MARIAWas she dreaming? She was a thousand percent sure that she was. She had to be because what the hell was happening right now? It was only in a dream that Bran would carry her in his arms like this, like she was fragile as an egg, like she was something he cared about and cherished so much, like she was the center of his worlds. Yes, she was certain that it was a dream. And as if to prove to her that it was very much real and not a dream, Bran's arms tightened around her before he dropped her carefully on the ground.She'd lost her slippers at one point in the mud when it had caked around her legs and refused to let her go. She didn't want to but she'd had to abandon it if she didn't want to sink and that was exactly what she'd done. Now that she was looking down at her very dirty legs, she cringed, asking herself why she'd even thought walking in the dark was a smart idea. But then again, she'd been hurt. "Can you stand right here for a moment so that I can run you a bath?
MARIA Bran let out an 'oomph' from the impact of her body on his, but he was remarkably strong and only staggered back a step before recovering quickly and gripping her ass, hoisting her high on his body. She wasted no time in wrapping her legs around him, locking them at his back and with the leverage she now had, dragging herself up and down over his growing erection. The knot of her towel loosened and fell apart at the top which meant her breasts were now bared and her nipples dragged against the fabric of his shirt with every up and down movement she made. The sensation only made her all the more crazed and what she wanted most in that moment, was Bran's hands on her. Her hair, breasts, everywhere. What mattered was that he had his hands on her. "Touch me," she whispered against his lips, biting down on his lower lip and tugging. "Put your hands on me. Please."A ragged groan tore from Bran's chest and suddenly, his head shot forward, stealing her lips in a consuming kiss, bef
BRAN Was this what it felt like to sleep next to a woman? Or did the light feeling in Bran's chest have to do with the fact that Maria was his mate? He suspected it was the latter.Mere sleeping next to a woman should not have this effect on him. It should not be so pleasurable to the extent that Bran didn't want to leave the bed. He'd just returned to the castle after a very very long time away and he needed to sit with the men at the round table and have some important discussions—one of them being about the supposed vampire that had drunk from a witch—but Bran had not the slightest inclination to leave the bed. He didn't even want to shift from the spot he was lying on. And the sole reason for his reluctance lay with her body half on the bed and half on top of him. His heart clenched as he looked down at her, a feeling of happiness and contentment filling his chest. She slept soundly, her little breaths gusting across Bran's chest and her mouth, slightly parted. The upper part
BRAN It was like people had somehow heard Bran's thoughts, that he planned to work on a future with Maria, and they—his enemies—had all set out to give him reasons why he couldn't have it. This was what Bran was thinking as he partially listened to what the man who had just entered his throne room, was saying."Can you just give me a summary of what you've been saying?" Bran cut him off, suddenly so exhausted. What he'd woken up to as a bright, beautiful, day—a day he'd felt the happiest he had in a very long time—had turned into one of the most disappointing.And it was still morning.The man's irritation was clear in his expression but Bran didn't give two fucks. He was the one that was being disturbed. Bran was the one that was being asked to give away his fucking mate, not this messenger—who was obviously a sorcerer.Speaking of, "Who let him into the castle?" Bran asked the two guards standing by the wall, just now remembering that he'd placed a ban on the Sorceri entering hi
MARIA "I'd like to go for a walk—""Call for your maid. I'll have the guards—""—with you."A pause. "I don't go for walks.""I gathered as much, which is why I'm asking you to give it a try. With me.""No."Maria sighed and fell forward, leaning against the chair in front of her and bracing her hands on it as she watched Bran write. The past few days had been joyful for her. She'd never have thought that it was possible for Bran to be caring, but apparently, he was. It was new and strange, but it was joyful and it filled Maria's days with light. And they'd been sleeping together ever since. That morning—after he'd buried his face between her legs, just like he'd said—when she'd started to search for her discarded gown from the previous night on shaky legs, he'd asked her what she was doing and when she'd told him that she was looking for her gown so that she could leave, he traced to her, lifted her off the ground and carried her back to the bed, telling her that she would sleep in
MARIA "Maria!" Bran called and she heard the light sounds of his steps as he came towards her. She didn't turn to look at him. She didn't want to take her eyes off the cat, not even for one second, for fear that it would run away. It was a small scruffy thing with its hair going every-which-way. It had to have had an owner before because it didn't run away as she approached, even though it looked quite catious, and it had obviously been out here for a while now—from how dirty it's once probably rich white fur looked—but it was letting her get close which meant it wouldn't try to harm her, right? Kneeling on the bare sand, Maria extended her hand to it hesitantly, expecting it to cower and run away even though she didn't want it to. She exhaled in relief when it didn't, in fact, run away. It's slanted eyes dropped to her outstretched hand—her open palm to be exact—and it blinked. It's eyes lifted to hers, then it let out a little 'meow' before taking a small step towards her. Trus
BRANHe moved on auto-pilot, tracing Maria to his room, then tracing to meet Edgar outside. When he'd seen Edgar's text, he'd only been able to think about two things; getting Maria to safety—as far away from whatever was happening as possible—and hurrying to meet Edgar. From the tone of his message, this was urgent and therefore should be treated as such. This was the message he'd sent:Edgar: Something is happening downtown and it demands your attention. We're outside the castle.The reason why Bran kept his phone on him always, was because of times like this. When he was far away from the easy reach of messengers and it could take them a while to get to him. He didn't have much use for the phone—apart from when he wanted to send texts or make important calls—but having it on him always, had proved helpful more times than he could count. Like now. Chaos.Utter chaos. That was what Bran met in the yard of his castle and he had never been more thankful that his room didn't have a
BRAN"Strap her to the chairs! Hold her hands down!"A man held Maria's hand down on the wooden table and another forced her on the chair in front of it, bending to strap her legs to it while the other forced her hands to the table top. Cold fear gripped her unlike anything she had ever felt before and it paralyzed her, making her limbs weak and useless and unable to fight off the men. They were no doubt wondering why she was not fighting back, but in all honesty, she didn't care about that. She was asking herself two questions right now and why she wasn't fighting back wasn't one of them. Why were they strapping her to the table? What did they plan on doing to her? There should have probably been a third—why was her own father asking his men to handle her like that?But she knew the answer and that was precisely why she wasn't bothering to ask herself that question. Her father was cruel, hands down the cruelest man she had ever met, and he did not care whether she was his blood o