Ascend / Page 57

Page 57


Oslinna is still working on improvements, but Matt has spent a great deal of time helping rebuild. His designs are gorgeous, and it’s been really good for the Trylle people to see a mänks do something so well.

We’re still working against prejudice, and I know it will be a while before they completely give in to the idea that it’s okay for people to marry who they love, no matter if they’re Trylle or mänks or even a tracker. But we’re on the right road.

Before I hang up my crown as Queen, I’m certain we’ll make it legal for anyone to marry whoever they love. Willa’s hoping that it’s sooner rather than later, of course, but she’s been shopping around for a wedding dress since she was eight.

She’s taken a much more active role in our society. Since I was on bed rest when we first came back, she stepped up to handle a lot of the day-to-day work. Which is good, because it gave me someone to hand the reigns over to when I went on my honeymoon.

Even before the funeral, Tove and I had our marriage annulled. He insisted on it, because he said my and Loki’s auras were blinding him.

Tove seems to be taking our annulment better than our marriage. I appointed him Chancellor, since Tove was still one of my smartest and most trusted confidants. He’s met someone, although he’s been very tight lipped about who it is. I’m hoping that someday soon he’ll open up and let me know who that special someone is.

After we defeated the Vittra, Thomas left, joining his family in another tribe, and I don’t think he’ll be coming back. Finn stayed behind, taking over his father’s duties as head tracker.

It’s still a bit strange seeing Finn around the palace. I don’t love him anymore, not like I did, although I don’t think I can ever truly stop caring for him. He was my first love, and he was immensely important to me becoming the Queen I am today.

At first, he was cold and distant, but the ice between us seems to be melting. We’re on the path to becoming friends again, and that’s something.

I saw him flirting with a girl from Oslinna, and I’d expected to feel some jealousy, but I didn’t. Only genuine happiness for him. I want Finn to be happy, and honestly, I don’t think that I was the right person to do that.

And Loki… well, Loki has hardly left my side since we came back, but I wouldn’t let him into my bed until he made an honest woman of me. So he did.

Two weeks ago in the garden, beneath the spring flowers, we had a small wedding, much different than my first one. This time, it was only my closest friends in attendance, including my aunt Maggie. But its greatest difference was that I wanted this wedding, and I married a man that I desperately love.

Maggie’s been staying with us for a few weeks, and it’s mostly been wonderful. She still hasn’t completely wrapped her mind around everything that’s going on here, but she took to Rhys immediately. Thankfully, he’s spent the last week keeping her entertained so Loki and I could have a little bit of time to ourselves.

Unfortunately, there’s never enough time. The nights seem too short, and the sun always seems to come up too early when I’m still snuggled in bed with Loki. Usually, he wants to sleep in as much as I do, but not today.

He opened the shades, so the morning light shone in too brightly, and I squeezed my eyes shut and buried my face in the pillow.

“Aw, Wendy.” Loki knelt down on the floor next to the bed and brushed the hair back from my eyes. “You knew today was coming.”

“I know, but I didn’t want it to come.” I opened my eyes so I could look at him, smiling at me even though his eyes were pained. “I shouldn’t have let you agree to this.”

“You don’t let me,” Loki laughed. “I’m the King. Nobody tells me what to do.”

“That’s what you think,” I scoffed, making him laugh harder.

“But seriously, my love, are you going to get up and see me off today?” Loki asked. He took my hand in his, kissing it. “You don’t have to, of course. I know how mornings have been for you lately.”

“No, if you’re going to leave, I want to say goodbye,” I sighed. “But you better hurry back.”

“As quickly as I can,” he smiled. “Nothing in the world will keep me from my Queen.”

I threw the covers off me and went into the closet to get dressed. We were having a whole ceremony to see Loki off, so I had to choose a nice gown, and I’d even have to wear my crown. I avoided it for the most part, since it made me feel silly, but I had to put it on for formal occasions.

Loki was already dressed for the day. I’d felt him get up about an hour ago. I kept sleeping, though, since I’d been so tired lately. I’d like to say it was because of how worn out Loki had left me on our honeymoon, and while that was definitely part of the reason, it wasn’t all of it.

“How are you feeling this morning?” Loki asked. He leaned against the closet door, watching me as I pulled on a dark emerald gown.

“Other than being sad, I’m okay.” I slipped the dress on, but I couldn’t zip it up myself, so I turned my back to him. “A little help, please.”

“You really ought to get a lady in waiting or something,” Loki said as he struggled with the zipper. “These things are impossible to get on.”

“That’s what husbands are for,” I teased. He continued to yank at the zipper, and it finally went up. But I knew what the problem was, why my dresses were so hard to get on anymore.

From behind me, Loki reached around me, holding his hand against the snugness in my middle, and he kissed my shoulder.

“We’re going to have to tell them soon,” Loki said, hugging me.

“I know,” I sighed. “But not until you get back, okay? I don’t want to have to deal with all the talking and questions unless you’re with me.” I turned around so I was facing him. “That means you’ll have to hurry back soon.”

“As if I needed another reason to convince me.” He smiled and playfully tugged at my silver curl, the lock of hair that refused to stay in place anymore.

Loki kissed me deeply, holding me to him, and he still made my knees go weak. I kept expecting that feeling to fade, but every time he touched me, I felt it all the same.

We went down to the throne room for the ceremony. Sara was already waiting for us, along with Finn working as head guard and Tove working as the Chancellor. Sara had been here since last night, so she could ride with Loki in a gesture of solidarity.

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