Vaaden warriors 1 rheul, p.7
Vaaden Warriors 1: Rheul, page 7
"What?" I knew I had to look stunned because I was.
Bastian had asked for permission for me to take Darcy to my home? What made him think I wanted to take my slave to my house?
"Bastian, just because you brought Enid to your house doesn't mean I want to do the same thing."
He shrugged. "All things considered, I thought you might want to think about it. She obviously isn't safe in the slave quarters."
"What if I moved her to one of the upper level apartments?"
"It would be more secure, but it would cost you a lot more too. I still think it would be better to take her to your house."
I sighed, knowing that I wasn't going to win this battle.
"Take me to her."
Bastian snorted. "You know the way. Take yourself."
I narrowed my eyes at him, but brushed past him and walked up the stairs. When I reached the guest room, I pushed the door open. Darcy lay curled up on her side with her eyes closed. She had a bruise on her cheek, and her arm was still red from the laser treatment she'd received to reset her broken bones. I wondered what else had been broken.
Quietly, I stepped into the room and closed the door behind me. I wasn't sure what kind of reception I would receive. After all, it was my fault that she'd been hurt. If I hadn't gone out of town, then no one would have gotten to her. She would still be safe in her apartment. I knew the only reason someone had dared to break in was because they'd noticed my absence.
I sat on the edge of the bed and brushed her hair back, letting my fingers get tangled in the long curly locks. Her hair was my favorite thing about her. It was beautiful and wild.
Just like her.
Her eyes fluttered open, and she slowly reached out a hand to touch me. "Are you really here?" she asked softly.
"Yes, I'm here."
A tear slid down her cheek. "I was so scared, Rheul."
I lifted her into my arms and cradled her against my chest.
It didn't seem like enough, but I needed to hold her, needed to know she was safe. The moment I'd seen the apartment, not knowing what had happened to her, I'd realized something. I'd done the unthinkable. I'd fallen in love with the impossible woman. I couldn't tell her, though. A relationship between us wasn't possible, and to tell her I loved her would only give her hope.
"You're safe now," I murmured. "I'm so sorry, Darcy. If I'd had any idea what would happen, I never would have left you."
Her hand fisted in my shirt. "Please don't leave me again."
"I won't. I'm not going anywhere."
"I thought... I thought he was going to kill me. And then, when I realized what he intended to do, I wanted to die. But Bastian arrived in time to save me. I don't know what I would have done without him."
"I'm glad he was able to get there in time."
"He took me to the doctor and my bones were reset. The man broke my arm, two ribs and my ankle." She swallowed hard. "The doctor... he also said..."
"Just tell me, sweetheart."
"He said I'm pregnant."
I hugged her tight. "How does that make you feel?"
"Scared. What happens to slaves when they're pregnant?"
I frowned. "It depends. Usually the children are given away."
I felt her tense in my arms, and I realized that Darcy would never want that to happen. And I didn't want that either. Even if the baby would only be part Vaaden, it would still be a part of me and a part of Darcy. How could I possibly give away part of the woman I loved?
"But our child will always have a home, Darcy. I can get you a larger apartment, and the baby can stay with you."
She shivered. "I'm scared to stay in the apartments, Rheul. What if it happens again?"
"You don't have to go back right now. The Prime Minister has given permission for you to come home with me. You'll stay at my house for the moment, at least, until we can figure something else out."
"Are you sure I won't get you in trouble?"
I grinned. "If the Prime Minister says it's all right, then everything is fine. If you want, we can go tonight. I'll need to leave you here for just a little while, though."
She clutched my shirt tighter.
"I promise I'll be back, Darcy. I just need to get a few things for you before I take you home."
"I missed you."
"I missed you too."
She looked up at me, and I saw all the worry and tension that she'd been carrying around since I left. My heart ached for her, and I wished there was something I could do to ease her fears. But I couldn't make her promises that I knew I couldn't keep. I wasn't Bastian. I couldn't move her into my 83
home permanently. I would have to take a wife eventually.
"Bastian will keep you safe until I return. I shouldn't be long."
She nodded, but seemed reluctant to let me go. I eased her hands from my shirt and laid her back down on the bed.
After brushing a kiss on her forehead, I left to run my errands. If Darcy was going to go home with me, she'd need new clothes. I could probably get a few things from her apartment, but I wasn't anxious to go back there just yet.
By the time I'd settled Darcy in my home, it was dark outside. Seeing her curled up in my bed made me want things I knew I couldn't have. The sooner I returned her to the slave quarters the better. I knew the longer she stayed with me, the harder it would be to send her back.
I knew I would miss her when she wasn't around. Even though she'd only been here a matter of minutes, just having her in my house had changed things. I now understood why Bastian had kept Enid with him, why he had refused to take a wife. Darcy tempted me to do the same.
Even though there were things I should take care of downstairs, I found myself crawling between the sheets with her and pulling her into my arms. I brushed the hair back from her face and kissed her gently. It still amazed me that this beautiful woman was going to have my child. My life was never going to be the same.
Darcy snuggled against me, and I held her tight, enjoying the feel of her in my arms. I stroked her hair and rubbed her back, needing to touch her. Her even breathing told me that she slept. My body craved hers, but I knew she needed her rest. She'd been through a lot over the past few days. And 84
after hearing about Enid, I knew that pregnant women tended to need more sleep.
It rankled that Bastian had been right, that I could fall in love. But if I were going to fall in love with someone, Darcy was the perfect choice. She might not be happy with her lot in life, but at least she understood that I had to follow certain rules, and that I would eventually have to marry. It was odd.
At one time, the thought of marriage hadn't bothered me. It had merely been something I had to do. But now it left a sour taste in my mouth. The thought of being with another woman sickened me, especially one of the ice queens from Vaaden.
Darcy was everything I could ever want in a woman. She was passionate, sweet and beautiful. In other words, the exact opposite of a Vaaden woman. Well, except for the beautiful part. Our women were beautiful, but they were cold and distant. I had yet to hear of a happy marriage on my planet. Not for the first time, I felt jealous of Bastian. I knew he was happy with Enid, and I wished I could find that same happiness. I had it with Darcy, but it wasn't the same thing.
She couldn't stay with me indefinitely.
Or could she...?
No. I had to take a wife. If Bastian wouldn't follow tradition, then it fell to me to do so. One of us needed to follow the rules. Someone in the family needed to have a Vaaden child who could inherit everything. I knew that Bastian had made sure that Enid and their children would be provided for if anything happened to him, but it wasn't the same as being able to inherit his entire fortune. I didn't want my fortune and patents going to the Vaaden government.
They had enough power already. And while I could make sure Darcy and our child were taken care of, I couldn't leave everything to them. Could I?
Maybe it was time for things to change. If the Prime Minister was allowing slaves to live with their owners, and allowing children to stay with their parents, then why not allow those same slave women to inherit? Or better yet, why not let them marry? There was a reason I wasn't on the council. I didn't have a head for politics, nor the stomach for it, but my brother certainly did. Perhaps Bastian, Valen and I could get together and come up with something. If we could put together a good argument, then maybe the Prime Minister would take us seriously. He seemed to be on our side so far.
Darcy curled against me tighter and mumbled in her sleep.
As I watched her sleep and thought of the baby growing inside of her, thought of the terror she had recently faced in my absence, I realized that I couldn't send her back to the slave quarters. I loved her too much to not have her by my side every day. While I'd been away from her, I'd visited the harems out of necessity, but I'd hated it. I'd found a woman close enough in looks that I'd managed, but I never wanted to go another night without Darcy in my arms. If my job required me to travel in the future, I'd make sure I was home in a day or two. Never again would I lay with another woman.
Even though it was late, I knew I wouldn't sleep until I'd talked to Bastian. I had to talk to him about my ideas and see what he thought. It was the only way I'd get any peace tonight.
I brushed a kiss against Darcy's temple and left a note for her in case she woke up alone. Then I hurried out into the night.
Bastian glared at me. "Do you know what time it is?"
He snorted. "So what do you want?"
"The Prime Minister has allowed two people to live with their slaves."
"Three. Four if you count yourself."
"What?" I asked.
"Valen, Sylon, you and me," he answered. "There are four of us."
"So if the Prime Minister has bent the rules four times, he apparently has a soft spot for the slaves."
Bastian nodded. "Valen said something about it once. The Prime Minister was once in love with a slave woman. What does that have to do with anything?"
"What would it take for us to get him to agree to a marriage between a Vaaden and a slave?"
Bastian's eyes widened. "Are you wanting to marry Darcy?"
I waved my hand at him. "I wasn't talking about me. I'm just asking a hypothetical question. I know Valen would marry Sorcha, and you would marry Enid. I'm assuming Sylon would marry his slave?"
"So what would it take for him to give permission for something like that?"
"I'm not really sure. All of our slaves are pregnant. And with the exception of you, we're all in love with them. That might be a start. Why are you asking about this?"
I rubbed the back of my neck. "When I came home and saw Darcy's apartment, I was terrified something had happened to her and I'd been powerless to stop it. If she'd been in my home, she would have been safe. And then you told me the doctor said she's pregnant. It was like everything I'd ever known just came tumbling down around me."
"You care for her."
"Of course I do," I snapped. "I'm not a heartless bastard, even if that is what you think of me."
Bastian shook his head. "That's not what I think of you.
Did you know that Darcy was actually Enid's idea?"
I looked at him in surprise and he nodded.
"She remembered the times you would visit with her back when I was seeing Danai and thinking of getting married. She said you were nice to her, and that you had a lot of potential.
I think she was afraid that you'd become hard and cold if you married a Vaaden woman. She'd seen a softer side of you, and she thought Darcy might bring it back out.
"It seems she was right. Because the Rheul I know would never have come to care for his slave. And if my suspicions are correct, you more than care for her. You love her."
"None of it matters if we can't get the Prime Minister to make some changes."
"Because one of us has to marry! I didn't work this hard for everything to revert to the government when I die.
Besides, what will happen to Darcy and any children we might have? It isn't like she can inherit the house."
Bastian nodded. "Valen and I have been working on a solution for that. But until then, why don't you go home and tell Darcy how you feel? Worry about the details later. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Right now, live for today."
"In other words, tell her I love her and don't worry about the future?"
I stepped out into the cool night air. I didn't have the answers I wanted, but I did feel better about my decision.
I woke the next morning with Darcy wrapped in my arms.
It was nice to sleep in my own bed with her. And if I had it my way, I'd be doing that every night for the rest of my life.
She looked so peaceful in sleep. I brushed her hair back from her face and caressed her cheek. Her eyes slowly blinked open, and she gave me a sleepy smile. "Good morning," she whispered.
"Good morning. Did you sleep well?"
"We didn't really get a chance to talk yesterday. I wanted you to know that I'm happy about the baby, Darcy. I didn't want you to think I didn't want it, or that I wasn't pleased about it."
She kissed me. "I'm delighted to hear you say that. I was worried that you would be upset."
"Darcy, having a baby with you is a wonderful thing.
There's something else I want to talk to you about."
"What is it?"
"I want you to stay here with me, in my house. I want it to be our house."
"But... I'm just a slave."
I hugged her tight and kissed her. "You're so much more than that, and I'm sorry if I've never shown you that. You mean everything to me, Darcy. I don't think I could live without you. When I saw the apartment and thought you were hurt or stolen, I nearly died. But when I found out you were pregnant, it was the happiest moment of my life. I was terrified of being a father, but the thought of having a child with you is wonderful."
"What are you saying, Rheul?" she asked quietly.
"I'm saying I love you, Darcy."
A tear slid down her cheek. "You do?"
I wiped it away. "Yes, sweetheart. I love you."
She bit back a sob and threw her arms around me. "Oh, Rheul. I love you so much!"
"I don't know what the future will hold for us, Darcy, but I promise we'll be together."
"That's all that matters."
Looking into her eyes, I realized she was right. Everything I'd worried about was meaningless. I had everything I needed in my arms. As long as I had Darcy and our baby, then nothing else mattered.
[Back to Table of Contents]
Jessica Coulter Smith
Jessica Coulter Smith currently lives in Tennessee with her family and a house full of pets, after having lived in several places from the East Coast to the West Coast. When she isn't writing, you can find her either curled up with a book or out shopping. She's particularly fond of bookstores and Starbucks!
Her writing career began in high school when she submitted My World is Tumbling Down to a poetry contest, not only receiving a publication offer, but also an award.
Since then, she has published a half-dozen or more poems, six novels, and several short stories. At any given time, she has five or more works-in-progress at various stages of completion.
Prior to writing, she worked for a counseling center; in information systems for a debt collector; and has worked at more than one college. After handling everything from patient evaluations to department accreditation, she decided to sit down at the computer again and attempt writing novels (from young adult to erotica).
You can check out what she's up to at her website www.jessicacoultersmith.com. She's also on Facebook (when she has time to log
Table of Contents
Jessica Coulter Smith, Vaaden Warriors 1: Rheul
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes