John had heard from Lorne after a few months, saying that despite the people of Proculus saying otherwise, they are in a very bad shape. Ill health, a halt in population growth due to sickness, and most of all, John was shocked to hear that they had people working the mines for no pay and almost no sleep. Lorne also told him that most of the older people knew that the Royal Family weren’t the rightful heirs but were too afraid of being executed if they’d say something about it.
John then told Lorne to go back to his David in San Franciskus, thanking him generously for his service, and decided there and then that something had to be done. Aracely was furious when she heard of what was going on in Proculus and after John received word from Chaya and her family that they accepted the dinner invitation, he made sure that the palace was secure, more secure than on a daily basis. He ineeded/i to be sure that his wife would be safe.
Especially now that Aracely’s stomach was more showing.
Everything was set. All the evidence of Aracely’s heritage, all the evidence of how the people of Proculus were being treated, and all the evidence about how the Royal Family had paid someone to poison the water supply near San Franciskus and how they had paid off the rogue group of Chulakkans to find the true heir and kill her, were ready for distribution along the dinner table. Yes, Lorne had found out more than he had bargained for, more than John could possibly had hoped for and he was glad that the man did.
It was near Winter Solstice that the advance guards announced that Chaya would be at the castle within a day. John had the maids ready a few chambers on the far end of the Castle, making sure that there was no easy way to reach the Royal wings, and he spent the rest of the day laying on the bed with Aracely, reading a book of poetry to her as she was resting.
“How are you feeling?” Aracely asked him, gently removing the book from his hands. “We will be fine. I have faith.”
John shrugged. “Just trying to find a way to deceive them with pleasantries before stabbing them with the cold hard truth… but the more I think about it, the more I want to throw them into a bottomless pit and declare Proculus as ours.” He pulled her in his arms and softly kissed her neck. “What about you? Having them over will be our first real Royal engagement, something we both dislike… and ugh, do you think that Gabriella can organize a Christmas ball in a short period of time? I completely forgot about that… that it’s … something that my Father used to organize for the council members, the advisers… and everyone else in the castle.”
She looked at him thoughtfully. “I suppose she could. I do not see why not. As far as Proculus, you can speak with them at dinner. Once they believe they are comfortable and secure we can just tell them. I do not know otherwise.”
“Yes that was what I was thinking,” he answered and softly caressed her belly. “But are you up to it to meet them?”
“I have met Chaya – briefly,” Aracely pointed out, rubbing her cheek in memory. “Though I can recall them vaguely, or maybe the idea of relatives when I was younger. Even that is almost like nothing.”
“Of course,” John nodded. “I promise you that neither of them will physically hurt you.” He smiled and softly kissed her neck.
“I know,” she smiled. “When are they expected to arrive?”
“Either late tonight, after our evening meals, or early in the morning.” John shrugged and continued to kiss Aracely’s neck. “They have a whole wing to themselves and won’t go anywhere, I figured they probably want to rest up after their journey and I’ve told Ronon that he should welcome them to the castle and show them where they will be staying… and then come and tell us that they have arrived.”
Aracely nodded as she curled up against him, resting her head on his shoulder. “I just wish this child would settle down. I do not believe that he – or she – is very pleased either with the anticipated guests.”
“Hmm…” John softly placed his hand on top of her stomach. “I think that Mother needs to relax, and leave the worrying to me.”
“Tell your father that if he does not cease such behavior he may develop a new pain in his head…” she teased, with some seriousness.
John felt a little kick against his hand. “Hey, that’s not fair. You should agree with me because a relaxed Mother, means a relaxed baby.” He softly caressed Aracely’s stomach and kissed her. “How about a foot rub, my lovely wife?”
“Thank you but I am fine tonight. Just truly wish to get this meet over with.”
“Don’t worry,” he softly kissed the top of her head. “Chaya is a spoiled princess and her parents are arrogant, but they do know when to back away from something they don’t like, or when they know that they have no place to go… they act like old, caged animals now instead of dangerous predators. I expect Chaya to be very resisting and shocked and she’ll probably throw a tantrum of some sorts, but King Nicholas and Queen Charlotte shouldn’t put up much of a fight anymore.” John kept caressing Aracely’s belly. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Chaya had found a husband or at least a fiance, even if there barely has passed a year since you and I met, and she’ll likely try to flaunt him.”
“He won’t be coming?”
“Ah, you’ll never know. It’d be interesting though.” John said with a smile. “Over the years I’ve grown to like it when Chaya makes a complete fool out of herself. She’s horrible when she’s intoxicated.”
“I do not particularly care. I just wish to get this – event over with quickly so that I can worry about other things. Your medicine man scolded me yesterday. He wishes me to stay in bed until I am ready to give birth,” Aracely sighed, curling up more with a slight shiver.
“He did? Why didn’t you tell me yesterday?” he pulled the sheets over them. “And I told you, you shouldn’t worry about the dinner, it will be okay.”
“I can not help but worry.”
“Are you reconsidering all of this? It’s a little bit late for that now, isn’t it?”
“No… no, I’m not.” Aracely said with a smile. “I’m… igrateful/i that you are doing everything in your power to fix what has been broken in Atlantica and how you’re passionate about doing the same for Proculus, but anything that worries you, worries me.”
“I’m not worried.”
“You are a bad liar,” Aracely chuckled. “And the reason why I didn’t tell you yesterday was because you were too busy and tired at the end of the day. I did not want to bother you.”
“How many times do I have to remind you that I don’t mind being bothered by you and that when you bother me it’s not a bother?”
“I simply can not help myself.”
“I realize that. Will you be okay with leaving the bed only when it’s necessary?”
“I suppose, I am not sure, but promise to save me when I go mad?”
John chuckled. “Of course. Now, rest some. I just need to take care of one thing and I will be back soon.”
“Can’t you stay? John, you haven’t had much sleep lately.”
“I will when this is all over.”
“And often you only eat a little.”
“I’ll eat more soon.”
Aracely turned around and managed to put her legs around his and her arms around his waist. Her belly was snugly secured between the two of them. She looked up with a devious smile. “Stay with me,” she said, batting her eyelashes.
“You’re not giving me much of a choice,” John chuckled and softly kissed her. “Alright, I will stay and rest with you.”
“I could always make you feel a bit more relaxed…”
John could feel how she was palming his groin with her hand and he shook his head. “No, if Carson said you need rest, you’re going to rest and not think of my needs.”
“Speaking of iyour/i needs, we haven’t addressed iour/i needs for a few weeks!”
“Well I am not, and what do you mean ‘you’re fine’? Am I not attractive anymore?”
“What? Do you think that now I’m showing that I’m carrying our child that I do not wish to feel you inside of me?” She was starting to sound upset. “Or are you seeing other women to take care of your needs? How can you be ‘fine’?”
“I’m not!” John pulled her closer to him, if that was even possible. He didn’t want to hurt her or the baby. “You should have said something earlier, now that Carson said you need to stay in bed until you’re ready to give birth, I’m not going to… engage in strenuous activities with you.”
“How about pleasurable?” Aracely asked sultry as she licked her lips. She had had pulled her hand away just before he pulled her closer to him, and she could feel how his manhood had started to grow and all this talk about their needs, she couldn’t help but want him.
“I’ll ask him later,” John groaned as Aracely tried to roll him onto his back. “Get some rest.”
“John!” she pouted as she tugged on his hair. “Please?”
He swallowed hard as he looked into her lust filled eyes. “No.”
“Alright.” Aracely turned her back towards him and hugged the sheets. “Go to your office then, I’ll rest.”
She sounded cold and detached now. John was surprised by that. “Did I hurt you?”
“Go away.” She repeated and then felt his weight leave the bed. Why couldn’t he see that there was nothing wrong with having a little pleasure as long as they’d take things slow?
She realized she should never have told him about her visit to the doctor, but she had been curious about his progress on the medicine he was trying to make that would help the villagers get better quicker than Samanthia’s medicine would, and he had insisted on checking her over. Until yesterday, nothing had been wrong.
When she heard the door of the chambers shut, she knew that John was going to see the doctor and then do whatever he had planned on doing and she wouldn’t see him for hours. For some reason, Aracely didn’t know if she liked the notion of being without John for so long.
Then again, hadn’t she just pushed him away? It was her own fault and she couldn’t stop the tears from falling.
John smelled cooked eggs when he woke up the following morning, having stayed clear of the bed chambers until he was almost asleep and had snuck in while Aracely was fast asleep. For some reason it felt as if he hadn’t slept enough, and that was probably the case. He opened his eyes to see that Aracely was still sleeping, so he snuck out of bed again and softly started to eat his breakfast.
Rolling over in bed, she let out a sigh. Immediately she could feel that John was not in bed with her and it had brought her a sense of loneliness and disappointment.
“Good morning,” John said as he took a sip of his tea and reached for another piece of bread with butter on it. “Did you sleep well, my love?”
“Not as well as I would have hoped,” Aracely replied, turning her head slightly towards her husband’s voice. She still had not opened her eyes as they were yet heavy with sleep but the rest of herself was greatly awake.
“You were fast asleep when I returned a few hours ago.”
“Why did you not wake me?” Aracely blinked at him. “A few hours ago? John have you been up all night?”
“Yes, I have.” John nodded and brought over some bread, fruit and tea towards the bed. “You were sleeping so soundly I didn’t have the heart to wake you.” he softly kissed her.
“You look tired.”
“I’ll be fine,” he smiled and made his way back to his chair to eat an egg. “King Nicholas wanted to have a talk with me before dinner tonight, probably trying to offer up trades or asking for help.”
“Will this conversation not spoil the motive behind dinner?” Aracely questioned him as she peeled a banana.
John shook his head as an answer. “After that talk, I shall have a look at the progress of the work being done to build the homes you’ve suggested two months ago, would you…”
“Stop!” she interrupted him and stared him down. “You will not do anything until you’ve had a proper rest, John. You’re only one man, things take time.”
“I’m impatient.” He said innocently and finished his tea before crawling back in bed. “I’m sorry.”
She kept her eyes on him the entire time, not settling back down herself until she was positive he would not run off again. “I do not wish for you to fall ill,” she said softly.
John wrapped a leg around Aracely’s as he snuggled up to her and her bump. “You won’t get sick from not sleeping properly for a couple of days,” he smiled.
“Yes, you can. Do not argue with me please. Tell me about our intentions for the day after we rest awhile longer?” She asked, laying her head down.
“Well, as I said… Nicholas wants to meet with me before dinner and other than that… I suppose nothing. Although if you feel up to it today, we could take a look at your little project just outside the castle walls?” He pulled the blankets over them and softly caressed Aracely’s stomach.
“Perhaps later. I’m much more anxious about dealing with our guests and seeing them resolved.”
“Yes and I know, but that’s why it might be a good idea to see how far along they are out there,” John yawned.
“Sleep my husband. We will discuss this more later,” Aracely lectured.
John went to meet with King Nicholas after lunch, after he had slept some more. Aracely didn’t like it much, but John had assured her that it was alright.
“John, I must say, for the short while you’ve been King, you have done marvellous effort into revitalizing the Kingdom.” Nicholas sipped on his brandy. “After your father died and you denied Chaya her right…”
“Thank you, Nicholas,” John interrupted the other man before he could embarrass himself. “As you know, my father and I had an agreement, that I would only wed Chaya if I hadn’t found what I was looking for by myself, and Chaya knew about this. She was in the room when he said that, and I’m sorry if she hasn’t told you this.”
Nicholas chuckled. “I see,” he nodded. “Yes, our Chaya tends to tell half truths to get what she want. But still John, for you to seek a queen without the proper arrangements…”
“Was the best thing I’ve ever done.” John stared at his own glass of brandy, it was still untouched. It was best not to drink before dinner. “But, what couldn’t wait until dinner?”
“Oh, I want to talk business with you. Our women won’t need to hear us talk about the work we do for our people,” the older man smiled, and John would have rolled his eyes at him if he didn’t have a little respect for the man for dealing with Chaya all day. “You see, despite what I try to show, we’re poor. My kingdom is poor. My subjects are ailing, especially those at the border of Atlantica, but I’ve received word that they seem to be getting better somehow.”
“The lake that supplies water for the villages on our border was poisoned, I’ve had some of my people get rid of that.” Either the man was stupid, or really didn’t know what was going on.
“Oh, that’s good, very good…” the man said absentmindedly, sipping the brandy again. “I was wondering if you could spare a few of your subjects to work in the mine in Proculus.”
“Will you pay them?”
“I just told you, we’re poor.” Nicholas chuckled. “You need to understand, for you not marrying Chaya, you’ve done more bad than good.”
“I doubt it but no.” John said firmly. “We will need some of your stone rather sooner than later, as you may have seen, we’re building a small settlement outside our walls and I want to extend the castle walls so they’re properly protected. I will pay you for that, but you are not allowed to ask any of my subjects to work for you.”
“Is there anything else you wanted to talk to me about, Nicholas?”
“Could you loan us some gold?”
“Oh for…” John sighed and got up. “I’ll see you at dinner, the cooks are working hard on the food as we speak.” He then pointed at the door.
“This won’t do our coexistence as neighbors any good, John.”
“I’m not afraid of your army, Nicholas.” He fixed his eyes on Nicholas and his gaze didn’t falter until the man was out the door. John walked back to his desk and downed his glass of brandy in one go before returning to Aracely.
Aracely was changing for dinner but even with alterations made to some of her larger dresses, many were uncomfortably tight around her growing belly and her bosom practically poured from the top. “I fear I will be late to supper,” she remarked as she took notice of John’s return.
“No you won’t,” John smiled and kissed her tenderly as he pulled her closer to him. “You look ravishing and dinner isn’t for another few hours.” He softly kissed her neck. She looked beautiful.
“You say that only because you must. You won’t even give me the pleasure I want in bed,” she pouted as she pulled away to pull off the garment.
“We’re not going to have this discussion again,” he took hold of her hands and kissed them. “Carson said you needed bed rest, giving us both the pleasure we want in bed isn’t resting… although it’s getting harder to resist…” he kissed her again.
She grumbled and pushed him away slightly. “I cannot help it if the desire is so much stronger. It is not fair. I need the – release.”
He pulled her back to him and grinned. “He never said anything about bath tubs…”
“And you could not say something to this last evening?” Aracely asked, letting her dress fall to her feet.
“No,” John softly caressed her sides as he kissed her again. “I’m a guy, it takes a little while longer to think of alternative… iideas/i.”
She grinned as she leaned into him. “Do you enjoy my larger size? I know many men tend to prefer larger breasts…”
“I’m not going to say anything about your beautiful breasts again,” John slowly moved his hands up to her breasts. “Last time you thought I was insulting you.”
Aracely let out a breath at his touch, her breasts being sensitive in their increased size. “John…bath? Now? I want you…”
“Now?” John pouted as he rubbed his thumbs over her nipples. “But I’m having fun here!”
Her jaw fell and her body shuddered. Pulling one of his hands down between her legs she turned her eyes up.”Feel that? It’s my desire for you…please do not make me beg…”
John chuckled as he started to undress himself. “Alright my love, your wish is my command.”
Before he could finish, she was all over him, covering her mouth with hungry kisses and pressing herself against him with impatience. Her hand found its way to his length and tried to coax it to life.
As soon as he felt her hand on his member he could feel the blood starting to rush through his body. Groaning, he kissed her back, gently backing her up towards the bath room and discarding the rest of his clothes without breaking contact with Aracely and her skin.
They blindly bumped into the wall a couple times on their way to the tub they had previously been prepared for them. Grunting at the need to separate to get into the water, she quickly got in, kneeling as her eyes took John in.
The way she looked at him had made him instantly hard and got into the tub, careful not to slip. He sat down on his ass, trying to stretch his legs as he pulled Aracely on top of him, but she was ahead of him and nearly jumped him as soon as he got in.”You’ll tell me when I’ll be hurting you or the baby?” he didn’t mean to make it sound like a question but for some reason it did as he was nearly straddled by Aracely.
She hummed an answer as she shifted over him so that he could enter her. “Quiet,” she panted, pressing herself down slowly, feeling herself fill up with his size.
He placed one hand on her back to keep her from falling backwards and used the other one to tease her breasts as she was lowering herself onto him. Once he was snug inside of her, he moved his hips a little to slide in a little further, which resulted in moans coming from the both of them.
Aracely grinned at him as she rocked her hips. “Yes, yes…” She breathed out, her eyes rolling closed.
They sent water over the edge of the tub with their movements, and after a while John realized that Aracely’s bump was really getting in the way of the both getting them off and Aracely was getting frustrated. “Alright, get off.”
“No!” Aracely whined and dug her nails into his shoulders. “I ineed/i release… John… please?”
“No… Aracely, you’re hurting me, get off me and turn around.”
She blinked at him as she stopped moving. “What is your intention?”
“Something different, but it will be good, I promise.” John softly kissed her lips. “Now get off me and turn around. Sit on your hunches.”
With a little extra carefulness so that Aracely wouldn’t fall out of the bath or slip and hurt herself and the baby, John shifted a little and then guided her down to slipped back into her with ease.
“Ohhh…” Aracely moaned as she was gripping the sides of the tub. Her head fell back slightly and her eyes fluttered closed, breathing heavily. “I like this…”
He chuckled and softly planted a kiss on her neck. “Different doesn’t always mean it’s bad.”
“That – that is true,” she eventually let out after she felt her body finally give out and the tight coil in her belly, that was not a growing infant, subside and the providing her body with the support it needed to keep herself from falling into the water completely.
Pulling her closer to him after his own release, John sighed happily. He had felt tightly wound before, with all the things going on and in his head and he felt instantly relaxed. “Do you feel better, my love?”
“Much. And you?” Aracely smiled as she settled against his body in the cooling bathwater.
“Yes,” he grinned and softly caressed her stomach before gently stroking her breasts. “Let’s just not tell Carson.”
“Of course. Must we really dine with those ipeople/i tonight?”
“Would you rather that we go to war with them immediately? I think that words are more powerful.”
“Of course I do not wish to turn to war to settle a dispute. I was just expressing my dread over this meal. Perhaps you may wish to speak with them personally at the table before you bring me and my heritage in?” she asked. “I have no doubt that Chaya would try something like she did when she was here when I returned with you.”
“Oh I have no doubt,” John chuckled. “She had not even told her father about my father giving me his blessing to find my heart.” He nuzzled her neck. “I was thinking you could join me into friendly conversation with our guests before I’d start telling them that we know what they did.”
Aracely sighed and nodded. “I suppose I could try to tolerate her for a short while. Although, if I decide I had enough, could I request to have them dismissed? I fear that the – conversation may not be quite so receptive after some time.”
“My sweet Aracely… you’re the Queen, you can do anything you like,” he smiled. “I hadn’t planned on starting the conversation until after dinner, or near the end of it, you and I both require some food.”
“Very well. Let us start preparations then. I am hungry now, after all this. I do wish to finish this tonight,” she said as she pulled away and work on getting out of the bath.
He pulled her back on to him and softly kissed her. “I think we should stay in here a bit longer, if only to celebrate that we’ll hold our first official dinner and that we’re going to raise a little hell while having it.”
“John!” Aracely laughed as he tried to keep a hold of her. “As much as I would like to stay, the water is getting cold now that we have not been quite so distracted. Come with me,” she giggled as she turned in his arms.
After helping her out of the bath, he wrapped a large towel around her and pulled her back into his arms. “Do you feel any better now?” He asked with a big smile on his face.
“I do,” she replied and leaned up on her toes to kiss him. “Come on and let us get this over with and I promise to make it up to you later.”
Sighing, he reached for a large towel for himself and started to dry his body. “I’ve asked Ronon to keep an eye on things when we’re having dinner. Not that I expect anything to happen. Oh, and I’ve instructed the cooks to include a lot of fruit, I know that you love fruit.”
After they had gotten dressed, Aracely looking beautiful in her refitted dress, Janet entered the chambers. “The cooks are ready, King John. Do you wish for me to inform the king and queen of Proculus?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Is there anything else you’d like?”
“There’s a crate of papers and books in the other chambers, could you bring that to me nearing the end of our dinner?”
“Sire?” Janet sounded surprised.
“What? I’m asking you to do something for me, and if that includes walking into dinner with Nicholas and his wife and daughter, then so be it.”
“Very well,” the maid giggled and left their chambers.
John reached for a glass of wine and downed it in one go. “Are you ready?” he asked Aracely.
“Only if you are,” she said, sitting on the edge of the bed watching him.
“No, to be fair, I’d rather have had a little more time to prepare… but we’ve got enough to show them, not only that they’re liars, also that they’re not taking care of the kingdom. Did I tell you that Nicholas asked me for some healthy workers to work in his mine? And when I said ‘no’ that he asked for money?” He thought for a second and then grinned. “No, you didn’t, because we were busy with other things.”
John held out his hand for Aracely. “Come on, let’s go.”
She reached out and took his hand with a smile. “I am ready.”