tagRomanceThe Marriage Ch. 02

The Marriage Ch. 02


Author's Note: Yes, the story drifted in strange directions as I wrote. Sorry about that. Thank you Tim413413 for editing.


It was all I could do to not send apple spraying across the table. My mother's and father's faces went white, which Angelica ignored. "You are correct father, this is truly an honorable family you have matched me to." I painfully gulped down my mouthful, and looked between my panicked parents and Angelica's calm face. She played naive well and had tricked my mother, surprised me and sealed her decision with a political lock.

My mother was trying desperately to think of a way out of her offer. She looked to my father whose shocked shrug of his shoulders said it all. They could not retract without a good reason. The real reason would have shamed the family. In the end, Mother silently acquiesced with a nod. There was a brief moment when my eyes connected with hers. I wasn't sure if I saw sorrow or anger, mixed with motherly concern.

"What did you do?" I whispered sharply when the conversation shifted and we were ignored. I felt her hand beneath the table pat my leg.

"I did what I could." Angelica's answer held no room for condemnation. "We will talk later." It was not the discussion with her I was worried about. How this would play with my parents was in the forefront of my mind. They would try to undo it later, and it would be painful for more than just me. It was the first time I questioned Angelica's judgment. She was making life-altering decisions without me. 'A woman's idea of equal differs from a man's.'

True to my thoughts, my parents waylaid me after dinner. We met privately in the counting office, away from the main paths of most residents.

"This is intolerable," my father grumbled, "it must be undone afore the princess detects the obvious."

"She already knows," I stated humbly. Their shock was evident.

"She maneuvered me." My mother's ire gathered. "Is she trying to undo all. She plays with our honor as if it is some kind of child's toy."

"No!" I shouted. It was louder than I intended. "No," I repeated, more in control, "she does this for me, though I think it is misguided."

"What gain is there?" my father grumbled, "this has no sense to it."

"I think she preserves my love," I said quietly. The more I thought of it, the more it touched me. "Her parents know none of this. To fight it now would only endanger the alliance."

"Your bride is saving your love?" my father asked incredulously.

"Yes, I believe it to be true," I answered, "she was against this union, but is resolved to make it work. I believe she thinks it necessary. Her mind works quickly. Too quickly. I have begun to admire it."

"Why would Alia agree?" my mother asked, "she has done everything to preserve your honor, but now risks this."

"I do not know," I answered honestly, "I intend to find out, quietly."

"You know the stakes now," my father said, reminding me of the strategy meetings, "I leave it to you to keep the alliance intact. The princess may have some other agenda, so be weary."

"She has an agenda, of that I agree. I do not think it is meant to harm me or the alliance," I stated. My mother hugged me in sympathy. Deep inside, she had wished a loving marriage for me. She knew it would be one of state, but wished it to be loving anyway. Alia and now this was making her more of a mother than a queen. I felt her worry. For the first time in a long time, I hugged her in hopes of making her feel better.

I was unable to talk with Angelica alone that night, She had strategically stayed with her parents, rendering conversation impossible. When I said my goodnight, Alia was there, laughing happily with the princess. The king and queen bade me goodnight and Angelica rose to kiss my cheek.

"All will be well, my Prince," Angelica whispered too low for others to hear. I did not hold with her confidence, but I did not let it show on my face. Alia smiled, driving love through my soul, and bowed her head slightly. A shiver went through me. She was looking at me without reservations, her eyes locking on mine with others about. It was both intoxicating and frightening. I had no control of this, plans were in motion between my love and my bride. I prayed it would not fester into our house's downfall.


I attended drill the next morning. My mood was lost between confusion and anger. I fear the soldiers caught the brunt of my frustration. In title, I was commander of my lord's forces. In reality I deferred to commander Boris Kancraft, a crusty old goat of a man with years of experience. He was a brilliant tactician, a strict, but fair, leader and my friend. His interests coincided with mine and he had personally taken control of my training since I was a child. I was the swordsman I am due to him, and I was a good one.

"Shall we work on cavalry today, my Lord?" Kancraft asked. He only put forth the question to maintain the illusion of my command to the others. Normally, I would dig ditches had he so ordered it. Today, I needed to release the frustration that had built up since last night.

"Aye, Commander. Then I would like to 'climb the mountain,'" I answered strongly. Boris was taken aback by my addition.

"As my Lord commands," Boris said. Then I saw a smile on his lips. "It is a good morning to test one's mettle." He turned to the men gathered, "What say you Lions!" A series of three loud coordinated grunts, followed by a cheer of "Strength in blood," sounded loudly across the practice field. It always cheered me to have so many of the same mind. All armies could be beaten, but when we came together we felt indestructible. Camaraderie is a powerful force, and Boris nurtured it well.

Storm was in a feisty mood this morning. I could sense he wished for real combat as we drilled, holding our lines. We spent much time executing tactical turns, pace changes and coordinated retreats to allow bowmen and infantry their strength. It was hard work and a few new recruits sorely needed the training. One horse can falter half the line if it chose to not react in cohort. It was obvious more training would be necessary. Boris made that abundantly clear as we headed off sweating to stable the horses. He had curses that curdled the ear.

'Climb the mountain' was a contest created by men to test themselves. Though many a woman would say it was developed by boys. We gathered in the main bailey and those who would participate drew lots. The commander and I drew as well. There was no rank on the mountain and no shame in losing, although there was pride in the winning. We paired off, as luck dictated, and fought with swords fated to the contest. They were dull and contained many notches where the metal had collided with metal. Honor dictated the winner of a match. If you were struck in a debilitating way, had the swords been real, you bowed out and congratulated the victor.

It was an exhausting contest. As the field of contestants lessened, the bouts become more frequent. It was truly akin to climbing a mountain. I had first drawn a new recruit, Hanson, and dispatched him quickly. I showed him how he failed, and he was the better for it. Some day his sword may save his life, and mine.

After six matches, I drew against Paddi Scoreson, a large red haired man who had muscles that supported his muscles. I had fought him before and did not fare well. His strength wore me down hard the last time and I faltered, becoming sloppy. This day I had drive behind me. I wished to expend my pent up frustration on Paddi. I lifted my sword with sore, tired arms, and smiled at his bearded face.

"I apologize aforehand, my Lord," Paddi announced loudly.

"You will do so from defeat," I responded in kind. Our swords met, mine countering his two-handed swing. I would swear it was an anvil as my hands felt the brunt of the strike. I ignored the blow as best I could, and countered weakly to his left side. He deflected it easily and laughed at the feeble attempt. It was feeble because my hands were still stressed from the earlier blow. I took a step back and realigned myself to battle. I was breathing hard when he came at me again.

The blows were fast and strong. Each time I countered, my hands stung more, and I felt myself quickly weakening. I was also being forced backward under his onslaught. I gambled then, knowing he would make short work of me if I allowed it to continue. I feigned complete exhaustion and he swung hard with a finishing blow. I prayed the blow missed as I ducked below it. Flat of the blade or not, his strength might take my head off. He had overextended, expecting me to counter, and swung past, unable to return to guard. I swung low and the flat of my blade smacked hard into his leg, just below the knee. The look on his face was most pleasurable.

"You tricked me, my Lord," Paddi said with surprise in his voice.

"Aye, I find a fair fight with you impossible," I said with humor. Paddi smiled and bowed to my guile. There was laughter from the crowd as we clasped our wrists. He crushed mine to remind me we would meet again. I did the same though I doubt he noticed. I had only ever made it to the final bout once before. As before, Boris stood smiling in the center of the bailey, waiting for me. I was already beaten mentally. Beating him would be a wonderful feat, but years of being his student had trained my mind to his superiority. I was also at the peak of exhaustion and he looked none the worse for wear.

I moved before Boris and a circle was formed around us. He flicked the sword comfortably in his hand, causing the blade to spin quickly as he appraised me. Even at his age, his skill had not diminished. As I had proved with Paddi, it was not strength, but skill, that chose the victor. I sighed and attacked.

Boris countered each of my blows effortlessly. I struggled to find a weakness as I pushed him back. I was expending my last reserve of strength and he let me. When my swings began to slow, he changed momentum and attacked. My sword was flailing around to counter his swift feints and strikes. I was still his student, I could feel it in my panicked bones. Every time I tried to press forward, he forced me back two steps. There would be no tricks as he began a relentless series of blows. I was visibly retreating and saw no way out of my inevitable defeat.

The incredible happened. Boris over committed on a thrust, his left foot forward yet his weight was committed to his heels. It was an out-of-character mistake. I quickly swung my leg and caught his lead foot and down he went. I followed quickly with the point of my sword at his chest as he lay on the ground. I was breathing like I could not get enough air, and he was smiling and seemingly ignoring the exertions. I knew he had given it to me. I reached my hand out, and he took it while I helped him to his feet in the midst of cheers.

"You gave it to me," I said a little crossly, yet quiet enough to not let others know.

"I gave it to your princess," Boris said knowingly, glancing toward the balcony. I looked behind me and my heart leaped in my chest. My future bride was there, blowing me a kiss for my victory, but it was a step behind her I was looking at. It was Alia, no longer dressed in homespun garb, no apron, no rag in her hand. Blue silks now hugged her curves, her vibrant hair alive with a white flower just above her right ear. Her smile glowing and her eyes on mine. I dropped my sword and stared dumbly at the most beautiful sight the world would ever possess. I bowed to Alia, the world thought it was to Angelica.

"She is beautiful, my Lord," Boris said, man to man, his hand on my shoulder.

"That and more," I said with a smile. Boris never knew my true meaning.


I ate lunch with the men. The kingdom would live or die by their arms so it was important they know I respected them for it. Every muscle in my body was sore. In a way, it felt good to use them well. I made it a point to stop by each group that formed as we sat to eat. I saw Commander Kancraft doing the same. I could not have had a better teacher.

I bathed long, trying to get the kinks out before they developed. Lucius informed me the princess had him bring Alia before her the afternoon last. I had given him permission to trust her so I had no right to chastise. Nor was I going to remove that trust now. The image of Alia on the balcony kept running through my mind. I knew what was under those silks. It made her all the more alluring. I did not know how I was supposed to face a lifetime of her dressing like that. I dunked my head under the water, trying to clear my thoughts. I wondered if Angelica was trying to tease me to death. She seemed to be amused with my failings.

I was unable to secure Angelica alone before dinner. I knew she was avoiding the conversation that had to occur. She was terribly clever, giving me glimpses of Alia clothed like a lady, knowing I could not comfortably address Alia directly. Angelica's teasing smiles were becoming infuriating and yet I kept seeking them out knowing Alia would be close. Duty, honor and love were mixing poorly.

Dinner was the first time I could get a word with Angelica. Her proximity and the cover of other conversations at least let us speak in whispered sentences.

"You risk everything," I said. It was a more dramatic statement than I intended. Without the leisure of long explanations, I was forced to use short sentences.

"Alia is lovely; I see why you love her," Angelica said with her sly smile. My bride was playing with me again. I controlled my ire and kept my public face.

"This must stop," I said without the determination my statement should have demanded.

"Tomorrow, after our ride," Angelica said calmly, "if you still wish it, I will undo it." I had no response to that. I had not expected her to stop without a fight. "I hope you will not wish it," she added with serious eyes. It was settled in my mind. Whatever she had put into motion she would allow me to stop without shaming the family. I changed the subject to one that could be overheard.

"I do so look forward to our ride tomorrow, my Princess," I said honestly. I will not lie to myself and say I did not enjoy making Angelica happy. She may not be Alia, but her joy was honest and infectious.

"I too, my Prince." So we ate and talked of unimportant matters. I dodged knowing looks from my mother. My father seemed satisfied I would handle the situation. I took pride in that trust. Tomorrow will see if it was deserved.

Lucius was feeding the hearth as I readied for bed. He usually just brought in the wood and left it to me to control the burn. He then picked up the clothes I had just discarded, something normally left for the morning. He moved quickly and straightened my table and switched the old blanket on my bed for a new one.

"Am I expecting visitors?" I asked in jest.

"The princess, my Lord," Lucius said without slowing. Now she was setting my schedule and controlling Lucius. 'A woman's sense of equal differs from a man's.' My father's words never rang so true. I was beginning to think a painting might be preferable to a willful wife. My thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Goodnight, my Lord," Lucius said with a smile. Once he opened the door, Angelica walked in like the queen she would be, her white gown floating across the floor.

"This is not appropriate..." I started and stopped when Alia followed Angelica in the door. Gods, she was gorgeous. My eyes refused to leave her, but my mouth continued, "You just cannot..." Alia moved into my arms without hesitation, and all thoughts of impropriety flew away. My arms wrapped around her and my eyes closed, my heart filled to the brim.

"I will come to get you in the morning," Angelica said softly.

"Yes, my Lady," Alia said with happiness on her lips. Angelica left quietly, leaving me alone with my love.

Alia pulled my face down to hers, our lips finding each other. It was only moments before her tongue urged my passion forward. I pulled her closer, stroked her hair and ran my hand down her silken side. She leaned into my caresses and I could stand it no longer. I lifted her into my arms, cradling her as she giggled. I carried her lovingly to the bed and covered her body with mine.

The wonderful fumbling of clothes being removed was mixed with our desire to not lose contact with each other. Her surprise lack of undergarments brought a deliciously sinful look to her eyes. I ravished her breasts with my lips, kissing and sucking taut, responsive nipples. I loved her sounds, almost like moans, as my lips traveled her body. Her tummy was ticklish in parts, and I had an in-depth knowledge of where. I found the spots and was merciless with my tongue. I loved her laughter and her fruitless struggles to dislodge my head.

In the past, our love would be rushed. Now, I had the night, the whole night. The only one who would miss Alia had sent her to me. I dropped my lips lower and Alia gasped. I had hurriedly done this before; I suspect poorly. Tonight, I would take my time. I wanted to hear her, to feel her, to let her know how deeply I felt. I heard a small whimper when my lips found her sex. She was unbelievably warm, on the verge of hot. I tentatively traced her moist opening with my tongue and she moaned deeply. She tasted of sweet oil. I braved to go deeper and was encouraged as her legs spread farther.

Alia opened to me, her moans begging me on. My passion growing, I held back, desiring her pleasure first. I ran my tongue to the top of her flower and dragged it lightly across the bud that had become exposed. Her body jerked of its own accord which made me smile. My fingers teased her opening as I lightly teased her bud with my lips, softly sucking. Her breathing became irregular and her hips began to rise. My fingers drove deeper, searching her warm wetness. My tongue flicked faster as her passion rose.

"Cayden...Cayden, my love," Alia called my name. It was more than I had hoped to hear. I doubled my efforts and my name turned into incomprehensible moans as I felt waves of pleasure travel through her. Her hips were thrusting at my mouth, trying to get more. I continued, loving what I was doing to her - the arched back, the shaking legs. It was a most enjoyable experience. Her hips finally lowered in a loud sigh, and I continued teasing her with my tongue as her passion turned to laughter.

"My love," Alia laughed, trying desperately to move my tongue away, "my love, it is ticklish." I stopped my pleasurable torture and crawled up her soft, naked body, my arousal evident.

"I would spend my life between your legs," I said naughtily. Alia's lips attacked mine, not caring where they had just been. I felt her hand find my erection. She grasped it tightly and rolled me onto my back. I laughingly complied. She straddled me and rose her sex above mine.

"I love you, Cayden," Alia said as she lowered onto me. I struggled to hold back, wanting everything to last forever. My name on her lips was heaven. She settled down on me and leaned forward, her breasts pushing into my chest. She found my lips and her hips began to move. Her movements were slow and forceful, her lips tender. She rode me as my legs tightened. Her lips traced down my cheek, kissing her way to my ear.

"My Prince, my Lord, my love, my Cayden," Alia whispered. It was too much. My body jerked and my passion burst into her. It was exquisite pleasure that I felt from my fingers to my toes. A dream come live.

When I opened my eyes, Alia was looking down on me. She wore a delicious smile and seemed quite proud of her efforts. I chuckled as I rolled her on her side and then kissed her deeply. She felt so wonderful in my bed. I would have chucked the world away if I could have stayed in that moment forever.

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