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Archive for September, 2012

Chapter 22 ~ If Only For Tonight

“Seems you’ve been very busy,” Keun Suk sarcastically drawled. “What could have gotten you on your feet when barely a few hours ago you were at death’s door wife? … Love?”

Hongki had gone out of their room after Keun Suk questioned and scolded him. Shin Hye hadn’t thought it was possible for a few choice words to cut so deep but what Keun Suk said to Hongki certainly made the both of them, Shin Hye and Hongki, wince. She knows she will be in no way exempted.

“Hongki has been forthright in telling you everything that I have done today and rightly so but he does not know what has been said. Yes I met with Yong Hwa but what we talked about had nothing to do with you.” Shin Hye tried to reason calmly, for seeing Yong Hwa was one of the number of things she has done that afternoon.

She kept her back straight as she sat, wanting to look confident and unruffled. All she really wanted to do was lie down and pray that if at all possible please let everything be a bad dream and that when she opens her eyes she’s just in her bed at Tyneside listening to the early morning clatter of the manor waking up. She knows there was no chance of that happening; still it wouldn’t hurt to wish, right? Father Simon would surely admonish her for such wasteful thinking. Father Simon…

On their way up to their chamber, still huffing after narrowly escaping the East Tower, Shin Hye had been thinking of the state Father Simon was in as she left him at the monastery. And remembering, she realized the gravity of the situation they were in. Everything is hanging on air and she feels it’s all her fault. Father Simon and Hye-ya would not be here had she not asked them to and if she had gone with her uncle and aunt as had been earlier planned, her parents, Sir John and her father’s men would not be placed in such risk. If her aunt had wanted her killed then it will just be her and all the rest would have been safe. Why Hye-ya too? Shin Hye was still too consumed with guilt that it was keeping her from seeing the source of all the atrocity- her aunt. The safety of the people she loved was all she can think of. For her, until they are safe she cannot plan her next move..

“Lest you forget, you are now my wife! Everything that has to do with you has something to do with me!” Keun Suk’s tone was steadily rising.

Keun Suk’s loud voice should be enough to jolt Shin Hye back to reality. Yes it startled her but when she looked at him it wasn’t his angry eyes that she sees. It was his dark teasing eyes squinting at her that moonlit night at the cliffs. He looked dangerous and so powerful, like a roaring campfire you can’t take your eyes away from. She could have stayed in the kitchen, never ventured back and tempted fate. Why didn’t she?

She could not explain why she was drawn to him. Maybe it was his eyes. It was as if he could see through her, laughing and teasing at the same time even as he was demanding for her name in all seriousness. His nose, lips… jaws and chin set like so. It was all a heady combination. She thought it was silly when she heard people say that some person ‘took their breath away’ but it was true. He took her breath away that night and every time those eyes look into hers. She likes how the sides of his eyes crinkles when he’s amused, how sharp they get when he’s thinking and that’s just his eyes. When you see those mixed with his lips and… He’s so handsome and proud and bold.

‘And now, I’m married to him!’ she paused for a bit in her musing. ‘Why didn’t he complain? Surely he knows how much the king loves him, anyone can plainly see that, and if he had said something he would not have been stuck with me. Now I am dragging him into danger too, but how do I explain something even I do not fully understand?

For the first time in her life, she, whose life has always been carefree, whose idea of a problem was how to keep an animal’s breach birth safe or how to keep her next hunting expedition a secret from her mother, learned what utter helplessness felt like as it washed heavy over her. She opened her mouth to say something, closed it to think again and stared at the windows. Not knowing what to say she looked up at him and said the first thing that came to her mind.

“I’m sorry you got roped into marrying me!” Shin Hye said quietly. “You just… wanted a leman,” Shin Hye paused and thought. “You must have someone in mind for a wife… someone equal to your standing. Tyneside is a very small holding…” Shin Hye’s voice echoed guilt. “It’s very rich. We’ve tilled the land so well, its rivers, sea and forests are teeming with fish and animals, so food is abundant, but… but in terms of land area it is very tiny and it’s far from the pleasures of big towns!”

Suddenly she felt so small. Why does she feel like crying? She has never been a cry baby. Why even playing with the manor’s children she’s been able to stand their taunts or as a grown woman hunting with the men, one upping them even if she wants to. Crying only brings you more taunts. So no, even if she feels utterly helpless and alone, she’s not going to cry. Then she realized why. She loved him. After she has tried to convince herself that it was just a moment of weakness, that she’ll forget him soon enough… she couldn’t and if anything it made her feelings much stronger… she loved him.  But what use is love? When he sees how small Tyneside is and learns more about my family, will he still want to be married to me?

Just when she has accepted her entering a loveless marriage she ends up in a much worse situation- loving a husband who does not love her back, who only sees her as a ‘simple business transaction’, an obligation. ‘Why is fate playing such a cruel joke on me?’ Shin Hye thought. She lifted her chin hoping to hide her misery, unaware how her unshed tears has made her eyes sparkle.

Keun Suk looked at the play of emotions on the face of his headstrong wife. Wife, how did that happen? He thought. She looked up at him but he can tell she was lost in thoughts of her own. She is as stubborn as ever… and as beautiful and as brave. Something is weighing heavily on her, he can see that but she’s blind to him. Keun Suk wants to remove whatever worry she was carrying but he wants her to trust him enough to tell him what it was that was bothering her. Certainly easier for him, though he could find things out for himself but it does not need a wise man to see that the seriousness of the situation calls for a fast resolution. Not knowing what else to do Keun Suk held her shoulders and pulled Shin Hye up to him and kissed her.

It was the gentlest kiss they’ve ever shared as Keun Suk tenderly grazed his lips on hers. There was no anger or impatience in his kiss. Shin Hye felt like a young flower lovingly wrapped in his arms, his lips caressing hers, calling forth the hunger out of her, making her want to be crushed in his embrace and her lips ravished by the need she knows he’s reined in, the very need in her too. The fatigue of the past days suddenly sunk in and the anguish of what tomorrow holds hung like a dark ominous cloud over Shin Hye but it was the gentleness of Keun Suk’s kiss that made the tears fall. The tears came as she closed her eyes and surrendered her self to the feel of his lips on hers, the heat of his body as he drew her closer and eventually the feel of his tongue tenderly coaxing hers. So tender was his kiss.

Now, wrapped in Keun Suk’s arms, can she, if only for tonight, pretend that Keun Suk loved her? His kiss certainly made her feel so. Yes if only for tonight. Losing herself in his kiss Shin Hye let all her guards down and surrendered her heart. They tasted her tears as it mixed with their lips but neither of them stopped. It was only after some time that Keun Suk, breathless, reluctantly drew back, cupped her face, and wiped the tears with his thumbs then he lightly kissed her forehead, her nose and her lips. With lips slightly open hovering close but never touching they stopped to catch their breath. Then Shin Hye tilted her head and gazed up at Keun Suk. Reflecting right back at him through her tear-stained eyes was the dark yearning he felt deep inside. And he knew.

How he stopped his hands from trembling however Keun Suk will never know but they were deft as his hands moved to the laces at the front of Shin Hye’s bodice, as he slowly loosened them. Shin Hye’s hands however were slightly trembling as she shyly reached up to the buttons of his shirt and unbuttoned them, then she slid the shirt off his shoulders timidly, stealing glances at his eyes as she did so. Standing this close Shin Hye was having trouble controlling her wildly beating heart. Unconsciously she looked down and rubbed her hands at the skirt of her gown then after a moment or two she looked at his chest. He was lithe, medium built. He was not bulky or huge but one cannot call him wiry either. His chest was broad, and his muscles looked supple and firm. She wondered what it will be like to run her hands along the expanse of his chest but she could not bring herself to dare. Neither can she bring herself to touch, much less open, the clasps on his breeches so she just stood still, bowed her head slightly to hide her eyes and watched his hands as they finish nimbly loosen her laces.

Keun Suk, seeing Shin Hye nervously standing, stooped down and removed his boots but left his breeches on. He spreads open the front of her gown’s bodice and slid her gown off so with just her sheer silk inner tunic left on he paused and stared at her. Lifting her chin with his finger, Shin Hye saw the desire in his eyes and for a moment she could not breathe, anticipation steadily rising within her. He bowed his head as he opened his mouth to hungrily possess and consume the lips he’s dreamed of since that moonlit night. Shin Hye, swept by the passion of their kiss, raised one hand on to his shoulder and clasped his neck with the other, hanging on for support as she felt her knees go weak but not wanting to break the kiss, giving and taking as much as she can. Keun Suk felt no different from Shin Hye as he gripped her nape and her lower back, pressing her tightly to him. His patience running low he scooped her into his arms and smoothly, laid her on to their bed. She slid to make space for him and waited, her breathing labored unable to take her eyes off him till he reached for the clasp of his breeches and she swiftly turned to her side.

He grinned a little at her reaction. So shy and timid not at all the untamed girl he heard. Wait a minute where did he hear that? Some group of men in a camp fire somewhere, whispers of the wild young lady of Tyneside, spending nights outdoors on end with men, doubting if such ‘lady’ still has any virtue. Could this be the very same lady? Or is she just acting coy and innocent? The thought of Shin Hye spending nights with other men suddenly filled his heart with blinding rage. Rage over feeling vulnerable amidst the whirlwind of feelings Shin Hye has stirred in him, caught off guard for the first time in a very long time. He has seen one too many men falling at the mercies of a woman and for him once is enough. He swore never again. More than those though he was angry because right here and right now he did not, could not care about all that- he did not care what other people would say, he did not care what she was like before, he did not care to understand what he was feeling or what he swore he would never do. For a logical and sensible man he knew he should and he ought to be concerned but all that mattered to him that very moment was to be with her. It was crazy for him to feel this way. He cannot explain why but he just wants her to forget any other man she could have lain with or loved. He wants her to want only him and no other.

Shin Hye heard the rustle as Keun Suk removed his breeches.  She can hear her heart pounding in her ears then felt the bed give way as he lay on the bed beside her and turn towards her. She felt as though every inch of her body was thrumming, her senses heightened then she felt his hand on her hair as he combed it away from her neck and face and tucked it behind her ears. He let his hand slide down her neck to her shoulder down her arm, her hip, her thigh and hooking her tunic with his fingers he pulled it upward exposing her legs to the still cool air of the the room’s moderately lighted fireplace but there was no room for Shin Hye to get cold as Keun Suk laid his leg over hers, slipped his hand underneath her tunic, circled her waist to draw her closer and kissed her neck slowly.

It was a riot of sensations that flooded Shin Hye and had she not bitten her lip to stop herself she would have moaned loudly instead she whimpered and closed her eyes. She cannot understand how all those sensation can cause an accompanying tightening of the muscles below her gut..

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