✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 221 - 230 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Supper in the castle- Part 2

Beth was not sure if the King was truly joking or not. Beth looked at Markus who sat across from her before saying, "Milord, some of the men came with parchments that had seal on it from the royal court. They told that you ordered them to demolish the shop as it was not needed." 

Hearing this, Madeline felt her heart sink. She turned to look at her father in worry that they had to witness something like that. 

Calhoun asked again, "And how did you know that the order was from the royal court?"

Beth said, "When the shop was being broken down, Mr. Wilmot was passing by. He confirmed it." She had already seen the seal when the invitation has been sent to their house. 

"How fortunate," Calhoun chimed, the two words dripped in sarcasm but the Wilmot's didn't change their expressions. They knew the humans were stupid enough to go blabbering about it in the future. 

With Markus' name that came up in the conversation, the vampire turned to the King, "My King, I was there when the unfortunate incident took place. Ms. Harris is right. The parchment held the seal of the court."

Calhoun dropped his forks and knives on the surface of the table. Bringing both of his elbows to place on the table and interlocked his fingers together, he placed his chin on top of them, "Did you know that they were related to Madeline? That they were Madeline's family?" asked Calhoun to Markus. 

"No, milord," answered Markus, "I didn't know they were related to her at fir-"

"But you knew about it later," stated Calhoun, his eyes calmly looking at his cousin who held a serious look on his face. 

Compared to his previous response which was quick, Markus took a second to answer, "Yes, milord."

"How strange that neither Harris nor you reported it to me," Calhoun said, his eyes shifting to look at Harris' family. 

Madeline wanted to speak, to tell Calhoun that her parents were only worried that they had done something bad and the King was reprimanding them for it. She hadn't expected Calhoun to bring the conversation at the table today, to clear it. This would allow and let her parents know that it wasn't him who had asked to destroy the shop. 

When she turned to look at her parents, she noticed the slight shock on their face. It seemed like, they were now realising it wasn't Calhoun who had ordered it. 

"Pardon me, milord," Markus apologised, bowing his head, "I didn't want to raise questions on your decision or orders."

"What good subjects I have," commented Calhoun, without looking away from Markus. He then looked at Madeline's parents, "It seems like someone fooled you and got the shop torn down. The next time if something like this happens, I would like you to send a letter immediately to me or contact the minister of the village. I am sure he will respond to you unless he's been bribed and doesn't care about his dear life," he smiled saying this.

Madeline's parents bowed their heads for the misunderstanding they had until now about the King, "We will be sure to do as you have asked, milord," Mr. Harris complied. 

Calhoun gave him a nod.

Madeline felt relieved that her parents didn't have to be worry about the King harming them. When her eyes met his, a faint smile appeared on her lips and Calhoun tipped his chin returning the smile before continuing his meal. 

Right now in Madeline's eyes, Calhoun shared the attributes of a bad wolf but there were also some admirable qualities. 

Madeline was not in love with Calhoun but she was allowing herself to acknowledge and accept the King. It was the wisest thing to do if she was going to be stuck with him. Calhoun had stirred physical feelings in her and even though she tried to ignore it, the heat that she felt was something that returned, everytime her mind went to what happened at the chapel of the castle which she doubted was a holy place because Calhoun had done unholy things with her there. Bringing her legs closer she squeezed her thighs together. 

Quickly, she took a bite of food and started to eat. Chewing it so that her thoughts wouldn't dwell on it. 

On the other side of the table, Beth who was eating raised her eyes to look at Markus who was eating too. When their eyes met, the man smiled and his eyes fell on her hand,

"What happened to your hand, Lady Elizabeth?" he inquired with a small frown of concern. 

Beth noticed how Markus' sister coughed when he asked the question. Now she wished that she should have listened to her sister Madeline, to not to go near the wolves and stay away from them. Instead of receiving sympathy, she was getting the wrong attention. 

"It was nothing," Beth decided to brush it as if it was nothing.

Just because Markus was wooing her, it didn't mean she could take things lightly from here. Who knew that Markus was related to the King. Beth didn't like his sister Sophie and she would have to do something about it. Maybe getting her married quickly would help, so that they wouldn't have to live under the same roof. She gave Markus a sweet smile, tucking her black strands of hair behind her ear before picking up the fork to eat. 

When Calhoun was done eating, he said, "I have ordered the tailorman to come tomorrow, instead of today so that you can take some more time to settle in," he looked at Harris' family who bowed their head and whispered thank you, "If you need anything ask the servants and they will bring it to you."

He then stood up, giving a look at Madeline who was looking at him. Without another word, he stepped out of the dining room. 

Lady Lucy who had been quiet, said to Madeline's family, "I am sorry to hear what happened to your shop. Brother Calhoun has many enemies and word must have spread that you are the future Queen's family."

Mrs. Harris offered the vampiress a smile. All this time, they had thought it was the King who had tried to destroy the shop but it wasn't so. She looked at the family vampires in front of her. Lady Rosamund and Lady Sophie were the first ones to leave, who were then followed by Lady Lucy. 

Madeline who was still sitting at the table with her family noticed how Markus and Beth looked at each other, stealing glances and smiling at each other. It made her question again if Markus was seriously pursuing Beth. Lady Rosamund had been polite to her sister, was it because Markus took interest in Beth?

In one of the many rooms of the castle, Calhoun sat in front of the fireplace after leaving the dining room. 

He looked at the burning fire, getting up from the chair, he walked towards the fireplace and sat down to push the logs of the woods to hear them crackle. 

"Did the dinner go as you expected, milord?" asked Theodore who stood next to the table of liquors, pouring alcohol into the glasses. 

"Barely amusing," replied Calhoun with his eyes still on the woods, "I need you to keep a closer eye on Madeline and the others. Report on every single person on who does what. Where they go. Something seems to be brewing. "

"Consider it to be done, my King," came the solemn answer from Theodore. The man walked to where Calhoun was to hand the drink, "Did Lady Madeline's family say anything."

Calhoun cocked his head to the side after taking the drink and looked back at the fireplace. It seemed like the older daughter of the Harris' was a blabbermouth, not knowing when to stop talking, "My dear Aunt is up to something. She's set up Markus this time in the race for the throne."

"Would you want me to do something about it?" asked Theodore.

"That won't be needed. He's following the trail of the mousetrap, he will expose himself and it will be easier to remove him then," replied Calhoun. He stood up straight and took a sip. 

Calhoun was not unaware of his relatives interests when it involved the throne. Everyone were thirsty for the power, that the position held. But Calhoun's thirst was higher than others and he had taken it. Since the time he had become the King, he knew how displeased the others were that they had missed the opportunity to have the throne for themselves. 

All these years, he had been playing with them, letting the opportunity dangle in front of them to only pull it back. But he didn't like that they were involving Madeline's parents in it. 

Finishing his glass, Calhoun said, "I would like to kill a couple of them in good time but for good reasons," he said raising his brows, "Of course, the good reasons would be portrayed to my dear girl even though if they are actually bad." He didn't want her running to the hills, not that she had an option to do it. 

Thinking about Madeline, Calhoun couldn't stop the thoughts of wanting to have her close where he could see her. He was trying to be patient but he doubted it was going to stay that way until the time of their wedding. There were nineteen more days left for their wedding.

Calhoun didn't give a fuck about other plans. But if they tried to disrupt his plans, he would make sure to serve them in a way where they would wish for death. 

He was letting her to get accustomed to him, taking her space and filling her thoughts with him. Calhoun wanted her to know how it felt like, when something was denied and made to have waited to the brink. To torture her. 

Leaving Theodore behind, Calhoun left the room. Making his way to his quarters, when he heard voices come from the other side of the corridor, where not many came to wander. The corridor was dark and quiet but Calhoun had a very good ear. His footsteps slowed down when he heard,

"Stop getting into things that don't concern you, sister!" warned Markus' to Sophie who now stood in front of him with her hands clutched to her sides, "Why don't you go play with your dolls and leave everything to the adults?"

"I am not six, Mark. I saw how you were looking at her. Are you seriously planning to marry her?!" Sophie raised her voice. 

Before Markus could get Sophie to close her mouth, Calhoun asked,

"Who is marrying whom?" and both the Wilmot's siblings snapped their head in the direction where Calhoun's voice came from. 
In the night- Part 1

The Wilmot siblings whipped their head around to see where Calhoun was. Sophie was angry when she had seen Markus leaving a kiss on the back of the human's hand, making her follow him to question his true motives.

When Calhoun stepped forward from the shadows that had engulfed him, Markus cursed Sophie's big mouth in his mind. She had the habit of intruding on things that didn't involve her directly. His mother had put him to work while leaving Sophie in the dark. He wondered how much of the conversation Calhoun had heard as the King stepped forward to where they were.

"Markus, my favourite cousin," remarked Calhoun with a bright smile, his lips pulling up, "I didn't know you were wooing the girl."

Markus smiled at Calhoun's words. Elizabeth Harris would have told about him to Lady Madeline, which was possible that it had reached Calhoun's ear, "My King," he bowed his head. Sophie quickly followed her brother's suit, "Sophie just found out about my interest in Miss Harris."

"You should be more specific with your words, Markus," stated Calhoun, "There are two Miss Harris," Calhoun placed his hand on Markus' shoulder, "You wouldn't want me to get the wrong idea, about you wanting to woo the girl who belongs to me. Do you?" If anyone from afar saw the King now, one would think that he was merely speaking to his cousins, catching up with each other as he smiled.

"Miss Elizabeth Harris," Markus corrected, and Calhoun nodded his head.

"It is such a small world, isn't it?" said Calhoun, "I am marrying Madeline, you are wooing her sister. Now only if Mr. and Mrs. Harris had a son," saying this, he turned to look at Sophie, who gritted her teeth.

Sophie bowed her head, "Forgive me beforehand, brother Calhoun, but I would rather prefer to marry a vampire than a human."

Calhoun said, "That's understandable. Given how you grew up, it would be hard for you to live with humans. But I must say, Sophie. I enjoyed the little scene when you threw the crab." Sophie quickly turned embarrassed.

"It wasn't my intention to do it!" Sophie exclaimed, her eyes anxiously looking at Calhoun. 

"Hm," Calhoun responded, still smiling as he looked at her.

The King was only teasing his cousin sister, who was easily flustered right now. His eyes slowly went to take a look at her hand. There were nail marks on her forearm which was visible as the sleeves of her dress stopped before it reached her elbows. It seemed that his aunt had pierced Sophie's arm when she had spoken to Elizabeth Harris.

Calhoun knew that Markus and Sophie were not stupid enough to scheme something out in the open. That it was only Sophie was having a problem with Markus' interest in Madeline's elder sister. He had already heard from Theodore about Markus' visits to the village of East Carswell and was spotted spending more time with Elizabeth.

He wondered what his beloved Aunt Rosamund was scheming. As much as Calhoun was not interested in Beth, she was still Madeline's sister. He didn't want anything indirectly coming to affect Madeline in the end.

"What is your mother's opinion about it?" Calhoun turned to ask Markus, "I am sure, with the way she took an interest in a lowly human girl, she has already accepted her as the Wilmot's daughter-in-law?" he raised his eyebrows.

Markus was not present in the dining room when his mother had inquired about Elizabeth. Therefore he didn't know how much his mother had spoken to Elizabeth and about what. The vampire answered, "Yes, milord. It is just Sophie, who is having a hard time accepting it."

Sophie smiled at her brother. Then she bowed her head at both of them to say, "Please excuse me. I want to go to sleep in my room." She would talk to Markus tomorrow. With the King here, she didn't want to question or speak about that human whom he planned to marry. 

Calhoun nodded his head in approval, and the vampiress left.

With just the King and his cousin in the empty and dark corridor, Calhoun didn't let go of Markus' shoulder.

"Markus. How long have we known each other?" questioned Calhoun. 

Markus didn't know why Calhoun suddenly asked this question, but he answered, "It has been more than a decade."

"A decade has many years and months, doesn't it?" Calhoun's words were not a question as he continued to speak, "Then it should be guaranteed that as cousins where we have spent decent hours, I know that you hate humans. Right?"

Markus stared at Calhoun. A small smile appeared on his face. He said, "I don't think I ever mentioned hating the humans."

"I sometimes feel like, I have people around me, who are suffering from memory loss. But that's alright," said Calhoun, "Come let's take a walk," he suggested without letting go of Markus' shoulder.

Markus cursed his sister for creating a scene out in the open when they were still in the castle. After seeing Beth off from the dining room, Sophie had followed him, persistently asking him questions that had led to them ending up in the place where they were standing earlier to be caught by Calhoun. His sister was a dimwit who didn't know where and what to talk.

Calhoun continued, "Let me help you remember it. You burned the entire house of a servant with his family because you believed he had disrespected you."

Markus' eyes slightly widened at the King's words. The matter had been closed and brushed away, without anyone knowing about it. Even his father didn't know about it. How did Calhoun know then? "I am sorry, milord-"

"You don't have to be shy, Mark," came the calm and collected voice of Calhoun, "All of us have done something. You don't have to feel ashamed," turning his eyes on his cousin, Calhoun smiled.

That was something he would like to agree, Markus thought to himself. But even though he and his family members knew Calhoun was involved in someone's death, the man had never been pointed at because of the lack of evidence against him.

Seeing Markus not being able to deny, yet not confirming it, Calhoun continued to say, "I know how much hate you have towards the humans. Most of the vampires feel that way."

"Don't you feel the same, my King?" asked Markus, "Maybe Lady Madeline's family is an exception."

Calhoun chuckled, "I wonder about it. But I would like to say no. You forget that I wasn't brought up in the castle, but outside where the days are dire," Calhoun slowly stopped walking to have Markus stop too. His grip tightened on Markus' shoulder, making his cousin flinch slightly, "I am hoping that you are not stupid and will pull out some stunt that I might not like. It was only some time ago where someone shot an arrow at Madeline. I will pray that you aren't involved in it for your own sake."

The threat was not subtle. Calhoun was making Markus know that his eyes were on him. One mistake, that is all he was waiting for.

Apart from the Kings who ruled the lands, there was a higher place that was controlled by some of the powerful people who strongly believed in giving justice to everyone called the High House. The people there made sure not to let the Kings and the others misuse their powers and status. Yet, at the same time, it was funny how there were spies and wars. They had laws spread across the lands, eyes watching people. And if Calhoun was not wrong, he was one of the person who had fallen under the eyes of the High House.

If Calhoun wanted to eliminate people who were related to the royal family, he would need a solid proof and involvement about them. Right now, his focus was more on Madeline while he lazily sat back to see others step on his spider web.

Markus nodded his head, "I will never do anything to hurt, Miss Elizabeth," he assured the King. Calhoun gripped his hand tighter again. Markus tried not to react, to show he was weak compared to the King.

"Glad to hear those words. Also, I have some important work for you. It seems like someone used the sealed parchments from the castle, using it to harm the Harris' family. Find out who was involved in it. Also, find the men who are now missing, who were previously assigned to work in Mr. Harris in his shop," Calhoun titled his head to the side, waiting for Markus to speak.

"Yes, milord. I will do that," Markus replied, and finally, Calhoun let go of his shoulder.

Calhoun patted Markus' back and said, "Make sure to bring the culprits to me. I would make sure the person's family suffers. Have a goodnight, then."

"Yes, milord," Markus bowed his head, "Please have a goodnight."

"What makes you think I will have a bad night?" asked Calhoun. Markus let out a small laugh.

"It is an expression, milord," Markus didn't know why he ended up here, alone with Calhoun. At least when there were other's, Markus was less targeted with Calhoun's words. Markus didn't know how Calhoun even ended up to be part of the castle in the past. Many rumours were involved with the King of Devon.

Calhoun looked at him with an intense gaze before saying, "Remember to lock the doors of your room," and he left.

Markus stood in the corridor who had a frown on his face, wondering what Calhoun meant. 

In the King's quarters, Madeline stood in her room's balcony, staring at the sky. She wanted to spend more time with her family; maybe share the room with her sister Beth so that they could speak like the old times. But somewhere, Madeline felt that Beth wanted to spend her time alone in the room.

Madeline was not blind, to not to see how the castle and the things around made Beth extremely happy. It was understandable, considering how Beth had always wished for this kind of life. Standing alone now, Madeline exhaled the air through her lips.

A sudden gust of cold wind blew, she shivered. Madeline was about to get back inside. She caught something from the corner of her eyes move near the statue. When Madeline turned her eyes, there was nothing there. She stared at it for a few more seconds, and when she saw nothing, Madeline turned around to step back inside the room.

Feeling slightly anxious, she locked the door to the balcony. Madeline took a couple of steps away from the door while staring at the closed door now.

When her back hit something hard, Madeline turned around to see Calhoun who stood in front of her.


How did he get inside? Madeline asked before she remembered he had the ability to lock and unlock the doors without actually having to touch it.

Noticing Madeline's eyes that looked uneasy, Calhoun's eyes darted to look behind her at the door. 
In the night- Part 2

"Why do you look like you just saw a ghost?" asked Calhoun to Madeline who took a step away from him.

Madeline shook her head, "I just closed the doors." Calhoun loved her, but that didn't mean he entirely believed what she said because of her heart that was beating slightly more than the usual speed. When it was her, Calhoun was more in tune with what was going on.

"Saw something outside?" he asked her before stepping away and walking past her. Opening the doors, Calhoun stepped outside, in the balcony and Madeline followed him. Her eyes moved around to see nothing out there. Her gaze finally came to settle on Calhoun's handsome face, "What's got you scared?" Calhoun's words were often straightforward, taking no time in confronting about things as if no situation could daunt him.

Madeline's lips that were pressed, she said, "It must be my imagination."

Calhoun took his time to sweep the grounds of the castle with his eyes before his gaze went to settle on Madeline's face, "Why aren't you sleeping?" he asked her.

"It's too early to go to bed," she answered to ask the question back to him, "Why aren't you in your room?"

A smile cracked upon his lips, "I don't sleep much, Maddie, and these days it has increasingly become hard to sleep," he said looking into her eyes that looked darker because of the low light around them.

Madeline didn't want to behave coy and question why it was so because she knew the answer would come to be related to her. She then said,

"Thank you for speaking with my family at the dining table. About the shop." With Calhoun who had cleared his name from the possible thoughts that her parents had misunderstood, this would put them at ease without them having to fear the King nor worry for her in the future.

"It is one thing if I am involved and a completely different matter when I have no hand in it," replied Calhoun. He turned around to lean his back against the railings of the balcony whilst looking at her.

Madeline couldn't hold her gaze longer, with Calhoun here. She stepped forward, placing her hands on the railings. She looked ahead to only feel Calhoun's unwavering gaze on her. It was easier to look at him, challenge him before but after what took place post noon today, Madeline felt hot and bothered by it.

"Do your parents know about Markus and your sister Elizabeth?" Calhoun's question brought her gaze back at him.

She nodded her head, "Yes. I was surprised when she told me about it. Beth seems very happy and pleased by the idea of Mr. Wilmot wooing her. Did he speak to you about it?"

"Something like that," answered Calhoun, his eyes tracing her face.

Madeline's eyebrows then furrowed. Lady Rosamund had been too uptight in her presence but not with Beth. She wondered why.

"What did Beth say about my dear cousin Markus?" asked Calhoun, his eyes curiously looking at her.

"Earlier my family were under the false impression, that you were the one who sabotaged the shop, which has now been cleared," added Madeline. Calhoun gave her a small smile and nod, "He seems to be helping them with it, and said he fell for Beth the first time he saw her."

"And what do you think about it?"

Madeline turned herself to face him, "It is not I who is getting married to him but Beth, who has the plan to marry. She can be very stubborn with her thoughts and decision."

"But she is not a bad person, is she?" Calhoun's question was something that made Madeline wonder why he was asking her questions like these. She looked back into his deep liquid red eyes.

"Did Beth offend you, my King?" Madeline's question narrowed Calhoun's eyes a little before it went back to normal, "Is it about her interrupting at the table?"

Calhoun sighed, "I don't care about such small things. I am merely interested to understand your dynamics with your sister. It feels unfair that I give you a part of my past, speak about my mother, but you don't share anything of yours."

So this is what it was, Madeline thought to herself. This was Calhoun's way to know more about her.

"She is my sister," replied Madeline, like it was the most obvious thing to know. "The closest person with whom I could share my thoughts and feelings with."

"What changed?" Calhoun asked her, "You said could."

Madeline looked away from him to look back at the grounds of the castle, "Time. We were very close when we were little, but we grew up to be different persons," she said thoughtfully, gazing from the grounds to the stars that had spread around in the night sky, "I think it's very normal."

"Tell me more," Calhoun coaxed her with interest.

"Beth has been someone who has always stood next to me. I was the quieter girl out of the two while she was more outspoken. Bold with her words, who at times challenged men. I think that is why the men were attracted to Beth. There aren't many women who question and demand things from the males," Madeline smiled at some of the thoughts.

Calhoun leaned his back behind, "You must have been an adorable little girl."

Madeline tilted her head this time, "Do you like children?" and she saw Calhoun shake his head.

"I don't like them. The most annoying thing that you will find on any lands, but I can make an exception with you," Calhoun's lips twisted before he said, "Long ago, I met a girl. Maybe we can include her to be tolerable," he hummed, "Of course, my disinterest in children only implies to the ones who is not ours."

He then asked, "You have never been jealous of your sister?"

To this, Madeline shook her head, "I don't think so. At least that is what I believe. She is elder to me, and I respect her."

Hearing her words, Calhoun said, "You do know respect doesn't often come with love. Sometimes, it comes out of fear and manipulation."

"Are you telling that my sister manipulated me?" asked Madeline.

"I only gave you the options, and you picked the one which you felt was the close one," Calhoun chuckled, "I am just curious, Madeline. You have a very forgiving nature, and it is nice, but I don't oversee things. Not when it concerns something in my interests. I heard the yelling."

Madeline's eyebrows furrowed in question of what Calhoun was talking about. He continued without waiting for her to question him,

"The day I informed your parents about you staying here, I didn't leave the premise. I was outside, listening to your sister shout and blame you. On how you took away her opportunity while using your way to get ahead of her. Did I hear it wrong?" Calhoun asked.

By Calhoun's behaviour up until now towards her family, Madeline would have never believed that the King had stepped out of the dining room that day, only to stand out and listen to the conversation, she and her family had. She and her family thought that the King had left the room since he had other important work to do.

Madeline had forgiven the words; her sister had spoken to her that day.

"She doesn't hold any ill feelings about that day."

"She shouldn't," stated Calhoun, "It wasn't you who had bad-mouthed her but the other way around. Stay wary about your sister's actions. Sometimes even the closest siblings turn to enemies, when it comes to money and power, also love. These three things are far worse intoxicating than the liquor you will find in the oldest cellars."

"What about you being wary about your relatives?" asked Madeline. She saw how the calm smile turned to a wicked one.

"Them? I always have my eyes on them, even when I have my eyes closed. I don't trust people, Madeline," said Calhoun to her, "You're going to catch a cold. Come." Taking her back inside the room and locking the doors for her.

Madeline had never spoken to anyone about her inner feelings of how she felt until now. Not to her parents, nor her sister or someone in her village.

When Calhoun was about to leave, Madeline said,

"There have been times when I felt bad. Not jealous, though."

"I know," answered Calhoun.
In the night- Part 3

Calhoun stared at Madeline over the little confession made by her.

He knew how families worked, and he knew how Madeline was. But it was hard not to agree that Madeline had never felt hurt over her elder sister's words in the past. Madeline's sister, Elizabeth, was not like her. She possessed the qualities that were opposite to Madeline. Calhoun was aware that Madeline had never planned or eyed the crown before; it was why he found it to be more of a reason to have her next to his side. 

The truth was when Calhoun was a child, he was trying to survive. Calhoun didn't have plans to have the crown until his mother's health started to deteriorate. The thirst for power had surged so high that he had begun to scheme and eliminate people who stood in his way.

He was about to leave when Madeline had spoken those words. Turning around, he walked back to where Madeline was, by closing the distance between them with a few steps. 

Madeline stared at Calhoun. His eyes continued to look at her intensely, and he said, 

"It might sound strange and rude, that you might feel that I am trying to separate you from your family or your sister. I only want to give you a word of caution," Calhoun leaned forward and kissed her cheek, "It is alright if you don't want to heed to it." It was because he would have his eyes wide open to keep a watch over her. No one ever left their treasure out in the open, unprotected. 

Madeline felt the tingle on her cheeks where Calhoun's lips came in contact with her skin, pressing his full lips on hers before pulling away, to look at her, as he withdrew himself back.

She wondered why Calhoun was warning her suddenly about her sister Beth. Being the closest person who had spent most of her time around Beth, Madeline knew her the best. She had seen both the best and the worst qualities. 

"Is this because of her interest with Mr. Wilmot and his interest in her?" asked Madeline to Calhoun. The most offendable thing, Beth had done was speak a lot and interrupt the conversation between her father and Calhoun at the table, which Calhoun had later dismissed telling he was only joking. 

The first time when Madeline and her family had met Calhoun, she would have never guessed that Calhoun would come to dislike Beth with only a few meetings. 

The only reason she could think about was the Wilmot family with whom Beth was associating herself with. With Lady Rosamund who had been sweet to her sister, Madeline wondered if she should warn about the Wilmots. But what if Markus liked her sister?

"Yes," Calhoun confirmed to Madeline's question. If it was someone else, Calhoun would not have revealed his thoughts, but he knew Madeline had the ability to keep secrets, not to go blurting it to others, "There have been some old seals that have been lying not only in the court but also in the residence of the Wilmot's which are not being used now. They look almost the same, but they aren't."

Madeline frowned, hearing this, "Markus orchestrated the destruction of the shop?" 

"There's no confirmation about it, but I have my doubts," replied Calhoun. Madeline had her suspicions, but she didn't have anyone to discuss it when she had heard it from her mother except for Calhoun where their discussion had turned to something else. 

"I should probably warn my sister to stay away from the man," Madeline proposed. But she saw Calhoun shake his head.

"Sit with me, Madeline," he said, catching hold of her hand, he tugged her towards the bed before taking a seat at the edge of the bed, "Do you think your sister will listen to you? She didn't listen to you when you warned her about Maddox and the others. What makes you think she will stop talking or avoiding Markus?"

She was right. Calhoun was listening to her and Beth speak before Beth had been bitten by Maddox. 

"I know she can be unreasonable at times but isn't it my responsibility, to warn her if something bad is going to happen? Beth," Madeline paused for a moment before saying, "Beth seems to really like Mr. Wilmot."

"Doesn't it give more reason that she won't listen to you? I don't mind if you want to give it a try, but if my guess is right, she will only turn against you," Calhoun remarked before letting his feet to rest on the space of the wood that raised his legs slightly up. 

Madeline didn't want that. Remembering Calhoun's earlier words, she asked, "Was Senior Mr. Wilmot, your father's brother?" Wait but they had different last names, thought Madeline.

"That's the trick question for the public. A lot of them think Markus' father was my father's brother. It is what most of us have got used to saying. I was wondering when you would figure it out," said Calhoun because some time ago, he had spoken about them being brothers. 

"Lady Rosamund is your father's sister," Madeline uttered in disbelief. Calhoun smiled at this. No wonder the woman was hellbent in having her to leave the King's side so that she could turn Sophie as the Queen. "Did they find out about you killing your father?"

"Rosamund knows, but she has no evidence for what I did. I have Lucy as my alibi," replied Calhoun. 

Madeline didn't understand the chase for the throne. Didn't being the King and the Queen have more responsibility? Compared to that, an ordinary villager's life was so simple, Madeline thought to herself. 

She turned to look at Calhoun, wondering how he would have lived the rest of the years till now, after killing the previous King and Queen. Madeline didn't know if it was right or wrong, but she wanted to warn Beth. After all, Beth was her sister and Madeline had the responsibility to drop a word of caution without being too obvious about it. 

"You still haven't shown me your mother's portrait," Madeline reminded him. 

Calhoun dropped his feet on the ground before standing up, "Let me introduce you to her then." The choice of his words was strange, but she got up from the bed and followed him, leaving the room empty with candles still burning in there. 

Instead of taking her to the gallery room, Calhoun took her out of the castle, riding on the horse. Madeline didn't question him and she remained quiet, waiting to see where he was taking her at this hour of the night. 

When Calhoun pulled the reins of the horse to stop after both he and Madeline had come far away from the castle, he was the first one to get down. He then helped Madeline in dismounting the horse.

The time was almost reaching midnight. Madeline for a moment didn't know where they were. They were surrounded by nothing but trees that were tall and dark. There was no grass on the ground. Apart from the chirping of the crickets, an occasional hoot coming from owls who were hidden behind the many branches of the trees, no other sound came to fall on her ears. 

"Hold my hand," Calhoun said to her, outstretching his hand in front of her, "So that I know you won't get lost in the forest." 

Madeline placed her hand on his for him to enclasp it before starting to walk beside him.

Walking some distance, Madeline noticed a grilled compound that had dry and fresh creepers tangled around it. The gates were left open as they passed through that had been left unlocked. As they entered, she noticed, there were many graves present in there. 

Calhoun and Madeline continued to walk until the King finally stopped in front of an old cemented coffin. Her heart squeezed at the thought that Calhoun had brought her here to literally introduce her to his mother.

Calhoun turned around to meet Madeline's eyes, "This is my mother here," he introduced, his words calm and collected as he said it. 

Madeline had asked to see his mother's portrait, but Calhoun had a whole different idea of making her meet his mother.

"My father didn't care enough to come to see my mother when she died. Without bothering about the woman whom he had bedded in the past. This is an exclusive grave, I got rid of the previous owner who resided in here before I placed my mother," explained Calhoun to her. 

The graveyard was not like the ones in her village where the coffin was buried, but this cemetery was different, noted Madeline to herself. The graves here were built outside, with no mud over them but dust and dirt with dried up leaves that must have come to settle because of the wind.

"You didn't have money to buy a place to bury her?" asked Madeline as Calhoun was not born in the castle, even though he was part of the royal family. 

Calhoun who had a severe look until now, a broad smile appeared on his face, "Money was not an issue. It was my father's beloved father, who was resting here earlier. I thought he wouldn't mind offering his resting place."

Madeline's eyebrows furrowed a little, "Where is he now?"

She saw Calhoun give her a thoughtful look before shrugging his shoulders, "I placed him somewhere here, but I don't remember anymore."
In the night- Part 4

Her eyes widened hearing this. Was Calhoun joking or being serious right now? With him smiling at her, it was hard to decide. Did he really take his grandfather out of his coffin, and he had no clue where his body was now?

"He wasn't worthy to have this cemented grave," stated Calhoun and he waved his hand as if she shouldn't worry about it. During the time of dinner and in her room, Calhoun appeared like any other ordinary person. Speaking to her so that she was aware of things that were going to take place in the castle. Earlier he spoke to her without teasing or taunting, but now it felt like his attitude had turned to its usual self. 

"Did you meet him?" Madeline asked. She knew Calhoun had met his father's mother who now resided in the cold cell of the dungeon with a rod that continued to stick into her mouth.

"No, but I heard my mother did. She said he was a very giving man. Someone much better than my father," Calhoun stepped closer to the cemented grave and started to dust the dirt that was on top of it. 

Madeline listened to Calhoun speak. She started removing the leaves that were on the top of the lid of the coffin, "If he was a good man, why did you take him out of his resting place?" and she saw Calhoun roll his eyes. 

"I was being sarcastic, Maddie," Calhoun responded, "He was a fucking bastard who did uncouth things. Going so far as even to touch my mother when she was the King's mistress."

Her lips pursed, pressing it against each other, "How did he die?" asked Madeline. 

Calhoun took note of how Madeline was helping him. His sweet girl, Calhoun thought to himself. "He got poisoned. I do wonder who poisoned him, such easy death," he shook his head in disappointment. 

"Have you always been like this?" Madeline questioned, wanting to know about him.

"This charming?" Calhoun cocked his head to the side. A smile broke through his lips as the grin widened. 

"Violent," said Madeline. 

Calhoun gave it a second before nodding his head, 

"Yes. I was born this way. I enjoy blood on my hands. Torturing people makes me excited." 

"It makes me worried," Madeline broke her gaze away from Calhoun to look down at the lid. 

"Why is that so?" Calhoun asked curiously, his eyes on Madeline who was looking at the top of the grave before she looked back at him, "I won't hurt people unnecessarily," he said with a solemn look to receive a stare from Madeline. He laughed, "You are right. I would surely hunt people down for my own pleasure and entertainment. But that is because they would have gone against me. I am a fairly reasonable man."

Madeline, who was done cleaning, searched for the name. When she found it, Madeline bent down to run her fingers over the name. 

"Constance Leigh," Calhoun said, "That was her name. Constance Leigh."

"Her name is engraved in here," she said to Calhoun. 

"I got it changed. You will see that this is one of the most beautiful grave compared to the others that are present in the graveyard in here," Calhoun was looking at the sides of the coffin. He then placed both of his hands at the edge of one side of the lid before pushing it for the grave to open inch by inch at the top, "I told you I would be introducing her to you," he said, raising his hand as if wanting her to come to stand next to him. 

In the dark, quiet night, Madeline found it to be daunting, to meet a dead body that belonged to Calhoun's mother. Calhoun had pushed the lid enough for her to see the person who was resting in there. 

As she took slow steps one after another, she remembered the time when the caretaker of the graveyard near her village had pulled out a couple of old bodies from the ground to move them somewhere else so that there was more space available in the village cemetery. The old dead bodies were left with nothing but bones. 

Madeline reached where Calhoun stood, her eyes fixed on Calhoun who was looking at her. The smile on his lips had fallen. His eyes were calm yet there was a certain melancholy, which wasn't too evident.

"Don't be scared to look," he said, noticing her reluctance in moving her gaze away from him. 

This wasn't anyone but Calhoun's mother. It would be rude not to look. Her brown eyes slowly moved to fall on the person who laid in there. Her eyes widened before a frown appeared on her face and she looked back at Calhoun, who now was looking at his mother. 

His mother…

"She is beautiful…" said Madeline looking at the person who had not decayed one bit. How was that possible? Madeline asked herself. It looked like she had only been placed in the coffin a few hours ago. The woman's skin was slightly blemished, but she continued to look beautiful, "H-how has she n-not..."

"How has she not decayed?" Calhoun completed her sentence, and Madeline nodded her head. 

Madeline knew his mother died years ago before he came to live in the castle. Most of the bodies often started to smell and decay until they turned to nothing but bones. But the woman here looked like she was sleeping for years. 

"It is the attribute of the cemented grave. My family got it built through the help of the priests for my grandfather. It is why I moved her here," answered Calhoun. 

"No one ever found out about it?" she asked looking at his mother. Madeline was right. Calhoun did acquire his looks from his mother and not from his father.

She heard Calhoun say, "No one has the time to visit the dead."

Before closing the lid, Calhoun pulled out a stemmed rose from his coat, placing it in the woman's hands that were holding each other. Once Calhoun took his hand back from there, Madeline noticed how the red rose turned to black.

"Shall we leave?" Calhoun asked Madeline, who was staring at the rose and then at his mother.

On their way back, Madeline couldn't stop but think how complex Calhoun was. For a person who was as twisted as him, she wondered what he had gone through. Like a rose's petal falling one after another, Madeline was learning more about him. She was grateful that he was being open without hiding anything from her. 

Calhoun saw her to her room, both of them standing outside without a word. Madeline wondered what he was thinking right now, "Get some sleep," he said to her. 

Madeline nodded and then bowed her head, "Thank you for today. For letting me meet your mother." She could tell that Calhoun didn't take everyone to meet his mother. For the royal family except for Calhoun, his mother was a non-existent person as she was never the queen. 

"Who will I introduce her to, if not you," remarked Calhoun, a smile cracking on his lips.

Calhoun observed how Madeline's eyes lowered. Not to look away from him but out of overwhelming emotions, she felt because of him and her spending time together. He doubted anyone had ever showered her with affection and attention as he had given her. Though the tailorman claimed he loved Madeline, he never came as close as to her breathing space. 

"Goodnight, Calhoun," Madeline wished him, and before she could leave, he caught her hand, stopping her from getting inside. 

When Madeline turned around, Calhoun leaned forward, and he stole a kiss from her lips, "Think of me, sweet Madeline. Goodnight," he whispered to let her go finally. He had teased her enough for the day; he wanted every fibre in her body and mind to think of him.

Watching her step inside the room and close the door, Calhoun looked left and right before making his way towards his room. It was good to see his mother after a decade. The last time he had opened the lid, it was when he had killed his father and his wife.

Recollecting that particular day, he could only relish on the feeling of how satisfying it had been. 

His thoughts went to the day,

"W-what, are you doing, Calhoun?" asked his father in shock with his eyes wide, "Free me right this instant! It is my order!" 

"Order? A King who cannot shield his own back, he's not worth being a King. How does it feel to be powerless?" asked Calhoun to the King. His father couldn't move an inch except to talk. Calhoun placed his hand on his father's chest.

His father was nervous, "What do you want?! I will give you anything. I will make you the King right this instant!" 

Calhoun tapped his fingers on his father's chest, "That I will become when you die. Do not worry, father. I will make sure you die heroically unlike the kind of worthless person you truly are," and he pushed his fingers through his father's chest, digging it in.

"I have taken care of you! You are my son. I love you! Stop this, Calhoun!" his father pleaded, and Calhoun smiled in satisfaction.

"I don't care," came the hollow words from Calhoun's lips. When he heard the sound of footsteps, he said, "Don't feel sad. I will send your beloved wife to give you company." 

Calhoun's hand had been dipped in blood until his elbow. It was because he had not stopped by just pulling out his father's heart, but he had pushed his hand through the back of his father before dropping the heart on the ground. 

Reaching his room now, Calhoun pushed the doors to step inside.

Pitiful thing, Calhoun thought to himself. The King had opened his arms to welcome him into the castle, not knowing he had greeted death. 
Cloverleaf- Part 1

After entering the room, Calhoun closed the door. He got to his bed without bothering to remove the shoes. With one leg folded up to have his foot placed on the surface of the bed and the right leg outstretched, where the shoe touched the edge of the bed, Calhoun stared at the ceiling of his bed.

The day had been far more eventful than what he had expected it to be. Not only he had taken blood from Madeline, but he had taken her to meet his mother.

It has been years since he had last seen his mother's face. Even though where she was resting now was close by, Calhoun had not gone to open the lid of the cemented grave where his mother laid dead and cold. Her body had been preserved in the coffin, but the pain he felt of what took place in the night when he had killed her, still lingered in the back of his mind.

She looked the same as the day when she had died. Or maybe in a much better condition, where she was not wheezing and spouting blood from her mouth. On the day of her death, his mother had turned to almost like a corpse. Her cheeks had turned hollow and her eyes had dark circles, making her look older and tired.

The fireplace was burning in low flame, and the candles that were placed on the stand continued to melt in time while Calhoun continued to stare into space. His red eyes were vacant, and the smile that he often adorned on his lips had disappeared. After a while, when Calhoun closed his eyes, his thoughts drifted into the dream, to relive the memories of the past.

Unlike the current weather, it was a rainy day in the land of Devon. Rain poured down from the sky while splashes of water could be heard as men ran on the ground.

"Where is he?!" asked a man who stopped running, looking to his left and right, searching for the person. The man wore clothes that were entirely black. There were badges on his chest to indicate that he was bestowed by the royal court for his commendable works. "He should be somewhere close by! Make sure to drag and bring him to me!"

"Sir!" came the collective voices from the other six men who had accompanied the man who ordered them.

"Everyone split up!" came the next order and the men dispersed from there.

At the corner of one of the houses, a young man stood, holding his stomach, which was bleeding. He huffed for air. His clothes and body were drenched because of the rain, washing away the traces of blood that had dripped down from cuts from his head and mouth. Calhoun took a deep breath before opening the coat to take a look at the side of his stomach which was bleeding even now.

The house near where he had taken shelter at, a woman stepped out of the house as if ready to leave with her umbrella. But after seeing a strange man who was standing there with blood that started to show up on his face because of the lack of rain to wash it away, the woman's eyes widened, and she shut the door right away. Calhoun heard the click of the lock as if the woman was securing her house from him.

Calhoun hadn't expected something like this to happen. He gritted his teeth at the wound that was on his stomach.

The rain again continued to pour, and Calhoun didn't stay there. He escaped from there so that he wouldn't be caught by the men who were sent by someone who he knew. The rain had almost stopped, leaving drizzle in the air by the time he had made his out of there.

He was on his way to the castle earlier when he was chased by seven men who had caught him off guard. Off guard, because he knew them. He had met and spoken with them in the past. Initially, there were ten people, and after fighting, the count had fallen to seven.

When he stepped into an empty alley between the houses, Calhoun finally stopped walking. His legs gave out, and he eventually took himself to sit on the muddy ground. Calhoun noticed how blood dripped down from his leg that was wounded. His head leaned back against the wall, and he closed his eyes, taking a breather and away from the royal court. He knew the men were possibly still looking for him.

He was sitting there, concentrating on his wounds to heal when he heard a small sound that approached his way. At first, Calhoun guessed it to be a cat or a rat that was searching for food behind the houses. It was because the sound was light on the ground and the sound of water splashing was not heard.

The sound stopped right in front of him. Calhoun opened his eyes out of annoyance to see who had come to bother him. His eyes fell on a small girl who stood to his side, staring at him. It was a little girl who wore clothes that weren't expensive but one that was worn by the villagers. The dress that she wore was large for her small size, as her hands almost disappeared because of the long sleeves.

She continued to stare at him curiously, without walking past and minding her work.

"Haven't you heard not to speak to strangers and to run away from them?" Calhoun asked the girl. Instead of answering, she blinked her eyes once. Humans were creatures who were curious, willing to sacrifice themselves as food for the vampires.

His hand reached up to touch the wound, running his tongue over the sore and metallic taste at the corner of his lips, Calhoun looked at her. By her awkward stance and one hand in front of her chest, he could tell that the little girl was wary about her surroundings, but not enough to run away from him. Calhoun was hungry, and he needed blood. He had lost blood from his body.

Calhoun could feel his fangs ache because he wanted blood right now. It didn't matter to him if it was an adult or a child.

He raised his hand forward, "Come here," but his words only created an opposite effect. The girl took a step back, and Calhoun's eyes narrowed. Maybe he was harsher. Trying it again, he said, "Come here, little girl. Let me see what you have in that hand of yours," his words were sweeter and kinder than before.

He could hear her little heart beating in her chest. It sounded wonderful because he knew she would taste good. Children were young and pure; they were nothing less than a delicious meal. There were some rotten apples, but most of them were always delicious. Thinking about it, it only made Calhoun more thirsty. He didn't have the time to go back to the castle.

Calhoun's red eyes stared at the girl's face and then at her hand when she looked down at her hand. They were loosely clenched, and when she brought it forward, letting it open, he saw it was a four-clover leaf.

"Hah," Calhoun responded, looking at the leaf and then up at the girl, "Do you believe in that thing?" he asked her. He doubted if the little girl understood in the depth of what luck meant.

The little girl slowly nodded her head.

"How lucky are you to be meeting someone who is at the peak of hunger," murmured Calhoun looking at the girl who didn't quite catch what he said. "Why don't I take a look at the leaf? It seems like it's not working well for you. I will return it to you," he added in the end. The children of vampires were often smart, while the human children were naive and easy to trick.

Calhoun could hear her heart pumping blood, he wanted to catch hold of her, draining her blood into his mouth until the very last drop. His thirst for blood was increasing, and she was the only possible meal right now where he wouldn't be being caught and being too obvious about his kill.

Just like he thought, the girl took five small steps towards him, holding the cloverleaf for him to take.

Calhoun could feel his fangs tingle now. With his mouth closed, his tongue went to run over the tips of his fangs as if polishing it, so that he could bite. His eyes turned redder.

He was waiting for her to get closer so that the taste of her blood would not change out of panic and struggle. Calhoun then inspected the cloverleaf.

"Humans can be so silly at times, believing in things like these," commented Calhoun to the little girl. The leaf she had plucked out was fresh, and it looked tender. Such a pity that the luck would not favour the girl today.

He played with the cloverleaf by twirling it. Before he could pull her towards him to take a bite into her neck, the girl surprised him. She moved closer and placed her hand with her handkerchief on his mouth. Calhoun raised his eyebrows at this,

"What do you think you are doing?" Calhoun asked over the handkerchief, his eyes narrowing to look at her. The girl still carried a cautious look, but she had been brave enough to put her handkerchief on his mouth.

This was the first time a meal of his was offering to clean his mouth before he could drink blood, but he doubted that was the case in here. Her brown eyes looked at his red eyes, a little more than mesmerized by the rare colour which the little girl was not used to seeing.

"Hurt," she spoke with her small voice for the very first time. 
Cloverleaf- Part 2

If the girl didn't speak, Calhoun would have assumed that the girl lacked the ability to talk. Until now, no one had done something so odd, and he could only believe that it was because she was a naive little girl. Her small hand was still on his mouth with the handkerchief. She was covering the left side of his lips that was bruised. 

"What are you doing here alone by yourself? Where are your parents?" he asked the girl who was looking straight into his eyes. On his question, the girl turned her head in the direction from where she had walked through before looking back at him.

With the girl standing this close to him, Calhoun could smell the fresh blood running through her delicate veins. His fangs appeared in full form, and the girl looked at his fangs curiously. Calhoun doubted with her naivety, even if she carried hundreds of clover-leaf with her, she would end up as someone's meal.

As if the little girl was not done, she dabbed the handkerchief on his face, and Calhoun's eyes only continued to narrow down as to what she was trying to do, by being unbothered and standing this close, next to him.

"You know I am starving," said Calhoun. With her naivety, he was prolonging the moment to take a bite and suck her blood out. With the parents who weren't with her, he doubted they would find her today if he were to throw her body somewhere in the forest.

On hearing his words, the girl turned worried. So she wasn't completely unaware, thought Calhoun to himself. At least she had a little sense when it came to bei-

"I have no food," she replied to him.

A chuckle escaped Calhoun's lips. The smile on his lips broadened so wide that the girl gave out a confused expression on her face.

"Why will I ask my food to bring me food? It makes no sense, stupid little girl," Calhoun brought his hand up and flicked the girl's forehead before pushing her forehead with his index finger so that she would keep a distance by taking a step back away from him, "You are funny," he said to her.

Calhoun's first sentence was nothing less than a puzzle to the girl, making her wonder what food was bringing food. After staring at the little girl for some more time, he said,

"I will do something that I usually don't do. Here," Calhoun handed the clover-leaf back to the little girl.

The little girl let go of her hand, where she had been holding her handkerchief that dropped down on the man's lap as she made use of both her hands to take the leaf—holding it protectively before her eyes raised to look at him.

"Go back to your parents. I cannot promise that I will spare you if I meet you next time," he said to her. The girl heard his words clearly but not understanding the depth of it.

Calhoun stood up from where he had been sitting. The wound on his stomach had healed itself by now. There were only a streak of lines left on the side of his lips and jaw.

The little girl had to crane her neck back to look at the man as he was tall while she was small. Calhoun picked up the handkerchief she had used that had spottings of blood on it.

"I will spare your life today and take this in return," he said, putting it in his pocket. He doubted the little girl's parents would be pleased if they found blood on her handkerchief, "Go back to your parents," he ordered. Turning around, he made his way to the end of the alley and he heard the voices of the adults. Calhoun had already left the place when the girl's mother came looking for her.

He left the village which he had entered, going back to hunt the men who tried to kill him some time ago. It took some time, but he killed all of them. Earlier that day he had been unprepared, but with his body in a better condition now, it wasn't hard to tear their limbs and head off their body.

After reaching the castle, Calhoun had changed his clothes, burning them in the fireplace before making his way to the court where his father and the Queen were present.

"Calhoun, I was wondering where you went," his father remarked after seeing him enter the big room. Calhoun bowed his head. As he raised his head, he noticed the older woman who sat not too far away from the King and the Queen. The woman's hair had turned grey. Her skin wrinkled, yet the gaze of hers was still fierce as she looked at Calhoun with her intense eyes.

Calhoun replied, "You asked me yesterday to go and meet Mr. Sporttle. I didn't want to waste the time and got it done." His father nodded his head.

"It's been only a few months, and my son looks like he's going to be a fine King in the future. I would expect nothing less from the boy in whose body my blood runs," Calhoun's father praised him, but the same didn't sit well with the King's wife or his mother that an illegitimate child of the King was going to take over the throne in the future.

"Let's not make any hasty decisions here, Laurence," spoke the King's mother. Her eyes that were on Calhoun shifted to look at her son, "Didn't you say, you were going to see his full potential before deciding, whether he should take the throne or if it is going to be Markus? It is not like the world is ending that we need to decide it right now."

The King agreed to his mother, "Calhoun has been doing fairly well though. Much better than Markus."

"I wonder how the public will take it once they find out who you want to appoint. To have the bastard on the throne," said the King's mother. The old vampiress then sighed, getting up to only hear commotion come from the entrance of the court. Men entered the room, carrying bags before bowing their heads.

"What have you brought in here?" asked the King. When everyone sniffed the air, their faces scrunched in the foul smell.

"My King, Sir Hendrick and his men were found dead," answered one of the men.

The King frowned, a displeased look appearing on his face, "Show me!" One of the men unloaded the gunny bag for the head to roll over on the floor. It was the man's head who was in charge of the men who were hunting Calhoun earlier that day. "Who dares to do something like this?!" the King asked in anger.

"We don't know, milord," the men bowed their heads, "We were tipped to go to the forest and found the bodies scattered over there."

While the King was speaking and showing his anger, Calhoun felt eyes on him, and he didn't have to know from whom it was. After two seconds, his eyes slowly moved to meet the eyes of his beloved grandmother, who was staring at him.

"Calhoun," the King called him, "The loss of Hendrick is heavy on us. He was the one who was helping in the trades between the cities and the lands. I want you to find who did this to him! I am sure he would be pleased if you bought his soul peace by finding the person who did this to him. Especially knowing how close you both were."

"Yes, my King," Calhoun obliged with a bow, "I won't let his death go in vain. The last time I heard from him, he was speaking about Brougham. I will make sure to get to the bottom of it. You can always count on me."

His father nodded, turning to the men and ordering them to take the bodies away and bury them. The King and the Queen were the first one to leave the courtroom as the stench of foul blood was filling the place.

Calhoun's eyes met the old vampiress' eyes. People in the court started to leave and so did the older woman who started to walk, almost walking past him when she stopped next to him, to say, "You smell of blood, boy. You should be more careful."

"Thank you for the advice, grandmother." She looked at him with distaste, and Calhoun offered her a smile, "I hope you can watch your back."

The woman's eyes flared, "How dare you try to threaten me. Did you forget what I did to your mother?"

"Never could," Calhoun continued to smile, "I was only asking you to be careful because you're an old woman. Bones at your age often turn weak. You take things too personally, grandmother."

"You think you are so smart because you killed my men?" asked the older vampiress in a whisper, "I will bring you down on your knees. You filthy child."

Calhoun tsked, "I don't think your son would like to hear, that the filth was passed from him." The vampiress quietly glared at him before seeing her way out of the court.

Theodore walked inside the court after he took care of the bodies to be thrown in the forest while Calhoun spent his time in Mr. Sporttle's mansion to create proof that he was busy with other work and he wasn't involved in the killings that just happened today.

"What are you going to do with her?" asked Theodore, "She's not going to stop, until you leave and stay away from the castle."

Calhoun put his hand in his pocket as he said, "Take away the support that she is getting from the King."

He pulled out the handkerchief that he had put in his pocket earlier in his room before burning the other clothes. His eyes fell on the small folded white cloth that had red spots of his blood. He needed blood to drink. When he went to unfold it, something fell on the ground from it.

His eyes fell on the dainty looking chain and pendant. Bending down, he picked it up in his hand.

"Whose is that?" Theodore asked, curious.

"My food's," replied Calhoun. 
Findings- Part 1

In the small house, a man sat in front of the fireplace which was heading itself to extinguish, fighting against the cold night. It was nearly the time of dawn, but James had not slept for the entire night. Sitting in the scarce light in the hall of his house, he stared at the fireplace in thought until he heard his father coughing in his room.

Hearing the coughing that didn't stop, James quickly made his way to the room where his father was sleeping. His father's body had curled itself in bed.

"Father?" James called, before going to the nightstand at the bed. He poured a glass of water and then went to give it to his father whilst helping the older man with another hand of his so that his father would sit upright on the bed.

He noticed how his father's hand shook. For a moment, he thought it was because of the cold night, but it wasn't so. When James went to check the temperature of his father, the man was burning with temperature.

"You have a fever, father," said James.

"I am fine," his father waved his hand, but his hand shivered.

James had heard his father coughing earlier that day, but he had thought it was something that would pass. Hearing him cough again now, he helped his father to lay back in the bed,

"Let me go and bring the logs of wood in here. God!" he sighed, reprimanding himself for not giving more attention to his father earlier that day.

James left the room after he had put the blanket to cover his father's body so that no cold air would come to reach him and make it worse. Walking to the back of his house, James looked for the log of woods, but there was only one log left in there. It seemed like they were out of logs. The log of woods used indoors were different that didn't give out too much smoke, something that Mr. Harris was good at finding and selling it out to the villagers.

Taking the last log of wood back inside the house, he went to pick the other pieces of woods which were still there in the hall. It didn't matter if it was going to exhaust in the next half an hour, but it would at least keep his old man warm. Placing them in the fireplace of the room where his father slept, James waited on him. Making sure if his father needed something, he would be right here.

James sat on the wooden chair, his mouth opening for a yawn as he didn't get any sleep. When morning arrived, he checked on his father again before heading to the kitchen, preparing breakfast for both of them. After that, James made his way outside the house, wanting to see if Mr. Harris had opened his shop so that he could get some wood. If not there, he would have to go to the forest and cut them himself, before bringing them back to the house.

When he walked towards the shop which Mr. Harris had recently received, upon the word of the King, he noticed the shop was in a different shape than what it was before. It was in a bad condition with its walls torn down.

With hands in his pockets, James looked around before stepping closer to the shop.

"Good morning, Mr. Heathcliff," greeted a man who was walking by, whom James recognized it to be Mr. Fisher bowing at him.

James returned the bow, "Good morning to you Mr. Fisher. Do you know what happened to the shop?" he asked the man. With the wedding gown that had to be prepared and with his own marriage with Catherine which was approaching in less than ten days, he had been quite busy and hadn't been able to take a look at this side of the village.

When James had heard about the King's generous offer to the Harris' family, it only made him understand and realize how poor he was compared to the King of Devon. Since James had taken a liking towards Madeline Harris, he always wanted to help Mr. Harris, but that day never came. James was not even a fraction of what the King was. And it was something that made him stop worrying, about how things had rolled out since the last few weeks.

Mr. Fisher looked at the shop and gave out a tired sigh. The man's face carried a look of pity, "I heard the King ordered to take it down."

James frowned, hearing this, "Why would he do that? Was there any known reason for such an action?" If the King didn't have any intention for the Harris' family to own the shop, he should have never given it.

"Have you not heard about it?" asked Mr. Fisher to him.

"Heard what?"

Mr. Fisher looked back and forth, and then said, "There has been news that has been circulating here. It seems a few days ago, young Miss Harris tried to kill herself in the castle."

James' eyes narrowed now, "What?!" That wasn't possible. He had seen her only some days ago, and she was doing fine. It was when he had gone to the castle to check the measurements of the inner dress of her wedding gown.

Mr. Fisher nodded his head, "My wife heard it from a woman, who happened to hear it from the maid's family who works in the castle. The King must have hushed the news so that it doesn't reach the public."

"Strange rumours often spread out like wildfire. People add something or anything to it," replied James. He found it hard to believe that Madeline would take such a drastic step.

When he saw her in the castle, she looked fine. Madeline looked like she was eating and sleeping well. He knew the King was obsessively in love with her, and it was something he could understand. James had decided it was not right to have feelings on one girl while he was marrying another. Madeline was going to marry the King, and his marriage had been fixed with Lady Catherine. It was a forced and threatened marriage where he could not refuse, and the wedding cards had already been sent out.

"I know it is something harsh to hear, but we need to know that, that is how the vampires are. Disgusting creatures who suck blood and throw bodies," whispered Mr. Fisher so that anyone walking past them, who was eavesdropping at them would not hear it, "I have heard so many rumours about the King. The stories that the maids share with people are frightening! The blood, the gore, the bodies that are either dumped in the forest or thrown in the river, only be found after several days or weeks. Sometimes not even that. Poor girl. To be caught by the tyrant," he shook his head before saying, "Wait, you have met the King, how is he?"

James didn't know how to respond to this.

"He, uh, he looked just like a King would. He was here in the village too, you must have missed seeing him," answered James, his words coming out to be diplomatic, "Could you tell me the name of the maid? Where I could find her."

"I will ask my wife for the address, but I doubt the maid would reveal it. The rule in the castle is not to let a secret out. If the King found out that she spoke about what happened," Mr. Fisher stopped before continuing, "I doubt he would be happy. Well, anyways. It was good talking to you, Mr. Heathcliff."

"It's been a pleasure," answered James. He saw the man leave on his way to work who wore a hat and coat to take the local carriage that would travel to the nearby towns.

James didn't know what to think about Madeline killing herself. Was she only putting up a show in front of everyone that she was alright? There had been a few instances that he came to believe that she wanted to spend her life in the castle, that she had a change of heart. James didn't hold a grudge on her. Madeline Harris was the first person he had loved, and he would pray for her happiness if that is what she wanted. But if that was not the case, he would like to protect her.

He would wait for Mr. Fisher's wife to give out the information about the maid, so that he could go and speak. To clear things.

James only hoped that it wasn't true. That Madeline was not depressed in her life and she didn't attempt to kill herself. He also doubted that the Harris' family knew about it. 

Leaving the place, he then made his way to the forest, carrying his axe. James finally returned with a couple of logs of woods back home, so that it could keep the house as well as his old father warm.

"How are you feeling now, father?" asked James after his father had woken up and had eaten his breakfast, "Would you want me to go get the doctor?" he placed his hand again on his father's forehead to check if it was still warm. The temperature had reduced, and James hoped his father would feel better.

"You worry for nothing, son. The windows were open, and I didn't close them soon. The cold air must have passed through it," replied his father, "Do not worry about me. I will be fine with some more sleep," assured the old man but James continued to stare at his father.

When his father was married to his mother, his mother suffered from continuous miscarriages, turning her body weak. It was only after years that James born to his parents. His mother had passed away, and the only person he had as a family was his father.

In the beginning, when James met Lady Catherine, he didn't know who she really was. That she was the daughter of the Duke. The Duke in their land was a well-known and a powerful man, but James had never bothered to know about it. He still couldn't believe that he was going to marry Lady Catherine but the worse was, Mr. Barnes was going to be his father-in-law. The man who threatened both him and his father. 

At the time of evening, James was in the shop, when Mr. Fisher visited him, "Mr. Heathcliff. Here is the address."

James was more than happy to receive the information about the maid so quickly, and he bowed his head in gratitude, "Thank you, Mr. Fisher."

Mr. Fisher noticed how worried Mr. Heathcliff looked, when he heard the news. His eyes looked at the tailorman before nodding his head, "Be sure the word doesn't spread about it. I doubt the King would be pleased to know, that the rumour has spread about young Miss Harris," and the man left.

While James stood there with the note of address in his hand, one of his assistants named Emilio stood near the door, listening to their conversation. 

James placed the note in his pocket. Turning around he pushed the door to the room where his assistants were working.

"Mr. Heathcliff," Emilio addressed James, "I was wondering if I could leave early from work today. I will be here soon tomorrow in the morning." James looked around the room at the dress that was being made, and he finally nodded.

"Make sure you are not late tomorrow. We need to deliver the dress soon," James gave a stern look, and Emilio nodded his head with a smile.

"Thank you, Mr. Heathcliff!"

Emilio packed his things and quickly went to get a ride from one of the many carriages that was stationed near the tower bell in the village, "Where do you want to go?" asked the carriage man. 

"To the King's castle." 
Findings- Part 2

James looked at the piece of parchment that was torn unevenly, where the maid's address was written down.

He wanted to go right away and meet the maid, but at the same time, he wanted to make sure his father was doing alright as he was sick in the morning. James had to remind himself that there was still time, and there was no need to go looking for the maid who worked in the castle. He didn't even know if the maid would be there in her house, or if she had gone back to work at the castle.

James walked towards the large window of his shop, unlocking it, he pushed it open to get some air. He could wait for tomorrow, he said to himself.

Afterwards, when James was getting his shop closed for the day, locking every door and window before heading out of it with his assistants, the carriage that left from the village of East Carswell had reached the castle of the King of Devon, Calhoun Hawthrone.

The man named Emilio gave the coin for the ride and said, "I will need a ride back to East Carswell later."

"If you have the coin to pay, I am here," said the carriage man in his gruff voice. He took the carriage to park it at the side while his eyes took in the castle that he had only see from outside but never inside.

Emilio didn't wait but walked forward to be stopped by the guard, "I am here to see the King," stated Emilio. The guard sized the man up and down, who had stepped out of the carriage as he had never seen this man here before.

"Wait here," ordered the guard and then went up the stairs, disappearing at the top. Like the carriage man, it was the first time for Emilio to be here. He could not help but look around the place from where he stood. He was excited to be here but more than that he was excited at the reward he was going to get from the King.

After minutes passed, the guard returned to lead him inside the castle. The guard took him to one of the rooms, and asked him to wait there. Emilio didn't have his pocket watch with him to know how many minutes had passed, not that he minded as he was in the castle. It was every person's dream to step in the castle and look at the beauty that it held, from the walls to the items that were used to decorate it. Candles were lit in the room as the evening had passed to welcome the night.

Emilio was fascinated by the vase that was near him that he went to touch it when he heard a deep voice in the room,

"Mr. Canon." The tailorman's assistant whipped his head around to look at the King, who stood tall and proud, but that wasn't what caught his attention. It was those red eyes that looked at him intensely.

The human quickly bowed his head to show respect to the King before going down on his knees to emphasize his emotion, "Hail to the King!" greeted Emilio.

Calhoun stared down at the human who had come to see him, "I hope you have come here for a good reason, Mr. Canon. I don't like wasting my time on unnecessary things," Calhoun said, his red eyes piercing into the man.

Emilio's eyes widened, and he bowed his head again, "Forgive me, milord for disturbing you at this hour of the day."

"Speak," Calhoun demanded as he was in no mood to beat around the bush right now.

Calhoun noticed how the human's heartbeat had increased out of fear, something he very much enjoyed to do. Humans were such delicate beings that they were similar to birds. There was a time when a man had died because of his rapid and growing heart rate after meeting him. His lips twisted at the memory of it.

"Milord," Emilio began to say, "I am here with the news about Mr. Heathcliff. A man today appeared at the shop, he gave Mr. Heathcliff a parchment."

"And what did that parchment contain?" Calhoun asked, intrigue in his voice.

Calhoun hoped it was something good. Since the time he had spoken to Mr. Barnes about Catherine's marriage to the tailorman, Calhoun had gotten Theodore to have a mole present in the shop.

It was so that Calhoun could get information about James Heathcliff, to make sure he wouldn't do anything stupid.

Emilio looked up at the King who looked more dangerous up close, than the time, when the King had made an appearance during one of the executions that took place in the village of East Carswell. "Milord. The man who visited the shop said, it was the address of a maid who worked in the castle. Mr. Heathcliff had asked information about her."

Calhoun's eyes narrowed hearing this, "I am guessing that Mr. Heathcliff is not eyeing another girl while he is going to get married to Miss Barnes."

The human shook his head quickly, "No, my King. It seemed like Mr. Heathcliff wanted to meet her. The man who visited the shop also said something before leaving," Emilio saw the King raise one of his eyebrows in question and he continued, "He said something about not to let anyone know about the rumour of a girl. The rest was spoken in whispers."

Calhoun didn't look pleased. The human had heard part of the conversation, and it seemed like James Heathcliff was up to something, that he believed was related to Madeline. This made him question if he should just kill James so that it would save his time and let everyone move forward with their lives.

"Anything else you heard, Mr. Canon?" Calhoun asked Emilio, "I am curious about what you heard but its too vague. How is the wedding gown coming along?"

"We are working on it, milord. It should be done in a few days," the human answered. Calhoun moved two of his fingers for the person to stand up. As if remembering something, Emilio said, "There has been a rumour that has been going around for a few days. People have been whispering about Miss Harris trying to kill herself."

"Hm?" came the response from Calhoun. Emilio was about to repeat, but Calhoun raised his hand, not wanting to hear the human speak anymore. He heard it clearly the first time, but his question was why the rumour was going around.

His eyes narrowed in realization.

Pulling a gold coin from his pocket, Calhoun said, "Good to know that it wasn't all useless," and he threw the coin towards Emilio for the human to catch it, "You can leave now."

He saw the human bow his head again before making his way towards the door and out of the room. The human was talking about the time when Madeline had fallen from the tower when the glass had disappeared on her touch.

Calhoun's calm face turned grim, his eyes fierce when he wondered which servant of his had dared to speak about the incident outside the walls of the castle without permission.

"Theodore," Calhoun shouted the name, loud and clear. In less than ten seconds, Theodore made his way inside the room. "Find out which maid has gone to visit her home in or around East Carswell."
Findings- Part 3

Madeline was with her mother, sitting in the corridor where there was a bench for one to sit. After having supper, her father retired to the guest room while her mother stayed back to spend time with her. 

"He said you both would be getting married in the church. Is it true?" inquired her mother with her. Madeline nodded her head. 

"He did mention it to me," replied Madeline. The first time when Calhoun had spoken about it, she thought he was joking because vampires and church didn't go together. The vampires usually never stepped in the holy place of the church, and many humans came to believe that it was because vampires are different, "He said he wanted to have it in the church as he thought it was something I would want."

Madeline noticed how her mother frowned after hearing this, "He's doing it for your sake," hummed her mother in thought before asking, "Will the vampires be fine? I thought the vampires were allergic to places like the church."

"It should be fine if he's decided to marry me there. He also said it would be much more comfortable for our relatives and us to attend the wedding," replied Madeline. 

Mrs. Harris looked at her younger daughter. Madeline looked calm and collected, instead of looking like a tearing mess when they last left her alone in the castle on the King's orders. It was good to see that the King was looking after her and he wasn't mistreating Madeline. Yesterday during the time of dinner, the atmosphere had turned awkward and tense. 

"Mama, I need to talk to you about something," Madeline said, and her mother nodded her head, waiting for her to go ahead to speak, "Do you think you can keep an eye on Beth and Mr. Wilmot for some time?" 

"An eye?" asked her mother. 

"The Wilmot's family, they are not exactly nice even though they might try to look like one," Madeline didn't want to drop the information like this, but she didn't know how to bring it up with Beth. She had tried to find an opening with Beth earlier today, but every time she tried to bring up the topic, Beth had only deviated it with her thoughts and plans of a wedding. Beth looked like she was too smitten by the vampire, Markus Wilmot. 

"Is this about what happened yesterday at dinner?" asked her mother with a questionable look on her face, "Lady Sophie's hand slipped during dinner. It was an unfortunate incident. You shouldn't think too deep on it."

"No, it's not that," Madeline looked at the quiet corridor, "It's not about Lady Sophie."

Mrs. Harris placed her hand on Madeline's hand that was resting on her lap, "Have they hurt you? It would be best if you told the King. He will make sure nothing happens to you." 

Madeline was surprised by her mother's words. It was only a few days ago that her mother had encouraged her to run away from the castle. But now she was willing to accept the King as Madeline's future husband.

"I am just worried for Beth, mama. Don't you think it's too much of a coincidence that the man was out there? Near the shop when the shop was being demolished. I feel like he's trying to do something. You heard the King. He had nothing to do with it."

Her mother's face turned grim in thought, "Why would he do that? Do you think he did it to gain Beth's attention?" 

That is not what Madeline was speaking about, but her mother had deviated from what Madeline meant and said, "I know vampires can be, the way we think they are. They are, after all, different from the the...humans. The young vampiress Sophie seemed not to like your sister, but her mother, Lady Rosamund, loved Beth's company. This noon, she invited your sister and me to join her for tea."

Madeline smiled at her mother's eagerness. Though the royal family consisted of vampires, they were still creatures who one was supposed to be wary of. The reason her elder sister had grown the way she had, was because of her mother, and Madeline doubted that her mother realized it. 

Her parents had a good marriage life. A simple and stable one, but her mother often had dreamed of having a better life. It was something that was passed on to Beth. 

"Even if Markus' sister doesn't like Beth, it shouldn't be much of a problem. Lady Rosamund said that they are searching for a good suitor for her daughter Sophie. This would mean Beth and Sophie won't be living under the same roof. But then sister-in-laws sort out their differences in time," her mother nodded her head and continued to speak, "I was worried when the King announced his marriage to you, and Beth was being left behind. There have been many rumours that have been surrounding her."

Madeline furrowed her eyebrows, "Like what?" 

Her mother pursed her lips and then said, "They are ill rumours. Of how she is an unsuitable girl to get married to and how many of them are rejecting her. That she is rude and whatnot." The woman shook her head in worry, "I have been making sure to keep her busy in the house, but it has been hard. I don't know if she's heard about it."

"People have no right to speak about her like that," Madeline was not happy hearing it. 

When her marriage was announced, somewhere in the back of her mind, Madeline knew a situation like this would arise. It was customary to get the daughters of the house married in line. When one was skipped, the question arose on why she was not married, and people would start talking behind their backs. 

Madeline was hoping her mother would listen to what she had heard from Calhoun, but at the same time, she doubted her mother would stay quiet about it. Madeline had taken over her father's genes when it came to keeping things to herself. 

"I am just worried Markus will break her heart," Madeline said in the best way she could, "Vampires usually don't do things out of seriousness. They have motives. We all know how the night creatures don't take the humans as a bride but only as a sacrifice." 

"The King has proven our thoughts to be wrong. Markus has not shown any signs as such," her mother said squeezing Madeline's hand, "But if it makes you feel better, I will keep an eye on him for any signs. Initially, I did think about it, that it was indeed strange, but both the man and his mother appear to enjoy Beth's company. If we questioned every little thing, it would be hard to lead our lives."

"But questioning avoids possible misery," stated Madeline. Beth was hard to convince, and somewhere, after what happened in the garden yesterday, Madeline doubted her sister would listen to her. Beth liked to lead the way and didn't like taking orders from others. Before more words were shared, Elizabeth arrived in the corridor. 

"Good that you haven't gone to sleep yet!" came the cheerful voice of Beth, who carried a small box in her hand, "I wanted to show you something!" 

Madeline wondered what was inside the velvet box. She saw Beth open it carefully to make sure it wouldn't break. When the light hit what was inside it, both Madeline and her mother saw it sparkle. They were a pair of diamond earrings.

"Where did you get that from, Beth? Did you steal it?" Was the first question that came out of Mrs. Harris' mouth. It was because there had been a few instances when Beth was a young girl, where she had 'borrowed' things from others, and it was Mrs. Harris who went back to return these borrowed items from others. 

Beth turned embarrassed at her mother's words, "Why would I do something so shameful! This is a present given by Lady Rosamund." 

The earrings sparkled brightly, light-reflecting back on Mrs. Harris' face, who looked too stunned to speak, "This is too much for a gift, Beth. Return it," said their mother as their family could not afford it. 

Beth nodded her head, "I know. I was shocked myself when Lady Rosamund presented these as a gift. She also said that it was an apology for what took place in the dining room because of Lady Sophie. Don't you think she's generous?" Beth asked. 

"I don't know what to say," Mrs. Harris was speechless by the sight of the expensive jewel. Even if her husband worked for years, they wouldn't be able to afford something close to this.

Madeline looked at the studded earrings, looked up at Beth, who had a broad smile on her face. Beth, meeting her younger sister's eyes, said, "What do you think, Maddie? I told you Markus was trying hard to woo me for marriage. He's not hidden his intentions about me from his mother, which only tells how serious he is when it comes to taking me as his wife. We will be more than sisters!" came Beth's excited voice. 

Like her mother, Madeline offered her sister a smile.

Madeline then said, "If it's a gift for welcoming you, I think it is very kind of her. But if the reason is to apologize for what happened, I think it should be Lady Sophie who should be apologizing to you and not Lady Rosamund. By words." 

If a person wanted to apologize genuinely, why not do it through words, asked Madeline to herself. 

But unlike Madeline, Beth didn't think like that, and she had a look of displeasure on her face. 

"Are you unhappy with the possible marriage that is going to happen with Markus?" Beth directly questioned Madeline. 

Madeline wondered if Beth could sense her feelings towards Markus and their relationship.

Calhoun had warned Madeline about his relatives and their intentions. She already knew about those things because Lady Rosamund had not treated her the same way she was treating Beth now by using polite words and giving gifts.

She tried to put it in the best way she could in front of Beth, "Both of you should take it a little slow, to get to know each other. Let mother spend time with Lady Rosamund so that they are more well acquainted with each other. I mean its a marriage between two families-"

"I don't see the King waiting to know mother or father or me. He's getting married to you like in what? Since the time you both met for eight or seven weeks?" questioned Beth. 

"This is not about the King we are speaking of. Our situations are different. You have a choice from the beginning," Madeline knew this was a delicate matter, and she couldn't tell things openly to her sister. She doubted if she could speak about it to her mother too. Beth's eyes had stars and dreams, which was now being granted by Lady Rosamund, "I am only asking you to take it slow."

Beth scoffed, "You speak as if you are still a victim in what is happening."

"I never said I was. I have accepted to take the King as my husband out of my own choice," Madeline retaliated back, "I am telling it for your own sake."

Beth turned to look at her mother and said, "It looks like our dear little Madeline has all grown up. Behaving like she knows everything in the world and has turned wise." 

Madeline frowned at her sister's words, "I think you forgot that I warned you about the wolves, but you went ahead to touch them anyways. If you take that, yes, I am wise," she owned up to the words that Beth just uttered. 

"You told me that the wolves came out of nowhere and bit you!" Mrs. Harris whispered to Beth, with a questionable look on her face. 

"The wolves are stupid little mutts who are left out in the wild, mama!" Beth replied to her mother and then raised her hand that was still dressed with white bandages. She then turned to look at Madeline, her eyes narrowed, "Looks like you are finally shedding that delicate nature of yours to show your true self. And all because you are now going to be a queen."

"Yes, I am going to be the queen," affirmed Madeline, "But I am saying it not to show my status, but because you're my sister." She had heard enough from Beth about how she was using her current status, when in truth, all Madeline was trying to do was to protect Beth. Beth was beautiful, smart, and Madeline didn't doubt it. Madeline was only giving a word of caution, to see how things would turn out with Markus in time rather than jumping on the ship to set it to sail. 

Beth quietly glared at Madeline. It was because Madeline had never spoken to her in such a tone. And her sister was talking to her like this only because she was going to turn to be a queen. This made Beth only wonder what would happen if Madeline never turned to a queen. What if the crown was taken away from her before she even had the opportunity? 

"I would prefer to get married to the man early than delay my time, to only be called as the girl who couldn't marry or find a suitor before her younger sister," Beth replied. She then closed the box that was open until now, "I like Markus a lot. Not to forget, he is the King's cousin. I thought you would be happy Madeline," said Beth. And before Madeline could say anything, Beth had turned around and left the place to walk back to her room. 

Madeline sighed. She had been as subtle as she could, but Beth had turned defensive. 

Her mother placed a hand on her shoulder, "It isn't like she's getting married to the man tomorrow. Things like these take time. And there are plenty of days for Beth to know and mingle with his family."

Madeline nodded her head. 

"I didn't mean to show my status to her," she said to her mother.

"I know, dear. I know you didn't mean it. Beth will be fine by the time of the morning," and both of them stood up. Madeline hugged her mother, who hugged her back before letting go, "I will see you in the morning. Okay?"

"Yes, mama." 

Madeline saw her mother get back inside the guest room that was allotted to them by the King. It was as fancy as other rooms in this side of the corridor while away from the Wilmot's rooms. This was the second day for her family to be spending their time in the castle, and there were eighteen more days left for the wedding to take place. 

She didn't pay too much attention to her sister's words because Beth often got angry, but it always went back to normal after some time. Madeline believed it was healthy to fight and bring the words out than keep it within oneself.

Walking away from the corridor, Madeline made her way through the other halls. As the feeling sank in her mind of her going to be a queen, it felt surreal. She was going to her room when she caught sight of Calhoun, who was talking to Theodore, his face looking severe. Whatever it was, it seemed like it was something of a severe matter. Her footsteps turned slow as she stared at him. Calhoun's red eyes didn't stay on Theodore for long as they snapped to look at her. 

Madeline saw Calhoun walk past Theodore, making his way to where she was. 

"Is everything alright?" she asked, looking into his eyes. 

Calhoun's eyes were calm as he returned her gaze, "Yes, everything is perfectly alright. Why do you ask?" he asked her in a curious tone. 

Madeline wondered if she should point out that he wasn't smiling like he often did, "Just like that," and she heard him hum in response. 

"Did your parents go to sleep?" Calhoun asked, receiving a nod from her, "Your father is very passionate about cutting woods."

Madeline smiled, "Is that what you both spoke about?" She had heard Calhoun had invited her father for a drink in one of the many rooms of the castle. She had been slightly anxious when she heard it from her mother. 

"We spoke about other things. Though I felt there were some things he was hiding," murmured Calhoun that caught Madeline's attention. 

"About what?" she asked, and Calhoun noticed how brown her eyes were. 

"I was trying to know how your childhood was," and finally, a slow smirk appeared on his face, "I doubt you remember about your childhood. Therefore, I decided to ask him. I would like to know more about you, sweet stuff." 

It would be a lie to say that Madeline had not been worried about Calhoun scaring her father. He aced in those things, and she was a little weary until she saw her father again, who appeared to be in a decently good mood.

Who would have thought that the tyrant King wanted to know little things about her. Something she didn't remember. But now that she had learned more about him, things others weren't aware of, Madeline could see him wanting to know more about her. 

"What did you find out?" Madeline asked Calhoun. 

Calhoun stepped forward, running his fingers over the side of her hairline to smoothen the errant strands of her hair, "That you were an adorable little girl. A quiet one." His hand then dropped down to his side, "Did you have a good day?" he asked.

"It was alright. Did your day go well?" Madeline asked him something she wouldn't have questioned a month ago. 

"I missed spending my time with you, but then I know you want to spend your time with your family. I will have you wholly to myself soon." His eyes focused on her face. It was good to see her standing here in front of him, without escaping from his sight. "I would love to spend more time with you, but I have somewhere to go."

"Work at this hour?" 

Calhoun cracked a grin, "Yes, a King always has his hands full with work. It is something urgent. Let me walk you to your room," he offered. 

"I will go myself. You will be able to finish the work sooner," Madeline said looking at him. Calhoun leaned forward as if going to kiss her on her cheek, but instead, his lips brushed her ear only to bite the side of her ear lobe, making her flinch. He then licked it.

"If you are awake, I will come to see you later," Calhoun whispered, feeling her heart skip a beat, and he smiled before pulling away from her. 

Madeline didn't respond to his words, but she didn't evade it either. Calhoun saw her walk until she disappeared behind the end of the corridor. The smile on his lips finally dropped as he made his way to meet Theodore. 

"The carriage is ready," informed Theodore.