Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Reluctant Love Ch 18.3

Chapter 18.3: Throw Back Thursday. 

She moaned as he lifted her body up from the bed and slid her down onto his cock as he knelt on the bed. He suckled against one breast and then the other as he held her still against his body. He leaned her backwards over his arm, his eyes glittering as he ran a hand over her breasts.

"Do you want to ride me, wife or shall I ride you?" he asked huskily, moving deep inside her.

Emily moaned and writhed against him. "Take me, husband," she moaned. "Ride me hard."

He groaned and lowered her to the bed, thrusting into her sweet body as he did so. He raised her arms above her head and held them there securely with one hand. His other hand moved to her hip and he gripped her tightly before he began to push hard into her, taking her with short, fast strokes, his breathing laboured as he pounded against her.

Emily cried out and bucked up to meet each thrust, her head thrashing from side to side as their lovemaking quickly reached a breathtaking intensity.

"Harder, Cullen," she cried, wild with need.

He responded to her urging, ramming into her hard and fast, his need at feverish level as he took her almost violently and she responded equally as ferociously.

They cried out together as their pleasure peaked and they shuddered wildly against each other.

Cullen collapsed on the bed beside her, spent for the moment but knowing that he would soon be craving her sweet body again. He couldn't get enough of his beautiful wife.

He pulled the covers around them and cuddled into Emily's back, holding her securely in his embrace. He kissed her shoulder leisurely, brushing her tangled curls out of the way so he could taste more of her sweet flesh. One hand curled around her breast and stroked lightly as they lay together, their breathing slowly beginning to calm.

"You work to hard," he said quietly.

"How would you know, you've only just come back?" Emily laughed, her hand coming to his against her breast and stroking him lightly.

"Why do you think I called Dorian just about every day," he smiled as his mouth roamed over her shoulder. "I love Dorian but I really didn't need to be in that much contact with him. I was calling to find out how you were, what you were doing. If you were coping okay without me. So I do know you've been working too hard, love."

She glanced at him over her shoulder. "Really, Cullen?" she asked softly.

"Really, Emily," he smiled. "I may have been thousands of miles away but I couldn't get through one day without knowing what you were doing, that was how much I missed being with you."

"And you determined from this second hand information that I've been working too hard," she said quietly.

"Haven't you been?" he asked, his lips once more moving over her skin.

Emily sighed. "I suppose I have been," she admitted. "I needed something to fill my time, to make things a bit more bearable."

"Janick was right when he said you need to take some time for yourself, love," he said slowly, afraid to get her hackles up.

"What did you have in mind?" she asked carefully, her body slightly tense against him.

"A second honeymoon," he smiled. "Just you and me, alone, lying like this in each other's arms after making hot passionate love together."

Emily relaxed and then giggled. "I think I could be persuaded," she sighed. A whole week, maybe even two of just her and Cullen sounded like sweet bliss.

"It took millennia for our kind to stagnate the first time, love," Cullen said gently. "I'm sure they'll survive just fine without you for a week or two."

"I'm so glad you're home, Cullen," she whispered. "I don't think you've ever really understood how much your Princess needs you as badly as your wife does. I could have a hundred wise heads around me but you are the only one who has the real power to make me stop and see what I'm doing wrong."

Cullen swallowed hard and closed his eyes. He had been so wrapped up in his own issues that what she said was true. He hadn't realised how hard it was for her to take on the responsibility she had. He hadn't known just how much she needed and relied on him to keep her feet on the right path.

"You're right, love," he said softly. "I didn't understand. But I do now, Emily and I'm going to be with you every step of the way. And I've decided that a second honeymoon is imperative to the health and well being of not only my wife but also my Princess. So I'll accept no arguments from you about that."

Emily sighed and pulled his hand to her mouth so she could kiss it. "And I will give you none, my husband," she said and then she sucked a finger deep into her mouth and laved it gently with her tongue.

Cullen groaned and felt his body stir against her.

"Again? So soon," she laughed huskily and proceeded to suck his fingers rhythmically until he pulled his hand away and raised her leg so he could slide into her from behind.

"Again," he breathed against her shoulder, feeling her hot tightness surrounding him. He began to move inside her, taking her with long, slow strokes, his hand coming between her legs to dance lightly and teasingly over her heated flesh.

Emily moaned and raised an arm back behind her to clasp around the back of his neck and he nibbled and licked at her shoulder as he moved inside her.

"I can't get enough of you, Emily," Cullen groaned deeply. "I want to be buried deep inside you forever, feeling your hot, wet tightness wrapped around me. Your body is so beautiful, so sexy, so incredibly hot."

They moved together slowly and leisurely, their lovemaking achingly tender as they whispered words of love to each other until Cullen took her tumbling over the edge again and she cried out her sweet pleasure as he groaned his against her shoulder.

Emily didn't know what time they finally fell asleep. She just knew her body was entirely satiated from Cullen's sweet lovemaking and her spirit was soaring as she basked in his love for her. She curled into his embrace and closed her eyes.

She woke first the next morning. Cullen was sound asleep so she slipped quietly from their bed and had a quick shower and dressed. She suddenly remembered about her torn underwear and retrieved it from his jeans, a wry smile on her face as she dumped the shredded material in the bucket.

She made her way out to the common room. Janick was playing chess with one of his friends but he looked up as she entered.

He stared at her for a moment, his expression unfathomable but then his beautiful face broke into a big, welcoming smile and she relaxed slowly and walked over to them.

"Who's winning?" she asked lightly glancing at the board.

Janick shot her a 'you have to be kidding me look?' and she burst out laughing.

"Pardon me for asking," she said when she finally stopped laughing. She beckoned to one of the serving staff and sat down to watch the end of the game. Janick really was thrashing his friend she saw as she sipped at the drink she had been brought. The game ended soon after she sat down and Janick turned to her as his friend moved away.

"Now that's the kind of look I've been longing to see on your beautiful face, Emily," he finally said with a small smile.

She flushed slightly and looked away, feeling sad for her friend.

"Don't be sad, sweet one," Janick said softly. "I am surprising myself by discovering that of the two choices before me yesterday, this one is the one which gives me the most pleasure."

She looked back at him and smiled. "Thank you, my friend. For everything."

"It is my pleasure to serve, Highness," he said giving her a mock bow and a leering grin.

Emily burst out laughing again. "You are so bad," she laughed, her eyes shining.

"Is it safe for me to be seen with you or is your husband going to appear out of nowhere again and threaten to rip my head off?" Janick joked. "That was a pretty impressive display he put on last night. Talk about marking your territory."

Emily blushed and groaned. "Don't, Janick," she laughed. "I'd just about forgotten about that embarrassing episode. And yes, you are perfectly safe in my company."

"Just checking," he said with a smile. "I quite like my head where it is."

"Cullen isn't like that, Janick," Emily protested. "He doesn't go around beating his chest and threatening to decapitate other men just because they find his wife attractive."

Her friend raised an eyebrow at her. "But you told him about our kiss, did you not?" he asked. "It's one thing to look and another to touch, Emily."

"Janick," Emily sighed patiently. "Of course I told him about the kiss. You knew I would. I wouldn't keep something like that from my husband. He was fine about it, very understanding even. There really is no issue with us being friends. Cullen still cares for Elizabeth. I know that and I understand it too. I dare say once everything dies down and gets back to normal, Elizabeth will start coming around more often. I'm more than comfortable with that even though I know she still loves him. Cullen feels the same way about you as I do about Elizabeth."

"Okay, I give up," Janick laughed. "No point in arguing with you about it. Just don't be surprised if things are a little bit tense for a while. Men can be a lot more territorial than women are when it comes to their mates."

Emily sighed and decided to let the matter drop. She really hoped that Janick was overstating things. She really didn't want to be butting heads with her stubborn husband so soon after he'd come home.

"So what are you plans now?" Janick asked.

"Some time off," Emily sighed a blissful smile on her face.

"About bloody time," Janick said. "Let me guess, Cullen's orders?"

Emily laughed. "Right with your first guess. He insists on a second honeymoon away from this place."

"Then I am really pleased that he's returned. He seems to be the only person you really will listen to when you've got your stubborn head on, Emily. You seriously need the break."

"I know, my friend," she said quietly. "I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to no bowing, no, my Princess, no, Highness! It's going to be heaven."

The sound of a door opening made her turn her head and there was Cullen, his eyes searching for her and finding her immediately. She watched him closely for any signs that he was unhappy to find her sitting with Janick but his eyes were warm and his beautiful smile was radiant as he strode towards them.

He kissed her lightly and sank down on the sofa beside her, grabbing her glass and draining it.

"Hey, that was mine, get your own," Emily said indignantly, slapping his arm playfully.

"What's yours is mine, wife," he laughed and kissed her again before signalling the serving staff for some more drinks.

"I was just telling Janick about taking some time off," Emily said as he looped an arm lightly across her shoulder.

"A great idea, Cullen " Janick said. "And long overdue."

Cullen smiled at the other man. "How many times did you suggest it to her?" he asked.

"Must be close to about twenty," Janick laughed. "She never listened though."

"Excuse me, I am still here," Emily said tartly and the two men laughed.

"When do you want to go, love?" Cullen asked when he'd stopped laughing.

"Next week?" she proposed. "There's a couple of things I need to do this week and then I'm at your disposal."

"Do you have time to slot in some house hunting?" Cullen asked sipping at his drink.

"House hunting?" she said surprised. "Where did that come from? And what's wrong with here?"

Cullen rolled his eyes. "This is your place of work as well as your social life. Did you ever see me with a bed at Cullen and Cross?
 Our room here is supposed to be for a bit of privacy when we're out. Not a permanent residence. We need a house, Emily."

She frowned at him. "We have the apartment."

"You can sell that. It's in your name remember," Cullen said.

"Why would I want to sell a perfectly good apartment?"

"Because we're buying a house and we won't need it anymore," Cullen sighed as if it was the most logical thing in the world.

"Cullen," Emily said quietly, her tone annoyed. "Do you not think we should discuss this first?"

"Isn't that what we're doing right now?" he asked his expression innocent.

"I hardly think this counts as a discussion, Cullen. You're telling me what's happening, not asking my opinion about it."

He smiled. "I guess I am," he said, his tone blasé which made her hackles rise more.

"Oh, I know that look," he laughed. "This is when you start lecturing me isn't it, wife?"

"We'll talk about this later," she said shortly, her eyes flashing angrily.

Cullen grabbed her and kissed her until all the anger melted from her body.

"So can you fit the house hunting in this week?" he asked, his eyes twinkling.

"Fine," she said breathlessly, "Just not Wednesday. I'm busy on Wednesday."

"See that wasn't so hard now, was it?" Cullen laughed and then ducked as she went to hit him.

"I suppose you have a point," she finally conceded. "You're going to be a right pain in my royal backside aren't you, husband?" she laughed.

"I'm going to be exactly what you need, Emily," he answered. "Someone who takes care of you when you don't do the job yourself."

"I can see now why none of the rest of us could ever get her to listen," Janick laughed "Interesting technique you have, Cullen."

Emily blushed, having forgotten he was there for a moment and Cullen laughed.

"She's a stubborn woman," Cullen smiled. "Sometimes drastic measures are called for the get through to her."

"I'll leave you two male chauvinists to sit and beat your chests and discuss the correct techniques for subduing women," Emily said waspishly, standing up. "Oh, and Cullen, just beat your own chest. Janick can do his own by himself, he won't need any help."

She waltzed off leaving Janick looking slightly uneasy and Cullen roaring with laughter.

Janick watched Cullen carefully. "You know I love her," he said to the other man. He may as well get this conversation over and done with.

Cullen nodded. "I know she cares about you too and that you kissed. She told me everything."

"I guess that doesn't sit too well with you," Janick said.

"It's not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be," Cullen admitted. "When I was thousands of miles away wondering what was going on here, it was slightly different. Look Janick, I was an ass. I left her with no idea whether I was coming back or not. She's a beautiful woman. It was only a matter of time before someone fell in love with her. I can't fault any man for feeling like that about her, not when I love her too."

"I was willing to take things further with her, Cullen," Janick said. "I was willing to take your place even though what she feels for me pales into insignificance compared to how she feels about you."

"I know," Cullen answered. "If I hadn't come back, she would have accepted your love too. She would have done her very best to love you as you loved her. It maybe even might have worked. If I'd chosen to stay away I would have wanted that for her, Janick, irrespective of how jealous and hurt I would have felt. I would have wanted her to find happiness with someone else. It actually gives me some comfort knowing that you were always there for her. I don't begrudge you trying to win her hand. I don't begrudge you kissing her either or being her friend. As long as it is in the past now that I've returned."

"It is in the past, Cullen," Janick said. "I know you heard everything we talked about last night. The two parts of how I was feeling about your return. I love her but I found today when she walked through that door with joy and happiness in her eyes, that I was glad you'd stayed. I would much rather see her so radiant and alive than being merely content to be with me. It's what she deserves."

"Janick, she is graced with such good fortune to have a friend such as you in her life," Cullen said quietly. "I hope over time that some of that friendship rubs off on me too."

"I don't think that will be too hard a task for me to undertake, Cullen," Janick smiled. "I liked you before I loved her, even though you act like a fool sometimes."

Cullen laughed and raised his glass. "To friendship," he said.

"To friendship," Janick echoed.

The End. :)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Reluctant Love Ch 18.2.

Chapter 18.2: Throw Back Thursday.

Cullen walked slowly towards them. Emily searched his face intently trying not to hope too much. He could simply have stopped by to let her know he was leaving.

"Can you forgive me, Emily?" he finally asked softly, stopping a few feet from the dais.

Emily's heart soared as she saw the love blazing from his eyes. She cried out and flew down the steps, launching herself into his arms.

"Always, Cullen" she whispered. "I will always forgive you, no matter what. I've told you this time and time again. Perhaps this time you will believe me, my husband?"

Cullen tightened his arms around her, his hand coming to stroke her face tenderly. "The demons are gone, Emily, every last one of them. This time I can truly believe in everything, my love."

Neither of them saw Janick slip quietly from the room. Their eyes were locked together, drowning deeply in each other's soul.

"You'll stay forever this time, Cullen?" Emily asked softly, a note of uncertainty in her voice.

"Forever, my Emily," he said, his voice thick with emotion. "I never want to be apart from you again, love. It hurts too much. I should have come home a long time ago, Emily. I wanted to, every day I wanted to come home to you but something intangible was holding me back. Elizabeth unlocked the doors to my demons and suddenly they all seemed to have just melted away."

"I've missed you terribly, Cullen," she whispered. "I knew I had to let you go, that it was the only way you could battle your demons before you could come home to me. But it was so very hard, my love."

"I know, Emily," Cullen sighed. "Hurting you was the last thing I ever wanted to do, love. And yet, I just seemed to keep doing it over and over again. I've hated myself so much knowing that you were here alone and in pain."

Emily pulled away from him and put a few steps between them.

"I kissed Janick," she confessed quietly.

He gave her a small smile. "Would that have been the night you first called to me?" he asked softly.

"You knew?" she gasped in surprise.

"I knew something had upset you greatly, love," he said gently. "Something that wounded you so badly you couldn't stop yourself reaching out to me. It's all right, Emily. I'm not angry or upset that you kissed him. He was here for you when I wasn't. I had left you hanging for so long. It was inevitable that something like that would occur."

"I felt so guilty, Cullen, that I would let another man kiss me and hold me as you once had," she whispered, her expression tortured. "I loved you so much and yet I allowed myself to consider the possibility of being with someone else."

"It certainly gave me a wake up call," he smiled ruefully. "I was coming home, Emily. I may have been taking my time about it but I was coming home to you from that night when I learned that Janick loved you. I knew that if I left it much longer there was a chance you would not be waiting for me when I finally made my decision."

"But you were so angry with me when I summoned you," she said shocked by his admission. "You said you were going to divorce me."

"I was still fighting hard against your pull, love," he admitted with a rueful smile. "I was trying so hard to deny that I couldn't be without you a moment longer. I was coming home but all the demons were still intact. I think I knew deep down that if I did come home it would surely have destroyed us because I couldn't trust in myself still which meant I couldn't trust in you."

"And now?" Emily asked, a lingering doubt still in her eyes. "Can you trust in the both of us? Can you love both Emily and your Princess?"

Cullen crossed the distance between them and pulled her back into his embrace. "With all my heart, love," he whispered, his eyes shining with unshed tears. "My Princess has the most generous loving heart for her people. She has cried many nights in deep sorrow so our people could be united and safe. She sacrifices greatly for the good of all, perhaps too much sometimes, but it is always with the best of intentions. How could I not love a ruler such as she?"

He kissed her softly, a chaste kiss which tugged at her heart.

"As for my Emily, there has never been a moment since I met her that I haven't loved her," he breathed against her lips. "From the first instance when I saw you standing beside that buffet table in Arthur Belmont's house I loved you. Your beautiful hair was like a living flame under the lights that night. Without even knowing who you were I was pulled across the room to you. I never stood a chance against you, my Emily."

Emily felt tears of joy fall down her face. She pressed her lips to his, sighing softly as he coaxed her lips to part and kissed her with agonising tenderness.

"I swear I'll never leave again, love," Cullen groaned softly. "I'll do everything in my power to earn your trust again, my wife."

"I've always trusted you, Cullen," Emily sighed. "I've always loved you. It was you who always doubted yourself, my love. With that now gone we can finally spend eternity together."

She kissed him again, with more urgency, her body flaming with need to be close to him. To feel him love her body as well as her mind. He pressed restlessly against her, his own need flaring up, trying to consume him. He tore his mouth away from her and groaned deeply. "We can't do this here," he laughed ruefully. "Anyone could walk in."

She grabbed his hand and pulled him into the little antechamber and locked the door behind them. She kissed him feverishly, her hands tugging at his shirt.

"Whatever would the King think if he knew what you were doing in his waiting room?" Cullen chuckled, his own hands unbuttoning her top to free her beautiful breasts to his touch.

"Cullen, shut up and make love to me," she ground out and then moaned as his thumbs ran over the hardened peaks of her breasts.

"Yes, my Princess," he whispered hoarsely, lifting her up so his mouth could suckle against her breast.

Emily moaned again, her breath coming out in quick pants as her need soared. "Oh God, Cullen, I can't wait," she said desperately.

She felt his hand push her skirt around her hips and then rip the panties from her body. He sucked hard on her breast as he released himself from his jeans and then pulled her down until her tight tunnel was sliding over his rigid cock until he was buried deep inside her.

Emily cried out as their bodies joined together. Cullen caught her cry with his mouth, his own deep groan being smothered by their lips. He pushed her up against the wall and moved deep inside her, taking her with long, hard strokes.

Emily clung onto his shoulders and wrapped her legs around his waist. She kissed him feverishly as he thrust up again and again, taking her hard and fast as their need for one another consumed them.

"Oh God, Emily, I've missed you so much," Cullen said hoarsely. "I've missed being inside you like this. You feel so good wrapped around me, love."

He punctuated his words with fiery kisses and she moaned loudly with every hot, hard thrust deep inside her body.

"Take me, Cullen," she moaned. "Take me hard and fast. Make me yours again. Take me to heaven, my love."

He growled and ravished her mouth as he thrust harder into her. He was out of control, his need for her so bad he didn't know if he could hold on long enough for her to achieve her own pleasure. He slid a hand between their bodies and found her clit.

"Come for me, Emily," he said through clenched teeth. "Come soon because I can't hold back, love. I need you too much."

He rubbed against her clit with his fingers as his body surged hard into hers over and over again.

Emily was moaning continuously, bucking against him wildly, the breath rasping out her throat.

"Cullen, Oh God, Cullen!" she screamed as her body suddenly shattered in waves of incredible pleasure. She could hear him crying out her name as if from a distance as he shuddered against her and she felt the hot sticky wetness of his release bathe her insides.

Breathing erratically, Cullen leaned against her, his head pressed into the curve of her neck as his entire body trembled in little aftershocks from the intense orgasm he has just had. He could feel Emily trembling against him, her own breathing erratic and her heart thundering.

"Dear God, Emily, I've never felt anything as intense as that before," he whispered.

"The earth certainly moved for me," she laughed softly, her body still trembling.

He lowered her gently to the floor, afraid to move away from her body.

"I think I may have made a bit of a mess," he said sheepishly. "It has been so long since I've lain with you. I think rather a lot of my seed has been spilled this night."

Emily laughed and rolled her eyes.

"And you destroyed my panties too," she chuckled. "Are you trying to tell me the Princess of Vampires is going to have to walk through the common room hoping and praying that no one notices that her husband's love for her is slowly dripping down her thighs?"

"Oh God, Emily, I'm sorry," he groaned. "I shouldn't have gotten so carried away. Maybe we could tie your panties somehow?" he asked hopefully.

Emily laughed harder until tears were rolling down her face. "Oh, this is so priceless," she finally gasped when she could stop laughing. He moved away from her and she grabbed her torn panties and cleaned herself as best she could.

Cullen rolled his eyes and laughed, taking the ruined underwear and stuffing it in his pocket. "The next time we wait until we're safely behind closed doors," he grumbled, still laughing.

"Is that an order, my husband? she teased gently, her eyes shining.

"It is, my Princess," he laughed, pulling her up and buttoning her top back up. He groaned softly.

"What?" she asked.

"You look like you've just been tumbled very energetically by your husband," he admitted with a sheepish grin.

"Probably because I just have been," she laughed, trying to straighten her hair. "Oh well, there's nothing else for it. My appearance will just have to do. Come on."

All eyes turned to them as they entered the common room. Emily stifled a groan as she saw lips twitching as she walked passed.

"The first one who says anything is going to be very sorry," she whispered quietly to Cullen who had an arm wrapped tightly around her waist.

"I'll lay money on Liam being the only one brave enough while we're still in the room," Cullen whispered back.

Emily was glad she didn't take that bet when Liam called out loudly. "I take it this means the divorce is off?"

Cullen laughed and swooped Emily up in his arms as she shot daggers at Liam and made to move towards him.

"Get the door, Alice," he laughed. "While I convince my wife that she really does love our Liam and she would be most distressed if I allowed her to take his head from his shoulders."

The room dissolved into laughter as Alice hurriedly complied with Cullen's request and Emily groaned and buried her head in his neck as her face flamed with embarrassment.

"I'm so embarrassed," she groaned as Cullen dropped her onto the bed coming down to lie beside her. "I don't know why you're grinning so much."

"It's a male pride thing," he chuckled. "I find myself basking in the glory of having every other man in that room know that you are mine and I have come home to stake my claim on you."

Emily rolled her eyes and tried not to smile at his open smugness. "Every man or one particular man?" she asked, arching an eyebrow at him.

He looked at her sheepishly, "Okay, maybe one particular man," he admitted, his tone rueful. "I'm sorry, I can't help it. I know Janick has been a great comfort to you, love, but he wants what is mine. I can't really blame him for that because you are a prize worth having. But you are my prize and no one else's."

Emily shook her head, a small smile on her lips. "Next you'll be pissing on my leg to mark your territory," she groaned.

Cullen threw back his head and laughed loudly. "I believe it was another bodily fluid I used, my love," he said against her mouth, sliding his tongue deep inside her parted lips to taste her sweetness.

She wrapped her arms around him and returned his kiss. "Okay, I give you this one time and one time only, husband," she laughed. "You have declared your ownership publicly. Now you will behave with decorum when we are in public and not embarrass me like that again."

"As my Princess commands," he chuckled and kissed her again until she moaned and rubbed against him.

Cullen lay back and pulled her on top of him. "I want you again, wife," he groaned. "I have been too long without your sweet loving. I need you."

Emily laughed and stood up and stripped off her clothing. She flew back to the bed, relieving him of his clothes too and then straddling his body to slide down on his hard cock.

They took their time this time, savouring the feel of their bodies moving together. Emily rode his body in long, slow, passionate movements as he let her set the pace of their lovemaking.

"You look so beautiful when you take your pleasure from me," Cullen whispered softly. He cupped her ass with his hands, easing her up and down his hard length. "Ride me, wife. Take your pleasure."

Emily moaned and moved slightly faster against his body, her hands on his chest. She slid her hands slowly down to his hips and gripped him tightly as she moved on him, increasing the tempo in slow increments, building the fire between them slowly.

"God, Emily, you're driving me insane," Cullen groaned through clenched teeth, thrusting deep inside her as she slid down on him. "Faster, love," he begged as his need began to spiral out of control.

Emily ground down hard against him and then began to move at a much faster tempo, her breath coming out in short gasps as her pleasure began to build more quickly.

"Yes," Cullen groaned, moving faster beneath her, his hands coming to her hips to guide her movements. "Take me, Emily, hard and fast."

Emily cried out and threw her head back, riding him wildly as she felt her orgasm begin to crash over her in wave after wave of sweet pleasure, her cries coming together in one long wail of ecstasy.

Cullen thrust deep within her and roared his pleasure as his seed once more boiled from his balls and erupted deep inside his wife's body. He jerked rhythmically against her until the sweet pleasure passed and she fell forward on top of him, his arms automatically holding her close to him. He peppered her face with hot kisses as she came down from the high of her own release.

"I love you, Emily," he whispered tenderly, stroking his hand up and down her back in long, loving strokes.

"I love you, Cullen," she whispered, burying her face in his neck and kissing and licking at his sweat covered skin.

"I hope you don't have any plans on sleeping tonight, love," Cullen chuckled softly. "I intend to spend the rest of the night making love to you until you're too exhausted to move. I have so much lost loving to make up for."

"Your Princess is in perfect agreement with you this one time, husband," she laughed huskily. "You have her permission to abuse her body all night long."

Cullen laughed and pulled her up from the bed. "I think a shower is called for and then some sustenance so we have sufficient strength to carry out the wondrous task we have assigned ourselves tonight."

He pulled her into the bathroom and started the shower. They kissed and then they were under the hot spray and Cullen's helpfulness at ensuring she was thoroughly washed turned into something else and before she knew it he was taking her again against the tiled wall, his hot, hard body thrusting deep inside her as the water poured over them.

His passion was hot and full of need. He took her hard and she revelled in the roughness of his touch on her skin. He turned her and entered her from behind, thrusting deep and hard as he pressed her against the tiles, his hand coming between her legs to rub against her clit roughly and drive her mad with the need to come.

"Come, baby," he groaned. "Come on my cock. Let me feel your hot, wet tunnel grip my cock hard as your body shakes with pleasure."

His earthy words, deft fingers and throbbing hard cock tipped her over the edge and she was engulfed in pleasure as her orgasm shuddered through her. He answered her passion with his own hoarse cry as he bucked into her, pouring his seed deep within her body, his mouth feverishly moving over her shoulder as they came in unison.

"Now you have to wash me all over again," Emily laughed when he pulled away from her and she turned round to look at him.

He smiled crookedly and flexed his fingers together. "It's a tough job but someone has to do it," he smiled and then picked up the soap and began to get on with the task.

Cullen had not been joking. She'd no sooner finished her drink and he his when he was pulling her back down on the bed, kissing her back slowly, his mouth moving over every inch of her skin. He massaged her ass and kissed each cheek thoroughly before his hot tongue slid within the crack and licked roughly at her puckered hole.

She moaned and writhed on the bed as his tongue breached her tight ring and began to slide in and out leisurely. He finally moved down and kissed the back of her thighs all the way down to her feet. He against stopped at her ass, licking and tasting her puckered hole, driving her wild with his hot touch. He slid an arm underneath her to hold her waist and raised her body up. He brought a finger to her and slowly eased it into her tight ring. She cried out as he penetrated her body and then slowly thrust the finger in and out. The sensation was amazing.

He seemed fascinated by her reaction to his anal penetration. He eased her open gently and tenderly until he could slide another finger inside her. She felt so stretched and full. She moaned and moved back against his fingers, wanting more. He began to take her ass forcefully, grinding his fingers deep inside her tight hole as she cried out over and over again at the amazing sensations she was feeling at his wickedness. The hand around her waist moved to her clit and he rubbed roughly as his fingers worked her ass hard.

Emily was mindless with pleasure, grinding her body against his hands as he pushed her higher and higher until she was crying out her pleasure once more, coming hard from the sheer eroticism of what he was doing to her body.

He soothed her down by kissing slowly up her back and then he turned her over. He was smiling as he looked into her flushed face. "I think you liked my fingers in your ass, wife," he chuckled. "It brought all manner of wicked ideas to my head. I think I may have to feel what your sweet little ass feels like around my hard cock."

Emily sucked in a deep breath at the lust she saw on her husband's face.

"Not tonight, wife," he laughed again when he saw her expression. "But soon, sweet Emily, when you least expect."

To be continued....

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Reluctant Love Ch 18.1

Chapter 18.1: Throw Back Thursday.

Emily was sitting in the common room, engrossed in a game of chess with Janick when Cullen arrived. She knew he was there even though her back was to the door. The deadly hush that descended over the room alerted her as well as the slight tensing of Janick's body.

She made her move and snapped the button of her clock down, passing control of the board to her friend. She heard Cullen approach but kept her eyes fixed to the board.

"I have come as summoned, my Princess," Cullen's sweet voice said close to her. From the corner of her eye she saw his low bow of respect.

"Rise, Cullen," she said quietly. "It pleases me that you are once more in our presence, my husband, even if it did require a royal command."

Janick made his move and passed control of the board back to Emily. She knew both men were watching her closely.

"Would my Princess prefer to conclude our game at a later time?" Janick asked, breaking the silence as Emily studied the board.

"I'm sure my husband would like to spend some time greeting family and friends," she sighed softly. "I know they will be overjoyed to see him again. We will talk when I have concluded my game, Cullen."

She heard a slight hiss as he sucked in his breath. His voice was even when he spoke though. "As my Princess commands," he said quietly and spun on his heels and walked away.

Emily slowly released a long, slow breath and made her move, hitting the clock once she had done so.

"Prevaricating?" Janick asked with a small smile.

She looked at him and saw resignation in his eyes as well as concern for her.

"Just a little, my friend," she smiled softly, patting his hand gently in way of apologising for the hurt she knew he was feeling. "Sometimes I am not in so great a rush to break my heart."

Cullen found her the moment he entered the room. It was as if his eyes were pulled to her against his will. God, she looked so beautiful sitting there with Janick, pouring over a chess board with an expression of deep concentration. Was she deliberately with Janick to try and get a reaction out of him? He held onto his anger at her and strode over.

He seethed when she didn't even look at him after summoning him back so summarily. Her dismissal of him, so she could continue her game, angered him further. His mood was black as he made his way over to Liam, Dorian and Alice. He nodded and sat beside them on the sofa.

"I would say you're looking well, Cullen," Dorian said quietly, "but I believe livid would be a better word?"

Cullen sighed and tried to reign in his temper. "I'm not in a very good mood," he agreed and attempted a smile, his eyes fixed on Emily across the room. "It is not every day a man is summoned home, against his will, by his wife only to be ignored once he has arrived. It does tend to blacken one's mood."

"Oh, Cullen, don't be angry," Alice said gently. "She's just working up the courage to speak with you."

Cullen snorted in disbelief, his eyes dark with emotion. "More likely she is enjoying her power over me," he hissed through clenched teeth.

"Cullen, you know that is not true," Liam sighed, rubbing and weary hand over his eyes. "Emily has been most subdued since she told us you were coming home. You are the one person that she seems incapable of dealing with at the best of times. And these are not exactly the best of times, my friend."

Cullen forced himself to relax and take the scowl from his face. "Do any of you know what she wants of me?" he finally asked.

"It has something to do with Elizabeth," Dorian answered. "That is all we know."

Cullen looked at him in surprise. "Elizabeth?" he asked quietly.

"She came the night Emily summoned you," Dorian explained. "They talked privately for a long time in her room and then Elizabeth emerged. It was evident she had been crying. A while later, Emily came out and said you were coming home and that you were going to file for divorce."

Cullen listened intently, his expression closed and guarded.

"Did you really mean it, Cullen?" Alice whispered, her beautiful face full of anguish. "Are you really going to divorce Emily?"

"Yes," he finally admitted painfully .

He turned to his friends. "We can't keep doing this to each other," he told them. "It has to end. If divorce is the only option then I will file for one."

The sound of hands clapping filled the room and they all turned to see Emily rising from the chess game. Janick rose too and took her hand, bowing his head to kiss it.

"I fear my Princess was distracted this evening," he said with a small smile. "Though I will take the win however I may get it seeing as she usually wipes the floor with me."

Rumbles of laughter filled the room and Emily smiled back at him.

"Hardly, Janick. You win one in five games against me. Which is more than anyone else does," she laughed.

"Still a severe blow to my pride, Highness, when I was once the undefeated champion," he retorted lightly. "Perhaps your husband should come home more often and then my odds for winning would improve immeasurably?"

Emily's smiled tightened slightly as her friend let her know of his deep hurt at Cullen's return. She slowly withdrew her hand from his.

"Deftly done, my friend," Emily responded, letting him know that his barb had hit it's target.

"I take no pleasure with a win in such circumstances, my Princess," Janick said, a hint of remorse in his tone.

"I know, Janick," Emily sighed softly. She smiled once more. "I suppose I must now attend to my husband seeing as I summoned him back so summarily. The joys of marriage." Her tone made it plain that she found no joy in her current circumstances.

She turned to face Cullen. Pain lanced through her as their eyes connected and she saw the pain and anger in his. His beautiful face was so composed in every other way but his eyes screamed at her. She slowly walked towards him, wondering what he was reading in her own eyes.

"Cullen," she said softly when she reached him. "I know this is the last place you want to be and that you're very angry with me for making you come. I ask only that you hear me out before you reach any decisions which cannot be recovered from."

He stared at her a moment and then nodded once.

Emily sighed and turned towards the private quarters. Cullen followed her a fraction of a second later. They walked in silence, each glancing surreptitiously at the other. Emily motioned him to enter their room before her and closed the door behind them.

Cullen turned to face her and she could see his eyes greedily roaming over her as hers where doing to him. It had been so long since she had last seen him. The time without him had seemed so empty and unreal.

"Cullen," she whispered in anguish, her eyes filling with tears. "Please give me one moment, just one, my love."

Strong emotions crossed his face and then he was pulling her into his arms and holding her desperately, his face buried in the side of her neck. They held each other for a long time, their pain radiating around them. Finally Cullen pulled back and moved away from her.

"What did you want to talk about, Emily?" he asked with his back to her, his voice strained.

"It is not I you need to speak with, Cullen," she answered quietly. "You need to speak with Elizabeth."

He turned, his expression puzzled. "Elizabeth?"

Emily nodded. "She will be here soon. She comes every night around about this time. I ask that you hear her out, Cullen. Really listen to her words. If you wish to speak with me once you have done so, I will be in the meeting room. If you choose not to speak to me then you may leave and I will never summon you back again. I will accept our marriage is over and you may have your uncontested divorce."

Cullen stared at her intently, his thoughts confused. What could Elizabeth possibly have to say which would make any difference? His heart ached to see Emily's pain so clearly on her face. His heart ached for his own pain too. Was this finally the end to their relationship? Had they always been doomed to follow this path?

"What will you do if Elizabeth's words make no difference?" he finally asked quietly. "Will you go to Janick?" He felt bitter jealously deep inside as he thought of her with the other man.

"Possibly," she answered truthfully, her expression haunted. "He loves me and I do care a great deal for him. He isn't you but he would love me as fiercely as he could. Maybe he has enough love in his heart for both of us."

Cullen's heart twisted painfully in his chest and he hissed in pain.

"What would you have me do, Cullen?" Emily half sobbed. "If you do not want me must I spent the rest of eternity alone so your feelings are not hurt? Would you consign me to a life of loneliness?"

"No," he ground out through clenched teeth. "I would want you to find what happiness you could, Emily, irrespective of how miserable it made me."

Emily wiped tears from her face and turned to the door.

"I will send Elizabeth through when she arrives," she said quietly. "I will wait for you for one last night, Cullen."

She left the room quietly.

Cullen watched his wife walk away with a haunted expression on his face. He wanted to run after her, stop her from going. To tell her that he'd stay and everything would be all right. Instead he sat down on the side of the bed and buried his head in his hands and cried.

He couldn't bear the thought of Janick touching her, loving her as he once had. He had seen the connection between them. He knew what she felt for the other man was tepid compared to what she felt for him. But Janick wasn't leaving her every five minutes. Janick wasn't breaking her heart with every word that came out of his mouth. Janick would worship her as she deserved to be worshipped.

A knock on the door brought his head up and Elizabeth entered. He stared at his first wife with a surprised expression on his face. She looked so different and yet still the same. The cold, hard edge he had come to know so well was missing. Instead he saw the girl he had fallen in love with when he had first met her.

"Elizabeth?" he said, his expression confused.

"Cullen," she whispered softly, her eyes taking in the tears still wet on his cheeks. She began to weep silently, her back pressed against the door. "How I have wronged you, Cullen," she finally said. "I have wronged Emily too but the worst of my actions have been done to you, Cullen."

She silently crossed the room and knelt at his feet. Tentatively she took his hands in hers, sighing when he allowed her to do so. She gazed up at him, her expression full of anguish.

"I never left you because I hated you, Cullen," she said softly. "I left you because I loved you. I lied so you would let me go. I had to make you hate me so you would give up on me."

"Why?" Cullen whispered, his voice tortured. "I loved you, Elizabeth. You were my entire world back then."

"Did you think I didn't know that?" she sighed. "Did you think I didn't see the deep wounds on your soul with every life I took back then? I was slowly killing you, Cullen. Each time I killed I saw you take responsibility for my actions and I saw it tear you up inside. I could bear it no longer. I had to get away from you so I would stop destroying you."

Cullen was stunned as he listened to her. He stared at their joined hands, his thoughts whirling madly in his head.

"I should have left sooner, Cullen, but I loved you so much," Elizabeth continued. "Perhaps if I had gone sooner then you would have not suffered as greatly as you did. Maybe you would have realised that you weren't responsible for my actions even if you were the one who brought me to this world. You would have eventually allowed yourself to be happy once more."

Her revelation tore at his heart, opening up the feelings of a time long past. His hurt at her rejection. The pain he felt every time she took a life. He groaned deeply and she squeezed his hands gently.

"I'm the one responsible for the killing, Cullen, not you. Stop punishing yourself for it. Please, my love. Absolve yourself of any responsibility you feel. Allow your soul to be healed."

Cullen found himself crying once more. Elizabeth's arms surrounded him and he held onto her as he felt all his carefully built walls tearing down and great waves of pain come crashing through them.

"I tried so hard, Elizabeth," he cried. "I wanted to help you and there was nothing I could do. When you said those things to me it just made everything so much worse. I had created you out of love and you were a monster with no heart, no compassion. I lost faith in myself the day you left me. I couldn't understand how I could be so very wrong about someone I loved so dearly."

"I know, Cullen," Elizabeth wept. "And I'm so very sorry, my love. I'm so sorry my actions ruined your life for so long, denied you the happiness you so deserve. But it's not too late, Cullen. Emily waits for you. Happiness waits for you. You just need to believe in yourself again. It's all right there for you to reach out and grab."

"Emily," Cullen groaned deeply.

"Will forgive you, Cullen," Elizabeth said urgently. "She has such a generous heart. She has even found it in her heart to forgive me despite me being the architect of her deepest heartache."

Cullen swallowed hard and sat up straight. He took Elizabeth's hands gently in his and stared into her beautiful face. He saw the love she still had for him. The love she probably had always felt for him. He would always care about her. She had been his first love and despite everything, there had been moments when they had been blissfully happy.

"I see the girl I first fell in love with before me today," he sighed softly. "She is beautiful and radiant and her heart is as generous as anyone's. I forgive you Elizabeth, for everything. I will always care about you. I was quite astonished when I realised that fact, the day Emily threatened to cut your tongue out. I had thought that I hated you up until that point."

"She was rather intimidating your wife," Elizabeth managed to weak smile. "She was protecting you, Cullen. She somehow knew that my words could still cut you to the quick and she reacted out of her deep love for you. You would have seen it for yourself if your confused feelings for me hadn't gotten in the way."

"Loving each other has never been an issue between Emily and I," he smiled. "Staying together has been a bit more of a challenge," he added ruefully.

"Are you at peace with yourself now, Cullen?" Elizabeth asked anxiously. "Can you now finally accept that you are blameless in all this?"

"I can, Elizabeth, thanks to you," he answered, his expression thoughtful. "I owe you a deep debt of gratitude. I know doing this must break your heart at least a little, Elizabeth."

She smiled wanly at him. "A little," she admitted. "But the happiness and closure it brings me is an adequate reward. I can now move on with my life and hopefully find a love as special as you have found. Don't hurt her anymore, Cullen. Let her in, trust in her and trust in yourself."

Cullen hugged her to him and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "I will always be your friend, Elizabeth. If you ever have need of me then just call. I will do what I can to help."

"Thank you, Cullen, but I think I'll give you and Emily a bit of a break from my interference for a while," she laughed. "I think you both deserve it. A second honeymoon sounds like a place for you both to start."

Cullen smiled, the haunted look gone from his eyes to be replaced with hope. "If I can tear her away from her duties."

"Just go out to the common room and tell that lot you're taking your wife away on honeymoon. I think you'll find them eager to help you pack her suitcase," Elizabeth laughed again. "They long to have their Princess happy once more."

Emily sat quietly upon Alexander's throne in the meeting room. Her heart was racing as she wondered how Cullen was responding to Elizabeth's admission. Was he listening to her or were her words falling on deaf ears?

"I think the King would be most surprised to see your lack of respect of his throne," Janick laughed softly as he came into the meeting room to find Emily sitting sideways upon the throne, her legs across one arm.

Emily turned her head and smiled at him as he approached. "I think my Grandfather has given up on being surprised at my actions by now," she smiled.

Janick took a seat on the dais steps, sitting low enough that he could look up and see her face.

"You wait for Cullen," he said softly, his expression resigned.

"I wait for Cullen," she echoed, her voice quiet and introspective.

"Do you think he will come?" Janick asked.

Emily sighed. "I have no idea, my friend. I sit here and I hope he will. I've been trying to ask my intuition what the outcome of this night will be but it appears to have deserted me. I can only wait and hope."

"I find myself feeling most confused, Emily," Janick finally said when the silence between them stretched on. "Part of me hopes he doesn't come so that I may have a chance with you. The other part of me hopes he will come so I may once more see your eyes sparkle with happiness and love. It's very vexing."

Emily had to smile at his rueful tone. "Oh, Janick, it breaks my heart to know you suffer so, my friend. I am sorry that I am the cause of such confusion for you."

Janick laughed softly. "It is I who am the cause of my own confusion, Emily. You have been very clear about your feelings for me. I am not him and I never could be. I accepted that fact a long time ago. The fault is not yours, sweet Emily, it is mine."

"Even still, I hate to see a friend in such pain, Janick," Emily sighed. "I care about you deeply, my friend."

"That's half your problem, Emily. You spend all your time caring about everyone else that you do so to the exclusion of your own happiness. It is a noble thing to do but it is also incredibly stupid too."

Emily burst out laughing. "Don't hold back now, Janick," she laughed. "Speak your mind."

"My apologies, Highness," he said soberly. "I overstep the mark."

"Nonsense, my friend," she smiled. "I ask you constantly for your counsel. I would be a poor ruler if I became annoyed with you for doing as I ask. Your words are valid, Janick, though it is sometimes the burden of one who rules to sacrifice what they want for the greater good. I must confess that I'm getting heartily sick of it myself."

"You give to us all so unreservedly, Emily," Janick sighed. It is time that you took something for yourself."

"It is not mine to take, Janick," she said quietly. "It is his to give. If he chooses not to then I must find a new path to travel."

"I've always said Cullen was a fool," he snorted, his tone annoyed. "How any man could walk away from what you offer so freely, I am at a loss to comprehend. A man would have to be mad to do so. Or gay," he added as an after thought.

Emily burst out laughing again. "You never cease to make me smile, Janick," she laughed. "No matter what the outcome is tonight, will you always be my friend?" her tone held a hint of a plea.

"You know I will, Emily," he said softly. "Though, if Cullen stays, it may be a bit difficult. He may not approve of our friendship knowing how I feel about you."

Emily frowned. "There is always that," she admitted.

Janick hated to see the frown on her face. He smiled and tried to lighten the atmosphere.

"However, he may feel generous at having his wife back and take pity on a poor soul," he quipped.

"He would indeed feel generous towards the man who had cared for and supported his wife in his absence," Cullen said suddenly from the deep shadows beside the door. He had entered the room not far behind Janick but had stood silently and listened to their conversation.

Janick jumped up in surprise as Emily gasped in shock when he spoke.

To be continued....

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Reluctant Love Ch 17

Chapter 17: Throw Back Thursday.

Emily sighed as she escaped to her private room at Karpathia's. It had been a long day and she was tired. She flopped down onto the bed and threw her arm over her eyes. It was so tiring being royalty, especially when so many of her friends and family hovered over her anxiously all the time.

Cullen had been gone for almost a year. It seemed like the longest time and yet it almost seemed as if no time had passed at all since he had left. She knew he was somewhere in Russia at the moment. He kept in almost daily contact with Dorian so she always had a fair idea where he was.

She's seen him once since the day Elizabeth had reappeared in their lives. It had been for Dorian and Alice's wedding as he stood at Dorian's side as his best man. It had been a bittersweet meeting. They had both smiled as if their hearts weren't really broken so as to not spoil Dorian and Alice's day.

They had danced together and even found a private moment to talk. Heads bent close together, they had asked how each other was coping, chatted idly about what they had both been up to. At the end of the day, once Dorian and Alice had left, Cullen had stroked her face lightly, his eyes haunted, and then kissed her gently and walked right back out of her life.

There was a knock on the door and Emily sighed and sat up again. "Come in," she called.

Janick popped his head around the door and smiled. "I thought you would have hidden in here, Highness," he said with a laugh.
"They're driving me nuts out there," Emily grumbled as he entered the room and closed the door.

"They're just concerned, Emily," Janick smiled, reverting to her name now they were completely private. "You've been working very hard these last months and travelling quite a bit too. Your friends have missed you. You are looking a bit peaky too. Are you drinking enough?"

"Yes, Janick," she sighed wearily. "I'm not as fragile as everyone seems to think."

"Just incredibly tragic as you waft through the halls, smiling sadly at all who pass," Janick said quietly. "How long are you going to wait for him, Emily?"

"Janick, please," Emily sighed again, standing and walking across the room to the small refrigerator she'd had installed a few months before. She took out a bottle and poured some sustenance into a glass. She waved the bottle at him but he shook his head.

"You know how I feel, Emily," he said softly. "I know you feel something for me too. If you just gave it a chance."

"Janick, we've talked about this many times," Emily said sadly. "I do love you and if there were no Cullen then maybe I would consider acting on those feelings but he's out there and one day he may come home."

"You can't blame a man for trying," Janick smiled, his expression rueful. "One day I may ask the question and get a different answer."

"You should find someone who can commit totally to you, my friend," she said softly.

"You can wait forlornly for Cullen to come home but I can't wait for you to come to me?" Janick asked with a raised eyebrow.
"It does smack of double standards," Emily laughed humorously.

"He doesn't deserve you, Emily," Janick said fiercely, striding up to her and catching her upper arms. "He had the most precious thing in the world and he walked away from it." He lowered his head and kissed her.

Emily stiffened instantly as she felt the unfamiliar sensation of someone other than Cullen kissing her. Janick's kiss was exciting in a different way to how Cullen made her feel. She felt herself start to respond as Janick's lips moved restlessly over hers, and she pulled away.

"Janick," she said breathlessly trying to halt this madness before it went any further.

"A moment more, Emily," he pleaded and kissed her again.

This time Emily allowed herself to respond, the plea in his voice almost breaking her heart. She allowed him to part her lips and felt a stirring somewhere deep inside her. It had been so long since a man had held her like this. Her body craved the touch of a man's love. And Janick did love her. His kiss was achingly tender and loving.

Emily slowly eased back from him. It would be so easy to surrender to him. To let him into her bed and even more fully into her heart. He was funny and smart and incredibly beautiful but he wasn't Cullen. And the tepid love she had to offer him would inevitably make him more miserable than he already was.

"I'm sorry, Janick," she sighed sadly. "I can't do this. Not to Cullen and not to you, my friend." She stroked the side of his face lightly. "I can't love you as you deserve to be loved. It would be disastrous for both of us if I tried."

He sighed and rested his forehead against hers. "Does your infamous intuition tell you so, Emily?"

"My heart tells me so," she whispered.

"I had to try, my Princess." He smiled softly. "I may wait another year and try again."

"I half thought as much," she said fondly.

She moved away from him and finished her drink. "So anything happen I should know about when I was visiting down south?" she asked.

Emily had taken it upon herself to travel to some of the other cities, to try and show her commitment to her people.

She turned when Janick didn't immediately answer her. "What?"

"You're not going to like this," he finally said. "Elizabeth showed up two days ago."

Emily felt as if she had just been punched in the gut. Her nemesis, the woman who was single-handedly responsible for all the misery she'd had to endure, had come back for a third time.

"I told her a century not a bloody year," she said furiously. "What did she want?"

"To speak to you," he answered. "I told her you were away and she asked to speak to Cullen instead."

Emily's face darkened further. "Does that bitch have a death wish?" she grated between clenched teeth.

"Be calm, Emily," Janick said softly. "I know this is upsetting for you but try to keep calm about it."

Calm," Emily half screeched. "If she hadn't come here that day I would still have my husband with me."

"Would you though?" Janick asked quietly. "Emily, it was only a matter of time before things would have come to a head between you. Cullen was struggling with the changes in you long before Elizabeth walked back through the door. She was just the catalyst."

Emily's anger evaporated as instantly as it had come. She knew Janick was right. Something else would have sparked the crisis between her and Cullen eventually.

"I don't want to see her, Janick," she finally said. "If she comes back ensure she knows that she is not welcome here."

"Yes, Highness," he answered. He watched his Princess walk wearily over to the bed and sit down.

"When are you leaving again," he asked when she didn't say anything further.

"Tomorrow," she sighed, lying back against the pillows. "I'll be gone a week this time."

"Can't you take more time to rest, Emily? We barely see you here anymore. Your people wonder why you are constantly absent."

"They are safe in the excellent hands of you, Dorian and Liam," she answered, closing her eyes. "I find it almost unbearable being here with all my memories, my friend. I find it easier visiting new places where there are no memories to haunt me."

Janick frowned and then sighed softly. "I will leave you to rest, my Princess," he said and quietly slipped from the room.

Emily felt tears behind her closed eyes and a sob broke free even as she tried her hardest to keep a tight reign of her emotions.

She needed Cullen so badly. She needed to hear his voice. She did what she had vowed never to do to him.

"Cullen?" she called with her mind.

"Emily, what's wrong?" he answered instantly, surprise in his mental voice as well as concern.

"Nothing," she sighed sadly. "Everything. I just needed to hear your voice. I'm sorry, I promised myself I would never do this to you. Sometimes the ache is just so unbearable."

"Emily," he whispered sadly. "Is there no one there to help ease your distress?"

"Janick offers on a daily basis," she answered, knowing that it was not that kind of easing he had been thinking about. He was silent for a long time.

"And your answer to him is?" he finally asked, his voice strained.

"I tell him I am waiting for my husband to come home," she whispered.

"Emily," Cullen groaned and she felt instantly contrite.

"I'm sorry, Cullen," she said with a sob in her voice.

"Don't be," he whispered gently. "I have thought of doing this many times myself. I just never worked up the courage to do it."

"This must be akin to pulling the wings off butterflies," she breathed. "Taking something so incredibly beautiful and then torturing it needlessly. Do you regret this, Cullen?"

"No," he said softly. "Somehow just knowing that if I really needed to hear your voice all I would have to do is call to you has gotten me through some very rough nights."

"Oh, Cullen, I miss you so terribly," Emily sobbed.

"And I, you, my sweet Emily," he admitted sadly.

"Nothing has changed though," she said what he was thinking.

"I'm sorry, " he whispered. " I so want it to be otherwise, Emily."

"I know," she answered.
"Emily," he whispered. "If it ever becomes so unbearable again,"

"I won't call to you, Cullen," she finished his sentence for him.

She felt him linger a moment longer and then he was gone. Emily curled into a ball and wept.

Cullen lay on his bed and wished he was home with Emily for what had to have been the ten thousandth time since he'd left. Hearing her voice just then had been so bittersweet. It was almost as bad as seeing her at the wedding all those months ago. His need for her warring with his desire to run as far from her as he could.

The aching sadness in her voice tore at his heart. She had been crying and she was all alone with no one to turn to. Except for Janick. Neither Liam nor Dorian had said anything about the other vampire's interest in Emily. So Janick was in love with Emily. Was she in love with him too? He had thought he'd detected a slight waver in her mental voice when she had said Janick's name.

Cullen felt his fists clench as he wondered if anything had happened between his wife and the other man. He was God knows how many thousands of miles away and Janick was right there with Emily, day in and day out, letting her know that he was there for her if she tired of waiting for Cullen to come home.

The thought of Emily with someone else was too much for him to think about. And yet he stayed away from her, breaking her heart as surely as he was breaking his own. What right did he have to care about whether Emily was seeking comfort in another man's arms. She was a passionate, loving woman. Should she be consigned to living like a nun because he couldn't make up his mind about whether he was going home or not.

Cullen groaned and tried to erase the image of Emily weeping alone and then Janick appearing at her side when she was low and vulnerable. Of Emily opening her arms to the other man, welcoming him into her sweet embrace. The thought was pure torture.

He sat up and grabbed his cell phone. He called Dorian.

"Why didn't you tell me about Janick?" he said curtly when his friend answered.

"There's nothing to tell," Dorian sighed.

"So he's not in love with Emily?" Cullen asked archly.

"He is but she is keeping him at arms length," Dorian said. "She only offers him friendship, nothing more. How did you find out?"

"Are you at the club? Is Alice with you?" Cullen asked.

"Yes," Dorian answered. "You still haven't told me how you found out."

"Send Alice to her, Dorian," Cullen whispered. "She weeps and she needs someone with her."

He heard Dorian say something to his wife and then he was back on the phone.

"She called to you?" his friend said shocked. He was aware that neither Emily or Cullen had ever used the link between them since they'd parted.

"Something tonight must have upset her greatly, Dorian, for her to reach out to me," Cullen sighed. "What?"

"I don't know, Cullen. She's only arrived back less than two hours ago. She went straight to her room, barely stayed ten minutes in the common room with us before pleading tiredness."

"Did Janick go to her?" Cullen asked, his voice strained. "He was foremost in her thoughts when we spoke."

"Damn!" Dorian snapped. He cursed under his breath. "I'm going to seriously do him so damage. He must have told her that Elizabeth stopped by a few days ago."

"Elizabeth!" Cullen hissed. "What the hell did she want?"

"None of us know," Dorian said. "She asked for Emily and then for you when she was informed Emily was away. She left after finding out you were not here either."

"He must have told her then," Cullen said. "Elizabeth is about the only thing that would upset Emily enough to reach out to me. If you find out what Elizabeth was after let me know. You're sure about Janick, Dorian? There's nothing happening there?"

"For now, Cullen," his friend answered. "I can't give you any guarantees though. Emily does care about him. She may decide that you're never going to come back and decide to turn to him instead. You take that risk being apart from her."

"I know," Cullen whispered. He hung up.

Emily heard Alice slip into the room. Her adopted sister climbed onto the bed and slid an arm around her waist, cuddling into her back.

"Cullen sent me," she whispered softly and then hugged her friend harder as she began to weep even harder.

Emily felt as if the tears would never stop but they did eventually. Alice soothed her and whispered word of love patiently as she wept. She finally sat up and kissed Alice's cheek.

"Thank you, Alice," she said quietly.

"What set you off?" her friend asked worriedly.

Emily hugged her knees, looking at her friend. "Janick kissed me tonight."

"Oh," Alice said quietly. "How do you feel about that?"

"Confused, surprised that I responded for a moment, guilty for doing so," Emily sighed softly. "Then he told me Elizabeth had been here and everything was just too much to deal with and I called to Cullen."

"There's nothing wrong with being lonely, Emily. It's only natural that after so long you would enjoy the feel of a man's kiss," Alice said with a little smile. "You are a young, vibrant woman and you have needs just like the rest of us. Don't be so hard on yourself. As for Elizabeth, I have no advice on that one. I just can't understand the woman at all."

"Me neither," Emily admitted. "My initial reaction was fury at her coming back but now I'm wondering what she wanted with me. I scared her pretty badly the last time she was here. Why did she come back so soon?"

"Who knows? The woman is a law unto herself, Emily."

Emily decided to cancel her next trip in case Elizabeth returned. She found herself curious to know why the woman had come. She was surprised to find that she actually enjoyed being back home. It was not as painful as it once had been being surrounded by her friends and family.

Janick had retreated back to a safe distance since their kiss. Emily was relieved about that as she cared about him very much and she would have hated to have to halt their friendship if he had become too insistent about his feelings for her. Talking with Cullen had only reinforced how much she loved and missed him.

Dorian or Liam tended to be around her whenever Janick was near anyway. She wondered if Cullen had detected something in her tone that night. Had he set their friends to protect his wife from the other man's amorous intentions? She smiled at the possibility.

Elizabeth returned on her third night back. She watched the woman walk slowly towards her in the common room and immediately sensed a difference about her. Her body language was less confident, more humble. Emily was surprised at the change.

The other woman bowed lowed when she reached her.

"My Princess," Elizabeth said respectively. "You granted me leave to return if I learned to curb my vicious tongue before the century was out. I have come to humbly beg your forgiveness and to ask if I may talk with you on a delicate matter."

"Rise, Elizabeth," Emily said, her expression thoughtful. "You seem to have made a remarkable turnaround since we last met. May I ask what prompted this turnaround?"

"It was you, my Princess," Elizabeth answered.

"Me?" Emily said surprised. She watched the other woman closely and then stood.

"Walk with me Elizabeth." She turned toward the private quarters.

"Emily?" Liam said, a note of concern in his voice.

She smiled reassuringly at him and motioned for Elizabeth to follow her.

"You wanted to speak with me about something," Emily said once they'd entered her room and the door was closed. She walked over to refrigerator and poured herself a drink. She didn't offer the other woman one.

"It's about Cullen," Elizabeth said taking a deep breath.

Emily nodded for her to continued, too afraid to speak out loud.

"You were right about me," Elizabeth admitted. "I was jealous of you when I came here. It was a huge surprise to me to discover that I was still in love with Cullen."

Emily raised an eyebrow in surprise and Elizabeth smiled softly.

"I did love him once a very long time ago," she smiled. "I fell in love with him the moment I saw him, he was so beautiful, so chivalrous. It was a different time then, not as enlightened as it is now. Vampires guarded their existence very closely. We were together for almost a year before I discovered what he was. At first I was horrified when he told me and then I found what he was exciting. I was always beautiful but suddenly I could always be beautiful, it called to me like a drug."

She paused and swallowed and Emily took pity on her and went a poured her a drink. The other woman sipped her drink then continued.

"We married and then Cullen turned me. I found my new life intoxicating. I loved the taste of warm human blood in my mouth. I over indulged. Cullen tried to reign me in. He was very patient with me, kind and loving. But I craved the excitement of stalking my prey and taking what I wanted. Even then, Cullen only took just what he needed. He never killed. I was different. I took everything."

"Why?" Emily asked quietly. "Why kill?"

"I was out of control, heady with the power I suddenly had. I was young and wild. Cullen tried to stop me. He loved me so much. The guilt he felt every time I killed tore him up inside but still he loved me. Still he tried to teach me how to live our lifestyle without taking life. Eventually I chafed to be free of him. I was tired of his stifling me. But he wouldn't let me go. Even though I was slowly killing him with my actions, he still tried to save me. So I lied to him. I told him I'd never loved him, that I really knew what he was right from the very beginning. He believed me and he let me go."

Emily stared at her for a moment and then she held her hand out to her.

"Come here, Elizabeth," she said softly.

The other woman approached her slowly and sat down on the bed.

"Why did you really leave Cullen?" Emily asked gently.

Elizabeth started to cry. "Because I loved him so much and what I had become was destroying him. He'd made me and I was killing innocent humans. You know how he is, Highness. He was taking responsibility for my every kill. The only way to save him was to leave."

"Oh, Elizabeth," Emily sighed. She hugged the sobbing woman.

"Everything was fine and then Cullen met you," Elizabeth continued. "I was insanely jealous when I heard. I knew there had been no one else serious since me. It made being apart from him easier. I knew he would never forgive me even though I had turned my life around. I stayed away as long as I could and then I heard a whisper that things were not so rosy between you anymore. I went to Karpathia's to see Cullen but he looked at me as if I didn't exist. I was distraught but happy to learn that he was no longer with you. Then I heard he'd married you and you were now royalty. Well, you know what happened then."

"Why are you telling me this now, Elizabeth? Surely you've heard that Cullen and I separated the very day you came here."
Elizabeth wiped her face and sniffed.

"That night, I saw the way Cullen looked at you and realised what he had felt for me paled in comparison to how he felt about you. I wanted to hurt him because it was killing me knowing that I had destroyed whatever chance I'd had with him. That's why I said the things I did. When you pinned me down on the table and I saw the rage in your eyes as you protected him, I also realised you felt just the same way about him. When I went away I sat down and had a long hard think about my actions. I knew I had to try and make things right so Cullen would be happy again. I thought if maybe I sat down with him and told him the real truth then maybe he would finally let go of the pain and hurt and finally be healed so he could be with you."

Emily closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

"It's a lot more complicated than just your part in it, Elizabeth," she finally said.

"Not really," Elizabeth protested. "Cullen won't allow himself to be happy. He doesn't feel he deserves to be after the killing I did when we were together. Haven't you ever sensed that about him?"

Emily nodded slowly. "I even said it to him once. I had no idea why he felt the way he did, I assumed it was something to do with you but I didn't know exactly why."

"Cullen is punishing himself for my actions," Elizabeth said. "I have to stand up and take responsibility. He has to know that he's not responsible so he can forgive himself. He has to know that I left because I loved him, not because I hated him. Maybe then, he'll realise that he deserves to be here with you. He's inventing excuses to be apart from you, Highness, to punish himself. The punishment is twice as devastating to him because he knows how much you're suffering too."

"Oh, Cullen!" Emily groaned.

"I'm so sorry," Elizabeth whispered.

"Thank you for telling me," Emily said softly. "I'll try to get him to come home and talk with you. Will you stay in touch so I can let you know if I can convince him?"

"I'll call in every night, Highness."

"I know this is hard for you, Elizabeth," Emily said. "I know it took great courage for you to come forward. For what it's worth, I forgive you for any wrong you have caused me. I hope Cullen also finds it in his heart to do so."

"Thank you, Highness, but making this right is the only thing I really need. If I can do that then maybe the next six hundred years will be more bearable for me."

Elizabeth left and Emily contemplated her next move. The other woman had read Cullen so accurately. Now that she knew why he believed he didn't deserve to be happy, there was a chance of finally healing her husband. Emily felt a bit of hope for the first time in a long time. If she could just get Cullen home. She lay on the bed.

"Cullen," she called softly.

"Emily? You said you wouldn't do this again," Cullen groaned. She could hear pain and also anger in his voice.

"You need to come home, Cullen, now," she told him, keeping her mental tone firm. She knew he would balk at the request.

"I can't do that, Emily," he said harshly, after a long pause

"You have no choice, Cullen," she replied. She made her voice, colder, harder. "Your Princess commands your presence. Come home now."

"Don't do this to me, Emily," Cullen hissed, his anger winning over the pain.. "Don't use your position to force me back."

Emily fought back her own pain at having to do this to him. "It's not up for debate, Cullen, I have issued a command. Do you intend to obey it?"

The next pause was longer. The silence screamed inside her head as she waited for his response.

"I'll be there within the next three days, my Princess," Cullen finally said dully.

Emily breathed a sigh of relief.

"I can't believe you would do this to me, Emily," he added and the anger was back in his voice. "When you've concluded your business with me I am filing for divorce."

Emily sucked in a deep breath as pain lanced through her chest. She only hoped that he would think differently once he'd had a chance to hear Elizabeth out.

"You are such a contradiction, my husband," she finally said sadly. "On one hand you tell me I do not fight hard enough for you and on the other, when I do fight for you, you seek to punish me by ending out marriage permanently," she sighed softly. "Very well Cullen, if you wish a divorce when we have concluded our discussions, I will not contest it."

Cullen was livid with anger as Emily's voice faded from his mind. She had used her position against him, something he would have sworn she would never do. If he had been closer to her at that moment he would have cheerfully wrapped his hands around her throat and squeezed hard.

His violent thought shocked him and he shuddered and closed his eyes. He'd done that once before to her and the end result had been four stitches in her head and a severely sprained wrist. The pain and guilt he had felt afterwards had almost destroyed him. Now he wanted to hurt her again. It would be different this time, she was vampire now so she would heal quickly.

Still even thinking of hurting her physically made him feel sick to his stomach. 'Why now, Emily?' he groaned silently. What was so important that she had to force him back now? He wasn't ready for this. His feelings for her were still so confused and conflicted. Even the threat of divorcing her hadn't changed her mind.

Cullen paced around his room. He had heard the pain in her voice when he had said that. The words had seemed to be ripped from his mouth before he could stop them. She was hurting him and he wanted to hurt her back. Did he really mean it? Pain engulfed him and he closed his eyes again, trying to shake it off. Could he really divorce Emily? His heart thudded wildly in his chest at the very thought of losing that precious tie with her. He groaned out loud and began to pack. He had to harden his heart. He would get through this summons and then he would file for the divorce. This had to end, prolonging it was slowly killing them both.

Emily walked into the common room and saw Dorian and Alice sitting with Liam. She went to sit beside her family her expression grave.

"What is it?" Liam asked. "What did Elizabeth want? Has she upset you, Emily?"

Emily shook her head. "No, she actually brought me a small ray of hope," she said quietly.

"What did she say?" Dorian asked, taking her hand in his and squeezing it lightly.

"Let's just say I now know why Cullen runs so hard from me," Emily sighed, smiling at the blond vampire. "Hopefully once Cullen hears what she has to say, things will be different."

"Cullen's coming home?" Alice said breathlessly.

Emily smiled sadly. "Kicking and screaming all the way," she answered. "He is livid with me at the moment. I had to issue a royal command to get him to come."

The three vampires stared at her in shock. "How did that go down?" Dorian finally asked.

"As you would expect," she sighed softly. "My husband wants a divorce."

Alice gasped at the raw pain in Emily's voice as she said the words. She threw her arms around her friend. "It won't happen, Em," she whispered harshly. "We'll all make him see sense."

Emily hugged the tiny woman, seeking comfort as Cullen's words resounded in her head. "I fear it may really happen, Alice," she said sadly. "There may be nothing any of us can do about it."

She pulled back and looked at her family. Their own pain was clear to see. She knew they ached for both her and Cullen.

"Maybe it's for the best," she finally said, her voice sounding so small.

"You can't want a divorce," Dorian all but hissed in shock.

"No, Dorian, I want my husband home with me for good," she smiled wanly. "But this whole 'will they? won't they?' situation is just too damaging for everyone. Not just Cullen and I but for all of you too, stuck between us. A resolution to the whole thing just seems to be the best for all."

"You're giving up," Alice said tearfully. "I thought you'd never give up, Emily."

"So did I, Alice," she whispered forlornly.

Emily rose and went back to her rooms.

"We have to do something, Dorian," Alice cried as Emily walked away.

Dorian and Liam's faces mirrored the distress in hers.

"What, love?" her husband asked gently. "We've all tried talking sense to Cullen. Nothing we've ever said has penetrated the shell he had wrapped around himself. What more can we do?"

"I'd like to kick the living daylights out of him," Liam said angrily, his expression dark. "How can he hurt Emily like this? I used to think that their love would conquer the world. Instead it has consumed them both until they are only shells of their former selves. It's just not right."

"Maybe Emily is right," Dorian mused. "We are all so consumed by what is going on in their lives. Maybe it is time for this to come to an end, one way or the other."

To be continued....