~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lyle had managed to talk them into staying for the night. He was a little surprised at how hurt he was to hear Ihrie's eagerness to depart. It had only been Fam's pleading that prompted their stay. He knew that but it hadn't made him feel any better. Her somber mood that evening had nagged at him. Lyle couldn't stop himself as he slipped out of the kitchen door and into the back gardens. He just needed to talk to her.
When the path split, the man veered left, toward the thicket of trees. He assumed he would find her out here. It wasn't unusual to find the woman under a tree, relaxing. However lately, she was beginning to disappear more and more. His footsteps slowed when he caught sight of her. Lyle didn't want to scare the woman.
“Ihrie,” he called out, trying to get her attention. Her head was tilted up. Long black hair was touching her lower back. She looked ethereal as the moonlight bathed her.
The woman shifted and her eyes met his. “Lyle,” she said softly.
“I wanted to thank you for your sacrifice,” he spoke carefully, watching her.
The woman could only nod before she adverted her eyes. She hadn't intended to give it up. But something had overcome her and, without a second thought, she had decided. Just decided. He was thanking her for nothing. She just wanted to be free from the curse.
He walked toward Ihrie, not noticing until he was several feet away that she was standing beside the lake. The moonlight reflected off the calm waters, gently lighting the area around them. Lyle stopped when he was only a few steps from the woman. Her eyes were trained on the landscape in front of them. He took a deep breathe and began to speak.
“You and Fam are welcome to stay as long as you like. There's plenty of room and-”
“No thank you, Lyle,” she said, cutting him off. She just couldn't stand the thought of him being nice to her. It was making her sick. Ihrie turned away from him, walking deeper into the forest.
Stunned by her behavior, Lyle followed her. “Ihrie, wait,” he called to her but she kept walking, quickening her pace. Frustrated, he hastened his pace, grabbing the woman's arm when she was within reach. “Ihrie,” he clipped, turning her around to face him.
“What? What do you want, Lyle?” she snapped back at him, trying to jerk her arm free of his grasp.
“Would you just listen to me?” he replied a little softer than before. She huffed and turned her turned but nodded. “Thank you,” he told her, letting her go. “I want you to realize that I understand what you did for me, Ihrie.” He moved closer, startling the woman into looking at him. “I want to help you,” he told her.
“You can't help me, Lyle. You have a kingdom to rebuild,” she remarked truthfully.
He brushed a hand against her cheek and she closed her eyes. The flutter in her stomach was unsettling. Her heart pounded in her ears. It was unnerving. “Please, don't,” she whispered as she tried to take a step back.
Lyle ignored her words as he leaned toward her, his lips capturing hers. Ihrie felt what little resistance she had left fade away. Her hands snaked around his neck, letting herself go. Nothing mattered anymore. She could let the world and her problems go, just for this moment.
Lyle's fingers weaved themselves into her locks, preventing her from pulling away. He didn't want her to keep running from whatever was between them. But he also wanted her to know that he didn't care about the curse either. He took a few steps forward, forcing her back before he broke the kiss and pulled her deeper into the woods.
“Lyle,” she spoke, confused by his actions. A sudden nervous fear rose in her. “Lyle,” she tried again as she attempted to pull out of his hold. “Where are we going?”
“I want to show you something,” he said as he slowed and stepped into a hidden opening in the brush, pulling her behind him.
The trail opened up after a few feet and before she realized, they were against the castle walls. “What's this?” she asked, turning to him. Ihrie noticed Lyle had slipped a hand into a hidden hold before a door opened.
“Come on,” he told her as he was pulling her in. Ihrie looked behind her, seeing the heavy door slip back into place. “Be careful. There are stairs,” Lyle spoke before Ihrie felt the first step. She could see a light up ahead before they were on a landing. The hallway was dimly lit and she could see a door at the other end.
When they emerged out of the door, the room stunned her. Candles littered the area, illuminating the room and the lush colors of the nobility – gold and a deep blue. There were intricate tapestries and elegantly carved furniture. She hadn't expected to be in the King's bedroom. Wary, Ihrie stilled causing Lyle to turn and look at her. “Lyle,” she said with uncertainty as her eyes were trained on the bed.
He followed her gaze and laughed. “That's not why I brought you here,” he told her as he pulled her around the corner. Ihrie hadn't noticed the other room. There was a large table with a map and papers littered about. Bookcases lined the wall and there were more books than she had ever seen before.
“What is this?” she asked.
“My father's books. Rugudorull left most of the castle intact. I'm sure there must be something in here that will help you.” He turned to her, reaching for her other hand. “I can help make your search easier, Ihrie.”
She smiled. Of course he would do something like this. She shook her head. “Lyle, I didn't want to give up the statue.”
“I know and that doesn't matter to me,” he replied, pulling her closer. “Why can't you let yourself be happy, even if it's only for a moment?” he asked.
“I don't know,” Ihrie replied, shaking her head.
“Are you still leaving tomorrow?”
She nodded her head. “I can't stay. I'm sorry,” she told him, meeting his eyes.
“I understand,” he lied, not wanting to cause her more grief. But he wasn't going to let her forget him. He drew her closer and kissed her, deepening it when she let her guard down. His arms circled her as he shifted the woman with him. Lyle broke away and trailed kisses down her neck as he slipped hands under her shirt.
Ihrie moaned as his hands rubbed her back. The warmth of Lyle's skin sent shudders through her body and a fire stirred to life inside her. Ihrie pulled away, grabbing at his shirt while he guided her to the large bed. He let her remove the fabric before pulling hers off then dragging the woman with him onto the mattress.
Lyle hovered over her, meeting clear, blue eyes. He didn't hesitate too long, fearful that Ihrie would come to her senses. In a swift motion, he had her pants off, leaving the woman in her underwear only, before he met her lips again. He let his hands wonder as her fingers stroked his chest, neck and back. Her moans only encouraged him and Lyle pushed forward. His mouth found a nipple and began teasing her relentlessly.
She grew frantic as the sensations swelled within her. Unable to quell her desire, Ihrie pushed Lyle onto his back. She managed to unbutton his pants before he grabbed her wrists. “Not yet,” he told her, his voice hoarse.
She shook free. “I don't care,” she told him, continuing her attempt to strip him of the material.
He leaned up, catching her upper arms and toppling her over. He laughed and shook his head as his pants slipped off a hip. “Are you always like this?” he asked her. His eyes were full of passion and amusement.
“Yes, is it a problem?” she replied hotly. She blushed but her remark was still bold.
He laughed. “No. In fact, I like it,” he told her, which only made Ihrie redder. He slipped off the bed, discarding his pants and undergarment before climbing back on.
Ihrie pulled him toward her as she pushed everything else away. Nothing else mattered. The world, the past and future, all was forgotten. It would be the first, and last, time she could be with Lyle. She knew she shouldn't be doing this but the thought of her future had led her to be reckless.
Their lips met. Ihrie surprised Lyle when she slipped her tongue inside his mouth, but he felt her barriers fall. Knowing she was accepting him, openly, dispelled the knot in his heart. He could convince her to stay. He knew it.
Hand ran up her outside thighs, over hips and her ribcage to breasts. Ihrie's skin was smooth, soft and Lyle couldn't remember the last time he had felt something so nice. He broke the kiss and shifted down, trailing kisses over her chest and stomach before lifting her legs over his shoulders. He exhaled, letting his breathe tease her. He felt her shiver before his tongue slid across her, circling her bud before he blew on her. Lyle felt her legs tense when he repeated the action and found he liked how her breathing quickened. He continued his taunting action until Ihrie grabbed a head full of his chestnut hair.
“Please,” she patted, her skin flushed.
He smiled and lowered her legs before moving in between them. “I like this side of you too,” he joked with her. Her brows furrowed and Lyle took that opportunity to slide inside. The quick flash of pain that crossed her features and the tightness of her surprised Lyle who stilled. “Ihrie, why didn't you tell me?” he asked in shock.
“What does it matter?” she told him through clenched teeth. She had to force herself to relax.
“It matters to me,” he told her.
“Would knowing have changed your mind?” she asked, staring at him.
Lyle closed his eyes, knowing the truth. “No,” he told her honestly, “but I would have liked to have known. I would have been gentler with you.”
“Don't ruin this,” she told him as she reached for his upper arms. She didn't want him to be gentle.
He opened his eyes, staring at her before nodding. “I'm sorry,” he whispered before thrusting forward.
Ihrie had to bite her tongue to keep the scream from her lips as he set the pace. She could feel a tightening in her lower abdomen. It was becoming unbearable. “Lyle,” she huffed out, letting go of his arms to grab a handful of the sheets under her. “Please,” she begged.
“Not yet,” he panted, slowing the movements of his hips to tease her. He wasn't going to let her forget. Lyle was determined that she remember their time together.
Frustrated with his teasing, Ihrie shifted down, mimicking the shifting of Lyle's hips. She felt the pulse of pleasure ripple through her and continued the motion, arching her back. Lyle moved his hands to support her, pulling her closer. He had to grit his teeth to keep from taking over. He wanted Ihrie's first time to be tender.
The flickering candlelight played over their glistening skin. Lyle was mesmerized by Ihrie and her body. Unable to restrain himself any longer, he shifted to get a better angle before his thrusts began to quicken. Ihrie gasped and let him led her as she climaxed. She couldn't hold her cry as she exploded. Lyle followed Ihrie as he peaked, falling onto her after.
She could hear his heaving breathing as he was trying to catch his breathe, but it seemed so far away. Her entire body was tingling, and it felt as if she were floating. The world had disappeared. It comforted Ihrie to know that. Lyle suddenly heaved himself off of her to lay beside the woman, staring at the ceiling and still panting. She looked over at him and smiled. Regardless of her conflicting emotions, she had to admit that she was happy she had taken such a chance. It made the next step so much easier.
“That was better than I expected,” she managed to say through her own breathes.
Lyle smiled. “Your welcome,” he replied as he rolled onto his side. “I can go again.”
She glanced at him, seeing the twinkle in his eyes before she laughed. “You can't be serious.”
“Why not?” he asked.
“That was tiring,” she confessed, trying to not blush.
He laughed as he moved to pull a blanket over them. “Very well,” he told her as he nuzzled against her. “A nap first, then we'll see how you feel.”
Ihrie grinned at his implications but snuggled with him under the covers. She trained her eyes on the wall as the light flickered causing the shadows to dance. Soon, she could hear Lyle's light snoring and carefully slipped out from under his arm.
As she stepped off the bed, Ihrie glanced back to make sure he was still asleep before dressing. It would be dawn in a few hours and she hoped to be gone by the time he woke. Finished, the woman tip-toed to the side of the bed, staring down at the future king.
“I wish you weren't so kind,” she mumbled to his sleeping form, letting a hand move some of his hair out of his face. “Thank you,” she whispered to him before slipping back out the way they had entered.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lyle woke to the sound of birds. He turned, extending an arm beside him, to find Ihrie gone. He jumped up, noticing that her clothes were gone. Lyle jumped out of bed and quickly pulled his pants and shirt on, running through the halls until he entered the kitchen.
Eileen smiled when she saw him. “Good morning, My Lord. Did you sleep well?” she asked, wiping the water from her hands onto the white apron. Her dark gray dress made her seem meeker than she was. As usual, her brown hair was in a bun at her neck.
He nodded to the short woman. “Have you seen Ihrie?” he asked, almost breathless.
“They left over an hour ago. Is something wrong?” she inquired.
“No, thank you, Eileen.” His heart sank, but he knew he should have expected it.
“Would you like some coffee, or breakfast?”
“That would be great,” he told her as she turned to prepare the meal. Lyle slumped in a chair and shook his head. It hadn't surprised him, but now he knew that he couldn't let her go.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~