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His Drakon Runaway Bride(29)

By:Tara Pammi

His mouth buried between her breasts, his voice ragged. “Move, Ari. Move as your body wants you to, pethi mou.” His eyes closed as her body did its own instinctual, age-old thing to relieve the ache there. “This I will give you, Ariana.” With that promise, he took her nipple in his mouth, wrapped his tongue around it.

There was no way to control her body’s response. Ariana moved up and down sending guttural groans out of their mouths. His hips surged up, cleaving through her, his eyes glittering in the dark. Stark possession shone in them. “We should not have ever come together, Ari. I...should have never married you.”

Tears streaming down her cheeks, her body racing toward the peak, Ari bent down and kissed him softly. “I will choose to believe it was love that brought you to me.

“I will believe for the rest of our lives if that’s what it takes. I will be here day and night. Waiting for you. And wanting you.”

She repeated the words again and again as pleasure skewered through her body and he covered it with his own, chasing his own climax. He filled her completely, utterly.

And yet Ariana had never known such loss.

When she woke up again, among cool sheets, sticky and sore between her legs, he was gone. The huge room was dappled in afternoon light, bright and pricking her eyes. She didn’t have to get up and ask his secretary to confirm what she already knew.

He would have already left the King’s Palace.


ARIANA HAD FORGOTTEN. Or had she given up counting the number of days since Andreas had left the King’s Palace? After the third day, nights and days began to merge.

There were no tears this time. She hadn’t ranted and raged after he had walked out.

She lost herself in studying for the bar exam. In developing the contacts she’d made at the ball that would aid in her starting her own legal agency. Under Petra and Giannis’s expert guidance, she gave an interview about the work she was going to take up once she was licensed to practice law in Drakon.

She visited two different organizations in the city, who provided relief and shelter to abused women, and came up with action items to tackle the poorly funded shelters. Eleni, she was slowly realizing, was a veritable mine of information on the topic of fund-raisers and charity auctions.

Taking her advice on board, Ariana threw herself into organizing her fund-raiser.

She worked from sunup to sundown, trying to exhaust herself. But when her head hit the pillow in that big king bed of Andreas’s, sleep still eluded her frantic mind.

If Ariana had thought him unapproachable before, he was nothing short of the arctic freeze now.

He was utterly polite to her. He constantly checked with her to make sure she had everything she needed to realize her own dream. He respected her opinion, he even let her accompany him on a short trip to some of the key rural areas where Gabriel’s firm was investing in the economy by building world-class resorts.

He treated her like he would have treated any other woman he could have married. With the utmost civility. As if she were a complete stranger he was sharing his life with. As if there was no more to him than the perfect ruler, or the polite husband.

The worst part was that Ariana had no idea if he was doing it to distance himself from her, or if he truly felt nothing. The probability that she had lost him this time...had robbed her of a single night’s peaceful sleep.

After the first three weeks of being simply stonewalled, she’d lost her patience one night. Clearly, giving him space and time wasn’t working.

Nothing, it seemed, was working.

In an attempt to talk to him, to confront him, she had crawled into his bed one night, knowing that he’d returned at midnight from another trip. After waiting for hours, she had finally fallen into a restless sleep. She had woken up to realize it was his mouth on her neck, his hands on her legs that had hurtled her out of sleep.

He’d hardly even greeted her before he covered her mouth with his. He gave her hardly a chance to breathe when he pushed her legs apart, rid her of her panties and pressed his mouth to her sex.

Ariana didn’t remember how many times he’d made her climax that night before he had pushed her face down, spread her legs and taken her from behind. He had exhausted her so deeply that her bones had been jelly, her entire body so sensitive and sore that finally she had fallen into a deep sleep.

When she’d awoken, showered and dressed on buckling knees, he had been gone again.

The pattern continued for two months. Every time he went on a trip, he stayed away for longer. He sent her the most exotic, expensive gifts. He barely even met her eyes anymore. If he found her in his bed, he made love to her. If she wasn’t there, he didn’t seek her out.

Sometimes they barely got their clothes off, he was that desperate and rough. Sometimes, he made love to her with soft, soothing words. So tenderly, as if she was the most precious thing he had ever beheld. As if he couldn’t help himself.

Nikandros and Mia, Eleni and Gabriel had even stopped inquiring about what was wrong. Said only that she looked like a wraith and that Andreas was...well, more unapproachable than ever. She heard the staff, even Petra, who was as loyal as they came, say that he was even more unforgiving than before. That anyone who made one mistake, one misstep with him, got their head chewed off. While to the outside world, they couldn’t be happier and more in love. More perfect for each other.

And slowly Ari began to lose hope.

* * *

The whole palace was in a mad rush because Eleni had gone into labor all of a sudden.

Ariana had wrapped the little booties and sweater she had knitted in soft tissue paper, eager to visit the little infant, when she heard two aides talking.

Andreas was returning tomorrow, was cutting his trip short to see Eleni’s little girl. Eleni had already told Ariana that she wanted Ariana and Andreas to be their little one’s godparents.

When Ariana had argued they were the last couple who knew anything about babies, Eleni had shook her head and said she trusted her little girl with the both of them.

As always, Ari’s heart thundered at the thought of his return. Longing twisted through her, entangled with hope that, this time, things would be different. That this, the distance, would have been enough for him to see she was here. And that she had no thought of leaving him.

Slowly, as if someone was siphoning away life from her, she lost steam. Coming to rest against a dark mahogany door, she tried to catch her breath past the glass in her throat.

Was she just deluding herself?

He would smile and nod at her with those dark eyes. Tell Eleni that she would make the perfect godmother. Then walk away, especially because this was about a child.

A matter that would always be raw and guilt-ridden between them. A matter it seemed he could not get over.

Then, if she was fortunate, he might come to bed. And if he did, and Ariana tried to talk, he would make love to her until she forgot her own name.

Come morning, all she’d have was a sore body and a crushed heart.

Maybe he was right. Maybe things between them were so broken that they could not be fixed again. But Thee mou, she could not live like this.

She couldn’t be near him and love him and live day after day knowing that he might never accept his love for her. This was even worse than what she’d run away from. She couldn’t bear this...any longer.

Tired and beaten down, all she wanted was to run away. To escape.

But she couldn’t. Andreas hadn’t given up on her in ten years and she hugged the fact to herself.

She wiped her palms over her mouth, instructed one of the staff to give her present to Eleni and then went back to her suite. Dismissing everybody else, she took Giannis into confidence, told him how to reach her in an emergency.

Like Andreas raising a palace-wide search for her. But no, she was sure he would hardly even notice for a month or two.

She packed a small bag personally, throwing in just enough necessities. Had a car brought round to her, got into the driver’s seat and drove away.

She was not running away, she told herself. She was playing the only card she had left to win him over.

* * *

Andreas walked away from Eleni’s suite, his gut a hard coil of twisting emotions. His new niece, Maria Drakos Marquez, had fit into half his forearm.

She had smelled like baby powder, and new life, and utter joy.

Her eyes glittering like Gabriel’s, her mouth stubborn like her mother’s, she had been the most absolutely precious thing Andreas had ever beheld.

The infant’s little smile felt as if it had clawed into his chest and thumped his heart into a thunderous roar.

His vision had shimmered so dangerously for a second that he had quickly given her over to Nikandros, who was a proud and wonderful dad to his twins.

All he’d been able to see for a few seconds had been another child. With dark hair, and dark eyes like his, as Ariana had told him.

A boy, his son.

His heart thumped painfully in his chest and he couldn’t even breathe.

Seeing Eleni and Gabriel ecstatic over their little girl, seeing Nik and Mia offering them advice, he had felt a cold chill pass through him.

As if a ghost had passed through him, his father’s ghost. Clearly the pace he had been setting for himself was driving him mad. Finally, he would be like Theos in this, too.

But the laughter he imagined, the mocking I win smile that his father would have worn, knowing that he had won in the end—that he had made Andreas as hard and ruthless as him, as he’d always wanted to...it was the thing that broke through his self-imposed punishment.