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Luxuria: Chapter 14


  , I thought to myself, suppressing a yawn as I forced one foot in front of another, making my way to the room where the Council of Shades convened for my formal introduction.

Allerick had been good to his word, cloaking me in shadows and depositing me at the door to my room before the evening meal had finished, but after he’d given me an awkward look and left, sleep had felt impossible to come by.

Why wouldn’t he stay with me?

Maybe it was a cultural thing? Maybe Shades didn’t share bedrooms? I made a note to ask Levana later, since Allerick was at my side to escort me to the meeting. It felt more than a little weird—for the first time since I’d arrived here, I felt like I actually had an actual diplomatic role here.

One that I was grossly underqualified for despite binging all the episodes of The Crown before I came to the shadow realm, but whatever.

Despite trying my best to stay calm and collected, Allerick’s attention turned to me as we paused outside the double doors that led to the Council Chamber. I wasn’t sure what had given it away—a change in my scent or the iron grip I had on his arm.

″Ophelia…” he growled.

″No. I am not walking in there smelling like I’m two seconds away from dropping my panties, don’t even think about it.”

He groaned, swooping me off my feet with alarming ease and burying his nose in the crook of my neck. I gripped his shoulders automatically, and he moved to pin me against the wall but made no further attempt to get me all smelly.

We may not be in love like most newly married couples, but the sex was great and relationships had been built on less.

Probably. Right?

″Sometimes, I think you should run away. Or that I should be good and wise and let you go.”

″Why do you think that?” I asked, startled.

″Because you’re so pretty and delicate, and I want to do truly debauched things to you. Because every time I see this slim, fragile throat, I want to maul it with my teeth,” he rasped, running the tips of his fangs over my skin to punctuate his point.

″Stop it,” I hissed, my pussy clenching around nothing. “I don’t want to smell horny!”

″You always smell horny around me,” Allerick replied, huffing a quiet laugh. The noise was so delicious—it seemed to come from deep in his chest but it also had a rusty quality like he didn’t make the sound often, which made it feel all the more special.

″Well tone down your natural sex appeal,” I grumbled, swatting his shoulders to get him to put me down. “I am an accomplished, professional queen lady and I can’t spend my days walking around with wet panties while I try to do important queen stuff.”

″Mm, that would be terrible,” Allerick agreed, sounding completely insincere. “Come on then, let’s go get this ‘important queen stuff’ over and done with so I can bury my tongue in your cunt where it belongs.”

King Allerick!”

He huffed that quiet laugh again, gently setting me down and taking my arm to lead me into the rather plain gray room. The walls were stone, lit by the increasingly golden-toned orbs, and there was a long rectangular table made of blackened wood with high-backed chairs either side. It was definitely a place designed for function, not comfort.

″Welcome, your majesties. Queen Ophelia, it’s a pleasure to have you with us today. My name is Maddox.” The Shade bowed so low to the ground that I was briefly worried he’d topple over, and my face heated at the display of respect. I supposed the Council were the ones who’d arranged this entire union and the treaty between our kinds, it made sense that they’d be more formal with the whole title thing than the other Shades had been.

″Hello—” I began, but Allerick was already tugging me away, giving everyone at the table warning looks as he pulled me into a seat next to him at the head of the table, with Soren positioning himself stalwartly behind us.

Okay then.

A generous read of the situation would be that Allerick was warning them off me, but he was more likely warning them not to say anything in front of me. Honestly, I couldn’t even entirely blame him for that. I hoped he would see in time that I wasn’t like other Hunters, but I could hardly blame him for thinking that now—he had a whole realm to protect.

″My name is Raina,” a feminine voice said before she leaned forward so I could see her further down the table. “Welcome. It’s an honor to have you among us today. We’d love to learn more about you, Queen Ophelia, will you tell us about yourself?”

I opened my mouth before closing it again, because what was there to say about me? I wasn’t overly cool or interesting. I was completely underqualified for any kind of leadership position, and I’d only gotten here because I was a horny little hornbag and just talented enough to draw those horny hornbag thoughts onto paper.

″I’m sorry, I’m not sure what to tell you,” I admitted with a nervous laugh. “I had a marketing job back in the human realm at a software company. I lived with human roommates. I, um, wasn’t involved with the Hunters at all,” I added, hoping that would put some minds at ease.

″But you are a Hunter,” Raina pointed out, not unkindly. Allerick let out a rumbling growl at the reminder that made me jump.

″Well, yes, I was born a Hunter, but I was deemed unsuitable for hunting when I was sixteen and directed to live a more regular human life.”

″Why?” Maddox asked, tilting his head to the side.

I’d expected this question, and yet I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer it despite obsessing over what to say since the moment I woke up this morning. Allerick knew my big bad secret. He’d seen the drawings, and however much he enjoyed bringing my fantasies to life, he wasn’t on my side here. I couldn’t expect him to lie to his Council on my behalf.

If I didn’t come clean, he probably would discreetly explain it to them the moment I was gone, and I’d really rather conversations about my kinky sexual proclivities happen to my face rather than behind my back.

″My parents found some pictures I’d drawn and they handed them in to the Hunters Council.” Allerick stiffened next to me. “I was politely asked to leave after that.”

″What kind of drawings?” Maddox pressed.

″None that you need to worry about,” Allerick cut in before I could answer. “I’ve seen them for myself and there is nothing in Ophelia’s artwork that warrants security concerns.”

So he wasn’t going to tell them about the drawings?

He’s probably embarrassed, just like everyone else in your life has ever been about them.

″Of course, your majesty,” Maddox agreed quickly. “I didn’t mean to overstep. Ophelia’s clean record is something to celebrate, and information that we’d like to disseminate throughout the realm. Rumors of her kind and gentle nature are already spreading through the palace.”

″They are?” I asked in surprise, wondering who could possibly be spreading them. The only Shades who seemed to actually like me were Levana and Affra, neither of whom struck me as big gossips.

″Oh yes, Queen Ophelia. Calix tells everyone who’ll listen about how polite and helpful you are.”

Allerick grumbled under his breath, but I couldn’t help laughing that surly knife-wielding Calix was the one singing my praises. “That’s very kind of him. He’s been very generous in sharing his kitchen with me, even though I know he’d much prefer not to.”

Raina glanced nervously at Allerick. “Calix also intercepted a Shade attempting to poison Queen Ophelia’s food this morning. They’re in the dungeon, healing from the almost-lethal injury Calix gave them with his cleaver.”

Shadows seemed to rise of Allerick like steam, his entire body rigid with fury next to me. “I will deal with them personally. Did they say anything before Calix attacked?”

″I believe he tried to convince Calix that poisoning Queen Ophelia was a, er, noble undertaking. That it would send a sign to the realm if she just collapsed out of nowhere that the union was not blessed, and it was unnatural for a Hunter to live in this realm.” Poor Raina looked ready to slink down her chair and let the ground swallow her whole as she explained this to an increasingly enraged Allerick.

Tentatively, I rested my hand on his forearm and gave him what I hoped was a soothing smile. “They were unsuccessful, Calix saved the day. And I’ll stick to canned goods for now—it’ll be easy to see if they’ve been tampered with.”

 ”Someone arrange a reward for Calix,” Allerick grunted, staring at my hand still resting on his arm. “Let all Shades know that they are welcome to voice their concerns about the treaty in a peaceful way, I will continue traveling to the regions and explaining the benefits to those who are interested in discussing it civilly.”

I schooled my expression to hide my surprise. I hadn’t realized that Allerick was visiting smaller areas and talking about the treaty to his subjects personally. The Hunters Council had just sent out a bulletin from what Astrid had told me.

″However,” Allerick continued. “Attacks on my wife will not be tolerated. You can let them know that the Pit awaits anyone who tries such a thing.”

″Of course,” Raina agreed immediately, the other Councilors nodding earnestly.

Before they could say anything else, the door flew open with a bang that made everyone in the room startle—well everyone except Allerick and Soren, who immediately crowded my chair defensively, glaring at the door.

What now? I thought we were going to drink tea and eat jerky, get to know each other a little. I hadn’t expected this meeting to be so dramatic.

Meridia sauntered in, casual as you please, her drapey dress of shadows hanging suggestively low over her breasts and rising worryingly high on her thighs. Soren made a quiet sound of frustration as he straightened, still positioned closer to mine and Allerick’s chairs than he had been before.

Right, this was his sister. I mean, no judgment, but I’d be cutting Astrid some serious side eye if she showed up to an official meeting wearing a negligee.

″This is a closed meeting,” Allerick clipped, draping an arm over my shoulders and hauling me awkwardly closer to him, stopping a split second before I ended up sprawled across his lap.

″Unfortunately, this couldn’t wait,” Meridia replied, her voice syrupy sweet. “The Council needs to be informed that this marriage isn’t valid.”

″Why’s that?” Allerick drawled, his claws toying with my hair.

″I have it on good authority that this marriage hasn’t been consummated,” Meridia said smugly, crossing her arms and looking imperiously around the room like this was some big gotcha! moment. “They haven’t even slept in the same room since they were married.”

Well, that was true, but someone should really let Meridia know that consummation didn’t have to take a whole night in the same bedroom. She should have tried her interfering witch act a couple of days ago.

To my intense surprise, the entire room reacted, not just Allerick. Soren snorted loudly, while the Councilors all shook with laughter. My face flamed beetroot at the implications of that.

″I left dinner early last night as I was tired,” Raina said, still laughing. “I walked past the throne room and I can assure you personally that the marriage has been consummated.”

Kill. Me. Now.

″Your good authority is clearly not that good. The queen’s attendant also confirmed that she saw… evidence of their joining,” Raina added, giving me apologetic look as I slunk down an inch in my chair. We’d left plenty of evidence of our joining on the throne room floor too. It had been a fucking slip hazard in there by the time we were done.

Were we bad royals? I kind of felt like we were bad royals.

Meridia’s smug gaze turned mutinous, and I felt the first stirrings of fear despite my best attempts to suppress the emotion.

″Out,” Allerick ordered Meridia, already standing. “We are done here. We’ll reconvene tomorrow.”

I stumbled slightly as he encouraged me to my feet, guiding me out of a different exit to where Meridia was and leading me into what appeared to be a small study before slamming the door shut behind him, leaving Soren standing outside.

Before I could question him, Allerick lifted me onto a pitch-black desk, uncaring as half of the contents went flying, and dropped to his knees, shoving my dress up over my thighs.

″Is this a good—” My words cut off on a gasp as my husband ripped my lace panties off my body and shoved his head between my legs, his tongue probing at my pussy before I could so much as exhale.

″Your scent,” he mumbled, voice muffled in a way that made me want to giggle. “Need to get your good scent back.”

There was definitely part of me that thought we should talk about this, but was I really going to argue with him when he was willing to tongue fuck me into a better mood?

No. No, I was not.

Let the tongue fucking commence.

Allerick seemed to be in a leisurely mood though, taking his time, probably in order to make me as aroused as possible, so I drenched the surrounding airspace with sexy pheromones. I leaned back on my elbows, knocking something that was definitely made of glass off the desk, and watched as his horns moved this way and that, his claws digging into my thighs.

Those horns. When we knew each other a little better and I was confident he wouldn’t freak out, I was going to take those horns for a drive.

″You’re very good at that,” I sighed, dropping my knees as far apart as they could go and lifting my hips to meet his movements as Allerick’s rough tongue massaged teasingly over my clit from one angle then another. “I would like to come sometime today though.”

Allerick pulled back just enough to nip my inner thigh with sharp teeth before returning to eating me out and the slight sting made everything clench with need. I had no idea why the idea of him biting me got me so hot, but I wasn’t about to fight it. Not the way he was fighting it.

Allerick continued his steady pace, and I relaxed into it, tipping my head back and letting my eyes fall shut. Even if this was just about sex, just about smell, I still felt more cherished than I’d ever felt during intimacy with anyone, and I couldn’t understand why.

The slow, languid orgasm rolled through me and I exhaled a long moan of satisfaction, melting into it like I was sinking into a warm bath. My entire body felt like a limp noodle, and it was absolutely glorious.

″How do I smell?” I slurred, legs still splayed open with zero self-consciousness.

“Deliciously appealing,” Allerick purred, licking the evidence of me off his lips and my god there was a lot of evidence. I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get used to just how wet I got around him. I mean, I needed it. The more lubrication the better when knots were involved.

With a surprising amount of tenderness, Allerick carefully pinched the hem of my dress between his claws and dragged it down over my thighs to cover me up again. I was still sans panties and was contemplating carrying a purse from now on with super absorbent towels in it for cleanup purposes, but at least I was somewhat dignified again.

″So, uh, thanks?” I said, cringing at my own awkwardness as I carefully moved into a sitting position, trying not to disturb the few remaining items on the desk. It was a small, windowless room lit only by one silver orb of light directly above us, and mostly seemed to be a filing space judging by the small square drawers that lined three of the walls.

″You’re welcome,” Allerick replied, sounding annoyingly amused for a moment before his face grew serious. “You were scared, that’s what that scent is.”

″Meridia scares me a little,” I admitted, trying to be cool about it.

″Anyone else?” he asked darkly, shadows curling ominously around his horns. “Has anyone else scared you?”


″You sure? That sounds more like a question than an answer,” Allerick pointed out. Something fluttered a few degrees north of where my body usually responded to Allerick. Maybe because sassy Allerick was my favorite Allerick, which was a slippery slope to go down. I did not want to be that idiot who fell in love with the husband who’d never wanted to marry her.

″I’m sure,” I replied, forcing some conviction into my voice.

″Er, your majesties,” Soren called awkwardly, knocking on the door. “Allerick, I’m sorry but there’s some more discontent, out near Illtal. I thought you might want to address it in person.”

Allerick grunted in annoyance. “Fine. Let’s go now, then I’ll return to meet Ophelia for lunch.”

I opened my mouth, ready to assure Allerick that I knew he was busy running a realm and he didn’t have to eat with me, but he was already issuing instructions to Soren through the door, requesting our meals were brought to the courtyard while lifting me off the desk. He chivvied me out of the study, apparently content to ignore the mess we’d made of the room.

We were totally bad royals.

To really hammer that point home, Soren was waiting for us outside the door, staring at the ceiling with his hands clasped in front of him.

Sorry, I mouthed at him when he finally caught my eye, Allerick already striding ahead. Soren shook his head, the corners of his mouth twitching into what was almost a smile.

Ha! I was going to win him over too, I could tell. This was excellent progress, even if it came at the expense of my dignity.

I was going to make Shade friends, have great sex with my Shade husband, and make a proper life for myself here in the shadow realm, I was sure of it.

We found our rhythm after that morning Council meeting. Allerick resumed attending meetings alone and spending the morning talking up the benefits of the treaty to wary Shades, but he always met me for lunch, and my usual afternoon nap-slash-drawing time had become fuck-my-husband time.

It was supposed to be everything I’d ever wanted, wasn’t it? I wasn’t struggling to pay my bills, and I was having the kind of sex that most people were too afraid to admit they fantasized about. I’d lived my dream life for a week, and yet there was still an unexpected sense of hollowness I couldn’t quite fill.

″Queen Ophelia?” Affra asked, her tone indicating it wasn’t the first time she’d called my name.

″I’m sorry,” I said, blinking rapidly to clear my head. I’d skipped my morning garden walk to get in some drawing time and I hadn’t even heard Affra return after getting me ready for the day.

″No need to apologize,” she tutted. “Prince Damen has requested that you and the king meet him in the library. The king is on his way here and I thought you might want to clean your hands,” she said, a sparkle of amusement in her eyes as she glanced down at my charcoal-stained fingers.

″That’s probably a good idea,” I replied with a grimace, carefully slipping the drawing behind the others because of everything I’d drawn, this was probably the one I’d be the most uncomfortable with her seeing. With anyone seeing. It was an embarrassing glimpse into my tragic, unrequited reality.

I carefully put everything away and slipped into the bathroom to scrub my hands clean and freshen up, fixing my updo that was secured by the heavy raven pin and smoothing out a crease in my plum-colored dress.

As much as I liked being a subtle pop of color in this world, I kind of wished the Hunters Council had set me up with something a little more youthful. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a slightly younger, less frowny version of my mother staring back at me.

There was a knock at the door, and I quickly let myself into the corridor before Affra had to go through all the bowing and greeting fuss, almost stepping directly into my husband’s chest as he loomed in the doorway.


His head dropped instantly to my neck, inhaling deeply. It didn’t escape my notice that he always went to the same spot on my neck, the one where I desperately craved the feel of his teeth.

″Husband,” I replied, because I liked the way it made him almost smile when I teased him a little.

″Come, I had some questions I asked Damen to research. Let’s go find out if he’s got the answers,” Allerick instructed, offering me his arm.

We made our way through the quiet halls with Soren and Levana falling into step behind us, shadowing our steps. It was only their presence that was somewhat deterring me from leaping onto my husband and demanding he rip my panties off and fuck me with my dress on against the wall right here.

I thought I’d had an overactive libido and a filthy mind before. Allerick’s knot had unlocked an insatiable side of me I never knew existed. As much as I loved fucking him—and I absolutely did—I was getting a little concerned by just how much fucking we were doing.

We still had responsibilities. Well, he did. And while I had a small exhibitionist streak, I didn’t love that everyone knew I was horny all the time. It’d be nice to have an off switch so I could get through dinner without the entire court knowing I was leaking through my panties.

Ugh. Panties. Why was I even wearing them? They were just an obstacle for my husband to get through.

Allerick’s purr rumbled to life, sucking all the oxygen from the room and making my legs tremble. He was right there, spinning me back against the wall, caging me in with his enormous frame.

″You are wanting,” he growled, his taut muscles letting me know just how wanting he was too.

″Always,” I agreed, my hand already passing through the shadows that hid his crotch. He was already hard—unsurprising—and I wrapped my fingers around his shaft, my pinky brushing his knot, forgetting entirely about our surroundings.

″Could you two keep your hands off each other for five seconds?” Damen called, his voice pouring ice water over my raging fire of lust. “I need to show you something.”

I snatched my hand back, hiding it behind my back as though that could disguise what we’d been up to, while the shadows I’d disturbed slipped seamlessly back into place.

″This better be good,” Allerick growled, baring his teeth. In my lust fog, I hadn’t even noticed that the wall he’d pinned me against was right next to the library door.

″Come in and find out,” Damen said cheerfully, not letting his brother’s moodiness dampen his mood. He disappeared back into the library, and I shot Soren and Levana an apologetic look over my shoulder as I followed. It didn’t escape my notice that they were hanging a lot further back than usual.

″What is it?” Allerick barked, his hand on my lower back gentle despite his aggravated tone as he guided me to the table Damen had commandeered at the other end of the library.

″It’s about you two and your insatiable sexual appetite,” Damen replied without an ounce of hesitation. Soren made a strangled noise and I looked behind me, glad to see that Levana was waiting in the hall.

″Tread carefully, brother,” Allerick warned.

″Yes, yes, you’re very territorial,” Damen said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I think I’ve found a solution for that.”

Allerick and I stopped on one side of the table while Soren walked around it to join Damen. The book waiting for us in the center of the table looked older than dirt, the pages were yellowed and thin, and the ink was so faded, it would be almost impossible to read even if it was in English.

Which it was not.

″What language is this?” I asked quietly, scared to breathe too loudly in case the book disintegrated.

″They’re runes,” Damen said with a grimace. “An ancient language of Shades. I can’t read it, nor do I know anyone who can. However, there are also pictures, so all is not lost.”

There was a picture, but it took me a moment to realize what I was looking at.

″Is that…” Allerick began, tilting his head to the side as he examined it. “Is that a Shade biting a Hunter?”

″It could just be a regular human,” I pointed out. We looked indistinguishable in real life, let alone in a faded sketch.

″I’ve never wanted to bite a human,” Allerick said with absolute certainty. “I’ve never wanted to bite anyone except you.”

Oh god, it was happening again. The gush of slick bypassed my already ruined panties, wetting the thighs I had pressed tightly closed.

Damen coughed. “Anyway, I can’t read it, but there are some pictures in this book that appear to depict relationships between Shades and Hunters.” He carefully turned the page and I didn’t breathe until he was finished. “See?”

This page was also mostly runes, but there was a picture of what was definitely a female Shade with a human-looking man kneeling between her spread thighs. The ink was just as faded on this page, but it did sort of look like there was a mark on his shoulder that may have been made by teeth.

″How can this be possible?” I breathed. “I thought we were the first union of our kinds?”

″I hate to burst your bubble, but I don’t think you guys are that special,” Damen said with a dramatic sigh. An ominous warning growl rumbled out of Allerick’s chest.

″He is very on edge right now,” I said mildly, giving Damen a pointed look. Damen grinned while Soren scowled at him, adjusting his stance like he was ready to leap in if necessary.

″Do you think there’s a way to translate this?” I asked. “Like some kind of Rosetta Stone for Shades with all the symbols written on it?”

″I’ll ask around. Maybe some of the elderly folks on the Council will know.” Damen shrugged.

″You don’t think there would be any resources on the Hunter side?” Soren suggested. “Some books like this one?”

″Not that I know of. I’m also not entirely sure they would have kept them if those books ever existed,” I admitted. “It would be at odds with their kill-Shades-at-all-costs messaging.”

Allerick hummed in agreement. “I agree. It seems unlikely. The treaty was a last resort option for the Hunters Council, they didn’t want to work with us, but the control the treaty gave them over us made it worthwhile for them.”

All the Shades in the room seemed to shrug in agreement at that statement—I supposed they’d had plenty of time to think about it while I’d been drawing monster dick pics and wondering if my stranger husband would like me—but something about it wasn’t sitting right with me. It wasn’t that they were claiming the Hunters were controlling assholes, I knew that firsthand, but something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Maybe that it seemed too tame for a group of assassins. Maybe the Shades wouldn’t have agreed to just about anything in order to stop being murdered, but the list of things they’d say no to would have been pretty short.

″I wonder if my mother kept my old notes from when we studied runes,” Damen mused, tilting his head to the side and squinting at the symbols on the page.

″You mean your governess?” Allerick snorted.

″Yes, that would be more likely,” Damen laughed. “Maybe I’ll pay her a visit, I could do with a little trip to the seaside.”

There was a seaside? Was the ocean gray? 

″Hold on,” I said, forcing my brain semi back on the track it was trying to veer off. “Affra.”

″Affra?” Allerick asked. He was kind of adorable when he was confused, in a big menacing kind of way.

″Yes, Affra! She said that before she worked at the palace, she used to work at some kind of library? And she translated things? She knows a bunch of human languages.”

″The Itrodaris,” Damen said instantly, giving me an appraising look though he sounded impressed. “It’s a library of sorts, more a temple of learning. She probably had to leave when she got married—that crowd is devoted to the pursuit of knowledge rather than romance. I’ll talk to her about it.”

″You’ll follow up on this, Damen?” Allerick asked. Both he and Soren were looking at Damen with a healthy degree of skepticism, like he couldn’t be trusted with this, which didn’t seem fair. Damen had learned more than all of us so far about this.

″I’ve got it under control,” Damen shot back, flashing his usual grin though I thought I detected a hint of offense underneath it. “In the meantime, I vote you bite your wife.”

I wrapped my arms around Allerick’s waist before he launched himself across the table at Damen, damaging the precious book in the process. He relaxed almost instantly in my embrace, and I marveled slightly at the power—or at least the illusion of it—I had over this apex predator.

″I think we should do it,” I murmured, staring at the book in the hopes they wouldn’t see how red I’d gotten. “It feels instinctive. Every time we ignore the urge, it feels wrong. Maybe our bodies know something our collective memories have forgotten.”

″Or maybe you’ll bleed out on the mattress,” Allerick countered.

″Sure, if you rip my throat out by accident.” I rolled my eyes before remembering that I was supposed to be acting all royal, especially in his company, and pasted a more agreeable expression on my face. If anything, that seemed to bother Allerick more.

Damen gave Allerick a pointed look, tapping his claw on the wooden table right next to the faded picture in the book. “This is not a coincidence, brother. And if your wife is on board with it, then shouldn’t you consider her point of view? I mean, I don’t know, I’ve never been married. It just seems like the kind of thing a good husband would do.”

Allerick growled while Damen shrugged, the picture of innocence.

″You’re kind of a shit stirrer, huh?” I asked, marveled. I knew Damen had a mischievous side, but I didn’t realize what an antagonizing younger brother he was. Not that I wanted the Shades to be human, but it was humanizing nonetheless.

″I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Damen shot back cheerfully while Soren scoffed, shooting Damen a withering look. “I’m just a thoughtful brother, making sure the king treats you right by getting those teeth in your neck.”


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