✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 181 - 190 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Stemmed emotions- Part 2

Music Recommendation: Kill our way to heaven by Michl 


Her skin that had tingled earlier had turned cold now. Madeline's hand turned to loose fists on her lap, her eyes unable to look away from Calhoun. His words, instilled worry and fear in her body, the image vivid in her mind even though she didn't know how Calhoun's grandmother looked. 

Madeline had no idea what Calhoun had gone through until now, while his time in the castle and before coming to the castle. It was the look in his eyes right now that scared her. A certain emotion of madness that passed at rare times. She could tell by the look on his face and words that he was satisfied killing the lady. Madeline wondered what else his grandmother had done for him to kill her like that.

To have one's mother to be used and thrown away later, she didn't know how much pain Calhoun would have felt. 

"After she was gone, it was the King and the Queen's turn."

"Does Lady Lucy know about it?" asked Madeline. She remembered how the vampiress had mentioned that she would be visiting a person called 'nana' and her parents. Lucy had gone as far as to tell that she would pray on behalf of Calhoun. 

"Not all the details. She's innocent, and I would rather have her not know every little detail that happened," replied Calhoun.

Madeline nodded her head. It was only right not to let Lady Lucy know, even though Madeline didn't know the details of what exactly might have happened in this castle in the past. She was stunned to speak or ask him any question. The information was not just heavy, but it was dark. 

"Would you like to meet her?" asked Calhoun, his voice calm and somewhere back to the way it usually was. He stood up, placing the glass down on the side table and then looked at Madeline. 

"Her?" she wasn't sure if she wanted to meet this person, not when she heard what had happened to the Hawthrone's family. 

Calhoun gave his hand for her to take, "You must have already seen her in the portraits, but it should be alright to make a formal introduction," he smiled at her openly, and Madeline's heart flipped. 

Standing up, she said, "I need to wear the skirt back." This might be Calhoun's castle and his world, but she wasn't ready to step out half-dressed in front of people. She saw Calhoun move to where her skirt had been dropped. The King did something she would never have expected and saw him bent down to pick up the skirt that he had removed earlier. 

"Don't look startled," said Calhoun, noticing the look on her face, "Raise your hand," he ordered and he put the skirt back on her, tying it by the side before pushing the lace inside to hide it.

"You are well versed when it comes to a woman's clothes," she commented, her eyes meeting his and he smiled. 

Calhoun moved his hand to caress it on the side of her face, "Does it make you sad that I know, or is it the envy that's asking me the question? There are other things but let's keep that for some other time, shall we?" he asked before his hand slipped into hers and Madeline didn't take it away from his hold. 

Opening the door which was closed, Madeline was greeted with light. She followed Calhoun, keeping her feet on his own pace, which was easier as Calhoun walked slowly so that it wouldn't have the girl to stumble while walking with him. 

Madeline was still trying to absorb the story Calhoun had said to her. The first time she had asked, he had told how they had tragically died, which in the end turned to be a lie but right now. This story, she was worried. 

'There are other things…'

She was more than curious, but at the same time, she wasn't sure if she was ready to hear it. A story could go anyways, and this being Calhoun, she decided not to ask and wait.

As they passed through the servants, it was easy to tell that they were instilled with fear over and over again, making them to obey the King's words. Wait, Calhoun had told her that he and Theodore knew each other for years. That only meant that Theodore was with Calhoun before he entered the castle. 

When they reached the dungeon, she was welcomed with the smell of rusted iron and blood, the pungent smell in the air didn't leave the dungeon. The ground was made of mud and the walls made of uneven rocks. She had entered this place before, yet she felt uncomfortable to step inside in here. 

There were passages that led to cell rooms where prisoners were held. Calhoun had let go of her hand that allowed her to hold the front of her dress. The ground wasn't clean. Madeline continued to follow him until they finally came to a much more narrowed path that led to a solitary room. She wasn't eager, but Calhoun was.

He took a key from his pocket to open the lock, pushing the door to step inside.

As she stepped into the room after him, the image that Calhoun had given her was the same as what she saw in front of her right now. Except that there was no flesh but only a skeleton body. The rod passed through the person's mouth and came from behind the head, where the other end was stuck to the wall.

Madeline's body turned stiff. The older woman's skeleton laid cold in dust and time.

"W-why did you not bury her?" whispered Madeline. Her eyes tore away from the skeleton to look at Calhoun. 

"The sight brings me solace. I sometimes regret that her death was handed out too soon," replied Calhoun, his eyes smoothly moving to look back at Madeline, "She was the woman who broke my mother down, who drove her to her death. I wanted to make sure it was a memorable one," he offered her a smile, "You should have seen the look on her face. Her own son was the one to sentence her to imprisonment."

Madeline took a step forward to take a closer look at the skeleton, "What did she do?"

"She stood against me. A few years ago, the hunger for the power and the taste of the crown was maddening."

Madeline and Calhoun left the dungeon. She thought that the vampires were strong. They were only strong when it came to the humans, but it seemed like it wasn't so when it came to their own kind. 

Madeline now stood in the balcony of her room.

People often craved for a life of royalty, wanting to have favours from the King and the Queen without knowing what outcome it would bring. She hadn't asked him too many questions as today didn't seem to be the right day. 

It was told that everyone had their own way to handle grief. An unbearable pain which could tear a person. Either it broke the person, or it made the person what they were. In this case, Calhoun's mother had broken down, but Calhoun had turned to be the person he was, and there was more to him than met the eye. She remembered one of the paintings that hung on the wall. The one which was of a messy, crowded marketplace, she wondered if it was the place before he came to live in the castle. 

Her feet firmly stood on the ground, her hands tightly holding the railings so that she would not fall-- not that it was high that would lead to her death, but it would leave small injuries on her. 

Madeline felt sorry for Calhoun's mother because it seemed unfair that she was kicked out of the castle when the King was bored with her, before using a younger woman as a wife. At the same thought, she wondered if Calhoun had painted his mother. She left the room, walking to the corridor where the royal portraits were hanging on the walls. 

Her feet halted right in front of the many large portraits. She had walked and seen the portraits before but the way she looked at them, right now, it was different. The previous King and the Queen together with the grandmother who looked proud with her chin tilted up. There were Lady Lucy, Calhoun and some unknown people Madeline didn't know of. In the family portraits everyone looked happy, but it was hard to know what was behind those expressions. 

The weather had turned dark like the story of the castle, water droplets starting to fall from the sky that picked up the pace for rain to start pouring. 

Far away from the castle, a person walked in the rain. The black shoes picked up water from the surface of the ground as the person moved forward on the muddy ground.  Carrying a rose with a long stem which was red, in hand, swaying back and forth as the person made his way through many graves. 

Coming to a stop on a specific grave with an engraved name that read 'Constance Leigh'.

His clothes were drenched in rain and the water that had wet his hair stuck on his forehead and some at the sides, water dripping down his face. Calhoun raised his hand to place the single-stemmed red rose on the top of the closed grave. 

When the rose touched the surface of the lid of the grave, the appearance of the rose changed to a black rose that looked crumpled.
Stemmed emotions- Part 3

A carriage drove in the rain, heading towards Wilmot's residence. It stopped when it came to stand in front of the entrance. A servant quickly arrived with an open umbrella for the person who had arrived at the mansion. The coachman was drenched in the rain as he was sitting in the open. He opened the door, and a lady stepped out, her feet on the wet ground and her lips twisted with displeasure. 

The servant man made sure that the umbrella covered the young lady, who was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmot. He followed her until the entrance of the mansion where she was safe from the rain. 

Sophie was angry, and her footsteps told it all the way she walked clicking on the floor. Her dress had picked up dirt and mud, but she had other important things. Her teeth gritting against each other. She made her way where her parents and her brother sat in a room. 

"Welcome, sister," her brother Markus greeted her, "How was your day out in the rain," his eyes fell at the bottom hem of her dress which was wet. 

Unable to contain her anger, Sophie said, "Did you hear about Calhoun?!" her voice came high pitched in the room. Her parents were playing a game of cards with her brother. They stopped to look at their younger daughter, wondering what had got her angry.

"Hear what about Calhoun?" asked her father. One hand of his holding three cards while the other hand held a small pipe where he was smoking at the corner of his lips. 

"He is getting married! He is getting married to that human who has been living in the castle!" Sophie shrieked. She looked devastated and angry. How could this happen?!

Her mother laughed, "That is not possible, Sophie. The Hawthrone's have never married a human. It must be false news. Come sit with us. You must be tired after your trip."

"NO!" the young vampiress screamed so loudly that the other three family members squinted their eyes.

Sophie had been to visit an acquaintance, wanting to spend time as she was bored in the mansion. There she found out about the King who had announced his wedding to the lowly human. 

"I told you things were serious this time! Calhoun had dismissed the food from the table that I made while leaving hers in the dining room. My food was given to the servants!" shouted Sophie, her eyes livid. 

Tears brimmed in Sophie's eyes. All the effort she had put until now, every step she had taken to be careful and calculative, everything was going to be washed away because of that human bitch! It was her throne! Her place to be the queen and some stranger from a village was replacing her! 

Sophie's family knew how the young vampiress exaggerated a few things, so her mother said, "Calhoun has the habit of making a joke, dear. You shouldn't be worried about this. Your father and I would never let any girl to steal your rightful place." 

When the previous King didn't have a male heir, the throne was going to be passed to the Wilmots as the King was the brother of Lady Rosamund. The family was happy about the King not being able to have an heir which only meant that the throne would directly be passed to Markus, her older brother. No one knew how and when things turned, but the King's bastard son was back in the castle. 

"Calhoun is going to marry that girl in less than four weeks of time, and I will be here, standing alone, watching at the sides that a mere human is going to snatch what is mine! I will go and talk to him right now!" said Sophie, ready to leave, she turned around to be stopped by her mother. 

"Hold your feet, Sophie," said her mother, "What do you think is going to happen once you go and demand your position in there?" 

Lady Rosamund placed her cards down on the table, getting up, she walked towards her daughter who looked distressed by the news, "My dear, things like these need careful planning. If you go now, it will only irk Calhoun. How about we go and congratulate the couple tomorrow."

"What?!" Sophie couldn't believe that her mother was proposing to celebrate the news.

Her mother sighed, "Just because we are going to congratulate them, it doesn't mean we are going to go ahead with it. It is to see the delicate relationship between them. If I am not wrong, didn't the girl try to get out of the castle? I am sure she will be more than willing to oblige to the help that I have to offer her. Within a week, she will be gone, and the King to save his face will need to pick a bride," the older woman placed both her hands on Sophie's shoulders, "You still have a lot to learn, but that's alright. Until I am here, I will help you," smiled Lady Rosamund. 

Sophie stared into her mother's eyes, "Will that work? What if it doesn't work?"

"If what you said is true, and that there are four weeks, it is more than enough to get rid of a person. Either through their own will or ours. You must be tired now, go get your clothes changed," Lady Rosamund smiled at her daughter and after a couple of seconds, Sophie nodded head.

Once Sophie left the room, Lady Rosamund turned around to meet her husband's eyes who was sitting quietly until then. 

"I thought you said, the girl was a human who wasn't much to look at," said Mr. Wilmot.

"Indeed, she was. I don't know what charm she placed on Calhoun that he is eager to marry her," answered Lady Rosamund. She had thought that it was someone the King was going to bed and throw because that was what happened till now, but what changed this time?

After some thought, Mr. Wilmot said, "Markus, find about the girl's family. We might need some information about them."

"Yes, father," Markus bowed his head.
A second episode- Part 1

Madeline continued to look at the rain that was pouring since the time of the evening. As it was breezy, some of the flame from the torches had been blown out, leaving the corridors dark. Until now, all she had known was that people craved for life in the castle because it was beautiful, rich in colours and with merriment. But that was all from the outside. The inside, Madeline came to know how rotten the place was or used to be. 

A King's debauchery was always overlooked, in the name of wanting to have an offspring, an heir to his throne, and it was strange how Calhoun turned out to be the last standing person. Turning around, she looked back at the paintings of the Hawthrone family. There was Sophie, her mother and brother whom she had met. There was no portrait of Calhoun's mother, not that Madeline knew how she looked, but she couldn't see any woman who resembled him in the portraits that hung on the wall. The paintings were encased in a glass so that no dust or water, or air would dull the colours on the portraits. 

Madeline was watching the portraits when she noticed a person's reflection from the glass. She quickly turned to see that there was no one there. She was sure she had seen one of the maids, because of the clothes that were worn but she didn't know who had been standing there, watching her. 

When she took a step forward, the thunder and lightning struck from the sky, making her pause walking further. Was someone spying on her? Asked Madeline to herself. She knew that many of the servants were curious about who she was, what she did as she was the girl to be wed to the King. 

She turned back to look at the portraits, to find there was no reflection of the maid she had seen. 

Madeline frowned. 

There was a person in the portrait she had not taken note of earlier. It was a shadow that looked like it had horns. Just when Madeline touched the surface of the glass, the glass broke into a million pieces under her touch. 

She gasped, taking a couple of steps away from the portrait as she hadn't used too much force when she touched the encased glass to shatter. 

Madeline who had been standing in the corridor moved away from the portraits, her feet stepped into the open where the water from the sky fell on her, one drop after another. The glass shattered loud enough that got the servants who were walking nearby along with two ministers who were with Theodore to step close. They came to see what happened, noticing the shards of glasses that now was on the floor. 

The people came near, seeing it was from the portraits and then they noticed the human girl, Lady Madeline, who stood out in the rain, her expression filled with shock. 

As the King was not here, the maids and the servants couldn't stop themselves from questioning what happened here. 

"Why did the glass break?" whispered a maid as quietly as she could. Because of the rain, the whispers lowered down further. 

The other maid who stood next to her nudged the maid's side who questioned before, "Look at her hands."

"Oh my God…!" came the whisper from the maid, "Why would she do it?"

Theodore stepped forward with the ministers who closely followed him, "Who broke the glass of the royal portrait?" demanded Theodore, his eyebrows furrowed together. Seeing the maids who were looking outside, he turned his head to notice Lady Madeline standing outside, too stunned to speak and only stared at the portrait. His eyes then fell on the lady's hand, which was now dripping down with blood.

"I heard that she had tried to kill herself, maybe she's trying to rebel against the King?" the maid coughed when Theodore turned his eyes at her, and she bowed her head. 

"Get this cleaned," Theodore ordered to the maids who bowed their head again and turned away to walk towards the other end so that they could get the mop and other things to collect the glass pieces. 

The two ministers were waiting for the King to return when they heard the glass break over the sound of the rain. They looked at the girl curiously who stood outside with her hands covered in blood. Having overheard the maid's words, the ministers were curious if the girl was still rebelling on not staying here. 

"You should be grateful, milady," said one of the ministers, taking the liberty to speak in the absence of the Crown. Madeline's trance state broke, and her eyes moved to notice people standing in the corridor, "The King has been very kind to you. Bringing a weak human, you should be grateful to his majesty than throw unneeded tantrums. Many girls and women pray, hoping his majesty will spare a glance."

"If Mr. Fitzwilliam would be kind enough to take himself along with Mr. Heckles to the courtroom now?" asked Theodore politely. 

Mr. Fitzwilliam watched the girl who looked nowhere suitable to be Queen. She might have been pretty, but it was useful only in bed and showcase as a beautiful wife in front of others. The King could have anyone, someone better than this girl. He had also proposed the neighbouring King's daughter to the King, that was fruitful when it came to building relationships. 

"You should propose to the King to keep her locked in the room. This would avoid her trying to create a scene. We are only lucky that she hasn't done anything like this in front of others to spoil the King's reputation," Mr. Fitzwilliam continued to speak even though Theodore had suggested for the men to go to the court. The man was a vampire who disliked humans, they were not up to his status and their poverty made his skin crawl. 

"Why don't we go to the courtroom, Fitzwilliam. I am sure Theodore needs to take the lady back to her room," said Mr. Heckles, who didn't want to take part in commenting anything. The day when the lady had first stepped into the court, Mr. Heckles was right there when the King beheaded one of the ministers named Benedict for condescending her. 

When the two ministers finally left, Theodore looked back at the girl who was getting drenched in the rain. It didn't look like she was going to come inside anytime soon, "Lady Madeline?" he called, catching her attention, "Please step back inside."

Madeline finally stepped back in. The corridor here was built in a fashion where one side had the walls, while the other side had pillars where one could step out in the open space.

Theodore noticed how the palms of her hand were red. 

"I thought I heard some commotion in here," came a voice behind Madeline and her head snapped around to see Calhoun making his way towards her. His eyes took note of Madeline, who was drenched in the rain. 

Madeline felt somewhat relieved to see Calhoun. One person who didn't look down at her as if she was trying to draw attention to her. She was still slightly worried at the sight of what he had done to his grandmother. Madeline had to tell herself that he had done it for a reason so that she wouldn't be scared. Calhoun had his reasoning when he had killed the people who had wronged him and his mother. Madeline didn't know if he was like this from the very beginning or if he had turned to something he wasn't before. Without knowing the entire story, it was still intimidating to her. 

Her heart ached for the injustice that had happened to his mother, but at the same time, she was scared. 

When Calhoun heard something clutter near his feet, he caught sight of the glass pieces that were on the ground, his eyes turned to look at Madeline's hand from where the smell of blood was wafting in the air. 

"Were you mad at what happened and decided to break it?" asked Calhoun in a teasing tone, his eyes meeting Madeline's eyes, "You can leave, Theo. I will take it from here." Theodore didn't have to be told twice, and he bowed before leaving them. 

Calhoun took both of her hands in his, looking at the red lines that appeared on her palms, "We should get it wrapped," he said, not questioning what happened and at that instant, Madeline felt tears form in her eyes. His head cocked to the side when he noticed her eyes,

"I left only for two hours. I didn't know you would miss me so much that it would make you cry." 

Hearing Calhoun's words, Madeline blinked back the tears quickly because that was not the reason for her to cry and Calhoun was only teasing her. She didn't know what exactly was going on with her, she felt even more lost than usual. She caught sight of his clothes that were far worse than hers drenched in the rain. 

"You're wet," came the innocent words from Madeline and Calhoun's lips twitched. 

"So are you," not the way he wanted but with her clothes sticking on to her skin, he could see the outline of her body. An emotion of annoyance passed in his mind that someone else had seen her like this when she was only for his sight, "Let's get this bandaged."

They started to leave when he heard Madeline yelp in pain. 

Madeline had forgotten that she had walked bare feet from her room, forgetting her shoes as she wanted to take a look at the portraits. With the glass pieces scattered on the white floor, it seemed that she had stepped right on a sharp piece. She pulled up the front of her dress, that absorbed the blood that was on her palms to find the glass piece stuck in the sole of her foot. 

Madeline had never stepped on a piece of glass before, and it felt like her soul was being torn as she hopped to be caught by Calhoun who looked annoyed now, "Why are you not wearing your shoes?"

"I didn't know I would come to wander this far and step on the glass piece," came the small voice of Madeline who was in pain. Calhoun could smell fresh blood wafting up to his nose, and it took all his strength not to take a bite to drink her blood. He closed his eyes. His teeth gritted, trying to put his self-control on a tighter leash which was close to slipping away from him. 

Madeline who was in pain heard Calhoun take a deep breath. Was he angry because she broke the glass and didn't wear shoes?

"I am sorry," she apologized. Calhoun's closed eyes opened for her to see how dark they looked, almost black.

"What are you apologizing for?" he asked her, bending down, he picked her in his arms and carried her back to her room. 

Placing her down on the bed, he got on his knee, and he placed the heel of her foot on his lap. 

Madeline wondered where Calhoun had left after speaking to her. She had not seen the carriage leave from the castle, which meant he had gone by foot before she remembered he didn't need to walk when he could fly. 

"You didn't step too hard on the glass, so it hasn't gone too deep," she heard Calhoun say as he raised her feet in front of his face. When he tried to pull out the glass piece, Madeline flinched in pain, taking her feet back which he didn't allow. 

"Stop! I will take it out myself!" she gasped in fear of the pain to come as she felt at the sole of her foot.

"If you stop moving I will take it out within a second," stated Calhoun whose eyes narrowed at her. Seeing her struggle, Calhoun said, "Alright. Let me push the shard of glass back to how it was earlier," hearing this, Madeline's heart slipped from her chest. 

"W-why would you do that?!" Madeline asked when his thumb touched the surface of the glass that was sticking out. 

They stared at each other with intensity when Calhoun's expression turned devious, and he said,

"I like to see you cry."
A second episode- Part 2

Like many other times, Madeline felt lost when it came to the words to reply to what Calhoun just said. What did he mean, he wanted to see her cry? Madeline didn't understand Calhoun. It wasn't that she hadn't tried, but she felt he was too complex to figure out. 

She felt her heart and mind being twisted in the palms of Calhoun's hand which she had no control of. The man was twisted, more than words could describe. She had felt sorry for Calhoun, but his words sometimes frightened her. He was exactly what he had called himself—the big bad wolf who would eat up any and everything. 

"Were you like this always?" asked Madeline to hear Calhoun chuckle.

He looked her in her eyes, "Did you figure it out?" Was that a yes? "Sit still, unless you want the whole glass piece stuck in your sole," he smiled, his eyes twinkling before looking back down to look at her feet.

Madeline wanted to take out the glass piece from her feet at her own pace. She knew it was going to hurt when the glass piece would be pulled out from her sole for more blood to drip down, "So much of waste, when I could drink it," said Calhoun, his fingers holding the glass and when he pulled it, she shut her eyes because of the pain that she felt in her body. Her hands gripped both sides of the bed covers, crumpling and not letting it go. 

Her eyes flew up when she felt something warm and soft touch her bare sole, noticing Calhoun's lips that was on the wound. Her face turned flush, when he licked her feet, "Let it go! I-it's dirty!" she had walked through the corridors and had stepped outside near the plants. 

Calhoun ignored her words and continued to drink the blood instead of wasting it and letting it fall on the floor of the room. 

He had done other embarrassing things with her like placing his hand on her thigh under the table, squeezing her bottom, kissing her, but this was on a whole different level, and Madeline wished he would not drink any more from where the blood that spilt out. Calhoun opened those eyes of his to look straight at her. 

His tongue out, moved to lick the wound and her heart quivered at that action. 

"Do you think I care?" he asked her, his voice deeper than usual and Madeline could feel the sexual desire in those words of his. His tongue ran along over his lips, moving to the corner of his lips to lick the blood clean. 

No, he didn't…

Madeline could feel the wound on her feet didn't hurt as much as she thought it would. She left her feet on his thigh without moving it. Calhoun pulled out his handkerchief to tie it around her feet.

"Where did you go?" she asked, her words coming out slow.

Calhoun lazily looked up at her, "Out. Did you want to come along?" and Madeline shook her head. Now that she had been bandaged, he asked, "What happened out near the portraits?" 

"I placed my hand on top of the surface," she replied, her hands going to look at her hands. Calhoun tsked. 

"Always going and breaking glasses. Show me your hands," he said before starting to clean them and Madeline didn't struggle, letting him aid her, "What were you thinking when you were standing there?" Calhoun gave her a look, "Feeling sorry for me?" one side of his lips pulled up. 

The wounds on her palms had considerably reduced as if there was something in Calhoun's touch, reducing the wound that was earlier dripping down blood. 

"Do you ever dwell about the past?" Madeline asked him. 

"Always," he replied, his fingers now played with hers. Pulling and squeezing, not letting it escape from him, "It is the good and bad that keep us alive, but the most painful ones that shape and give you purpose."

"Does it hurt?" she asked him, searching Calhoun's eyes to see if he bore other emotions apart from his cruel intentions towards the people around him for his own goals. 

Calhoun leaned towards her, "A lot," he said with a sullen voice, "Barely breathable. You can hear the distant crying and then the screams, but it's not mine."

Abroad smile appeared on his lips. He was speaking about the people whom he had tortured.

A cold chill ran down Madeline's spine. 

He noticed how she pursed her lips, wanting to ask more questions but not asking because of not getting the answer she wanted to hear, "Go change your clothes. Not that I would mind you falling sick, it would be much easier to shift you to my room so that I can take care of you."

Madeline stood up from the bed, using her heel to walk as she made her way to the cupboard, "Don't you have to change your clothes?" she asked. Was he expecting her to strip in front of him?

"I want to see you change your clothes," Calhoun answered shamelessly.

Madeline hoped he was joking and when she saw him stand up, she felt he was going to leave. But instead of leaving, he walked to stand where she was. 

She hopped to get away from him, and Calhoun didn't stop her. She already had her clothes in her hand, and Calhoun pushed the door of the cupboard she had pulled open. 

"I am not your wife yet," she reminded him. 

Calhoun didn't stop advancing towards her, his eyes fixed on her, "I didn't say I was going to take you to bed."

"It's the same," if he was going to think that she was going to strip in front of him, Madeline was going to continue wearing the same wet dress she had on her until he would leave. 

"So heartless," he whispered. His hand reached to catch hold of her chin, "You know if I want I can take it from you, right?" 

Madeline could feel the soft brush of his finger over her skin, "Are you trying to scare me?"

"Never," he smiled at her, "I was only reminding you." 

He had touched and kissed her, and she knew she would end up on his bed one day in the future, but she wanted time. Calhoun was sweet with her only when he wanted something. She had seen the way he looked at her when she didn't submit to his demands. It was the dark danger that was lurking at the sidelines. 

His words sometimes made her feel he didn't have experience when it came to court a woman, but Madeline knew Calhoun was no child when it came to the art of seduction. Calhoun was undeniably handsome, and he knew it. The smile he always carried on his lips as if he was up to no good, his eyes mixed with a certain wildness that looked untamed yet controlled. 

She shivered on the next stroke of his touch.

He was being pushier than his usual self. Stepping closer to her, his hand tucked the piece of her hair behind her ear. But Calhoun didn't retrieve his hand back to his side. 

His fingers went to slide over the back of her head, weaving them through her blonde hair and gently pulled her head behind. 

Calhoun could hear Madeline's laboured breathing. Her heart that was calm, hitched when he tugged her hair. It seemed like she had a thing when it came to breaking glasses but Calhoun was not made of glass, he was the molten iron. 

This is what he meant when he said he would take from her, thought Madeline to herself when Calhoun leaned forward towards her face. Having already been accustomed to his touches where it had been only a few hours since he had bit and sucked her neck, she could feel her skin starting to tingle as she remembered it. 

Her throat bobbed up and down when she noticed him looking at her lips.

Madeline's own eyes were on Calhoun's lips that neared hers and she heard him say, "Part your lips for me, sweet."
A second episode- Part 3

Calhoun's words fell as a whisper on her ears which was sweet yet demanding, a devil who was trying to entice her. Her heart shuddered at his words, and she stared into those red liquid-like eyes that looked nothing less to the colour of wine that he often held in his hand. When she didn't respond to his words, Madeline felt Calhoun's hand tug the back of her hair, and she felt a sudden ache. It wasn't painful, but it was enough to get her attention.

Madeline couldn't take a step back away from him, not when she could only hop. The way he looked at her, it made it difficult for her to move even an inch. She stood there only to feel his other hand sneak onto her waist, caressing it before settling on her back.

He pulled her towards him and her lips parted unconsciously at his command.

Soft breath escaped through her pink lips that trembled when Calhoun moved closer before parting his own lips. Madeline saw the tongue that had licked her sole earlier peek out from his mouth to only to slip into her mouth. She knew her resistance was futile and her hands clutched on to the front of his wet shirt. 

Calhoun's lips moved against her lips, his teeth aggressive as he nipped and bit it. Madeline's face turned red. The movements that started slow turned rough, making her flinch in pain. Calhoun was dominant when it came to holding her in his arms. 

To Calhoun, Madeline was the sweetest thing he had ever tasted. If it was possible, he wanted to consume her very soul. To take her away from the world and keep her safe where no one would know or see her except him. When his lips turned aggressive at the thoughts of wanting to have her, Madeline's hands moved to push him as he was not only stealing her breath but her virtue that she wanted to save until marriage. 

Her struggle to push him only enticed Calhoun and he caught hold of both her hands together while not letting her break away from the kiss-- pushing her against the wall so that she would not escape from him. 

Madeline didn't know why she turned docile under his words. Was it because of the past that he revealed or was it because she was not trying to run away anymore and was trying to accept things how they were. Because deep down she knew there was no escape from Calhoun's clutches. He got what he wanted, and refusing only meant more trouble for her. At the same time, she could feel his mouth on hers, making her feet press against the cold floor at what she felt. Madeline was no exception when it came to Calhoun's actions, her heartbeat increased, and she unknowingly opening-up to him through mind and body. 

His hands-on hers that were holding tight pushed her against the wall. The other hand, which was in her hair slid down to come to settle right above her waist. Calhoun coaxed her own lips to move, his teeth nipping now and then on her bottom lip that was turning it tender. 

Madeline's mind started to feel dizzy. She was more than embarrassed that his finger grazed her breast, feeling the curve that made her gasp.

She came to realise his eyes were not closed but open. 

Calhoun stared right into her eyes that made it only that much embarrassing for her. He didn't look away, his own expression was serious without a hint of playfulness in there, trying to steal everything she had. 

When Calhoun pulled away from her, Madeline had turned to an internal mess. She had done what he had asked, but this was more than what he had offered to take, or at least what she thought it to be. She stared back at him, her breathing laboured as her chest heaved. Madeline saw Calhoun run his tongue over his lips. As he moved closer, she said,

"I-I, t-that is enough," came the stuttering words from her.

"You have tasted your fill, I am not done yet," he replied, his eyes going back to look at her lips that continued to tremble softly, "You taste so sweet."

Madeline felt like she had turned to some sort of delicacy with the way Calhoun looked at her and by his words, "You're doing well, sweet. But I would like you to move your tongue with mine. Rub it," he instructed her, to see her face light up in fire because of how red it turned. 

It was apparent that for a girl like her, who wasn't with a man before, she wouldn't know how to go around things like this, but that was not an issue to Calhoun. He would teach her what he wanted her to learn, make sure she knew everything that would be understood and performed only in his presence. 

"R-r…" Madeline was not brave enough to repeat the words, and her eyes darted away from his. 

"Follow my lead," stated Calhoun as he was far from being satisfied.

He wanted more of her, his hands pulled her body and he tugged her head further down so that he could kiss her just as he wanted. His leg had made its way between her legs. When Madeline felt him press his leg between hers, a pool of heat started to form there, and she shuddered, feeling her knees weaker than before.

W-what was that feeling?!

With her head pulled back, his lips pressed back into hers. The kiss was fierce and consuming. His lips and hands were not gentle on hers. Stealing kisses that were fervent along with her breath. 

Calhoun knew Madeline was turning weak to his advances.

He had seen her vulnerable side today, and he had taken it, twisting and turning it to fill in his own needs. The days they had spent together, the last second thing that was needed was to announce James and Catherine's wedding. Madeline was slowly coming around, and he couldn't be any more delighted than what he was feeling right now. But Calhoun's patience was running thin.

Watching her in wet clothes in the corridor had wanted him only to drag her to the closest room and take her in his arms to have her scream his name in passion. 

But he had to remind himself that this was not anyone but Madeline. She had done great progress compared to before. Any possible thoughts of her about being with the tailorman had been washed out of her mind like the rain that was pouring down from the heavens. The last thing needed was for James to get married. Once that was done, there would be nothing that would stop her from giving herself entirely to him. 

Calhoun had put James in a tight spot where he couldn't say a no. Mr. Barnes loved his daughter, and like any loving vampire parent, he had pride. 

James could not refuse because Mr. Barnes would not allow it. Calhoun had gone as far as to suggest and put pressure into the older man to get them married quickly. That way, by the time his and Madeline's wedding day approached, she would be more accepting. Everything would fall in the right place. 

His sweet girl listened to him, and she tried to move her tongue just as he had asked her to do. Letting go of her hands, his left hand moved to caress the side of her face, sliding slowly into her hairs and his other hand went to squeeze her breast to have her moan whilst he used his leg to press it between her legs. 

He could feel her pulse racing, her breath hitching, and he bit harder into her bottom lip to hear her moan higher into the kiss. 

Madeline had never tried something like this, and it felt strange. The texture and taste of Calhoun's tongue in her mouth was stirring something deep in the pits of her stomach; the emotion almost scaring her. She didn't know what was happening but the kiss, his leg and hand had her entire body quaking like it was going to combust into nothingness if Calhoun was not holding her now.

 Kissing her like this and touching her, it was too intimate. 

When he pulled away from her lips, his tongue still peeking out of his mouth with a string of saliva that broke away, Madeline blushed at the erotic sight in front of her. He ran his tongue like he had tasted something delicious just now, and she looked away. 

"That wasn't hard, was it?" Calhoun asked, his hand caressing her waist as he looked at her and Madeline looked back at him.

She felt her lips continue to reverberate from the kiss that they had shared...shared. That was right, thought Madeline to herself because she had parted her lips willingly on his command. Or was it because she didn't want him to try another unknown approach with her, to get her to do what he wanted? 

Calhoun finally took one step back, not stay away from her but to look at what he had done to the girl. Her brown eyes were slightly dilated, her breath coming in short breaths and the cry of moans he had heard when he had nipped her lips only made him imagine if this was how she would cry when she would be under him. His pant tightened at the thought of it. Vampires had a high sexual drive compared to humans, but when it came to Madeline, Calhoun felt like it moved ten-fold higher.

Now that Calhoun had moved away from her, Madeline felt the coldness return back to her. They had kissed in the past when Calhoun had passed on water through his lips, but this was the first time she could properly grasp on what was happening. 

When her eyes met his eyes, a smile started to creep up on his lips as if he was thinking about something and smiling, "Let me know if you need me, I will be in my room," said Calhoun.

Madeline, who was lack at words, nodded her head, "Okay."

Calhoun's mouth twisted into a smile, giving her a look before he finally made his way out of the room and Madeline saw him close the door behind him. With her alone, her head moved back to touch the wall, and she closed her eyes, her knees feeling weak before they finally gave away and she slid down to sit on the floor. 

So much happened today, thought Madeline to herself. 

A sigh escaped her lips.
The prince harming- Part 1

In the East Carswell village, Elizabeth Harris walked down in the market where her mother had asked her to fetch wool from a store, as the ones they had, had got over. With a basket on her hand, Elizabeth continued to walk before she finally reached the store. While she was standing in front of the store, she heard a lady greet her,

"Good afternoon, Beth. How are you doing? It feels like I haven't seen you for a few days."

Beth turned around to see it was Mrs. Winkle who lived two houses away from her own house. She bowed her head in greeting, "Good afternoon Mrs. Winkle. I have been doing well, how about yourself?" she asked. The shopkeeper at the same time came with the ball of wools she had asked for. 

"You know me. Never been better," replied Mrs. Winkle and saw how the older daughter of Harris took the ball of wool in her hand and inspecting it, "By the way, I heard about your sister's marriage to the King. Is it true?" asked the lady, her eyes looking at Beth who raised the wool to indicate to the shopkeeper that she would be taking it, "It must be really hard, isn't it?" 

Beth turned her head to meet Mrs. Winkle's gaze, "No, the King is taking care of everything," she offered the older woman a smile. Beth had not stepped out of the house much because of the rumours of her sister getting married to the King that had started to circulate in the village. She noticed the looks she received from the villagers. 

Mrs. Winkles nodded her head, "Of course, the King will look after it, but I meant how you are doing," saying this, the woman moved closer to Beth and placed a comforting arm on the young girl, "It must be truly hard on you. I mean your younger sister marrying before you," the woman shook her head in pity. Beth felt the prick but she tried to put a smile on her face. 

"I told them I am okay with Madeline marrying first," said Beth, trying to show that she was a better person here, letting her younger sister marry first while she was still unwed. 

The older woman nodded again, "You will need to, considering Mr. Danvers chose not to go ahead with you. I hope God gives you strength," the words spoken were not comforting. It felt like the woman was rubbing salt over her open wound. 

In the past, Beth would have never imagined that she would have to go through a humiliation like this and her hands clenched, trying to control her anger. When her family had gone to the ball of Hallow, it was Beth who was looking for a suitor and by custom, the King should have picked her. Madeline had no interest, worse, she had her interest in the tailorman. But the King chose her, and the tailorman was a coward to give up on her sister. 

"It wasn't Mr. Danvers but I who rejected him," answered Beth, which was indeed true but Mrs. Winkles and some other women around them tried to hide their giggles. 

"That is understandable," patted the woman and then said, "I will see you later." 

Beth had rejected Mr. Danvers so that she could focus herself on the King. But rumour now spread that it was Mr. Danvers who had rejected her. To make things worse, the appeal that she held before had been lost in the eyes of her admirers. Men spoke less to her and didn't try to court her, even if they did speak to her, it was all about Madeline this and that, and how they could get favours from her sister. She was nowhere in the conversation. 

She found it hard to come in terms that her popularity was plummeting so fast; while Madeline who was betrothed to the King was rising up in the conversation. 

When Elizabeth had turned twelve years old, she had started to receive attention from everyone because of the contrasting colour of her dark brown hair and green eyes. She loved every bit of the attention. The attention that she received had been taken away from her, by her very own sister. The shame she felt, the embarrassment was all because of Madeline. Beth's hate only grew that much more. 

When her eyes moved around, she noticed how the women whispered to each other and the men only bowed to her from afar before leaving from there without speaking to her. 

"Do you think she is going to end up as a spinster?" she heard one of the lady's question to another, without looking at her but Beth knew they were speaking about her. 

"Considering her age, she might be walking that path," said another lady. 

Beth felt internally humiliated. She had turned to be part of the bad side of gossip and the news was only manipulated and tweaked to the point where it was outrageous and not true! As she walked back home, she couldn't help but question herself if what the women said in the market was true. Was she going to die alone? She had always wanted best for herself, and she believed she would get it but what if her own sister stole what was rightfully supposed to be hers? 

After meeting the King, the jealousy in her mind only grew that much more towards Madeline. The King was wealthy, handsome and everything Beth had always wanted. But stolen, came the thought in her mind. 

Beth continued to walk on her way home when she noticed five men who were destroying the shop that her father owned. The shop was made out of wood, big enough to keep the collected logs of wood in there while having space to sit inside. She ran quickly towards it,

"Papa!" Beth shouted for her father who stood at the side of the shop with a look of shock on his face who was held back by another man, "What's going on?! What are you doing!" 

"Beth!" her father called, and Beth quickly pushed the man who was holding her father back, "I don't know what happened but they suddenly pulled me out and started to destroy it. They said it was the King's order."

"What?" Beth frowned. She could feel an ache in her chest as the dream of having a shop for her family was being ruined right in front of her, "He wouldn't do that," she said to her father, after all, it was him who had provided it to the family 

Her father shook her head, "The minister is not here to stop them," he looked at the shop being torn down until it turned to be part of the woods that was on the ground, "I don't know where the men went who were helping in the shop," he pursed his lips after saying this. 

Beth, trying to be brave, stepped forward to ask, "Why are you sabotaging, where is the King's orders?" on her question the buff man who had a scar across his neck glared at her. 

"It was the King's orders to pull it down."

"I demand to see the order that has the seal on it. You cannot come-" the man stepped forward to catch hold of Beths' face, squeezing it. 

"Are you trying to stand against the King?" 

Mr. Harris' eyes widened and he tried to pull the man's hand away from his daughter's face, "Please forgive my daughter, she meant no harm. Please!" and the man pushed Beth away.

"If the King hears about the interruption, he wouldn't like it," glared the man. 

"The King would not do that, he was the one who g-" Beth's words were cut when the man took another step.

"Is that how you treat a lady?" said a voice behind them and Beth along with others turned to see a man who was dressed in expensive attire, "You should be ashamed of yourself." It didn't take much time for Beth to realise that this man was not from the same village as her. He was a vampire and one who appeared to belong to a wealthy family. 

The man walked to where they were and then asked, "What is going on with the commotion?"

Mr. Harris was the one who answered, "These men came out of nowhere and started to pull down the shop. They said it is the King's order but he never said he would be taking it back." When his younger daughter Madeline had arrived home with the King, his wife had told him that her daughter was trying to come in terms with the marriage that was going to take place. Therefore, he didn't understand why the King would do something like this. 

"Allow me to speak, Sir," offered the stranger, who then turned to speak to the men, "Do you have an order from the King?" 

The one who had threatened Beth pulled out a scroll of parchment from his coat and handed it to the man. Beth came near and tried to take a look at what was written in it. After the vampire was done reading, he gave the scroll back and turned to speak to Mr. Harris.

"The seal on the paper looks like it is from the King. I can confirm it because I have received and seen seals like this," said the stranger and Mr. Harris' heart sunk in his chest, "Did you perhaps do something that the King didn't like?"

Mr. Harris shook his head, "No."

Why would the King try doing something so cruel when their daughter was going to get married to him? Asked Mr. Harris to himself. His shoulder slumped down. 

"I wouldn't be too surprised by his actions, he's done this before when people have stood against him. Probably something from the past?" asked the stranger. The vampire's eyes fell on Elizabeth, the brunette who had green eyes and he offered her a smile, "I apologize for what happened here today. Pardon my rudeness." 

The stranger bowed his head before raising his head, "I am Markus Wilmot."

"Emmett Harris," Mr. Harris introduced himself, "This is my daughter Elizabeth," and Beth bowed her head.
The prince harming- Part 2

Beth looked at the vampire who had introduced himself as Markus Wilmot. She had never heard the man's name before, nor had she seen him around here. He had blonde hair that was combed to the side, a coat that was made of rich fabric which would cost a fortune. Her green eyes moved away from him to watch the King's men who left the shop after destroying it. 

She couldn't believe that the King, would do something like this. Did Madeline do something to offend the King which was why they were being punished here? If it was true, her hands clenched together in more anger. 

"What are we going to do, papa?" asked Beth, her eyebrows furrowed at the thought that her father would have to continue working alone in the heat and rain without a shelter to keep the logs of wood. Even the men who had been appointed by the King were nowhere to be seen, "We should probably write a letter to the King, to check what happened," she proposed. 

Her father's shoulders were slumped, and he looked dejected. He wasn't sad because the King had taken the shop and the men back who were helping him. He never had it before, but with Madeline in the castle, he didn't know if she was being treated well. Now that his younger daughter was getting married to the King, did he decide it was worthless to help him and his family?

"Milady, if I may," said the vampire who had intervened the men from harming his daughter Beth when she had demanded to see the seal, "By my experience, the King has never taken too kindly when his actions were questioned by someone. It would be better to know by yourself, why it happened so that you could gain his favour again."

"But he cannot go destroying things when he was the one who promised and gave it to us," replied Beth. It looked like the King was indeed a very cruel and ruthless man. 

Markus looked at Harris' elder daughter who appeared to be outspoken compared to the other women he knew. She had a fierce look in her eyes, and he realised that she was more attractive compared to the girl who the King had chosen for himself. But when Markus Wilmot was staring at Beth, he wasn't admiring her beauty but out of displeasure because she was not being the obedient village girl and not going along with his word. 

After his father had asked him to find out more about the girl's family, he had decided to act on it. He wasn't going to throw away the lineage, which led to power of the throne. When Calhoun didn't exist to the King and to the castle, the crown was going to come to him, but it had slipped right through his fingers. Killing the King was not easy, and the next option was, for his sister to marry the King, to be the rightful Queen. But nothing was going according to the Wilmot's plan as the King had picked up a nobody from the streets to be his wife. 

"I work for the King as one of his ministers in the court," said Markus to Beth, "His grace doesn't like when he is being questioned. I don't know if you are aware, but he beheaded a few people since younger Miss Harris entered the castle." 

This caught Mr. Harris' attention, "Why is beheading related to my daughter?" Was his daughter not safe there? Had someone told something to the King? 

Markus smiled at the old man, "They said something which didn't sit well with him. I say this because I am also the King's cousin. It is not my place to be saying this, but...maybe you should check with your family, if something was done to cause his mood to be upset?"

Beth pursed her lips at the stranger's words. Was it due to the letter? She couldn't be sure. 

"Please do not be sad. I will ask my men to fix this up. Or maybe set up your shop in a better place?" saying this Markus called one of his men who stood far away from where they were. 

"No, no. That won't be necessary," said Mr. Harris as he didn't like to be indebted by others. 

"I insist," Markus responded with a charming smile, "I wouldn't like it if a good man like yourself would be out in the sun without a roof over your head. Also, I am helping you to gain your favour."

Mr. Harris gave him a questioning look, "I do not understand."

Markus bowed his head and then said, "Forgive me if I am too forward, but I am taken by your older daughter Elizabeth. I was hoping we could get to know each other better that would lead to a possible marriage in the near future."

Beth was taken aback by this revelation. 

She wasn't shocked, but she was surprised. After all, men had always flocked around her in the past. But she was astonished that a man who was the King's cousin was asking for her hand in marriage. She took another closer look at him, his features sharp and poised. The smile on his lips gentle and kind. 

Beth didn't feign to be shy, but it didn't mean she was not interested in forming an alliance. It wasn't every day a woman got asked by the King's relative for hand in marriage. And Beth had been trying to think, how to get back at her sister, for the humiliation she had caused her since the time word had spread out about her marriage to the King. 

"Ah, that is very kind of you, Sir," replied Mr. Harris who was at loss of words because it had only been a couple of minutes since the shop that he newly owned had been pulled down. He turned to look at Beth, who didn't say a word before she put a smile on her face.

"Miss Elizabeth, would you like to spend some time with me for a cup of tea? So that we can get to know more about each other?" Markus directly asked her. 

On turning Mr. Danvers away, Beth had heard enough from everyone. She was no idiot to repeat it all over again. This was an excellent opportunity to get closer to the crown than just being the sister of the Queen. That was if Madeline would turn to be a Queen. Beth still had her eyes on the highest prize, and she wasn't going to let it go. History had heard and seen things where one could divert the fate of another. If Beth could do it, she would be the one standing next to the King-- using this man in front of her didn't seem like a bad idea, thought Beth to herself. 

She gave him a polite nod, "If my parents agree to it." Beth was not going to show this man that she was an excited puppy. She was going to make sure that this man would listen to every word of her so that she could use him. 

Markus then turned to her father who nodded his head, "If Beth has no problem, it should be alright. But we are going to visit the castle this weekend. For the preparation of my younger daughter's wedding."

"Of course, Sir. As I said, I am the King's cousin and also one of the ministers there. I will meet all of you there again. Do not worry about the shop. I will get it fixed," he offered the old man a polite smile. Then he turned to the lady, taking her hand in his, Markus kissed the back of her hand while his eyes on hers, "Have a good day, milady."

Beth felt superior now, "You too, Sir." She didn't forget to smile at him, an enchanting smile on her lips that had worked wonders in the past. 

Earlier she had been worrying simply for nothing when the women in the market gossiped about her. Beth was still the most beautiful girl in here, and it was just that fate had been unlucky that day during the time of Hallow. 

This vampire was nothing less to a prince charming, thought Beth to herself. 

But what Beth didn't know was that Markus Wilmot didn't come here to woo her for marriage. He was no prince charming, he had entered in the life of the Harris only to harm them for his gain. 

"I am sure Mr. Wilmot will help us fix the shop back. Come, papa," said Beth to walk back home with her father.
A way out? - Part 1

"How is the preparation going on for the wedding?" asked Lady Lucy, who was walking next to Madeline as they were taking a stroll in the grounds of the castle. She had arrived late in the morning along with her husband Samuel Gerville, who had work to discuss with Calhoun. 

"It's been going well," replied Madeline, "He has been taking care of everything." 

"Expected," Lucy nodded her head, "I remember the time when I got married. My mother was making sure I lost more weight than I was before. It almost made me look like a corpse, not that I minded," laughed the vampiress, "What about your parents? Has brother Calhoun not invited them?" 

"He has, I think they were still packing," she smiled at Lucy before looking ahead. She didn't know why her parents had not arrived at the castle yet. When she and Calhoun had visited, Madeline was sure that her family would visit the castle the very next day. But it had been some days now. What was keeping them away? Asked Madeline to herself. 

Lucy noticed the expression on Madeline's face. 

Most of the people would have jumped out of glee and happiness when they heard that someone from their house was getting married to the royal family. But knowing the way Madeline had ended up in the castle, she wondered if her family were still unhappy and uncomfortable with the thought that their daughter was getting married to the King. Calhoun was not like other ordinary people, but Lucy believed that he was the right person to ascend the throne. 

He had his perks, but he was a good man in Lucy's eyes. She knew that he loved Madeline enough to fix their marriage right away, without waiting to delay their time together. 

"I am sure they will be here soon," Lucy said to Madeline, to see the girl nod her head. After a few seconds, she said, "Initially, I wasn't happy to get married. I had different plans because of my other interest."

Madeline had heard a part of it from Calhoun when he had told her about the deceased family members, but she wasn't someone who wanted to pry or comment on others lives.

"You are going to be my family now. Actually, you already are, and you will eventually find out things that has transpired in the castle," said Lucy, her hand rising to tuck the piece of hair behind her ear that had come out to fall on the side of her face because of the wind. 

"I heard what happened to the King and the Queen," Madeline didn't know how the lady's relationship was when it came to her parents. Calhoun might have not been in good terms with them, but that didn't mean Lucy would have hated her parents. It was because Lady Lucy didn't appear to be the person who would hate someone out of whim. 

Lady Lucy smiled at Madeline's words, "I see, brother Calhoun has already mentioned about it to you. That's good," she nodded her head. 

Madeline wasn't sure how Lady Lucy felt about her knowing the truth. Sometimes people told things just by words without meaning it, "I am sorry to hear for what happened. It came up a few days ago."

The vampiress looked ahead of her, her red eyes now wavering as they continued to walk, just the two of them without the maids or servants carrying an umbrella over their head, "I didn't understand when it happened. Like many, I was left in shock. But it happened a long time ago. With time, the memories start to dull down, and the pain turns bearable."

Madeline pursed her lips, not commenting on what Lucy said. The lady didn't know Calhoun had a hand in her parents death. Lady Lucy was sweet, and for a vampiress, she seemed kinder than any person she had met. 

"Any way, what I was saying was that I was not happy with the marriage. I married out of anger and even by force," Lady Lucy had a sullen look on her face, as if remembering what had happened years ago, "Not many are aware of it. But I used to like someone here. I think you already figured it out who it is," hearing this, Madeline gave the lady a nod. 

Lady Lucy was the first person out here in the castle with whom she felt comfortable to talk to. Someone she came to believe that there were good vampires where she could share things apart from Calhoun. 

"I try to control my emotions, but I get angry when I see Theodore," saying this she laughed, trying to hide her past emotions.

"Do you regret marrying someone else?" asked Madeline. She had heard from Calhoun that Lady Lucy's husband was cheating on her which the lady was unaware of, "My apologies for asking something so personal," Madeline quickly corrected, bowing her head when she realised it was something she was not supposed to ask. 

"No, don't be. We are going to be sisters," saying this Lady Lucy placed her hand on Madeline's arm, "It has been a while since I felt at home. The last person I could freely talk to and who could speak back to me was my caretaker. I used to call her 'Nana' but she is no more. I don't know if I do or don't. When my mother found out about my growing interest towards Theodore, immediately my marriage was fixed, and he was told not to have anything to do with me. I am married to Samuel, who loves me, so I wouldn't say I am sad."

Madeline smiled back at Lady Lucy. 

Both the girls continued to walk on the grounds of the castle, their footsteps slow, speaking about other things which didn't involve the family. When a carriage entered the castle grounds, moving towards the castle, Lucy said, 

"I think I know to whom that carriage belongs to," Madeline turned her head to catch sight of the moving carriage, "It is the Wilmot's carriage. Let's go meet them," came the enthusiastic voice of Lucy. Heading back inside the castle, Madeline noticed it was Lady Rosamund and Lady Sophie who had arrived in the carriage, making their way through the corridor. 

"Lucy, my darling!" exclaimed Lady Rosamund who walked to the front to take Lucy in her arms, "I wasn't expecting to see you here. How have you been?" asked the older vampiress.

"I have been doing well, Lady Rosamund. I wrote a letter to you, didn't you get it?" asked Lucy and Lady Rosamund blinked for a second. 

"I don't think I received it. Else you know I would have replied to you right away." Though Lucy didn't see it, Madeline who stood in the corners saw how Rosamund was lying through her teeth while acting as if Lucy was dear to her heart. 

Since the very first time Madeline had met Lady Rosamund, both the ladies had grown a distaste towards each other. Madeline didn't forget how Rosamund had asked her to get out of the carriage, without showing a bit of sympathy while she was being dropped in the middle of nowhere with no other ride. 

When Lady Rosamund turned to meet Madeline's eyes, to her surprise, the woman stepped forward to put her hands around her for a hug before pulling away,

"Congratulations Lady Madeline," Lady Rosamund congratulated her and Madeline took more than a second to question herself on what was happening, "We just heard about the marriage that is going to take place and thought that we should personally come and congratulate the future queen. I cannot believe that I finally am going to have another daughter."

Madeline's already raised eyebrows looked at the lady before putting up a smile, "Thank you, milady."

"Sophie, where are the flowers," Lady Rosamund turned to her daughter who stood there stiffly. Soon Madeline's hand was holding gathered flowers, "Sophie made these for you. She was saying how wonderful her time was with you, when she last visited here."

Sophie bowed her head, and Madeline greeted the young vampiress back. Now that the King had announced about his marriage with her, it seemed that people had suddenly changed their behaviour and views about her. 

"That is very sweet of sister Sophie," Lady Lucy was oblivious to the politics that went in and outside the castle, like an innocent lamb who believed and trusted people around her.

"Are you here by yourself, Lucy?" asked Lady Rosamund.

Lucy replied, "I came here with Samuel. He's been talking to brother Calhoun in the courtroom."

"I see," nodded Lady Rosamund before her interest went to fall back on Madeline, "I thought you would need some help with our customs, as there are no elders in the castle, you will need some help, who better than the aunt, right?" smiled Lady Rosamund. 

Vampires had different customs? Asked Madeline to herself.

"I forgot that we have different customs. It is good that you are here, Lady Rosamund," said Lucy. Madeline was not comfortable in Lady Rosamund's presence, but she didn't show it. If they were going to end up being family, the least Madeline could do was ignore things that had occurred in the past as it would only turn awkward when they would meet each other face to face. 

The ladies started to walk further inside, making their way to the Seating room when Lucy excused herself to go to the powder room and Sophie decided to tag along with her, leaving the room for Lady Rosamund and Madeline. 

Madeline wondered if she should go to the powder room too. Not because she wanted to make herself pretty but just so that she wouldn't have to share the room alone with Lady Rosamund who had been smiling at her sweetly. 

Lady Rosamund raised her hand for the maid who was in the room to come forward, "Bring us something to drink. Preferably wine for me and…" she left the words hanging for Madeline to complete. 

"Water," said Madeline and the maid was dismissed by the hand wave of Lady Rosamund. 

"Close the door," ordered Lady Rosamund and the maid obliged, "The maids can get nosey sometimes. Don't you think, Lady Madeline? I heard about what the maids commented about you. I am so sorry you had to hear that," and the lady who was sitting next to Madeline, placed her hand on top of her hand. 

Word did travel fast, thought Madeline to herself, "Thank you for your kind words. It is something that has been dealt with."

"You are right," agreed Lady Rosamund, "You know, Lady Madeline, you don't have to hear such vulgar things. Because after what I heard happened to you, I feel bad for you."

"I am sorry?" Madeline looked at the older vampiress in surprise. 

Lady Rosamund offered Madeline a kind smile, "You don't have to go through this marriage if you don't want to. I can help you with that. It is never too late." 
A way out?- Part 2

Madeline stared at Lady Rosamund hearing the words that she just said, "I know you want to leave the castle, that there is a man out there whom you like." She knew it shouldn't have come as a surprise, but she wasn't aware that even Lady Rosamund would know about it. Did everyone know that there was a man she used to like? That it was James Heathcliff? "You don't have to be shy, Madeline. I didn't know your situation back then when we first met. If I knew it fully well, I would have made sure you reached your home safe and sound. I apologise for that."

And Lady Rosamund wasn't lying right now. If the vampiress knew that her nephew was not playing around for his entertainment and was serious about this human, Lady Rosamund would have made sure to have the girl sent far away from not only the King but also from Devon. 

She stared at the girl who looked startled, waiting for the girl's response. 

Madeline pursed her lips, "What has happened, it is in the past. You do not have to apologise for it," she said to the older lady. 

The offer was very tempting, and Madeline wanted to take up the offer. But she also knew the consequences if she did. Madeline didn't love Calhoun and the way Calhoun loved her, she felt it to be foreceful at times, demanding and somewhere toxic like a poison that was slowly spreading in her mind and body. 

She didn't understand why Lady Rosamund was offering something like this to her, "Thank you for your help, but I will have to refuse it."

Lady Rosamund's eyebrows raised in question, "Are you scared, dear? On what the King might do if he finds out about it? But you need to remember, a man who killed his own mother, you never know what will happen to the next woman. Possibily his wife when she's only a human."

Madeline frowned hearing this. Did his aunt know he had killed his father and stepmother? Being family, maybe they did, and no one could point out the murder that took place. 

"The Queen, he didn't-"

She was interrupted when Lady Rosamund laughed, "Who is speaking about the Queen? I was speaking about his birth mother," she whispered, "Can you imagine killing your own mother?" she shook her head. 

"He didn't kill his mother," stated Madeline, because Calhoun had told her that his mother had killed herself. 

"Is that what he told you?" there was a smug smirk yet a look of pity on her face that Lady Rosamund passed on to Madeline, "Maybe that is what he wants you to believe. I just thought you should know before knowing fully well what you are getting into. Like many other dark secrets of the castle, this one is part of it."

Madeline stared at Lady Rosamund, wondering if she was lying or had already been lied to. 

To know the truth, she would have to ask Calhoun because what she heard was different. Calhoun wouldn't lie about something like that, thought Madeline to herself.

"Aren't you scared about what he will do when he finds out that you have offered something like this to me?" Madeline questioned the woman, her brown eyes intently staring at the red eyes of the woman who sat next to her. 

"I am part of the King's family," smiled Lady Rosamund, "This is going to be just between us. Especially considering how desperate you were in escaping on the day I last came here to visit you," the woman then squeezed Madeline's hand again, "I know how it feels to be confined after being brought to a new place. Men, they don't understand the pain which we women go through. I am offering you a choice for your happiness which I never give to anyone, not even to my very own daughter."

Madeline didn't understand what Lady Rosamund meant by the words she just uttered. She was a simple girl from a simple family. Having simple dreams. 

"You don't have to give me your decision right away. There are plenty of days left for that," smiled Lady Rosamund, "You can come to receive my help even the last day before the wedding, and I will help you. Make sure to think about it."

Wasn't the lady scared or worried that she would go and tell it to Calhoun? On seeing Madeline's curious eyes, Lady Rosamund said, 

"I hope our conversation will be kept private. You never know when you might need my help. Also, if something happens to me, your parents might not be safe." The woman smiled, patting Madeline's hand before letting it go. 

Madeline stared at Lady Rosamund, who leaned back against the chair, smiling softly.

She finally broke her gaze away from the lady. Rosamund Wilmot was a close relative of the King, yet the lady was offering to help her. Nobody helped others out of kindness, because it was very rare. Given that Sophie was always hovering over the King, Madeline wondered if Lady Rosamund planned to marry her daughter to the King once she would be out of the picture. 

Frankly, she didn't know what to think about the offer, and she would need time to ponder. She was also sure if Calhoun came to know about it, Lady Rosamund would be punished. She had seen the grandmother who had lost her life by getting punished. All Calhoun had told her was that the older vampiress had stood against him. 

She had given up on the word called freedom after witnessing and seeing how things went around in here. Not to forget, she felt lost because of what was going on within herself. Since the fall that had taken place, she felt somehow that she was abnormal, and it made her scared, turning herself away to a quieter place in the castle. Away from people. 

The four ladies spent their time in the Seating room, talking to each other while Madeline only listened to them. Her mind continued to weigh on the words that Lady Rosamund had said to her. 

Having been touched and kissed by the King, Madeline wasn't sure if she could give herself to anyone else except to Calhoun. 

"Lady Madeline?" called Lucy, a look of wonderment on her face as Madeline had not answered when she had first called her name. 

"My apologies," Madeline bowed her head.

Lucy smiled heartily, "I was asking if you ever tried hunting before?"

Madeline shook her head, "No. I have never hunted before." Coming from the village, the maximum she had done was finding wild vegetables in the forest so that her family and some of her neighbours could eat. 

"Humans rarely hunt, Lucy," stated Lady Rosamund, "They don't hunt for blood like us. There are only a handful of them, but they don't hunt regularly." The woman then turned her gaze towards Madeline, "We were planning to go on hunting tomorrow. Of course, not just us women but also with the men. It will be a good extracurricular activity to get some fresh air outside the castle."

"You don't have to if you are uncomfortable with it," added Lady Lucy out of concern as Madeline was a human and someone who was going to be her family. Lucy was one of the compassionate vampiress who was thoughtful about what other people would think. Having grown up inside the walls of the castle, she was a princess who was loved and respected by everyone. Since she was the previous King's daughter, no one ever spoke to her rudely, nor did she know people who could harm her. 

Madeline nodded her head, "I would like to take part in it," she offered Lady Lucy a warm smile, and this brightened the smile on Lucy's face even more. As Madeline was soon going to be the queen, everyone was treating her well, and there was not a pinch of taunt in any words that were spoken to her. 

"That's good. I will have Theodore prepare the horses so that we all have one to ride for tomorrow," answered Lady Rosamund, "I heard the weather tomorrow is going to be excellent. Bright and sunny."

When Calhoun and Samuel arrived at the room, the women who were sitting stood up to bow their heads in greeting towards the King, "I was wondering when you would be visiting, Aunt Rosamund," he walked forward saying this. Lady Rosamund raised and opened her arms to hug the bastard, who was her nephew—patting his back once before pulling away.

"I didn't know I was being missed," laughed Lady Rosamund, "If you had sent out a letter to me, I would have come here quicker."

Calhoun smiled at the lady, "You know how work can get busy," he chimed, his eyes sparkling before he said, "The invitations for our wedding have been made. You can take a look at it if you are interested."

"I would love to take a look at it! It has been a while since we have had a wedding in this castle. I believe we have it in the castle?" asked Lady Rosamund, her voice turning out to be excited. 

Madeline stared at the lady. Just a while ago, she had offered to help her to run away from the caslte and here she was being excited by the King's words. When Madeline felt Calhoun's gaze on hers, she shifted her eyes to look at him. He raised his hand, outstretching it for her to take it in front of everyone. 

Calhoun enjoyed showing his affections to her in public, and he never shied away from doing it. 

Walking towards him, Madeline placed her hand in his for him to grasp around, "Madeline has thought about having a simple wedding. Therefore, the marriage will not be taking place here but in church."

Lady Rosamund and the others looked surprised, "That's absurd. It is like breaking away from our tradition," said his aunt. 

Madeline stared at Calhoun because she had never said anything like that to him before. The way he had put it, he had made it look like she had asked him not to hold the marriage here but in church. 

"There can be some exception to the tradition, Aunt Rosamund," replied Calhoun. 

"We vampires have been following our tradition until now. But let this year and my rule mark the change. That the vampire King has taken a human to be his bride. I will be changing the customs on time."

Even Lady Lucy and Lady Sophie were taken aback by hearing the venue of the wedding as a vampire never got married in church. The vampires had their own altar that was used for centuries, and no one had ever dared to change the tradition. 

"It doesn't sound so bad," said Lucy's husband Samuel who had come into the room with Calhoun, "King Calhoun will be setting a new example for the coming generation. It would also reduce the friction between humans and vampires, making it more appealing to the other Kingdoms."

Lady Rosamund wanted to oppose and argue about it, but this was no time to raise a discussion that could lead to a possible argument. She was hoping that Madeline would accept her offer, which would only make things easier. To send the girl far away from here to the place where the King would not be able to find her. 

"If that is your intention, then we shall accept it wholeheartedly," said Lady Rosamund, bowing her head and the others bowed their head in acceptance.

As the ladies had planned for a hunt next morning, the relatives who had visited decided to stay back in the castle. Before supper arrived, Madeline was with Lady Lucy being introduced to her husband Samuel, whom she had already met a few days ago. She didn't like the man from the moment she had heard about him cheating on his wife. But to think that he was cheating on a sweet girl like Lucy, Madeline felt even worse about it. 

"Samuel has been wonderful since the time of marriage," Lucy said, holding her husband's arm, "He has been very patient with me. I don't think I would ever ask for anything more."

"My wife always praises me, isn't she lovely," laughed Samuel. 

Madeline put up a smile on her face without commenting on their relationship. She wondered if others knew what Samuel Gerville did outside his mansion while Lucy was unaware of it. Sometimes being innocent and sheltered had its own drawbacks, thought Madeline to herself. 

"Who else will I praise if not my husband?" asked Lucy, and Samuel leaned towards her, kissing the side of her head. 

"You are right," he answered her. For an outsider and in Lucy's view, Samuel was the perfect husband, one would wish and dream for. Though it wasn't Lucy's first choice, considering Theodore, who was in the picture before her marriage to Mr. Gerville, she was still trying to be happy with it. 

And watching this, Madeline wondered how her married life would be. Definitely not like the Gerville's because of how Calhoun's nature was. There were times when she caught Calhoun looking at her, when she thought he wasn't looking and the man didn't turn his gaze away from her. He made sure to let her know that he was looking at her, and it sent down a shiver down her body. He looked at her with the very same look when he had kissed her. 

Less than three weeks remaining for the wedding, thought Madeline to herself. It felt like days were slipping through her fingers, and she couldn't do anything about it. 

"What is brother Calhoun doing?" asked Lady Lucy to her husband. 

"I don't know. The King and Lady Rosamund were discussing something," answered Samuel, his words coming out to be patient. If one didn't know about him, they would think that Samuel was a doting husband. 

"I wonder if they have any more plans for tomorrow. Please excuse me. I will be back soon," Lucy said to leave Samuel and Madeline standing in the corridor. 

Madeline didn't see the need to stay here. Therefore, she was about to leave with a bow when Samuel said,

"Lady Madeline, I didn't get to speak to you fully earlier," he stopped her, a kind smile on his lips. They had been standing in the corridor for the past twenty minutes with Lucy. What did he mean, he didn't get to speak fully? 

"Is there something you wanted to ask me?" asked Madeline to the man who stood in front of her. She looked around the corridor to see that they were on the other side of the castle, and there were not many servants in there. 

"I have been hearing different versions of stories from everyone on how you and the King met each other. I was hoping to get to hear the story directly from you to know which one is true," Samuel asked her with a smile. 

Madeline looked at him cautiously, "We met at the ball of Hallow," she answered him. 

"How did it happen?" asked Samuel, his tone still curious, "Though we know the King personally, not everyone got to know who the King was on that night."

She didn't know it either. It wasn't her who had spotted the King but the King who had spotted her. Maybe the right word here was 'being caught'. Many were curious about it. Some got the answer, some didn't. Some answers that were given out by Calhoun was always twisted and turned, that had led to different versions of how they had met. 

Madeline, this time offered the man a smile, "Let's call it fate." Being vague with her answers was the best way to deal with such curious questions. Though in the past Madeline wanted to tell how the King had cornered her that night. Even though she was a village girl, Madeline was still a prideful person to not make scenes. 

"What an interesting fate," hummed the man, not letting the conversation drop. He said, "There are so many girls and women who have been trying to catch the attention of the King, but you did it in a day. I hope you can be a great queen, milady," saying this, he bowed down and took Madeline's hand to kiss on the back of her hand. 

Taking her hand back quickly, she stared at Samuel Gerville, who turned around to walk away from her. Madeline didn't know how the conversations in the castle moved and the motives behind it. She reminded herself to be careful. 

Madeline looked down at her hand before she wiped it against her dress. 

When she turned around, to head in another direction, where the King's quarters was, she came to see Agnes, the maid who was cleaning the floor. Madeline walked towards her, wanting to greet her.

She stopped when she noticed the startled look on the maid's face. Agnes bowed her head from afar before looking up.

There was no smile on the girl's face, but only fear lurked in the maid's eyes. 

This reminded Madeline of the change in her status. This was how people would look at her, fear in their eyes while talking to her. 
A way out?- Part 3

Madeline didn't know when was the right time to ask Calhoun what Lady Rosamund had told her. But would asking cause any trouble? Asked Madeline to herself. Sitting at the dining room next to Calhoun and with others. She ate her food, occasionally smiling when her name was brought up in the conversation. 

It wasn't that Madeline was fond of the Wilmot's, but she didn't forget Lady Rosamund's subtle threat during their conversation. The vampiress spoke as if she didn't care about dying, but if she did die, Madeline's family would not be spared. It was funny how Lady Rosamund was trying to scare her while she was alright replacing Madeline with her daughter, Sophie. 

Feeling the intense gaze from her right, she slowly moved her eyes to find Calhoun who was staring at her. He didn't say anything but continued to stare at her, chewing his food and Madeline returned back to having her food. 

"Where is Markus?" asked Samuel to Lady Rosamund, "It has been quite some time since I last saw him here."

Lady Rosamund smiled at the mention of her son's name, "He has been busy working on the land which the King generously gave it to him. The mansion is still in progress."

"You should find a girl for him," suggested Calhoun, "But then we have Sophie here. Has she decided to live the life of a spinster?"

Hearing this, Sophie turned red, half with embarrassment and half with anger. 

Sophie came to the castle only on her mother's word that her mother would help in setting things right. But so far, she was nothing but a person who had been swept off to a corner, like a speck of dust that was useless and unwanted. To make things worse, the King was making jokes and teasing her. She would have laughed it off, but Sophie was in a foul mood. 

"It seems like Sophie is upset after what had happened last time when she visited the castle," said Calhoun.

"Upset?" asked Lucy, looking at both of them.

Without allowing Sophie to talk, Calhoun said, "Sophie was kind enough to prepare food for the servants. Unfortunately, she didn't know it would fall short in quantity. I was thinking, maybe I should have her prepare the meal for the wedding. What do you say, Madeline?"

Madeline was quietly eating when all the attention at the table fell on her. She saw how Calhoun smiled at her with mischief in his eyes. 

Calhoun had noticed how Madeline kept getting lost in her own world while sitting next to him to eat with others. 

He didn't like it. 

He wanted all her attention.

He wanted to know what she was thinking right now, to not be present mentally in his presence; he wasn't going to let her off that easily. 

Madeline could tell that Calhoun wanted to involve her in the conversation that was taking place at the table, but there were other ways of doing it. 

"I wouldn't want to impose such responsibility on Lady Sophie. I think it would be best to give it to the cook and the servants," replied Madeline with a small smile rising on her lips.

Calhoun hummed at this, "By chance, are you saying it because the taste of Sophie's food is not on par to your palate?"

Madeline's eyes widened. Why was Calhoun creating a spark of fire at the table? She hadn't tasted Sophie's food because Calhoun had dismissed it right away before it could be even served. 

"No," she shook her head, "Lady Sophie is family. I would like her to be present with us and not in the kitchen," it was the most she could come up with. Lady Rosamund whose eyes had narrowed quietly looked at Madeline who offered a smile to everyone at the table. 

"What a kind queen we are all going to have," announced Calhoun, raising his glass up to toast and the others did the same, "To the future Queen."

"To the future Queen," came the chorus voice at the table. When Madeline's eyes met Calhoun's eyes again, she saw the crooked smile on his lips, as if enjoying something internally. 

Later that night, walking back to her room alone, Madeline twiddled her fingers. She doubted Lady Lucy would be able to give her an insight into what happened. The vampiress didn't know her husband was cheating on her, nor did she know Calhoun was the one who had killed her parents. 

Before she reached the door to her room, she noticed Calhoun was already there with his back leaning against the wall outside the room. One leg was on the ground while the other foot was taking the support of the wall. 

"Where were you?" he asked, his red eyes taking in her presence. 

"Lady Lucy was explaining me what I might need for the wedding. Was there something you needed?" asked Madeline. It wasn't often that Calhoun came to wait next to her room. 

Calhoun looked at her, his eyes fixed on her before he pushed himself to let the foot that was on the wall rest back on the ground, "I wanted to see you, is that reason good enough?" He walked towards her. 

Madeline closed her eyes when he raised his hand to caress her cheek, "I heard about your interest in hunting. Tomorrow morning ride with me," Calhoun said, his eyes looking down at her lips and then back up to her eyes.

She didn't know how vampires hunting took place; therefore, she decided to go along with Calhoun, "Okay."

Calhoun was extremely pleased by her compliant nature, "It seemed like something was running on your mind back in the dining room, something that's bothering you?" he asked, keeping his demeanour calm without showing curiosity in his voice or face. 

Madeline felt the question rise in her throat, moving towards the tip of her tongue. And just when she parted her lips to ask, Calhoun leaned forward to steal a kiss from her. 

* *