Ties That Bind: The Bellum Sisters 3 (paranormal erotic romance) (7 page)

The gift dropped on top of his desk with a soft thud. “It's a matching underwear set. I bought a few actually in black, yellow, red, and pink. But this one I bought just for you.” Her hands teased along the edge of her dress, fingers slowly curling around the fabric as she lifted it just an inch up her thighs.

Telal dug his pen harder into the paper, but he couldn't ignore what he saw from the corner of his eyes—

and neither could his cock. It swelled and sprung up to life like it saw a woman for the first time.

The dress continued its assent, going up a little bit higher. Her voice turned sultry, a little husky. “This one is blue like your hair—my favorite color. Soft lace, a thong that sits right on my hips, between my cheeks,” she said, whispering now. His eyes no longer strayed but stared at the skin she revealed like a servant obeying his master. Slowly, moving like a dancer, she turned around to show him the curves of her ass as her hands worked that soft material up and up.

His cock shoved against the zipper trying to escape, and damn if he didn't want to help it do just that. He curled his hands into fists to keep from reaching for himself. He
jacked off.

“The bra cups my breasts lightly like a warm hand, pushing my breasts high and so close together they nearly kiss.” Her hips swayed side to side in a subtle rhythm as the dress reached the tops of her thighs. His breathing grew ragged. He wanted to see her ass again,
to see it again. Sweat formed on his brow but he ignored it and listened only to the sound of her smoky voice and the pounding of his heart.

“And the panties,” she said slowly pulling the fabric over her round cheeks, baring to him the dip from thigh to cheek. “Slides smoothly right...up...the middle.” All the air whooshed out of him as she finally lifted the dress all the way, brazenly showing off her bare, rounded cheeks with a strap of blue lace tucked between them. Heart pounding like a heart attack, he licked his dry lips just as the office door shot open.

Her dress quickly dropped back into place and she turned around to him with a sweet smile. She looked pointedly at the box on his desk. “Open it and yes, I
going with you.” Then she waved at Kearnyn and left.

“Sir...what do you need?”

It took him several moments to gather a coherent thought that didn't involve the words 'ass' or 'smooth' in it. “Nothing. Get out of here.” Kearnyn nodded without question and left.

The image of her perfectly shaped ass wouldn't get out of his head. Neither would his stiff cock go down. “God dammit.”

He picked up the stupid box and tore the thin red string wrapped around it and tossed off the black lid. He stopped at what he saw. Inside the box read
Mont Blanc.
His fingers trailed over the object that sat in velvet casing and then he plucked it out of its fitted cushion.

It was a pen. Black, not too slender, and it fit in his palm comfortably. The tip looked like a quill feather, an old-fashioned fountain pen that required an ink well. It weighed in his palm, neither too heavy nor too light. He took out a fresh piece of paper and scribbled a random sentence on it.


She'd bought him a pen, and it was perfect.





The summons came at precisely meal time. Workers had gone home to their families, the royalty were preparing for another grand meal, and Arianna couldn't figure out what to wear.

“Wear the black dress,” Celine said.

“But he
black, what if he prefers that color? I don't want him to like what I wear.”

Celine nodded in agreement. “Then just wear the cream one. It's bland and the plainest dress you have. It even has sleeves, but hurry, you don't want to make him wait.”

“Yes, the cream will do.”

Somehow as Celine helped her into the dress, she had yet to feel any real panic. She felt nervous, of course, but none more so than if she were meeting a “normal” demon male for dinner. She had a feeling though that once she saw him all that would change.

The cream-colored dress billowed around her feet in a circle; it clung snugly to her waist and hips and fell off the shoulder where the fitted sleeves covered her arms and wrists by a single loop of material around her middle finger. Truly it was the simplest in color and design, but she felt like she was going to the king in nothing more than her bare skin.

“Do you think he'll be kind?” Arianna said, trying her best to keep the tension out of her voice.

Celine finished buttoning the long row of buttons that went from her lower back to between her shoulder blades, then stilled. “I...I don't know. I can't lie to you and say yes, Ari.” Her voice clogged over with emotion. “If-if he tries anything, don't be afraid to run. I'll be here.”

“Oh, Celine.” Arianna spun around, wrapping a tearful Celine in her arms. “It won't be as bad as that.” She kept her tone positive, but inside insecurity rained like a thunderstorm.

Another brisk knock came at the door. “Coming,” Arianna said. She gripped Celine's hands one last time then gave a quick nod and a smile. “I'll see you soon.”

Celine nodded fast, her hand covering her mouth, eyes wet with tears. Arianna went to the door and opened it.

“His royal highness, Alrik Gravier Demuzi, is awaiting you.”

Arianna did a slight curtsy then followed the steward. She kept her facial features relaxed, her lips curled up in a hint of a smile, but inside her heart thundered, her muscles twitched with the need to run.

If this happened a thousand years before, and Alrik asked her to dinner, her response would be entirely different. Happy, thrilled, honored. Alrik was incredibly handsome in his prime with a rugged appeal that she'd always preferred. While his brother Telal was also handsome, he had cleaner, more aristocratic features. Where Telal's blue hair had always been long near his shoulders, Alrik kept his more curly hair cut just below his chin. His hair used to be a beautiful auburn, red with brown tints; his skin shone with golden brilliance characteristic of the Demuzi royal line, and even his eyes were violet. A brilliant, vibrant purple hue that glittered when he looked at you.

Now so much had changed. Everything changed after the war. Violet eyes turned black, auburn hair and skin turned to coal. In good light, one could see the piercings he wore. The royalty had gasped in protest when they'd seen what he did to his lips, nose, eyebrows, and ears, which now held studs and hoops of silver or gold. Not one of them dared to say a word.

“This way,” the steward said.

Arianna blinked as she remembered she was on her way to see him. He wanted to dine with her. For what purpose? He knew she was spoken for. He couldn't possibly be interested in her.

The steward turned down a hall away from the banquet hall. Arianna crossed her arms as if that might somehow protect her. “Where are we dining at?”

“Your highness has requested your meal to be served in the royal dining room.”

She stifled her panic as her mind screamed in warning. The royal dining room? Shit, shit, shit. The royal dining room was the most secluded dining area in the castle, reserved for royalty or elite guests alone. Though, she had to say it really didn't surprise her that he'd use it for something like this. Alrik did what he wanted, when he wanted.

They came upon two stalwart wooden doors with golden handles. He grasped the handles then pushed the groaning doors open. A small breeze flowed over her, rustling her dress and hair. At the last second, she remembered to put her arms back down at her sides and unfist her hands. Look calm, be calm.

The steward stepped to the side and bowed his head down. “After you, my lady.”

Arianna walked into the lavish royal dining room, her eyes widening at the pure luxury of the room. She had never been in the room herself, but she'd heard about it. It was rarely used anymore, if at all. She was surprised to find no dust or webs in the shadowy corners.

The room shined to an immaculate sheen. The floor was covered in a large hand-woven rug that spanned the length of the room in maroon and black diamond shapes. The ceiling was white and engraved with gold silhouettes of men with swords, women with baskets or children in their arms. She could have snorted at the blaring inaccuracy. What it should show is men and women drinking out of gold cups, wearing expensive finery, and laughing at the poor.

Two massive chandeliers hung over the incredible long length of the table. Her surveying stopped as she saw who sat at the end of that table.

“Are you quite ready now?” Alrik asked in a low voice.

Arianna took a deep breath and went to her knees, her head bowed. “Your highness, I apologize for being tardy.” She couldn't quite keep the stutter of fear out of her voice.

“Sit down,” he demanded.

Arianna nodded and scooted back to sit on the floor. She kept her eyes squeezed shut, head low as possible, which made her neck protest in pain.

“I meant...in a chair.”

Flushing with embarrassment, she started for a chair. She had to slow her steps though because she was practically running. Two dining places were set. One at the far head of the table where he sat and one right next to him. She swallowed hard as she neared the seat. Protocol stated that he should rise and pull the seat out for her, but he didn't.

Arianna didn't meet his eyes as she went to the back of the chair, grabbed the sides of it, and pulled—it barely moved an inch. Turning her face away from him, she squeezed her eyes shut and clamped her lips tight as she pulled with all her might to move the massive chair.

Suddenly a big, surprisingly warm hand enveloped hers. Her eyes popped open to see his hand touching hers. With a quick pull, he scooted the chair out then sat back in his.

Arianna delicately took her seat, but the chair was pulled out so far that she had to sit at the very edge of the cushion, and even then her hands barely met the table in front of her. Without a word, she sat there; her eyes trained forward on her empty white plate with veining gold etchings on the trim, and folded her hands neatly in her lap.

From the corner of her eyes she watched him. He slouched back in his big throne-like chair, one elbow propped up on the arm with his square chin resting on his fist, eyes watching her with keen interest. His legs were kicked out before him, one knee bent more than the other. He wore black again, not a surprise there. A black jacket with black pants and black leather boots that came up to his knees. Unusual attire for royalty, but not for him.

The silence drew on until she couldn't handle it any longer. “Your highness, I apologize for being late.” She winced as her words held a biting edge to it. She could already see her fate flashing before her eyes—she'd end up like that prisoner she saw the other night, begging for her life after being wrongfully imprisoned.

“You already said that.” His deep voice traveled over the room in a low pitch like a wave. He moved and the candlelight from the chandelier glinted off the metal loop in his lip and eyebrow.

She nodded, clamping her lips shut.

“I...I was under the impression we'd be dining in the banquet hall,” she said quietly, her eyes now studying the design of the empty flute glass next to her plate.

“I wanted us to be alone.”

She swallowed over her raw throat, her hands twined together like she was trying to peel her skin off. “Why?” she whispered.

A soft bell chimed and then a much smaller door than the one she'd entered opened as half a dozen servants came in with trays of food. Arianna sat so straight her neck and back flared in warning as the servants moved around them in harmony, one servant pouring wine into the glasses, and another serving food onto the plates with perfect execution. They left far too quickly for Arianna. Her eyes followed their retreating backs but none of them turned, and even if one had, there was nothing they could do to help.

“Eat,” he ordered.

Arianna grimaced as she eyed her distance from the table. Knowing she couldn't move the chair on her own, she gingerly sat forward to pick up her white linen and lay it across her lap. Then she picked up a gold fork and took a bite of salad. The crunch of the lettuce in her mouth sounded as though it echoed in the quiet room. She swallowed but it felt like swallowing a rock. Her eyes darted over to him to see he hadn't touched his food at all.

Arianna placed her fork down and thought carefully how to word her question. She had to step carefully here or who knew where she'd end up...or what he'd do.

“Your highness—”

“Alrik. You will call me Alrik when we're together.”

Arianna glanced at the massive doors she'd entered with a beseeching glance. Getting her expression back under control, she made her lips pull into a polite smile as she looked back down at her plate.

“Alrik, may I ask why you wanted me to dine with you?”

She held her breath as she waited for him to answer. Eventually though she had to take a breath or she'd die right there sitting next to the king. She told herself not to look, but her curiosity got the better of her, and soon her eyes trailed over the fine table cloth, up his broad chest, and to his eyes.

He watched her.

“I've decided on something that involves you.”

Arianna cringed at the vague answer. Dammit she wanted to crawl over that table and slap him or shake him until he told her what he wanted with her.

When he said nothing more she made herself chew the tasteless salad and drink her wine, at least that wasn't a hardship. She downed her glass without any thought to being polite and taking delicate sips as she should. When the bell chimed again, the servants came out to refill their drinks, remove her half-eaten salad and his untouched one, and serve steaming cuts of meat, potatoes, and vegetables from a golden platter.

As a servant stood between her and the king, Arianna quickly picked up her just-refilled glass of wine and swallowed the entire glass. The servant didn't even bat a lash and refilled the glass without a word.

Arianna's eyes watered as the liquid pushed past her throat like a big ball. She looked away, blinking fast and delicately coughed as quietly as possible. That didn't work, and what started as a little itch in her throat turned into an irresistible scratching.

She kept her head turned away as she coughed—hard, loud. A few tears slid down her face as her head felt like extra air got squeezed inside her skull and lungs. After a good
, choking coughs, the tickle finally stopped. Gasping, she looked over at the king. Of course he watched her. He probably invited her here tonight to get some kind of secret pleasure over her embarrassment.

“You should drink more slowly.”

A fierce blush blazed across her cheeks. “What is this that involves me?” she said in a hoarse voice.

He finally lifted his head off his chin, only to drum it on the arm rest.
Dum, dum, dum, dum

“Eat,” he ordered.

Arianna closed her eyes to keep from grinding her jaw. With all the grace her mother had taught her, she cut her slice of meat into tiny pieces and ate. The meat tasted like paper, the potatoes tasted like paper, and yet she knew the cream sauce over the meat would normally be delicious and the meat tender and juicy. She took as much as she could before her stomach rolled like she was standing on a boat with too much liquid in her stomach.

She set down her knife and fork and sat straight up in her chair. Her bottom had turned numb within minutes of sitting down but now it bordered on a stinging/burning sensation. She tried to keep her eyes trained forward, to make
give in and say something, but that only lasted for about two minutes.

Her gaze slid boldly to his and stared right back at him. One dark eyebrow lifted just a fraction. As if he had been waiting for her to meet his gaze, his eyes fell to her bare neck and shoulders as if memorizing or studying her shape, and then dropped lower to her arms, her waist, and her legs. She barely refrained from crossing her arms across her stomach.

The soft bell chimed again. Servants came to clear their plates, refill the wine, and set a tall glass with creamy cold mint in it. They left and she ignored his look. She hoped she could at least taste this dessert; it was her favorite. She picked up the small gold spoon on the glass’ plate and scooped a tiny amount onto it. She ate it and smiled. Cold creamy mint with a hint of sweet vanilla melted in her mouth and slid down her throat. She took another bite and another. When her spoon clinked against the empty bottom of the glass, she frowned.

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