Warrior’s Bride (Pt 8)

Chapter Eight
Tialla felt her stomach drop.
“However, your uncle made it clear that if I did not come up with a way to remain within your realm which was acceptable to your people… and him, then he would have no choice but to attack me.”
She felt unease fill her, a sensation of dread rising within as she asked softly, “And have you found such a way?”, his head nodding gently as he regarded her seriously.
“Yes. Your uncle and I feel that a marriage between yourself and I would satisfy everybody. You would remain in control by my side and I would provide the security your realm badly needs.”
Tialla pulled her hands together under the table as she sat back, not wanting him to see how they shook, her spine bolt straight as she willed herself calm. Despite her best efforts, her voice shook slightly as she cleared her throat. “I do not find this to be a suitable solution… There must be another way.”
His head shook. “No… This was your uncle’s plan. I think that if you do not see it through, then he will step aside to allow me to govern.” Her eyes flicked around the room in panic, her mind searching for a way out, not aware as tears filled her lovely eyes, spilling softly down her cheeks as she fought to keep control.
His voice was soft. “Tialla, think of your people. My men are trained, they would treat them with respect and deference. They are men who enjoy freedom and fight to retain their own and their families. Garel is a monster. He has no regard for human life.” Her eyes flew to his as she heard almost a pained tone enter his voice, his eyes so dark full of sympathy for her situation. “I know that given the circumstances of our meeting, that you must see me as a monster too and I would like the opportunity to prove to you that I am a peaceful man, and would make a good husband for you.”
She looked away again, a small disbelieving sound leaving her lips as she dashed the back of her hand along her cheeks, angry that she was crying. “It seems that I have little choice”, her tone hardening. “It would also seem that you did indeed find a way to force me into your bed.”
His sigh was long as he leant forward, taking her hand, his hold tightening as she tried to pull free from him. “I hope that it will not be necessary to force you Tialla”, his hand pulling hers to his lips, his mouth brushing the softness of her skin, she surprised to find her body jumping with awareness.
Willing herself to remain emotionless, she held his look. “This is a decision forced upon me Cadell… Do not expect me to be a willing participant… And I would like to speak with my uncle.”
With a small rueful smile on his mouth, he released her, nodding softly. “Your uncle is currently our guest within his usual quarters. He is expecting you to visit him… But even now, word of our intended marriage is being conveyed to your people.”
Her eyes closed softly, hurt stamped clearly on Tialla as her head drooped slightly in defeat. “I see… So it is done, and I am sacrificed to your war.”
Pushing back her seat she rose. “Please excuse me. However, my appetite seems to have left and I would like to visit with my uncle as soon as possible.”
Cadell rose, inclining his head. “As you wish.” He moved to a table, Tialla stood unsure as he opened a wooden box before returning to her. “You will wear this as a symbol of our engagement”
Looking down she could see the ring, recognising it as that worn by her mother, her eyes flying to his. “Where did you get that?”, hurt on her voice as he grimaced.
“Your uncle sent it over to me… He informed me that according to your traditions your people would expect you to wear this when you became betrothed.”
Lifting her hand once more, he slipped the ring onto her finger, feeling for the first time the way her hand trembled, seeing as she fought to keep her lips from quivering, pain deep in her eyes. With a small groan Cadell was overcome with the need to comfort her, his hands holding her shoulders gently as he pulled her against himself. “I promise to be a good husband to you Tialla”, his words of earlier repeated as one hand moved to lift her chin to look up at him.
The intensity of feelings which hit them both was unexpected, both his hands moving to cup the back of her head as his mouth dropped, his lips gently taking hers. Tialla wanted to push him away, throw the ring back and demand that he release her, but the moment his mouth touched hers, she shuddered, her lips parting as his kiss deepened.
His touch was gentle, this unexpected as she felt her body sway against him, his mouth becoming more demanding as she kissed him back. Heat unfurled within her belly as her hands moved to slide along his chest, her arms rising to wrap around his neck as his wound around her waist, pulling her tightly against him. His tongue slid against hers, Tialla unaware as she groaned slightly, the sound almost a sigh in his mouth. She could feel herself sinking deeper and deeper into this man, aware as he moved her backwards towards a deep couch, the two sinking into its softness as his kiss became demanding, his hands sliding along her waist, surely moving upwards until his thumb caressed the heightened nub, a gasp pulled from her.
It was hearing the small masculine growl from him that finally saw reality flood in, Tialla pushing herself away, landing on the marble floor, pushing herself back onto her feet, her eyes staring in disbelief at him. She could see the fire still burning within his eyes as he too rose, confusion on both their faces. Backing away from him, her aqua eyes dazed and wide, Tialla gave a small whimper as she spun around and half-ran to the door.

{next installment 14th February}

Warrior’s Bride (Pt 7)

Chapter Seven
Tialla frowned softly. She had not expected him to show any remorse, especially to her ladies, noting the way the women blushed, their eyes dropping as they tried not to stare at the man. This time he was charming – totally at ease a warm smile on his features – she inwardly groaning seeing the way the women almost giggled as they looked at the tall, devastatingly attractive man before them. Clapping her hands angrily, their attention was once more pulled to their princess as she stood proudly before them, her eyes warning them as they melted away, bowing as they moved into other rooms.
Turning she faced him, her voice tinged with anger, “So Cadell of Karok, speak.”
He grinned again, Tialla not allowing herself to be taken in with the charm which seemed to fall so easily from him, he moving to the door, “I thought that we could have dinner together… Discuss it in more comfort.”
With eyes which narrowed, she nodded, moving out as he led her along corridors, chatting amicably about her realm, seeming not to notice that she remained tight-lipped by his side. As they entered her smallest dining room she flicked a look at him as he pulled the chair back for her on the small table set for two. The more formal robes he now wore suited him, his hair – cut shorter than most warriors – brushed back. He was handsome she had to admit, possessed of something which made her very aware of this brutal man, Tialla determined to stay on her guard and not become a giggling push-over like her ladies.
“You look stunning princess.” His words pulled her back from her thoughts as she gave him a haughty look ignoring his comment.
“Can I assume by your change of ‘approach’ that you no longer plan on finding me a place in your household… or bed?”, the last part bitten out angrily as he made a small grimace, his eyes shining with laughter.
“Like I said… Sometimes we do and say things which we would not dream of uttering under normal circumstances. I needed you compliant, and the best way to accomplish that seemed to have you afraid. I once more apologise for that.”
Glaring back at him, she raised her head proudly, “I do not fear you Cadell”, his lips quirking once more.
“No… I noticed that. You are a unique woman Tialla… But I do apologise for my words, I would never have forced you into my bed.”
Silenced by the arrival of the first course of their meal, she smiled at the servant she recognised as one of her own. As the man once more retreated back to the kitchen, she fixed Cadell with sombre eyes. “You will understand that I take your words now with more than a little bit of scepticism. You had me chained to the floor wearing slave girl silks while your men took great delight in loudly proclaiming what they would like to do with me.”
His look hardened as he nodded, “Forgive me princess… As I said it was necessary to ensure that your uncle realised quickly that you were no longer in control.”
Tialla placed her fork back on the table, her head turned to him as she frowned. “So you still plan on remaining within my realm. I cannot believe that Harbin would support such an action, therefore I would like to know what you and my uncle discussed.”
Sitting back against his chair Cadell regarded Tialla. She puzzled him – most women in her situation would be hysterical, terrified of what was to become of them, but not her. She sat calmly, her questions direct and to the point, his jaw resting on his hand as he considered her thoughtfully. “Your uncle worries for you Tialla.” Her look never wavered from his. “As I told you earlier, had I not invaded, then another would have. Your uncle has heard of my enemy Garel… And also of the kind of man he is and he knows that like I, he would want to hold this province.”
With the smallest of frowns creasing her smooth forehead, she spoke slowly, “Why?… What could my province possibly offer?”, something lighting her eyes as she gave a soft moan, the answer coming to her, “Our ports. Easy access to the sea.”
He nodded gently. “Yes. His armies on land are entrenched, and with my forces advancing further each day, he is becoming desperate. The only option left to him is to come up behind us. Your realm has easy access to the sea and the infrastructure for trading, offering an ideal opportunity.” Leaning forward slightly, his look held a note of apology, “I cannot allow Garel to hold your ports… And your defences are lacking, as I have clearly shown”, his features now stern. “We took your province in less than a morning. We met little-to-no resistance and neither would Garel have.”
Looking away she sighed softly, “We are a peaceful people, my lands are small… We have no need for armies.”
Cadell shook his head gently. “I am truly sorry that you have found yourself dragged into this Tialla… But I have to ensure that the ports are not used by my enemy… And while you do not see it yet, my actions will have saved many, many of your people’s lives.”
Tialla once more picked up her fork, her mouth delicately biting a small piece of the delicious fish as she pondered his words before turning to again hold his eyes, “You have still not answered my question… What did you and my uncle discuss?”
He too lifted his fork, a frown on his brow. “Your uncle persuaded me to see that he would be a greater ally than an enemy… And that you were much loved by your people and should be allowed to return to the throne.”
She looked on quietly, her insides fluttering with hope. “So, you wish to return me to the throne and pretend that you did not attack us and become… friends?”, her tone holding incredulity as he smiled once more.
“Princess, if I was to leave now, you would be a sitting target for Garel. No, whether you wish to believe it or not you need me and you need my army.”

{next installment 28th Jan}