Chapter dedicated to SilverSnowflakes. Thanks for reading and flirting with the vote button, my friend!  Lovely user ID, btw...especially for this time of year. lol  

Chapter 138 –In Service of the Queen– Marku's POV 

Two and a half months had passed since Raine had come to live with me. I had begun training Talon, teaching him the finer elements of fighting and sparring, how to use that gigantic bulk of his to his maximum advantage. He was a natural, just as I had suspected he would be. And he learned at a fevered pace. The outlet also seemed to give him an opportunity to release his pent up tension.

I had had a comfortable couch brought down to our gym, so that Raine could lie down and watch us. Surprisingly, she seemed to enjoy it. I had worried she might be alarmed for his safety, but quite quickly, Talon was holding his own. At least as much as I allowed him to. And she watched on in fascination, seeing the dramatic improvement in him from day to day.

Even in the midst of our loud blows and grunts, Raine's ever-present exhaustion caused her to drift off to sleep. Her light snoring caught my attention. Talon and I pulled apart. I looked over to the couch to find her eyes closed. I refocused on Talon, "That's enough for today."

He nodded with a grunt, still trying to catch his breath.

I collected her small body in my arms, noting the late hour on the clock on the wall. It was past her normal bath time. The hot water and hyacinth bath salts were especially soothing to her, so we did it every night. When we arrived to my suites, I laid her on the bed. She never awoke. I stripped off my clothes and headed for a cold shower to get the sweat and grime off of my body.

When I was finished, I started the bath water, added the salts and pulled on a pair of the dreaded boxer-briefs. The garments were an annoyance, but the barrier didn't just make her more comfortable, but it also helped me maintain a shred of control, because she slept with me naked every night, completely uninhibited by her nudity.

Which of course, I didn't complain about, but having her flesh directly touch my cock, no matter where on her body, would push me right over the edge. And she wasn't ready for that yet. Her grief was still too pronounced, still too heart broken. The strange thing was, I thought she would probably let me now. She never told me no anymore about anything. She just let me care for her as I saw fit. If I tried to penetrate her with my cock now, I was almost certain she would allow it. But even I understood the negative aftermath of that decision. She would certainly regret it and I had no intention of adding to her pain.

I peeled away her clothes and gently carried her into the bathroom. When we settled down in the hot water, she stirred and opened one eye lazily, glancing up at me. Her voice was thick from sleep, "What did I miss?"

"Nothing," I smiled. "Talon is doing much better."

Both eyes were open now. She gave a small smile. "Yes, he is incredible, isn't he?" Her voice rang with pride. She continued softly, almost to herself, "I always knew he would be."

"What do you mean?"

She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth as she considered my question. "From the moment I met him, I knew he was different. He was completely broken, most would have said beyond repair. Even he would have said he wasn't fixable. But I felt something inside of him. It radiated warmth, an inner strength."

"You love him?" It was phrased as a question but we both knew it was a statement.

"Yes," she didn't hesitate. "He belongs to me. He's a part of me. I only hate that he had to go through hell before we found each other." She stopped. Tension rolled through her body, her teeth making indentions in her lip. She avoided my gaze. Her words were just a whisper, "What happened...with Seraphine?"

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