Ten

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Ewen wasn't certain whether it was the cold space in the bed next to him that woke him or the sound of liquid hitting the bottom of the bucket across his chamber. He sat up sleepily to see what was happening. Yesterday had been a long day with his return to the castle at noon, a triumphant one. He had secured the throne and ruling in the east on his behalf was his cousin, the new Duke. The old Duke had been executed on the second day of Ewens week long visit. The rest of the visit had been informative and focussed on strengthening the defenses of the eastern most border of Ewens Kingdom. He would need to return to the castle sooner rather than later but that could wait while he dealt with matters closer to home.

Freya had been waiting at the top of the main steps in the courtyard in his return. Through the formality of her greeting, he had sensed her relief, even though her face had remained composed. Although Ewen had planned to be more patient and gentle, he had, as before been overcome with desire and taken her as soon as he could. In the privacy of his chambers he had bent her over the bed, lifted her skirts and entered her. Although Ewen had tried to slow down and prepare her by caressing her breasts, the weight of her dress and his sense of urgency had made it a far rougher encounter than he had intended. Too soon he felt himself reaching his peak and thrusting deeply into her for the last time before withdrawing. He sensed from her flush and shamed expression that she did not find that position particularly pleasurable and he hoped that she had found the evening coupling more pleasurable. He had taken his time then to prepare her properly and although she winced with pain when he had touched her womanhood, he had softly touched her until she had moaned with pleasure and her legs had spread of her own accord.

The sound of retching and more liquid hitting the bucket drew Ewen back to the present. Across his chamber, saw Freya hunched over the bucket. It was the noise of her retching that had woken him. He stood slowly and walked across to her. Small beads of sweat were visible across her forehead as Freya glanced up at Ewen. Her face was pale and she retched again even as she looked at Ewen. He reached across and gently stroked her back as she heaved again and again.

Finally when Freya had nothing left to vomit out, Ewen brought her a glass of water to rinse out her mouth.

'When did you last bleed', he asked softly.

Freya held the glass still at her lips before she turned to look at him.

'I am with child,' she whispered. Relief crossed her face before Ewen saw the nausea overwhelm her again and she bent forward again to vomit into the bucket.

Ewen gently rubbed back gently as she heaved again and again, vomiting out the small amount of water she had consumed. His overwhelming emotion was not the relief he expected but rather a growing sense of dread. He knew that an heir was critical but he had hoped for some time before Freya conceived. All Ewens concerns returned in full. At seventeen Freya was too young. Her slim frame and narrow hips worried Ewen. The reality that her mother had died in childbirth worried him even more. Ewen forced himself to relax. His concerns had to remain hidden from Freya. There was enough to worry her as it was.

Finally back in their bed, Ewen drew Freya closer towards him. His hand dropped lower to her still flat belly. Gently he stroked it as he thought of the life that was growing there. And of the added threat that knowledge would bring to them both. Inside Freya lay the future of two kingdoms. There were many who would prefer that future not to live.

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