When my hysterics are done I open my eyes wearily. The room is in darkness and complete silence. I uncurl myself and look to where Daniel had retreated. The bathroom. There's a sliver of light showing underneath the door indicating that he's still in there. I rub my sore eyes to remove the remains of my tears. I stiffly sit up and try to keep my eyes off of the dark stains on the sheets and the dried blood on my thighs. I start to climb out of the bed when the door to the bathroom whips open and Daniel is standing there completely naked. I avert my eyes not only from his nakedness but also because I can't stand to look at him after my break down.
"You're feeling better?" he asks as I idly tug on the edge of the blanket I'm sitting on. I don't respond and I can hear him step into the room. "Let's get you cleaned up." He says and he comes around the bed to me and grabs my arm gently. I let him pull me up off the bed and set me carefully on my feet. He doesn't let go of me but puts his other hand on my back and guides me to the bathroom. Tears that I had thought I'd gotten rid of in the last hours begin to slowly trail down my face as he ushers me through the threshold. "Sit on the counter." He murmurs quietly and I do as instructed too exhausted to resist anything. He spots my tears then and brushes them away with his thumb. "Please don't start crying again." He says gently and I cover my face with my hands as his words just evoke more tears.
"I'm sorry." I say quietly as I try to control my eyes.
"Don't be." He says and I flinch as a cold and wet cloth touches my inner thigh. Daniel wipes the dried blood off of me and when he's done he tosses it in the sink beside me. "Are you alright?" he asks and I finally look straight at him.
"Yes." I respond and he smiles sadly.
"I doubt that." He doesn't elaborate anymore but goes to grab me again. I pull away from him and he gives me a strong frown but doesn't reach for me. Instead he turns and storms out of the bathroom and straight towards the bed. I watch as he strips the sheets from the bed and then climbs into it on his preferred side with just the comforter on. After a minute I realize he isn't coming back so I stand up and pour water over the torch on the wall in the bathroom before maneuvering my way out of the bathroom. I get down on my knees and search for a shirt to wear because unlike Daniel I don't think I can sleep naked. Especially with him. I knock my head against the bed and mutter a curse.
"Just get in the damn bed Sophie. I'm not going to touch you." The dark voice is harsh and I somehow feel bad that he isn't as gentle as before. He sounds angry. Normally I would have kept on my search but after what happened earlier I can't seem to find my will to defy him. I do as he says and curl up with my back to him. I fall asleep after a long time of lying there listening to his even breathing.
A loud banging noise startles me awake. I open my eyes and look at the broad tanned chest my head was just resting on. The banging comes again, this time angrier. I look up at Daniel who looks around confused for a moment then tightens his arms that are wrapped around me. The banging again and that's when I realize someone is pounding on the door. I look behind me but don't pull out of Daniel's arms. I'm just too comfortable and I'm still half asleep so I don't care.
"What the hell?" Daniel mutters quietly before shouting. "What do you want?" The banging stops and a deep voice replies.
"Your head on a platter but I don't think uncle would appreciate that." I recognize the voice and my heart starts pounding. Oh my God. I can't help but sink further into Daniel as I think about… the other Daniel? How does that work?
"What do you want?" Daniel, the one holding me, asks again.
"Uncle wants to see you immediately." The voice behind the door replies.
"I'll be down later." Daniel says and lies back down in the bed, pulling me with him.
"Now, Danny." The voice says darkly and the arms around me stiffen.
"He is in my castle and he can wait for me. If he wanted to talk he shouldn't have come so early." Daniel says and I look up at him still frightened of the man on the other side of the door. He smiles weakly at me, clearly seeing my discomfort.
"Either you come down right now or we'll come up." With that threat I press me face into Daniel's chest, wanting to be anywhere but here at the moment.
"Fine. Give me a couple minutes." Daniel says with a heavy sigh. His submission is met by an extremely loud crash as the door breaks open. I shriek terrified and curl even closer into Daniel. His hand goes to the back of my head and he tucks me in his arms. "What the hell? I said I was coming!" Daniel shouts and I refuse to look back at the other one. I know he's standing not twenty five feet behind me.
"I know. I just couldn't resist seeing your wife again that's all." The tone of his voice is more than enough to tell me that I don't want to see his face and that his hard eyes are staring at my exposed back. Just as I think about it Daniel pulls the blanket up further to cover my bare back.
"Out. Get out." Daniel practically growls above me and I hear a chuckle from behind me. "Now." Daniel barks and I'm happy when I hear retreating footsteps and their echo in the tower staircase. I don't notice I'm shaking until Daniel tries to calm me. "He's gone now." He murmurs gently as his hand rubs my back and I nod into his chest. We stay like that for a little bit longer before Daniel starts to get up.
"Who is he?" I ask quietly from the bed as I sit up to watch Daniel. His gaze flickers to me before returning to dressing himself. "You need to tell me." I say stubbornly when he gives me no response. With a sigh Daniel stares at me as he speaks.
"My cousin." I gasp and move back.
"He looks identical to you." I murmur as Daniel resumes his task.
"I know. But he's my cousin. My Uncle is his father."
"But he called him Uncle." I say climbing to the edge nearest Daniel but dragging the blanket with me to keep myself covered.
"My Uncle made him. Now that's all I can tell you so don't ask." Daniel says walking up to me. I lean back but he disregards my aversion and kisses me hard. When he pulls back his eyes rake over me then return to my face. "Get dressed." He orders and then goes into the bathroom with only pants on. I do as told and dress myself in a dark blue, long sleeved gown. I frown at the low cut front but don't bother trying to find another one. Daniel clearly only picked out revealing ones. I hope he's regretting that now. I see a clean shirt hanging over the edge of my clothing chest and pick it up as I head towards the bathroom. Daniel is wiping his face dry and when he looks over at me I stick out the shirt tentatively. He takes it with a small smile and pulls it on. I pretend to not notice the way his muscles ripple as he does it.
"What does he want?" I ask quietly as Daniel drops the hand towel back into the sink.
"It changes. But listen, you've got to stop asking questions. I don't have the heart to lie to you but I can't tell you the truth," Daniel says.
"Sophie, stop," he pleads grabbing me by the shoulders and making me look at him in the eyes. I blink a couple times staring into those emeralds and then nod slowly.
"For now," I agree. His face relaxes and I look down at his chest where the laces of his shirt are undone. I begin to tie them up, somehow trying to make up for last night to be honest. He's been kind to me and I've even enjoyed the things he's shown me but unfortunately I'm too weak for him. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't go and jump into some other woman's bed, someone who knows what she's doing. I push away the burning in my chest that thought evokes, even if he did do that I WILL NOT be jealous. He can do what he pleases, it's not like I love him.
"You will come with me today. As much as I don't want you with me and my Uncle I don't feel safe leaving you alone when my cousin is here. But you must promise to not say a word unless spoken to. Just be agreeable, please?" Daniel tugs my chin up with one hand and once again I nod.
"I can do that," for you. I bite the last words back just in time. Daniel smiles down at me then leans close.
"Thank you, Sophie." He presses his lips to mine in a brief but passionate kiss and I try not to swoon in his arms. He pulls away too soon and returns to dressing. I decide I should follow suit and return to the bedroom to find a pair of shoes. Two black slippers later and a quick brush of my hair and I'm standing at the once again broken door, ready to go. Daniel joins me and together we descend the stairs and hurry along to the dining hall. Once we reach it Daniel falters in the doorway. "Maybe this was a bad idea." He mutters right before the king spots us, his head turning to get a better look. My hand finds its way into Daniel's, the warm touch quelling my shaking fingers.
"What a pleasant surprise niece." The King bellows, his salt and pepper beard catching spittle that flies from his full mouth. His eyes catch our entangled fingers and an unreadable smile plays across his face. "Come," he says, "join me." Daniel leads me over to the table where he seats me on the left hand side of the king before sitting across from me on the king's right side. A part of me feels stranded on this side of the table by myself but I push that feeling away. Now was not the time to let my insecurities run free. The King pats the hand I have resting on the table, his skin moist from the chicken leg he'd been eating. "Are you feeling better now, child?" he asks and I nod humbly, casually slipping my hand out from beneath his.
"Much better, thank you," I murmur and I see Daniel's look of encouragement. "How are you this morning, Sire?" I ask and the king himself looks surprised at my gentle tone and docile nature.
"Well enough now that such a beauty as yourself is here." I smile graciously and feel relieved when Oscar breaks up the conversation followed by two other serving boys.
"Breakfast, My Lord," Oscar places a plate filled with steaming sausage, eggs, hotcakes and fresh fruit in front of Daniel, "My lady." A similar plate is placed in front of me before the boys bow and leave the room.
"Looks good," I murmur before picking up my fork and digging in. There's mumbled agreement from my two dining companions.
"I heard from Sevren you had a good morning today." The king states and I look at Daniel but he doesn't meet my eyes. Who the hell is Sevren, I think to myself.
"It was going quite well until he interrupted us." Daniel clips and my mind puts two and two together. Oh, Sevren was HIM. The cousin. My throat constricts and I reach for my cup of orange juice to ease the dryness in my mouth.
"So I take it you've consummated your marriage bed then?" I nearly spew my drink from my mouth. Instead of making an utter fool of myself I only choke on the juice, swallowing quickly and proceeding to cough. The king looks at me coolly while Daniel's eyes turn to me in concern. I wave off their observation with a hand.
"I've said it once before and I'll say it again," Daniel begins coldly, "I took my wife the day I wed her." His words are harsh. He's so convincing in his lie that I would believe him had I not been present during said activity. Why on earth did it matter to the king what we did anyway? And why would he think we hadn't. Was it normal for married couples to not consummate their marriage or was he just particularly concerned that we hadn't because of our background? And once again why would it matter to him?
"Girl," the king turns his harsh eyes to me, "is what your husband says true?" I nod and look down at my food, suddenly not hungry from the intimate discussion going on above my breakfast. "Tell me what happened then." He says and had anything been in my mouth I probably would have choked. A blush engulfs my face as I glance nervously at Daniel. He looks just as uncomfortable.
"If it's all the same to you uncle I think the lady would rather I explain it. She has the virtues of a woman after all." Daniel looks ready to continue but the king will have none of that. He slams his hand down on the table.
"She will explain it to me, and in detail." My embarrassment was overtaken by the urge to show Daniel I can stand up for myself, to spite the kings plan to find us out and from mere bitterness towards the lot of them. With those thoughts in my mind I straighten my back and repeat what Tanya told me, shocked looks falling on both men's faces.