Royally endowed, p.14
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       Royally Endowed, p.14

         Part #3 of Royally series by Emma Chase
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  When I step out, the rain soaks me. I brace my hand on the roof of the car, groaning from the grief. The agony.

  I like your tie.

  She was here. She was beautiful and precious and so very alive.

  One of these days . . . I'm going to save you back.

  And I had all those years, all those moments when I knew--I knew what I felt for her, but I was just too fucking cautious to do something about it.

  I like you, Logan.

  Men aren't supposed to be hesitant. Not men like me. And not about women like her. But she wasn't just some girl. She never was. Not from the very first moment.

  Do you ever think of me?

  Her words drift through my mind, repeating in whispers like a taunting song, as I walk up the path to the front steps of my house.

  It's always been you. Always.

  So many mistakes and missed chances.

  Do you feel it too?

  And I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry.

  I sink down to my knees, because my legs refuse to hold me up anymore. My back bows and I lift my face to the sky, letting the rain mix with the regret and sorrow leaking from my eyes.

  Because I should have told her. I should have given her those words. And I would give anything . . . I would die for the chance to go back and tell her now. Tell her the truth.

  I feel it too, Ellie. I always have.

  A WHITE LIGHT.

  That's the first thing I see when I open my eyes. I squint, then blink against its brightness. And the sound of rushing water fills my ears. No . . . rain. Raindrops on rooftops. Where are the whiskers on kittens?

  If I'm quoting The Sound of Music, I must really be out of it--one too many glasses of liquid courage at The Goat. It takes me a minute to wake up and realize where I am. Whose rooftop the rain is pounding on and how the heck I got here.

  And then I remember. I cover my eyes with my hand, to shield them from the porch light.

  At Logan's house.

  I wanted to see him, talk to him, and I knew I couldn't do that under Tommy's watchful gaze. So, a few hours after Logan ghosted me I shimmied out the bathroom window--and thank God, God made me like I am, because it was a tight freaking fit. Then I skipped down the alley, caught a cab and came here.

  But, of course--no Logan. And like an idiot, I'd left my phone on the bar, and I couldn't even call him. His porch swing was looking mighty comfy and I can now confirm it's amazeballs.

  I sit up, rubbing my eyes and patting down my hair, in case I've got swing head. And then a noise comes from over by the steps. It's a whimper--like the sound a wounded animal would make. Slowly, I walk over, and that's when I see him.

  Logan, out in the rain, kneeling on the walkway, bent over and pressing his forehead to the last step, groaning words I can't understand. And I know something awful has happened.

  "Logan?"

  He rears up, leaning back on his calves, his eyes wide and wilder than I've ever seen them. Out of control. There's a cut on his cheek and black streaks on his clothes. His mouth opens, then closes. He stares at me, breathing hard.

  "Are you . . . are you real?"

  He reaches out his hand toward me. And it's trembling.

  I come down the steps, into the rain. "Of course I'm real, Logan."

  I feel tears rise in my eyes. Because he looks so devastated. "Are you all right? Are you hurt? What happened?"

  I kneel down on the sopping path, take his hand and press it against my cheek. As soon as he touches me, he inhales a deep, scraping breath and yanks me forward. Clasping me to him. He engulfs me in his arms. Wholly. Fully. Like he's trying to absorb me. Squeezing so tight, it's hard to breathe.

  And it's not just his hand that's trembling--he's shaking everywhere.

  So I stroke his back and whisper, "It's okay--it's okay, Logan. I'm here. Shhh . . . I've got you."

  A shudder tears through him. "You weren't there." He moans against my neck. "You weren't there and no one knew . . . I couldn't find you."

  He pulls back, his face heartbroken and furious at the same time. He holds me by the arms, shaking me a little. "Don't do that again. Ever!"

  "Okay," I soothe, stroking his face, feeling his rain-soaked cheeks. "I won't ever do it again. You'll always be able to find me--I promise."

  "Always," he insists, dragging me against him, pressing our bodies together.

  "Yes. Always."

  I barely get the words out before Logan's mouth is on mine. Covering me, possessing me. His hands slide into my hair, gripping almost desperately, holding me immobile as he presses his lips hard against mine, moving and tasting, groaning roughly.

  It's not a gentle, joyful kiss--it's urgent and demanding. Frantic. Whatever happened, it's shaken him badly, and I know deep down, he needs this--to just feel me. Logan's lips move to the corner of my mouth, across my cheek and my closed eyes, trailing harsh kisses up to my forehead. He lingers there, his lips shuddering against my skin.

  And the rain comes down on us, weighting our clothes, dripping from the ends of our hair, running in rivulets over our hands. Logan presses his forehead against mine but keeps his eyes closed tight.

  His words sound lifeless. Vacant. "There was a fire at The Goat. It's gone." He flinches then. "I thought you were gone too. I thought I'd lost you."

  My hands are on his neck, his jaw, pulling him closer. And the horror of what he's saying seeps into my mind and swells in my throat. "Oh no! I'm so sorry, Logan. I came here, for you--I didn't know. You didn't lose me. I'm here--I'm right here."

  And I'm crying now, tears streaming down my face with the rain.

  Logan opens his beautiful brown eyes and sparkling drops of water cling to his heavy, dark lashes. And his voice is clear and deliberate.

  "I think of you."

  My breath catches. "Really?"

  He brushes my wet hair back, his forehead still pressed to mine.

  "All the time."

  Logan strokes my cheek. "I like you."

  And then I'm crying and smiling at the same time. "I was hoping you'd say that."

  He sweeps his thumb across my lower lip and looks into my eyes.

  "I feel it too, lovely Ellie."

  "You do?"

  He nods against me. "I always have. From the very first."

  My fingers skim the stubble on his jaw, his chin, his neck--I just want to touch him.

  And then, so gently, Logan takes my face in his hands and kisses me. It's a whisper of a touch, at first, a soft stroke of his lips. I reach up and press against him, kissing him back, feeling his soft, full lips, taking as much as giving, savoring every sensation. I sigh when I feel the stroke of his tongue. Slow and exploring but firm against mine. It slides and flicks and my lower stomach clenches in the most desperate, amazing way. Logan covers my upper lip with his, sucking just a bit; then, with a breath that feels regretful, he pulls away.

  His hands move down my hair to my shoulders, over my arms, like he can't stop touching me.

  "We have to go to the palace. Your sister . . ."

  "Oh God--Liv--she must be a mess."

  I'm the worst sister ever. Someone needs to get me a plaque.

  "I have to call her."

  Logan stands us up, keeping hold of my hand, and walks me through the rain to his car in the muddy driveway. "I have my phone--call her on the way."

  THERE ARE TEARS AND HUGS when I get Ellie back to the palace. We go to the yellow drawing room, because the Queen herself would like to see that Ellie is alive and well. Henry and Sarah are there too, as are Prince Nicholas and Olivia. She tackles Ellie the moment we walk in, sobbing, and then Ellie is sobbing too. And apologizing. The way she tells the story, she left The Goat to get some air, wandered off and got lost. Then, hours later, she just happened to pass me on the street as I was walking home from the hospital.

  It's the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard. It doesn't even make sense . . . but they're all just so happy, so relieved that she's safe, that no one questions
it.

  I don't confirm what she says; I remain straight-faced, neutral. I won't lie to Nicholas--ever. But there are conversations he and I need to have--and I have no intention of having them tonight.

  I have other plans--important plans--and I'm eager to get started.

  Those plans are delayed when the Queen calls for wine. Albert, the butler, hands me a glass and I take it, join in the toast and drink--but it's completely bizarre. To be drinking with this group of important people, like I'm one of them. Like I belong inside this room instead of outside, watching the door.

  I push the thought aside when Ellie uses Olivia's phone to call their father in New York. And there are more tears. Eric Hammond will be coming to visit in a few days' time, but now that Ellie has been found, the mad, grieving rush to get to Olivia can be delayed.

  After Ellie hangs up and the wineglasses are cleared, it seems like it's time to disperse. Call it a night. Put my plans into motion.

  But they're delayed again.

  And this, I'm not expecting. I don't think anyone is.

  "We want to get married," Henry tells the Queen, holding Sarah's hand.

  Her Majesty nods. "Yes, of course you do. But the time will go by quickly and there is still much to be done."

  "No." The light-haired prince shakes his head. "We want to get married tonight. Here. Now."

  I don't think I've ever seen the Queen look confused. I don't think anyone has ever seen the Queen look confused--or surprised. But at the moment she's both.

  "What?"

  "Ellie could have died," Henry tells her in a clear, calm voice. He's thought this out; he knows what he wants and he's determined to have it. "Mum and Dad died young, and the only consolation was that they had all those years together. Life is so short, Granny. It goes by so quick." Henry pulls Sarah closer against his side. "I don't want to spend another minute longer than I have to, not being Sarah's husband."

  "No one else has to know; it'll just be for us. We'll keep it a secret," Lady Sarah offers. "We'll still have the service and the reception as planned, of course."

  "That day will be difficult for her," Henry explains. "She'll do it because we both understand it's expected, but there will be worry and anxiety. But here, now, there will only be joy."

  Sarah leans forward, eyes begging. "Please understand, Your Majesty."

  And Henry adds, "Please say yes."

  She could easily say no. Members of the royal family need the Queen's permission to marry--it's a law. An outdated one, but still a law.

  But I've long suspected something about the Queen that no one else has: despite her steely exterior, Her Majesty, Queen Lenora of Wessco has a soft spot. It may be small and rarely used . . . but the bugger's there.

  Her eyes shift between Henry and Sarah, then she puts her hand on each of their shoulders. "It's a fine idea. Very romantic."

  She folds her hands in front of her. "Christopher, tell the Archbishop his services are needed now. Do not tell him why."

  Christopher bows and scurries off to fulfill the command. The Queen returns her gaze to Lady Sarah. "You will need a dress."

  "I have one," she assures the Queen excitedly. "It's white and perfect, and I've never worn it."

  "Good." Queen Lenora nods. "Then all you need is a tiara. Thankfully, I have a few to spare."

  And that is how the future King and Queen of Wessco end up getting married in a garden, beneath a clear sky after a rainstorm, at midnight.

  Old Fergus, the cantankerous butler who first served Nicholas and now Henry at Guthrie House, plays the violin as Lady Sarah walks herself down the lantern-lit aisle. She's holding a bouquet of wildflowers, her hair long and straight, her dress sleeveless and snug at the waist, with a short, puffy skirt.

  She looks like a fairy princess who wandered out of a storybook.

  And when the Archbishop asks her if she takes Henry as her husband, the answer sounds as if it bursts straight from her heart.

  "I do . . . I do!"

  Later, when Henry is told he may kiss his bride, and he takes her in his arms . . . I've never seen such a look on a man's face. Like he's holding a star, a cherished, sacred piece of heaven, in his very hands.

  It's in that moment that I realize and accept--when Ellie walks down the aisle to me, and we say our vows and trade our rings . . . I'll be looking at her in exactly the same way.

  I look at her that way now.

  And I can't remember what I was thinking--why I've been fighting so hard against it--why I thought any of it mattered. But that stops now. Tonight.

  Ellie stands across the garden, watching the ceremony. I drift over to position myself behind her, close enough to breathe her in, but not so close that it seems out of place.

  "I'm coming to your room tonight." I whisper against her hair. "If you don't want that to happen, tell me now. I can't stop myself, Ellie."

  "I don't want you to stop, Logan. Not ever." She turns around, her blue eyes shining in the moonlight. "Come to my room . . . I'll be waiting."

  I LIGHT THE CANDLES IN my room, the long ivory sticks on the fireplace mantel, the subtly scented votives on the nightstands beside the bed. I dim the overhead lights and brush my teeth, running my hands through my hair, tucking one side behind my ear. I'd already switched my damp blue dress for a short nude pleated chiffon gown when we got back to the palace, and I strip that off, leaving me in only a champagne silk slip, bare and braless beneath it.

  Then I stare at my reflection in the mirror. My eyes are bright and my cheeks are flushed pink. Every nerve ending is awake and alive.

  I tremble.

  Not with nervousness--I could never be nervous with Logan; he's too careful, too caring with me. No, I quake with anticipation. Desire. It floats through me like smoke, swirling inside, making my blood rush and my heart gallop.

  I've wanted this so much, wished for it for so long.

  And now it's happening.

  Please, God, please let him hurry.

  After Henry and Sarah's beautiful ceremony, we toasted with Champagne. Unlike when we first came back to the palace, Logan didn't join in. He stood by the door, waiting and watching. Olivia stuck to my side like glue, touching my arm and holding my hand, as though she needed to reassure herself I was really there. I don't blame her; I feel awful about scaring her and my dad--everyone--so terribly.

  But at the same time, the urgent need to break away from the group and go to my room to await Logan wound up inside me like an overtightened spring, until it was ready to pop. Finally, finally, we said our good-nights. Logan was gone then, not by the door, as if he'd faded into the shadows--no one but me noticed. I walked with Nicholas and Olivia back to their apartments, and I hugged my tired sister and relieved brother-in-law one more time before making it up to the refuge of my room.

  And now I wait. I've already waited so long, you'd think I'd be used to it. But this need inside me is stronger than it's ever been--sharper, more acute, feverish. Every muscle in my body is strung tight and my skin is tender, overly sensitive. My teeth grind and the blood rushes in my ears, echoing soon. Soon, soon, he'll be here soon.

  There's a knock on my door.

  And my soul comes alive.

  I fly to the door and pull it open.

  Before I can take a breath or see him clearly, Logan steps into the room, grabs me, pulls me against his chest, kicks the door closed with a bang--then spins us around and presses me up against the wall. And he's kissing me, we're kissing each other, desperate and grasping and wild.

  He tastes like red wine--like oak and blackberries--and the drag of his mouth across mine makes me drunk. Logan lifts me like I'm weightless and his fingers curl around my thighs, palms sliding. He moves his hips between my legs, pinning me against the wall with his pelvis, rubbing against me, making me wet and throbbing.

  Somebody once told me a slow-burning fire is the hottest--and it must be true. Because Logan and I are a fucking inferno.

  He yanks at the strap of my sli
p and it snaps. He pulls the fabric down, exposing my breast, and his mouth devours me. He suckles and licks urgently, opening his mouth wider to envelop nearly my whole breast. It's as if he wants to taste every inch of my skin all at once.

  Then he's back to my mouth, kissing me long and deep and wet, until I'm shaking in his arms.

  "I'll give it to you sweet, Ellie." He breathes hard. "I swear I'll make it so fucking sweet you'll ache . . . but now I just . . . I need . . ."

  My hips rotate and I'm rubbing myself up and down on the rock-hard length of his cock beneath his pants. My head thrashes.

  "I know. I know, Logan. Just take . . . please."

  I need him inside, now. Pressing into me--surging deep.

  I squeeze his shoulders, grasping at the starched cotton of his shirt. It feels manly under my palms. His scent, his rough groans, the tight hold of his large hands, the stab of his hot tongue--everything about Logan is strong and hard, domineering, and so deliciously male.

  He moves one hand from my leg and I feel him tearing at his pants, the scratch of his belt against my thigh as he frees himself.

  Yes, yes . . .

  My desires clash--because I want to see him, see everything. I want to hold him in my hand, stroke and hear him moan. But that yearning evaporates when I feel the touch of hot, silken flesh against me. I feel the girth of his cock against my soft opening. I'm slick, slippery for him, but he's so big he has to push through my tight muscles. I lift my knees, stretching my joints to open for him.

  He moves forward slowly, steady and unyielding. And then Logan is sliding inside me. More, more, impossibly long. There's a dull pinch as I stretch around him, until all of him is buried within me--deep and full--and the wisps of his pubic hair tickle the sensitive skin of my inner thigh.

  I feel so full. Complete. I squeeze my muscles, clench my pussy hard, just to feel more of him deep inside.

  His arms are contracted tight under my hands, his breath brushes against my lips, his forehead rests against mine. "Ellie," he whispers, and no word has ever sounded sweeter. "Ellie . . . Ellie . . ."

  We kiss roughly, my tongue invades his mouth, caressing his, licking, searching inside. Logan's hips pull back and his cock retreats just a little, then he slides back and we moan together, greedy for the friction. He pulls back again, farther, withholding more--then thrusts back in, harder. Needier.

 
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