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Luxuria: Chapter 17


    by the time I’d finished rutting her into the mattress, my knot finally deflating fully after what felt like hours snugly inside her warm, wet cunt. The tang of her blood lingered on my tongue, reminding me of how thoroughly I’d lost my mind with the urge to bite her. With the way she’d encouraged me. I couldn’t bring myself to regret it though—not when Ophelia had looked so satisfied, a smile playing around her mouth even in sleep.

I had no idea how my wife felt about me, how I even wanted her to feel about me, but she had given me a gift. I knew that much from the strange tether that now connected us, sitting like a comfortable weight in my chest. The bite mark on her neck was healing remarkably fast, but her body was still mostly human and needed more rest than mine did, so I ignored the temptation to rouse her awake with my tongue again and forced down the undoubtedly loud purr—a strange new phenomenon that Ophelia had inspired—that threatened to rumble out of my chest at the sight of the mark. Mine. That’s what that mark meant.

I may never be able to claim her heart, I didn’t have the first clue how, but Ophelia was still mine. I’d marked her, inside and out.

She may not know it, but she’d marked me too. Not with sharp teeth and claws, but with her presence. Not to mention her delectable scent, that I made sure to have on me at all times.

One of these days, Damen was going to say something about it and I’d have to punch him in the face.

Silently, I climbed off the bed, dragging the quilt we’d disturbed over Ophelia’s naked back before backing towards the door. The tether between us pulled taut as I moved, like it didn’t want me to leave her, and that would be a strange adjustment. Could Ophelia feel it too? She rolled over, her arm reaching towards me in sleep and my resolve took a solid knock.

Would she regret what we’d done once she realized she’d supernaturally tied herself to a monster? If she didn’t now, she would on her first trip back to the human realm when she had to look her sister in the eye with that mark on her neck.

It doesn’t matter what her sister thinks, I told myself. Ophelia had not only agreed to the mark, but begged for it. I hadn’t forced anything on her that she didn’t want.

I draped shadows over my body before quietly letting myself into the corridor. We’d missed the evening meal, though I was confident Damen had covered for us. Probably by alluding to exactly what we’d been doing.

A shiver of unease ran through me at that thought. Not that I had any objections to my subjects knowing that I found my wife desirable and acted on those desires, but I didn’t want to make Ophelia a target if any of them took issue with that idea.

There were plenty of whispers prior to our wedding, pitying me for having to consummate a union with a Hunter, like the concept was the most repulsive thing they’d ever heard.

I’d never found my wife repulsive. Intimacy with Ophelia was no hardship at all.

Affra was heading down the corridor towards her own room, but she halted as I raised my hand.

″The queen didn’t eat dinner. Could you have a selection of things ready for her in her room if she wakes during the night?”

″Of course, your majesty,” Affra agreed, bowing her head. “Enough for both of you?”

″No, I’ll be in my own rooms,” I told her, already walking away. I could have sworn I saw the hint of disapproval on her face before I closed my door.

Should I have stayed?

No, surely not. I’d never stayed before, it would be strange to start now. Besides, Ophelia hadn’t asked me to stay. Surely she would have asked if she wanted me to sleep next to her.

Still, I couldn’t deny that once I was in my own room, my bed looked particularly cold and uninviting. The bond, or whatever it was, that tethered Ophelia and I together felt unnaturally taut now that I was away from her, and it was with some discomfort that I climbed under the dark covers of my own bed.

Tomorrow, we’d have to face everyone and explain the connection between us probably. I’d at least have to tell Damen and Soren about it, but even if I could put off the Council for a few days, the enormous teeth marks embedded high on Ophelia’s neck would raise questions.

She could always cover it up with clothing, but I wasn’t entirely confident I wouldn’t shred anything she wore that hid my mark. Biting her hadn’t eased the possessiveness, it had just redirected it. No, that wasn’t quite right. The possessiveness did feel more manageable now. Maybe I’d be able to get through the day without wanting to claw someone’s face off just because they glanced at my wife.

By the goddesses, I hoped this was more than just a monster-fucking fetish for Ophelia, because it was fast becoming everything to me.

For what seemed like hours, I tossed and turned uncomfortably in my sheets, feeling unsettled. With a growl, I threw the blankets back and sat up, annoyed that the night was so still and quiet when I felt so restless.

Felt so wrong. There was a sense of wrongness that wouldn’t let up, and I needed to fix it right-fucking-now.

What was it?

I was the king, for fuck’s sake. If I wasn’t solving problems, what was the point of me? There was a restive feeling under my skin, and I realized with a sigh at my own idiocy that the agitation was likely just my need to siphon.

I’d barely spent any time not feeding from Ophelia this afternoon, no wonder I was fit to burst with unspent power. Satisfied that I had a plan and a resolution to my problem, I stood and cloaked myself, striding confidently out into the hallway before faltering in front of Ophelia’s door.

The connection in my chest felt more settled at just this small improved distance. Perhaps sleeping in separate rooms would no longer work, though I’d probably terrify her if I stormed in now demanding changes. Tomorrow. I’d propose the idea of her moving into my larger, better furnished room. She could still keep hers as an area to draw and relax if she felt more comfortable there. Perhaps take up playing an instrument like she’s suggested.

Another good plan, I reassured myself with a curt nod at Ophelia’s door. The night guards bowed as I passed them, but I didn’t stop to pause on my way to the siphoning chamber. I should have done this earlier—it felt almost criminal to be carrying around this much extra power. This would be weeks, perhaps months, of work in the human realm for our gatherers to accumulate this much to give to the community.

The rapidly filling stores, the gilded flowers, the golden orbs of light… Ophelia was a miracle for this realm.

Even if she wasn’t, she was mine, and she was a miracle to me.

The corridors near my wing of the palace were empty, but the siphoning chamber wasn’t. Three Shades who worked as gatherers were shedding the excess they’d collected on their feeding trips in the human realm.

″King Allerick!” one of them gasped, halting their siphoning abruptly to bow.

″Please, carry on,” I insisted, gesturing at them to continue while selecting a pipe. “Pretend I’m not here.”

They wouldn’t. It hadn’t taken me long as a child to realize that everyone modified their behavior when I was around, and it had only gotten more extreme when I ascended to the throne, despite my attempts to treat everyone equally. Only Soren and Damen treated me somewhat normally.

And Ophelia. She still censored herself around me sometimes, but not nearly as much as she had in the beginning. Her smiles were genuine now, and she wasn’t afraid to tease me. It made my stomach feel… fluttery whenever she did.

I rolled my neck a few times as the excess energy hummed below my skin, eager for release. Noting that all the other Shades in the room had gone very quiet, I cupped my palms beneath the opening to the pipe and exhaled slowly, channeling the excess power through my body to collect in my hands. As was the case last time, the rush of energy that sped up the pipe to the ceiling was almost blinding in its intensity—a brilliant glowing white that I’d never seen in this chamber before.

There were quiet gasps behind me, but I ignored them to focus on releasing the buildup until my own power levels felt comfortably stable again. Well, far more than merely comfortable—Ophelia made me feel as though I was invincible.

″Incredible,” someone whispered. Roisin, I thought vaguely. She was the youngest daughter of one of the wealthiest Shades at court, and had pursued a career as a gatherer against her family’s wishes.

I turned to face the three of them, unsurprised to see them staring at the last of the glowing energy as it vanished into the store with stricken expressions on their faces.

″Queen Ophelia is a gift to our realm,” I said, needing to say something to explain where this sudden abundance of power. “I have never fed on her fear. I would never jeopardize the treaty in any way.”

″Long live Queen Ophelia,” Roisin murmured, staring at the now quiet pipe. “Long live King Allerick. Our realm will prosper under your union.”

That strange feeling started in my chest again, though it wasn’t quite the same as the one Ophelia inspired.

This one might have been hope.

Tomorrow, I’d instruct the Council to plan Ophelia’s coronation.


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