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The sun invaded the bedroom, making Emerald's eyelids quiver. In astonishment, she opened her eyes briefly. The rising daylight made her look down quickly. The breasts, which she fought so hard to keep hidden the night before, were now emerging from the sheets, beautiful and naked.
She glanced at her side. King Cedric was sleeping, exhausted and didn't even wake up at her movement.
She stood up. In quick steps, she searched for the beautiful nuptial robe and covered her body, not before glancing at the mirror, trying to see if the white fabric would show even a trace of her dark aureoles.
She sighed in relief when she realized she was protected. Finally, she turned to her husband again.
It was her first time seeing him as a whole.
Her eyes traveled over his muscled legs, to his huge member that was resting on his thighs and to his well-defined chest. He was big, strong and manly. She smiled, shrugging at the thought that Cael's definition had no resemblance to that beautiful man.
At last, she noticed his face. She got closer, leading her hands to the grotesque marks.
The mashian had told her that, before the accident, Cedric was known as the most beautiful king ever born. He said he had inherited his mother's beauty, a seductive woman, who had turned the former king's head and his life upside down. However, in spite of his appearance, he never had a taste of the pleasures of the body, saving himself to the branian Lyn.
Emerald wondered about the woman she had never met and how shallow were her feelings. How could she abandon a man like that on her wedding's eve, just because he had lost his beauty?
Were her feelings only based on his perfect features? Didn't she know that time goes by and the years would take away all the beauty?
She moved away, telling herself to have no mercy. She wasn't there to do anything other than deceive him, in Cael's revenge plan. What he lived, the way he suffered or what he had been through had nothing to do with her.
She just… needed to focus. Her thoughts shouldn't deviate from one single truth: she wasn't Rhianna, she wasn't his wife and she wasn't a pure woman.
Quite the opposite, she was an unclean who had committed the highest of the sins by going to bed with him.
However, the sin didn't bother her. Emerald had no faith. How could she, after being born an unclean? The Gods hadn't favored her at all. They have even made her beautiful, so that she was even more disputed by the men who would love to destroy her for the blood that ran in her veins.
A movement in bed brought her from her daydream. She went towards the bathroom, adjoined to the bedroom. It was her first time there and she felt a bit lost with its size. She and Randu were used to share a wooden bathroom, built quite far from their house. There was no luxury and, looking at that perfect place, she felt an odd satisfaction.
Yes, that was how she should face those days. Like a revenge experience. Not only against the man who had destroyed her mom, but also, through Cedric, she would get revenge against all the pure white men who would see their world fall apart when they realized who actually the redhead who had married their Higher King was.
The man appeared behind her. Through the mirror, they faced each other. However, he didn't looked at her for too long. He went to a basin and washed his face.
She wanted to say something, anything that could break that weird silence. However, even before she was able to open her mouth, a knock at the door prevented her of speaking.
Five servants entered the place. Shrinking herself at a corner, Emerald watched them filling a tube with hot water. Cedric didn't even glanced at them while they were doing their job and said nothing while they left.
"After I bathe, you can use the bathtub," he explained and she wondered why he had the priority.
It should be because he was a king…
"After? Why can't I do it before?"
He looked at her, surprised.
"You want to bathe with me?" He didn't ask with malice, but with arrogance.
"No. I just want to know why you have the preference and I have to wash myself in your dirt."
"I'm not dirty!" His voice sounded like a roar.
"Neither am I. So why don't you bathe in my water instead?"
"Because I'm a man!" the answer seemed obvious to him. "The man eats first, bathes first and satisfy himself first. It's the woman's duty to accept her position and keep her mouth shut."
How she wanted to make him swallow those words! Randu was the very opposite. To Randu, his sister always came first. That cocky king was nothing like her beloved brother.
"Because I'm a man," she mimicked him, fearless. "Bullshit."
His infuriated look reached her and Emerald felt she had gone too far.
"I apologize, my King," she reacted, quickly. "I don't know what came over me."
"You apologize with this look that is even more insulting than your words?"
"And is it my fault if my look doesn't please you? Maybe you would rather see the black eyes of a branian. However, you have married a mashian and these emerald green eyes are what Masha has given me. I can't simply change its color to please you."
Giving up on the battle, Cedric took off his robe and entered the bathtub. He sighed, happy with the hot water while sensing her fuming beside him, as a sick dog, panting on his ears. No, it was impossible to enjoy that relaxing moment with that annoying woman feeling herself entitled to have all the male benefits.
"All right, then," he gave up on the bath and stood up. "Take the bathe you wish so much."
She kept still and Cedric knew she wasn't shocked with his nudity. By the way, she didn't seem bothered by his deformed face. She was indeed the most different person he had ever met.
"Thank you, my husband. Could you leave me alone?"
It was amazing how arrogant and presumptuous she was. However, it was the first day of their life together and Cedric wasn't willing to fight after… the night they've had.
He felt embarrassed and went towards their bedroom.
In a way, he felt he had broken his promise to Lyn. No, he obviously would never fall in love with that impertinent mashian who seemed not to fear being so petulant. However, the pleasure he felt… that couldn't be right!
Not when had preserved his feelings for so long. However, it was Lyn's fault. If she had not abandoned him, he wouldn't be forced to share another woman's bed.
The bathroom's door was closed. She really didn't want him to see her naked body. Could it be that she also had any deformity on her body and was afraid of disappointing him? As if! The only thing he wished was for her to get pregnant at once!
After that, he would never touch her again…
He looked at the disarranged bed and shivered.
"Is there something bothering you?"
Emerald's voice made Cael raise his eyes from the table to face her.
"I was worried about you," he said, not being completely honest.
There was Kian and his feelings, about which he had discovered the night before, but he wasn't willing to think about that in that moment.
While she accommodated herself beside him, picking up a strawberry near his dish, Cael analyzed her as a whole.
She didn't seem nervous or angry about the night she was forced to have. In the short time they have been together in the boat, he learned she was the kind of person who measured no efforts neither complained about the circumstances in order to achieve a goal.
"Was it your first time with a man?"
She shrugged, as if it didn't matter. He noticed, by her ashamed eyes, that it wasn't entirely true.
"I don't even know how to apologize."
"You don't have to. We knew about the risks."
"Eme…" he stopped, coughing. "Rhianna," he proceeded after correcting himself, "if Cedric wants a child, you will have to take the herbs. I will get them for you today."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about avoiding a pregnancy."
Emerald had never heard about that before. It wasn't his fault, of course. Randu had never said anything because he never imagined his sister would be going to bed with a man."
"The herbs will prevent me from getting pregnant?"
"But," she lowered her voice, "what if I'm already…"
"The herbs will expel the baby of your womb."
She couldn't be sure she was pregnant, but the possibility of killing a child scared her.
Facing the void, she didn't know what to say, what to think or what to do. Her mother appeared in her mind, out of nowhere, and she knew that Brione needed to have a lot of courage to move ahead. What would she do in her shoes?
"Rhianna," Cael took her fingers, as if he could understand her. "If you don't take the herbs…"
"There will be another unclean in the world," she mumbled.
"As soon as we find your father," his mouth approached her ear, "and we kill him, I can hide you in my lands, beyond Masha." Those words made her shiver.
She turned to him.
"What are you saying?"
"No one lives there. It is isolated. I can take you there."
Emerald faced him. She noticed his shy smile.
"Don't take me wrong," she remained whispering. "However, it's strange watching you protecting and trying to help me. No one ever minded before…"
Cael laughed and took a bite on his cheese. He seemed to be thinking while eating. Only then, he answered.
"I have no family. I have never had anyone. I am as lonely as you are. Actually, that month at the sea was the most funniest and the happiest I've ever had. You are the first friend I have and I won't let you down, I promise."
"Your first friend after Kian, of course."
"What about your father? You have a family, Cael."
"According to him, I'm just the result of a quick fuck." Watching the surprise in her green eyes, he sighed. "How is your hand?" the question changed the subject of their talk.
She glanced at the said hand.
"It healed quite fast. I didn't know they would cut it…"
"They use a special balm. The intention was only joining your blood."
Once again, she wondered about how big was the rage that Cael felt for Cedric, to the point of joining his blood with an unclean woman's one.
"I promise this won't take long," his voice brought her back from her thoughts.
"As long as it takes," she assured him. "I don't mind."
Actually, she wasn't worried.
"But tell me, Rhianna," Cael looked at her, "how is going the plan of befriending Cedric?"
The redhead raised an eyebrow, sovereignly.
"Quite well," she answered, showing no apprehension. "I believe we are already the best friends in the world."
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