New Kingdom: European Court Ch. 05byMicKay©
After a few more minutes of admiring the new clothes and gifts, Emma finally left the bed and headed for the shower. When she walked in, she realized that Alena had truly thought of everything she would need. Soaps, lotions and basic cosmetics were waiting for her on the vanity. Looking inside a wicker basket on the floor, Emma found everything she needed to style her hair.
While she would have loved to relax in the jetted tub, she knew Antony was in the next room waiting for her. She was a little surprised that her new appreciation for the man had grown so strong so fast. Maybe watching a guy save your life will realign your opinions.
Stepping into the shower, Emma quickly performed the necessary rituals and stepped from the steaming stall into waiting arms. Gasping in mild shock and immense pleasure, she wiped the water from her eyes to see Antony standing before her holding a large, warm towel which he quickly wrapped around her body. Without a word, he continued drying her body and hair until he seemed satisfied with the results.
Antony then reached for the gown and pulled it over her head letting it fall down her body and legs. After he belted the robe, he gently led her to the bedroom with her hand tucked into the curve of his arm. Emma immediately noticed that all of her new things were no longer on the bed.
"What happened to my clothes?"
"The staff came in and put them away," he said escorting her to the closet.
When he opened the doors to the smaller room, Emma gasped in surprise. While she was amazed that anyone could have properly put away so many garments so quickly, she was in awe of the sight before her. With his clothes on one side and hers on the other, she realized that they were sharing a closet. How could something so simple seem so intimate?
"I thought you might want a nap before dinner," he whispered in her ear.
"Yes, I'm going to have the cook serve you on a smorgasbord for all of my guests," he said with a wink.
"Funny," she said and smiled. "But seriously, what do you mean by dinner?"
"Ah," he shaking his head, "my brothers' women and the children eat human food. So my staff is preparing the proverbial fatted calf to serve those who have yet to appreciate a liquid diet."
"In addition, my brothers will meet with us to discuss ... well, everything," Antony said leading Emma to the bed. "We need to determine what it is about you that is driving our enemy insane."
As he helped her climb into bed, he added, "And I just want you with me."
"You think I'm interesting?" she asked with a yawn.
"Mesmerizing," he said as he lay beside her and pulled her into his arms. "Sleep, Emma. I'll be here when you wake."
With the gentlest touch, he stroked his finger down her jaw and watched her eyes drop in surrender to sleep. Holding her close with the sun pouring into the room, Antony traced his fingers over the bruises around her neck. He remembered the moment that he knew she was approaching the maze, watching the rogues swing down from their posts and then moving to reach her before she was harmed. The black and blue marks on her neck were reminders that he had failed. Would he ever get this right?
"I'll begin now," he murmured touching the bruises with his lips.
With each kiss, he softly swiped his tongue over her injured skin, knowing that there would be no remaining signs of abuse within a few minutes. He then leaned back and watched the skin turn to a flawless glow.
"Why stop now?" he asked quietly.
Moving to her eyes, he pressed his lips to the corners, removing the lines marking her stressful life. Antony then licked across the dark shadows under her eyes betraying the sleepless nights and malnutrition she had most likely endured as a child. Finally, when he could resist her taste no longer, he kissed her full on the mouth and shared enough venom to give her the simple essence hidden beneath all beautiful women marred from living in the pollution of modern times. When he was satisfied with the results, he tucked her head under his chin and contented himself by holding her close and counting her human heartbeats.
Hidden in the confines of the renovated temples, another man enjoyed the company of the woman in his presence. He leaned back, closing his eyes as the beautiful woman continued bobbing her head between his thighs. He smiled when he remembered how difficult she had been when he had first informed her of his intentions. She had been shocked, terrified and ashamed. All were emotions that he loved to see in a woman.
As she continued slurping over his length, the Panthralges moved her black hair over her shoulder so he could watch the mixture of her tears and saliva soaking his groin. It was amazing how little things could still bring him pleasure. His gentle tug on her hair quickly turned brutal as he wrapped the dark strands around his hand and viciously moved her head faster. If the tears had been an aphrodisiac to him earlier, her muffled screams of pain were pushing him into euphoria.
As he released his hot load into her mouth, he held her firmly against his lap until he was fully spent and he was confident she had swallowed every drop of his seed. Kicking her away from him, he laughed when she shrieked in surprise and shame at his outlandish treatment.
"Are you ready to prove your faithfulness to me?" he asked as he nonchalantly fastened the cloth covering his groin.
The woman's dark green eyes stared at the massive red beast in shock. Had she not proven her loyalty to him every minute of every day since coming into his service? After raping her mouth just now, how could he expect more from her?
"You hesitate?" he growled at her silence.
"No my lord," she declared with a raspy voice. "What you wish, I will do."
"Excellent," he said with an evil smile. "You will be glad to know that I am releasing you from my company in these temples."
"You are?" she asked unable to contain the excitement in her tone.
"Ah, yes. It's time to transfer you to your king's castle."
"No? You refuse me?"
"My lord, ask me anything but that. Please. I can't see ... him."
"You will and you will do well."
"He will kill me."
"Most likely," the red beast said standing and stretching his massive wings. "But he will be merciful and quick. I, on the other hand, enjoy watching you suffer."
"My lord, am I not worth anything to you?"
"Of course you are. You will perform the greatest task of your life tonight," he said patting her on the head as a master would a pet. "Do well and you will both please me and anger him, thus bringing an end to your torment here."
With complete understanding, the woman stood and walked from the room. Resigned to her fate, she understood that the life she had enjoyed would end tonight but so would her eternal damnation as servant to the beast.
When Emma woke, she remained motionless, savoring the feelings of everything touching her. The new gown and robe were cool and soft, sliding against the expensive silk sheets. But it was the warm embrace of the man holding her that she cherished more than anything. As she released a combination moan and sigh, she wiggled closer against him and giggled when he tightened his embrace.
"You stayed," she whispered without looking at Antony, "just like you promised."
"To be accurate, I promised to be here when you woke from your nap. I have been working in the sitting room for the last several hours and just came back when I heard you stirring."
At this point, she tilted her head back against his chest and looked at him in confusion. He smiled and kissed her forehead pulling her bottom tightly against his lap.
"I'm trying to be honest with you," he added quietly. "Because of what I am, it's going to be difficult."
"I dread seeing the expressions of shock and horror on your face," he answered withholding the fact that he would hear her thoughts as she processed the information.
"While it may not be comparable to you, I'm ashamed of my childhood and past. But those years and events have created the person that I am just like your history has shaped who you are today. Can we agree to be forgiving on everything from the moment I woke up and back ... how far?"
"Four thousand years."
"Ok. I should get a head start or handicap on the forgiveness," she responded with a laugh. "Seriously, I mean it. If you're willing to overlook my quirks, I promise to be understanding."
"Deal," he said and with a playful smack to her bottom, he added, "You should probably start getting dressed for dinner. The others will be waiting. Emma," he hesitated, "I hope you don't mind but I selected a dress for you to wear. Of course, it's your choice but I was particularly fond of it."
When he had left her with a kiss and a smile, Emma walked to the closet and stared at the dress he had selected for her. It was a formal gown in shimmering silver. The soft fabric would certainly cling to her curves and the cut would show more flesh that she had ever dared to reveal in public. But then, she had never owned such exquisite pieces in her humble wardrobe.
With a burst of excitement, she spent the next several minutes finding the appropriate underclothes and shoes while wondering what she would do with her hair. When she stood in front of the full length mirror, she was speechless as a result of the image staring back at her. She had yet to put on makeup but her flawless complexion glowed in the soft light. Had a nap really improved her face that much?
Emma timidly exited the bedroom and found Antony standing in the foyer with his back to her. When he turned around and saw her, he did a double take and stared at her speechlessly. Blushing at his audacity, Emma paused and awkwardly looked around until she finally dropped her eyes to look at the floor.
"Emma," he said quietly, "I thought the color would accent your eyes but you ... you look amazing."
"Thanks. I, uh, guess I really needed the rest. And this dress ... I guess sometimes the clothes do make the woman."
"No. It's a good color on you but that's the limit," he said. "Let's get downstairs before we have to send our regrets for missing dinner.
Tucking her hand in the crook of his arm, Antony led Emma from their suite and through the castle. As they descended the grand staircase, he looked at the banister and laughed.
"What?" she whispered.
"Just this morning, I was jealous of the banister. You were fighting to get away from me and yet you were caressing the banister."
"This house is amazing. Everything is beautiful."
"Your perception on beauty is skewed," he commented after looking at her. "I agree that the objects in here have a certain appeal, else I wouldn't have them. But you, you work so hard to be hidden, almost invisible, that most people don't see you. Yet, I'm addicted to you."
"I don't understand," she said feeling uncomfortable. "I don't do anything. I just blend with the scenery."
"Emma," he said stopping their decent, "Don't deny the truth with me. You withdraw into yourself and almost create a barrier around you blocking out everyone. It blocks everyone but me. Your shield to the world becomes a beacon to me."
With a nervous smile, she slightly nodded her head and continued down the stairs. She was startled when Antony was suddenly standing in front of her blocking her path.
"You don't believe me."
"I don't understand you," she whispered.
Tucking her hand back into the crook of this arm, Antony continued to guide Emma down the stairs and into the library where Edward and Gabriel were standing. With their backs to the couple, Edward continued speaking to Gabriel about the events earlier in the day.
"If he hadn't run off like a rabid dog, we would know what they wanted. Did he think we would let them harm her?"
"They did manage to grab her even with Joshua's interference," Gabriel replied.
"And why are they so fast? Is it possible that some of the blood still exist? Maybe it's been altered?"
"I don't know ..."Gabriel paused and turned quickly facing Antony and Emma. "Emma! I apologize that we didn't see you ... or Antony," he added looking at his brother.
"We were too preoccupied discussing the events of the day," Edward said approaching the couple. "My apologies," he added placing a kiss on Emma's hand.
When he leaned back, Edward stared at the skin on her hand and let his eyes travel up her arm and finally rested his gaze on her face. With a smile, he pulled her away from Antony's side and escorted her to the sofa. Sitting beside her, he explained that the cook had yet to announce that dinner was ready.
"You certainly look well rested," he added staring at her face. "It is our wish that you can begin enjoying your time with us and not live in fear of the attacks you have experienced these past two days."
"Thank you for your help today," Emma said. "I'm sorry that I didn't say anything earlier but I was ... uh,"
"No need to explain," Gabriel added. "We were all in a little shock."
"Emma, do you have any idea why they keep coming after you?" Edward asked.
"No. I have no idea why they've suddenly noticed me."
"Notice," Edward repeated. "An interesting word. My brothers and I usually notice everything but you seem to have a gift of hiding under our radar. I would like to know how that works."
"I, uh, always found it easier to be invisible because of, uh, I had a weird past."
"You can be invisible?"
"It's nothing I do on purpose. When I was a kid, I would sit out of the teacher's line of vision, use the side door to the school where few students would see me, dress in plain clothes ...."
"No offense, my dear," Edward started, "but you could wear a shroud and with that blond hair and those gray eyes, you'd still catch every man's eye. "
Seeing Emma blush and pull away, Edward immediately added, "I'm sorry to be blunt but I believe that you have assumed this ability you have to be a result of being shy or unsociable but I believe it's something different."
Edward then looked at Gabriel for a moment who shrugged his shoulders and turned his back to them.
"Emma," Edward added, "I vow to you that that we mean you no harm. And while Antony has acted inappropriately to you ..."
"Inappropriately?" she asked.
"He will explain that. Tonight," Edward added looking at Antony. "As I was saying, I hope that you can feel comfortable enough to talk with us and eventually trust us."
Staring at his eyes, Emma saw strength and integrity. She had not seen these characteristics in very many people.
"I trust you," she whispered.
"My god," Gabriel said turning back to face Edward and Emma. "She pulled you under her cover."
"What?" Emma asked.
Antony, who had been silent for too long quickly strode to the sofa and motioned for Edward to move. Smiling at his brother's possessiveness over the girl, Edward vacated his position. Sitting beside Emma, Antony pulled her close to him enjoying the sensations he felt when touching her soft body.
"When we walked in the room," he began to explain, "My brothers did not notice us. While you may think that is common, it's not for us. And even if you could be hidden from sight, they know my thoughts and location because of our nature. And no one can walk into a room behind us unaware. At least," he paused looking at Gabriel, "until now."
"When you told Edward that you trusted him," Gabriel explained, "he disappeared from my sight. I wonder if that's what they want from her."
"Who?" Emma asked.
"Our enemy," Gabriel answered and then paused before explaining. "I'm torn between telling you everything or protecting you by allowing you to remain ignorant of us, our enemies, and this war we are fighting."
"Alena mentioned something about the research I'm doing at Kingdom Investments. Does that really tie into a war between vampires?"
"They used the hospital for funding and medical access," Gabriel explained. "How much have you uncovered in your work?"
"Quite a bit but I would need my computer or the files on my computer to explain anything."
"Can you get what she needs?" Edward asked Antony.
"Of course, but the cook is about to walk in and announce dinner," he said smiling at Emma's expression when the door opened and a woman announce that dinner was served. "We'll continue this discussion after you have eaten."
As he escorted Emma from the library, he led her down the hall and to another set of closed doors. Placing his hands on her face, he held her still and looked into her big, gray eyes. The sound of her heartbeat, the feel of her pulse, and the smell of her blood assaulted his senses. Antony leaned forward and captured her lips with his own holding her close to his body.
Emma was startled by the passion Antony was demonstrating outside the privacy of his bedroom but she was even more surprised by her body's reaction to his kiss. Clutching to his shoulders, she held him close until she wanted him closer and wrapped her arms around his neck so she could feel his body press against hers. When his lips moved from her mouth and down her throat, she leaned her head back granting him full access and then moaned in appreciation of his efforts.
When she heard the wanton sound come from her own lips, Emma blinked and then looked around. Seeing no one made her feel slightly better. Knowing that she had probably been heard by everyone made her feel worse. When Antony felt her hesitate, he smiled and then pulled away.
"I suppose I could have moved us somewhere with more privacy. There was a time, only a few days ago, that every room of my home was private," he explained with a smile.
Returning his smile, Emma took a bold step to close the distance between them and placed her hand on his chest. Leaning up on her toes, she reached Antony's lips with hers and gave him a quick but passionate kiss. When she looked into his eyes, they shared a look that held a silent vow of hope.
"Let's get you to dinner. The sooner you eat, then the sooner I can get you alone," he growled turning her to the door and ushering her over the threshold turning to shut the doors between them.
As she entered, she saw the two sisters standing beside the window. Although the women were silent, Emma had the sense of interrupting a private conversation. Iona's expression was strained as though she were in pain. Alena would close her eyes and take a deep breath and then look back at her sister as though she were waiting.
"Of course I'm sure!" Iona finally snapped. "I've been terrified since I got here."
"But you've remember nothing during that time of your life," Alena said with her comforting voice. "I just thought maybe it was possible that you were reacting to the nearness of the people who had hurt you. Have you talked with Edward?"
"He had been moved so many times that by the time we were moved together, he was starving and confused," Iona answered. "And no, I haven't said anything. He would lie to protect me."
"So you came to me because I wouldn't lie to protect you?"
"You would tell me how this is the result of my self-destructive behavior and, although you will help me, you want a promise that I have learned my lesson," Iona answered with a small laugh.
"Funny," Alena answered with a frown and turned to the door. "Emma! How long have you been standing there?"
"I'm sorry," Emma whispered. "I didn't mean to intrude but Antony told me to meet you here for dinner."
"Of course, Emma," Iona agreed with a smile. "We have been waiting for you. My sister and I were a bit startled to see you standing there like, well, like you just appeared out of thin air."
"I have been told that I have a knack for that," Emma mumbled looking around the room.