His true queen, p.40
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       His True Queen, p.40

           Jodi Ellen Malpas
 

  “I think they heard,” I say, taking myself to my chair and dropping into it. “Damon, please, see Mr. Sampson out.” He goes straight to Haydon, leaving me with his delightful father. “Sir Don, David, please sit.” I look to Josh, expressing my displeasure through my scowl.

  He huffs. “I’m not sorry.”

  “I didn’t expect you to be.”

  “Whatever is going on?” Sir Don asks, looking at Josh like he’s an alien.

  “She’s marrying him,” Haydon yells as he’s manhandled from my office. “She’s marrying a bloody American. Father, you have to do something.”

  “I think your father has done more than enough,” I retort, tight jawed. So Haydon didn’t go squealing to his dad and Sir Don last night? I’m surprised. Or maybe I’m not. Maybe Haydon thought he could fix his mess before these two pigs found out he’d screwed up their hard work.

  “What the hell is going on?” David asks, not bothering to go to his son’s assistance, too concerned with what he’s missing.

  “What is going on?” I muse, thoughtful. “I think we will wait for the PR team and Major Davenport before I furnish you with all the details.” I sit back and nod to Josh to take a seat on the couch by the fireplace, which he does on a wary look, adjusting his groin area as he lowers. Is he hard? I drop my eyes there, and quickly back up to his when I find he most definitely is. He nods. I blink rapidly, turning back to Sir Don and David Sampson on a swallow and a nervous laugh. Bloody hell, will it always be like this? Fighting to maintain authority and composure while fighting not to jump him? I peek out the corner of my eye. He’s grinning. I cough and shake my head clear, grateful when my PR team march in, followed by a stiff-looking Davenport. The second he cocks his head at me, I know he’s finished the statement. Good. As Eddie joins Josh over on the couch, I faff with the few things that Kim has kindly picked up off the floor and replaced.

  “What was I saying?” I set my red box to the side, just so. “Ah, yes, whatever is going on?” I give David the sickliest smile I can muster. “You mean aside from the malicious attempts to turn me against Mr. Jameson?” I ask, tilting my head in question. Both he and Sir Don just stare at me. Of course, I never expected them to admit it. “Well, aside from that, which I am pleased to report was a terrible misunderstanding between Mr. Jameson and myself, now resolved, we are getting married.”

  “Preposterous.” Sir Don dismisses me once again. “A misunderstanding? Mr. Jameson has proved time and again he is a womanizer. You are blinded by lust, Your Majesty.”

  I see Josh twitching in his seat, ready to explode. “No, I was blinded by your attempts to destroy him,” I retort.

  “Rubbish! Mr. Jameson’s behavior was nothing to do with me. He’s brainwashed you.”

  “Sir Don, your opinion is neither here nor there. I don’t believe you wish to work for a Monarchy that you do not have full control over when it comes to decision making, am I right?”

  “I have told you a thousand times, such a reckless move will cause ructions across the country.”

  “You mean the secrets we all keep?” I ask.

  “Indeed.”

  “You and your family have been protectors of the realm for decades, Sir Don.” I lean forward and smile sweetly. “Do you want to protect it now?”

  “I can’t possibly be involved in such absurdity. It’s unspeakable.”

  Of course he can’t. He only returned to royal employment after setting up Josh with a hooker. After turning me against him. When he was back in control. “Then don’t be,” I retort. He’s just saved me the unpleasantness of firing him. “I accept your resignation.” Turning my attention to Haydon’s father, I tilt my head. “You are rather quiet, David.”

  “Shock will do that to a man,” he admits, blinking, as if confused.

  “I expect so.” He thought he was on the home straight. I do so hate disappointing people. “Now listen, and listen carefully. I will be announcing my relationship with Joshua Jameson today.” Both men balk, probably irritated to high heaven because it narrows their scope for intervention. “Not that it’s something you should be concerned about, since neither of you are advising me any longer. But, rest assured, it will be carefully coordinated by the PR team, handled tastefully, and when the time is right, we will announce our engagement.”

  Josh bolts forward to the edge of the couch. “Adeline, hold up—”

  I shut him up with just one look. A look that dares him to undermine me in front of these two men. Anyone else, I can stomach. But these two? Never. I’ll take Josh’s wrath later if I have to. What does he want me to do, anyway? Announce a canceled engagement, a relationship with an entirely different man, and another engagement? All at once? The world with pass out. I’m already pushing the boundaries of breaking news. “You and I will discuss in private.”

  His face. God, his face. It’s telling me that my arse is seriously getting it once we are alone. Is it terrible that flames lick up my spine at the very thought? I quickly realign my mind and face my adversaries.

  Sir Don is waiting for my attention before he goes on. “And what reason do you suppose you will give the world for your parting of ways with Mr. Sampson?”

  “What do you think, Sir Don? I’ll tell them the truth for once. Tell them that I tried to follow tradition, but in the end I had to follow my heart.” I know this could go one way or the other. Be received with praise for my bravery, or distain for my selfishness. Either or, I am ready.

  “Utterly ridiculous,” Sir Don snorts.

  “No, Sir Don, it is actually ridiculous that you have failed in your duty to protect the Monarch. It is ridiculous that I have spared you from being dragged over the coals for your insolence and betrayal. You wanted to take me on? You stupid little man. I am the damn Queen of England, and you were a mere servant. Now, you are nothing. Now, you can scurry out of my palace like the rat you are and live the rest of your days knowing you failed me.” I take in air and calm my quaking body. “Now pack your offices and get out of my palace before I have you both arrested for treason.”

  David Sampson slowly casts his eyes across to where Josh is sitting, his silence speaking volumes. He is wondering how. How he convinced me he was set up. How he got to me. How he made me believe. Without any of the evidence, which I really don’t think I need, I believe. My heart believes. My faith believes.

  “Your father would be ashamed,” Sir Don hisses.

  “My father is no longer here, Sir Don. You are sitting in my office. Your Queen’s office. Your superior. And now your nemesis.” I stand, my way of telling them we are done. “I don’t ever want to see your betraying faces ever again. Your titles have been stripped. Your privileges revoked. Get out.”

  I watch as both men drag themselves up from their seats and turn slowly without another word. “And just so you know,” I say to their backs, low and calm, “Mr. Jameson will be staying with me here at the palace for the foreseeable future.” I smile as they both look over their shoulders. “Under the Palace’s protection. I think it’s only wise. It’s a jungle out there, after all. All kinds of dangers ready to pounce.”

  I get no response, from either man. They look somewhat stunned. I give Damon a flick of my head when he appears at the door, having disposed of my last piece of rubbish, and he nods his acknowledgment, following on behind Sir Don and Sampson.

  Kim sees out the PR people, too, and as soon as the door closes, I brush my hands off, as though I have just dealt with some dirty business. “Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” I find Josh on the couch. His eyes are burning into me. Full of fire. He shakes his head and glances away, discreetly adjusting his groin area on a puff of breath. I bite my lip, a little amused by his condition.

  Leaving him to gather himself, I cast my eyes around the rest of the room. Eddie is staring at Davenport, though not with an angry glare, but with quite an impassive expression. Nervously, I turn my eyes to the major. Or Eddie’s biological father. I’m certain this is the first time they
have been in each other’s company. He’s staring at Eddie, too, his usually stony face now soft. “The announcement?” I ask Davenport, and he slowly looks at me.

  “Married?” he asks in return, and I shrink a little, forgetting it was news to him, too. He didn’t question it before when Sir Don and David were in here. He wouldn’t destabilize me like that, and he would not have wanted them to know he was in the dark.

  “It came as a bit of a shock to me, too.”

  On a mild, disbelieving shake of his head, he stands and leaves, not wanting to outstay his welcome while Eddie is here. “I will print off the statement for your signature.”

  “Okay,” I call. “Thank you, Major.”

  Eddie jumps up from the couch. “Davenport,” he calls, a little awkwardly, making him stop at the door. He doesn’t turn around. “I wondered if we might talk?” Stuffing his hands in his jean pockets, Eddie, like me, waits with bated breath for Davenport’s reply.

  “I believe I would like that,” he says. “I’ll be in my office.”

  Eddie follows, and I smile, so hopeful. I pray they can make amends.

  Then Josh and I are alone. Everything is falling into place. Josh is here. I am here. The announcement will be sent imminently. Nothing can happen. But my stomach refuses to stop turning in apprehension. I grab my phone and text Damon, telling him to advise me the moment Sir Don and David have gathered their belongings and left the palace. He confirms he will immediately, also adding that Haydon has been escorted out by one of his men. I need to distract myself. Forget about the impending explosion of news. “Are you ready to look at some photographs?” I ask Josh, keen to find something to do to pass the time.

  “Stop worrying,” he orders.

  “I can’t help it. After everything, I think being prudent is wise.”

  “You need to relax.”

  “Easier said than done.”

  “Is it?” His head cocks, and I find mine slowly tilting, too, curious. “Stand up and brace your hands on the edge of the desk.”

  “What?”

  “I believe I owe you for cutting my balls off in front of your minions. And you need to forget for a short while, no?” He stands. “Do it.”

  I’m on my feet with a few skips of my heartbeats, my hands wedged on the edge of my desk. There is no hesitation. No question. He knows what to do with me, and I am more than happy to let him do it. That was an exceptionally hard task, maintaining my resilience. I could do with a nap. Or . . .

  I walk my legs back and look at him through lusty, pleading eyes as he strolls casually to the door and locks it. And it feels like it takes him years to make it to me by the desk. On a thoughtful pout, he picks up a ruler from the desk tidy, inspecting it before lashing it across his palm on a tiny smirk. “Perfect,” he declares, moving around the back of me. I close my eyes and suck in air, holding it as he lifts my skirt up to my waist. “You are so fuckin’ hot when you’re in command,” he says, smoothing a palm over the peak of my left cheek.

  Thwack!

  The lash takes me by surprise, the wood stinging far more than his palm. “Fuck.” I jolt forward as flames spread like cracking glass across my backside. I pant, trying to right my position, knowing he is far from done. Like I could be in a trance, my breathing slows, and I smile as the pain transforms into a wonderful kind of pulse between my thighs. “Again,” I demand, grunting when he whips across my flesh brutally. More pain, even more pleasure. I’m vibrating, my clitoris buzzing uncontrollably. One touch, and I will be gone. Moving in, Josh lays his torso on my back, reaching around my stomach, feeling his way down to the juncture of my thighs.

  He hisses as his fingers glide past the seam of my knickers into my wetness, scissoring, my arse pushing back into his groin. “God, yes,” I breathe, rolling my hips to get the friction I need.

  “Is that good, Your Majesty? Me fucking you with my fingers, is it good?” His touch works easily, each slide back and forth pushing my pulse to the next level until it’s pounding.

  “Oh, God, yes,” I choke, balling my hands and slamming them into the wood. “Faster.”

  I feel his smile as he bites into my shoulder, and with a few more body-bending slips, I go, my head dropping, my eyes rolling in the back of my head. “Shit,” I mumble, free-falling through my pleasure, waiting for the convulsions to claim me. My body locks when they do, the intensity making me shake. “Stop,” I beg, the pressure too much. “Please, stop.”

  “I will never stop, Adeline.” He sinks his fingers into me, high and deep, my muscles curling around his touch possessively, telling him I never really want him to. I pant, blinking back the stars, riding through the intensity of my orgasm until he slowly pulls his fingers free.

  Josh pulls away and turns me, pushing me down to the desk and spreading himself on me. As I breathe into his face, he does nothing but smile. “Feeling better, my queen?”

  “Much,” I gasp, the weight now gone from my shoulders, my mind fuzzy for a far more satisfying reason. “Thank you, kind sir.”

  “I’m here to serve.” He kisses every part of my hot face before helping me to my wobbly legs and pulling down my skirt. “I can’t decide if I love the pre-orgasm look on you more, or the post-orgasm.” My hair is pushed over my shoulders and a kiss landed on my lips. “Photographs?”

  My eyes fall to the box of videotapes, my rush of contentment receiving a prod of dejection. “I suppose I ought to get it done with.”

  “C’mon.” Josh collects the box as I get the file of photographs. “I’m looking forward to seeing if you were as cute then as you are now.”

  “Cute?” I ask as he slings an arm around my shoulders and walks us to the door. Unlocking it, I pull it open and find Kim on the other side, her arms full of . . .”What is that?”

  “This is a VCR player for all those tapes.” She hoofs it at Josh, dumping it onto the box he’s carrying. “Any good with obsolete technology?”

  He looks at the huge machine with skepticism. “I’ll give it a go.”

  “Thanks, Kim,” I call as she goes, leaving Josh and I to fend for ourselves. “We’ll set it up in the Wendsley Lounge.”

  “How many lounges are in this joint?” Josh asks as we walk across the landing and down the stairs.

  “A few.”

  “Hundred?”

  I push my way into the Wendsley Lounge, holding the door for Josh with my back. He sets the box next to the television and pulls the leads from the back of the machine, scratching his head. I leave him to figure it out as I kneel by the coffee table and pull out all the tapes from the box, stacking them neatly in date order. “My baptism,” I muse, only just making out the faded print on the sticker of the tape. “And my first birthday.” I hold it up for Josh to see, laughing when I find his face wedged against the television as he stretches around the back to connect a lead. “We’ll start with this one. Is it working?” I crawl across to the video player, searching for any lights that will indicate power.

  “Give me a chance,” Josh mutters, fiddling and faffing. “Fuckin’ hell, where did she even find this thing?” He turns his face to try and see where his blind hands are working, cursing and muttering under his breath. “There. Is it on?”

  “Wait.” I grab the remote control and switch on the television, looking for a light on the VCR player. “Yes!” I shove the tape into the slot and wince at the sounds of crunching and mechanisms turning. “Should it sound like that?”

  “Who knows?” Josh joins me on the floor as we wait for the screen to come to life. “Oh my God.” He laughs when the screen is suddenly full of a chubby baby’s face. “Is that you?”

  “No,” I protest indignantly, praying it isn’t. Though the elaborate christening gown the baby is wrapped in like a present tells me otherwise. Goodness, I look like a baby bride. “Shit, it is me.” I throw a disgusted look at Josh’s jerking body, fast-forwarding the tape through the close up of my chunky cheeks. “There.” I play and let the tape roll, watching as I’m passed
from my mother’s arms to . . .”Oh my God, look at Sabina.”

  “I’m too busy looking at your mother,” Josh says, settling on his arse and pulling me to between his legs. I wince as my sore bottom meets the carpet. He rests against the couch, and I rest against him. “Fuckin’ hell, it’s you.”

  I smile. It really is, her hair as long as mine now, though a bit bigger and set with what is possibly an entire tin of firm-hold hairspray. “And Eddie.” I point at the screen as my brother, just a toddler, tries to crawl up our mother’s body. She picks him up, letting him smother her face with wet kisses.

  “And is that John?” Josh asks, sending my eyes to the other side of the screen.

  “Yes.” He looks utterly unimpressed by the fuss being made of me. “God, he was uptight even then.” An edge of sadness washes over me. “But he was born to be King.” I feel Josh constrict his arms around my shoulders, a silent sign of sympathy. With a lump in my throat, I fast-forward again, speeding through the footage of me as a baby being fussed over by everyone. “There’s my grandfather,” I say, playing the tape again for Josh to see. My father’s father is holding me now, my tiny body looking awkward in his big kingly arms.

  “The stone dude in the maze.” Josh recognizes him.

  “He was stony in real life, too.” My grandfather passes me back to Sabina, his crabby face rather indifferent, and then, out of nowhere, he smiles. But not at his granddaughter in his arms, but at Sabina when she says something. I quickly rewind and turn up the volume, wondering what provoked such a beam from the notoriously compassionless man.

  “What’s up?”

  “What does she say?” I ask, leaning forward, listening carefully, but the surrounding bustle blankets the words being exchanged.

  “I can’t hear,” Josh says.

  “Me either.” I settle back on a little shrug and fast-forward again. “Sabina is honored. He smiled for no one.” The screen goes blank, the tape finished. “Next one?” I ask, breaking away and collecting another. I flash it to him on a grin. “My second birthday.”

  “Do you think your cheeks will have deflated?” It’s a serious question I shouldn’t entertain, but his cheeky grin is too adorable. I roll my eyes as I eject the tape and pop the next in, crawling back over to Josh. “I hope one day I get to see you as a baby.”

 
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