The Queen of All That Lives (The Fallen World Book 3)(18)By: Laura Thalassa
I stir, my body stretching out. The first rays of dawn slide through the windows. It’s almost enough to rouse me.
Almost, but not quite.
Montes’s arm tightens around my waist, and I settle back into him. For once my king isn’t up earlier than me. My lips curl and I drift back asleep against him.
Sometime later, I wake again, my body stretched along Montes’s. I blink, taking in the room.
The drapes are the wrong color. The room is the wrong shape and size.
I furrow my brows, confused. I begin to sit up, only to have my king groan and pull me back into him.
Right as I feel the firm press of his skin along mine, everything comes roaring back to me.
The king, that slippery bastard, snuck into my bed during the night. He’s been holding me this entire time.
And while I slept, my body has been encouraging him along.
I try to move away, but his embrace only tightens.
I flip over to face him. His eyes open slowly, heavy with sleep, and his hair is ruffled. That ache that’s taken up residence in my chest only increases at the sight.
“You have no right,” I say, my irritation overriding that horrible burn that imperfect love produces.
He stares at me from across the pillow. I can see my bruises on him, and it shames me all over again that I put my mark on his skin. And then I am ashamed to be ashamed, for if anyone deserves to get roughened up, it’s the king.
“You are my wife,” he says. “Spouses share a bed.”
“Get. Out.” I’m beginning to shake as irritation gives way to anger.
Montes’s thumb rubs little circles into my back. The man looks downright content. “My roof, my rules,” he says. “We go to sleep and wake up together.”
“Oh, do we now?” I say. “I wonder what happened to that rule when you put me in a box for a hundred years.”
He searches my face. “I never did it to make you suffer.”
No, he did it to save me from death.
“Is the cancer gone?”
I feel Montes’s hand creep up my back and into my hair. He hesitates briefly, then nods. “Everything is gone. The cancer and all other ailments you might have suffered from.”
The king made good on his word.
“How long did it take?”
“Three quarters of a century.”
Seventy-five years. He waited over seven decades for me to heal.
Most people I knew never lived to be half that age.
“And was it worth it?” I ask.
His eyes turn heated. Fervent. “Nothing has ever been more worth it.”
“And yet you never woke me.” I slept three extra decades, and I probably would’ve slept more if I’d never been captured.
Montes pulls me up and onto his chest.
“Yesterday I gave you my repentance,” he says, his voice rough. “Today you’ll get everything else.”
“You going to have to do a little more than repent for a single day, considering you took thirty thousand of them away from me.”
An amused smile curls the edges of his lips. I hadn’t meant for that to be amusing.
“I’ll give you thirty thousand more,” he says.
“I don’t want thirty thousand more. I want you to let me go.” I push against him. That only serves to tighten his grip and rub our bodies together.
His jaw clenches, and his eyelids lower just a smidge. “If you keep doing that, you’re going to be coming rather than going.”
“I will hurt you,” I threaten.
“But you won’t kill me, and that really is what’s important.” His thumb skims under a bra strap. “I rather like this on you.”
I grab his hand. We stare each other down.
“Montes, you don’t get to do this with me,” I say. “You gave that up a long time ago.”
He leans in close enough that I can feel his breath tickle my skin. “I gave nothing up. Be upset at me for making you live when you wanted to die, but don’t blame me for this.”
He moves the hand I still hold captive to my face, touching my scar. “You fought for me, killed for me. You wore my crown and carried my child. Don’t distort what you mean to me, what you’ve always meant to me.
“And I’m going to keep you in this bed until you understand something: I won’t let you go. Everything you are is mine, and everything I am is yours.”
“That is something I’ve always known,” I say.
Ever since the day my father died I’ve understood. So long as the king lives, I will never be free of him.
“Do you have anything besides lace that I can wear?” I ask, sitting up and frowning at the empty closet across the room.
Montes gets out of bed. I try and fail to not stare at his backside as he strides away from me.
You know what? Screw it. The man has always taken liberties with me when he shouldn’t. I can look at my husband all I want.
He grabs his button-down he’s thrown over a side chair and tosses it to me.
I finger the material. “This isn’t funny.”
“My men have restocked my closet with clothes for you, but wearing them comes with a condition.”
A century was not long enough to stamp out the conniving side of this man.