As Tilly contemplates sneaking into the Royal Palace, what is happening with the target of her break-in?
I ran, chasing…something. Something I desperately needed to catch. Something of unimaginable importance. Something that could destroy me. Something I wanted to destroy. But it was always just beyond my grasp. Even when I thought I held it, it turned to mist and slipped between my fingers.
Still, I ran, chasing the thing I wanted — no, needed more than life itself.
Still it eluded me.
And then it was gone. Escaped. Beyond my reach.
Fearing its loss would cost me my very existence, I screamed in agony and frustration.
I bolted up in bed, eyes wide as a cry swept away the last vestiges of sleep. Then, I realized the cry was my own and silenced it. Only then did I notice William was also silencing a cry of his own.
Our bedroom door burst open and four guards rushed in. Light flooded the room as they searched for threats to our safety.
“Is there an intruder?” the senior guardsmen asked.
“No. There’s…nothing,” William responded. “Just a horrific dream.”
The man turned his attention to me, “What of you, Your Highness? Did you see anything?”
“No, nothing. I had a nightmare, too. I’m sorry we disturbed you.”
I suddenly found my throat was parched beyond endurance. Without thinking, I threw the covers aside and rose from the bed. The four guards suddenly averted their gazes, and I remembered I was naked.
The senior guardsmen, a man old enough to be my father, snatched up a robe I had tossed across one of the chairs. Holding it up while still averting his eyes, he advanced toward me.
“Let me help you cover up, Your Highness. We wouldn’t want you catching a chill, what with you carrying the Royal heir and everything.” The man whipped his head around toward the other three, much younger, guards. Satisfied that none of them were sneaking peeks at their naked princess, he barked, “That will be all, men. Resume your stations.”
Keeping their eyes firmly locked on the bedroom doorway, the men marched quickly out of the room. As the last one exited, he asked, “Shall I shut the door, Sergeant?”
“Just keep your eyes fixed on the far wall, Tibbs. I’ll close it in just a moment.”
I slid my arms into the robe and shrugged it on. Keeping my back to the embarrassed guardsmen, I closed the front and tied the belt. The robe was a translucent black, so I was only slightly more modestly attired than when I’d been stark naked. For that reason, the guardsmen kept his back to me as I turned around.
“Please forgive the lack of respect implied by showing you my back, Your Highnesses.”
“There’s nothing to forgive, Sergeant,” I said. “You and your men have behaved with gallantry.”
Speaking for the first time, William added, “Indeed you have. My compliments to the four of you for your vigilance and the alacrity of your response.”
“’Tis but our duty, Your Highness. If you won’t be needing anything else, I’ll return to my station and close the door.”
“Of course,” William said. Once the door closed William flashed a lopsided grin at me. “Well, my dear, you’ve given our four guardsmen a night to remember!”
The dream-induced fear had faded, replaced by a certain thrill at what I’d done. I could never be so brazen as to put myself on display purposefully, but giving the guards an unintentional eyeful of bare royal flesh made me feel rather naughty. From the way the sheet over William’s lap rose, he felt the same way.
I walked to the water pitcher and poured myself a drink. Turning to face William, I tilted my head back, elongating my neck, and drank. Putting the cup down, I licked my lips and sauntered back to the bed, slowly opening the robe. Reaching the bed, I let it slide down my arms and puddle at my feet. Flicking the sheet off of William, I gave a low growl and crawled toward my husband.
“Why, Olivia, you heard what the guard said. We might catch a chill without any coverings.”
I straddled William, “Then we’ll just have to share our body heat. It’s for the baby’s well-being, after all.”
For a brief moment, my mind wandered back to the nightmares. Why had we suffered from them tonight? Why had our dreams wakened us at the same time? Why—
Then, William began nibbling on my neck. I gasped and forgot all about the dream.
Are the nightmares coincidence or is something else behind them? Find out more in Chapter 36, coming Monday.