I paced back and forth in my room begging the Gods to help me find an answer. Tomorrow I had to marry someone or forfeit the throne. The nobles tried to push me into accepting Lord Victor as my prince consort. They only want his gold to line their own pockets. I screamed in frustration.
Leonardo rushed into my room with a drawn sword, blushing at the sight of my nightgown.
“Is everything okay, my queen?” he asked, sheathing his sword.
“No…” I sighed. “Who are they to tell me who to marry? Or who to love,” I said, walking to the open window. It was a moonless night, casting the kingdom into darkness. My eyes burned with unshed tears.
“Is there anything I can help with, my queen?”
I faced him. “Why are you leaving court?”
“It’s in everyone’s best interest,” he said over crossed arms.
Tears silently rolled down my cheeks. “Not my best interest.”
He took a step closer, but paused, dropping his arms to his side. “I… I can’t do this,” he said, turning to leave.
“Leo,” I pleaded. “Please, just tell me what’s wrong.”
He steeled himself before he turned to face me. Anger filled his face, turning his beautiful blue eyes into ice. “You want to know what’s wrong? You’re what’s wrong!” he yelled, shaking. “I protect you with my life, and that’s not enough. I gave up my life, my family, and all my possessions, for you. Now I have to watch that pompous prat waltz in here with his gold and impose his will on the kingdom. Worst of all, on you. I can’t do it.”
I grabbed his hand. “Leo, you make me a better queen, a better person. Please don’t go. I love you.”
“I love you too but, I can’t do it, Camilla. If you marry him, I can’t be your lover. I’ll kill him the first time he touches you and you’ll have to execute me.” He pulled away, putting distance between us.
“I would rather go to the gallows myself than to marry anyone but you, Leo.” I held my breath. I finally said what I’ve been thinking since I met him. My words hung heavy between us.
I met his gaze and exhaled. All traces of the earlier ice had melted into desire. My heart pounded. He walked slowly to me. A grin tugged at his lips and my heartstrings. He kissed me slowly igniting a white-hot fire I’d never known.
“Was that a proposal?” he whispered.
“If it was?” I asked, kissing his neck.
“I have nothing to offer you or the kingdom,” he said, wrapping his arms around, holding me tight.
“You’re all I need.”
“I don’t want to let you go. What if you change your mind or, I wake up and this was just a dream.”
“So, don’t let me go. Word has it the queen can summon the priestess whenever she wants.”
Leo laughed. “You know Lord Victor and the nobles will consider this a slight.”
“And we’ll deal with it together.”
A knock sounded at my door. Leo stepped away from me standing at attention.
I whispered, “Hide. No one can know until we’re married or they’ll try to stop us.”
He hid behind the long curtains.
“Enter,” I said from my bed.
The priestess walked in smiling, holding red and black garments.
“Your majesty,” she said, bowing. She turned to the curtains. “Sir Leo, or should I say, King Consort Leo.”
He stepped out from behind the curtains rubbing the back of his neck, clearing his throat.
“Your binding cloaks,” she said, laying the traditional marriage clothes on the bed. “The Gods have given us a twenty-minute window. Hurry if you want to pull this off!” she said, disappearing into the hall.
We glanced at each other.
“Are you sure?” he asked, wide-eyed.
I kissed him again, thanking the Gods for finally bringing us together.