Love Takes Time



Chapter One


Marianne opened her eyes, and stretched, the morning sun brilliantly lighting up the room. She lay there for a while, until someone knocked on the door.

“Princess, it’s time for you to awaken,” the voice said.

“All right, Madam Sorscha,” Marianne replied. “I’m only awake just now.” She sat up, and viewed her surroundings. Her bedroom was lavishly furnished, the furniture adorned with rich silks and other fine materials. She was King Lance’s only daughter, and soon, she was to marry Prince Marcus. She had never even SEEN him before, even though they were betrothed since her birth. Sighing, she stood, stretching once more.

At that moment, an elderly woman walked into the room. “Good morning, Princess,” she said.

“Good morning, Madam Sorscha,” Marianne said.

“Have you slept well?” Madam Sorscha asked.

“Yes, I have, thank you,” Marianne replied. She was steered over to the mirror, and in the blink of an eye, servants were buzzing around her, getting her ready for the day. As they did so, she stared at her reflection.

She was a very pretty young woman with green eyes, and shoulder length black hair. She had a very nice figure, also. Her father would always boast that it was because of her beauty that men from every kingdom across the land would try to convince her father to withdraw the betrothal between her and Prince Marcus. She was a bit nervous about the impending wedding, which was only three days away. How could she marry a man that she had never even seen before? She just didn’t understand the logic of it all. ‘Well’, she thought, ‘I guess there’s nothing that I can do about it.’

The servants finally finished dressing her in a beautiful emerald green gown made of silk and velvet with gold thread lining, to bring out her eyes. Her hair was done up, so that it was fitted in curls inside the delicate crown that she wore on her head. As she looked at her reflection, a guard walked into the room.

“How dare you enter the Princess’s quarters without knocking?!” Madam Sorscha scolded sharply.

“I apologize immensely for my intrusion, Princess,” the guard said, bowing. “But, your father wishes to see you right away.”

“Tell him that I will be there in a moment,” Marianne said softly.

The guard bowed once again, and left the room.

“Must be yet another ‘lecture’,” Marianne sighed.

Madame Sorscha gazed at the younger woman lovingly. She had raised the Princess ever since she was a small child, and watched her grow into a beautiful young woman, full of light and warmth. Although her mother was a significant part of the Princess’s life, she wasn’t always around, leaving Madame Sorscha to take care of her. In her opinion, she thought herself to be more of her mother than the Queen herself. ‘Ah, me,’ she thought, ‘How time flies. It seems as if only a day has passed from when I held her in my arms as a newly born babe. Now, she stands before me a beautifully developed woman.’

“Madam Sorscha,” Marianne said, “What are you thinking that you look at me so?”

“Just how my pretty young one has grown,” Madame Sorscha sighed. “Prince Marcus will love you.”

“How could he love me if he has never seen me?” Marianne asked.

“Trust me, beautiful one,” Madame Sorscha said softly, putting Marianne’s jewellery on, which consisted of a diamond, emerald, and sapphire encrusted necklace, and a brilliant emerald that hung from her crown onto her brow. “Love takes time. Besides, I have seen this Prince Marcus. Ooh, he is a handsome devil. Surely you will agree with me.”

Marianne laughed. “Even in your age, you still fawn over young, handsome men,” she said.

“Well, let an old woman dream,” Madame Sorscha said. She then chuckled. “Go to your father now. He is waiting for you.”

Marianne sighed. “All right,” she said. She then walked out of her room.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


King Lance was sitting in his personal study, when there was a knock on the door. “Enter,” he called.

A guard walked in, and bowed. “Your daughter is here, sire,” he said. With that, he stepped aside, so that Marianne could walk in.

“Ahh, my dearest daughter,” Lance said, smiling. He got up, and embraced her, pressing a kiss to her forehead.

“You wanted to speak with me, Father?” Marianne asked.

“Yes, I did,” Lance said. “I wanted you to know that Prince Marcus is on his way here now. He should be arriving later in the day.”

“All right, Father,” she said softly. “Thank you.”

“Are you all right?” Lance asked. “You do not look as a happy bride-to-be should.”

“I’m fine, Father,” Marianne said, sighing. “I just don’t see why I have to marry someone I’ve never met before.”

“Marianne, we’ve been through this many times,” Lance sighed. “You know very well that you’ve been betrothed to Prince Marcus ever since your birth. Everything has already been arranged.” Lance walked over to her, and gently put his hands on her shoulders. “I know how you feel. I’ve been through the same thing when I got married. But, it turned out to be one of the best things in my life. I have a wonderful woman as my Queen, and a beautiful daughter. I’m sure that Marcus will say the same thing about you in the future.” He hooked a finger under her chin, and lifted her head, so that she was looking at him. “Now, where’s that smile that always warms my soul?” After a moment, he spoke again. “Come now, I know it’s there.” He began to search her face. “It is hiding from me. I will find it.”

Marianne smiled, and giggled.

“There now,” Lance said, smiling in turn. “Now, go, and I will send for you when Marcus arrives.” He pressed yet another kiss to her forehead.

“All right, Father,” she said softly, kissing him on the cheek. She then walked out.

Lance stared after her for a moment. He really wanted his only daughter to be happy. He had given Marcus a good talking-to, telling him that if he made her unhappy, even in the slightest, it would be war between their kingdoms. He sighed. ‘Well, we will see what develops’, he thought to himself. He then sat back into his chair, and continued the book he had been reading before Marianne walked in.


Chapter Two


Marcus arrived in the mid afternoon, being received warmly by King Lance and Queen Victoria, the parents of his soon to be bride, Princess Marianne. From what Lance had told him, she was a very beautiful, warm, and loving young woman. When his carriage arrived in front of the castle, he waited for the door to be opened for him, before he climbed out.

He was a very large man, one or two inches shy of seven feet, with very broad shoulders. He was also very well muscled, looking as if he could crush a man’s skull in one of his bare hands. If he hadn’t been wearing his full body armour, one would see the various ink markings on his arms, from shoulder to wrist. His short hair was auburn in colour, his moustache and beard the same. He also had an intense green-eyed stare, one that could make the bravest of men flounder. He climbed out of the carriage, where King Lance and Queen Victoria greeted him.

“Ahh, how wonderful to see you again, Marcus,” Lance said.

“The pleasure is mine,” Marcus replied.

“How is your mother?” Victoria asked.

“She is well, thank you,” Marcus said. “She sends her regards.”

“Well, now that you are here,” Victoria said, “I think that it would be wise that we send for Marianne.”

“That would be wise, indeed,” Marcus said, chuckling.

“Our daughter is around somewhere,” Lance said. He looked around, and spotted yet another guard. “You there,” he called. “Where is my daughter?”

“She is in the garden, Majesty,” the guard replied, bowing.

“Of course, I should have known,” Lance sighed. He then turned to Marcus. “The garden is my daughter’s favourite place.”

Marcus merely nodded, and followed the King and Queen to the garden. He wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of an arranged marriage, especially to someone who he was going to meet for the first time today. He never really had an interest in women, even if the women of his kingdom flocked to him like bees to a honeycomb. No woman had ever really challenged him. All they seemed to care about was their appearance, which was really irritating. He was jolted out of his thoughts when they arrived in the garden, where he heard a delicate feminine giggle.

He looked up, and saw a large fountain in the middle of the garden. ‘Surely the giggle didn’t come from there,’ he thought. He then saw a very beautiful young woman run in front of it, looking off somewhere behind her, her profile to him. She was dressed in a beautiful emerald green gown, with a small crown on her head, her dark hair fitted perfectly into it. It was from her that the giggle emanated. At that moment, he tuned out Lance entirely.

“It is a warm day, Madame Sorscha,” the girl said, breathing heavily. “We must stop so we may catch our breath.” She sat on the edge of the fountain, putting a hand over her chest. “My heart feels as if it is going to jump out of my chest.”

“It is indeed a warm day, Princess,” an old voice said. A moment later, an older woman came into view, and sat beside the young girl. “I am not as young as I used to be.” The woman put a hand to her forehead, looking as if she was going to swoon.

“Madame Sorscha,” the girl said, genuine concern in her voice. “I have worked you too much…”

“I’m fine, child,” the woman known as ‘Madame Sorscha’ said, waving the girl away. “It is just so warm…”

“Here,” the girl said, taking a handkerchief and submerging it into the water of the fountain. She then took it from the water, wrung it out, folded it, and then placed it onto the older woman’s head. “Do you feel better now?”

“Yes, child, thank you,” Madame Sorscha said. She placed her hand over the girl’s, and took the turn in holding the cloth there. “MY, it is warm out here.”

Marcus watched this scene, tilting his head slightly. This girl was so very sweet, tending to an old servant when she didn’t have to. Tingles ran down his spine when she giggled again.

“Yes, it is,” the girl replied.

Marcus’s dazed state was shattered when he heard Lance’s voice.

“Marianne, there you are!!” Lance cried. “We’ve been looking for you.”

Marianne’s head turned when she heard her father’s voice. She then stood, helping up Madam Sorscha as she did so. They then walked up to them. “Yes, Father?” she asked.

“We have a guest,” Lance said, smiling, and gesturing to Marcus. He then walked until he was behind Marianne, and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Marcus, I would like you to meet Marianne, your future wife.”

Marianne had her head bowed, so she hadn’t gotten a good look at Marcus yet. She bowed politely. “Good afternoon, Marcus,” she said softly. “I trust your journey to our humble kingdom was a comfortable one.”

“Yes it was, thank you,” Marcus said.

Lance looked at Marianne, who still had her head bowed. “Marianne, look up at your future husband. Don’t worry, he will not bite you,” he said, laughing.

Marianne slowly raised her head. ‘My, he is so TALL!!’  she thought as her eyes journeyed upwards. When her eyes finally fell on his face, she gasped inwardly. ‘Oh…Madam Sorscha was right…he IS a handsome devil!!’ She felt the heat creep up into her face, and turned away.

Marcus watched amusedly as she blushed and turned away. ‘Lance doesn’t lie,’ he thought. ‘She IS beautiful.’  He had to fight down a chuckle as she looked upon him again, this time with wide eyes. He stood head and shoulders above her, no doubt giving her a reason to stare.

Marianne had never seen someone as…LARGE as this man before. But, Lord, he was so handsome!! Short auburn hair and his eyes a beautiful shade of green.

“Is there something you wanted, Princess?” Marcus asked, making her blush and turn away once again.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I…I didn’t mean to gawk at you…”

“It’s quite all right,” Marcus replied. He then turned to Lance. “Majesty, I don’t mean to be rude, but I am quite tired…”

“Say no more,” Lance said, holding up a hand. “Marianne, forgive him if he doesn’t join us for a while, for he must rest.”

“It’s all right, Father,” Marianne said softly. “I wouldn’t want to keep him from his rest.”

“Madam Sorscha,” Victoria said, “Show His Highness to his quarters.”

“Yes, Milady,” Madam Sorscha said, bowing. “This way, Highness.”

With that, she led Marcus away.


Chapter Three


Hours later, Marcus sat in the room that had been prepared for him, in a large, overstuffed chair in front of a roaring fireplace. He stared into the flames, just thinking to himself. No matter how much he tried, he just couldn’t understand. He had seen so many battles in his life, and had lived to tell their tales. Many men had died by his hands, and for this he was sure he would be damned to hell for it. But, instead, God saw fit to send him a green eyed, dark haired angel. Why? What wonderful thing had he done to deserve such a being? Such a PERFECT being? Then, it hit him. It wasn’t GOD who was doing this…it was the Devil. The Devil was punishing him. What perfect way to torture him than to send him an angel, an angel that he was not allowed to touch? To do so would damn him to hell for all time. He couldn’t touch her perfect skin with his…downright FILTHY hands. He wouldn’t be able to bring himself to do so. What killed him inside most was that from the very first moment he saw her, he was head over heels. He didn’t think that was possible, at least for him. The more he thought about it, the more it tore him apart. By the time the sun was completely set, he had made a decision, the hardest decision that he had ever had to make. He would stay as far away from her as possible. It would be much safer for her. There was no way he could touch her, not one as sweet, as innocent as her. He had to keep her away from him at all costs. His mind made up, he nodded slightly, and stood. He then walked out of the room. He needed air. The very thought of her made him dizzy.




Marianne sighed as she lay on the flowerbed in the garden. She couldn’t believe that she would be marrying such a handsome man like Prince Marcus. ‘As soon as Lucy comes, I must tell her of him,’ she thought. Lucy was her only, and dearest cousin. When they were together, they were nearly inseparable.

Marianne’s daydreams were interrupted when she heard someone call for her.

“Marianne!!” the voice called.

Marianne disregarded the voice, and continued to daydream, smiling dreamily and humming softly while gazing at a flower that she was holding.

“Marianne!!” the voice called again.

Once again, she ignored it, closing her eyes and letting her daydreams of Marcus carry her away.




Victoria and Lance were searching for Marianne in the garden. “Marianne!!” Victoria called. She turned to Lance. “Where is that girl? She never responds when we call for her.”

“She is here, my Queen,” Lance said. “She may just be hiding like she always does.”

At that moment, one of the servants ran up to them. “Milady, I have found the Princess,” he said.

“Oh, good, lead us to her,” Lance said.

The servant led them to the flowerbed that Marianne was laying upon, and put a finger to his lips, pointing at her.

Her eyes were closed, a smile plastered on her lips. She was humming tunelessly, twirling a flower between her fingers.

Both Lance and Victoria smiled at the faraway look on their daughter’s face. “It seems that she has taken a liking to her betrothed,” Lance said, smiling. He then turned to Marianne. “So, Marianne, are you so adamant about not marrying someone you hardly know?”

“Hmmm,” she replied, not paying attention.

After a moment of silence, Victoria spoke, whispering in her husband’s ear. “Let me try something,” she said. She then cleared her throat and spoke up. “We are going into war tomorrow, and there is no way we can win it.”

“That’s nice,” Marianne sighed.

“Your mother and I are going off into exile,” Lance said, following Victoria’s lead.

“Wonderful for you. Have fun,” she said dreamily.

Lance and Victoria looked at each other. She was DEFINITELY smitten with her groom to be. Victoria decided to get in one last verbal shot. “Prince Marcus will be riding into battle after the wedding, and he may never come back,” she said.

Marianne immediately shot up, a distressed look on her face. “Riding…into battle?! But…why?!?!” She then began to babble frantically, her words jumbled. She stopped when her parents began to laugh. “What’s so funny?! There is nothing funny about this!!!”


“Marianne, dearest, we were only trying to get your attention,” Lance said. “You were so far off into your own world, we HAD to do something.”

Marianne glared at them, with tears running down her face. “That was a horrible thing to say!! You both should be ashamed of yourselves!!” With that, she got up and stormed out of the garden.

Marcus, in the meanwhile, had been walking around the garden, when the conversation between Marianne and her parents caught his ear. A smile tugged at the corners of his lips. He was very pleased to know that she was so concerned about him. But, what made her parents say that he was riding off into battle, he would never know. The smile disappeared, and he felt a stabbing pain in his heart. No matter how concerned he was for her, he could never show it. Maybe…just maybe, when the wedding was done, and they got back to his kingdom, he could speak with his brother, Kane. Kane may be younger than him, but he was very wise. He sighed, and resumed his wanderings throughout the castle.


Chapter Four


The three days before the wedding passed quickly. All the preparations were finally finished, and everything was in order. Marcus’s brother, Kane, had arrived the afternoon before, so he could help Marcus prepare.

The night before the wedding, Kane sat with his brother in his room.

“Brother, I don’t understand why you think this way,” he said. “I mean, if God didn’t think you were worthy of such a creature, then he wouldn’t have awarded her to you, don’t you agree?”

Marcus stood up from the chair he had been sitting in, and stared into the fire in the fireplace. “I don’t know, Kane. I seriously think that this is wrong…that I shouldn’t be rewarded like this. She deserves a man whose hands haven’t shed the blood of hundreds of men. A man whose hands are not as tarnished as mine.”

Kane didn’t understand his brother’s behaviour. He had never seen him act this way over a woman before. “Marcus, be reasonable. I have not met someone who is more kind, or understanding than her. If you just speak with her, I’m sure that she will not think so lowly of you.”

Marcus looked over at his brother. “How will I be able to speak to her if whenever I’m near her, I can hardly breathe? How will I be able to keep myself composed when her very scent heats my blood? How will I keep my hands from memorizing every inch of her right on the spot?” He then sighed sadly. “No matter how much I want to, I can’t. She deserves so much better than a man like me.”

“Marcus, no matter how much you try to deny it, she will be your wife and Queen in a matter of hours,” Kane said. “So I suggest you speak with her when we get back to our kingdom.”

Marcus sighed again. He had no idea on how he was going to survive.




Marcus stood at the altar, waiting for Marianne to walk down the aisle. He was so nervous; he feared he was going to vomit on the spot. His breath caught in his throat when she finally did walk down the aisle. She looked so beautiful.

She was wearing a dazzlingly beautiful white dress with a low neckline (which showed an abundant amount of her bust), with a sheer veil that came down over her face, fastened to a ring of white roses crowed around her head. Her hair was down, in curls that draped over her shoulders. On her neck, she wore a delicate necklace of diamonds and emeralds, to match her eyes. She held a bouquet of flowers.

The actual ceremony was all a blur to him. All he could concentrate on was her.

“I now pronounce you man and wife, King and Queen,” the priest said.

Marcus leaned down, to press a kiss onto her lips.

Marianne lifted her head so Marcus could kiss her. She tried to increase the pressure of the kiss, but he pulled away before she could.

The wedding ceremony finally over, everyone prepared for the wedding reception, where the newlywed King and Queen received gifts and well wishes from the subjects from their kingdoms, as well as celebrate the marriage with a large feast.

Marianne looked at her newly wedded husband, and placed a hand over his. He looked troubled. “Marcus,” she said softly. “Does something trouble you?”

“No,” he replied. “I’m all right.” He kept his eyes straight ahead, not daring to look at her. If he did, he would surely be lost.

Marianne removed her hand, and sat back into her chair. Surely she would be able to talk to him tonight. Tonight. The mere thought of that made tingles run down her spine. To be alone with this man on her wedding night…it would surely be something to remember.

Marcus sat in his chair, stone faced, as the reception went on, hardly tasting the food that was on his plate. Now that he had survived the wedding, there was no way on earth that he was going to survive later. This woman was his wife and Queen, and would remain so for the rest of his life. But, the question was…how long was he going to hold out?

The seemingly eternity-long reception finally ended, and everyone gathered in the town square to see off the newlyweds to their own newly acquired kingdom. Marcus saddled his horse; a large black stallion named Shadehoof, and helped Marianne hoist herself up onto it. She sat in front of him, riding sidesaddle, so Marcus had to wrap an arm tightly around her middle so she couldn’t fall off. He stiffened when he felt her slightly lean back into him, her head resting a little on his shoulder.

Marianne looked up at him, a mask of concern on her face. He looked so troubled…so distant. “Marcus,” she said, “Are you sure that you’re all right?”

Marcus didn’t say a word.

“Marcus, please tell me,” she implored softly. “You look so troubled.”

“I’m fine,” he growled.

Marianne jumped, not expecting the harsh tone of his voice. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to anger you,” she said. “I won’t bother you again.” She looked away, and over the sea of faces that were watching them.

Marcus looked down at her. He felt horrible for upsetting her, but the longer he kept her away, the more better off she was. He became dizzy when the subtle scent of flowers drifted up to his nose. He licked his lips unconsciously. Her hair was swept to one side, her head slightly tilted, giving him a view of her exposed neck. His eyes were glued to it. Her necklace was glittering in the mid afternoon sun.

Lance and Victoria had made their way up to the horse. “I wish you both long life and forever lasting happiness,” Victoria said.

“As do I,” Lance said, looking pointedly at Marcus.

Marcus merely stared back.

“Well, we will not keep you from your journey back,” Lance said, clearing his throat. “Off you go, then.”

With a wave from both Marianne and Marcus, the horse reared up, and galloped out of the square, with everyone cheering for the newlywed King and Queen.


Chapter Five


They got back to their kingdom when the sun was hanging low in the sky. When they got to the front of the castle, Marianne was carefully set down on her feet, with Marcus demounting behind her. Before Marianne could think, she was surrounded by servants, all leading her to her chambers. In the midst of all the commotion, she saw Marcus stalking off in another direction. The servants practically dragged her off into another direction, telling her that her things would be brought up to the castle separately. She was brought to a room, where she was undressed, and bathed by the servants. Everything was happening so quickly, and before she had time to think, she was in her bed, nude, awaiting the arrival of her new husband. Now, she finally had time to herself to think a little bit. Of course, she was a bit nervous, since this would be the very first time that she would lay in the same bed with a man. She had never even been kissed before. New thoughts began to run through her mind. Would he be gentle with her, or would he only care about his own pleasure? Furthermore, would there be pain? She merely let her thoughts wander as she waited for Marcus’s arrival.




Marcus sat in his room, staring off into space. Tonight was his wedding night. Tonight, he was supposed to consummate his marriage to Marianne. How could he bring himself to do so? How could he bring himself to touch her perfect skin? He looked down at his hands. So many men had died; so much blood had been spilled by these hands. These hands had dealt so much brutality, so much cruelty, and yet God was allowing these hands to touch one of His angels? No matter how much he tried, he just couldn’t understand. It made no sense to him. Sighing, he got up, and walked out of his room, but not in search of Marianne’s room. When he was younger, he never understood why one of those was kept here, but now, he understood.




Marianne was still in her bed, wondering when Marcus would arrive. Sunset had come and gone, and he still hadn’t come to her. Why? Why was he not here yet? Had he some business to tend to, and couldn’t come to her straight away? The more she thought on it, the more uneasy she became. ‘I will go to him”, she thought. She then nodded once, the thought firmly in her mind. She got up and put on her nightgown, then left the room.

It took her a while to find Marcus’s room, but she found it. She put her ear to the door, and heard some sounds emitting from the room. Looking confused, she opened the door a little way, and gasped at what she saw.

She saw Marcus, but he wasn’t alone. He was in his bed with who could only be a whore. She didn’t understand. This was their wedding night. Weren’t they supposed to be…well…together? She covered her mouth with her hand, with tears running down her face, and feeling her heart shatter into a million pieces. She couldn’t even move. She was rooted to the spot, her eyes glued to the scene in front of her. Suddenly, she saw Marcus’s head turn, and lock eyes with hers.

She didn’t know how long she stood there, with their gazes locked. Finally getting her bearings back, she turned and fled back to her room. Heartbreak wasn’t the word to describe what she was feeling at that moment. Her own husband refused to be with her on their wedding night. Was she that horrible, that loathsome? Had she done something so horrible that he wouldn’t want to be with her? Or, did he loathe her appearance? Had she been so repulsive, that he would not want her near him? Question after question ran through her mind, as her tears flowed. Did he not want to consecrate this union? Did he even want to be married to her at all? The more questions that presented themselves, the more upset she became. The predominant question was ‘why?’ She turned, and stared into the full-length mirror that was on the wall.

‘Because he loathes you”, she thought to herself. ‘He has hardly spoken to you ever since he had arrived to your kingdom. Did you not notice how he acted at the wedding feast? Did you see how he was so quick to dismiss you?’ At these thoughts, she cried even harder, until, at last, she couldn’t stand to look at herself anymore. She then whirled around, threw herself onto her bed, and cried herself to sleep.




Marcus finished his business with the whore he had taken from the castle’s harem. He stared at the ceiling as he lay on his back. All he could think of was the image of Marianne, a look of total heartbreak on her face. It killed him inside all the more. But, this was his fate. He deserved nothing better than a whore. There was no way he could allow Marianne to be with him…for her own sake. Her innocence was too precious. Was this how his entire life would be? Would he be spending most of his time avoiding her? He was lost in his thoughts, when the whore tried to get his attention once again.

“Majesty, may I pleasure you again?” she cooed.

Marcus looked at her as if she were the vilest thing on the planet. “Get out,” he growled.

The whore looked confused. “But, Sire-“

“I SAID GET OUT!!!” Marcus bellowed.

Not wanting to be on the receiving end of his wrath, she quickly gathered her clothes, and hurried out of the room.

Marcus looked around and, seeing a vase on the table next to his bed, he picked it up and hurled it at the door. He then buried his head in his hands. ‘Marianne…my Angel… my beautiful Angel…’ he thought despairingly. ‘I’m sorry…please forgive me…’


Chapter Six


Marianne awoke the next morning, her eyes still sore and red from the crying she had done the night before. Last night’s events had seemed so surreal…as if they were nothing more than a dream. But, sadly, she knew that they were no dream. They had, in fact, been reality. She sat up, wincing as pain stabbed at her head. She pressed her fingers to her temples, trying to massage it away. At that moment, Madame Sorscha (who had decided to stay with her), knocked on the door.

“It is time to awaken now, Majesties,” she said through the closed door.

Marianne swallowed a lump in her throat, feeling fresh stabs of pain in her heart. “Come in, Madame Sorscha,” she said.

Madame Sorscha walked in, a confused look stealing over her face. “My dear young one…if I may ask…where is your husband?”

Marianne swung her legs over the edge of the bed, wringing her hands, and fresh tears running down her face. “He is in his room. He…he…” She tried to speak further, but she could manage no more. She then began to cry once again.

Madame Sorscha sat next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “There, there now, my pretty one…tell me what happened.”

Through sobs and sniffles, Marianne told Madame Sorscha of what she had seen the previous night. The older woman took the younger one into her arms, and cradled her, humming softly, while stroking her hair comfortingly. “I should go straight to your father about this,” Madame Sorscha said. “He would have you home, and the armies invading swifter than you could say ‘betrothed’.”

“NO!!” Marianne shouted. “No, I don’t want anything like that to happen because of me.” She then sighed sadly. “Obviously, this marriage is only for display. But…I just thought that maybe…just maybe…it would have been for him as it was for me.” Her voice dropped low, barely a whisper, “Love upon first sight.” Fresh tears began to fall, yet again. “I can’t help but hang onto this hope…however faint a glimmer it may seem…that he may, well, GROW to love me. I understand that it may be impossible, but I just can’t help but hope.”

Madame Sorscha hugged her tighter. “Like I said before, my pretty young one…love takes time. I have no doubt that he will grow to love you…and love you dearly.”

She continued to hold Marianne, comforting her while she cried, rocking back and forth while humming. She couldn’t BELIEVE Marcus’s behaviour towards her. Marianne was a warm, bright, vibrant, and loving young woman, and for Marcus to treat her in this manner sickened her. She knew that Marianne was so looking forward to spending the rest of her life with him. Although she wanted to go straight to King Lance with this, she was going to respect Marianne’s wishes.




Marcus was walking through the corridor, until he passed by a certain door. He stopped in his tracks when he heard noises coming from the room. He quietly went up to the door, and pressed his ear to it. The noises coming from the room were Marianne’s sobs. His heart, once again, shattered into a million pieces. He braced a hand on the door, leaning his forehead onto it. ‘Please don’t cry, my perfect Angel”, he thought. ‘I can’t bear to hear you cry.”  Sighing quietly, he backed away from the door, and continued on his way, his head hung in shame.




It was nearly the hour of one, and Marianne had not come down yet. Marcus looked at the empty throne next to him. Oh, how he longed to have her by his side. But, the throne stayed empty. He stared at it, lost in his thoughts, until he heard someone clearing their throat. He looked up to see Marianne’s nurse, Madame Sorscha.

“Please excuse Her Majesty if she doesn’t join you,” she said, giving him a hard and stern look. “She was not feeling well.”

Marcus nodded. “I will be by straight away, after I tend to my duties,” he said.

Madame Sorscha looked at the younger man. He, too, looked thoroughly heartbroken. She could tell what he was feeling by the look of utter misery in his eyes. This confused her greatly. If what she was reading was correct, then, why was he acting the way he was? Surely there must be some reasoning behind it, however harsh it may seem. She confronted him when his duties were concluded for the day, and he was on his way to Marianne’s room.

“You cannot hide anything from me, Majesty,” Madame Sorscha said as she caught up with him before he got to Marianne’s chambers.

“Excuse me?” Marcus asked, raising an eyebrow.

“You know full well of what I speak of,” she replied, folding her arms. “I am an old woman, and I have seen everything. What I do not understand is, why you would do something like this to her.”

Marcus stood there, looking sheepish.

“I should go straight to her father with this,” Madame Sorscha scolded. “But, seeing as she has implored me not to, I won’t.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “Did she?” he asked.

“Yes, she did,” Madame Sorscha replied. “She said that she did not want a war to start because of her. Apparently, she does not want people to die because of the fool who calls himself her husband.”

Of course, Marcus could tell that Marianne didn’t call him a fool. The last statement had come from the elderly nurse. And it was true.

“Well, I hope I gave you something to think about,” Madame Sorscha said. “Now, I will take my leave now.” With that, she left.

Marcus turned, and continued his journey up to Marianne’s room. When he got there, he took a deep breath, and opened the door quietly. He popped his head in, to see her asleep. He quietly walked into the room, and gently sat next to her on the bed. His heart wrenched when he saw the tear streaks on her face. ‘My perfect angel’, he thought. ‘How I wish I could reveal how deeply I feel for you. But, would you ever want me, after I confess all of my sins? Would you ever be mine if you knew all of the horrible things I have done? All of the men I’ve killed in battle? Please understand, my dearest love, this is for your own salvation.’  He bent his head, and pressed two kisses, one on her forehead, and one on her lips. Not daring to stay longer, he quickly and carefully rose, and swiftly walked out of the room, leaving her to sleep.


Chapter Seven


Many months passed, and Marianne still remained…untouched…by her groom. Rumours began to fly around the Court and, in time, the entire kingdom about this. After a while, everyone began to call her ‘The Virgin Queen’. Kane, Madame Sorscha, among many others, tried to stifle these rumours and let everyone know that the newlyweds were, very much, together, and in love. But, the Court plainly saw how Marcus kept his distance from his Queen, and hardly even looked at her. He always kept his eyes straight forward, never making direct eye contact. Whenever she would put her hand over his, he would merely stiffen, and lift his hand from the arm of his throne, resting his chin on his closed fist.

Marianne sat on her throne, looking passive, while her mind was a whirlwind of emotions. She just didn’t understand why her husband would treat her like this, like she was a plague to be avoided at all costs. She was absolutely determined to win his love, this much was certain. Whatever he did, she would refuse to let it get her down. Many found her charming, loving, warm, and full of laughter and light, although they were unaware at the constant sharp stabs of excruciating pain she felt in her heart. Of course, she had pretended that Marcus was as loving and attentive as a husband should be, but it would always tear her already fragile, bruised, and tender heart to pieces. What was it about her that had made him despise her so? She thought that if he did, indeed, despise her, then he would at least be civil towards her. But, instead, she got absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. Whenever she would try to speak to him, he would just give her a blank stare, and walk away. Did he realize what he was doing to her? The pain he was causing? Did he even care that he would leave her crying in Kane’s arms more often than not? She gave a mental prayer of thanks for Kane’s presence. He had become a most valued friend in this painful time. Not only was he wise, but he would always provide comfort when she needed it. Her eyes scanned the room, to find him standing in a far off corner, speaking with a guard. He had been content to the job as Second in Command of King Marcus’s armies. She looked at him, studying his features.

He was just as large as Marcus was; only his arms were barren of ink markings. He always wore red and black armour, a mask with those colours on his face. She didn’t understand why he wore the mask. Every time she would ask him to take it off, he would always deter her by changing the subject, or give some excuse. His hair was not short, and auburn, like Marcus’s, but long, curly, and brown. He had one blue eye, and one white eye. She surmised that something horrible must have happened to him in his youth to make him want to wear that mask. She began to wonder why he wore it in the first place. She decided that she would ask him later.

She was so drawn to her thoughts, that she didn’t realize that Marcus was speaking very angrily to someone who had presented themselves to her. Turning her attention to what was happening, she immediately realized why.

There was a man standing before them, with short blonde hair, and an overly white toothed smile. His clothes were that of a Lord. This Lord’s name was Lord Dallas Page.

She had to squelch down the loathing she felt for this man. Ever since she had begun blossoming into womanhood, Lord Page would constantly visit her kingdom, and try to convince her father to give him her hand in marriage, and break her betrothal to Marcus. Thankfully, her father refused. But, no matter what her father would say, he would always try to slither his way next to her. At every ball her father held, he would try to corner her in the garden. Many times, he had tried to kiss her, and even put his hands on her. Mercifully, she had been able to keep her wits about her, and carefully thwart his intentions without losing them.

“I’ve told you many times, Page,” Marcus was growling angrily. “I will not aid you in your pointless dispute with Lord Copeland. Nor, will I aid him. This constant childish bickering between the both of you will have to stop. I couldn’t be bothered with such a trivial thing as an apple tree. All I can say to you is that you will have to split the fruit of the tree equally between you. I can’t believe that you would waste my, and the Courts’, time with such stupidity.” Marcus’s jaw clenched. He didn’t feel loathing, like Marianne did. He felt raw, boiling, and seething HATRED. He had been told of Page’s constant advances towards Marianne, and it was taking all he had not to throttle him where he stood. This was no secret to the Court, of course. They felt the same way. He was too damned sneaky, and he could not be trusted. Even now, he saw Page’s eyes flicker in Marianne’s direction. The hatred he felt a moment ago surged and seethed, boiling his blood. “I strongly suggest you keep your eyes to me, Page,” he growled hatefully, his temper flaring dangerously. “You do not want me to lose my temper. And, believe me; my patience with you is already wearing too thin.”

Page bowed, grinning. “I apologize, Majesty,” he said. But, he couldn’t help but turn his eyes to the luscious and tempting beauty sitting at King Marcus’s side. His plans to court her had all failed. But, he was not going to give up so easily. He had heard of the rumours, and they pleased him greatly. All he needed to do was plant a spy in the castle to see if the rumours were true. And, he knew exactly who that would be. ‘No matter what you do, King Marcus, she WILL be mine’,  he thought.

“Don’t dare disobey me, Page,” Marcus growled, louder this time, his temper getting more and more difficult to control. “As I said, keep your eyes to me.” Although he had never touched his beautiful wife and Queen…no one else was allowed to, either. NO ONE ELSE. If anyone dared to lay but one finger on her in an undesired way, that person would lose said finger…among other body parts. In a way, he almost WISHED Page would step out of line…thus giving him a reason to torture him more than any man has ever been tortured before.

“Once again, I sincerely apologize, Majesty,” Page said, bowing again. “But, I cannot help but gaze at our lovely Queen. Surely, many others would agree.” Then, an idea came to him. “Your…ahem…private lives must be rather…enjoyable.” He emphasized the last word of his statement, grinning knowingly.

Astonished murmurs ran through the members of the Court, with a few members gasping “How dare you!!” Marianne was blushing furiously, glaring hatefully at him, while Marcus gripped the arms of his throne, clenching his jaw, trying desperately to stay calm.

“Our private lives are none of your, or anyone’s, business,” Marcus said in a deceptively calm tone. Inside, he was in a furious rage. “Now, I suggest you leave my sight, before I decide that you should stay in the dungeon for your rudeness, especially in front of the ladies of the Court, and your Queen. I strongly suggest you give her and everyone else, the proper respect her title demands.”

“Forgive me, Majesty,” Page said, bowing. “I have stepped out of line.” He boldly walked up to Marianne, picked up her delicate hand, and laid a soft kiss on the back of it. “Forgive me if I have offended you, Milady.” He then turned to bow to Marcus. “Good day, Majesty.” With that, he walked out of the Main Hall, an evil grin on his face. From here, he would go to hire his spy.

Marcus saw Marianne recoil, with a look of horror on her face. When Page left, he informed his guards that he was not allowed onto the castle grounds again, unless otherwise directed by him, or Kane. Also, if Page was to come anywhere near the Queen, he was to be run through where he stood. With his piece said, he got up, and stalked away, leaving the Court to murmur excitedly.

Marianne watched him go, feeling a blessed ray of hope in her heart. Maybe, just maybe, she might win his love after all. Maybe it wasn’t impossible, wasn’t hopeless. She rose, as did everyone else in the Court, and left the Main hall, leaving everyone to bow after her.


Chapter Eight


Marianne went to the garden, to sit by the fountain. That ray of hope she felt earlier was still going strong. He MUST feel SOMETHING for her if he wants to protect her from Page…right? Or was he doing so to make the Court think that the rumours that they had been hearing were false? That thought made that ray of hope dim a little bit. She sighed, and stared into the water of the fountain. She didn’t want to think of it anymore today. She thought of other things as she let her fingers skim the surface of the water, making the little fish inside scatter. How long she stared into the water, she didn’t know. After what seemed a very long time, she heard a voice, along with feeling a hand on her shoulder.

“What’s wrong, Marianne?” the voice asked.

Marianne turned around, a startled squeal issuing forth from her lips. She put her hand over her chest, and was breathing heavily. “Kane, you startled me,” she said. “Please don’t do that to me.”

Kane folded his arms, tilting his head slightly to the side. “I’m sorry,” he said. He then went to sit next to her. “As I asked before, what’s wrong?”

Marianne sighed. “The usual,” she said quietly.

“Ahh,” Kane said, nodding his head once. He then turned to her, studying her intently. “I think I know. You’re thinking…hmmm…since Marcus has laid down the decree on Page, you feel that there may be some hope. Am I right?”

Marianne bowed her head, her hands clasped in her lap. She should have known that, even though she and Kane knew each other for a short time, he could read her like a book. “You know me too well…and in such a short a time, too,” she said. She sighed again. “He must feel SOMETHING…if he wishes me to be safe from Page…right?” She wrung her hands in her lap. “He wouldn’t have done what he did if he didn’t.”

“Very true,” Kane said. “But, Marianne, my brother is a very complicated person to understand. His motives and his actions always contradict each other. He may want one thing, but then he goes and does the exact opposite.” He sighed. “Even I don’t understand him at times.”

There was a silence for a few moments, then Marianne spoke again. “You know, Kane, I still have yet to see you without your mask,” she said, abruptly changing the subject.

Kane stiffened. “Well, no one ever has, except for my brother,” he said.

“Why do you wear it?” she asked.

“Because…because once, while I was in battle, I was trapped in a hut which was set on fire. I acquired many scars on the right side of my face, and a few on the left,” he replied. “That was a long time ago.”

“Well, if it was a long time ago, then they should have faded considerably,” Marianne said. “Please take off your mask, so I may see you.”

“I better not,” Kane replied. “A lady shouldn’t be subjected to…”

“Kane, please?” she pleaded gently, moving closer to him. “Let me see you.”

“But…for you to witness such hideousness…” Kane began, his voice breaking, and trying to turn away.

“Let me be the judge of that,” Marianne said gently. “Now, please, take off your mask. I promise I won’t be judgemental.” She raised herself up a bit, and began to reach up to undo the clasps on the back of his head.

Kane froze while she undid the clasps, tensing even more when the mask was removed from his face. He bowed his head, so that his hair fell over his face, only to have her gently brush it away. He looked up to see her studying his face intently. “As I’ve told you…I am too ugly to look at,” he said ashamedly.

Marianne studied his face for what seemed like hours. The scars he spoke of were hardly visible, and would NOT be visible from a short distance. The only thing she saw was a very handsome man, who looked a lot like his older brother. “I see nothing of the sort,” she said, firmly yet gently. “I see a very handsome man who chooses to hide his beauty behind a stifling, and altogether unnecessary mask.”

Kane looked up at her, surprised to see that she was smiling down at him. He looked for any trace that hinted that she was lying, but found none. “You are too kind, Marianne,” he said softly, blushing.

“Kane, trust me,” she said softly. “You do not need the mask. I’ll tell you what. Keep the mask off for one day, and if you feel that you need to once again wear it, then I will not stop you.”

“I don’t know…” Kane began.

“What must I do to convince you of how handsome you are?” she asked. “Why, if I hadn’t been betrothed to Marcus, I would have definitely considered you as a suitor.”

Kane blushed an even deeper shade of red. “Do you truly mean what you say?” he mumbled.

“Of course, I do,” she replied. “I would not say this if it were not true.” She took his face in her hands, and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “I will leave you to think this over, all right?”

“All right,” he mumbled. Marianne was such a sweet woman. No other had treated him so tenderly, as she had just done. “Thank you, Marianne.”

“You’re very welcome, Kane,” she replied. She then got up. “Well, I am going to my room, to take a small nap. I hope you think on what I said.”

“I will,” Kane said, standing up also. “I will see you later.”

“All right,” she said. She then waved. “Until later.”

“Well, allow me to walk you to your chambers,” Kane said.

“Oh, all right,” she said. They both then left the garden, unaware that Marcus had been watching them from a way off. He broke the very thick branch that his hand had been holding in half, then stalked out of the garden.


Chapter Nine


The next day, Marianne and Marcus were sitting on their thrones, conducting royal business, when there was a murmuring through the Court. Marianne scanned the mass of people, to try to find out what the matter was. In a moment, she found out. She saw Kane walking through the crowd…without his mask. Looking around, she noticed that quite a few of the young ladies were looking in his direction, with sparks of interest in their eyes. She smiled. It was about time that the young ladies gave Kane his due attention. She nodded respectfully, smiling when Kane turned in her direction, with Kane responding in kind. He looked a bit fearful at first, but his facial expression changed when he was suddenly surrounded by women who were all trying to get his attention at the same time.

“So THAT’S what you’ve been hiding under that dreadful mask,” one of them twittered.

“Ooh, he’s so handsome,” another said to a girl standing next to her. “I don’t know WHY he wore that mask at all.”

Kane was surprised that all these beautiful young ladies were actually paying attention to him. This had never happened to him before, therefore he didn’t know what exactly to expect. But, that feeling changed to amusement as they all began to argue over who would take his arm first. But, before the arguing could get out of hand, a voice cut through the pandemonium.

“Now, now, ladies,” Marianne said loudly. “Is this any way for civilized women to behave? Now, I’m sure that our esteemed Kane has very important business to attend to at the moment.” She looked around, seeing that the young women were looking ashamed. “Now, there is no need to be ashamed. It is quite natural for a young woman to be drawn to someone so handsome.” She smiled when she saw Kane blush.

“Kane,” Marcus said suddenly, “Give me your report.” He wasn’t exactly thrilled with the fact that his wife was smiling at his brother so fondly. He began to feel pangs of jealousy towards his brother, who had spent more time with Marianne than he had, and he was her HUSBAND!! His eyes shifted from her to him, while Kane gave his report, growing more and more jealous at the warm smiles that passed between them. He kept his face straight, but his hands were gripping the arms of his throne until his knuckles were nearly white. When Kane’s report was finished, he spoke again. “I see that you have decided to do away with your mask”, he said. “May I ask what finally motivated you to do so?”

“Well,” Kane said, “All I can say is that…a very good friend convinced me.” He then bowed to Marianne, smiling.

Marianne nodded back, returning his smile. “I am very glad to be able to do so,” she replied. “That dreadful mask must have been very stifling.”

“Honestly, it was,” Kane said. “Many times, I felt that I would suffocate.”

“There now, didn’t I tell you that you would be better off without it?” Marianne asked.

“Yes, my Queen, you did,” Kane replied. “And I thank you for it.”

‘She’s not YOUR Queen…she’s MINE’, Marcus thought immediately, gripping the arms of his throne tightly.

Kane noticed Marcus’s demeanour change, and bowed. “I’m sorry, Majesties, but I have more business that must be attended to,” he said quickly. “I must take my leave now, if you’ll excuse me.” He bowed once more, then walked out, many of the young ladies of the court on his heels, twittering after him.

Marianne chuckled, finding this display very funny. ‘Now, finally, Kane may start truly living his life as he should’, she thought. ‘He may even find the certain someone his life needs.’

Out of the corner of his eye, Marcus saw the smiling, yet thoughtful look on Marianne’s face. This made his anger grow even more. It really made him mad that she spent more and more time with his brother. But then, a little voice in his head spoke up.

‘Do you expect her to go through her days without some sort of companion?’ the voice in his head asked. ‘Face it, Marcus; you haven’t even touched her yet. Your marriage is not yet consummated, and it has been more than half a year already. Your own eyes have witnessed her weeping in your brother’s arms, because of the way you neglect her.’

Indeed, it was true that he would watch, with intense pain racking through him, while she cried in Kane’s arms. More than once, he would see Kane’s eyes find him, and bore holes into him. He had spoken to him time and again about how unhappy Marianne was.

“How can you treat her this way?” he would say. “Especially when you know how much she adores you.”

Marcus suddenly turned to her. “So, it was YOUR doing,” he said.

Marianne turned to him, trying not to look surprised. He was actually talking to her. “Yes, it was,” she said. “I saw no reason for him to wear the mask, so I convinced him not to.”

“Surprising,” he said, nonchalantly. “Even I was unsuccessful in convincing him to do away with it. You must spend much time with him in order to have this much of an impact.” His voice took a slightly accusing tone.

“Yes, I do,” she said, starting to get a bit angry. He never spoke with her to begin with, and now he was talking as if she was having an affair with him. How DARE he speak to her this way? She leaned over to him, her voice dropping to a whisper. “Since I have no one else to spend time with, and Kane has been gracious enough to spend his free time with me.” She had purposely dropped that last line, hoping to get some sort of reaction, any reaction at all.

Marcus stiffened. “I’m glad to see that you and my brother are getting along so well,” he said, forcing his words.

“We are,” Marianne replied coolly. “He’s a very sweet and loving man. I’m glad to know him. He’s been there for me…when others wouldn’t be.”

“Indeed,” Marcus said, his jealousy growing dangerously high. “It’s good to know that you’ve found someone to accommodate you.”

Before she knew what happened, she raised her hand, and slapped Marcus as hard as she could. She then got up, and stormed out of the hall, leaving everyone in the Court looking bewildered after her.


Chapter Ten


Marianne stomped through the hallways towards the garden, which was one of the only places that could calm her, besides her own room. Neither guard nor servant dared to get in her path; such was the look of rage on her face. Even Madame Sorscha dared not approach her. She merely followed her, as to try to comfort her in the garden. She knew already of her distress, and was intent to be on hand in case Marianne needed her.

Marianne finally made it to the garden, and stopped right in front of the fountain. She was unaware that Madame Sorscha was a small distance behind her, and that Kane had entered from the other entrance. She stared into the water, while all the anger, all the hurt, and all the despair came, uncontrollably, to the surface. Tears began to run down her face, unnoticed. Was this what her husband truly thought of her? He had practically called her a whore to her face. ‘So’, she thought. ‘These are my…these are Marcus’s TRUE thoughts. The question is…why is he married to me if he thinks this way?’   Silent sobs began to issue from her throat, her shoulders gently heaving.

Madame Sorscha looked across the garden, and saw Kane making his way towards Marianne. ‘May all of the Lord’s blessings be on you, Kane, for tending to her when her heart is most fragile’, she thought. ‘Her fool of a husband wouldn’t know such things if it bit him on his bottom.’

Marianne had buried her head in her hands, and was sobbing uncontrollably. She then felt a pair of arms wrap around her, and hug her close. She knew this embrace well. “I…just don’t understand, Kane,” she whimpered. “Am I that loathsome, that he treats me so?” She continued to cry, while Kane swept her up, and sat down, sitting her in his lap and cradling her like a child.

“Go straight to her father, I should,” Madame Sorscha said, walking up. “But, since the good Lady here wishes me not to, I won’t. But, I swear, our dear King will receive a sound thrashing!!”

Marianne continued to cry, while Kane began to rock back and forth gently, stroking her hair soothingly, and murmuring in her ear. Marianne’s crying reduced to sniffles, then after a time, she was silent. She had fallen asleep in Kane’s arms.

Kane decided to carry her to her room, and lay her down on her bed. He quietly closed her door, and ordered that she was not to be disturbed. With those orders issued, he stormed off to Marcus’s chambers. Without knocking, he barged in, seeing Marcus sitting upon his bed.

“Well, I hope that you are proud of yourself, brother,” he spat. “If this is your course in making her stay away from you, this course will be successful.”

Marcus looked up at him sorrowfully. “You know I do not mean to be this way…I…I…”

“Marcus, you practically called her a whore to her face. Imagine how she feels, now that she thinks that these are your true feelings.”

Marcus’s face looked even more sorrowful at this news. He then got up, and began pacing. “You don’t understand,” he growled. “Do you not know how frustrating it is to watch the one who could make my heart stop with a smile in my own brother’s arms? I want her to be mine so badly, but…I just CAN’T.” He sighed.

“Brother, you are right,” Kane replied. “I DON’T understand. I don’t understand why you would accuse her of such behaviour when you have engaged in such yourself. I don’t understand why would keep on hurting her the way you have.” Kane was silent for a moment. “You do realize that I am going to make you apologize to her because of your foolishness.”

Marcus looked at him for a long time. “I know you’re right,” he said, running a hand over his head, and wiping his eyes. He walked to the door, and was about to leave when Kane stopped him.

“It’s no use at the moment. She has cried herself to sleep,” Kane said. “It is best until you wait until tomorrow.”

Marcus bowed his head in shame. She had cried herself to sleep? What kind of monster WAS he? ‘Apparently, one who does not deserve her touch’, he thought. ‘And does not deserve to touch her in turn.’

“How long must this go on, Marcus?” Kane asked, folding his arms.

“I don’t know,” Marcus said quietly. “But, I’m sure that I won’t be able to hold out for much longer. I know that I will be begging on my knees for her forgiveness by year’s end. I will do whatever she asks of me…crawl about and lie at her feet like a loyal dog who begs for his mistress’s praise. I would serve her every whim, without complaint, for I know it is what I deserve. I also know that I would be grateful to get even a caress upon my cheek.” He sighed. “Go now, Kane. I wish to be alone.”

Kane nodded once, and left the room.

Marcus then walked to his private library, and sat in front of the fire, resting his head back and closing his eyes. At once, he pictured Marianne, her beautiful face lit up in a smile. Just the thought of her made his body react. His mind wandered over her image, while he constantly wondered if her flesh was as soft and yielding as it looked. His breath became heavy, while he pictured his own hands slowly undressing her, her slightly tanned skin being bared to his gaze. Almost involuntarily, his hands wandered downwards to the hem of his pants, quickly undoing the knots that secured them. His quickly hardening member sprang forth, and he wrapped his large hand around it, all the while his mind picturing Marianne’s naked, soft, and willing body, lying in his bed, her arms outstretched to him in invitation. His hand began to move, slowly at first, but then in a quicker pace as he pictured himself making passionate love to her. His breathing went from heavy to panting, while his other hand reached down to squeeze and massage the two orbs beneath his now throbbing and straining hardness.  His hands moved faster and faster, until he finally released, his seed spewing forth in a heated jet, while he growled and grunted her name over and over while he worked his body to it’s fullest extent. If he concentrated hard enough, he could actually hear her voice, squealing his name, and screaming in ultimate pleasure, and feel her body tighten around him as she convulsed. After a little while, his orgasm passed.

He then sat there, breathing heavily, while he regained his bearings. He then smiled ruefully. ‘In my own fantasies, she IS a whore,’ he thought. ‘MINE and mine alone.’


Chapter Eleven


Much more time passed, and the friendship between Marianne and Kane grew even more (much to Marcus’s dismay). They began seeing more and more of each other, walking all around the castle, just talking to each other, glad for each other’s company. Kane thought of Marianne as compassionate, warm, and full of life, while Marianne thought of Kane as a very kind, attentive, and gentle soul who just needed a pair of loving arms to hold him when he felt low. Of course, Marcus wasn’t very happy with this. But, Kane didn’t care. He wasn’t about to leave Marianne all alone, with no one to speak to, no one to pour out her feelings to. She needed a friend, and Kane was very happy to oblige her.

One brilliantly sunny day, Kane and Marianne were in the garden. He was teaching her how to handle a sword properly. He had heard disturbing news concerning Page, and that Page was planning to somehow sneak into the castle. He had decided to teach her a few defence techniques, so he would feel better leaving her alone, knowing that she could defend herself.

“All right, Marianne, grip the sword with both hands,” he said, placing his hands over hers, squeezing a bit to demonstrate.

“Okay, okay,” Marianne said, laughing. “You don’t need to squeeze my bones to dust.”

“Marianne, please,” Kane said. “You must concentrate.”

“All right, all right,” Marianne said. She then held up the sword, holding it up with both hands. “Is this how to grip it?” she asked.

Kane then went behind her, and wrapped his arms around her, placing his hands over hers. “Since your hands are smaller, you should grip it like this,” he replied.

“You keep confusing me on where to keep my grip,” Marianne pouted. “Anyway, we’ve been at this for hours. Can we not take a break?”

“Marianne, I’m doing this for your safety,” Kane replied. “I’m sorry if you’re tired, but this must be done.”

They continued the lesson, talking and laughing as they did so. Marcus had come into the garden at this time, and grew extremely angry at the way that they talked and laughed to easily with each other. He watched them for a time, before he suddenly spoke. “Your grip is wrong, brother,” he said, walking up to them.

They both turned, startled, towards him. “Brother, you should announce yourself before walking up,” Kane said. He was puzzled. Why was he here?

Marianne was even more puzzled than Kane was. Why was he bothering with involving himself with her? He never did before, so why should he start now?

Marcus sighed. “I should be able to walk about my own castle without announcing myself,” he replied. “Anyway, as I was saying, your grip is wrong.” He walked up to Marianne. “Let me show you the proper way to handle a sword, before my brother skewers you like a common beast.” He went behind her, and wrapped his arms around her, as Kane had done moments before. He then placed his hands over hers, correcting her grip.

Marianne’s breath became short as his arms went around her, feeling heat radiating from his body. She felt an unfamiliar hardness growing and pressing into her lower back. She tried to think of what this could be, but she didn’t know. His embrace was making her body tingle. Her breath became even shorter when he leaned down to murmur instructions into her ear. Then, suddenly, he removed his arms from around her, then walked until he was standing about ten feet away.

“Marianne, try to rush me,” Marcus said.

Marianne raised an eyebrow. “Pardon me?” she asked.

“You heard what I said, Marianne,” Marcus replied. “Try to rush me.”

Feeling foolish, she raised the sword, and tried to rush him. In one swift motion, he had swept her off her feet, and knocked her to the floor, pinning her to the ground with his huge body. Obviously, he hadn’t used his full strength, so he wouldn’t hurt her. She looked up at him, to see his eyes staring intently back. All time stopped as soon as she turned into his intense green-eyed gaze. His eyes suddenly darkened, and seemed to be smouldering green orbs. Time seemed to have stopped as they stared at each other, neither saying a word. The heat from his body was making her head spin.

Kane didn’t know what to do. He was shifting from foot to foot, wondering if he should leave them alone. He didn’t know what to say, either. So, he merely stood there.

The feeling of her body under his was driving him absolutely insane. He clenched his jaw, growling softly as he felt her breasts crush into his chest. It would be easy…so very easy…to take her right here and now. Before he knew what he was doing, his hand raised itself, and began to caress her soft cheek. Both of her cheeks were flushed, her eyes darkened, her lips parted slightly, and she was breathing heavily, causing her breasts to press into his chest even more. His mouth went dry when he felt her nipples harden.

“Marcus…” she murmured, as his thumb ran over her full bottom lip. She closed her eyes, and turned into his touch, savouring every moment.  ‘My God’, she thought. ‘My dear God…he DOES care…’  She pressed a kiss into the palm of his hand, her breathing getting even heavier. Tears began to glisten in her eyes. She then spoke again. “Oh, Marcus…”

Marcus felt as if cold water had been splashed on him, her voice bringing her out of his daze. His hand stopped what it was doing. He watched as she looked up, confusion etched into her features. Her eyes were still darkened, and her face was still flushed. He looked at her for a moment more, then abruptly stood up. He was still breathing heavily, trying to calm himself down.

Marianne propped herself up onto her elbows, in obvious disbelief. He was actually showing some measurement of tenderness, of actually CARING. How could he be so tender one moment, then cold and hard as stone the next? Suddenly, the answer came to her.

‘He was teasing me’, she thought, the tears finally spilling over, and running down her cheeks. ‘I can’t believe it…he was teasing me!! How DARE he treat me this way?!?!?!?’   She slowly stood, pain racking her heart. She didn’t even try to fight it off. She just couldn’t fight it anymore.

Marcus stood there for a moment, still trying to calm himself down. He then wordlessly turned on his heel, and began to stalk away.

“What’s wrong, Marcus?” Marianne spat furiously. “Did you only just now discover that I was not one of your whores?” She smiled in satisfaction when he stopped in his tracks, and slowly turned to face her. “Go on, then. You are keeping your harem waiting. GO ON!!!!!”

Marcus couldn’t think of anything to say. So, instead of responding, he whirled back around, and left the garden, unaware of the deadly glare that both Marianne and Kane were throwing his way.

‘Such stupidity’, Kane thought, shaking his head sadly, watching as Marianne stalked out of the garden in the other direction.


Chapter Twelve


That night, Marcus was walking through the hallways, unable to sleep. He just wandered, uncaring of where his feet were taking him. After a while, he looked up, and noticed that he was standing in front of Marianne’s room. Her door was ajar, allowing him to see her inside.

She was sitting in front of her mirror, brushing her hair, which had grown very long in the time she had been here. When she first arrived, her hair had been just past her shoulders. Now, it hung to her lower back. He watched as she stared into her reflection. “What is it about me?” she said aloud. “I don’t understand…does Marcus not find me desirable? Do I look that hideous?” She put down the brush, and began to do her hair in a loose braid. She then smiled slightly to herself. “I must admit…I’ve never felt anything like it…I mean…to feel him pressed on me that way…it really made me feel dizzy.” She then giggled slightly, blushing. “I don’t know how to describe it…it made me feel as if I wanted him to consume me completely. Tell me, is this what desire is supposed to feel like?” She stared into her reflection, as if she were trying to determine what the problem was.

Marcus’s blood began to boil when he saw Kane walk up to her, and kneel next to her.

“Something like that,” Kane replied. “And, to answer another question, no, you do NOT look hideous. In fact, I think you look really beautiful.” He stood, and walked behind her, beginning to massage her shoulders. “Marianne, you are really tense,” he said softly. “I do wish that you would try to do something that could take your mind off all this nonsense, so you can rest properly.”

Marcus’s fists clenched and unclenched, his hands wanting desperately to close around his brother’s neck, and snap it like a twig.

“I’m sorry,” Marianne replied, “but I can’t help it. I mean…to feel something this overwhelming…to want something so much, and know that you can’t have it…to have the heat in your body rise from mere contact…it’s all I can do but to try to suppress it. At night, my body cries out for him.” The blush on her face deepened. “But, then again, I know nothing of such things.”

“There’s no need to be embarrassed,” Kane said, still massaging her shoulders, “These are things that your husband was supposed to teach you.”

Marianne sighed. “I know that,” she said softly. “But, seeing as though he refuses to do so, I guess I shall have to go through wondering what these things are like.” She then yawned. “Kane, I’m very tired now.” She then got up, and went over to her bed.


Marcus very carefully manoeuvred himself so that he would be able to see. He saw her climb into her bed, while Kane tucked her in.

“Kane?” Marianne asked.

“Yes?” Kane replied.

“I was wondering…” she trailed off, and bit her lip.

“What were you wondering?” Kane asked, sitting beside her on her bed.

“Well, I was wondering…is it normal for one’s body to react so strongly in the presence of another?” she asked quietly, blushing even more.

Kane was silent for a moment, before replying. “It depends, if you have strong feelings for this person.”

“Oh,” she said.

“Why do you ask?” Kane said.

“Well…it always happens when Marcus is near me. When he wrapped his arms around me today, and when he was…” she stammered, “On top of me, he was so very tender, so gentle.” She then sighed. “I guess I’ll never know anything other than that.”

“Marianne, you must not lose hope,” Kane said, absent-mindedly fixing her sheets. “I’m sure that he’ll come around in time.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Marianne replied.

Marcus, at this point, was seeing red. Kane was damned near in Marianne’s bed, and Marianne was doing nothing about it. If she loved him as much as she said, then why was she not sending him away?

“Now, you must sleep, Marianne,” Kane said, bending to press a kiss to Marianne’s forehead (which had Marcus nearly charging into the room to run him through.)

“Kane?” she asked, yawning.

“Yes, Marianne?” Kane replied.

“Will you stay with me, until I fall asleep?” she asked tiredly.

“Of course,” Kane replied. He then got up, grabbed a chair, and placed it beside Marianne’s bed. He then sat there, watching her fall asleep.

Marcus, on the other hand, couldn’t bear to watch anymore. He stalked away to his room, where he was going to drink himself to oblivion.




Hours later, Marcus was sitting in his room, in front of the fire, with a jug of wine in his hand. He had drunk jug, after jug, after jug, trying to forget the tenderness between Kane and Marianne. By now, he was extremely drunk, to the point where he could hardly stand. He stared into the fire, his mind beginning to play tricks with his eyes. He was seeing the fire twist into the shapes of Marianne and Kane in a passionate embrace. This only fuelled his anger more. He suddenly stood, and threw the jug with all his might into the fire, making it flare up. He turned to the door, and stumbled out of the room.

It took a few minutes to get to his destination due to the fact that his balance was greatly hindered, and that he fell three times. He stood outside of the closed door for a moment, before he took a deep breath, and kicked the door in. He stumbled into the room, to find a very startled Marianne sitting up in her bed.


Chapter Thirteen


Marianne had been sleeping, peacefully, when a loud >WHAM< awoke her from her slumber. She bolted upright, her eyes widening when she saw Marcus framed in the doorway. He was weaving side to side, bracing his hand upon the doorframe to balance himself. She merely watched, wide eyed, as he stumbled his way towards her bed. She was scared, to say the least, but she couldn’t seem to get her body to move. He finally got to the foot of the bed, and stood there, staring down at her, swaying on the spot. At that moment, the feeling suddenly returned to her body, and she got up, trying to bolt from the room. But, she was almost immediately pushed down on the bed again, with Marcus pinning her with his huge body. She then smelled the ale on his breath. She knew he was drunk, from his carriage, but she didn’t quite realize HOW drunk, that is, until now. She tried to struggle, but he grabbed her wrists, and pinned them on either side of her head.

“Marcus, you’re drunk,” she said. “You should go back to your room and go to bed.” Outwardly, she was calm, but on the inside, she was petrified. But, she needed to stay calm in order to handle the situation.

“So what?” he grunted. “No one tells me what to do…least of all, you.” He then raised himself up, so that he was straddling her. Taking the neck of her nightgown in his hands, he ripped it right down the middle, exposing her bare body underneath. “You said it yourself…at night, your body cries out for me.” He then resumed his position on top of her, once again gripping her wrists. His mind was still on the images he saw in the fire. They were teasing him…taunting him…mocking him…threatening to drive him mad.

Marianne’s eyes widened. He had been listening? How else could he have known? “Marcus, you’re drunk,” she repeated, once again beginning to struggle. “Get off me.”

“Why should I?” he growled fiercely. “I bet you would not say the same to Kane.”

“Marcus,” she said firmly. “Kane and I have never been together.”

“I don’t believe you,” he replied, his grip tightening on her wrists. “You let him touch you.” His face then twisted in fury. “You are not his wife. You are MINE. And yet, you allow him to put his hands on you.” His grip tightened even more, eliciting a yelp from her.

“Marcus, you’re hurting me,” she whimpered.

His grip slackened, and his face became soft. “Aww, I’m sorry, Marianne,” he slurred, his body sagging, his head burying itself in her neck. He inhaled deeply, then began to press sloppy kisses over her neck and face.

“Marcus, please,” she said, trying to get him to listen to reason. “You must go to bed…you’ll feel better in the morning.”

He raised his head to look down at her. “You know…you’re right,” he said, grinning down at her lopsidedly. With that, he got up.

Marianne let out a long shuddering sigh of relief. But, she had done so too soon, for when she did, she yelped when she felt herself being yanked up out of bed, and slung over his shoulder. With that, he carried her out of the room, to his chambers.

She had struggled all the way, also trying to keep herself covered with the now torn remnants of her nightgown. “MARCUS, PUT ME DOWN RIGHT NOW!!!” she screamed. She screamed, kicked, and flailed, but to no avail.

As soon as they were in his room, he walked over to the bed, and dumped her on it. He went to his door, and closed it. Turning around, he just noticed that Marianne was just getting off the bed, to try to leave. He caught her around her waist, and once again tossed her onto the bed. There was absolutely no way she was going to escape him tonight. He pounced on her, knocking the wind out of her. Using this time while she was trying to catch her breath, he quickly searched his room. Finding what he was looking for, he returned to the bed, and grabbed her wrist. Tying it to one corner of the bed, he used the other three to tie her other wrist, as well as both her ankles, to the bed. Then, he ripped the remains of her nightgown off her body, tossing them aside.

She had finally regained her bearings, and began to scream at him. “UNTIE ME RIGHT NOW!!!” she screamed. When he didn’t comply, she began to use language that would have made the harshest of soldiers blush, and at the top of her lungs.

“My, my, my,” Marcus said, grinning evilly. “It’s unladylike to use such language.”

“Marcus, I’m warning you,” Marianne growled. “Untie me…right now.”

Marcus seemed to think this through for a moment, before replying. “No, I don’t think I will. I think I like you just where you are.” He then plopped down on the bed next to her, and began to run his hand up the inside of her leg, grinning evilly down at her. His eyes were glazed over with drunken lust.

Just then, the seriousness of the situation hit her. Marcus could do anything he wanted to her, and she wouldn’t be able to stop him. She began to grow desperate. “Marcus, please,” she pleaded. “Please untie me.”

“Hmm…no,” he replied. He then clumsily began to remove his own clothes. When he was completely naked, he stood there, swaying a bit.

Marianne looked at his naked body, and blushed deeply. She had never seen a man naked before. She then turned and looked away.

“What’s wrong, Marianne?” Marcus inquired mockingly, still slurring his words. “I thought you said that you desired me, that you wanted me to consume you completely.”

Marianne whimpered, but said nothing. Now, she was scared to death.

Chuckling evilly, he climbed on top of her, his eyes boring down into hers.

“Marcus,” she whimpered, tears coming to her eyes. “Not like this…please, not like this…” She looked up into his eyes, her fear turning to downright terror.

He then spoke again, in a sadistic tone of voice. “You are mine tonight… and there is nothing you can do about it.”


Chapter Fourteen


Marcus dipped his head, and captured her lips in a heated, demanding, and drunken kiss.  He heard her whimper as he forced his tongue inside her mouth, promptly exploring every crevice.  Her body was twisting and bucking under him, trying to unseat him.  His hands were roaming over her body, groping her none too gently.  He broke the kiss, and looked down at her.  She was breathing heavily, a look of desperation on her face.  He kissed her again, this time a bit more gently, his tongue sweeping her mouth in caressing strokes.  His hands had settled on her breasts, and were kneading them in his palms, his fingers rolling the nipples between them.  He ground himself against her, growling deeply in his throat.

Marianne was trying desperately to buck him off, for more reasons than one. One of them, was the obvious, being that he was too drunk to know what he was doing. Another reason was that…she was actually beginning to LIKE what he was doing to her. And it frightened her. Her body had never experienced these sensations before, and they scared her nearly to death. A third reason was that, when morning came, and he had discovered what had happened…

Her struggles grew weaker and weaker, until they stopped altogether. He was now running his tongue lightly over her neck and jaw, making her whimper even more. She gasped loudly when he ran his tongue down her neck, and lower, before closing his lips over a nipple. She began to squirm again, upon feeling the most secret spot between her legs beginning to throb. She had felt this a few times before, but she had no idea what it meant. But, she soon found out. She felt one hand abandon its work kneading her breast (because his mouth had taken over), and delve between her legs. His fingers parted her private flesh, and found that spot…the spot that was throbbing. She bucked upward, crying out in surprise, when she felt his fingers begin to tease the pulsating nub mercilessly. She began to moan uncontrollably, her head tilted back, her back arched up into him.

“Enjoying this, are you?” Marcus asked, lifting his head to look up at her, and raising an eyebrow. He then chuckled evilly. “Imagine that.” His mouth then latched onto her other nipple, sucking strongly.

Her mind was whirling. How could sensations like these be possible? These feelings that her body were experiencing were brand new to her. Her breathing was now coming in pants. Her hips were wriggling, only to have him still her with his hands. When her wriggling had stopped, his hand returned to its work between her legs. This time, two of his fingers slid inside her, and began to move, making her gasp loudly. In what seemed like no time at all, she was begging for mercy. But, no mercy was shown. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she was catapulted over the edge, screaming. She was so wrapped up in her body’s first experience with ecstasy, that she didn’t hear Marcus laughing evilly at her once again.

After a few moments, she had come back to her senses, lying limply on the bed, breathing hard. She only then noticed that Marcus was looking down at her, the drunken lust even more pronounced in his eyes.

“Oh, I’ve hardly even begun,” he murmured in her ear. He raised his head, and licked his fingers clean of her essence, making her widen her eyes. He then grinned, “HARDLY.” He then raised himself so that he was leaning on his haunches. His hands ran up his own thighs, one of them wrapping around his erect shaft while the other massaged the two orbs below. He chuckled when she saw her eyes follow them.

Marianne could only watch as his massive hands began to touch himself intimately. But, as massive as his hands were, they couldn’t swallow the massive…THING that was in them. Her breathing became ragged and uneven, her eyes transfixed, as he ran his hands over himself. Her eyes snapped up to his face when she heard him groan in pleasure.

“This, Marianne,” he groaned, still touching himself, “Is what I am going to use to take your innocence.” He then reached out the hand that was massaging the two sacs below his pulsating hardness to stroke her private flesh, his finger poking inside. “Just here.”

Marianne’s eyes couldn’t go any wider than they already were. He was going to use…THAT? That…that…MONSTER? And he was going to put that…WHERE? She began to writhe frantically on the bed, whimpering, pulling desperately at her bindings. She was so scared…she had never been instructed on things of this nature, so she didn’t know what was going to happen.

But, Marcus would have none of it. He then threw himself on top of her, effectively ceasing her struggles. Then, he placed one hand on her hip, and the other on his hard member, and guided the tip inside her. Taking a deep breath, his hips snapped forward, breaking the barrier of her maidenhead.

Marianne screamed, her eyes bugging out of her head, at the agony that ripped through her body. Not only had he taken her innocence, but the sheer size of him was very uncomfortable. He lay still, and a moment later, the pain passed. All she felt now was him…throbbing and pulsating with a life that seemed all its own. Yet another moment passed, and he began to move, in deep and slow thrusts.

Marcus groaned, burying his head in her neck. “Your insides grip me so tightly,” he grunted. “I can hardly fit.” He continued to move, trying to go deeper and deeper with every thrust.

It was absolutely pointless to try to resist anymore. She merely lay there, letting him do what he wanted with her, and feeling pleasure like she’d never felt before in the process.

His movements began to quicken in speed, until he was moving as hard and as fast as his strength would allow, making her scream out her pleasure. He chuckled evilly. “Now I know what it’s like to make the wise…kind…and virtuous Marianne…scream…and squeal…like a pig…under me,” he grunted drunkenly, accentuating each thought with a savage thrust. “How does it feel to be my whore, Marianne? Are you enjoying it?”

She didn’t even hear him speaking. She was too busy screaming to notice. She felt the coiling tension in her body once again, then that tension suddenly released, blinding her in its intensity. She could still feel him inside her, and she could hardly hear his delirious grunts and groans of pleasure. She vaguely made out the feeling of his hands, which were kneading her breasts.

Marcus’s climax was so close…so very close… He then roared in triumph when he finally spilled his seed into her, his body arched, sweat dripping from him. Then, he collapsed on top of her, trying to regain his breath. He felt Marianne under him, also trying to regain hers.

He had his way with her over…and over…and over…again…and again…and again, each time more savage than the last. There were very many wicked things he could do to a woman’s body, and he did every single one of them to her.

Marianne didn’t think she was going to hold out much longer. She felt so drained, at the amount of times that her body had released its essence. Just when she thought she would pass out from exhaustion, Marcus had collapsed on top of her once again, still firmly planted inside her, his weight pressing her into the mattress. He had, finally, passed out cold. Since Marianne could do nothing about it, she closed her eyes, and she too was asleep.


Chapter Fifteen


Marcus opened his eyes, groaning at the intense pain that shot through his head. Oh, how his head HURT!! He blinked a few times, and raised his head, groaning again. What had he DONE last night? He couldn’t remember…the last thing he DID remember was that he was sitting in front of the fire in his room, drinking. After that, everything else was black. He felt something shifting under him, and immediately noticed that there was a body under his. A female body. ‘Great’,  he thought bitterly. Ever since his wedding night, he had refused to go back to the harem. He had promised himself that he wouldn’t, for Marianne’s sake. ‘Oh lord, what’s going to happen when she finds out about this? She will probably hate me more than she does now.’   He groaned a third time, squeezing his eyes shut. The throbbing in his head worsened when the light shone in his eyes, so he kept them shut. After a few minutes, he attempted to open his eyes again, this time ignoring the pain in his head. ‘I suppose that I should wake her up, so I can send her back to the harem.’  He then looked down, and brushed the hair from the young woman’s face, prepared to awaken her. But, when he did, he froze. ‘No…no, it can’t be…it just CAN’T be…’

But it was. The young woman who was under him was Marianne. Looking around for the first time, he noticed that her arms were bound to the bed, and that her feet were as well. But, the most glaring piece of evidence of the events of the previous night was that he was still buried to the hilt inside her. He stared at her sleeping face for what seemed like hours. He raised himself, slowly, because of his throbbing brain. Looking down at her body, his eyes widened. It was covered in bruises, and bite marks, especially around her nipples. Dear LORD, what had he done to her?!?!? He lightly ran his fingers over the bruises that were so prominently displayed on her soft skin. It was then that he noticed that the bruises around her hips…they were hand marks. HIS hand marks.

He slowly moved, removing himself from her, then scrambled off the bed as fast as he could without aggravating his headache further. He fell backwards, landing on his bottom, and propelled himself with his legs until he was in a corner. His eyes flickered over to the mirror, and noticed that his face was nearly white. He stayed in the corner for a few moments, his heart nearly beating itself out of his chest. Then, slowly, he crawled over on his hands and knees back towards the bed. Getting to one corner, he undid the binding that held her ankle, then crawled to the upper corner to release her wrist. He did the same for her other wrist and ankle. He watched as she immediately curled up into a ball, emitting a soft moan. Her face twisted in a small frown. He winced when he saw the angry red rings around her wrists and ankles. He kept his spot (which was kneeling beside the bed), and merely stared at her, brushing a stray strand of hair out of her face. If he only knew what had HAPPENED last night!! He made a promise to himself then and there, that he would only get drunk if his room was barricaded from the outside, so he wouldn’t inflict any more harm.

He got up, slowly, and grabbed his robes, and put them on quickly. Looking at the bed once more, he then noticed that there was a fair sized spot of blood on the sheets where she had been lying before she turned to her side. And, the strong scent of their mixed essences were still in the room. Dear lord, but how wonderful the musky scent was!! ‘I…I HAVE to get out of here…’  he thought. He turned to leave, but turned back around to look at Marianne.

She was now lying on her stomach, clutching a pillow. Her braid was tousled, with wisps of hair falling out of it. He looked around, and saw the remnants of her torn nightgown on the floor. Shaking his head, he went to get another sheet, and covered her with it. With that done, he turned and stalked out of the room.




About three hours later, Marianne opened her eyes, turning over on her back. She stretched, and sat up, rubbing her eyes. Then she noticed…she could move. Looking around, she noticed that Marcus was gone, and that a sheet had been put over her. She held the sheet over herself, and yawned. It was late morning.

‘Had Marcus found out what had happened, then fled?’ she thought. She moved once more, wincing. She had finally noticed the extreme soreness between her legs. But, as sore as she was, she couldn’t help but feel good at the same time. Of course, she would be walking in an unusual way for a while, but she would heal in time. She lay back, stretching, unable to stop the smile from spreading to her lips. Yes, she felt really good. She knew what happened last night shouldn’t have, but she just couldn’t help but revel in the way her body was feeling right now. Her body had never felt like this, and she was really liking it.

She was lying on her back, daydreaming, when the door suddenly opened, and Marcus walked in. She suddenly sat up, using the sheet to cover herself. She tried to flatten her unruly hair, but not doing a good job of it.

Marcus looked down at her, at once dying to jump back into that bed with her, never to let her leave. She looked so delectable, covered only in the sheet, the curves of her body barely hidden by the thin fabric of it. He slowly sat down on the corner of the bed, as though not to startle her. He then cleared his throat. “Are you all right?” he asked. He tried to mask the concern in his voice, hoping that she didn’t catch it.

But Marianne had caught it, although she didn’t say anything. “I’m all right,” she said quietly. She bowed her head, and shifted gingerly. “How are YOU feeling today, Marcus?”

“Better,” he replied. There was a silence for a while before he spoke again. “Well, I think that you should go back to your room…so you can get your proper rest.”

“I would but…um…” she replied, squirming uncomfortably, her eyes lingering on her tattered nightgown that was on the floor.

“Hmm,” Marcus said, following her gaze. He then walked over to his closet, and took out one of his robes. “Here…you may use this to go back to your room. You may want to bathe first, before you go back to sleep.”

She merely nodded. As good as her body felt, the mixture of their essences, and her virgin blood was still on her skin. A bath would be a very good thing at this moment, both to cleanse her body, and to try to soothe her aching muscles.

“Well…I shall leave you to dress,” Marcus said quickly. He then turned, and walked to the door. But, before he left, he turned around again. “Hmm…well…as long as you’re all right…”

Marianne nodded. “I’m all right,” she repeated.

With that, Marcus walked out of the room, leaving her to shakily put on Marcus’s enormous robe.


Chapter Sixteen


Marianne left the bedroom, and walked back to hers with her head held high, ignoring the whispers that followed her. The walk there seemed endless, but she finally got to her own room, closing the door behind her. Just then, Madame Sorscha burst in, breathless.

“Goodness gracious, child, I’ve been out of my mind with worry!!” she cried. “Where have you been?”

“Madame Sorscha, please prepare my bath,” Marianne said, ignoring her question.

“But…Milady…” Madame Sorscha protested.

“Please Madame Sorscha, I really must bathe,” Marianne replied. Still holding the robe about her, she sat on the bed.

“Y-yes Milady,” Madame Sorscha said. She then hurried off to Marianne’s private bathing room to prepare her bath. When the bath was prepared, she came back into the room, to see Marianne deep in thought.

“Your bath is ready,” she said.

“Thank you, Madame Sorscha,” Marianne said, standing up. She then walked regally into the bathing room.

The room consisted of a very large pool of water in the middle, with linen drapings around it, with richly woven tapestries hanging on the walls. The pool of water was slightly above the floor, making one step up three steps to get into it. The water inside was steaming, fragrant, and with pink rose petals floating on top. Beside the pool, there was a medium sized platform, which held many fragrant oils, herbs, soaps and flowers, which were always added to her bathwater. Also, there were many other oils that were added to make her skin soft and smooth, assorted balms and creams to make her hair vibrant, and many other things to make her beautiful. She didn’t really think these things necessary, but Madame Sorscha insisted that they be used.

Without thinking, Marianne disrobed, letting it pool around her ankles.

“Good HEAVENS child, what has happened to you?!” Madame Sorscha exclaimed, looking over the various bruises and bite marks on Marianne’s body.

“I don’t wish to discuss it at the moment,” Marianne replied. “I merely wish to bathe, and to relax.” With this being said, she delicately stepped into the pool, and lowered herself, sighing when the oils in the water immediately began working to soothe her sore muscles.

“But…Milady…If something has happened to you…” Madame Sorscha stammered.

“I am perfectly fine,” Marianne assured her. “I merely needed to bathe. After this, I will be staying in my room for the day, and I don’t wish to be bothered.”

Madame Sorscha sighed. “Yes, Milady,” she said. With that, she left Marianne to her bath.




Marianne had been sitting in the bath, washing herself clean of the evidences of the previous night, when she heard a voice behind her.

“What happened, Marianne?” the voice asked.

Marianne whirled around, dipping lower under the water to efficiently cover herself. “Kane, you must learn not to sneak up on me so. You may not realize, but for a very large man, you are very quiet.”

“I apologize,” Kane replied. He then walked up to the side of the pool, and sat there. “I must ask you again, what happened last night?”

She didn’t really wish to explain, but she knew that Kane would continue to press the issue until she relented. So, she explained everything that happened, from the moment she was awakened last night, to when she left Marcus’s room this morning.

Kane’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. This was most unlike his brother. “Marianne…are you all right?” he asked.

“I’m a bit sore…but otherwise all right,” she replied softly.

“Madame Sorscha tells me of various…markings on your body,” he said.

Marianne sighed. “I knew she would,” she said. After a few moments, she spoke again. “Kane…is it…normal…for one’s body to feel this way…after…” She bowed her head, quite embarrassed.

Kane chuckled. “Yes, it is perfectly normal,” he replied. He then sighed.

“Why? Why would Marcus treat me like this? Like I am a common whore?” she lamented miserably.

“I’ve said many times…my brother is a very complicated person to understand,” he replied, patting her head.

Once again, she began to cry.

Kane dipped low, to wrap his arms around her comfortingly.

Neither Kane nor Marianne knew of the person watching behind one of the tapestries, where there was a secret passage.

‘Well,’ the person thought, ‘Page will be especially pleased with this turn of events…although I am not altogether sure what his reaction will be once he finds that his Majesty has finally consummated their marriage. Well, no matter. Such reactions are not my concern. I must find him immediately, and inform him of these latest events.’   With that, the person behind the tapestry quickly went back through the passage, and stealthily crept out of the castle in search of Page.


Chapter Seventeen


The next day, Marianne awoke not from Madame Sorscha’s promptings, but from the promptings of two young servants. One was tall and slender, and the other was short and curvy. Both were blonde.

“Where is Madame Sorscha?” Marianne asked, looking around.

“She has taken ill, Milady,” the tall one said. “We have been sent in her place.”

“Oh, dear,” Marianne said softly. “I must visit her later in the day.” She then turned to the short one. “What is your name?”

The short one merely bowed her head, not saying a word.

“Her name is Patricia,” the tall one said. “She doesn’t speak. My name is Stacy.” With that, they both bowed.

Marianne nodded. “All right,” she said. Madame Sorscha…sick? This just wasn’t natural. In all of her years, she had never known her nurse to get sick in any way. She thought she saw a flicker of something in the taller one’s eyes, but quickly dismissed it as her imagination. At this moment, she decided to go straight away after the royal duties were performed for the day.




The day went maddeningly slow, with Marianne’s concern for her elderly nurse growing. When the end of the day’s business finally came, she fairly ran out of the main hall, and towards Madame Sorscha’s room. She finally arrived, and opened the door, to find the woman lying in her bed. She looked so very pale, thin, and frail. “Madame Sorscha?” she said.

“Oh, Marianne, my dear child,” Madame Sorscha said. “Do come in.”

Marianne walked in, and sat beside her. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Oh dear, my old age is finally catching up to me,” Madame Sorscha replied, trying to sit up.

“No, Madame Sorscha, you must rest!!” Marianne said, thoroughly alarmed.

But Madame Sorscha merely waved her off. “There is no need to worry so, child,” she said. “I know that I shall be out and about in no time.”

“Please, please rest,” Marianne implored. “If you are to be out and about, you need to stay in bed.”

“Perhaps you are right,” Madame Sorscha said, once again lying down.

“I shall have the castle physician look on you, to determine what is making you ill,” Marianne said.

No matter how much Madame Sorscha tried to convince Marianne that she was all right, Marianne sent for the castle physician anyways. She waited outside, while he checked her over. When he was finally done, he emerged, mopping his brow.

“Well, she is certainly feeling her age now,” he said. “She is very ill, and her age has made her more susceptible to it.”

“Will she be all right?” Marianne asked worriedly.

“She should be fine in a fortnight or two,” the man said.

“Thank you very much,” Marianne said.

“Send for me if anything changes,” he said. “Goodbye, then.”

“Goodbye, and thank you,” she replied.

The man then left.

At that moment, Kane walked up behind her. “Marianne, what’s wrong?”

“It’s Madame Sorscha,” she said, tears in her eyes. “She’s dreadfully ill.”

“Madame Sorscha is very old,” Kane said, hugging her comfortingly. “What did the physician say?”

“He said that she should be fine in a fortnight or two,” she replied.

Kane nodded. “See then? There’s no need to worry. Her condition will improve.”




But, unfortunately, her condition did NOT improve. Day after day, Marianne was forced to watch, helpless, as Madame Sorscha’s health steadily worsened. The real shock came to her one morning when, instead of a servant prodding her awake, it was Kane.

“Marianne, wake up,” Kane said urgently.

“Kane, what’s wrong?” she asked.

Kane sighed deeply. “Madame Sorscha…”

Marianne suddenly bolted upright. “Madame Sorscha…oh Lord, is her health worse?” she asked frantically.

“Marianne…Madame Sorscha is dead,” Kane replied.

“When?” was the only thing she had the strength to ask.

“This morning,” Kane sighed. “Marianne, you don’t need to worry on whether or not she was in pain, for she went peacefully while sleeping.”

It took a moment for the news to sink in. She sat there, staring into space, tears pooling in her eyes. Madame Sorscha…DEAD? No…it couldn’t be…it just COULDN’T. Madame Sorscha had to have been the strongest woman that she had ever known. How could she be dead? Then, the dam suddenly broke, and Marianne burst into tears, with Kane hugging her, murmuring words of comfort in her ear.

The next few days were a blur to Marianne. On the day that the funeral was to take place, it was as if God himself was mourning the passing of the old, wise, and kindly nurse, for the sky was dark grey, and rain was falling steadily. When all else had left, Marianne, Kane, and (surprisingly to Marianne) Marcus had stayed. Marcus had stood behind her, with his hands on her shoulders, squeezing them comfortingly from time to time. Marianne had begged the both of them to go, and leave her be, but neither of them wanted her to be by herself while she grieved. Now, Marianne was beyond tears. She merely stood there, her face expressionless as Madame Sorscha was finally buried.

It was well beyond sunset when she would finally leave, but she wouldn’t do so without saying one last goodbye.

“Goodbye…my old and dearest friend,” Marianne whispered, laying a white rose on the freshly made grave, while one single tear ran down her face.

With that, Marcus and Kane escorted her back to the castle.


Chapter Eighteen


Weeks later, Page sat at the table in the local tavern, drinking his ale, and waiting for his spies to arrive. He had hired the first, but, to his infinite glee, he was able to hire a second. When the second spy was hired, it was all he could do not to dance around. He took another gulp of ale, and looked around. They were late. He always hated to be kept waiting. Finally, after a long while, the two people he had been waiting for walked in, and made their way to his table. They then sat down.

“Stacy…Trish…you’re late,” he said, folding his arms.

“We had to wait until no one was watching,” the first said. “There were guards everywhere.”

Trish nodded.

“Well, I guess I’ll let this slide,” Page said, reaching for his mug, and taking another swig of ale. “What do you have for me?”

Stacy grinned. “The old woman is finally dead,” she said.

Page grinned in turn. “Excellent,” he said. “Were you suspected?”

“No,” Stacy replied. “Everyone thinks that the old woman died because of her age.”

“Do you still have the vial?” Page asked.

Trish wordlessly dug into her pouch, and produced the small object, handing it to Page. It was empty.

“Good…good,” Page said, carefully looking at it. “Now, we can get more information than we have before.” He put it away, and folded his hands, leaning forward. “You two must remember…keep your ears open for any information that might float around in the castle. Trish,” he said, turning to her, “Since you are the silent one, I am confident that you can get much more information than Stacy can. Get Her Majesty to trust you, and she will spill information freely.”

Trish nodded, and kept her head bowed. She didn’t really like him. He reminded her of a filthy weasel, and looked like one, too. The one unnatural thing about him was his teeth. No normal human being had teeth that white. In her gut, she felt really bad about what they were planning. With the little time that she had spent in the Queen’s company, the Queen had always been so nice to her. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She didn’t like this. Not one bit. She let her attention wander away from Page and Stacy, letting them talk amongst themselves. Thought after thought ran through her mind, until she finally made a decision. What information she DID receive, she would NOT pass it on to Stacy, or Page. But, another problem was…what if they were found out? She knew that Kane was extremely difficult to fool. She knew then what she had to do.

“Trish, don’t forget what I told you,” Page was saying. “Get as close to the Queen as you can. Stacy, you do your best to hammer a wedge deeper between the King and Queen.”

“Page,” Stacy said, “What are you going to do about King Marcus?”

“He is of no concern of mine,” Page said, waving a hand dismissively. “My only concern is getting the Queen in my grasp.”

“Page…well…if you DO manage to pry the Queen out of King Marcus’s watchful eye, then…it wouldn’t trouble you if I took him for myself?” Stacy asked hopefully.

“Do what you will, I care not,” Page replied. “As I said before, my only concern is the Queen.”

Stacy rubbed her hands together, grinning mischievously. Finally, after many months of planning, she may FINALLY get into King Marcus’s bed.

“Good. I must go now,” Page said, standing up. “I’ll contact the both of you when I want more information.”

Stacy nodded. “All right, Page,” she replied. With that, the three left, Stacy and Trish going one way, while Page went in another.




Marcus sat in his room that night, staring into the flames of his fireplace. Since that night he had gotten drunk, he had not done so again. In fact, he practically avoided all wine, ale, and anything else that might hinder his mind. Unable to sleep, he decided to do his favourite thing in the world. He got up, and left his room. He kept walking until he came to a door. After taking a deep breath, he carefully opened the door, walked in, and closed it quietly behind him. Then, he walked towards the bed, where his sleeping wife lay, illuminated in the moonlight.

She looked so angelic when she slept. She was lying on her back, her hands resting on either side of her head, the blankets pooled just below her breasts. It was then that he noticed just how THIN her nightgown was, the dark circles of her nipples visible through the fabric. Noticing this made his body react. It was his most favourite pastime, watching her sleep. Usually, she looked at peace, but tonight, her face was in a frown. She turned on her side, giving a small whimper.

‘Madame Sorscha’, Marcus thought. ‘The old nurse’s death is still a fresh wound on her.’  He lay beside her, and stroked her forehead. He froze when she emitted another small whimper, then turned to her other side, cuddling up to him. Instinctively, he wrapped his arms around her, stroking her back until she quieted again with a sigh. ‘Oh, Marianne, how I adore you so’, he thought, swallowing a lump in his throat. ‘You brighten everything around you. It is no wonder that all that you meet adore you.’  He bent his head, and buried his nose in her hair, inhaling deeply. Lord…she smelled of wild berries and flowers. How he loved her scent.

He held her until the sun rose, then quickly left the room before she woke up.

A few minutes later, Marianne awoke, stretching. Something felt odd. Planting her hand on the bed, she noticed that the place beside her was warm. Who had been here? ‘Could it have been…no…it couldn’t have been Marcus’,  she thought, shaking her head sadly. ‘Why would he ever come here?’  With that thought, (and fresh tears running down her face), she got up and began to prepare for her day.


Chapter Nineteen


Marianne and Marcus were sitting in their thrones that day, conducting the royal business. Marianne noticed that, ever since they were married, Marcus’s punishments grew more and more cruel, and violent. Even now, she was listening to a punishment he was dealing to a poor man who had stolen a Lord’s purse.

“Take him to the dungeons,” Marcus said, “To the torture room. Tie him onto the table, and set to work immediately.”

Marianne usually never said anything about things like this, but now, she had to speak up. “No,” she said, making the Court go so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.

Marcus turned to her. “No?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No,” Marianne repeated. “Do not take him to the dungeons.”

“Marianne…dearest,” Marcus said, “This man has stolen Lord Copeland’s pouch…”

“…Which he could easily do without,” Marianne cut in. “I sincerely doubt that Lord Copeland will suffer much.”

Marcus sat back in his throne. “All right, Marianne,” he said. “What do YOU propose?”

Marianne thought for a moment, then spoke. “This man will give Lord Copeland a public apology, and he must do work in his home for three days out of the week for three fortnights.”

The guards looked at Marianne, then looked at Marcus, unsure of what to do.

Marcus nodded his head towards them. “You heard your Queen. Do as she says,” he said.

“Yes, Majesties,” a guard said, bowing. They then dragged the man away.

Marianne then stood, and walked out of the main hall, not looking back, while Marcus looked after her, his jaw clenched.

She kept walking until she had reached her room, slamming the door behind her. During the sentencing, her mind had went back to when she had woken this morning. Someone had been there, but she didn’t know who. Why does Marcus treat her this way? It was supposed to be HIM who was with her, HIM to hold her at night, HIM to love and cherish her always, as their wedding vows stated. But, he had not held to them. She was so tired of Marcus brushing her off, so tired of being dismissed. She knew that he would be here any moment to chastise her for undermining his authority. ‘Let him come’, she thought. ‘I’ll really give him a piece of my mind.’

Marcus had left the main hall, stalking towards Marianne’s room. How DARE she do that to him?! How DARE she undermine his authority like that, and in front of the entire Court?!? He stormed past the guards and servants, finally arriving outside of Marianne’s room. He threw open the door, making it slam into the wall behind it.

Marianne whirled around, to find Marcus framed in the doorway. She watched as he stalked towards her, seething. She merely stood there calmly, looking up at him. He grabbed her arm, and dragged her to his study, slamming the door closed behind him.

“How DARE you undermine me in front of the Court!!” he thundered. “My word is law!! You forget that I am king!!”

“You forget, dear Marcus,” Marianne spat back, “That the universe does not revolve around YOU!! Whenever you do not get your way, you act like a spoiled child!! And, what’s worse, you refuse to give me the respect that I deserve!! I am your wife, and you insist on treating me as if I am a plague!!” She began poking her finger into his chest. “How dare you treat me like that?!” She was shaking with anger.

He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off.

“I’m speaking, and you will stand there and listen!!” she yelled, poking her finger into his chest again. “Now, I demand that you show me the proper respect!! I’ve had enough of your treatment, and I am THIS CLOSE,” she said, gesturing a millimetre with her fingers, “To packing my things, and going right back home!!”

“What a fiery temper,” Marcus said. He wasn’t going to stand here and let her insult him. As much as he loved her, he wasn’t going to take it. He circled her until he was standing behind her, and bent down to whisper in her ear. “What…oh what would the Court think if I were to let it…SLIP…that their Queen is such a fiery minx in the bedroom?” he asked. Kane had explained to him everything that had happened the night when he was drunk. He was now angry, and he had no control over what he was saying. “What would they say when they find out that their Queen is nothing but a lowly whore? Hmm, I have half a mind to add you to the castle harem, so all men will be able to experience it.”

Marianne stood there, her body rigid, while Marcus spoke. She fought the tears that were desperately trying to escape her eyes. He had said things before, but to belittle her like this was more than her heart could take. He was saying such horrible things to her and her heart broke more and more with each word he said.

He had removed her crown, letting her hair fall over her shoulders. “Why not display your…TALENTS…for me right now?” he murmured. “I believe that you were the most satisfying whore that I’ve ever been with.”

Marianne’s eyes closed, tears running down her face. As soon as she got back to her room, she was going to write to her father, and to tell him everything that she had experienced in this kingdom.

“Indeed, such a soft little whore,” he continued. “I really MUST speak to the harem keeper about a new addition.”

Marianne had had enough. She whirled around, and let her balled fist fly, connecting directly with his eye. Marcus stumbled, and fell backward into his chair; such was the force that she used. “Don’t…you…EVER…speak to me like that again!!” she raged. When he tried to get up, she punched him again, this time in the other eye. Immediately, they began to swell. They had even begun to blacken. “Hmph,” she sneered. “Not so talkative now, are you? What…oh WHAT would the Court say once I let it…SLIP…that their King had received two black eyes from their Queen?” She grabbed up her crown, and stalked to the door. She then turned back around. “I cannot wait until tomorrow, when the Court begins to ask what had happened. How will you explain it?” She then opened the door, and stalked out of the study.


Chapter Twenty


The next day, the entire Court was abuzz when they beheld Marcus with his two black eyes. The swelling had gone down, leaving him with two very nasty looking bruises on his eyes. Kane raised his eyebrow when his brother walked into the Main Hall, and took his seat on his throne. Looking at Marianne, he couldn’t help but notice the very smug look on her face. She sat down and sat back, a smug smile playing on her face. Her smile widened when Kane came forward to ask Marcus what had happened.

“Brother,” he asked, “If I may be so bold, may I ask what happened?”

Marcus’s jaw clenched, while Marianne settled even more in her throne, her grin now from ear to ear. “Yes, Marcus,” she said. “What happened?”

“I was practicing some techniques,” was all he said.




Marcus decided the next morning that he had better apologize, so he had sent a servant to tell Marianne that he wanted to speak to her during dinner. He felt absolutely terrible for going off on her like he had. He felt worse for saying the things he said to her. He honestly didn’t mean what he said, and regretted his words the very moment that she had walked out of the study the two days ago. ‘I deserve what I got’, he thought ruefully, looking at his reflection in a mirror. The bruises had faded considerably, and the pain had considerably lessened. ‘Good’,  he thought. ‘They should be gone by in three days, the most.’  He had to admit, she really could pack a punch. Kane had taught her well. Taking one last look in the mirror, he left his room.




Marianne sat in front of her mirror, brushing her hair, when she received the message that Marcus wanted to speak to her during dinner. ‘What would he want to speak to me about?’ she thought. After all the horrible things he had said to her, what else would he possibly have to say? He had said all he needed to. She had written to her father, telling him everything, and begging him not to wage war. She had also told him that she was giving Marcus one last chance…ONE LAST CHANCE. If he messed up one more time, she was going right home. Staring at her reflection, she didn’t notice that Trish had walked in, and tugged gently on Marianne’s sleeve, trying to get her attention. Marianne looked at her. “Yes?” she asked.

Trish handed her a folded piece of parchment, her father’s seal on it.

“Thank you,” Marianne said, taking the parchment from her. She then smirked. “Already?” She broke the seal, and opened the letter.


“My Marianne,


I will respect your wishes, and I will not send my troops into Marcus’s kingdom. Although, I must urge you to NOT give Marcus another chance. You have given as many chances to him as a man deserves, and each time he has let you down. Marianne, come home. I know I cannot convince you to, but I really wish that you will just pick up your things, and leave. Give no notice. I sincerely hope that you will think on what I said.


All My Love, Lance.”


Marianne sighed, and put down the letter. She turned to Trish, and smiled. “You know, I really have not given you any sign of appreciation for your work,” she said. She then got up, and hugged her. “I thank you. If there is anything you need, please do not hesitate to ask.”

Trish nodded, and hugged her back. She needed to get to Kane, and fast. Stacy was getting angry, because King Marcus had continually rejected her advances, and had begun speaking of poisoning the Queen herself, despite Page’s orders. She let go, and watched as Marianne left the room, but not before hiding the letter away.




Any and all thoughts of apology to Marianne had wiped themselves from his mind, because of the bad day he had had. The entire day, he had to put up with incompetent advisors, all telling him that they had no idea what Page was up to. What was worse, everything else had gone wrong, from banging his head on the table beside his bed this morning, to tripping on his robes. All in all, he had a really bad day, and was in a really bad mood. Growling, he sat down at dinner, inhaling his food. He didn’t even notice that Marianne was there. He merely stayed bowed over his food, not saying a word.

Marianne sat there, picking at the food in front of her. Didn’t Marcus say that he wanted to speak to her? If so, then why was he not saying anything. ‘Well, he DOES seem to be in a bad mood’,  she thought. ‘He must have forgotten about what he was going to speak to me about.’  She then thought of her father’s letter. She really did want to give him another chance, because deep inside her, there was one spark of hope that was still there. Maybe…just maybe…he might change his mind. Looking up at him, she saw that he was still making his food disappear in his mouth, and rather quickly. The look on his face was still grumpy. So, she decided to try to cheer him up. “Something really amusing happened this afternoon,” she said. “Two servants’ arms were piled so high with linens that they didn’t see each other, causing them to bump against each other, sending linens flying every which way.” She then chuckled. “It was very amusing.”

Marcus said nothing, only paying attention to his food.

She tried again and again to start a conversation, but to no avail. He merely ignored her. But, this didn’t stop her. She kept trying…and trying…and trying, until Marcus finally spoke.

“Why are you still speaking?!” he yelled. “When I do not respond, that means that I do not wish to talk!!!”

“I…I’m sorry, Marcus…” Marianne said softly. “I merely thought that…”

“Well, whatever you thought, you thought wrong!!” he replied. “You are my wife only in name, which means that I do not have to listen to your meaningless babbling!! Do me and the world a favor, and keep your mouth shut!!”

Marianne sat there, with her head bowed. That spark of hope that was in her had finally gone out.

Everyone saw, that, for the first very first time, that their Queen, always so filled with light, warmth, and love, seemed so deflated. The light in her eyes was gone.

Marcus looked at her, dismay fluttering inside him. HE HADN’T MEANT TO SAY THAT!!!!! He had intended to talk to her, to apologize to her for what he said, and what did he go and do? He had said something else to upset her!!

“I understand,” she whispered. He had used up his last chance. Now, she was going to go home, no matter what he said to convince her to stay, if he tried to convince her at all. She was now beyond tears. She didn’t have the strength to cry anymore.

Marcus had to say something to save the situation, and FAST. “Marianne,” he said softly, “I…”

“I’m tired,” she said quietly, cutting him off. She looked down at her plate, pushing it away. She suddenly wasn’t very hungry. “I’m going to go to bed now.” She rose, and walked to the entrance of the dining room. She then stopped at the threshold, and called to a servant. “You there,” she called.

The servant walked up to her, bowing. “Yes, Majesty?” he asked.

“From now on, I shall be taking my meals in my room,” she replied. “Starting tomorrow morning.”

The servant bowed again. “As you wish, Majesty,” he said.

With that, Marianne walked out, leaving Marcus to stare miserably after her.


Chapter Twenty One


For the next few days, Marianne very rarely left her room. She was only seen when royal business was conducted, but other than that, she never left her room. The entire Court noticed how empty the Queen seemed…how lifeless… how… DEAD. She had a meeting with the servants of the castle (sans Stacy and Trish), and told them to start packing her things, and that she was going home. She also told them to keep it secret, and no one is to know. She just wanted to leave. She told             Trish of her plans, but not Stacy. She didn’t know why, but she didn’t trust her. She had a bad feeling about Stacy in the pit of her belly.

Trish was getting frantic. Every time she had tried to seek out Kane, she would always find Stacy hovering around her, asking what she was doing. She was never left alone. She had even tried to go to Marcus, but he would always turn away from her.

 Marianne was sitting in a chair in her room, when Trish came in with dinner. “Thank you, Trish,” Marianne said as Trish set the tray in front of her. She then saw that there were two place settings. “Um…Trish…there are two place settings.”

Trish nodded.

 “Who is coming…” she began. She was then cut off when she heard a voice from the door.

 “I hope you don’t mind, Marianne, I just thought I’d come and join you,” the voice said.

 She turned to see Kane. “I don’t mind at all,” Marianne said, smiling the first true smile in days. She then sighed. “Besides, I must speak with you anyways.”

 “All right, Marianne,” Kane said softly, sitting at the table where his plate had been set.

They sat and ate, talking about nothing in particular at the moment. When their dinner was finished, and the plates cleared away, Kane sat back in his chair. “So, what did you want to speak to me about?” he asked.

Marianne stood, wrapping her arms around herself, and walked to the window, looking out. “Kane…I’m leaving tomorrow,” she said. “…And I shan’t be coming back.”

Kane stared at her, not saying a word. Although this news was unpleasant, it wasn’t unexpected. After everything Marcus had put her through, he didn’t expect her to stay. He actually felt glad for her. She was going home, and maybe finally be happy. “I understand,” he said softly.

Marianne kept her gaze to the window. “I see no reason to stay anymore,” she murmured. “Since Marcus obviously doesn’t care, I won’t stay and be a bother to him any longer. Kane, you are welcome to come and visit me anytime you wish.”

“I would like that very much,” Kane replied. “I must admit, many of your subjects would be sad to see you go.”

“I know that,” she breathed. “But… I just can’t bear to stay any longer. There’s only so much my heart can stand.”

Kane stood, and walked over to her, wrapping his arms around her from behind. “I won’t tell you that you’re wrong, because you’re not.”

Marianne turned in his embrace, and rested her head on his chest. All at once, she was aware of the comforting warmth that was radiating from his body.

They stood that way for a while, until Marianne spoke again.

“Kane…I’m so cold,” she murmured.

“You’re cold?” he asked. “I’ll get you a blanket…”

That’s not what I mean,” she said, clinging to him to keep from moving. “Kane…I’m cold…so very cold. Kane…Kane, please…make me feel warm, if only for one night.” She then looked up at him, her eyes beseeching. “Make me feel like I’m wanted…. like I’m desired…like I’m loved.” She then snuggled closer into his body, wrapping her arms around his waist.

Kane looked down at her, unbelieving of what he just heard. Was she asking him what he THOUGHT she was asking him? “Marianne…I…”

“PLEASE,” she whimpered. “Make me feel like a woman.”

Kane’s breathing had become heavier as he looked into her eyes…her pleading eyes. How could he deny what she was asking him? He leaned down, and brushed his lips with hers. “Are you sure this is what you want?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “Yes, this is what I want.”

With that, he pressed his lips to hers, the kiss becoming more and more passionate, while his hands began to remove her clothing. Unlike Marcus, he took his time, slowly working until she was completely nude. He then swept her up, and placed her gently on the bed. He removed his clothes, and joined her a few moments later. He noticed that she had her face turned away. He hooked a finger under her chin and made her face him, a deep blush on her cheeks. He pressed feather light kisses on her face and neck, his hands running gently over her nude form. He carefully positioned himself on top of her, spreading her legs with his hands. Before he entered her, he hesitated.

“Marianne…are you absolutely sure?” he murmured.

“Yes…please, Kane, I need this so much!!” she replied, squirming slightly under him.

 Kane took a deep breath, and then entered her slowly, hearing her gasp when he was fully sheathed.

Marianne gasped when he entered her. He was just as big as Marcus was, but Kane was much more gentle. In place of harsh groping, there were tender caresses, and in place of savagery, there was gentleness.

Kane stayed immobile for a moment, then began to move in smooth, and slow strokes. He groaned, feeling her passage grip him tightly. He kept his slow pace; not wanting to push anything on her that she wasn’t prepared for. He wanted to draw out her pleasure, instead of forcing it quickly.

Marianne whimpered as she felt his lips trace light kisses over her neck and shoulder. She wrapped her legs around his waist, reveling in the feeling of him. “Kane…please…I need more…”

“But…Marianne…” Kane choked, struggling to keep his slow pace.

“Oh, I beg you,” she moaned, “I need more…”

Complying with her request, his movements began to increase in speed, hearing her groan in gratitude. He gripped the sheets on either side of her, gritting his teeth, and moved even faster. He had never felt pleasure like this before. Then again, no woman had ever wanted him to do what he was doing now. He felt her wrap her arms around his neck, her whimpers and moans growing louder and louder.

 “Ooooo ooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” she ground out, meeting his thrusts eagerly, and her breathing coming in pants. “Oh…oh dear God….”

Kane uttered no words, only deep growls emitting from deep in his chest.

“Kane…I…I’m…I’m going to…” she whimpered, feeling her body spiral higher and higher, more and more out of control.

“As am I,” he grunted, his hips now moving back and forth as fast as they could go. He threw his head back, braced himself on his hands, sweat dripping from his body.

Marianne cried out as the first spasms racked her body, clinging onto his shoulders for dear life. She clung to him as she experienced her intense release.

Kane continued to move, his release approaching fast. At last, he was there, and gritted his teeth as he spilled his seed into her. After what seemed like an eternity, he sagged, his weight pressing her into the bed, while her arms were still around his neck.

“Thank you,” she whispered in his ear. “Thank you for making me feel wanted.”

“You’re welcome, Marianne,” Kane replied, kissing her forehead.




Marcus paced his room, constantly running his hands through his hair. He had hardly seen Marianne in the past days, and it was torturing him. He had been so cruel to her, and he hadn’t had the strength to apologize to her. He turned, and stared into the fire. It was then that he realized…he couldn’t stand it anymore. He HAD to go to her. He had to go to her and apologize to her…to beg her forgiveness. He couldn’t keep himself away from her anymore. He had to tell her everything. He had to sit her down, and speak to her.

With this thought in mind, he left his room, and stalked towards Marianne’s room. Once he was outside her door, he took a deep breath, and opened it, unprepared for what he was about to find inside.


Chapter Twenty Two


Marcus opened the door, and froze when he saw Marianne in bed…with Kane. His legs went weak, and he slumped against the wall. It was too late. She had already turned to his brother. He made himself stand up, and walked slowly to the bedside, looking down at them. Marianne’s legs were still wrapped around Kane’s waist, Kane’s head buried in her neck. Her eyes were closed, and they were regaining their breathing. All at once, he felt rage swell inside him. How DARE his brother touch her?!?! Especially when he knew how he felt about her!!! His breathing grew heavy, and he clenched his fists at his sides, thoughts of murder in his mind. Each thought was more gruesome than the last.

Marianne opened her eyes, and looked up, seeing Marcus standing over them. He looked murderous. Normally, she would be upset, but now, she didn’t care. Marcus had done more damage to her than she had done to him. She raised her hand, and tapped Kane on the shoulder.

“What’s the matter?” Kane asked.

Marianne didn’t speak. She just turned to look back to Marcus.

Kane followed her gaze, locking eyes with a very angry looking Marcus. He looked back to Marianne, his hand reaching and grabbing a sheet, and sat up, covering her with it. That was the only thing he could do, because Marcus had grabbed him by his hair, and yanked him off the bed, throwing him onto the floor. Marcus then pounced on him, pummeling him his fists as hard as he could, aiming for every body part that was in reach. Marcus was vaguely aware of Marianne yelling at him.

“MARCUS, STOP IT!!! STOP RIGHT NOW!!!” she screamed from the bed, holding the sheet in front of her..

Marcus ignored her. He continued to beat his brother with all the strength he possessed. Kane then began to fight back, catching Marcus in the jaw. Then, the fight got really ugly, Marcus smashing a vase over Kane’s head, while Kane had smashed a chair in Marcus’s back. Marcus quickly regain his bearings, and stood over his brother, who was now disoriented. He slowly advanced on him, intent on snapping his brother’s neck. It was then that he felt a body launching itself at him from behind, a pair of arms wrapping around his neck. A small hand grabbed at his hair, and yanked his head backward.

“I SAID STOP IT!!!!” Marianne screamed, yanking his head back again. “YOU’RE GOING TO KILL HIM!!!!”

Marcus said nothing. He merely wrenched her arms from his neck, and moved so that she was ejected from him, making her land on the floor, hitting her head. He then pounced on his brother again, continuing to beat on him. Both men were now sporting bloody noses, and cuts from their foreheads..

Marianne shook her head of the dizziness, then stood. She then took a deep breath, and screamed with all her might. “MARCUS…KANE…STOP FIGHTING RIGHT THIS INSTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Both men stopped to look at her. Their eyes then widened.

Marianne was confused at first at what they were looking at. She then looked down at herself, and noticed that the sheet had fallen off her, her nude body exposed. She looked back at them, seeing that they were still staring. Nonchalantly, she bent down to pick up the sheet, and covered herself again. Her head held high, she spoke again. “Is there a problem?” she snapped. “Would one of you be so kind as to explain to me what in the holy hell you are staring at?”

Blushing, Kane looked away, while Marcus stood, and folded his arms. Kane stood as well, his nudity forgotten.

“Kane, I think it would be wise to cover yourself,” Marianne said.

Looking down, Kane realized he was still naked. He then went to his pile of clothing on the floor, and began to dress himself.

“Look at the both of you, fighting like children,” Marianne said, putting her hands on her hips. “Now, look at what you have done to yourselves.” She went to her vanity mirror, and took a handkerchief from it. “Sit down,” she ordered, pointing to the bed.


“No woman orders me around,”, Marcus growled, while Kane sat down.

“NOW,” she thundered, pointing to a spot next to Kane.

Grumbling, Marcus sat down, making sure that he was at least a foot away from Kane. After a moment, the look of rage returned to his face, and pounced on Kane once again, wrapping his hands around his throat.

Marianne yanked at Marcus’s hair again, and somehow managed to pull him off. “Sit over there!!!!” she yelled, pointing to the seat in front of the vanity. “I shall deal with you momentarily. Until then, sit there and cool down!!!”

His eyes fixed on Kane; he slowly sat down on the chair.

“Good,” Marianne said. She then tended to the wounds on their faces, tending to Kane’s first.

“I always knew you were lovers,” Marcus spat.

“I only did what Marianne requested of me,” Kane said hotly. “And this was the only time.”

“Pfft,” Marcus snorted. “Of course you would lie about it.”

“I hardly think that you should be talking,” Marianne spat. “Need I remind you of our wedding night?” She had finished tending to Kane’s wounds, and began to tend to Marcus’s. “I don’t even know why I should waste my time in tending to your wounds. You could have your beloved harem girls do it for me.”

Marcus said nothing. An uneasy silence ensued.

“I shall leave the two of you alone,” Kane said. He then left the room, closing the door behind him.

The silence continued for a few more minutes, until Marcus spoke.

“Marianne,” he murmured. “Marianne, please, tell me…why my brother?”

“Because he made me feel that I was worth something,” she replied. “Ever since I came here…he’s been my rock…my support…my strength. All the things that YOU should have made me feel.” Finishing with his wounds, she went back to her bed, and crawled back into it. “You ignored me. You belittled me. You insulted me. You made me feel lower than dirt. You basically treated me like I was less than human.” She then turned her head away. “Have you no idea how it feels to have my own husband refuse to be with me, on my own wedding night? To find that he prefers the company of a whore? You’ve said such cruel things, Marcus. I’ve spent too many nights shedding my tears. Every day, I would wake up with new hope, only to have it dashed away from me every time.”

Marcus sat there, saying nothing. He bowed his head ashamedly.

“Your wife only in name…I know that now. Why else would you go out of your way to make me feel as if I’m worthless?” she continued. She then sighed. “I…I’ve given up on us. I just can’t continue to fight, and lose even more of my heart in the process.” She then looked up at him. “Which is why I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m going home…and I’m not coming back.”

Marcus’s head snapped up. Leaving? She was leaving? “Please don’t go,” he said softly. “Please.”

“Why should I stay?” she asked. “Give me one good reason why I should stay.”

‘BECAUSE I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU!!!’ his mind screamed. But, he couldn’t get his mouth to speak. He opened his mouth to tell her so, but his tongue refused to obey his brain’s command to speak. WHY couldn’t he tell her?!?

She nodded once. “Just as I thought,” she said. She then lay down, her back to him.

Marcus reached over to touch her shoulder, but she moved away.

“Please refrain from touching me,” she snapped. “Go back to your precious harem, and leave me be.” After that, she said no more.

He didn’t know how long he sat there, just staring hopelessly at her. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t say anything. When he finally stood, she had fallen asleep. He then left, dragging his feet, his head bowed in defeat. He didn’t notice the figure that was hiding in the shadows.

‘She’s leaving”, Stacy thought. ‘Page is going to be so very pleased.’ With that thought, she swiftly and quietly fled the castle, in search of Page.


Chapter Twenty Three


That morning, everything was prepared, and Marianne was ready to go. Kane had walked her to her carriage, and gave her one last hug before she left.

“I shall see you the first chance I get,” Kane murmured in her ear.

“I will look forward to it,” she replied, giving him a small squeeze before letting go. With that, she turned and boarded her carriage. The carriage then began to move. The carriage took Marianne farther and farther away from the castle, and out of sight. Never did she ONCE look back.

Neither Kane, nor Marianne noticed the lone figure that was standing on the topmost turret of the castle, watching sadly as the carriage bore her away.

Suddenly, as everyone in the nearest village was waking, and preparing for their day, they heard a very loud, long, and clear wail of despair. No one knew that Marcus was standing on top of the tallest tower. No one knew that it was him who had let out that cry. No one knew that he had fallen to his knees, and his head was buried in his hands.




Trish was going through the castle, looking for Stacy, wondering where she had gone. She had to make absolutely sure that she was nowhere to be found, if she wanted to seek out Kane. The guilt was gnawing inside her. When she found that Stacy had, indeed, left the castle, she ran as fast as she could to find Kane. When she got to His Majesty’s study, she heard both their voices inside.

“I hope you’re happy with yourself, Marcus,” Kane said. “You’ve finally driven her away.”

Marcus’s head was buried in his hands. He gave no answer.

Trish’s heart skipped a few beats. She knew very well that she would probably be jailed for her actions, but if it saved Marianne, then it was well worth it. She went to knock, but one of the guards outside the door stopped her.

“What do you think you are doing?” the guard asked.

She pointed to the door.

“Do you wish to speak with His Majesty?” he asked.

She nodded. She was beginning to get frustrated.

“Why do you wish to speak with him?”

She stomped her foot, and pointed at the door again, as if demanding entrance to the study.

“I cannot let you in if you will not tell me what you want,” the guard said.

Groaning, she suddenly went to the guard, and grabbed him by his armor, and began shaking him. She looked very angry. She even began to beat him about the head.

The second guard, laughing at his colleague’s misfortune, went to knock, but the door opened, His Majesty himself framed in the doorway.

“What is all this commotion?” Marcus asked.

“This servant wishes to speak with you,” the second guard replied. Looking over at the first, he laughed again when he saw Trish still beating his colleague on his head, and had even begun kicking him.

Marcus looked at her, and immediately knew who this was. This was the mute servant who had served Marianne. He felt fresh stabs of pain in his heart even thinking of her name.

“She wouldn’t tell us what her business was,” the first guard said, trying to block himself from her blows, but was unsuccessful.

“It would be very difficult for her to do so, because she’s mute,” Marcus said.

Trish had finally stopped, breathing hard, and looked over at Marcus. Suddenly, panic stole over her features. She ran to him, gesturing wildly with her hands.

“Slow down,” Marcus said. “Come into the study, and tell us what’s wrong.” He guided her into the study, leaving the guard to laugh at his friend.

Once in the study, she was set in a chair in front of His Majesty’s desk. Marcus had taken his seat behind it, while Kane stood beside it. “So, Trish is it?”

Trish nodded. They were wasting time. Stacy could be on her way back at any moment. She began to wring her hands in her lap, and squirm in her seat.

“Trish,” Marcus said. “What’s wrong?”

It was that moment, to Marcus’s and Kane’s astonishment, that Trish tried to speak.

“M….mmmm….mmuuu…” she forced.

Kane and Marcus looked at each other, confused. Kane looked back at her, and raised an eyebrow.

She then tried again. “M….mmmmm…mmmuuurrrr….ddddeeerrr,” she said. She then took a deep breath.

“What did you say?” Kane asked.

“M…mur…der…” She said again. She then spoke again, this time the word coming easier to her lips. “Murder!!”

“Murder?” Kane asked. “Who’s been murdered?”

“M…mmmaadddaaammm…Ssss…oooorrrr…sssccchhhaaaa,” she replied, “M….murdered!!”

“Murdered,” Marcus breathed. “How?”

She then made a motion like she was drinking, then clutched her throat.

“Poison,” Kane said.

Trish nodded vigorously.

“Who poisoned her?” Marcus asked. He was getting very angry. Whoever had done this was obviously trying to get to Marianne. His mind immediately fell to Page. “Was it Page?”

It was very difficult for Trish, since she couldn’t speak. So, she gestured to Kane to give her some parchment, and something to write with. Kane complied with her silent request, and gave her what she asked for. She then began to write.

“Stacy and I were hired by Page to be spies, and get as much inside information as we could on the status of the King and Queen’s relationship,” she wrote. “Stacy is growing impatient, since her advances towards His Majesty have thus far gone ignored. She had even begun speaking of poisoning Her Majesty. I was forced to make the poison, while Stacy had administered it.” Tears began to run down her face, but she continued to write. “Any information that I had heard, or gained from Her Majesty herself, I had kept quiet. Stacy, nor Page, know anything of what I was told.” She then handed the parchment to Kane.

Kane read what Trish wrote. “You write that you were forced,” he said.

She nodded.

“How were you forced? What did Page do to you?”

Trish took the parchment back, and once again began to write. “Page took my daughter,” she wrote. “He said that he would kill her if I didn’t comply. I had no choice. Abigale is all I have.”

“Where is your husband?” Marcus asked.

Trish bowed her head. She once again began to write. “My husband was among the missing in the War of the Western Territories.”

“What was his name?” Kane asked.

“His name was Jeffrey Hardy,” she wrote back.

“Jeffrey Hardy,” Kane said. “He saved my life during the final battle. I had done my best in trying to find him afterwards, but I never did. I never even knew that he had a family…” He looked at her, and bowed his head. “He was a good man. Your daughter must miss him terribly.”

“Abigale wasn’t born yet when he went off to battle,” she wrote. “So, she has never known her father.”

“I’m sorry,” Marcus said. “Tell us everything you know, and I may be lenient.”

So, Trish began to tell them everything that she knew. It was a few hours until she was finished, and her hand was killing her.

“Now, we know what Page has been doing,” Kane said. Then, at that moment, a soldier burst into the study.

“Majesty, there’s an emergency!!” he said frantically. “Quickly, you must go to the main hall!!”

Marcus and Kane got up, followed by Trish, and ran to the main hall. There was a man, who looked like he had been to battle.

“Majesty,” he panted. “Majesty, something has happened…”

“What’s wrong?” Kane asked. “What happened?”

“Majesty…we were escorting Her Majesty home, when we were attacked,” the soldier said. “We tried our best to defend her, but there were just too many of them. We were ambushed.”

Marcus stood there, still as a statue as he listened to the soldier speak.

“I fought my hardest to protect her…but, Majesty…” he said. Then, slowly, he took something out of his saddlebag, which he had carried with him. Marcus immediately recognized it. It was Marianne’s crown. It was now bent out of shape. “The ones who attacked us…they took her. All of the men who were accompanying her were slain. I was only barely able to escape.”

Marcus slowly took the bent crown into his hands. He then felt someone frantically tugging on his robes. Looking beside him, he saw Trish. She was pointing to herself, then to her temple, as if to say ‘I know where he’s taking her’. “Trish,” he said. “I have a little job for you.”


Chapter Twenty Four


In the entire history of the kingdom, no other King had ever assembled his generals quicker than Marcus did that very morning. They were all gathered in his study, with Marcus at the head of the desk, Kane at his side. They had been planning for hours on how they would get Marianne back.

“Trish has gone to keep up her pretense of working with Page,” Marcus said. “She will try best to keep watch over Marianne, to keep track of her.”

“Where has she been taken?” one of the generals asked.

“Trish tells me that she’d most likely be taken to the ruins of the Old Castle, about twenty miles from here,” Kane said, pointing to a point on the map that was on Marcus’s desk. “Even if we go with all haste, and without rest, it would take us at least two days to get there.” He took a dagger that was strapped to his belt, and unsheathed it, pointing out a path on the map. “But, if we use the Tolacon Pass, we can get there even quicker, maybe shave a day off the estimated traveling time.” He traced the path with the tip of the dagger. He then looked to his brother, who looked very tired. “Brother, why don’t you sit down for a bit? You don’t look well at the moment. Not well at all.”

Marcus sank down into his chair, and placed his hand over his eyes. He hadn’t slept a wink the night before, and this whole thing was now taking more of a toll on him. Dear God, his Marianne was in danger, and he wasn’t by her side to fight for her. Right at this moment, Page could be putting his hands on his Angel, and he wasn’t there to stop him. When he got his hands on Page, he was going to beat him until there was no life left in the man’s body…maybe he wouldn’t even stop there. But, one thing was for certain. He was going to give Marianne Page’s head on a silver platter as a gift. At that moment, the memory of the first time he saw her ran through his mind. She looked so beautiful, standing in front of that fountain, her laughter sending tingles through his body. He remembered how bright her smile was, how full of happiness, how warm. His mind went forward to their wedding, and how angelic she looked in her white wedding dress, her hair crowed with flowers. So many memories were flooding through his mind, and he was powerless to stop them. He then abruptly stood, turning to Kane. “We need to get to her. Now. I refuse to wait another minute.”

Kane nodded. “I understand what you mean, brother, but we cannot just barge in. You above all should know what Page is capable of. We need to plan a way to get into the ruins so we can retrieve her without harm coming to her.” He sighed when he saw how helpless his brother looked. “Brother, I swear on my own blood…she WILL return safely. Now, Brother, you should try to get some rest. We shall plan this, and I will tell you everything when you are rested.”

“I refuse to rest until Marianne is back here, and safe,” Marcus growled. Once he brought her back, he was not going to let her leave the safety of his arms.




Marianne awoke a few hours later, her head throbbing from the blow she took. Groaning, she tried to stand up, but found she was shackled to the wall, making her unable to stand. She could only sit up; resting her back on the damp wall of the dungeon she was housed in. She tried to tug at her bonds, but a voice stopped her.

“It is no use,” the voice said. “I’ve tried many times, but they still hold fast, no matter how old they look.”

Marianne turned to the owner of the voice. The owner was a young man, with light hair, and a thin body. The body looked like it had been well muscled at a time, but was now emaciated. “I don’t mean to be rude,” she said, “but, who are you?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, managing a weak smile. “How rude of me, not to introduce myself. My name is Jeffrey Hardy.” He then looked around. “I would shake your hand, but…” He moved his hands, making the shackles jingle.

“I understand,” Marianne replied. Then, realization dawned on her. “Jeffrey Hardy…I’ve heard the name. Kane had told me that you saved his life during the War of the Western Territories.”

“Yes, that would be me,” he said. His eyes then widened. “Kane? You spoke to Kane?”

“Yes,” she replied. “I am his brother’s wife.”

His eyes widened even more. “So…it is YOU that Page constantly mutters to himself about. You are Her Majesty, Queen Marianne, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she said.

“I’m sorry, Majesty,” Jeffrey said. “I didn’t realize…”

“It’s all right,” Marianne said. “So, I take it you’ve been here ever since the War.”

Jeffrey nodded sadly, and hung his head.

“But, the war was nearly four years ago,” Marianne said. “You’ve been kept here?”

“Yes,” he said. A lone tear ran down his face. “I left for the War…just before my child was born. I have never gotten to see it…or my wife.”

“You must miss them terribly,” Marianne said.

“Oh, if you knew my beautiful wife, you would miss her too,” Jeffrey replied. He then sighed. “Just the sight of her, pregnant with our child…it always lifted my heart when I was feeling my lowest. It killed me to have to leave, just when she was due to give birth. I would have given anything to have been there, to hold her while our child came into the world.” He swallowed a lump in his throat. “But, instead, I’ve been stuck in this dungeon. I don’t even know if my child is a boy or a girl.”

“Your child would be three years old now,” Marianne said softly.

“Yes,” Jeffrey said. He tried to hold back the tears, but he couldn’t. “I want to see my family again. How I wish to have seen my child’s first step…to hear the first word my child speaks.” He turned to her. “What of you?” he asked. “What is your family like?”

“I don’t have any children, regretfully,” Marianne said. “Not yet, anyway.” She felt stabs of pain as she thought of Marcus. “Marcus is…very difficult to understand. I must admit, I was very shy when I first met him. At first, I thought he was a very handsome devil, as my elderly nurse had put it.” She felt even more stabs of pain as she thought of Madame Sorscha. She then went on to explain how Marcus had made her feel (not the bad, but the good). She didn’t want to put Marcus in a bad light.

They continued to talk to each other, until two guards unlocked and opened the door, and two guards stepped inside. “We are to take you up now,” the first said, looking at Marianne. “Page wishes to speak with you.”

“Leave her alone,” Jeffrey said, trying to struggle out of his bonds.

“I hardly think you can do anything, boy,” the second guard said, snickering. “You are shackled to the wall, and you can hardly stand without support.”

“Never underestimate a Hardy,” Jeffrey growled. “I can always surprise you.”

“Whatever…BOY,” the first guard said, laughing.

“Why don’t you come and say that to my face?” Jeffrey said. “OH, that’s right. You are too cowardly, just like your master.”

“Jeffrey, please,” Marianne said. “You need to save your strength.”

“Page kept me from my family, and murdered my brother and his wife,” Jeffrey growled, still trying to struggle.

“All’s fair in war, boy,” the second guard said. He then went to Marianne, and undid her shackles. “Come, eh, Majesty,” he said, saying the last word with heavy sarcasm. “Trust me, when Page is through with you, the only thing you will answer to is ‘You, Whore!!” He grabbed her arm, and lifted her up.

Marianne yanked her arm out of the man’s hand, and let her other fist fly, landing right in the man’s jaw. But, before she could do anything else, she was grabbed from behind by the first guard. She struggled valiantly, but she felt another blow to her head, and all went dark.

“Page has a firebrand on his hands”, the second guard said, nursing his throbbing jaw, and looked down at the once again unconscious Marianne.

“Where are we to take her?” the first guard asked, hoisting her up over his shoulder.

“We are to prepare her while she is still unconscious, and bring her to the harem,” the second guard replied. “Page has ordered Stacy to attend to her.”

“All right,” the first said. With that, the two guards left, leaving Jeffrey alone.


Chapter Twenty Five


Marcus was getting his armor on, and as quickly as he could. They had finally concocted a plan that would get Marianne to safety. ‘Don’t worry, Marianne’, he thought. ‘I’m coming for you.’ At that moment, Kane approached him.

“Don’t worry, brother,” Kane said, patting Marcus’s shoulder. “We will bring her home safely.”

Marcus growled deeply in response. “If Page has harmed but one hair on her head…”

“I know, Marcus,” Kane replied. “I know.”

With that, Marcus and Kane mounted their horses, and rode out the castle gates, with Kane’s best men following them.




One and a half days later, Marianne awoke, from having been knocked out again, squinting at the light that was now shining in her eyes. Shaking her head, she sat up, and looked around.

She was now in a brightly lit room, with different colored, and worn round pillows thrown about. Standing, she realized…this was a makeshift harem. Looking over at a full-length mirror, which was cracked, she gasped at what she saw. She was dressed in a very revealing emerald green harem girl outfit with gold thread lining, the top only big enough to hide her nipples, making her breasts nearly overflow from the garment. The hem of the bottom of the outfit rested below her navel, showing off her flat belly. Her hair was down, falling over her shoulders in curls. Her face was made up beautifully, coal black outlining her eyes, making them seem even more green, while her cheeks and lips were done in a very flattering shade of red, the color on her lips making them seem even more full. Tears ran down her face at the knowledge that Marcus wouldn’t come for her. In fact, she knew that he would NEVER come for her. Even more tears ran down her face at the fact that she had found out who had betrayed her. Stacy, she wasn’t surprised…but Trish? She had trusted her…divulged such private secrets…even told her of many things that she hadn’t even told Kane. She sniffled, wiping her eyes. It was then that she noticed that Trish had come into the room, with her head bowed. Marianne could have sworn that there were tears running down her face.

“What is it?” Marianne spat. “What do you want?”

Without a word, Trish walked up to the window, and beckoned Marianne over.

Hesitantly, Marianne walked over to her. “What could you possibly have to show me?”

Looking around, making sure that they were alone, Trish pointed out the window.

Following her hand, Marianne saw a figure climbing over one of the crumbled walls. Her heart leaped. She knew that form anywhere. It was Kane. What she DIDN’T see, was that Marcus had climbed over, before Kane had. They watched as man after man climbed over the wall, and were out of sight.

“Did you know of this already?” Marianne breathed.

Trish nodded, bowing her head once again.

“I don’t understand,” Marianne said. “Why? Why do you help Page?”

Trish kept her head bowed, more tears running down her face. She then looked up at Marianne. She looked like she was going to try to tell her something, when a voice cut through the silence.

“Trish,” the voice said sharply. “I told you to make sure she was awake, not to make conversation.”

Both women turned to see Page standing there, with his arms folded.

Without a word, Trish bowed her head again, and quickly left the room. Then, Page walked over to her, circling her, and looking her over, as one would look over a potential purchase. “Very nice indeed,” he said, grinning.

Marianne glared at him while he looked her over.

“You would make a very fine whore,” he said. “But, then again, you have already proven yourself to be one, haven’t you? Sleeping first with your husband, then with your husband’s brother…yes, you have the makings of a whore.” He kept circling her. “You will be my first whore in my harem. Many of my men outside wish to have their fun with you. So, why should we keep them waiting?” With that, he lunged, and grabbed her by the arm, and dragged her out into the crumbling main hall, where a very large group of his men were gathered.

Marianne nearly fainted from the overpowering stench that radiated from these men. All of them were dirty, many of them with rotting and missing teeth, and a good portion of them overweight. Sure, she could defend herself against one…but this many? There must have been at least fifty of them. ‘Then again’, she thought, ‘Kane has brought at least a hundred with him.’   She felt her arms being wrenched behind her, and her wrists tied tightly behind her. She then heard Page’s voice hissing in her ear.

“Let’s give my men a little taste, shall we?” he said. With that, he shoved her into the crowd of men.

Marianne screamed with loathing, trying to fight off the groping hands, making the men merely laugh at her. She screamed again when she felt a hand grab and squeeze her breast, while another hand groped her bottom. If she thought the stench was overpowering before, she was sadly mistaken.

“ENOUGH!!” came Page’s voice over the noise. He grabbed her arm, and yanked her out of the crowd. “The bidding shall start at five gold coins!!”

The bids came in rapid succession, going up to two hundred gold coins.

“I have two hundred gold coins, do I hear three hundred?” Page yelled. He then spoke again. “THREE HUNDRED!!”

Marianne looked at him, wide eyed, and filled with fear. ‘He’s bidding on me himself’, she thought desperately. ‘Oh…SOMEONE…please help me!!’

She hadn’t noticed that Marcus, Kane, and his men had already taken their positions, out of sight, waiting for the right moment.

“I hear three hundred going once…three hundred going twice…” Page yelled. He then walked up behind her, and bent to whisper in her ear. “Sold,” he said. He then turned to Stacy, who was watching nearby, with a smug smile on her face. “Stacy,” he said, “Take her to my chambers, and see that she’s…comfortable.”

Marianne struggled, managing to get a kick into Stacy’s stomach, making her double over. “I will never let you touch me, Page,” she said firmly. “NEVER.”

“We’ll see about that,” he said, walking up to her. He then began to grope her body, touching every part of her that came into his hands. He then laughed evilly. “Poor little Marianne,” he said. “If you would have only taken my proposal in the first place, none of this needn’t have happened. I hardly think that His Majesty would bother to come and save you.”

In his hiding place, Marcus seethed. ‘How DARE he put his hands on MY wife?!?’ he raged inwardly. Looking to Kane, he gave his signal.

“Face it, Marianne,” Page continued. “Who would come for you? Who would come and save you?”

“I WOULD,” came a booming, and commanding voice from the entrance of the hall.

Everyone looked, to see His Majesty himself, in full body armor, brandishing his broadsword. He raised it, and spoke one more time before all hell broke loose.



Chapter Twenty Six


Kane, and every hidden soldier suddenly burst out of their hiding place, and charged Page’s stunned men. But, it didn’t last long, for the clanging of swords was soon heard.

Marianne’s heart leaped. She couldn’t believe it…Marcus had come for her!! But, her joy was short-lived when she was grabbed and yanked backwards. She tried to fight the hands that were holding her, but her wrists were still tied behind her. She watched helplessly as Marcus fought his way to her, feeling a blade being pressed into her throat.

Marcus fought his way to her, his blade showing no mercy to whomever it struck. After what seemed an eternity, he finally got to her, and his anger grew even more when he saw Page holding her, pressing a six-inch blade into her throat.

“I’m surprised”, Page said, his arm wrapped around her waist, which was also holding her arms in place. “You’ve actually decided to descend off your high and mighty throne to save a woman that you don’t even love.”

Marcus stiffened. “Page, I’ll only tell you this once. Let go of her. Right now. Your death may be more merciful if you do.”

Page merely laughed. “I don’t think so. And besides, why should you care?” He began to slowly back away, dragging Marianne with him, and pressing the blade even more at her throat, making her whimper. “I think I’ll keep her as my whore.” He then turned to her. “You’ll enjoy being my whore, won’t you Marianne?”

Marianne tried to struggle, but his arm was holding her like an iron band. “Go straight to hell, Page,” she growled.

“You first, my dear,” he said, still backing away towards a door. He then spoke to Marcus. “If you truly want her, you have to follow me to come and get her. If you don’t, she’ll learn how to fly.” With that, he removed the blade from her throat, and opened the door, shoving Marianne through. They then disappeared.

As Marcus began to run towards the door, about fifteen of Page’s men blocked the way. They weren’t small, either. Marcus raised his sword, and tried to hack through them as quickly as he could, to follow Page. He finally managed to do so, with major difficulty. He ran to the door, and opened it, seeing the beginnings of a spiral staircase. Up…up…up he climbed, his legs tiring more and more with each step. But, Marianne’s far off cries kept him going. After about fifteen minutes, he finally got to the top, pushing open a trap door overhead. When he got up, he saw Marianne, standing on one of the very small platforms of stone that surrounded the area. He then realized…they were on top of one of the battlements, on one of the tallest towers of the ruins. If Marianne made the wrong move…

“Don’t move,” Marcus said.

“Marcus, look out!!” she yelled, pointing behind him.

But, her warning came too late. At once, he felt a blow to the back of his head.

“Well, well, well,” Page said, grinning sadistically. “Who DO we have here?” He raised the large and thick plank of wood, to bring it down again.

Marcus dodged the second blow, and brought up his sword, swinging it at Page’s head, only to have him duck. Page ran behind him, but Marcus quickly turned, to keep him in sight. He raised the sword again, only to feel pain in his belly, from having the wood swung into it. He doubled over, and felt the same pain in his back. He may have been wearing his armor, but it didn’t stop him from feeling pain. Recovering quickly, he raised himself up, and fought back.

They fought this way, for what seemed like forever. Marianne couldn’t do anything but stand where she was. If she moved in the wrong way, she would fall the two hundred feet to her death. She couldn’t help him, and it was killing her. All she could do now was warn him of which direction Page was coming from.

Page was finally backed up near the edge of the battlement, and was gasping for breath. His Majesty was the best when it came to hand-to-hand combat. He looked around frantically, trying to find something that would keep the King from pushing him over the edge of the battlement. Fixing his eyes on something, he grinned.

“It’s over, Page,” Marcus growled. Now, he was going to make sure that Page learned to fly. He grabbed him, and hoisted him up, and held him over the edge of the battlement. “I’m going to make sure that you don’t harm anyone…ever again.” With that, he let go, letting Page fall over the edge.

Marianne sighed in relief, but that sigh turned into a scream when she felt a hand closing over her ankle, and pulling her over. Page had caught her, and was pulling her down with him.

Marcus watched as Marianne was suddenly pulled off the platform. He stood there, stunned for a moment, and then rushed to try to catch her before she fell too far. When he got to the edge, he saw Page, hanging onto the edge, with Marianne hanging on to Page’s ankles.

Marianne looked down, another scream pealing forth. She was terrified of heights.

“If you want to save her,” Page said, grinning mockingly, “You’ll have to pull me up, too.”

Marcus growled dangerously, as Marianne let out another scream.

“PLEASE, GET ME UP!!” she screamed. “PLEASE DON’T LET ME FALL!!” She tried to climb up, but Page kicked his leg out, making her hand slip. Now, she was only holding on with one hand.

At this moment, she felt something on her ankle. Looking down frantically, she saw herself hanging halfway over a window. And at that window, was Kane.

“Let go,” he yelled, as he reached his other hand to grab her other ankle. “Let go, I’ll catch you!”

“I can’t,” she yelled back. “Kane…I can’t!!”

“Yes, you can,” Kane yelled. “Just let go!!”

Marianne closed her eyes, and let go, only to be caught by Kane. She felt herself being pulled inside, and her feet setting on firm ground.

Kane leaned out the window once again, this time to yell up to his brother. “MARCUS, I HAVE HER!!!!” he bellowed.

Meanwhile, at the top of the battlement, Marcus grinned, hearing his brother’s voice. He looked down at Page, his grin growing more sadistic than Page’s. He bent over, and reached down, pulling him up. He didn’t wait for Page to notice that Marianne had been pulled to safety before he beat him within an inch of his life. He used anything he could get his hands on…rocks, planks of wood, even his own armor. He wanted to shed as much of Page’s blood as possible. And, he never forgotten his promise to himself. ‘Keep his head clear”, he thought. ‘I’m still going to give it to Marianne as a gift.’

When Marcus had finally grown tired of beating Page, he grabbed him, and raised him up, hanging him once again over the edge. “NOW, it’s over,” he said. He held him there for a moment, relishing in hearing Page beg, plead, and weep for Marcus to spare his life. He then looked down, then to Page, then looked down again. “No, not like this,” he said. He then stepped back, setting Page back onto his feet.

“Oh, thank you, Majesty,” Page blubbered, shaking. “You are so very merciful, thank you.”

Marcus’s grin turned downright demonic. He stepped back even more, dragging Page with him.

“M-Majesty,” Page stammered. “W-w-w-what are you doing?”

“What should have been done a long time ago,” Marcus hissed in his ear.

Marcus grabbed the back of Page’s collar, and his belt, ran up to the edge, and flung Page off the battlement.

While Kane was comforting Marianne, they saw Page’s body rush past them, going downwards. Marianne had tried to look, to have the satisfaction of seeing his body splatter onto the cobblestones below, but Kane turned her away.

“No, Marianne,” Kane said. “Don’t look.”

Marcus looked down, as Page landed on his back below, his demonic grin plastered on his face when he saw the Page’s blood stain the cobblestones. From the angle he landed, he might have even fallen on top of some large, pointy rocks. That made Marcus very happy, indeed. What’s more, Page would never be able to harm his Angel again. He stood there, regaining his breath for a few more moments, until he went back down the trap door.

Marianne had been brought down, and sat into a chair, with Trish tending to her, while Kane and his men gathered Page’s men, or rather, the ones that survived. Marcus emerged from the door a moment later.

“Marcus,” Kane said, walking up to him, “We were successful in having no casualties, only a few minor injuries. Some of our men are scouring the old dungeons, just in case there might be anyone there.”

Marcus nodded, his eyes fixed on Marianne. He watched as she turned to him, locking her eyes with his. He walked over to her, shedding his armor as he went. He finally got to her, and stood right in front of her, his eyes boring down into hers.

Marianne stood there, trying to read his expression, but being unsuccessful. ‘He’s angry’,  she thought. ‘He’s angry because he’s had to waste his time in coming to save me.’   She looked up at him, nearly buckling under the intensity of the look in his eyes.

They stood there, staring at each other. Neither saying a word. Time seeming to have stopped. Then, Marcus did something that thoroughly shocked Marianne. He fell to his knees in front of her, and wrapped his arms around her waist, his head burying itself in her bosom. And, for the very first time, Marianne, Kane, and his men witnessed as Marcus burst into tears.

“I almost lost you,” Marcus whimpered, holding onto her even more tightly. “Marianne…my Angel…I’m sorry…I’m so sorry…please, I beg of you…forgive me…” He looked up at her, his eyes filled with tears, and even more running down his face. “Marianne…I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness, and I don’t deserve another chance…but please…I’ll do anything you ask of me. ANYTHING.” He buried his face in her bosom again, sobbing.

Marianne looked down at him, unable to believe what she was witnessing. Marcus…begging for forgiveness? All at once, her heart began to swell, and her arms wrapped around him, her hand stroking his hair, while her cheek rested on top of his head. Tears began to fall from her eyes.

They merely held each other, both in tears, when a voice cut through the silence.


Chapter Twenty Seven


“That’s just so sweet,” the voice said mockingly. The voice then took a sneering tone. “How utterly disgusting.”

Marianne and Marcus turned to see Stacy, holding a crossbow, aimed at Marianne.

Marcus stood slowly, keeping his eyes to Stacy. “Stacy,” he growled warningly. “Put the crossbow down.”

“I don’t think I will,” Stacy replied. She took a few steps forward, keeping the crossbow pointed to Marianne’s heart. “I wouldn’t move if I were you,” she added, as Marcus tried to step in front of Marianne. “How would you be able to protect her if you’re dead?” She then turned to Marianne. “No matter how many times I try to get rid of you, you don’t seem to get the hint to disappear. I’ve even tried to poison you…but you refused to eat.” She then yelled to the soldiers that were slowly advancing. “Don’t move!!” she yelled. “Unless you want her to die.”

The soldiers backed away, seeing Marcus nod to them.

Marianne stood perfectly still, trying to quickly formulate a plan in her mind.

“It should have been ME,” Stacy ranted. “It should have been ME in His Majesty’s bed!! ME, ME, ME!!” She raised the crossbow to take aim. “Now, I’ll finally be rid of you…for good.” She was about to pull the trigger, when Marianne moved suddenly, stunning her.

Marianne suddenly lunged, her hands wrapping firmly around the crossbow, pulling it out of Stacy’s hands. The crossbow flew across the main hall, skidding on the floor. Stacy was then grabbed by the hair, and pulled, so that she was bending over. She felt blows being rained onto her back, and then her stomach, making her fall to the floor. She tried to get up, but she just got a kick to her face for her trouble. Finally able to look up, she saw Marianne standing over her, with her fists clenched. Her hair was a little bit tousled, and her face was flushed, with fury burning in her eyes, making them a dark green.

“Go ahead, Stacy,” Marianne said softly. “Try to kill me. I guarantee you won’t succeed.” Her face then turned up into a twisted smile. “Come on, Stacy. Get up.” She then went over to her, and kicked her in the stomach. “I SAID GET UP!!!!”

Stacy looked terrified. She looked over at Marcus. “She’s crazy!!” she shrieked. “Stop her!!”

Marcus merely stood there, with his arms folded, grinning the same twisted smile.

Stacy somehow got up, and looked at Marianne. She stood there for a moment, before tackling her, pinning her to the ground. She picked up a dagger that was lying nearby, and pressed it to her throat. “Time to die…Majesty,” she said sarcastically.

But, just as she was about to drag the blade across Marianne’s throat, she was hit in the head from behind, knocking her out. She fell limply on top of Marianne.

Marianne pushed her body aside, to see Trish standing over them, with an enormous rock in her hands. Trish reached down, and pulled Marianne up, helping her brush herself off. “Thank you,” she said.

Trish nodded to her, looking back to Stacy’s prone form. Her face then twisted to fury, and aimed a kick to Stacy’s stomach.

“Trish…I’ve been meaning to speak with you,”, Marianne said.

Trish nodded again.

“Why?” Marianne asked. “Why were you working with Page? Why were you helping him?”

Trish bowed her head, then raised it again, looking saddened. She was about to try to say something when another voice spoke.

“Majesty, we’re almost finished searching the dungeons,” Kane said, walking up. He then turned to Trish, with a smile on his face. “We found someone who would probably like to say hello.”

With that, he stepped aside, to reveal a little girl of about three years old, wearing tattered and dirty clothing, and looking very malnourished.

Trish’s eyes widened.

“Mama!!” the little girl squealed, running to her as fast as her weak little legs could carry her.

Trish met the girl halfway, sweeping her up into his arms. She then turned to Marianne, her tear filled eyes beseeching her to understand.

“Page had kept the little girl so Trish could do his bidding,” Kane explained, while Trish cried.

Marianne walked up to Trish, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. “What’s your name?” she asked the child softly.

“I’m Abigale,” the girl said. “What’s yours?”

“My name is Marianne,” Marianne replied. She then stroked the child’s hair. “She looks exactly like her mother.” She then smiled at Trish, who smiled gratefully back.

All of a sudden, a soldier ran up to Kane.

“Kane,” the soldier said breathlessly. “We’ve found someone else in the dungeons.”

Marianne’s eyes brightened. “Kane!!” she cried. “There was a man with me in the dungeons when I was brought here!!”

“Do you know his name?” Kane asked.

“Yes,” Marianne replied. “He’s an old friend of yours. His name is Jeffrey Hardy.”

Upon hearing this name, Trish gave a startled squeal.

At that moment, two soldiers carried a weak Jeffrey Hardy up the stairs, one supporting each of his arms.

Trish slowly put down Abigale, who took her hand. They walked slowly up to Jeffrey, with Trish’s eyes wide.

Jeffrey looked up, his eyes widening also when he saw Trish walking up to him. He began to struggle against the two soldiers holding him. “Let me GO!!” he yelled, trying to get free to get to Trish. He wanted to walk to them on his own two feet.

The soldiers reluctantly let him go, and watched as he stumbled to Trish, falling to his knees halfway.

Trish ran to him, cradling him in her arms, whimpering and crying, while rocking him back and forth.

Jeffrey wrapped his arms weakly around her, holding her with the last remaining strength he possessed. After a few moments, he felt a small tug on his torn shirt. He looked to see a little girl, looking at him with wide eyes.

“Are you my papa?” she asked, in the most adorable voice only a three year old could use.

Jeffrey nodded slowly. “Yes,” he whispered. “Yes, I am.”

Kane, Marcus, Marianne, and the other soldiers watched this scene, and there was not a dry eye among them.

“I’m going outside to gather the rest of the men,” the captain said, wiping his eyes. He then quickly walked out of the ruins of the main hall.

Kane walked up to them, gathering Jeffrey in his arms. “Come on, soldier,” he said softly. “Let’s get you home.” He then carried him out, with Trish and Abigale following him.

Marcus turned to Marianne. “We should do the same,” he said softly. “We’ll do a lot of talking when we get there. I promise.”

Marianne nodded. “All right,” she said softly.

It was then that Marcus noticed what she was wearing. He raised an eyebrow. “What are you wearing?” he asked.

“Page was going to add me to his harem,” Marianne said. She would say no more about it.

Marcus took off his cloak, and wrapped it around her. If anyone was going to see her dressed the way she was, it was going to be him. ‘Maybe, I can convince her to keep it’,  he thought. If she did, it would be for his own personal viewing.

He then swept her up, and carried her off to his horse. They then mounted, and rode away, with everyone else following them.


Chapter Twenty Eight


They rode back to the castle, getting there in the late evening. Marcus had gotten down from his horse, gently helping her dismount. He swept her up, and carried her through the Main Hall, with concerned onlookers trying to get a glimpse of them. But, Marcus would have none of it. He swept straight past them, went up the stairs, and brought her directly to his room. He set her onto her feet, and looked at her. She looked exhausted. As beautiful as the outfit made her look, she looked as if she would fall to the floor and sleep where she fell. He quickly went to the door, and called for a few servants to get a hot bath ready for her in his bathing room. He sat with her in his lap on the bed while the servants set up the bath. After a little while, the servants came out of the bathing room.

“The bath is ready, Majesties,” the first servant said, bowing.

“Thank you,” Marcus said. He then stood up, and carried her to the bathing room. Once there, he stood her on her feet, carefully and swiftly removing her clothes. He then picked her up, and gently set her into the hot bath water. When she went to move to bathe herself, he gently put a hand on her shoulder. “No,” he said softly. “You just rest there. I’ll bathe you.”

Marianne sat back, as he thoroughly pampered her, bathing every inch of her body tenderly. He had even washed her long hair. He lavished every inch of her with loving attention.

When her bath was finished, he picked her up, and dressed her in the nightgown that had been prepared for her. Laying her other clothes carefully aside, he carried her to the bed, and lay her down. Within moments, she was asleep.

He lay next to her, just watching her sleep. Kane had told him that Page’s body was to be brought with them, so Marcus could keep the head. This made him ecstatic. He only hoped Marianne wouldn’t be too appalled. Also, Stacy had been dragged back with them, to face her punishment. On that point, her fate was already decided. She was to die…how, would be Marianne’s choice. Whether it be hanging, beheading, or any other form, it didn’t matter. As long as he was present to witness it, he didn’t care.

He carefully got up, shed his clothing, and crawled back into bed with her. He covered her with the blankets, smiling when she snuggled up against him. He wrapped his arms around her, and closed his eyes. He then fell asleep.




The next day, Marianne awoke, to find herself in Marcus’s arms. Smiling, she snuggled deeper, just reveling in his warmth. “Oh, dear God,” she thought. “He actually came to save me!! He had actually put his own safety in jeopardy to save me from Page!!” She looked up at his sleeping face. He looked so peaceful now. So serene. She reached up and caressed his face with her fingertips. She jumped slightly when he opened his eyes, and looked down at her.

“Good morning,” he murmured, smiling at her.

“Um…good morning,” she replied, blushing at having being caught.

Marcus saw her blush, and chuckled. He then ran his hand through her hair, the silken strands falling around his fingers. As he stared down at her, a lump formed in his throat. All this time, he could have been with her…all this time he could have had her right here, in his arms. Where she belonged. He then suddenly sat up, startling her. He rested his hands on his knees, and bowed his head.

“Marcus,” she asked softly. “What’s wrong?”

“I…” he began. How could he possibly explain this to her? “Marianne…I’ve done so many bad things to you…and I’ve said even worse things. Yet, after all I’ve done…you still consent to be brought back here. I understand that you wanted to go home to your father, and I’ll understand if you still want to go back.” His shoulders slumped dejectedly. “I’ve treated you so horribly, Marianne, and you don’t know how terrible I feel for it. I thought I could keep you away…to keep you innocent, and safe…but it didn’t work like I wanted it to.” He turned to her, tears running down his face. “Marianne…All I ask is that you just give me one more chance…just for this fortnight…and if you decide you still want to leave, I won’t stop you.” He looked hopefully into her eyes.

Marianne’s eyes softened. “All right,” she murmured. “I’ll stay.” In fact, she had no intention of leaving now. Marcus was willing to do anything to get her to stay…infinitely more than he had done since they had gotten married. She bowed her head. “So…what do we do now?”

Marcus smiled. “This,” he said. He then swept her into his arms, and kissed her gently. He held her body tightly to him, as if she would disappear if he let go.

Marianne stiffened at first, then melted into him, moaning softly into his mouth. The kiss then deepened, Marianne’s arms encircling his neck. She pressed her body against his, loving the feel of his warm body against hers. She squeaked when she felt his hands running over her now heated body. She unlocked her arms from around his neck, and began to explore his with equal fervor.

Before their passion consumed them completely, they heard someone clearing their throat. They both looked to see Kane standing at the open door.

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” he said, clasping his hands behind his back.

Marcus growled in response. “You have terrible timing, Kane,” he said.

“I’ve been told,” Kane replied. “I came here because there is someone waiting in the main hall that wishes to speak with the both of you.”

“All right,” Marcus said. He then turned to Marianne. “We should get up now,” he said.

Marianne merely nodded in response.

They got dressed, and went downstairs to the Main Hall. Almost immediately, they heard someone shouting.

“MARIANNE!!!” the voice shouted. Then, there was the echo of running footfalls.

Marianne turned to see her father, her mother, and her younger cousin, Lucy, running towards her.

“Marianne…my dearest, we’ve been so worried!!” Victoria cried, encircling Marianne in her arms.

Lance, however, rounded on Marcus. “What the hell happened?!?” he yelled.

Before Marcus could speak, Kane calmly explained everything that had conspired.

“Page did this?!” Victoria cried, covering her mouth with her hand.

Marianne nodded.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re all right,” Lucy said, hugging her beloved cousin.

“Lucy!!” Marianne cried, noticing her for the first time. “Oh, my dearest Lucy!! It’s been too long!!”

Lucy was just as tall as Marianne was, only with bright blue eyes, and long, flowing blonde hair. She was also built in body like Marianne was. People often thought they were sisters.

“Lucy, I would like you to meet Kane,” Marianne said, turning to him. “Kane, this is my cousin, Lucy.”

“Good Morning, Lucy,” Kane said, nodding respectfully. “Marianne has told me much about you.”

Lucy looked up at Kane, her eyes wide. “Good morning to you, too,” she whispered.

They both stared at each other, with everyone else watching them.

“I think Lucy has taken a liking to your brother,” Marianne whispered to Marcus.

“And I think that Kane has taken a liking to Lucy,” Marcus replied, wrapping his arm around her waist.

Lance then cleared his throat. “Marcus,” he said, “Why don’t you show Lucy around the castle grounds? I’m sure she would…”

“Thank you, Uncle,” Lucy said, still gazing up into Kane’s eyes, “But I would really enjoy it if Kane showed me…that is…if he wants to.”

“I would be delighted,” Kane replied, holding out his arm, which Lucy took. With that, they left the Main Hall.

Lance, Victoria, Marcus, and Marianne talked for a while in the garden. Marcus told Lance and Victoria of the arrangement that he and Marianne had made. Victoria thought this was a wonderful idea, and Lance agreed (somewhat reluctantly, but he agreed nonetheless.)

Kane and Lucy had finally come back, the both of them obviously smitten with each other. Lucy had begun to talk to Marianne, gushing over how sweet and wonderful and kind Kane was, while Marcus spoke to Kane about a plan he had for that night.

“That’s a good idea, brother,” Kane said. “I hope it works out for you.”

“As do I,” Marcus replied. “I have already arranged it…I just hope that Marianne likes it.” He looked over at his beautiful Angel, as she spoke with her cousin. “I finally understand. God wasn’t trying to punish me…she was sent to me so I could treat her like a goddess, as she so deserves…and in so doing, my soul can be saved.”

Kane patted his brother’s back. “I’m glad you do, brother,” he said. “I’ve spent too many hours trying to explain it to you.”

Marcus chuckled. “Have I been that impossible?” he asked.

Kane nodded. “Yes, you have.”

Marcus sighed. “Well…I think it’s time to go along with my plan. I hope you sleep well,” he said. He knew that his brother liked to sleep early after coming home from any battle.

“Well, actually,” Kane said, blushing beet red, “I’ve promised Lucy that I would dine with her tonight.”

Marcus grinned. “I’m glad, brother. I’m glad.”

With that, Marcus whisked Marianne away, to carry out his plans for the rest of the day.


Chapter Twenty Nine


Marcus led her to the garden, where there was a large linen spread out over the grass, and many foods laid out on top of it.

“Where did this come from?” Marianne asked. “When was this set up?”

“I had it prepared this morning, while you were speaking with your cousin,” Marcus replied sheepishly. He then swept her up, and set her gently on a clear space on the linen. “I thought that we could do some talking while we ate.”

“Oh…um…all right,” Marianne said softly.

Marcus sat beside her, and began serving the food. They talked for hours, getting all the cobwebs cleared away. Both feeling much better that they had.

After eating, they went walking throughout the castle, arm in arm, drawing stares from everyone they passed. They even heard a few whispering as they went by.

“Finally,” a servant muttered to another.

“So wonderful to finally see them together,” the other said. They then went back to their work.

Marianne and Marcus wandered aimlessly, once again returning to the garden. They passed a rosebush with white roses. Marcus carefully picked one of them, plucked off the thorns, and handed it to her. “F-for you,” he said sheepishly.

Marianne carefully took the rose, smiling. She then held it to her nose, and inhaled. “Thank you, Marcus,” she said, resting her head against him.

With the rose in her hand, she looked around the garden, and gasped softly. “Marcus,” she said, prodding him gently in his side.

Marcus looked across the garden, his mouth opening in an ‘O’ of surprise at what he was seeing.

They saw Kane and Lucy, both in each other’s arms, and in what seemed like a very passionate kiss.

“I’m so glad that Kane has finally found someone he can give his heart to,” Marianne said softly.

Marcus felt a small stab of jealousy in his heart when he thought back to when he had seen her with his brother. Then again, he deserved everything she gave him…and more. His arm tightened possessively around her. “I’m glad for him,” he murmured. He then smiled. Right at this moment, servants were getting things prepared. Oh, how he hoped that Marianne would enjoy this.

They walked all throughout the day, Marcus becoming more and more nervous as dusk approached. When it finally did, he was nearly wringing his hands off in anticipation. The suspense was nearly killing him.

“Marcus, what’s wrong?” Marianne asked, concerned at his sudden change in behavior.

Marcus couldn’t answer right away. “I just…have something planned,” he said. “I merely hope that you enjoy it.”

With that, he led her to his chambers, opening the door for her, and letting her enter first. What she saw made her gasp loudly.

The room was lit with many candles, and rose petals were scattered upon the floor and the bed. There was perfume in the air, which smelled of berries and wildflowers. All in all, the room was set up beautifully.

Marcus looked down at her anxiously, measuring her reaction. So far, so good…she’s not looking as if she’s unhappy with this.

Marianne looked back at him, tears shining in her eyes. “You…you had this all arranged…for me?” she asked softly.

“Yes,” Marcus replied. “Do you…approve?”

“Oh, Marcus, it’s beautiful,” she replied. She looked around again. “It’s just so…relaxing.” She looked at him, and noticed that there was a look of desperate hope in his eyes. “What’s the matter?”

He gulped down a lump in his throat. “I want to love you so much,” he choked. “But…I’m not truly sure if you would allow me to, after all I’ve done to you.”

Marianne stood there, stunned, as he slowly walked up to her, wrapping his arms around her.

“Please, let me love you,” he implored softly. “I beg you…I beseech you…let me love you.” He bent his head, to gently brush his lips against her neck. “I promise…I’ll be so gentle…”

She was lost when she felt his lips on her neck. Shivers ran down her spine as he continued to barely brush her neck with his lips, now using the stubble on his face to rub against the sensitive skin. The only word she could manage was a whispered, “Yes.”


He raised his head enough so he could capture her lips in a slow, teasing and thorough kiss. He wanted to drive her out of her mind with pleasure until she begged him to take her. And even then, he would continue the sweet torture on her senses. He continued to lavish her face with feather light kisses, while his hands began to undo the bindings that held her gown together. His fingers moved swiftly as they untied the laces to her corset. He then slid the gown over her shoulders, letting it pool to the floor. He then removed her undergarments, which had her standing breathtakingly naked in front of him. He swept her up, and carried her to the bathing room, where her bath was already prepared. He gently lowered her into the steaming, fragrant water, and shed his own clothing, joining her. He bathed her slowly, using light and teasing touches, using only his fingertips. He continued to bathe her this way, grinning when he felt her begin to tremble.

Marianne’s mind was in a whirl. The way he was touching her was driving her mad. So gentle…so tender. The heat of his hands burning each and every one into her skin. She whimpered when he paid special attention to her breasts and the most private place between her legs. She arched her back into him, trying to get him to increase the pressure of his hands, but he would have none of it. He would only snatch his hands away, until she stilled herself. Only then would he resume.

After what seemed a lifetime, he raised himself out of the bathing pool, dried himself off, and swept her out of it. He stood her on her feet, and slowly dried her off, purposely using the drying cloth to stimulate her already sensitive nerves. When that was done, he carried her to the bedroom, and lay her down on top of the rose petal-covered bed. She tried to move, but he gently pressed her shoulders into the mattress.

“Be still,” he murmured. “Do nothing. This is all about you tonight.”

She merely lay there while he pressed light kisses all over her body, leaving no spot unkissed. His fingers still touched her lightly, making her writhe and plead softly for him to touch her more.

Deciding to take pity on her, he wrapped his hands around her breasts, and began to knead them, plucking at the nipples with his fingers, absolutely delighted when he heard her moan in gratitude. He then bent his head, and took a nipple in his mouth, sucking softly. He continued this for a moment, before moving onto the other breast. He then began to kiss his way up to her mouth, where he planted another long, slow, and sensual kiss. This was how it should have been…on their first night together. Now, he was determined to start anew. He gently positioned her so that her legs were spread open. He reached between her legs, his fingers searching for that one spot… “Ah, here it is,” he murmured, chuckling when her hips bucked upwards as his fingers toyed with the hardened nub. Good Lord, how he loved to hear her whimper in need. And he planned on doing it a lot more in the future.

“Please…oh, please, Marcus…” she whimpered, writhing under him. “I…I need…”

Removing his fingers from between her legs (much to her distress); he gently settled his weight on top of her, positioning himself at her entrance. He then slowly began to sheathe himself inside her, going inch by inch, until he was buried to the hilt. He remained immobile for a few moments, pressing kisses to her face. He then began to move, making sweet and slow love to her. He wanted to savor every touch, every moment, not wanting it to ever end.

“Oh, dear GOD,” she moaned, her head tilting back, only for her to feel kisses being placed over it. She loved how gentle he was being, how delightfully gentle. She arched her back into him, moaning long and loud, constantly thanking God for bringing him to her…where he belonged. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and ran her fingers through his hair.

He braced himself up onto his elbows, so he could properly look down at her, to watch her face as he gave her pleasure. He memorized every detail…her full, parted lips, her flushed face, her darkened eyes. And the feel of her flesh in his hands was almost more than his overloaded brain could take. But, he insisted on keeping on his slow pace, trying to draw out every sensation. His body was protesting very strenuously, but he made himself take his time. He groaned when he felt her moving beneath him, matching his tempo.

They continued to move as one, until they both found paradise…together.


Chapter Thirty


For the next four days, no one had seen hide or hair of Marianne and Marcus. It was obvious what was going on, however, because when anyone would walk past His Majesty’s room, all that could be heard was loud moans and screams of pleasure, mainly coming from Her Majesty herself. After the first two days, many servants had learned to steer clear of that hallway (except for when they were brought their meals), especially when one of the guards made the mistake of barging in on them one afternoon.

The guard had heard screaming coming from the room. He ran inside, thinking that something was wrong. Opening the door to His Majesty’s room, his jaw dropped in shock at what he saw.

He saw His Majesty, with Her Majesty under him, while he was thrusting his hips with all his might, while her legs were wrapped around his waist. He merely stood there, watching stupidly, and saw His Majesty’s head snap around, and look at him.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?” Marcus bellowed, never once pausing in his thrusts.

“I…er…um…I heard…eh…uh…” the guard stammered.


“I’m sorry…Majesties…” the guard said. With that said, he left the room, very quickly, closing the door behind him.




Now, about three days later, Marianne was lying on her belly on the bed, sprawled out over it. She had never felt this tired in her entire life. For the past four days, Marcus would not let her leave this bed, allowing her to rest only three hours out of every fifteen. Good Lord, the man was insatiable!! Also, with the tiredness she felt, she was also excruciatingly sore. Marcus had left the bed, for what reason she didn’t know, so she was taking this valuable alone time to rest. She closed her eyes, and immediately dozed off.

Meanwhile, Marcus was getting her bath ready, grinning like a Cheshire cat. He had not let her leave that bed for a long while, which made him very happy. To hear her scream out his name in ultimate pleasure…over and over again, made him the happiest man alive. He began to hum to himself, as he added the fragrant oils to the bath water. When it was satisfactory, he went back to the room, grinning even wider when he saw her lying diagonally across the bed, her arms and legs spread-eagled. He crawled back onto the bed, reveling in the strong scent of their lovemaking that was still in the air, and ran a hand up her smooth back. “Marianne…” he sang softly.

Marianne was jolted from her light slumber when she felt his hand. ‘Oh, good LORD, not again…’ she thought. ‘As much as I love the fact that you’re touching me, please let me rest!!!’   But, all that came from her mouth was a whimper.

“Marianne,” Marcus called again, “It’s time for your bath.”

‘Bath’, she thought. ‘Yes, I really need one of those.’  She rose from the bed, and hobbled over to the bathing room (due to the fact that she was, for some reason, unable to walk normally). She was whisked up, and gently lowered into the hot water, which immediately began to soothe her aching muscles. “Mmmmmmmmmmm,” she moaned, settling even deeper into the bathing pool. Yes, a bath was definitely the thing she needed right now. She lay there, with her eyes closed, letting the relaxing hot water lull her into another very light doze.

Marcus, meanwhile, took this opportunity to climb into the bathing pool on the opposite side. The grin on his face widened even more so, and more wicked as he took in her nude form, visible under the clear water. He reached out, and gently wrapped his hand around her ankle.

Marianne’s eyes snapped open, and looked up, to see Marcus on the other side of the pool, grinning wickedly. She didn’t realize what he was doing until he had his other hand around her other ankle, and was opening her legs. She couldn’t even protest when he pulled her to him, so that she was straddling him.

“Marcus,” she said quietly, “Please…are you not satisfied yet?”

“Let me think on this,” Marcus said thoughtfully. After a moment, he spoke again. “Nope.”

“Please…I need SOME rest…” she pleaded.

“I let you rest…a moment ago,” he replied, wrapping his arms around her, and nipping at her neck playfully. “Now, we still have many hours to go yet, before I let you rest again.”

“Hours?” she squeaked.

“Yes, sweetness,” he replied. “Hours.” He began to run his hands over her back, and settled on her bottom, kneading and squeezing the flesh, warmed by the water.

“But…are you not tired?” she asked.

“No,” he said. “I’m not finished with your… delectable body yet.” His hands moved around her body, until they settled between her legs, toying with the hardened nub. His fingers then delved inside her, moving in and out slowly.

Marianne whimpered, her sore muscles protesting strongly. But, no matter how much they protested, it still felt so good. She began to move with the rhythm of his fingers, making her moan loudly. His fingers moved faster and faster, making her whimpers and moans louder and louder until she finally released with a cry. She rested her head on his shoulder, hardly registering the deep rumble of soft laughter coming from him. She then felt his hands on her hips, and was being lifted. Next thing she knew, he had impaled her with his hardness, a deep groan coming from him.

“No matter how many times I take you,” he murmured, “You always stay so very tight.” After a few moments, he began to guide her hips up and down, throwing his head back and growling loudly.

Oh, good Lord, her muscles were sore…but yet, at the same time…this felt so very GOOD. The mixture of pain and pleasure was nearly too much to bear.

She moved faster and faster, planting her hands on his shoulders, moaning in delight. She nearly screamed when she felt his hand move between them to stroke the swollen jewel between her legs. She dug her fingers into his shoulders, and began to bounce up and down on him frantically, straining for sweet release. After a few moments, her inner muscles began to spasm, and she screamed his name in ultimate rapture.

Marcus continued to snaps his hips upward, his growl swelling to a roar as he released inside her. He felt her sag against him, once again resting her head on his shoulders. They stayed that way for some time, his member still inside her, and his arms wrapped around her.

After a while, Marianne spoke. “Marcus, we still have much to do,” she said.

“Like what?” he asked. This time with Marianne had driven all else from his mind.

“I would like to visit Jeffrey, Trish and Abigale, for one,” she said. “I would like to know how his health is progressing. Also, we must deal with Stacy’s punishment.”

Marcus growled at the mention of Stacy’s name. “She can wait,” he said. “Let her ponder her fate for a while.”

“I would also like to spend some time with my family before they go back home,” Marianne said, looking up at him. “Mind you, I haven’t seen them for a long time, and only briefly since I came home…because SOMEONE had chosen to keep me prisoner in his room…so he could do such…wicked and depraved things to my body.” She began to gently nibble on his earlobe.

Marcus growled. He couldn’t THINK when she did that. “Whatever you say, my mistress,” he breathed.

“So, I’m your MISTRESS, now, am I?” Marianne asked, with an amused eyebrow raised. “I must keep that in mind for future references.”

“Marianne, I must ask you,” Marcus said, “What do you plan on doing with the harem outfit?”

Marianne looked up at him suspiciously. “Why?” she asked.

“I was just wondering…if you could keep it,” Marcus said, nuzzling her neck. “…And wear it only in front of me.”

“All right…on one condition,” Marianne said.

“Name it,” Marcus said.

“Tomorrow, you will let me rest, so I can visit with my family for the remainder of their stay,” Marianne said.

“Fair enough,” Marcus said. He set her beside him, and slowly bathed her, afterwards letting her do the same to him. When a servant came in to ask if they needed anything, Marcus ordered that more hot water be put into the pool. The servant quickly complied.

They sat in the hot water, letting it soothe their tired bodies, until they felt somewhat rested, and Marianne’s muscles were less sore.

After a while, Marianne looked over at Marcus, who was once again grinning wickedly. He got out of the pool, and swept her out of it, making her stand there while he dried her off. When she was sufficiently dry, he swept her up again.

“Marcus!!” Marianne cried, “You said you would let me rest!!”

“I did say I would let you rest,” Marcus said, “…Tomorrow. And, if I’m not mistaken…it’s not NEARLY tomorrow yet.”

With that said, he carried her back to the bedroom.


Chapter Thirty One


The next day, Marcus left Marianne to sleep in their chambers, grinning while he walked through the hallways. Oh sweet Mary, mother of God…he had done so many wicked things to her, and he loved every second of it. His mind was going through the past four days, when he bumped into Kane and Lucy, who were walking arm in arm. “I never see them apart,” he thought. “Hello, Kane,” he said. He then nodded to Lucy. “Hello, Lucy.”

“Hello, Marcus,” Lucy said. She then looked around. “Where is Marianne?” she asked.

“She’s resting,” Marcus replied.

“Resting? From what?” Lucy asked, the innocence shining in her eyes.

Kane turned to Marcus, who had a very wide grin on his face. “She’s been very busy,” he said. He KNEW what had been taking place these past days…and he wasn’t about to tell her that. “They’ve had a lot to discuss.”

“Oh,” Lucy said, disappointed. “I wanted to see her today.”

“Don’t worry, Lucy,” Marcus said, patting her shoulder. “You will see her tomorrow.” With that, he walked away, whistling happily as he did so.




A few days later, Marcus and Marianne were on their thrones once again, with Marcus’s hand covering hers, squeezing it affectionately from time to time. Each time, it made her smile. They were conducting royal business, this time dealing with Stacy’s punishment.

“Bring her in,” Marcus ordered.

The front doors to the Main Hall opened, and Stacy was dragged forward by two guards, two others walking behind them. Stacy’s ankles and wrists were in chains, and she was very dirty, from having been in the dungeons for more than a week.

“Stacy, you have been accused of the crime of treason,” Marcus said. “What do you have to say in your defense?”

“All I have to say,” Stacy spat, “Is that I regret that I didn’t kill that…that…royal whore when I had the chance!!!”

Shocked murmurs ran through the Court at this statement.

“Well, since the crime was committed against Her Majesty,” Marcus said, “I shall leave the punishment in her hands.” They had discussed this the day before, so Marianne knew what to expect from him.

When Marcus sat back down into his throne, Marianne stood. “I find you guilty of treason,” she said, in a clear voice. “Your sentence is…”

Everyone waited with baited breath, wondering what her punishment would be.

“You shall be forevermore banished from this kingdom,” Marianne said. “Arrangements already have been made. You shall be sent to the far eastern regions, and sold as a harem girl. Lord knows,” she added, “You are fit for the job.”

Stacy’s eyes widened. The far eastern regions were home to the most brutal, terrifying, and cutthroat barbarians that the world had ever seen. “NO!!!” she screamed. “NO, PLEASE, I BEG OF YOU!! LET ME DIE INSTEAD!!!!”

“You made your own fate, Stacy,” Marianne said. “You decided to betray me to Page, and for that, you must suffer.”

“NO!!!” Stacy screamed, throwing herself at Marianne’s feet. “PLEASE, PLEASE, HAVE MERCY!!! THIS IS A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH!!!”

“As I said, it is a fate of your own making,” Marianne repeated. She then turned to the guards. “Take her away. The boat awaits her. I do not wish to ever lay my eyes on her again.”

The guards dragged her away, the last thing being heard from hear is a scream of terror. No one in that kingdom had ever seen or heard from her again.

Marianne sat on her throne, thoroughly pleased with herself.

“That was very harsh,” Marcus said amusedly. “I see that I’ve been rubbing off on you.”

“That you have, my love,” Marianne said, taking his hand, and kissing the back of it. “That you have.”

Marcus then spoke up again. “Bring in Jeffrey, Trish, and Abigale,” he called.

The front doors opened again, and the Hardy family was ushered in. Jeffrey’s health had returned at an alarming rate, although not completely. He was still a bit weak, but he was walking on his own.

“All must look upon this man,” Marcus said. “The man you see before you is none other than Jeffrey Hardy himself.”

Surprised and excited murmurs ran through the Court.

“Jeffrey, you had done your King and your kingdom a great service,” Marcus said. “Kane shall present you with your proper reward.” With that, he sat down, while Kane stepped forward.

“You had saved my life, and the lives of many others,” Kane said. “Therefore, I shall appoint you Knight of the realm, Assistant General of His Majesty’s Armies, second in command only to me.” He then drew his sword. “Kneel, Jeffrey.”

With an awed look on his face, he knelt in front of Kane, while Kane tapped his shoulders with his sword.

“And arise, Sir Jeffrey Hardy, Knight of the Realm,” Kane said, smiling.

Jeffrey rose, to the cheers of all present. Trish and Abigale had run to him, and he swooped them up into a massive hug.

When the cheering and applause died down, Marcus spoke again. “We have but one more matter to discuss today,” he said. He then cleared his throat. “Trish, step forward.”

Trish looked at Jeffrey, and nodded. She knew now that it was time for her punishment. She knew that she deserved the most harshest punishment possible for her role in the death of Madame Sorscha. If she was to be sold to the far eastern regions, then so be it. She then stepped forward, with her head bowed.

“Her Majesty has convinced me to let her handle your punishment,” Marcus said. He then sat down.

Once again, Marianne stood up. “I find you guilty of being an accomplice to the murder of Madame Sorscha,” she said. She then took a deep breath. “However, more recent events must be taken into account.”

Trish’s head snapped up, not daring to believe that she might not be punished.

“Since you had revealed all of your information to Kane, and His Majesty, and also aided in my rescue, you shall not be punished,” Marianne said. “Instead, I shall make you my Lady in Waiting, in place of Madame Sorscha.”

Trish gasped, tears forming in her eyes. But…she had helped MURDER her…surely that deserved SOME measurement of punishment…

“I understand what you’re thinking,” Marianne said. “I’m sure that, if Madame Sorscha knew of the circumstances, she would forgive you.” She walked up to Trish, and placed her hands on her shoulders. “I shall also like to have the honor of teaching you to speak. I know you can speak a very limited amount, but I wish to help you develop your speech.”

The tears that were pooling in her eyes fell down her cheeks. She hugged Marianne, with all the strength she could muster.

Marianne smiled, as the hug broke. “Royal business is finished for today,” she said clearly. She felt an arm wrap around her waist, making her instinctively lean into the strong and warm embrace of her husband. “Have I handled business well?” she asked.

“Beautifully,” Marcus replied, kissing her cheek.

“You know, I’m very surprised…” Marianne said thoughtfully.

“Why?” Marcus asked.

She then looked up at him mischievously. “I was able to walk normally after only a day.”

Marcus threw his head back, and laughed heartily. They then heard a voice cutting through the pandemonium.

“Silence, Ladies and Lords, please,” Kane said, making the hall go silent. “I have an announcement I would like to make.”

Marianne and Marcus looked at each other, their eyebrows raised. They then turned their attention back to Kane.

“Right now, I would like to take this opportunity to announce my engagement to Lady Lucy, cousin to Her Majesty, Queen Marianne,” he said.

Cheers and applause then erupted once again.

Marcus’s eyes widened, while Marianne squealed happily, running to Kane to throw her arms around him.

“Oh, Kane, I’m so happy for you!!” she said, hugging him tightly. “Lucy adores you so.”

“I adore her also,” Kane said, sighing happily. It was then that Lucy ran up to them.

“Oh, my dearest Lucy!!” Marianne squealed, hugging her cousin tightly. “I’m so very happy for the both of you!!”

While they hugged, Marcus walked up to his little brother, and clapped him on the back. “Well done, brother. Well done.” He then embraced him. “You deserve this so much.”

When the cheering had died down, the two happy couples walked away in the direction of the garden, all talking happily. They then were joined by Lance and Victoria.

“Congratulations,” Lance said, patting Kane on the back. “Welcome to our family…again…yes, that’s right…”

Victoria laughed at him. She then turned to Kane. “You know what he means to say.”

“Yes, I do,” Kane said, laughing in turn.

With that, they all went to the garden together.


Chapter Thirty Two


Arrangements for the wedding were well under way, for Lucy and Kane didn’t want to wait long. It was set to be in about a month’s time, which made them happy (although they were nearly exploding with anticipation). They spent long days planning and preparing. One day, however, Marcus decided to take a break from preparing for the wedding. There was a little something that he had to do.

He and Marianne were conducting royal business, when Marcus called for silence.

“I’ve been waiting for the right time to do this,” Marcus said, “And, I think that now is that time.” He then turned to Marianne. “I have a gift for you, my Queen.”

Marianne raised an eyebrow. “What gift could that be, my King?” she asked.

Marcus motioned for the gift to be brought forward. A moment later, a servant walked up in front of Marianne, with a covered silver platter in his hands. The servant then knelt. “I shall remove the dome on your command, Milady,” the servant said.

Marianne took a deep breath, then spoke. “All right, remove the dome,” she said. When the servant did so, she gasped loudly at what she saw, as did the entire Court.

It was Page’s head. It looked like it was carefully preserved.

Marcus watched his wife’s reaction, hoping that she would be happy with the gift that was just presented to her.

Marianne looked at the head for what seemed like a long time. Then, all at once, a slow, twisted grin spread over her face. “Oh, Marcus, you shouldn’t have,” she said happily, turning and kissing his cheek. She then turned back to the servant, who was looking at her with wide eyes. “Take that to the town square, and display it in the center,” she said, “It shall serve as a warning, to anyone who dares try and come between us.”

“Well said, my love,” he murmured, as he leaned over and pressed a kiss to her lips. He then turned to the thoroughly astonished Court. “Our business is finished for today,” he said. He then stood, with Marianne standing also. He then wrapped an arm around her waist, and guided her out of the Main Hall.

As they walked, Marianne began to feel dizzy. She put a hand to her forehead, and slumped against him, her knees going weak.

“Marianne, are you all right?!” Marcus cried, panic stealing into his voice. He had felt her slump against him, and that scared the holy hell out of him.

“I’m all right,” she said softly, trying to get the world back into focus. “I just became a bit dizzy, is all.”

“All the same, I think you should go back to our room,” he said. With that, he swept her up, and carried her to their room. Ever since they had returned from the skirmish with Page, they had shared one room.

He finally got to the room, and set her on her feet. He slowly undressed her until she was fully nude. When that was finished, he swept her up again, and laid her gently down on the bed. “You should take a nap,” he said softly.

Marianne suddenly felt very tired. All she could do was murmur a soft “Mmmhmm,” before she was pulled under.

Marcus stared at her sleeping form as he tucked her in. This had happened for the fifth day in a row, and it was frightening him to no end. He knew that there was something wrong with her, but he didn’t know what. He had tried to get her to see the physician, but she was being very stubborn. ‘Oh, Marianne, why do you have to be so stubborn?’ he thought. He pressed a kiss to first her forehead, then her lips. He then rose, and walked out of the room.




The wedding preparations were completed earlier than expected, which made Lucy and Kane very happy. They insisted that they be married as soon as possible, so Marcus arranged it so that the wedding would take place two days after the preparations were made. Lucy’s family, Lance, Victoria, and many others were brought to the kingdom for the wedding. Before anyone knew it, Lucy and Kane were standing at the altar, where the priest was binding them together for life. To them, it was practically forever until the priest said…

“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride.”

Kane swept Lucy up into his arms, and kissed her with all the love and passion his body possessed, while Lucy returned it with equal love and passion. When he finally put her down, everyone was looking at them with wide eyes. He merely put his arm around his new bride, and escorted her out of the church, with Marcus, Marianne, Trish, Jeffrey and Abigale following them.

They all went to the Main Hall, settling into the chairs that were made ready for them, with Lucy and Kane sitting in the middle, with Marianne sitting next to Kane, and Marcus sitting next to her, while Jeffrey, Trish, and Abigale sat on the other side of Lucy. Marcus placed a hand over his wife’s, and looked over at her. He nearly melted into a steaming pile of mush when she looked back at him, her eyes shining adoringly. How could he have pushed HER away? She was his Angel…his savior…his light. He couldn’t help but feel twinges of guilt when he thought of all the unhappiness he had caused her in the past. A mistake that he vowed never to repeat. He instinctively wrapped an arm around her waist when he felt her head rest on his shoulder. His other hand reached up to caress her face. His mind turned to her health. It had taken him a while to convince her to see what was wrong with her, but she had remained stubborn. Finally, just yesterday, he had succeeded. The problem was, the physician wasn’t telling him what was wrong…and neither was she. And, frankly, he was going out of his mind. He HAD to know what was going on, but no one was privvying him to that little secret. He turned to her, seeing her eyes closed, looking very contented at the moment. No lines of worry were etched in her face, as they were in his. Dammit, why couldn’t someone tell him what was wrong with his wife?!? He had a right to know!!! He made a mental note to go to the physician later and…convince…him to tell him what the problem was. He didn’t realize that he was staring until she opened her eyes, and looked up at him.

“Copper coin for your thoughts?” she murmured.

“Marianne,” he said, “What did the physician tell you yesterday?” His hand stopped caressing her face, and was now running through her loose hair under her crown.

“Don’t worry on it,” she murmured back.

“I can’t help but worry on it,” he said, looking down at her intently. “My wife has been ill as of late, and she won’t tell me what’s wrong. How can I know how to protect her if she won’t tell me what’s wrong?”

Marianne looked up at him, seeing the helplessness in his eyes. “Oh, Marcus, I’m all right,” she said softly. “You don’t have to worry so.”

“You’re my wife, Marianne,” he said quietly. “I worry so because I can’t stand to see you ill.”

She took his hand, and squeezed it comfortingly. She decided that now was the best time to make the announcement she had been planning to make since yesterday.

Marcus looked at her, confused, when she stood, and called for attention.

“First of all,” Marianne began, “I would like to wish my cousin, and her husband a long, healthy, and happy life together, with many children.” She then raised her goblet. “A toast, to the newly wedded couple.”

Everyone in the hall raised their goblets. “To the newly wedded couple,” they repeated. They all then took a sip from their goblets.

“Now, I do not wish to take away from this happy couple’s time, but I have an announcement to make,” Marianne said seriously.

Everyone began to murmur, all looking at Marianne quizzically, none more so than Marcus, who had a confused look on his face.

“As of late, I have not been feeling too well,” she said. “I have just been seen by the physician yesterday, and what he told me was something of a shock.”

Marcus’s stomach bottomed out on him. ‘Oh lord, please tell me that she’s all right…please tell me that she’ll be okay…’ He raised an eyebrow when he saw her turn to him.

“Marcus,” she said, “The reason I haven’t told you what the physician said is…well…” She didn’t really know how to tell him, so instead, she took his hand, and pressed it over her womb.

Marcus sat there, dumbfounded, as he stared at his hand pressed over Marianne’s womb. Was she saying what he THOUGHT she was saying? “Marcus,” she said, her eyes brimming with tears, “I’m with child.”

The entire Hall was so silent, that one could hear a pin drop. Then, all at once, Marcus gave a shout of joy, stood up, and swept his wife into his arms, amid thunderous cheers and applause.

“I’m sorry for worrying you,” Marianne said quietly into his ear.

“Oh, Marianne…my Angel…my beautiful Angel…why did you not tell me sooner?” he asked, holding her with all the love he possessed.

“I wanted to surprise you,” she replied. She then looked up at him, pouting, a sad look in her face. “I’m truly sorry…”

“You are forgiven,” he said, kissing her soundly. He then looked down at her, his eyes widening. “You shouldn’t be standing!!!” he yelled. He then picked her up, and sat her into her chair. He then ordered servants to see to her every comfort. But, when he saw her being embraced by his brother, something immediately clicked in his head: What if the child was his brother’s? What if the one night that Marianne and Kane spent together produced a child?

’Well’, he thought, ‘I can only wait and see…’


Chapter Thirty Three


*~*~*Nine Months Later*~*~*


Marcus, Kane, Jeffrey, and Lance were waiting outside a room, with Marcus pacing in growing anxiety while screams were being heard inside.

“What is taking so long?!?” Marcus growled, his hands clasped behind his back, pacing back and forth.

“Brother, with the way you’re pacing, you will wear a path into the carpet,” Kane said softly.

“I can’t help it, Kane!!” Marcus yelled. “Marianne is giving birth, and I can’t be by her side!!”

“Majesty, please, calm down,” Sir Jeffrey said. “Trish, Lucy, Queen Victoria, and Abigale are helping her, among the other servants. Her Majesty is in good hands.”

Marcus scowled.

“Sir Jeffrey is right,” Lance said, laying a comforting hand on his son’s shoulder. “The actual birthing takes time. You must be patient.”

Marcus bowed his head, his shoulders slumping. He wanted to be by his wife’s side, so he could hold her while she was in pain. But, all he could do now was wait until the birthing was over.

He immediately looked up, as did the others, when Trish came out, carrying drying clothes, a few of them covered in blood. At the sight of the bright red splotches on the white cloths, Marcus lost it. He shot towards the door, but never made it. He had to be held back by everyone, even Trish, who had dropped the cloths to the floor to hold him.

“I must go to her!!” he yelled, trying to get to the door. “Let me go!!!”

“Marcus, please,” Kane pleaded, actually resorting to grabbing a handful of Marcus’s hair and yanking backwards. “This is all normal!!”

Marcus was still struggling. “LET ME GO!!” he bellowed. He tried to struggle, but he was pulled back until he was deposited into a chair.

“Marcus,” Sir Jeffrey said breathlessly, “You must calm down!!”

Trish had gotten fresh cloths, and had disappeared into the room once again.

Marcus looked around, to see all the men standing around him, ready in case he should try to get up and go into the room again.

“Marcus, please, she does not need this right now,” Lance said sternly. “For her to deal with the birthing, and your hysterics at the same time…she won’t be able to handle it.”

Marcus took a few deep breaths, to try to calm himself. Lance was right; he had to calm down, if not for his benefit, but for hers. He had been sitting there, his breathing finally returning to normal, when another scream pierced the air.

“MARCUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MARCUS, I’M SCARED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE, MARCUS, WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? I NEED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The others thought that Marcus had lost his bearings before, but they were sorely mistaken. This time, Marcus shot up out of the chair, and none of them could hold him back. The screaming had turned to hysterical sobs inside the room. He could feel all of the hands on him, but now that he had heard his wife call for him, there was no one in the world who could stop him. He got to the door, and threw it open, to see all the servants buzzing around Marianne, who was in the bed, propped up against the headboard with many pillows. Her brow was covered in sweat, her hair clinging to her forehead. Her feet were braced against the mattress, with blood pooling between her thighs on it.

“M-M-Marcus,” she whimpered, taking deep breaths. “I-I-I’m scared…”

Marcus ran to her side, wrapping one arm around her waist, while taking her hand in his. “Don’t worry, my love, I’m here…I won’t leave you, I promise…” he continued to murmur in her ear comfortingly, making her calm down considerably.

Victoria stood at the foot of the bed, between Marianne’s legs. “Now, Marianne, you must push!!”

Marianne pushed, her grip on Marcus’s hand almost becoming unbearable. But, Marcus refused to leave her side for a mere trifle like this. She was almost breaking his hand, but he didn’t care. She needed him, and nothing was going to move him from her side.

“That’s it, Marianne…you’re doing wonderfully…you’re almost there…” Victoria said encouragingly. She then looked up. “PUT THE STICK BACK INTO HER MOUTH!!!” she yelled.

Trish came up, picked up the stick that had fallen out of Marianne’s mouth when she called for Marcus, and placed it between Marianne’s jaws, and made her bite down on it. Not a moment had gone by when Marianne emitted a muffled scream.

“The head is out,” Victoria cried joyfully. “Keep pushing, Marianne!!”

Marianne continued to push, with Marcus murmuring encouragingly in her ear. Her screams were killing him, but all he could do was hold her, while Trish had taken a cloth from Abigale’s waiting arms, to wipe Marianne’s brow.

“One more push should do it,” Victoria said, “Come on…”

Marianne gave one more shove with all the strength and energy she possessed, screaming all the while. She bit down on the stick, thinking that she was going to break her jaw. Then, suddenly, she felt the child slip out of her.

“You’re done!!!” Victoria cried. “And…oh, Marianne…Marcus…you have a healthy boy!!” She cut the umbilical cord, took the boy to a small table that had been set up, and began to carefully clean him. “Oh, he’s so beautiful!!”

Trish took the time to clean Marianne, wiping her legs of the blood that had accumulated there.

Marianne, meanwhile, had gone limp in Marcus’s embrace, panting. It was finally done, and their son had been brought into the world. She turned her head with what remaining strength she had left, and turned to Marcus. “Marcus,” she murmured, “Did you hear that? We have a son…”

“I heard,” Marcus said, a tear running down his face. But, the question that had been plaguing him for nine months was still in his head: What if it was Kane’s? He just continued to hold her while Lucy, Trish, and Abigale buzzed around, cleaning things.

“M-Majesty,” Trish said, “W-we m-must m-move her, so w-we m-may clean the bed. You m-must c-carry her.”

Marcus gingerly swept his tired wife into his arms, while they cleaned the bed. He was amazed at the progress that Trish’s speaking had gotten. The problem hadn’t been that she couldn’t speak. The true problem was that she had a severe speech impediment. Marianne had coached her, to help get rid of her stutter. By now, it was almost completely gone.

Once the bed was cleaned, and fresh sheets were put on, Marcus put Marianne back on the bed gently, and covered her with the clean sheets. He propped her up with the many pillows that were there, and sat next to her, taking her into his arms again.

“I must check Marianne, to make sure that she’s all right,” Victoria said. She let Trish take her place in cleaning the boy, while she checked Marianne carefully.

Marcus waited anxiously while she did this. “Well?” he said impatiently after a few minutes. “Will she be all right?”

Victoria smiled brilliantly. “She’s going to be just fine,” she said. “We were able to stop the bleeding, so she is out of danger.”

“I still d-don’t understand w-why w-we couldn’t get the physician t-to help,” Trish said.

“He would have just gotten in the way,” Victoria replied. “And besides, he told me that he had never delivered a child before.” She then huffed. “Some physician.”

This comment caused everyone to laugh, even Marianne, as tired as she was.

Trish turned to them, holding the newborn in her arms, who was wrapped in blankets. “Your son is clean and healthy,” she said, smiling. She walked over to Marianne, and carefully deposited the child into her arms.

Marianne smiled at her newborn son. The question that had been in her husbands mind had been in HER mind as well. Looking at him, the question was answered. “Marcus, would you like to hold him?” she asked.

Nodding once, he took the tiny boy into his arms. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, before looking at him. He then burst into tears at what he saw.

The boy had a cap of fiery red hair, and was looking up at him with green eyes. The child reached up to him, cooing happily.

“He seems to know that you’re his father,” Marianne said, tears running down her face as well.

“I…I didn’t know…whether or not…” Marcus choked, turning his adoring eyes to his wife.

“Neither did I,” Marianne murmured back. “Neither did I.” She then took her child into her arms again, her heart filling to the brim with joy. It was then, that Marcus had stated the very thing that she was thinking.

“Finally,” he breathed, trying to get his tears under control. “Finally…we’re a family.”


Chapter Thirty Four


Marianne sat there, holding their child in her arms. Marcus was right. They were finally a family.

“M-majesty, everyone is w-wondering w-whether they m-may come to see you,” Trish said. “W-what should I tell them?”

“They may come in now,” Marianne said, not really paying attention. Her eyes were on her newly born son.

Everyone filed in, while Trish held the door open for them. Jeffrey went up to the foot of the bed, and bowed. “I’m so glad the both of you are all right,” he said.

“So am I, Sir Jeffrey,” Marcus murmured, never taking his eyes off his wife and child. “So am I.”

“He is so beautiful,” Kane said softly. “I’m very happy for the both of you.”

Lance walked over to the bedridden Marianne, and looked over his grandson. “Ha,” he said, smiling. “I now have a grandson to spoil. Oh, this will be so much fun.”

“Behave yourself,” Victoria said, gently hitting him in his shoulder. She then turned to Marianne. “He is a beautiful child,” she gushed, “and will be an even more handsome man.”

“He will be exactly like his father,” Marianne replied, looking at Marcus, who blushed.

“What will the child’s name be?" Sir Jeffrey asked.

“I was thinking of Lucas Kane,” Marianne said softly, looking at Marcus.

Marcus sat there, thinking this over. "I like it,” he said, smiling at her. “Lucas Kane it shall be.”

“I am honored that you thought of me,” Kane said.

“Well, if not for you, I would have never come to my senses,” Marcus said softly.

“And, I would have never had a friend,” Marianne added. “You have done much for me, so this is a way of repaying you.”

They all stayed there, gushing over the new arrival, until the sun was nearly set.

“It is time for Marianne and Lucas Kane to rest,” Victoria said, shooing everyone out of the door. “They have had a long and trying day.”

“I will not leave,” Marcus said firmly. “This is MY wife…and she had just bore MY child. As that child’s father, I deserve to stay.” He went to Marianne’s side, and lay down next to her.

“Are you sure?” Victoria asked.

“Yes, I’m sure,” Marcus replied, looking at his beautiful wife. He raised his hand, and caressed her face, while she smiled warmly (and tiredly) up at him.

“Well…all right,” Victoria said. “Just make sure she gets her proper rest.”

Marcus nodded, never taking his eyes off Marianne.

“Are you sure that you can take…” Victoria began.

“Yes, I can take care of them,” Marcus said reassuringly. He then got up and ushered her out the door. “Good night,” he said. He then closed the door, leaving them alone in the room. He walked back over to Marianne, and once again lay down next to her, looking down at his newborn son. The heir to his kingdom…no, THEIR kingdom. He raised his hand to caress his son’s face, only for the tiny child to reach up and grab his finger. “He has a strong grip,” he said quietly, smiling.

“As I said…” Marianne said, “Just like his father.” She smiled warmly at him, then looked back at her son. “I’m so glad, Marcus. We finally have a child.”

“You have no idea how happy this makes me,” Marcus said, trying to tug his finger out of his son’s surprisingly incredible grip. “After all that we’ve…I mean…after all I’ve put you through…after all I’ve done…I’m so happy that we were able to get past it all…and to have a family.”

Marianne carefully took his hand, as not to wake Lucas (who had put his father’s finger into his mouth to suck on it, and fell asleep that way). “We did get past it, didn’t we?” she said softly. “This merely proves that we will be able to handle everything that is thrown at us.”

“Yes, it does,” Marcus agreed. He then looked down at Lucas. “May I hold my son?” he asked, almost hopefully.

“Of course you may,” Marianne said. “Be cautious…he is asleep.”

Marcus carefully took his son into his arms (with Lucas still sucking on Marcus’s finger in his sleep). He looked at him lovingly. “Lucas, my son,” he murmured. “I shall teach you many things…above all, how wonderful your mother is.”

Marianne watched as Marcus hummed a tune to Lucas, who had begun to toss about. In a moment, he quieted. “You have a gift with children,” she said.

Looking up, he smiled. “I’ve been told that many times.”

“I know that your son will adore you,” Marianne said. She then added, “As I do.”

Marcus looked down at Lucas for one more moment, then got up to put him in the bassinet that had been prepared for him. When he began to toss about again, he murmured to him. “Sleep now, my son,” he whispered. “Tomorrow is a new day. And, you need your rest.”

As if understanding what his father had just told him, Lucas had settled into the comfortable blankets, and fell asleep once again.

Marcus bent to kiss his son’s forehead, then straightened, turning to Marianne. “You also need your rest,” he said, going to her and tucking her in. “If you wish to get back onto your feet quickly, you need to sleep.” He kissed her forehead, then her lips. Rising, he turned to walk out, so he could give her some space. But, before he got only a dozen steps, she heard her tired whisper.

“Marcus?” she said.

He turned back to her. “Yes, my Angel?”

“Please stay with me tonight,” she said, holding her arms out to him. “I need to feel your comfort. I need to feel your warmth. Please stay with me.”

“Are you sure?” Marcus said.

“Yes, Marcus, please stay,” she replied, still holding her arms out to him.

Unable to refuse such a request, he shed his clothing, and crawled into bed with her, wrapping her into his arms while she cuddled against him. In that position, they fell asleep.




The days went by, and Marianne’s health steadily grew better. Their son was as healthy as could be expected, making both parents very happy. He had hardly been in the world for a few days, and Kane and Lucy (along with Lance and Victoria) were already spoiling him rotten.

The festival was held in the newborn prince’s honor, where everyone from all over the kingdom brought him gifts and well wishes.

During the festival, Marianne had to giggle when she saw Abigale peeking into the bassinet, her little hands on the edge of it, standing on her tippy-toes.

“Queen Marianne,” Abigale said, “Would I be able to take care of him, too?”

“Of course you can,” Marianne said, smiling. She then looked to Trish, who was standing not too far off. “I would not object if Abigale wishes to help.”

“That’s wonderful,” Trish said. “M-my husband w-was j-just t-talking about letting Abigale help m-me.”

“He’s all cute,” Abigale said, giggling. “He’s got all his hair, too.”

This made both Marianne and Trish laugh. Then, while Marianne was watching Abigale looking at Lucas, a sudden feeling came to the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but…she didn’t know what it was.

“Majesty, are you all right?” Trish said, suddenly getting concerned when she saw Marianne suddenly grow thoughtful.

Still watching Abigale, Marianne smiled again. She then turned back to Trish. “Yes,” she said. “Everything is all right.” She looked to Marcus, and smiled, while he smiled back, and winked.


Chapter Thirty Five – Epilogue


*~*~*~*Twenty Years Later*~*~*~*


Lucas strode through the hallways of the castle, in search of his parents. He had something that he needed to discuss with them. When he rounded a corner, he bumped into his uncle, Kane. “Hello, Uncle,” he said.

“Hello, Lucas,” Kane said, patting his nephew on his shoulder. “Where are you off to that you are in such a hurry?”

“I’m looking for Mother and Father,” Lucas replied. “Do you know where they are?”

“They are in the Main Hall, conducting business,” Kane replied. “You forget what time of day it is.”

“Of course, how forgetful of me,” Lucas said, laughing. “I have something I need to discuss with them. It’s very important.”

“Well, now you know where they are,” Kane said, ruffling Lucas’s hair. “Go, they won’t be there for too much longer.”

“Thank you, Uncle,” Lucas said. He then ran off in the direction of the Main Hall (but not before taking care of something first).

Meanwhile, Marianne and Marcus were conducting business. Marcus had aged considerably, gray strands of hair among the other flaming red ones. His beard also had streaks of gray in it. Although he had aged, he still looked, for the most part, the same as he did twenty years ago.

Marianne had aged gracefully, growing only more beautiful over time. There were a few strands of gray in her hair as well, only not as many as Marcus. Looking over at him, she laid her hand over his, for him to take it, press a kiss to the palm, and press it over his heart. Ever since then, they had been inseparable. “If there is no other business we shall adjourn for today.”

“There is some other business,” a voice called.

“Who speaks?” Marcus asked.

“I do,” the owner of the voice said. A moment later, Lucas came striding up, kneeling in front of them. “Mother, Father, I have something I would like to discuss with you.”

Marianne looked him over. He did, indeed, look exactly like his father. He was just as tall, with flaming red hair, and an enormous build, and also the same intense green eyes. He had even gotten the same ink markings on his arms as his father had; such was the adoration that Lucas had for his father. He idol-worshipped his father, and adored his mother. No one could have asked for a finer son. “Yes, my son? What is it you would like to discuss?”

“Well, Mother, do you remember when you decreed that I shall be able to choose my own bride?” Lucas asked.

Marianne nodded. “Yes, I do remember.”

“Well,” Lucas said, his face barely able to contain excitement, “I have chosen who I would like to be my bride.”

Murmurs of excitement ran through the Court.

“Really, Lucas?” Marcus asked, delighted. “Who is she? Bring the lucky maiden forward.”

“One moment,” Lucas said, holding up a finger. He then rushed off, where everyone heard murmuring.

“Lucas, I’m not sure…” a female voice murmured.

“Come on, do not be afraid,” Lucas said. “Please? Everyone is waiting…”

“Lucas, can this not be done in private?” the female voice said.

“Don’t worry,” Lucas said. “Just come on, no one will judge you.”

“Lucas, please…” the female voice began. Then, everyone heard a startled yelp. A moment later, Lucas came back into view, carrying a maiden in his arms.

“Forgive her, she is very shy,” Lucas said, laughing.

Both Marianne’s and Marcus’s eyes widened. The maiden he was carrying was Abigale.

Abigale had grown to look exactly like her mother, just like Lucas had grown to look exactly like his father. Her hair was a brilliant shade of blonde, and her body was built just like Trish’s was. Trish had, tragically, taken ill a few years before, and died as a result of it. Both Marianne and Marcus knew that Sir Jeffrey had never quite gotten over it, for he had died a mere six months afterwards, of grief. Since then, Abigale had lived in the castle.

Lucas had put her down, and wrapped an arm around Abigale’s waist. “She is to be my wife,” Lucas said.

Marianne got up, and went over to them, pulling her into her motherly embrace. “You have our blessings,” she said happily. She then turned to Abigale. “Your parents would have been proud.”

“I know they would have,” Abigale replied.

Marcus stood, and called for attention. “This calls for a celebration,” he called. Within hours, a full blown festival took place, to celebrate the Prince’s engagement.




When the festival was over, Marcus swept Marianne into his arms, and carried her off to their room. He set her onto her feet, and closed the door behind him.

“Marianne,” he murmured, wrapping his arms around her. “I am feeling a might…energetic tonight.” He bent down, and nuzzled her neck, making her shiver.

“Mmmmmmm,” she moaned, tilting her head back. Even now, he was still so passionate. She had hardly noticed that he had stripped her completely of her clothes, and laid her on the bed. He then shed his own clothes, and joined her, kissing her passionately.

“You are still so beautiful…after all this time,” he murmured, kissing her all over her body, making her moan. He reached up, and cupped and kneaded her breasts, pinching the nipples between his fingers. He then closed his mouth over a hardened nipple, sucking strongly, then doing the same with the other breast.

“Please, Marcus,” she whimpered, writhing under him. “Please, I can’t stand it!!”

He slithered up her body, branding her lips with another searing kiss. His hands guided her legs around his waist, and, in one swift thrust, entered her moist tightness. After a moment, he began to move slowly, growling deep in his throat.

Marianne’s head thrashed about on the pillows, loud moans escaping her. “Oooooooohhhhhhh Mmmmmmarcus,” she moaned, “You always feel so good…” As good as it felt, she needed for him to go faster. “Marcus, please…faster…”

His tempo began to increase, making her groan in gratitude. He tried to keep it moderate, but her urgings snapped his control. His hips began to snap back and forth in a frenzied pace, grunting with each plunge.

Marianne’s arms wrapped around his neck, holding on for dear life while his hips pumped back and forth. “Yes…Yess…YESSS!!!!” she suddenly screamed, arching up into him, while she was hurtled over the edge, with him coming a moment after. His body sagged on top of hers, his head resting itself on her breast, while his arms wrapped around her waist, while she ran her fingers through his hair, the both of them coming down from sexual bliss.

“I can never tire of you,” Marcus murmured, nuzzling her bosom.

“I would never allow you to tire of me,” Marianne said, chuckling.

“That is true,” Marcus replied. He then chuckled, looking up at her. “And, speaking of tired…I am not nearly tired yet…”

They spent most of the night making love to each other. Enjoying each other’s bodies over and over again. After Marcus had dropped off to sleep (with his head once again resting itself on her breast, and his arms around her waist), Marianne stayed awake, running her fingers through his hair, and gazing down at him.

“Madame Sorscha was right,” she thought happily, “Love DOES take time…”