoulders bare for view. 

The girl was no one but her. 

She didn't have to know who had painted her. 

"Beautiful, isn't she?" came Calhoun's voice next to her, making her jump in shock as she had not expected him this soon. 

Madeline took a step back to get away from him not noticing the cans of paint that were near her leg and when she did, she tried to avoid it. Instead, she ended up knocking the canvas and lost the balance of her footing to almost fall down. If it wasn't for Calhoun's arm that went around her waist to stop her falling down along with the canvas and the stand. 

The objects fell with a crash on the ground. Madeline had knocked a small can of oil on the ground before which was the reason she had missed her footing. 

Her heart started to beat faster out of the sudden course of events that took place in seconds and she heard Calhoun say, "When you do things you are not supposed to, that is one of the times when your heart beats because the person is scared."

Madeline didn't know what exactly he was trying to insinuate but when she tried to get away from him that only made his hold tighter around her waist. 

One side of his lips pulled up and he said, "You keep trying to get away from me to only get back in my arms."

Paints- Part 1

Music recommendation: Dove Cameron- We belong 

Time period: 14th-15th century (Some facts have been bent to fit into story).


Madeline's already wide eyes stared back at Calhoun, and she pushed his chest with her hands to get away, which he didn't. He watched her trying to get away from him, but he was having too much fun seeing her struggle. After a minute, it seemed like she finally understood that her struggle was futile against his hold. 

"You knocked the canvas, paints and oil. Do you know how much they cost?" he asked before letting her go. 

"I am sorry about the paints," she apologised, bowing her head as it wasn't her intention to create a mess here. 

She rubbed her arms, her eyes looking down at the things she had indeed knocked. The red paint was spilt on the ground. She walked forward to pick up the canvas that laid on the ground to set it back up the way it was before, but when she tried it, the wooden stand didn't stand still and continued to fall. She felt Calhoun step forward, who swatted her hand away from the stand and in a second, he had got the stand to sit firmly on the ground along with the canvas. 

Feeling awkward for the mess that was created, Madeline picked up the brushes that had clattered down, bringing it to be placed at the side of the stand. 

"You don't listen, do you?" asked Calhoun, his voice deep and Madeline took a step back for him to move around the canvas.

"I didn't mean to knock them down," she whispered. 

"Of course, you didn't," he gave her a look like he knew better before saying, "You got some paint splashed on the canvas. How are you going to fix it?" he asked her. 

Madeline frowned, taking a look at the canvas to see spots of red that were on her face. She didn't understand how the canvas caught paint when it was the paint that fell first on the ground. Not able to keep quiet, she said, "The paint shouldn't have been there."

"Are you suggesting that I was the one who found time to sprinkle paint on the art I created?" The smile on Calhoun's lips was long gone since the time he had let her go from his arms. She didn't know what to say to this, her eyes taking in the paints before she said,

"Maybe this is the way of God telling you, you shouldn't paint things like these," she said to him, heart skipping a beat when he took a step forward towards her.

"Things like what?" he looked at her curiously waiting to hear her answer. His eyes moved to look at her lips and then to her eyes. Madeline knew that Calhoun knew what she was speaking about but instead, he wanted to hear it from her lips, "There are so many paintings in here, Maddie. Which one are you talking about?" 

She clutched her hands and then replied to his question, "The one where you have painted me."

"Painted you? I have barely even touched you to paint, my sweet girl," his mouth twisted as he said this to her, seeing how quick the blood rushed to her face with his simple words that turned her embarrassed. He then said, "So what if I have painted you? It is not like the houses or the trees cry that they are seen and drawn." 

Madeline didn't know how to feel with her face painted in the canvas not by anyone but by Calhoun who was now looking at her with a smouldering gaze. It was the way he had painted her, the thought of her half-asleep with hair sprawled and only a sheet covering her body insinuated the ideas he had in his mind. 

"Tell me," he pressed for an answer from her. 

Madeline dropped her gaze from him, not looking at his art but instead at the mess she had created on the floor, "T-the one with me like that."

"Like how?" he asked in an oblivious tone, and she knew he was enjoying looking at her squirm, "You ruined my art and I will need to redo it, but I think I have something else on my mind to punish you for spoiling my art."

Her eyes widened at his words, and she said, "I didn't do anything. You cannot punish me for something I didn't mean to do."

"You didn't mean to step away?" he questioned her, his red eyes piercing her. 

"I thought you needed some space," blurted Madeline and Calhoun's eyes narrowed that she was easily placing the blame on him as if she had his best interest and he knew Madeline's thoughts were far from it. 

"Really?" he asked, the word dripping with sarcasm.

Both Madeline and Calhoun knew that he didn't need space when he was the one to conquer one's space without letting anyone breath without his command, "The punishment still stands," he reminded her. Before she had the opportunity to talk about it, he said "You need to know how to be around the King. Disobeying my words by running away, not getting ready by throwing a tantrum at the head maid, coming here to splatter paint."

Madeline wondered if the head maid had reported about how naive she was for locking herself in the room until Calhoun himself had arrived. He walked towards the other side of the room, pouring a glass of water when he said, 

"I met the maid on my way here. She mentioned you weren't there in the corridor when she went to get you a glass of water," turning, he walked back towards her and offered her the glass of water, "Drink. Thought you would be thirsty as I doubt you were busy with the spider." 

Hearing this, Madeline started to feel hot because of the tension. She didn't know if Theodore had told Calhoun about seeing James today. But did Calhoun know?

Did he know that James was here? Because the way he was looking at her right now, testing her, it would be good enough to guess that Calhoun had a faint idea that something was up and he was waiting for her to break down and confess to him. 

Her hands reached out for the glass of water, murmuring a thank you so that he didn't find another reason to have her kiss his hand for not appreciating his kindness. 

As she gulped the water, she could feel his eyes on her, and she drank the water as slow as she could, hoping he would look away, but she should have known better than this, that this was the King, Calhoun Hawthrone she was dealing with. She drank until the last drop of the water when she heard Calhoun say to her,

"Looks like you are very thirsty after the short run," and Madeline's face turned slightly pale, "Or are you going to say it was the spider that made you thirsty?" his eyes continued to stare at her.
Paints- Part 2

Every word that came from Calhoun's mouth made her question and doubted if he found out about her meeting with another man who she shared a liking towards. If James was not going to show up in the castle again, it meant he was going to be safe. At least that is what she wanted to believe for now because she couldn't stop worrying- especially with the words that were leaving Calhoun's lips. 

He took the empty glass from her hand and asked, "More?" and she shook her head. 

"No," she answered to see him place the glass on the table.

"You should feel fortunate that the King takes such good care of you. Not everyone gets a glass of water to drink that is poured by the King," stated Calhoun, walking back to her, and Madeline stood where she was as if her feet were glued to the ground. Was his hand made of glass that he was speaking like that? thought Madeline to herself. She knew the value of the King who held the crown on his head, "What do you think about it?" he asked, poking at her.

"Very fortunate, my King," she bowed her head.

Calhoun said, "I sense zero sincerity in those words of yours," and Madeline bit the inside of her lips to stop herself from commenting something she was not supposed to, "Have you ever painted before?" 

She saw him walk towards one of the paintings, and when he looked at her over his shoulder, Madeline was quick to walk to where he was. Standing not next to him, but one step behind to look at the painting which she hadn't found time to look at before as she had been interrupted. 

"I was never given the opportunity to paint, my King," she had seen some of the paintings in the church that she often liked to sit down and admire, looking at the different bursts of colours that were put into a single frame. 

Calhoun moved his eyes towards the girl who stood next to him, and he took a step back so that he could admire her better. Her features were dainty, her body petite but having the right amount of curves where it was needed. But it was those brown eyes that had his attention. Even during the day of the Hallow, he had seen her staring at the paintings and walking past one after another that had led her away from the crowd and to him. He could tell that she was fascinated by the art that was put up in the castle. 

She tore her gaze away from the frame that was in front of them to look at him, "Are all these done by you?" 

"Hmm," he hummed in response.

"All?" Madeline asked in doubt.

"No, I stole them from an artist," he deadpanned at her, and she gave him an awkward smile. 

It was just surprising that Calhoun had drawn more than just the landscapes because there were villages and the people in there like the paintings that were of the local market, "They are beautiful," she praised. He stared at her as if he weren't expecting her to compliment his artistic skill.

Madeline noticed Calhoun's gaze on her, and she went to look at his paintings, seeing the little details while wondering how Calhoun had captured everything in a piece of canvas delicately. It was hard to believe that the King would have stepped in any place that was crowded, which was possibly considered to be filthy by the rich men. 

She then carefully shifted her eyes to see the man who was still looking at her. When their eyes met, she heard him say, 

"I want to paint you."

If Madeline were drinking water at the time when he said this, she would have splattered the water out of her mouth, but luckily she wasn't, and she gulped. 

"What?" she asked, unsure if she heard him right. 

Calhoun said, "You ruined one of my paintings because of your careless legs and hands, bumping into one. It is only right you repay me with what is lost," he looked serious, his dark red eyes locking on her. 

Madeline frowned, "It was a mistake." Was he seriously expecting her to lay down as in the painting to turn herself into his muse? He had already gone far enough by painting her in such a state that she couldn't even speak to someone about it as it was already too mortifying. 

"Do you think I am someone on the street that you can bump into and say sorry, Maddie?" asked Calhoun. She sure knew he wasn't any man but wasn't this going too far? He then stepped closer to her, "The night I met you, I could not get you out of my head. I wanted to see you the same night, but I knew you needed to sleep and dream about me."

Hearing this, Madeline's eyes widened. His words were nothing but to tease her but seeing her expression, a crooked smile appeared on his lips, "You dreamt about me," he sounded happy, but only Madeline knew that she had woken up with sweat on her forehead. 

"I didn't," she denied not wanting to feed his ego or fantasy. 

"You're not a good liar," he tsked and then continued to say, "I didn't want to steal you right away, so I came here and captured you in the painting. It took me quite some time to finish it and look what you did now."

"I am here now," she whispered. Her honest, yet innocent answer made Calhoun want to drag her to his room and do things he had wanted to do to her. 

Calhoun then raised his hand towards her hair. For a moment, Madeline was worried, and she closed her eyes until she felt him pull a piece of her blonde hair in between his fingers, to feel the length and softness of it. She then opened her eyes to hear him say,

"Yes, you are here, but that doesn't mean I don't want to..." he left his words hanging in the air for her to fill, a wicked grin appearing on his handsome face.
Big bad wolf- Part 1

Madeline didn't even want to think what the King was going to say, that was left hanging purposely by him for her to fill in. She didn't dare to ask him to complete his sentence because she knew it was going to be something she would find to be appalling to hear. Calhoun was atrociously shameless when it came to speaking his mind out. 

Hoping to shift his mind from having to paint her, she asked, "Does this painting have an origin?"

Calhoun had placed his hands in his pockets, "It is one of the villages that belong to Wiltshire. An old village that has not been remodelled or retouched. The oldest of the old."

Madeline's eyes moved back to look at the painting which mostly made use of dark colours. It looked similar to the market that was there in her village, but this one had a peculiar feel to it as if it was melancholic. It looked like Calhoun was not just a shameless man but had talent when it came to painting. 

Calhoun had not mentioned about the spider or James anymore. Therefore, Madeline decided to relax and not to worry about it for now. She wondered how things would go if James met the King and asked to take Madeline along with him.

"What are you thinking?"

"Nothing," came the quick answer from Madeline's lips. 

She saw Calhoun come in her view and turn around with his back against the wall so that he could face her, "Your lies are too easy to catch, Maddie. Have you decided to add more than one punishment on your plate? Who knew you would be willing to do things that I want to do to you."

"I didn't mean to knock the painting down," Madeline didn't know how many times she would have to tell him to let it go, but so far her words had turned deaf to his ears. 

"How do I know that?" he asked with a straight face, "You didn't want me to keep the painting and wanted to tarnish it." 

"You know that is not true. You are twisting the situation to your advantage-" she stopped talking when he pushed himself from the wall, "It is not fair."

"Nothing is fair in this world," Calhoun responded. Madeline felt like a skittish kitten that was scared even if Calhoun breathed that would be enough to send her sprinting from this room. But the question was how far she would be able to run before being caught. The last time she had done it, she was stranded in the middle of the forest, "What did I say about being careful around me? It is not just me, but you should be careful with other people in or outside the castle. Friends can turn to foes and foes to friends unless you have something to offer. Do you understand that, my sweet girl?"

Madeline couldn't help but ponder over the words he said to her. 

"Why do you say that?" she asked him. Her question was vague, but Calhoun didn't have to know what she was referring to. 

But Calhoun ignored the question she was directing at and said, "Every time you break a rule that has been placed here, I will not be lenient over it. So tell me, what was with the spider," he brought her back to the question he had asked her earlier. 

Hearing the question back on the spider was enough for her to turn pale, but Madeline was too adamant about protecting James, and she didn't break eye contact with the King as if she had not lied. 

Madeline, who had been wondering why Theodore had helped her, didn't know that the King was a sharp and clever man while being cunning in his ways of getting things done. Theodore didn't bother to mention it because Madeline's racing heart had already indicated that something was up; therefore, he didn't see any reason on why he had to involve himself unless the King asked about it. 

She didn't know why her sister Beth would try to write a letter in her name and instigate it for James to come and meet her with the thought that the King would let her go if James asked him as if she was a flower from the garden. But James didn't know that Madeline wasn't any flower in the King's castle. She was the flower Calhoun had handpicked to bring it to his castle. 

He had asked her to be careful, and she would do just that, be cautious with him, "The spider I saw in the corridor?" asked Madeline.

"Yes, unless you know more than one spider here," came the sarcastic remark from Calhoun. 

Fooling a layperson was already hard enough, and now James life depended on how well she could lie to the King. But with the way Calhoun was looking at her, waiting for her to come out with the lie, she didn't know how far it would work. Wasn't lying to the King also considered to be treason? Asked Madeline to herself. 

She felt she was stuck between two walls. 

"It just surprised me. I wasn't expecting the spider to be present in the castle," answered Madeline as she referred to James as the non-existent spider. If Calhoun were truly good at detecting the lies, he would find at least half of what she was saying to be true.

She saw Calhoun raise his hand to his front, checking his nails and the sharpness of it, "That is not what I heard from someone," he stated, and Madeline felt the blood drain from her face. Theodore had told him! His eyes shifted from his nails to look at her.

She swallowed her nervousness before blurting, "I didn't do anything. I didn't even know he was going to show up here. He just came here to deliver-"

"Clothes?" Calhoun's eyes turned dark.

The truth was no one had told him anything and he was only poking at her to see if there was truly a spider. One simple lie to bring the truth out of her lips. It seemed that his suspect was on point and he didn't have to search far to know who this 'he' was. When Calhoun had asked Theodore to get information about Madeline he had also found out who the man was, who had kissed her hand in the lonely corridor. It was the same man who Madeline claimed to have feelings for. 

Madeline looked more than pale, fear coursing through her veins. She should have known that the King's right-hand man was loyal to the King and would not hide anything from him. Her legs that were covered with the skirt that she wore shook nervously. 

Calhoun then stepped forward towards her, his hand reaching to catch hold of her lower face. 

"What a brave woman you are, Madeline. To lie to the King," Calhoun commended her with his sarcastic words. He then let go of her face. Right now Calhoun's eyes looked furious. Madeline's heart was beating wildly and she could barely think after being caught,

"What was he doing here? Came to rescue the princess from the big bad wolf?"

Big bad wolf- Part 2

Madeline's heart was beating loud enough that she could hear every beat in her ears. The worse feeling was getting caught while telling a lie. Calhoun continued to glare down at her, and she didn't know how to get out of it. 

"What was he doing here?" demanded Calhoun.

"I-I don't know. H-he must have seen me walking here and stopped by. I d-didn't expect to see him here. He said he came here for delivering the clothes," she explained to him because it was the truth that she didn't expect to meet James.

Madeline didn't want to let Calhoun know that James had come here for her. To take her back to the village which he had initially planned by speaking to the King but then he had decided to come back again some other day. With the way Calhoun's dark red eyes were fixed on her, she wished she could faint because she was in a stuttering mess and she didn't know how to deal with this man standing right in front of her now. 

Calhoun continued to glare down at her, hearing her heart beat in her chest, "I warned you not to lie, but the first thing when we met today you lied to me. Did you do something you were not supposed to do?" he questioned her.

She quickly shook her head, but Calhoun didn't let her out of his sight and kept her where he wanted her. 

"Why lie then? A person lies only when they want to hide something," his eyes moved across her face and then travelled to look at her neck before going back to her brown eyes, "I just find it too convenient that the man appeared to talk to you when you asked the maid to get water. Was it your parents who intimated him about you being here?"

"No, it wasn't them," her parents had nothing to do with it. 

"Then how did he come here, searching for you? A mere tailor man has access only to the front of the castle and not inside the heart of the castle. Are you going to deny that you both didn't meet alone? Did he hug you?" The ball of anxiousness in her chest was growing, and she shook her head, "I need words here, my sweet girl. Did he hug you?" he repeated his question. 

"No, he didn't," Madeline prayed, hoping he wouldn't find anything more than what he knew. All that had happened was, James had held her hands in his, but she wasn't going to let Calhoun know about it. 

"Did he kiss you?" demanded Calhoun.

Her eyes widened by his question, and she answered, "He didn't."

And even though Madeline claimed nothing happened between her and the man, Calhoun was not pleased with how she had lied. He held a look of disappointment on his face. He tilted his head, "Don't let any man kiss or touch you," his voice was low as he decreed her. 

Madeline wanted to retaliate to tell him she wasn't his, but his eyes looked at her warningly. Trying to fix the damage she confessed by bowing her head,

"I apologise for it. I thought you would be angry by his presence-"

"Oh, believe me, I am. I will find how he came here to meet you this soon, but before that, we have other things to deal with. I let you off too easily last night, didn't I?" he asked her dauntingly, "Naive girl, it's time for some good old punishments."

"W-what?" Madeline took a staggering step behind, but Calhoun didn't follow her.

"Let's add everything up, shall we?" this time Calhoun smiled, a wicked emotion lurking behind his eyes. He brought his hand forward and showed his thumb to say, "Disobedience in listening to the King. You ran away from the castle-"

"You lied to me about the entrance and exit of the maze. You implied that there was a separate exit," said Madeline, defending herself because the King appeared to be happy enough to list out her mistakes without considering the lie he told her. 

"I did?" asked Calhoun with an oblivious look on his face, "I don't think I ever told that. You should have known better than taking up the deal without verifying what you were getting into. It was foolish not to do it. Don't blame it on me," he tsked, his lips twisted. He then pulled out his index finger to say, "Interrupting the King without waiting for your turn. Rude."

Hearing him speak, Madeline clenched her teeth together, "You cannot play fair like this by pulling out my mistakes-"

"So you agree you have been at fault. Glad to know that you acknowledge them. If you didn't I would have had to add it as the third in the list," Calhoun smiled at her and Madeline wished she could take one of the closest painting to throw it at him. He then pulled out the third finger, "Lying, treason caused towards the King," her heart sank in her chest, "Four. You come to the gallery and cause the mishap."

She stared back at him, "No matter what I say, you will never consider it."

"Did you give me a reason to believe you?" 

"Neither did you," she responded.

"Touche. How clever of you to be playing that card but don't forget that you were the one who ran away from the castle. You could have stayed back and told me that I lied, but you chose to run away," his lips twisted when Madeline said,

"You never had the intention to let me go and played your lies to blame it on me-"

"Careful, Madeline," Calhoun scowled at her, "Do you know what happens to the person who stands against the King? They first get thrown in a cell which has dirt and where rats and other animals crawl. Then the person is sent to execution. Is that what you are aiming for? Just because I have favourites, doesn't mean I won't do it."
I see you- Part 1

Madeline didn't know what he had on his mind. She felt trapped by his words and actions. She told herself not to be scared and not to show fear. She had heard how the night creatures lived on the fear of the people who were beneath them. Though most of the things he had listed out had been true, but not everything was right. She had never meant to cause trouble in here by knocking things around, but the King had twisted the situation to his advantage, and maybe this was a lesson she had to learn. 

She had to be extremely careful while dealing with Calhoun as he wasn't anyone but the King of this land who was clever with his words. If she wasn't careful with her words, the man would only twist them and make her feel guilty. 

Somewhere her mind said he was right that she could have stayed near the maze and called out his bluff, but she had been upset over his lie and deceit because it only showed that he would never let her go and yes, she was foolish to believe him. To think that he would offer her, her freedom which belonged to her and not to him. 

"Does your conscience ever say anything to you?" she questioned him, a question that was bold and something no one would dare to ask the King. And Calhoun didn't mind it, she could see it in his eyes. 

She had thought of doing things that would irk him enough to have him let her go. But if she continued to defy him, it would lead to situations like these, like the one right now.

Calhoun stepped one step closer to her, his eyes looking down at her in a challenge where he could see the spark in her eyes, "You take the liberty to speak to me knowing I will not hurt you the way I hurt others, but that doesn't mean I don't have other means," his voice was low and deep as he said this, "I thought you would be a quiet one, but it is good to see you try to rebel and get away from me. The more you struggle, the more it will make me want to hold you."

Madeline softly gulped but didn't tear away from staring at him. She was the prey here who had to watch her footsteps. Staying still was the sanest thing to do that would not have him pull out his fangs from snapping into her neck, which he was yet to do. 

"You twist my words to your benefit. You know I am right," she whispered, her brown eyes silently glaring at him.

Calhoun smiled at her words, his lips twisting into a smile and his tongue swiping across his canines, "You might be right, but that doesn't mean you are wrong," she gave him a confused look hearing this, "You will understand it in time but right now let's not waste any more time."

Even Madeline was tired of iterating the same words of hers to let her go and how it wasn't her fault. Her efforts would only turn futile, and it made her question that if this was it. Was she supposed to give up? To accept this was her fate, and there was no escape to it?

She saw Calhoun's red eyes that were staring at her with double the intensity, a mixture of anger, annoyance as well as amusement with a pinch of wickedness in there. She had thought to play this on his terms and find her freedom, but Calhoun made it impossible. Her inner mind taunted her 'No one asked you to knock the paints and his painting down', and she had to shut it close. 

She then heard Calhoun say,

"It wasn't any painting that you ruined but something that I took a great deal of time and effort. I hope you understand the weight of your actions," Madeline did, and she heard him continued, "Taking account of your actions since you arrived at the mansion towards the King, as punishment you will be the model, the muse for the painting I make. You will listen to the demands of how it wants to be done."

Madeline glared at him, "What do you mean muse?" She already knew what Calhoun was indicating, and she could only hope it is not what she was thinking it to be. 

"It is exactly as you heard. Don't worry. You will not have to lay down on the bed," the big bad wolf smiled at her, his eyes shining at the sudden paleness of her face. 

"Why are you doing this?" she asked him. 

"You will learn to not lie to me," came his straight forward reply.

"And I told you, I was scared of what you would do to him," responded Madeline back, her eyes growing anxious, "How do you want me to react and tell that the man I...I have affections for had come here for work when I have seen you behead people."

Calhoun's eyes hardened when she spoke about her affections, "They were all done by keeping your best interest. You should be grateful that I haven't summoned the man back here to run a trial on him and kill him with my bare hands."

"I will hate you," Madeline's words were quick, and Calhoun smiled. 

"Yes, you will, but whose fault would that be? Trying to provoke me is not going to end well, sweet girl. I don't even have to use my hands but frame him and put him on the scaffold. How are you going to say it was me?"

"You wouldn't do it."

"Try me," Calhoun raised his eyebrow, "I am being nice."

"By tearing me away from my family."

"Be glad that I haven't done anything more than that."

Calhoun raised his hand, and she was quick to close her eyes to feel his hand on the side of her head. Her heart had started to run wildly again, which it was doing quite often in his presence. She heard him say, "One of the maids will help you in how I want you to be my muse today," his words were gentler and patient this time, but it didn't stop her jittering nerves. Her heart shook even though he wasn't being rude or intimidating with his words, but Madeline knew this was only to coax her. 

Calhoun then stepped back to leave the gallery of paintings with Madeline behind. In less than five minutes, the maid who had been hovering over her since morning appeared in the room. 

"Milady," the maid named Agnes bowed her head to make her presence known. 

Madeline, who had her back facing the maid closed her eyes. Her hands clenched together before she turned around to look at the maid. There was no point in resisting when things would only get worse. After twenty minutes passed away, Madeline was asked by the maid to sit on the couch which was indirectly instructed by Calhoun. Though Calhoun had said she didn't have to lay on the bed looking as if she had been held in someone's arms, she didn't see how her current state was any different. 

She sat with both her legs placed on the couch and her golden blonde hair was left open. Her clothes had been discarded, leaving her only in her petticoat.