Ascend / Page 39

Page 39


“I can do that,” I nodded.

“Good, because I’m determined to make the most of it.” He smiled and pushed me down on the bed. “I think we broke the bed a little bit last time. What do you say we see if we can destroy it?”

I laughed, and he kissed me. Tomorrow I might regret this. Tomorrow I might have hell to pay. But for one night, I refused to think or worry. I was with Loki, and he made me feel like the only thing in the world that truly mattered. And in that night, he was the only thing that truly mattered to me.

A knocking woke me in the morning, and I was surprised that I’d even slept at all. The night washed over me in a hazy, happy blur. Everything felt like a wonderful dream, and I’d never known that I could feel that close to another person or that… happy. Loki’s arms were strong around me, and I snuggled deeper into them. I wanted to stay curled up next to him forever.

“Princess?” Aurora called from outside my bedroom, and it was like a cold slap pulling me from my dream. “Are you up? I need to get my clothes.” Loki’s arms tensed up around me, and without waiting for an answer, the bedroom door creaked open as Aurora walked into the room.

17. Consequence

The curtains were still drawn around the bed, but if Aurora pulled them back, she would find me naked in bed with a guy that was not her son. I heard her moving about the room, and I was too scared to speak or even breathe.

My mind raced to remember what had become of our clothes. Were Loki’s pajamas pants on the bedroom floor? And what became of the panties he’d torn off me?

“Princess?” Aurora said again, and I could see her silhouette through the curtain. She was right outside. “Are you in here?”

“Yeah,” I said, afraid that she would open the curtain if I didn’t answer. I tried to quiet the panic in my voice. “Uh, yeah. Sorry. I’m really… out of it. Yesterday was… exhausting.”

“I understand,” Aurora said. “I’ll take my whole bag so I can get ready and give you time to wake up.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Of course.” Aurora’s footsteps went toward the door, then she stopped.  “Tove feels terrible about what happened last night. He never meant to hurt you.”

“I know that.” I winced at the mention of Tove. The warm memories of last night turned into painful truths. I’d cheated on my husband.

“He’ll want to apologize for himself, but I wanted to be sure you knew,” Aurora said. “He’d never hurt you on purpose.”

That was like a knife to my heart, and it cut so deep I could barely breathe for a second. I knew that Tove didn’t love me, but I doubted he’d be happy about me having sex with another guy. And he deserved so much better than that.

“I will see you downstairs for breakfast,” Aurora said.

“Yes,” I said, my voice tight to keep back tears.

The bedroom door shut behind her, and I let out a long shaky breath. I pulled away from Loki and sat up. I’d never felt so conflicted in my life. I wanted nothing more than to lay with him forever, but being with him made me feel guilty and horrible.

“Hey.” Loki put his arm around my waist, trying to pull me back to him. “You don’t have to rush away. She left.”

“We have a lot of stuff to do today.” I pushed his arm off me, hating that I had to reject him, and grabbed my nightgown from where it lay crumpled at the end of the bed.

“I know,” Loki said, sounding a little hurt. He sat up as I pulled the nightgown on. “I’d never try to keep you from you work, but can’t you spend five more minutes in bed with me?”

“No, I can’t.” I shook my head and refused to look back at him. I didn’t want to see the look on his face or think about what we’d done. I could still taste him on my lips and feel him inside me, and I wanted to sob.

“So… that’s it then?” Loki asked.

“I told you that last night was all we could have,” I said.

“That you did.” He breathed deeply. “I guess I was hoping that I could change your mind.”

I got out of bed and found my torn panties sticking out from under the dust ruffle. The bed creaked as Loki got out after me. I turned back to face him. He’d pulled on his pants, but he hadn’t worn a shirt here.

“You’ll have to sneak back to your room,” I told him. “Nobody can see you.”

“I know,” he nodded. “I’ll be careful.”

We stood there, staring at each other and not saying anything. There were only a few feet between us, but it felt like miles. There was so much that I wanted to say but couldn’t. Any words would only make it worse.

If I said aloud how much last night had meant to me, it would make it too real.

Loki walked toward the door but stopped next to me. His hands were balled up into fists, and I could see him struggling with something. Without saying anything, he grabbed me suddenly and pulled me toward him.

He kissed me so passionately, my knees felt weak. I wasn’t sure I would be able to stand when he let go, but I did.

“That was the last time,” I breathed when we stopped kissing.

“I know,” he said simply. Then he let go of me and walked out of the room.

As soon as he was gone, I folded my arms across my chest, hugging myself. My stomach lurched, and I was certain I would throw up for a moment, but it passed. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. I repeated it over and over in my head, but I couldn’t use my own persuasion on myself. I reached behind me and grabbed onto the bedpost, afraid that my legs would give out.

What had I done? To Loki? To Tove? To myself?

“Princess?” Duncan knocked on the door, but I couldn’t form the words to answer him. The lump in my throat was too great. “Princess?” He opened the door, and I did my best to compose myself. “Wendy, are you okay?”

“Yes.” I nodded and swallowed back tears. “I’m tired. Yesterday was too much.”

“Yeah, I know,” Duncan said. “I slept like the dead, but I had all these weird dreams about banging noises. Did you hear anything last night? My room was right next to yours.”

“No,” I shook my head. “Sorry.”

“I just wanted to check on you,” Duncan said. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” I lied.

“I talked to Kenna this morning, and she’d like to send those whose homes are unlivable to Förening for now,” Duncan said. “Willa suggested that we all return today and get the survivors settled in at the palace. Then we can send back people that actually know how to rebuild Oslinna, since none of us really know how to build a house.”

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