✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 231 - 240 ✍️✍️✍️✍️

PHYSIENTS WILL ALWAYS OFFER BEST STORIES AND LIVE STREAMING ALL TIME

Findings- Part 4

When the King's carriage stopped not too far away from the heart of the village, East Carswell, Calhoun got down, making his way towards the house that Theodore had given address to. He didn't need a piece of parchment to remember the address as he had a good memory. 

The night was late, and Calhoun had chosen to act upon it right away rather than delay the matter, which could only create a further problem in the future. The black coat which he wore reached below his knees, and he wore a hat that cast a shadow on his face. Reaching the house, the door clicked to open for him, and Calhoun stepped inside the place. He saw the maid who worked for the castle humming something under her breath as she combed her hair in front of the mirror. 

Calhoun walked quietly and took a seat on the chair, waiting for the girl to be done as it was rude to interrupt a lady when she was combing her hair. 

Finally, when the maid felt a presence, she turned around, her eyes widened on seeing the King sitting in her house. 

"My King!" exclaimed the maid. 

Calhoun stared at the maid, who bowed her head. There was evident fear in her eyes as the King never visited his servant's house unless there was a pressing matter. 

The maid had never spoken to the King directly, but that didn't mean she had not spoken about him outside the castle. Some women and men of the high society enjoyed gossip, especially the stories that concerned of the people who belonged to the high-status family. Servants were often paid generously when the stories were amusing or something that interested the gossip taker. 

"W-would you like to drink something, milord?" the maid asked, trying to keep her voice even, but it broke in the end. 

Calhoun crossed his legs, placing one over the other while leaning back and placing one hand on the armrest, "Do you think I am here to drink something from your home?" Calhoun asked and the maid shook her head, "Then why do you ask?"

The maid opened her mouth only to close it. Everyone knew not to answer the King when the tone was challenging. 

The King didn't say another word but stared at the maid who looked scrawny, "How long have you been working in the castle, that you have forgotten the rules that the servants have been asked to follow?" 

"N-nearly t-three years, milord," the maid stuttered. 


"And in these three years, how many times have you revealed things that have taken place inside the castle?" Calhoun asked before standing up and looking at the house, "You have a fairly good house. Was it brought by the money you received from others after your storytelling?" his fingers ran over the walls, and his eyes then shifted to look at the maid.

The maid's eyes turned wide, "I-I don't know wh-what you're telling," she shook her head. 

Calhoun's tongue clicked. In one quick movement, he caught hold of the girl's neck.

"I would have ignored it if the rumour that you have spread was something else, but you should have known better not to speak a word about the future queen." His hands squeezed the maid's neck, and she flailed her hands, trying to release herself from him. 

"P-please, milord!" the maid tried to say as she could feel the air reducing in her body. 

"I thought after beheading people in the castle, in front of everyone, people would rectify their ways, but it seems like people truly have no brain as they speak and break the rules," said Calhoun, his words coming out dull as he released the girl for two seconds to breath before tightening the grip around the human's neck again. 

"You know, I would have let it slide but making up things that you have not seen," Calhoun shook his head, "I have finally got her to open up to me, and her parents are accepting the fact, but here you are, a little rat trying to disrupt something that is so beautiful. Do you think I would be pleased?" he asked her, but the maid could not answer as Calhoun's fingers didn't release her neck to speak, 

"So tell me now, how would you like to die?"

The maid was utterly frightened by the King's words. When Calhoun let go of her neck, the girl scurried away from him, keeping a distance while looking towards the door to run. She knew not to scream.

"Please forgive me, milord! I never meant any harm. It was what I heard in the castle!" she bowed her head, hoping the King would forgive her, but even she knew the King never forgave anyone. Even if he did in the past, those people often died in strange circumstances. But with her life on the line, she continued to beg, "I will never utter a word again."


Calhoun nodded his head as he stepped closer to her, "I know you won't. If you aren't alive, nothing will ever come out of those lips," a malicious smile appeared on his lips. 

The maid wanted to live! Trying to think about what could save her life, she suddenly said, "If you asked the Queen, she would ask to spare my life. Please, my King!" 

If the maid had not feared for her life, she would have never let a word of whisper out of her mouth. There would have been no telling when she would repeat it, and Calhoun didn't want any other rumours being spread. 

Calhoun chuckled at the naive words of the maid, "If you have lived in the castle for three years, you should know things like that don't work on me," he tsked before snapping the maid's head with both his hands for her body to fall slack on the ground. 

Walking back to the carriage, he ordered the coachman, "Bury her somewhere far away from here. And not like Lipton's daughter."

"Yes, milord," the coachman bowed his head. 

Calhoun didn't get inside to sit in the carriage, but he continued to walk away from it, taking a stroll in the night. 
___________
Awake in the bed- Part 1

Calhoun walked down the empty roads of the village, his body moving nothing less to a shadow because of the black attire that he wore. The night was quiet and peaceful. But he wasn't satisfied with the kill he made a few minutes ago back in the maid's house. If it was possible, he would have torn the maid's limbs, going one after another, before ripping her head out of her body. But he didn't want to spill blood tonight. 

Sure, he had promised Madeline about not killing people, but the promise was only for the day before, after and on the wedding day.

As much as his ears picked on rumours that he didn't care about, he didn't like people speculating rumours about Madeline's mindset and turning her family or her against him. Calhoun had been careful enough to lay his web out, and Madeline had stepped far into it. Almost at the centre, ready to live with him in the castle. 

Calhoun killed people, but at the same time, he made sure no one would be able to point the finger at him. The servants in the castle were trained not to utter words that didn't concern them. Even if he did kill people, there was always a solid reason or a reason was cooked up in favour of the King. Treason to the King or the King's family was something that was not tolerated. 

The air in the village was cold, and Calhoun's lust for blood increased. He looked for prey to feed on, to suck and drink the blood out of the person until the last drop. He wondered who would be the lucky person. Calhoun was in no mood to drink the blood from a glass at the moment. 

The truth was that he wanted to drink the blood from the petite girl who had pale yet milky skin. Thinking about it made his fangs ache in need. When a person found something close to paradise, it was hard to let it go. One sip was never enough and sometimes, not even many gulps. His shoes didn't make any noise on the ground, and Calhoun played with his fangs by running his tongue over it. The fang was sharp enough to cut the surface of the tongue, and he tasted the metallic blood. 

His eyes searched in the dark, finding the next possible person who could turn to his prey. With most of the lanterns that were burning since the time of the evening, they had exhausted themselves because of the lack of oil in them, making it easier for him to move freely. 


He was eager to go back to the castle. To visit Madeline to whom he had said he would return to see her if she was awake. The expression on her face told him that she would be waiting for him. It had taken many days to create a spark of fire, and Calhoun had done nothing but fan it in Madeline. 

Madeline was a sweet girl. His girl, Calhoun thought to himself. He wanted to know every little thing about her. He wanted to meet her right away, which was why he didn't bother to torture the maid further and waste his time. The maid barely held his interest to keep him near her. He killed her quickly, leaving her body in the care of his coachman. Even if someone did try to pin it on him, the blame would go to fall on the coachman and not on him.

Standing anywhere close to Madeline right now, would only make him do worse things to her, things she would be scared and would break her. It was why he was looking for a person in the night. Somewhere in one of the houses, Calhoun then heard an argument taking place. A woman screamed in pain and Calhoun made his way towards the house. 

"You worthless piece of woman! Did you think I would not find out!" the man yelled at the top of his voice, just enough not to let his voice out of the house. But Calhoun was a vampire. He heard most of the things even though he wasn't around.

Calhoun walked away from the door, moving near the window to take a look at the woman who was on the ground, with her hand on her cheek. There were tears in the woman's eyes. 

"You promised you wouldn't spend any more money on gambling! Every morning there are debt collectors at the front of the house!" the woman said in tears, "I cannot live like this!"

Calhoun identified the man to be the husband who glared at his wife, "Why don't you leave right now then?!" he pulled the woman up to stand and pushed her out of the house, "It is my money! I will do what I want!" 

"Why did you even marry me? You cannot throw me out. I am your wife!" the woman said in distress. When she went to speak again, the man slapped and kicked her stomach, making her fall down on the ground and hurl in pain. 


By watching this, Calhoun's eyes narrowed. He had come across such events before. He had seen his very own mother being mistreated. Not by his father, but the men who came to use her, which was why how made money. His memory was distant, but it was still there. 

Things in the past had been dire for both Calhoun and his mother. He was a young boy when he started to take note of things. Rumours always spread very fast, worse than a wildfire, burning a person's image to charr it for the next few years until people forgot about it. 

Nobody knew how and who spread the news about his mother being the King's mistress, but Calhoun could only guess that it was his paternal grandmother's doing. When something belonged to the King, it was possible for the King to lose interest in it, but it didn't mean the interest was lost outside the castle. Everybody wanted to know about the person or the thing. To have it and wonder what made it important to the King before he discarded it. 

In Calhoun's memory, he and his mother shared good times. It wasn't long, but it was enough for him to keep him going. To turn to the person he was, with the things that had gone down with him. He wasn't angry with his mother. He doubted he ever would be. She was with the wrong man.

It was only after years did Calhoun bring peace to her by killing the man who used and threw her. 

"How dare you try to stop me!" the man shouted, to kick the woman again and spitting on her. In anger, the man left the house, leaving the woman behind crying in pain who didn't move from her position. 

This brought in other memories in Calhoun's mind. He followed the man who stomped like a little child as he headed close to the forest. It was funny how some men thought it was alright to show their pride and manliness where it was not needed. The woman wasn't shocked when the man had kicked her, and it only told that this person whom he was following now in the dark, was not worth living. Calhoun said to himself that it was a way to stop the misery of the woman and clean his land by getting rid of such people.


The village man turned around when he heard the sound of footsteps, but there was no one there. As he continued to walk, he again heard the crunching of the dried leaves that made him walk faster to get rid of the person whoever was following him. He turned back and then looked around for someone to catch hold of his neck and push him against the tree. 

"W-who are you?!" asked the village man in panic. 

With the shadow that was cast on Calhoun's face because of the hat and the darkness of night, Calhoun chuckled, "It might be the devil who has come here to suck your soul out of your body and send it to hell."

"S-stop joking!" the man fretted to get away from the stalker, "I will alert everyone in the village."

"Go ahead," Calhoun replied with a calm voice, "I would like to hear you scream with no tongue in your mouth." He loosely held the person, but the man was not strong enough. After all, he was a human while Calhoun was a vampire. 

The man's eyes darted towards the village and then back at this crazy man who had come to attack him out of the blue, "Let go of me! I don't even know who you are!" exclaimed the man, his fingers continuing to struggle to pull Calhoun's fingers that didn't budge. 

Calhoun laughed, "I am here to collect my money that you borrowed. Where is it?" he decided to play with the man. 

"I don't know! I gave it to my wife. Ask her!" said the man alarmed, but both of them knew it was not true. 

"Your family must be truly disappointed with you because of how useless you are. Blaming your wife when you have gambled your money away," Calhoun tsked while shaking his head in disapproval, "You know my father was useless too. Do you know what I did to him?"

"HELP! SOMEONE HE-" the man shouted as loud as he could, but his words were cut short in screams as Calhoun dived in to sink his fangs in the man's neck. With Calhoun who was already hungry, it took less than two minutes to drain out all the blood from the man, and the man turned dead. 

Calhoun looked down at the man. Picking the man's leg, Calhoun dragged him further into the forest. On his way, Calhoun licked his lips clean with his tongue for any traces of blood on his mouth. 


He didn't take the body too far. If the humans were going to be scared of vampires, that was fine by Calhoun. Humans and vampires were asked to live and share the same land under the words and rules of the High house. In Calhoun's book, fear was not meant to be forgotten. 

He wiped his mouth with his sleeve before black wings emerging out from his back. 

Back in the castle, Madeline laid in her bed with her eyes open. She had tried to sleep, but for some reason, she was unable to do it. She wondered how much time passed since she got into the bed, and also since Calhoun left the castle to complete whatever work had come to his notice. 

Turning around, she pulled the blanket closer to herself. Calhoun had told her, he would come to visit her if she was awake. Would he?
_______
Awake in the bed- Part 2

Madeline wondered why she was even awake at this hour of the night. She was sure the hour was moving close to midnight. And coincidentally, at a far distance, from the closest village that was near the castle, the tower bell rang loud enough to be heard. She bit her bottom lip in thought, her eyes staring into the darkness of her room where she could see the shadow of the objects. 

She pondered what to do about Beth. Madeline doubted that Beth would ever come to listen to her words. She knew that, Beth believed she knew everything and she didn't need anyone's help as she was smart, but this was not the time to act like that. The people who were related to the royal family, everyone appeared to be hungry for power that could be achieved by getting either the favour of the King or by killing the King. The latter was an impossible task to do. It was because Madeline had seen how quick Calhoun's reflex was when the arrow had been shot at her in the forest. 

All Madeline wanted to do was keep her family safe, away from any possible harm. She would have ignored Calhoun's words if Rosamund never tried to encourage her from running away from the castle. 

It was apparent that Lady Rosamund wanted the throne, but Calhoun would not give it to her. In the past, when Madeline had questioned about his possible marriage to Sophie, Calhoun had once said that Sophie was not related to him. She had taken his words in a literal sense, but now she came to realize that he meant it as a phrase because he didn't like them. He didn't consider them to be a family.

And Madeline didn't blame him. 

His father, who was the previous King of Devon, along with his grandmother, had mistreated Calhoun's mother. She knew there was more story in there and Calhoun had only given her enough to bite and swallow. Remembering the woman who laid in the cemented gravestone, Madeline wondered why the King would even let her go. She was much prettier than Lady Lucy's mother, and by what she heard from Calhoun, she appeared to be a good lady. 

When Madeline was deep in her thought, she felt someone's hand on her head, and she turned around with a startled look on her face to see Calhoun who had already seated himself next to her with his long legs outstretched on the bed. 


Madeline's eyes went wide on seeing him here. She had not heard a sound in the room nor the dip in the bed. Was she so immersed in thought that she had not noticed his presence, or was it Calhoun's another skill? 

"I thought you would be asleep," Calhoun said, whose hand gently smoothened the hair on her head. 

Madeline pushed herself up, one sleeve of her nightdress falling off her shoulder and Calhoun's eyes took note of it. Gingerly, Calhoun moved his hand to pick up the sleeve and cover her shoulder. On the way, his fingertip caressed her skin. She quickly evened the sleeves as one of them had moved towards her neck. 

The little action of his left an itch on her skin, like a bolt of lightning running through her body and Madeline gathered herself. 

"Did you finish your work?" asked Madeline. 

Calhoun gave her a nod, "I did. Why didn't you sleep?" he repeated his question. 

"I wasn't able to sleep," whispered Madeline, not wanting to admit that his words were lingering in her mind. His hair looked ruffled compared to the time she had seen him in the hallways. Like the wind had blown back and forth to dishevel his pitch-black hair. 

"Why not?" questioned Calhoun. He leaned forward for her heart to skip a beat when he came close to her. But Calhoun was only moving past her side to get down from the bed and grab the glass of water that was placed on the nightstand. 

Madeline shook her head. She didn't know if it was normal to feel this flustered in someone's presence. 

With Calhoun in the room, she got out of the bed, to walk towards the candles to light them up. Lightning the five candles in the candle stand, she brought it to be placed next to the nightstand.

Calhoun poured himself another glass of water, and he continued to drink it while his eyes followed her around. 

"What work was it?" Madeline tried to make conversation with him so that she wouldn't be intimidated of his presence in the room, where she was alone. 

"You are getting good at skipping the answers to my questions," replied Calhoun and Madeline went back to sit on the bed, "I had to see two people off. They were going to another land." 

Madeline wondered if the people were of great importance that the King had personally gone to send them off, "They must be feeling very privileged."


A broad smile broke through Calhoun's lips, "Yes, they were very pleased with my presence," and the room fell silent again. Madeline heard Calhoun place the glass on the nightstand and he removed his shoes, getting back on the bed, to sit with her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, bells rang when he was removing his shoes as if he was going to sleep here tonight. 

It was true that they were making progress, but she doubted she would be able to sleep next to Calhoun. It wasn't him but her. Or maybe it was because of the way he looked at her and the words he used to coax her. Her feelings were changing towards him, and Madeline was turning more aware of his presence, including the effects he had on her. 

"Are you not going to sleep?" she asked him. 

Calhoun, who stared at her, asked, "Are you offering me to join you in the bed or chasing me away from the room?" 

"I don't think I can do the second one," Madeline replied, and his smile only grew.

"You are right," Calhoun said leaning towards her, "You have been waiting for me to return, haven't you," he asked her. Madeline's lips parted, but no words came out of her lips. She wanted to deny, but her heart was racing, and she knew Calhoun picked on it. 

"What have you done to me," she whispered, her hands clutching her nightdress near her knees. Every time she had calmed herself, Calhoun did something to stir up her emotions. 

Calhoun tilted his head, "What did I do? I didn't even touch you...now." But he had before leaving the castle, biting her ear and licking it in the middle of the corridor where one could witness it if they were in the same hall. The smile on his face didn't leave. 

His hand shot up to rub the side of her ear where he had bitten, "Does it hurt?" Madeline shook her head. 

"No," she answered.

Calhoun moved closer to her, his eyes fell on her lips and then moving back to her eyes, "Now?" he asked, pressing the lobe. 

Madeline's breath was turning shallow, her body heating up, and her innocent mind quickly prayed to God to stop the wave of emotions she was feeling right now, "D-don't."

"Don't what?" came Calhoun's deep voice. Her hands which was holding her dress moved to the surface of the bed. 


She gulped the ball of nervousness that had moved up her throat, trying to push it down while trying to keep her head clear which was hard to do right now. She then heard him say, "What do you have on your mind that you don't want me to do? Tell me, and I will see what I can do about it." 

Just those words were enough for Madeline's eyes to half close, and her body turned hot, "I don't want you d-doing t-that."

"And what is 'that'," asked Calhoun with a gentle yet persistent voice. Calhoun was playing the game of push and pull with Madeline, but there was a limit for it too because it wasn't just her but also him who was being tortured, "If you won't tell me, how will I know about it," said the sly King. 

His hand was still on her ear, rubbing it and she flinched when his fingernails nipped on the lobe, "What you are doing right now and what you did at the chapel."

Calhoun leaned forward to take a whiff of her scent. It was sweet and innocent, a flower that was untouched which was now blooming beautifully. A scent that was turning rich that made him want to tear the flower so that he could hold it.

His fingertips trailed the side of her ear and then went down her neck before moving past to brush the top of her chest, "I bit you. Sucked the tender part of your swell, soft. Is that what you are saying? I finished taking blood for the hour. Even though I would love to have another sip from you." 

Madeline's face instantly turned red with his words and at the action of his hand on her chest. Her hands pressed against the bed. 

She was speaking about what he did after they came out of the chapel, and she knew that Calhoun knew what she was speaking about, but he wanted to hear those things from her mouth. The problem here was Madeline had bravely told him that she knew what to do...to relieve the tension that her body carried, but she didn't. With her sister busy with Markus Wilmot and the others engaged with the other relatives of Calhoun, Madeline had no one to ask. 

And it was shameful to ask something regarding to this with others!

But at the same time, she was going to be his wife soon. To be the King's wife, Calhoun's wife and at that thought, her face turned red again. 


As if sensing her emotions, Calhoun said, "You shouldn't be ashamed of what your body feels and needs." Moving closer, he pressed his lips right behind her ear, "Madeline," he called her name sensually. 

"It's your fault," she complained. 

"I know. Let me take responsibility for it," Calhoun said sweetly, drawing her to his wolf's den, "You don't have to feel the way you are feeling. All you need to do is, ask."

After a lot of resolute, Madeline said, "I-I think I am f-fine."

Calhoun admired Madeline's strength not to give in, but that was only because she didn't know how it felt when the sexual tension was released. Of course, he wouldn't make love to her today, but there were other ways to help her, thought Calhoun. 

"I was wondering," Calhoun said to gain Madeline's attention, "Are your grandparents going to attend the wedding?"

"I guess they will. Why?" Madeline asked. 

She then heard him say, "I was thinking about visiting them with you. Tomorrow."
_______
Empty Graves- Part 1

Music Reccomendation: Filotimo by Borghild Wenn

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Calhoun didn't stay long in Madeline's room, instead, he left to go to his room. In the King's quarters, there was no one but just him and her. They weren't married yet and meeting like this in the middle of the night, where Calhoun came to her room to visit and see her, Madeline felt it to be nothing less to lovers, who were making time to see each other. 

Madeline closed and locked the room, turning around to go back to her bed. Going back to the glass which was used by Calhoun, she poured water into it before taking a couple of gulps to soothe her dry throat. With him not in the same room as her, it was easier to keep her head straight without thinking about embarrassing things. 

She wondered why Calhoun decided to meet her grandparents. It was very abrupt. Earlier that night, he had mentioned about him speaking to her father about her childhood. He was wanted to learn more about how she was when she was a small girl. Somewhere it was sweet of him to be going to the length of going to meet her grandparents, but the question arose if her grandparents would be pleased hearing her marriage to a vampire. 

Her mother told her that she sent out the invitations to her aunts and uncles. Also cousins, but didn't mention about her paternal grandparents. It was possible that her parents hadn't sent the invitation to them, because of their displeasure at the thought of vampires' existence. They had kept her and her sister Beth away from the circle of vampires, and they preferred their grandchildren to grow up to stay away from the night creatures, but that had now failed. 

When morning arrived, Calhoun brought it up at the dining table, "Is there something you would like to ask or bring from your parent's house, Mr. Harris?" asked Calhoun in a calm tone. 

Mr. and Mrs. Harris had a look of puzzlement on their face. 

"My King?" asked Mr. Harris, wanting to know why the King was asking him if he needed something from his parents. 

Madeline placed her hand on her mother's hand, getting her attention before she said, "The King has decided to give a visit to grandma and grandpa today."

"Now?" her mother's eyebrows raised and Madeline nodded her head. 


Calhoun then spoke, "There are other relatives of mine, who will be joining us soon for the wedding. I thought it would be better to have your parents attend the wedding. Of course, I know you have invited them," he smiled looking at the couple who returned the smile with lesser confidence, "As Madeline is going to be my wife soon, I would like to get to know more about your family members."

Mr. Harris' mouth went dry, and he said, "They will be attending the wedding, my King. You don't have to take the trouble to go to see them."

"I know," agreed Calhoun, "But it would be rude to not to be acquainted with them sooner than wait until the marriage day." 

Madeline who was sitting in between her parents today noticed how her parents wanted to ask the King not to visit the family. They knew Madeline's paternal grandparents wouldn't be excited about their granddaughter getting married to a night creature. Shifting her eyes to look at Calhoun, she could tell that Calhoun sensed her parent's distress, but he was going to visit them anyway. 

Mrs. Harris looked at her husband; her eyebrows drew together in tension. 

"Any souvenirs you would like to get from there?" Calhoun chimed with a smile, and Madeline's parents shook their head. 

On the other side of the table, Markus asked Beth, "How did you sleep at night, Lady Elizabeth?"

Beth gave a charming smile of hers before she answered, "I had a very sound sleep. The best one. I hope you slept well, Sir Markus."

"Knowing you were nearby in one of the rooms, I must say it was a little hard," Markus teased her in a small whisper.

Mr. and Mrs. Harris were lucky not to hear it because of their human ears along with Madeline, but that didn't mean the other didn't listen to it at the table. Beth blushed, her cheeks turning red. 

But Sophie Wilmot was disgusted by the small talk between her brother and the human girl. She scoffed, "You speak as if both of you can't wait to get in the bed," she muttered under her breath. Another sentence that went unheard by Beth's family but Beth, who was sitting in the front, quietly glared with a smile. 


Beth didn't bother herself too much with what Sophie said. It was true that she had the best sleep that she ever had until now. And the reason wasn't because of the soft bed and good room but the diamond earrings that were gifted to her by Markus' mother, Lady Rosamund. 

"Why don't you take the butter, Lady Sophie," Beth offered her future sister-in-law with a broad smile on her face, "Some have unsteady hands. This is easier to handle where it won't slip out of your hand."

Beth didn't see why she should not retort back playfully. It was apparent that Lady Rosamund was choosing her over Sophie as she didn't comment and continued to have her breakfast. 

Sophie smiled back at Beth. The vampiress was fumingly mad because her family was not supporting her. This little leach was leaching on to her brother, but that didn't mean she was going to sit back and watch it play in front of her. 

"Well, thank you," came Sophie's polite words as she went to grab the butter that was offered by Beth. While taking it, Sophie's fingernails scratched the sides of Beth's fingers to leave a burn. Beth gritted her teeth when she felt the scrape of nails on her skin, "It was rude of me for not apologizing. I mean not everyone has their destiny to be smacked by a crab on their face," she let a small innocent giggle. 

Beth ran her thumb over the back of her fingers. If there was no one in the room, she would have thrown the entire porridge of meat on Sophie's head by now. 

After speaking to her mother and sister, Beth had pondered over Madeline's words and felt her sister was right. Sophie should have apologized to her, but that didn't mean Beth was not happy to receive the gift from Lady Rosamund. 

Beth only smiled at Sophie and then asked Markus, "How is the work coming along at the shop?"

"Shop?" asked Markus before it dawned on what the elder daughter of the Harris was speaking of. He turned his head to look at Calhoun whose eyes were on his food, but Markus knew better than that the King was having his ears around the table while behaving as if he was not interested. To prove the point, the King's eyes raised to look at Markus. 

Calhoun said, "The shop is not Markus' nor was he the one to give it to your father. He won't be working on fixing it."


Beth observed how the King commanded from where he sat. She would have been happy if she was going to be his Queen, but she was far from it. It was why Beth decided to sail beside Markus. She didn't like the way Madeline's future husband was taking away the help that Markus was providing to her family. 

"My King, if I may speak," said Beth, asking for permission because two days ago when she went to speak, the King had glared at her with evident distaste in his mouth before calling it a joke. 

"Go ahead," Calhoun answered in a dull tone as if he wanted her to finish her words quickly and not waste his time. 

Getting the cue, Beth began, "My lord, it was Mr. Wilmot who was fixing the shop. Isn't it right to let him finish it so that we can thank him fully?"

"The shop doesn't involve anything to do with Markus unless Markus feels so bad for sabotaging the shop with his means?" Calhoun raised his eyebrows questioningly. 

"Isn't it a bit hasty to be blaming Markus?" asked Lady Rosamund. 

Madeline, who was seated near them, watched how there was a look of displeasure on the older vampiress face. But then she heard Calhoun speak, "I was merely weighing Miss Harris' words. Who spoke about blame?" His blood-red eyes shifted to look at Markus, "It looks like the family is quick to defend always."

His aunt's eyes didn't leave him, and Calhoun only smiled, "Well, any way, Markus has other work to do than help with the shop. I believe my cousin has not left the job in the court and decided to take up the work of carpentry now, has he?"

For a second, Lady Rosamund was gobsmacked by Calhoun's words, "It is good to see that my nephew, who is our King, now thinks so much about his cousin brother." She didn't want to create any drift in the relationship that had been maintained between the King and the Wilmot family. "Markus has other work to do than fixing a shop which can be handled by someone else." 

Sophie couldn't stop but hop on board with it, "We can always count on brother Calhoun. At least not like some others, the King knows that Markus' position is and not to fix things in the village. She brought the glass near her lips and took a sip, her eyes making contact with Beth, who stared at her. 


Mrs. Harris, listening to the conversation taking place at the table, turned to speak to the Wilmot's family, "Thank you for helping us, Mr. Wilmot. Beth was not spea-"

Markus bowed his head in response to her words, "I know, Mrs. Harris."

"As the matter doesn't concern Markus but me, I have already asked Theodore to send people to rebuild it in a better condition. Also, a word has been sent to the magistrate who works in the village. If he cannot help you to protect the shop the next time, which is less probable to happen, I have told him he wouldn't have his head sitting on top of his body but somewhere on the ground," Calhoun said casually. 

Continuing to have her breakfast, Madeline looked at the doors of the room, waiting to see if Lady Lucy would arrive with her husband. But neither of them appeared. She hoped everything was alright. 

When they were away from the others, Madeline said to Calhoun, "It's going to take hours if we are going to my grandparent's house."

"They don't live near East Carswell?" questioned Calhoun.

Madeline shook her head.

"That's okay. We won't be taking the carriage."
_________
Empty Graves- Part 2

Calhoun took hold of Madeline's hand and went to the other side of the castle where people didn't often step into or were not allowed to step into without the King's permission. The people in the castle knew that the King had wings, so did his relatives, but Calhoun was not going to let her family know about it. 

His hand felt warm on her skin as he tugged her hand. 

Madeline watched the side of Calhoun's face where he held a serious yet calm expression. She wondered if family was important to Calhoun, which was why he was making an effort to meet her grandparents. But he mentioned only about her paternal grandparents and not her maternal grandparents. Did it have something to do with the conversation that Calhoun had with her father? Asked Madeline to herself as she followed him. 

Was it because Calhoun never had the perfect family as he grew up? His father was someone who could have given him anything, but the person had failed to provide Calhoun with deserving family life and love that a father should provide. With no roof on his head, where his mother had to struggle out in the society, Madeline could tell things were hard on Calhoun. Back in the village, she had seen how children who didn't have father were treated. Life must have been harsh for Calhoun before. 

Madeline heard Calhoun ask, "When did you last visit them?" 

"I think it was five months ago. It was Aunt Mary's birthday that gave the opportunity to have a get together with the family," replied Madeline, "Was my childhood all you spoke with my father?"

Calhoun grinned hearing this. Madeline was smart, and he knew it. The girl had hidden in the shadow for too long, letting her sister shine in front of people not knowing the kind of power she held. 

"Isn't that what I said?" Calhoun turned to meet her eyes, "I am just eager to meet your family."

He finally let go of her hand, when they reached two large doors in front of them. The doors were pulled open for both of them to step out in the open. Madeline looked around and realise this was the backside of the castle. The sky was clear today, the sun shining bright on the land of Devon. 

"You said my father said something that was unclear. Is that why we are visiting them?" asked Madeline. Calhoun who was looking ahead of him turned to her,


"So many questions. Let me ask you a question now," he said to her, "How would you like to fly? With your hands around me or my hands around you?"

Madeline's eyes had been darting towards his back since the time he had mentioned that they were not going to make use of the carriage. And like magic, the black-feathered wings appeared behind his back, spreading and stretching itself for Madeline to look in awe. It was fascinating to see that a vampire could have wings. Without another word, Calhoun bent down and picked her up in his arms. 

With them outside, in the open, Madeline saw the blood-red eyes of Calhoun that stared back at her intensely. His strong arms held her securely so that she wouldn't be dropped as he walked forward. Without him needing to say, her hands went to circle around his neck for support. 

"Hold tight," informed Calhoun and Madeline listened to him, locking her hands to see the broad smile on his lips that had not disappeared. When his black wings moved, her brown eyes were quick to catch the movement. They moved back at first, and the next second when it went to flap, both Calhoun and Madeline shot up towards the sky. 

Air came gushing through, and Madeline closed her eyes. The hair she had tied into a braid neatly before had now turned to a mess. The smaller strands of her hair were pulled out because of the wind which was now flying in front of her face. 

Calhoun stopped moving upwards, and Madeline finally felt the wind slow down around them. Hearing his wings flap, she finally opened her eyes to see they were up high, where things below them looked small from where they were now. 

Her hands around Calhoun's neck tightened while her eyes looked to the side, staring at the land where she could see the forest and the castle, some villages that peeked from behind a lot of trees. 

"How are you feeling?" asked Calhoun. 

Madeline looked back at him, "I am feeling good." The first time when she flew with him she was scared, but right now, she was excited to be up in the sky, away from everything, in the clouds. 

"Lead the way, milady," said Calhoun in between the time when his black wings continued to flap without stopping that kept them up in the air. 


Once Madeline started to direct Calhoun where to go, they left the castle to fly towards the village where her grandparents lived. Madeline found this to be more enjoyable than going in the carriage where all she could see was trees that moved one after another. 

"Are you not worried that someone might see you up here?" Madeline asked him. 

"They will think it's another bird. Not many look up at the sky to admire it," replied Calhoun to her, "Did you ever find a big bird up in the sky?" he asked her. 

"I didn't pay heed to it. If I knew there was someone who had wings, I would have looked closer," Madeline answered to see Calhoun smile, "You didn't meet your grandfather, but you want to meet mine."

Calhoun's eyes moved to look down at her, "I don't mind taking you where my grandfather resides. I never heard from him. Even when my mother died, he never came to visit her grave."

"Maybe he never knew about it," Madeline gave out the possible scenario. 

"Maybe," hummed Calhoun but Madeline took his response to mean that he didn't want to talk about it. His eyes moved to look at her, and he said, "Honestly, I never bothered to contact him, and neither did he. The only person who mattered to me was my mother, and now it's you. Sometimes maybe Lucy and Theodore. And Maddox," he listed the names, making her smile, "If he doesn't show up at the wedding, which I doubt he will, I will take you there. Okay?"

When they finally reached the village where Madeline's paternal grandparents lived, Calhoun landed on the ground without the villagers noticing them. His wings disappeared in an instant, and Madeline let go of his neck. 

"How is your relationship with them?" Calhoun asked her as they made their way towards Madeline's grandparent's house. 

"They are sweet and kind. My parents would often leave us here in their care, both Beth and me," replied Madeline. Upon seeing someone she knew, she bowed her head, and the woman bowed back before looking at Calhoun. 

The woman couldn't stop but stare at Calhoun while he didn't bother to pay any attention to her and continued to walk next to Madeline. Madeline who noticed this could tell that the woman didn't know he was the King. Calhoun was a handsome man, and he had the ability to catch a person's eye. 


"Here it is," said Madeline when they reached her grandparent's house that had a compound covered in vines. Pushing the gate, she stepped inside to be followed by Calhoun until her feet stopped in front of the door. Raising her hand, she knocked it. 

The door was opened by an old woman, where the frown on her face that she had carried just before opening the door turned one to a smile when her eyes fell on her granddaughter, "Madeline!" 

"Grandma," Madeline greeted the woman who put her hands around her to pat her back. At the same time, an older man appeared at the door. Madeline's grandfather was ready to welcome her with a smile but when he noticed the presence behind his granddaughter, his eyes narrowed along with his wife.

"I am sorry to come without any prior notice," Madeline slowly said. She looked back and forth at her grandparents and Calhoun, who stared at each other.

"Who do you have here, Madeline, dear?" asked her grandfather, "You should know not to speak to a vampire. Lest bring one home." 

Madeline was ready to introduce him, but Calhoun took this opportunity to say, "I am Calhoun Hawthrone. Madeline's soon-to-be husband," he offered the man a bright smile.
_________
Empty Graves- Part 3

Music Recommendation: In the dust of our days by Lambert 

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While Calhoun introduced himself to her grandparents, Madeline held her breath as she stared at her grandparents, who glared at Calhoun but not too obviously. Madeline, who knew about her grandparent's distaste towards vampires, wished she could cushion about him being a vampire so that it wouldn't be as impactful as Calhoun had dropped the information to them. 

"Excuse me?" her grandmother asked Calhoun as if she didn't hear what the vampire said. 

Everyone knew the older woman heard it loud and clear, but she was still asking out of shock. Calhoun took note of why Madeline's parents had been sharing looks when he mentioned going to visit Mr. Harris' parent's. It was because the older folks didn't like night creatures. 

Calhoun said, "Madeline and I are getting married in less than three weeks. We are here to take your blessings and also invite you," his words were polite and charming, his eyes looking at her grandparents whose eyes only narrowed at his words. 

"Do your parents know about it?" asked Madeline's grandfather to Madeline, and she nodded her head. 

"Yes, grandpa. They are in the castle right now," she answered. 

"Castle?" her grandmother raised her eyebrows in question. It had only been five minutes since Madeline had knocked on the door, but her grandparents had not invited them in because of the night creature who had accompanied her here to the house. 

Madeline licked her lips, and replied to her grandmother's curious gaze, "This is Calhoun Hawthrone. The King of Devon," she introduced him properly. Her grandparents didn't look one bit pleased. Somewhere, Madeline noticed how her grandfather's eyes narrowed before the intense gaze reduced. 

Both her grandparents bowed their head, "Please come in," her grandfather invited them into the house. 

Calhoun smiled, looking at Madeline's grandparents who didn't want to let him in, but they invited him anyway out of politeness. He was the King, and it was rude to refuse and be rude to him. It would cost one's head to go against him. Madeline, on the other hand, had noticed the sudden change in her grandfather's demeanour which she didn't question. Stepping inside the house after her grandfather and Calhoun, she stepped in with her grandmother.

Her grandmother said,


"Isn't it too early to be getting married? We didn't hear a word about it," her grandmother placed her hand on Madeline's back before letting it go, to close the door. 

"It was decided a few weeks ago," Calhoun interjected even though the question was directed towards Madeline. 

Madeline's grandmother was not impressed with the fact that the blood-sucking creature was answering her question, "Still a few weeks is a little early, isn't it?" asked the woman, "I am hoping it is a marriage that both of you have agreed upon?" 

Unlike her parents, Madeline's grandparents were sharp and calculative with their words. Her grandmother was doubting if Madeline was being forced into marriage, "Isn't that how marriage takes place?" Calhoun questioned back, "Madeline is a beautiful and kind girl. I don't see the point of why we need to wait when we want to spend our lives together."

Madeline didn't comment on this. The beginning part of it was not the true story, but Madeline loved her grandparents, and she didn't want them sleeping in their graves anytime soon because of Calhoun. 

Stepping inside the living room, chairs were pulled to sit. Madeline looked towards Calhoun, who looked back at her with a grin on his face. Madeline knew Calhoun was not someone, not to notice the hostile attitude that came from her grandparents. 

"Is there something you would like to drink? Wat-" her grandmother began only to be interrupted by Calhoun's choice.

"Blood."

They had stepped inside the house barely for two minutes, and Calhoun was already pushing their buttons. Her grandfather's eyes hardened and narrowed. Before another word could be spoken, Madeline said, "Water is fine, grandma. Let me come and help you with it," she offered, getting up from her chair and accompanying her grandmother to the kitchen. 


Calhoun's eyes moved around in the living room, observing the things that were neatly placed before his eyes fell on Madeline's grandfather, who was in front of him. When Calhoun had mentioned about going to meet Madeline's paternal grandparents, it wasn't because he wanted to receive their blessings. He would look after Madeline fine without anyone's blessings. If it weren't for her father last night, who looked as if he was evading Madeline's childhood by trying to steer the conversation, Calhoun would not have bothered to come here. 

"How did you arrive here?" asked the old man, "I did not see your carriage, milord."

"We used the local carriage," replied Calhoun, which was a blatant lie. Calhoun saw how the older man had a look of suspicion. For an old couple who were the grandparents of Madeline, they sure had their guard up, thought Calhoun to himself, "Did you not receive the invitation yet?" he asked the old man. 

"No. My son must have sent it out late," answered Madeline's grandfather.

Calhoun nodded his head, "How strange. I thought the invitations were sent out four weeks ago. But no worries. It is good that Madeline and I decided to visit you and her grandmother."

Madeline's grandfather stared at the vampire who was sitting under his roof. Since the time he had built this house, not once he had a vampire in here, and this was the first time. How did his son and his daughter-in-law decide to give away his granddaughter to a vampire? the man questioned in his mind. King's usually took away things by force. Therefore he doubted the current case was anything far from it. 

"We are hoping you can attend our wedding," Calhoun said, staring at Madeline's grandfather. 

"How could we miss our granddaughter's wedding. Though I must say I am surprised that she's marrying a vampire," said Senior Mr. Harris. 

"Is that a problem?" Calhoun cocked his head in question. 

Senior Mr. Harris smiled at Calhoun's question, "Will you drop the idea of getting married to her if I were to say it is a problem?" Calhoun chuckled. For an older man, he sure had an early death wish, thought Calhoun to himself. 

"What do you think, Mr. Harris? Your granddaughter is too lovely to not marry her. The wedding will be taking place in the chapel of the castle."


Senior Mr. Harris narrowed his eyes again, hearing a vampire's place had a chapel. At the same time, both the older woman and Madeline arrived out of the kitchen with a glass of water in their hand. Madeline drank from the glass of water she had, and Madeline's grandmother handed the glass to Calhoun. 

But Calhoun didn't bother to take a sip from it. 

When it came to trusting, in Calhoun's world, it didn't exist. He preferred not to drink the glass of water which was crystal clear. In the past, there had been events where people had tried to mix things in what he ate or drank. It was another matter that it was stupid of them to think it would affect him, but Calhoun preferred to be cautious. He noticed how the older woman's eyes darted between him and his hands that didn't make a move to bring the glass up and drink the water. 

"How is Beth doing?" asked Madeline's grandmother. 

"She's doing good," Madeline replied quickly so that Calhoun wouldn't drop another information about Beth being swayed by Markus Wilmot, who was another vampire. She wanted to ease her grandparents without them going into too much shock.

"We were worried that both of you didn't come to visit us. Your parents haven't written back to us either," said the old man, his eyes going back to normal when he spoke to his granddaughter. 

"Your grandfather is right," said Madeline's grandmother, "We were thinking of visiting in a month, but I guess there's a change of plans now. What happened to your hair?" asked the old woman, whose hand reached to smoothen and push Madeline's hair that looked errant as if she didn't comb it.

Madeline tried to make it proper when she heard Calhoun say, "We just came from the forest and behind the trees," his words were suggestive, that the old couple caught on, who couldn't help but glare at the vampire's words. Madeline's eyes moved quickly to meet Calhoun's eyes, her cheeks turning slightly red over his words. 

"What the King means is, we walked through the forest," Madeline tried to clear the doubt from her grandparents' mind which Calhoun had put. 

She had failed to take note of her messy hair that was caused by the wind. 

Her grandmother decided to ask, "How is the preparation for the wedding coming along?"


"The wedding gown is in the process of being made, and the place has already been picked," replied Madeline. 

"It seems it is being hosted in the chapel," said her grandfather to his wife. The woman only nodded without commenting on it even though she looked like she wanted to say something about it. 

Madeline was close to her paternal grandparents more than her mother's side. She and her sister had spent most of their time here. "You will be able to make it to the wedding?" she asked her grandmother.

Before her grandmother could answer her, the glass that Madeline was holding in her hand shattered into many pieces and fell on the ground, leaving cuts on her hand. 

Calhoun's eyebrows furrowed as it was the third time something like this was happening. When his eyes shifted to look at the elderly couple, there was a look of shock on their face. 
__________

Empty Graves- Part 4

No one had expected for the glass in Madeline's hand to shatter suddenly. Calhoun, who was seated, got up to where Madeline was pulling out his handkerchief to wrap around her hand where lines of blood started to seep out of her skin.

When Senior Mr. and Mrs. Harris recovered from the small shock, Senior Mr. Harris said, "Gemma, take Madeline inside and clean her wounds."

Madeline's grandmother said, "You must have pressed the glass too tight, dear. Come with me," she urged her granddaughter. Madeline gave Calhoun a look for him to nod, "Careful with your footsteps," and Madeline followed her grandmother inside. 

Madeline knew she hadn't held the glass hard enough for it to break, but she didn't go to refuse her grandmother's words. She was made to sit on the bed, and her grandmother came with a box. Opening it, she pulled out cotton before removing the handkerchief which Calhoun had wrapped around her hand.

Madeline flinched when the cotton touched the cuts on her hand, "Bear with it, dearie," she heard her grandmother say to her as she continued to dab the cotton on her skin, "Do you always break glass like this?" she asked looking up to meet Madeline's eyes. 

"Just sometimes," answered Madeline, "I will help you to clean with the glass pieces on the floor." It was her fault that the glass had broken and there were shards lying on the floor of the living room. 

"Don't worry about that," replied the old woman. Madeline didn't want her old grandparents bending and picking up things at their age. In the past, her parents had many times asked her grandparents to come to live with them, in the village of East Carswell. Even her aunt had asked her parents to leave this place and live with her, but Madeline's grandparents were stubborn. 

Her grandparents wanted to live here, in this village. And her parents had let them be. Also, another reason being, there were no vampires in this village, unlike the villages and towns that were near to the castle where the King of Devon lived. 

"There, all better," her grandmother smiled when she was done tending to Madeline's hand, "It looks like you have some scratches. Is Elizabeth clumsy too?" 

"No, it's just me. Thank you for this, grandma," Madeline thanked, and her grandmother placed her hand on Madeline's cheek to find it to be cold. 


"You don't have to thank me. It's my duty to take care of my granddaughter," her grandmother smiled before dropping her hand back to her side. Madeline then heard her grandmother lowered her voice and asked, "How did you two meet?"

"The King?" asked Madeline, "Um, it was at the ball. We met there."

"Hm," came the short response from her grandmother, "Try to break off from the marriage."

"What?" 

"I don't know how your parents agreed to it. Maybe it is because he is the King but do not marry a creature who is a vampire, Madeline. We disapprove of it," said her grandmother. Madeline looked at the door, wondering if her grandmother knew that Calhoun was listening to their conversation now, "He cannot hear it. This room is special." 

Madeline knew something like this would happen. But her grandparents were sure wishing for harm to occur on them by thinking they could go against the King, "Why?" she asked her grandmother. 

Her grandmother frowned, "What do you mean why? People like us don't mix with the night creatures. We have never given our children to vampires. What happened to that man you liked. That tailorman." 

This time, Madeline's eyes widened. How did she know about James? Her parents were unaware about her past feelings of how she felt, and she never mentioned about James to her grandparents. Blinking, Madeline answered, "He's getting married to another person."

"Well, get him back! Don't you love him?" asked her grandmother. Madeline couldn't help but chuckle over her grandmother's words, but the elderly woman didn't find it to be funny. Seeing her grandmother's serious expression, Madeline cleared her throat. 

"I don't," replied Madeline, and her grandmother looked upset. 

"You love him?!" questioned her grandmother, referring to Calhoun and Madeline shook her head. 

"Mr. Heathcliff is getting married to Lady Catherine. Their wedding is in less than ten days," Madeline didn't know how to put it, but her thoughts had stopped to linger towards James and had instead started to reside with the thoughts of the King. It took her some time, but she had decided to go with the marriage, "It's okay, grandma."

But grandma Harris was not excited to hear it. She noticed how her granddaughter was defending the vampire.


Madeline wondered what her grandmother was thinking. After a while, her grandmother sighed and said, "Okay. If that is what you want." She patted Madeline's back, "We will come before your wedding day."

"Yes, grandma," Madeline smiled and was glad that her grandmother wouldn't upset Calhoun. This way, everyone could continue to keep their heads between their shoulders, intact. Though her grandmother told that this was a room where Calhoun wouldn't be able to hear, she wondered how far it was true. 

When they returned, Madeline heard her grandfather speaking to Calhoun, "You don't think you would mind us bringing some more relatives of ours, do you?"

"Madeline's family is always welcome," Calhoun chimed in, and his eyes snapped quickly on seeing Madeline return to the living room. 

"Does your hand hurt, dear?" asked Madeline's grandfather.

"I am sure you must have broken a ton of them this year. When Madeline was small, we had to keep the glasses away from her because she kept breaking them-" her grandmother started only to stop when her husband subtly shook his head, "You should be careful with them, dearie."

"I will," said Madeline.

Calhoun picked the pause in the older woman's words as if it wasn't a surprise that she was breaking glasses right now. Senior Mr. and Mrs. Harris didn't know that Calhoun was aware of Madeline's little slip-ups with the glasses. Like he guessed, there was something going on that was being hidden in the family, which Madeline was not aware about. 

The way the couple behaved, there was something very odd about it. He had met many humans, humans who belonged below the poverty line as well as who belonged to the high status but these people, they looked at him differently. And the look in their eyes said it was not a good one. 

"How are you going back? The local carriage leaves in the next two hours," stated Senior Mr. Harris, "You can stay here for the night and can leave tomorrow morning," he proposed, "I must say... it's strange to see the King travel in the local carriage when he could make use of his royal carriage." 

"I rented the whole carriage," Calhoun replied with a polite smile on his face, "We would love to stay, but I need to drink blood which I doubt you get here freely?" 


Senior Mr. Harris' eyes turned to glare, and he said, "No, we don't. Vampires don't enter the village," which was why it was strange that people had let this vampire walk freely up to the house with his granddaughter. 

Noticing the atmosphere turn tense, Madeline said, "Thank you, grandpa, but I think we should leave. I thought of visiting Jeannine before we leave. It has been some time." Jeannine was Madeline's friend, who had passed away a few years ago after being attacked by a vampire. 

Hearing this, Madeline's grandmother said, "You will need to go to the second cemetery that is in the West side of the village."

When it came to the time to leave, her grandmother hugged her and said, "I wish you could have stayed longer, but I know you have a lot of things to do. We'll be there soon," and she patted Madeline's back. Pulling away, Senior Mrs. Harris looked at Calhoun, "You didn't drink anything." It was because Calhoun had held the glass in his hand for the entire time, but he didn't take a sip from it. 

The polite smile that was on Calhoun's lips broadened, "You never know who will put what in the liquid," Madeline's grandfather's eyes twitched at this, "It was good meeting you Senior Mr. and Mrs. Harris. We'll be delighted to have you at our wedding."

Once they saw the vampire and their granddaughter leave after exchanging pleasantries, the woman asked, 

"He appears to be different compared to the rest of them. Do you think he knows?" 

The old man who saw the retreating figures of the couple said, "I doubt it. Vampires are creatures who are cautious, but he does appear to be different than the others."

"She's breaking the glass," reminded the woman and her husband who had a blank look on his face said, 

"We'll need to put her to rest."
_______
The lies- Part 1

Madeline and Calhoun walked in the village of Woodbridge, which was where her grandparents lived. After spending some time in her grandparent's house, they had left, walking towards the West cemetery, which was built for the villagers who passed away. 

"Is your hand alright?" asked Calhoun to her, and Madeline nodded her head. 

"Grandma helped me to wrap it around," Madeline said to him. She looked at him, waiting for him to say something about what happened back in the house as he had not questioned about it in front of her grandparents. "Why do you think I keep breaking the glasses in my hands?" she asked him. 

Calhoun's eyes moved to the corner, looking at her and then shifting to look at the villagers who were giving him unwelcoming looks. The village didn't have a single vampire, and by the words of Madeline's grandfather, it seemed more like he was questioning how Calhoun passed through the entrace of the village without any trouble. 

"Because it seems like this is not the first time you have broken glasses. Did you ask your family about it?" Calhoun questioned her. 

"I asked Beth whether I sleepwalked in the past, but she said she didn't have any recollection of it. I didn't bring up the matter of glasses breaking in my hands," she replied to Calhoun. 

"It would be better if you didn't bring it up in front of her. No offence, but your sister looks like someone who will tattle tale about the matter if something falls in her disadvantage." Calhoun didn't bother to beat around the bush, and his words were direct when it came to the matter of her sister. If Madeline were to go back in time, she would have never guessed that this was how Calhoun felt about her sister Beth. Calhoun had treated her sister extremely well, ignoring Madeline until the point when the time of lunch arrived, which had left her family at ease that it wasn't Madeline but Elizabeth who had caught the King's attention. 

"I don't remember seeing her sleepwalking or breaking glasses," she murmured to herself. It was because with the way her grandparents had the look of curiosity when they had enquired, if Beth broke glasses too, it had caught Madeline's attention. 

Was there something going on that she was unaware of? 


Madeline then asked, "Why did you feel my father was hiding something about my childhood?" At the same time, she noticed how some of the villagers she knew, stared at her and Calhoun.

When she bowed her head in greeting, the people returned it, but they didn't stop staring. She wondered if it was a bad idea to go and visit her friend now, especially at the time where everyone was out in the open, who despised the existence of vampires. 

"It was because, when I asked where your family came from and your grandparents, there were mismatched answers which I believe he didn't realize. Or maybe he realized, but he couldn't fix his reply," stated Calhoun, unbothered by the glares of the humans who passed them. 

"He wasn't willing to speak about where your family was living in the first few years when you and your sister were small."

"Even Beth?" Madeline frowned hearing this. Was there something they were truly hiding? But until now, there had been nothing that had made Madeline question about her parents or her grandparent's actions towards her or her sister. 

"Hm," Calhoun affirmed, "Your father doesn't speak freely about his parents, but there was no bump when it came to talking about your mother's family. But I am guessing here that you are more attached to your paternal grandparents than your maternal grandparents as you have spent more time here with them?" 

"Yes," answered Madeline, "My sister and I spent most of our time here. Wouldn't it be easier to ask my grandparents why I keep breaking glasses?" 

Calhoun shook his head, "In no part of the world, breaking of glass is considered to be a good fortune. Instead, many believe that breaking glasses is an indication of an ill omen that is lurking in the shadows and waiting for bad things to happen." Looking at Madeline's worried face, he said, "You don't have to think too much about it."

"But you just said it's an indication of something bad that is going to happen," Madeline had never thought she would be associated with an ill omen until now. 

"How has your life been going on until now, Madeline?" questioned Calhoun. 

"Fine."


"Then you shouldn't worry about the future as it will continue to go in the same way," unless someone was going to do something, added Calhoun in his mind, "Where is this cemetery? Who is this friend of yours?" he changed the subject seamlessly and Madeline's lips pursed. 

"Jennine used to be my friend. She was Beth's friend, but Jennine and I shared similar interests when we were little, and we turned to be very good friends," explained Madeline.

"Sounds like Beth was pushed away from her dear friend to be replaced by you," said Calhoun and Madeline didn't comment on it because she was small. It wasn't done out of purpose, but somewhere Beth had drifted away from Jennine and Madeline had turned out to be her friend, "I am just joking."

Madeline shook her head, "No, you are right," she sighed.

"Beth had other friends. I wonder if that is why she didn't notice Jennine and I getting closer. Both of us used to come over here, to stay with our grandparents, during the time of Winter. Frankly, I don't remember everything but during that Winter, we were all playing and the next moment, Jennine was on the ground. I don't think any of us know what happened. Blood oozed out, turning the white ice to red. I must have blacked out from shock."

Calhoun placed his hand on her back, "Children's have a hard time coping to situations like death."

"I guess," murmured Madeline under her breath, "My memories are very faint. I remember my grandparents telling my parents that it was a vampire who had attacked and killed her."

Madeline was a small girl, but there were some pieces of memories of that night when the murder had taken place. Blood near her. Somewhere, she remembered her grandfather looking at her in shock before taking her away from the scene of the murder. 

"Sorry to hear that," said Calhoun, "I can vouch that it wasn't me who killed the girl."

Madeline's eyes met his, a faint smile appearing on her lips, "Have you killed too many people that you don't remember?" she asked him. 

"How rare of you to joke about my kills," Calhoun's lips twitched into a smile as if he was amused, "To answer to your question, I have. It was hard to find food, especially one that was fresh when I used to live in the streets."

"What about your mother?" asked Madeline. 


"Sometimes we didn't have money to pay for anything. We had to live in different places. Men don't like extra luggage that comes with the woman they are bedding," Calhoun's words might have come to sound as if he was not bothered by it, but his words lacked any emotions as he said those things. Madeline didn't know how to comfort someone in situations like these. The more she learned about his past, it only turned that much sadder and maybe at times uncomfortable.

Calhoun appeared to look unfazed when it came to recollecting those memories. 

"Pardon me for questioning," she apologized and saw Calhoun shake his head. 

"Don't be. What's happened is past, and it cannot be changed," stated Calhoun like he didn't care.He offered her a smile, "There are some things in this world that are out of our control. Sometimes you need to go with the wind than struggle and get lost."

"Is that what you did?" asked Madeline, her eyes holding a look of curiosity in them. 

Calhoun smirked at her question, "No. I went against the wind and took things I believed that deserved my attention and time."

How strange, Madeline thought to herself. Calhoun said one thing and preached something else. 

"I did go with the wind, but once you know what you want, you either fight your way through or continue to be pushed by the world," said Calhoun. Upon reaching the cemetery, both of them were greeted by the sight of the cemented graves at someplace, and some that were lowered down to the ground to be buried where the cross or tombstone was placed with the name being engraved on it, who rested in their respective graves. 

Madeline wondered why Jennine's parents shifted her body from one cemetery to another one. The last time she had come to visit her it was some years ago. Not knowing where Jennine rested now, both of them split up to look for the name in the opposite direction so that it would save time. 

As she looked around, Madeline saw there were names that she had never heard of before. While searching, Madeline came to look at a cemented grave that was empty, but the lid was left open as if a new body was going to occupy it, or someone was being shifted.


After five steps, Madeline said, "I found it," to Calhoun who was on the other side of the cemetery. Her friend Jennine was a small girl, who had missed growing up and living the way she and Beth were living their lives as she had died at an early age. Sitting down on her heels, Madeline prayed for her friend's soul to rest. 

She wondered why the vampire didn't attack her, but killed her friend. 
_________
The lies- Part 2

Hearing Calhoun's footsteps, Madeline turned to see him raise his hand that had a flower, "It is rude to visit graves without a flower," he said to her. The grave was quite old, and the only plants that were around them had either dried up or were wild plants with no flowers in them that didn't need to be looked after. 

"Thank you," Madeline took the yellow flower to place it on the grave. Unlike the rose that had turned from red to black when she had seen Calhoun put it in his mother's hand, the yellow flower continued to hold its colour. 

Getting up, she saw there was no one else except them in the cemetery, "This appears to be the oldest cemetery. Why would the girl's parents shift her here?" Calhoun's words were less of a question as he looked at the graves that surrounded them.

"Probably because they wanted to make space?" proposed Madeline, but she saw Calhoun shake his head. 

"Unless your friend's family are residing in here, it is usually the old bodies that are moved and never the new ones," stated Calhoun. 

Madeline didn't know how true Calhoun's words were because she didn't find it to be odd. It wasn't the first time for bodies to be moved as it had occurred in the past too. Without heeding too much on the matter, she said, 

"What are we going to do now?" her eyes looked slightly anxious as they met his. 

Calhoun, who took note of her expression, said, "We can go back to the castle or," he paused, "We can make it come true on what I said to your grandparents about us in the forest and behind one of the trees." 

From the serious topic, Calhoun had changed it to another one and Madeline didn't find it amusing. He had gone as far as to indicate to her grandparents that she and Calhoun were doing something one was not supposed to do.

He then asked, "What's the matter?" 

"Villagers here won't care if you are the King or not. They differentiate between humans and vampires," Madeline had noticed the cold gaze that Calhoun had received from the villagers, but he appeared to be unaffected by it. 

"So I have noticed. Your grandparents were very hospitable. Offering me water, though I was hoping they would give me blood. What?" asked Calhoun with a smile on his face, "I am sure they know what is my choice and preference when it comes to what I want to drink."


Madeline's eyebrows furrowed now, "You were rude to insinuate that grandmother mixed something in the water. I was right there when she poured the water in the glass." Madeline agreed that getting her grandparents to get along with Calhoun was difficult, but Calhoun had done nothing but poked them.

"My apologies but I do not trust people, even if it's your own family. She might not have done anything while pouring the water, but she was the first one to get out of the kitchen, which meant you couldn't see her adding anything even if you wanted to," Calhoun shrugged his shoulders, "I am telling you a possible scenario, which might or might not have happened. And it isn't like your grandparents are too kind. What did you both speak in the room?"

Madeline blinked at him. Her grandmother was not lying when she said the vampire would not be able to hear a word they were speaking. It also answered why her grandparents were not threatened by Calhoun. 

Calhoun gave her a questioning look. His eyes had slightly narrowed, enough to let her know that he knew something was up, and he wished to know the truth. 

Her grandmother might have taken her to a room where a vampire could not hear what was spoken in there. But her grandmother had forgotten that Calhoun was someone whose ears were always listening to things around him. Especially, with them being under the same roof of the small house, it was apparent to suspect that she and her grandmother had not exchanged a single word. 

"She was asking about our wedding day," replied Madeline, "She was wondering what happened to James."

Calhoun's eyes that had slightly narrowed looked more apparent at the mention of the tailorman's name. He had hoped to get rid of James for good, but it looked like his name kept appearing and Calhoun was not pleased with it. He didn't like the fact that even her grandmother knew about that man. 

"What did you say?" asked Calhoun, they started to leave from where they had been standing and walked away from Jennine's grave.

"I told her that he's getting married to Lady Catherine," Madeline's short reply only intrigued Calhoun more. For a person like Calhoun who was possessive, he didn't like another man's name on Madeline's lips. If he could, he would erase the very memory of James from Madeline's mind. 


"What else?" Calhoun dug, not stopping there and Madeline wondered what she should do. She was getting married to him and she loved her grandparents, but she wanted her relatives alive. "How does she know about him? Did you express your feelings with her?"

Madeline shook her head, "I was surprised that she knew about him," and it was the truth. She couldn't help but think about how brave her grandfather had been to talk to Calhoun, mentioning about stopping the marriage between her and Calhoun. 

"I got a word from Mr. Barnes yesterday. Lady Catherine's father," started Calhoun to gain Madeline's full attention, "He has decided to prepone the wedding a day earlier."

"I see," murmured Madeline, her words turning even shorter than before. 

"I have asked the tailorman to stitch a new dress for the occasion. Catherine was too eager to invite us, saying she would like us to be present," said Calhoun, his words testing Madeline's expression that didn't change. 

This is what he wanted from her. 

Indifference in her heart and mind when it came to another man. But the man was snooping around where his nose didn't belong. Hopefully, after what Calhoun did last night, James would know not to do something stupid.

"This seems like a neat place," he said to her, his wings coming out to stretch themselves and Madeline quickly looked around to make sure there was no one to witness his wings. 

"You didn't make sure," Madeline said to him. The villagers were already against vampires; if they were to find him with wings that he was another creature, a possible higher creature, she didn't know what would happen to them. 

Calhoun smiled at her words. Stepping closer to her, "I like to see you worried. Especially when you worry about me. It makes me extremely happy," he confessed. Madeline's eyebrows had drawn together, staring back at him. Calhoun desired her more than anything he ever had in this world. Even in the world of chaos, he would like to choose no one but her. 

"I would like to see you alive," replied Madeline. 

"Don't worry I won't die," Calhoun responded to look into her eyes that looked lighter under the bright sun, "It would be such a waste to die when I have only found you. I have a lot of plans," he grinned, his fangs coming into Madeline's view, "Ready?" he asked her. 


Calhoun bent to pick Madeline up with both his arms, carrying her, "Time to leave." Right after a second, both of them disappeared from the lonely cemetery, leaving dust that rose in the air because of the large wings that flapped before shooting up the sky. 

Back in the village of East Carswell, James held the piece of parchment in his hand as he walked towards the house that had the same address as the one he had been given by Mr. Fisher. In the morning, after visiting his shop to make sure the workers had arrived, he had picked up his coat and come in search of the maid. James was counting the number on the houses when he noticed there were people who surrounded the front of a house. On a closer look, he realized it was the same house that he was looking for. 

Pushing through the little crowd, he came to see the door was left open. James turned to his left to ask the man, 

"What happened here?" 

The village man turned around, "The girl who lives here has gone missing. One of her aunts arrived in the morning to see her gone."

"Maybe she returned to the castle for work?" asked James. 

"No, it seems she had a holiday today and tomorrow. She wouldn't be returning to the castle until the weekend," answered the man, "Her aunt called the magistrate to get it checked," the man then leaned to the side to whisper, "She must have run away from the house. A few days ago, I saw her with a man in the evening. Someone who is of good class." 

Hearing this, James' lips set itself in a thin line. He had come here in the hope to find the truth if the rumour was true or not, but it seemed like the maid had decided to run away with a man, that was if what this village man was saying was true. 

Folding the paper that was still in his hand, he put it back in the pocket of his slacks. After giving another look at the woman who was talking to the magistrate of the village, James finally turned around to go back to his shop. 
_________
The lies- Part 3

When James left the house of the maid who had eloped with her so-called speculated lover, it wasn't just the tailorman who had come to meet her. There was another man who had come to the village so that he could speak to the maid. It was Markus Wilmot.

After listening to his mother, Markus had not only gone to sabotage the shop that belonged to Harris' family, but he had also caught hold of one of the maids who worked in the castle, who in truth worked for the Wilmot's family in giving information on what was going on in the castle. 

On reaching the house of the maid a few minutes after James left, Markus had come here so that he could give another work to the maid so that she could be of use but with the crowd present, he asked, 

"What happened here?" 

"Hilda, my niece is not in the house. I left her for a few hours, but when I returned she wasn't here," came a woman's voice, who was standing in front of the magistrate, "I am Hilda's aunt," she added when the man who wore expensive clothes questioned no one in particular. 

The magistrate, noticing who had come here, bowed his head, "Sir Markus." 

"Where did the girl disappear?" asked Markus to the magistrate when they went to the side, leaving the woman standing there in worry.

The magistrate then answered, "Sir, the woman says the girl was in the house when she left. Around seven or eight in the night. The woman went to her neighbour's house, which is the third house from here. I asked the others, and some said they saw her talking to a man, but they don't remember how he looks. Did you have some business here?" the magistrate politely asked. 

Markus nodded his head, "Yes, I am here to look at one of the cases that the King has handed me," but the actual reason why he was here, was that the maid had written a letter telling him she had crucial information about the younger Harris' daughter. 

He had given her a fair amount of money so that she would give timely reports about what was happening in the castle. 

One of the villagers who was still idly standing around, looked at the vampire who had entered the scene, who looked like he belonged to a high aristocratic family.

"He's the one!" the village man shouted, pointing his hand towards the vampire. 


Both Markus and the village magistrate turned to look at the man. The village man again said, "He's the man who was with Hilda, two evenings ago! He must have run away with her!" 

Markus' eyes narrowed at this accusation. Before he could say anything, the maid's aunt caught hold of Markus' coat and started to push and pull him, "Where is Hilda?! Did you take her somewhere??"

The magistrate pulled the woman away from the noble vampire, "Mrs. Lewis, Mr. Wilmot has nothing to do with it! You!" The magistrate looked at the man who was standing idly until now, who suddenly ran away from the scene to be chased by the guards of the village, "We will try to find out where your niece is."

Markus glared at the woman, dusting the front of his coat where the woman had held and crumpled the clothing, "Inform me once you find out where she is," he said to the magistrate who gave him a bow. 

He didn't want to stay in a place which was utterly useless. The maid was of no use, and Markus wondered what she wanted to say to him. His lips twisted in displeasure, he walked around the village of East Carswell as if he was there to find the culprits when in truth, he was here only to get information for his own gains. 

In the same village, a carriage arrived to stop right at the front of Mr. Heathcliff's tailoring shop. The coachman knocked on the door and assistant Emilio came to see who it was before going back inside,

"Mr. Heathcliff, it's Mr. Barnes' carriage." 

James didn't react but directly came out of the shop, wondering what the vampire wanted from him today. Since the time he had met Mr. Barnes, the man had been nothing but overbearing. Seeing it was the coachman who stood at the front, he heard the coachman say,

"Lady Catherine and her family expect your presence in the Barnes' mansion this instant."

"Inform the lady that I will be visiting at the time of the evening. I am in the middle of working on the King's orders," said James. In the morning, he had not spent much time here, and he had to get back to finishing the gown that was being made for Madeline. 


James could only hope that Madeline was happy. With the King standing next to her, he knew he didn't stand a chance, but James had tried, maybe not much, as he knew it was not possible to reach out to her as the King often looked at him as if he couldn't wait to behead him. He hoped that the rumours were not true and this wedding gown would be a present from his side to Madeline. 

"Milady said it's urgent. They want to discuss matters regarding the wedding and to bring you along with me back to the mansion," replied the coachman. 

Catherine had been summoning him for little things when she could consult about it with someone in the mansion itself. Three days ago, when he refused to go and had continued with his work, it had resulted for the vampiress coming down and crying in the shop in front of people. Not want to create a scene again. James nodded his head. The sooner he would go there, the sooner he would be able to return to his work. 

When James Heathcliff arrived at Barnes' mansion, the servants bowed their heads, treating him with respect as he was going to marry the only daughter of Mr. Barnes. 

"Mr. Heathcliff!" came Lady Catherine's excited voice from the other end of the corridor, and she quickly walked towards him, "How was your journey?" Her red eyes stared into his with an anxious look and a smile appeared on her lips as she was happy to see him here. 

James mustered a smile, "It was good, Milady. Just as usual."

It was Mr. Barnes who had forced him to marry his daughter, when Lady Catherine had given up on him. He didn't see any reason why he should behave impolitely with her. Somewhere deep down, he was angry with her that she hadn't made her father understand that he didn't want to marry her, but he had brushed it away. 

Compared to James, who looked like he didn't want to be here and wanted to be somewhere else, Catherine was up in the clouds. The vampiress had a broad smile on her lips, and she came to his side.


"Your suit is here. Father wants you to try it on as there are only a few more days left for our wedding. I can hardly believe it that days are passing by so soon," said Catherine before tugging him through the hallways and then walking towards the room where his suit was placed, "Did you eat?" and she turned to look at her butler, "Niles, go set up the table in the dining room."

James shook his head, "Lady Catherine, I will need to leave early," he said, realizing the vampiress was setting up lunch to have with him. 

Lady Catherine's smile fell, the colour of her eyes turning dull, "Why?"

James noticed how the tone in her voice changed from pleasant to distant. Recently, he came to realize there was something very odd about the lady. James didn't know if he was overthinking about every little thing, but it was hard to shake the feeling off of him.

"I need to go and check on father. He has not been doing so well. I did mention it to you," James had met Catherine three days ago, but the girl was too smitten with him that she wanted to spend more time with him. 

Catherine wanted to steal every single second that James had. If it were in her power, she would have him close his shop so that she could have all his time for herself. The vampiress was not unaware that her father had threatened James, after all, it was because of her tantrum her father had taken the step to meet James personally. Wasn't his father sick three days ago? Catherine asked herself. Was James making up reasons so that he could leave?

"Let me have the doctor sent to your home so that he can take a look at your father," offered Catherine to James. 

But James was quick to refuse her help, "No, that is alright. I need to make sure he's eating and resting well."

Catherine didn't know what else was there to do for an old man apart from lying on the bed.

"Father knows good doctors in the village. I am sure he will look after your father well." She saw James shake his head. The vampiress then muttered, "I didn't have my food from morning, thinking I would eat with you," and then she put a smile on her face, "But it's alright. You can try the wedding clothes and then go home." There was sadness in her voice as she said this. 


James had grown up with too much of goodness in him, but sometimes too much was not good and was instead harmful. Hearing Catherine's words, he felt bad and said,

"I think I can eat quickly and then leave."

"Are you sure?" asked Lady Catherine, her eyes looking at him like a deer would when she was far from it. 

James gave her a nod, "I will try the clothes and in the meantime, the butler can set up the table," this would save time while also keeping the heart of the lady. 

Lady Catherine turned to her butler who bowed and left. 

James, who was an expert in clothes, didn't have to know that Mr. Barnes had got him the best clothes from another town even though James could afford it himself. Once he was done wearing the wedding clothes, he changed back. 

"How is it?" asked Lady Catherine standing up from the couch where she had taken a seat while waiting for him to try on his wedding clothes. 

"It fits well, milady," replied James, folding the clothes to place it on the table. 

"Father said that he has found a house for us so that we can live together. Your father can live there too. It is in the Northshire-" 

"No," said James and Catherine raised her eyebrows.

"You don't want your father to live with us?" asked Catherine. 

James shook his head, "I don't plan to leave the house that I live in. It is also close to my shop and where I grew up. I want to continue to live there in East Carswell."

"Mr. Heathcliff, it is not only you but also I, who will be leaving the house. Don't you think we should move to a better pla-"

"Lady Catherine," said James, "I won't be moving to a different house, no matter how big it is. If you do not want to live with me, there's still time to refuse the marriage," he wished and hoped that something would deter her from proceeding with the marriage. This way, Mr. Barnes could back away from him, and the blame would go on his daughter. 

But Catherine was not some naive girl who did not know what James was trying to do. She offered the man a smile, "There's still time for it. Let us go and have lunch." 

An extravagant lunch had been prepared and placed on the table for both James and Catherine, "Mr. and Mrs. Barnes are not at home?" inquired James. 


"Mama and papa have gone to visit Uncle Roland. They will be coming back at night," answered Lady Catherine, "Why don't you try this, I know it's your favourite," she said, passing a dish to him. 

Catherine ate her food while sneaking glances towards James. She was in love with the man for a long time, and she was ecstatic that soon they would be married. 

"I asked my father to invite the King to our wedding," started Catherine to dismiss the silence around them. James raised his eyes to meet her gaze, "The King has always treated my family really well. Also, I thought you would like to have Lady Madeline attend as both of you know each other."

Outwardly, James smiled, but the news that Catherine was giving him was nothing less than salt being rubbed over his wound, which he was trying to heal. 

Catherine then continued to say, "Considering father is a Duke, I think it is good to have the King's support. The King has always been very kind to our family. Father was against my marriage with a human. But it was because of the King that he agreed to it. I mean he also showed his very own example where he's marrying Lady Madeline."

James' eyebrows furrowed, "Wait. The King spoke to your father?"

"The King must be knowing how much I love you, and he knows you will keep me happy," said Catherine with a bright smile, not knowing what she revealed to James right now. 

When Mr. Barnes had threatened him, James had mistaken it to be the father's love for his daughter and how James had broken her heart, even though he had never expressed such feelings towards Catherine.

It was because of the King that had Mr. Barnes had put James in such a situation!

James gritted his teeth as he thought about it. 

After finishing lunch with Lady Catherine, James made his way back home. He unlocked the front door of his house. Stepping inside, he spoke to his father who was resting in the room,

"Father, you didn't have your food. It's turned cold now."


It seemed like his father had not touched the food that he had prepared for him. Taking his coat off of him, James went to his father who had his back faced towards him. James wondered if he should let his father rest before waking him up to eat. But seeing he had not eaten since the time of the morning, he placed his hand on his father's forehead to check his temperature. 

It was cold. 

Frowning, he called his old man, "Father?" and when he turned him around, James noticed his father wasn't breathing anymore. 

Even though his father was not breathing, James shook his body as if waiting to wake him up from his sleep but nothing happened. James' father's body had turned cold because the old man had passed two hours ago during his absence. 

"Father?" James whispered. 

Only if he was here, maybe he could have helped his father. He wanted to come home to check on his father but he had been withheld back. Only if he had come straight home, refusing to go to the Barnes mansion he could have done something, thought James to himself. 

The only family he had, he lost that person. 

James let his father rest on his back while pulling up the sheet. He would have been here, tending to his father. As time passed, the grief turned to anger that was directed towards the King.
___________
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