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Mirage of the royals

Novel By: Regina De Corda
Romance



The story of a Persian warrior princess who overcomes her father's tyranny and threatens to destroy the kingdom with her will, while finding her true love and purpose in the most unexpected place. View table of contents...


Chapters:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Submitted:Mar 30, 2013    Reads: 44    Comments: 2    Likes: 1   


NOTE FROM AUTHOR: FOR THOSE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH LOVE SCENES, LOOK AWAY! or just skip the first part!

"Get up." Mirage moaned as she heard a voice over her head and she snuggled into her pillow.

"Mirage, get up, you're starting to annoy me now." Something about that voice made Mirage pull the pillow up from her eyes and a huge smile spread across her face as Salar's face came into view. He smiled back and sat down beside her. She whacked him on the shoulder from the back of her hand.

"What did you wake me up for?" Her fingers searched for her brothers and sister, but the bed was empty.

"You've been asleep for three hours." Salar brushed her hair away from her forehead as she yawned.

"What did you mean that I was starting to annoy you?" She stretched like a cat and relaxed. By some miracle, her stitches weren't hurting her anymore.

"I've been trying to wake you up for 15 minutes. You weren't even moving." He felt Mirage's legs lean against his back and he relaxed.

"So are you saying that you won't take on this duty seriously? Won't you wake me up every morning?" She rested her hand on his thigh and smirked as he stiffened a little.

"I'll do whatever you want me to, but it's 11 at night and you've been sleeping for 5 days now, so get up." He gently coaxed Mirage's hand into his and stroked it. He ran a hand through his hair, messing it up. She liked him better with longer hair. She wanted to tweak the ones behind his ear. But right now wasn't the time to do it. He was thinking about something.

"Where are the children?" She asked, trying to fill the awkward gap in their conversation.

"They fell asleep beside you. Your older sisters took them away to their own beds a little while ago." He answered quietly.

After a few moments of silence, Mirage sat up, worried over the look on his face. "What's wrong?"

Salar looked up, a note of surprise on his face. "Nothing, I was just… thinking about you. I'm happy that you're recovering well." He resumed stroking her hand.

Mirage tilted her head. "Salar, look at me."

He raised his eyes and met hers. She spoke gently, "Where does it say on my face that I'm an idiot?"

Salar grinned. Mirage grabbed his hand and brought it near her face, pulling him in. "Come on. You can tell me what's wrong. What are you thinking about? You look troubled."

"But I'm not."

"Don't lie to me."

Salar looked into her eyes with a challenging glare, and after a few moments sighed, not saying anything.

"Did someone say something to you?" She asked suspiciously but Salar shook his head, feeling annoyed. "Mirage, do I look like a child who'll get hurt if someone says something to me? It's nothing, okay? It's just… everything just hit me a while back. What would have happened to you if we hadn't been rescued? What would have happened to me; it's all just too… complicated to think about."

Mirage pursed her lips and frowned. Pushing her bum forward, she slung her arms around his neck, feeling him hold her delicately around the waist. "Fine. Don't tell me." She murmured. "But if it's something that you need time to think about than by all means, take all the time you need."

Salar hugged her back, smiling in her hair. He felt her pull him back down, but her pushed her back, and coming around the bed to the other side, lied down beside her, pulling her into him from the waist. Mirage snuggled into him, her hands on his chest. She tenderly played with his shirt, her mind drifting away.

He was right. The shock had taken a little while but it had come in with a bang. She had seen her siblings slip into sleep one-by-one and the fact that she could have never seen them again had hit her like a cannonball. She loved them all, as much as she hated them. Why; a few hours ago, when all her younger brothers and sister had fallen asleep, Rayan and Razin had ambled in to torture Mirage some more, but she had grabbed them both by the neck and hugged them so tightly. And for once, they didn't pull away from her with a look of disgust on their faces. They had awkwardly hugged her back, looking at each other over her shoulder, feeling a little freaked out, glaring at each other to not start crying themselves.

Her sisters had followed shortly after and to Mirage's utter surprise, they had both burst into tears when they had seen her bandages, and had tearfully admitted that the reason they hadn't come in to see her was because they were scared of what had happened to her. They didn't want to see her in pain. She had never felt so loved. Only her mother hadn't come in later, and that was like the cherry on top of a somewhat perfect day. And now Salar was here. She was in his arms, he was all she needed.

"Did you talk to your father?" She mumbled in his chest and Salar grimaced.

He didn't want to go through the details of that certain conversation with anyone. King Darius had rejoiced, saying that Salar had been justified to go away with her. Now they had her trust, they could go according to their plan, but Salar had curtly denied his involvement in any plan that might jeopardize Mirage's future. Needless to say, there weren't enough curse words for king Darius to deliver his utter disbelief and rage over Salar's behavior. He had even accused Salar of becoming a wimp, hiding behind his wife's back, which had made Salar very angry. Not wanting to tell his father about Mirage's future plans, he had simply left. Behroz had followed Salar out a little while later, and after slapping him on the back of his head as it was his customary greeting with Salar, he had asked how the voyage was; silencing when Salar glared back at him.

As an added measure, Salar had told Behroz to stand guard at the door. He didn't trust the palace guards who had come along. His father could have paid off any of them to finish off Mirage since he underestimated the girl quite a bit.

"I did. He's fine, he has calmed down now. He'll be okay." Salar mumbled discreetly and felt Mirage nod.

"How's your arm?" She reached up, pulling at the shirt. Salar winced.

"The doctor told me to keep the wound aired. But I can't very well go around without a shirt on. The burn is on the side of my chest too." Salar grumbled. He had wanted to do so many times, but obviously, he didn't want to cause the ladies of the house much fright.

Softly, Mirage let her hand graze against his skin, and she felt him fidget. He pulled his leg on top of her and she settled into him. She kissed him on the little patch of skin visible through the thin ropes of his shirt and he stiffened. Salar cleared his throat and scratched his neck, feeling awkward. Mirage looked up and saw him bite his lip.

"What's the matter?" She asked, frowning a little. Salar just shook his head.

Snuggling back into him, she felt him breathe heavily and started getting irritated. Why's he getting so uncomfortable, if he doesn't want to lie down with me, he can just say so. About to voice this opinion, she felt him shift again and she felt him move closer to her, making his legs touch hers. Her eyes popped at the contact.She wasn't aware that her dress had made her phyiscal features so glaringly obvious. No wonder he had started to fidget as soon as she snuggled into him, he could probably feel her from her breasts to her legs. His hand slipped over her bum and she felt him push her into his groin.Oh!

Mirage got a wicked thought. "Well", she tugged on the thin ropes of the shirt playfully, "You know you could just take off your shirt now. I mean, it's the middle of the night. No one is going to come in. So you can feel free to do so." She pulled back; taking in Salar's shocked expression and grinned widely.

"Go ahead." She whispered mischievously, "Take it off." She loved how she was making his job so much easier for him. It was a win-win situation anyways.

Salar looked down at her, an eyebrow comically raised. "And you won't mind?"

Mirage quickly shook her head, delighted that he was actually considering doing this. "I'm the one who suggested it, why would I mind?"

Salar caught the glimpse of naughtiness in her eyes and decided to play along. It's not like he would mind doing so, after all, he knew she had felt him. "Okay."

Mirage's eyes almost popped out of her head as he stood up, and started plucking the thin rope from the top part of his shirt and it loosened. Slowly, he extracted his arm from the shirt sleeve and gritted his teeth as the material scraped against his burnt skin. It had mostly dried out. He didn't wear a shirt for the first days that Mirage was unconscious and kept himself closed up in the room. A few hours now and his arm felt like it would actually start screaming for its self.

Mirage caught a glimpse of his stomach and a memory flashed. She had seen him through the sliver in her eye. He had walked past her without her shirt, but she hadn't thought much of it. Arm out of the way, Salar swung the shirt off his head and threw it away, trying not to snicker at the look of utter fascination on Mirage's face.

WOW! What a specimen! Oh God, you've truly shown me your majestic talent. Thank you, I love you! I'll never blame you for anything again! But really all Mirage could actually think was EEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!

She coughed, and scooting away, let him lie back down beside her. She stroked her hand against the curve of her body before pulling her gown further down, her lips slightly parted and Salar's gaze followed. Her eyes seemed permanently hitched onto her forehead as she bit her lip, trying not to shriek like an excited little girl. She had once promised herself that she would never act like those girls who would swoon in the mere presence of a handsome male. Now she saw their predicament. It was really hard. But wait, why should I shy away? He's all mine! She looked up into his eyes, and bravely but very gently, sneaked her hand onto his stomach. She repressed a smirk as she felt Salar gulp. She hadn't expected him to be nervous. Her hand met his hardened skin and she shivered. Salar leaned down as her hand glided against the contours of his muscles, gently brushing past the dark smattering of black hair which narrowed down and disapeared under his trousers.

"You know, you're not supposed to be wearing anything over your bandages. You need to give them some time and air to heal in." He fingered her frilly cotton white gown which been wearing since she had arrived at the villa. Mirage giggled as his breath hit her ear, and she tried to inhale lightly, arching against him. Her slow gasp did it for him.

Suddenly, Salar pulled her up and kissed her. She moaned against his mouth and tried to fight him for the sake of playing hard to get, but he kept a firm grip on her. Rolling, he pulled Mirage on top and she comfortably lied down on him, pulling herself up so that she could run her hands through his hair. Fighting was no good, she was better off just accepting her fate happily.

Rubbing her hands on his chest, she felt him puff up and she smiled. She touched his smooth shoulders, and grazing her nails against him, she reached up into his hair and yanked Salar's head up, feeling him groan underneath her. His tousled hair felt soft against her touch and she embraced his head in her arms. She loved the fact that even though she was on top of him, she felt small. Of course, what was she when a six foot something hulk of a man stood beside her when you barely reached over five feet? But she felt positively chuffed that she was reducing this monster of a man to melted wax just by kissing him.

She felt him hitch himself up on his elbows and broke away from his lips with a smack. She panted heavily and stretched up, letting Salar kiss her on the little dip in her collarbone. She smiled hazily as he held his lips against her neck, feeling his tongue flick against her. His hands gently stroked her waist, jumping over the spots where the scourge had hit her. The pain flashed and she leaned back down, grabbing his hair in her fist and pulling him up for a deep kiss.

Salar gently caressed her curves before he made his way to her bum, and as he felt Mirage gently coax his tongue into her mouth, he felt her smile. She jumped a little as his hand brushed past her tailbone and finally, with both hands, he squeezed her bum. Mirage unplugged her mouth from his and gazed into his eyes hungrily. He slowly started kneading her flesh, watching as Mirage's eyes dilated, unaware of how his own were starting to glint.

She whispered a bit breathlessly, "Undress me", and couldn't help but smirk as she felt him stop. Does he really think he can get the upper hand on me?

He pulled himself up to sit, and Mirage slithered down between his legs, looking at him innocently. He was breathing quite heavily and Mirage knew that she had gone red, since her head felt like she was on fire. Reaching to her, Mirage slapped his hand away as the impact of the situation hit her.Maybe I should have let him take the upper hand in this!

"Um… why don't I extinguish the lights first?" And getting up, she went to the first huge candelabra, snuffing out the wicks with her fingertips. She went around, dazed. Oh God. It's really going to happen. Tonight! Why did I just ask him to undress me, what am I, a scarlet woman or something? Oh Tatiana, I'm scared. Where are you when I need you? Mirage suddenly felt the urge to cry.

Salar watched as she snuffed out the candles in the room, her body silhouetted against the lights. He could clearly see her… everything as she floated around. Near the last few candle stands, Mirage suddenly stopped.

She had stretched and pulled on a stitch rather hard. The world disappeared from her eyes and her hand remained poised in the air. "Salar, I can't see anything." Her head felt like it was full of needles and the swaying feeling she got before pulled her in. She felt Salar's arms go around her as she fell and he scooped her up in time.

"You shouldn't overwork yourself. I've got this." He whispered in her ear and gently laid her down on the bed. Turning, he went to the far corner of the room near the curtains and as Mirage's vision came back, she saw in fascination as he fumbled for a rope from behind the curtains and finding a rather old green colored one, pulled on it. Egyptian fans swung down from the ceiling, and with a swish, the candles blew out in one blow.

"Better than you going after every candle, huh?" Salar said kindly. Mirage gulped and nodded.

All her bravado and mischief had suddenly deserted her. Now, all she felt was a pleasurable ache in her belly. Ambling over, Salar towered. The moonlight spilt from either side of him and it reminded her of the first night they had met.

"Do you still want to do this?" He asked. Mirage nodded again, feeling like she had just signed her own death sentence.

"Can you lie down on your back? Are you comfortable?" He asked seriously. Shakily, she answered, "Yes." She took a deep breath, taking in her surroundings which would forever be marked with this night. The whole day, she had gone on numbly, but now it was all going to become a part of her life. The gold cabinet decorated with gilt bronze mountings stood to one side of the room between two double doors, one leading to the spacious bathroom and the other leading to an equally humongous dressing room. The windows reminded her of the hall of mirrors at the palace of Versailles. She remembered the pictures she had seen in the books in the library and how much she had wanted to go there. The windows stayed partially hidden behind red corded silk curtains with gold embroideries. The bed itself was truly fit for royalty. The gilded frame above the bed formed an alcove, the drapery in scarlet and gold fluttering gently from the wind that drifted in from the open windows. Clearly, she could not have a more romantic surrounding. The sliver of a moon added in. Anticipation was slowly building up.

"Perfect." Salar reached down and lowered himself onto her. She straightened her legs as she felt him on top, and he adjusted himself on his elbows. Mirage eyed his burnt arm dubiously.

"Doesn't that pain you?" Salar shook his head and she fell into silence.

He made out her face in the moonlight. Registering her anxiety, he leaned down and kissed her. "I won't hurt you." Mirage shivered as Salar brushed away the strands of hair off her forehead.

He leaned down, kissing her softly. Mirage kissed him back, willing herself to relax. She opened her eyes hazily, trying to focus as she felt Salar grab onto her hands, entwining his fingers between hers and digging his fingers into the bed, pinning her there. She closed her eyes again and sighed. He didn't feel heavy on top of her at all, and she loved that he had balanced himself so that she'd be comfortable on her back. The kissing slowly started getting passionate as she allowed his tongue in. Suddenly, she wanted to feel his skin against hers and was highly irritated by the fact that she still had her nightgown on. Aware that she had nothing on underneath, it only aroused her more.

She pushed him away. "I thought I told you to undress me." She whispered hoarsely, putting a hand on his shoulder. Salar sat up against her thighs, amused. Reaching for her hand, he pulled her up in a sitting position, shifting off her so she could help herself up. He looked at her in the eye, willing for her to do so herself. When she didn't move, a shy smile playing on her face, Salar gently tugged on the gown from her knees, lifting it up until her thighs were visible. Not being able to help herself, she leaned forward, locking lips with him, pushing him so she was lying on top of him again. She loved that they were practically rolling in the bed. Her hair fell to both her sides and hid their faces from the light, tickling Salar's face. He remembered what Queen Nadira had said about the mark on Mirage's neck and felt his heart contract. He grasped her hair and flung them over her shoulder to the other side so that the moonlight shone on her. She didn't notice Salar reach for her gown and pull it up until he could caress her thighs up to her stomach. His hands glided in to her inner thighs and she moaned as she felt the warmth of his hands so close.

Mirage shivered again, as his fingers grazed up, making their way to her belly, gently rubbing past her belly button. Suddenly, he pushed her away and she fell back against the pillows, a faint smile on her lips. Salar looked at her questioningly, averting his eyes from her legs which were now clearly visible. Mirage gulped. Reaching up to the drapery over the alcove, it fell concealing them in the confines of the bed, the only light source being the moonlight which flooded in everytime the drapes fluttered in the breeze. It fell on Mirage that he was far too much of a gentleman right now to actually rip her clothes off himself and thought, Oh, to hell with it. He'll only be asking me if he could do it. And with that, she reached down and pulled the gown off her head, revealing herself to him. Her hair fell down her shoulders, moderately covering her nakedness. Her chest heaved slightly as she tried to control her breathing.

Like a cat, Salar's teeth gleaned as he slunk his way over to her. Flicking her hair off her breast, he gently touched her, looking into her eyes the whole time. A gasp escaped her lips, and Salar lowered his head on her neck, sucking on her skin. She groaned as she felt her skin pull. Never had she felt something like this. Oh, she knew what was going to happen sooner or later, her sisters had tried to tell her about it many enough times, but she didn't see the point of it. Now she knew.

Salar's teeth scraped against her skin as he tilted his head, kissing her collarbone and Mirage grabbed his hair, directing him down further. She felt him on her chest and gasped as his lips made contact over her areole. Although at certain rare times, when she'd feel like she had rather a lot more padding in the back than she did in the front, this moment washed away all her insecurities about her body as he groaned in appreciation, "God, you're so beautiful... and delicious."

A giggle escaped Mirage her's lips as she felt his breath tickle her. His other hand slowly tracked its way down her navel and hovered at the dip between her legs. She fell his tongue roll over her breast and she arched her back so he could have better access.

Another giggle escaped her and she felt Salar's lips curve in a smile over her breast. Her laughter and giggles made him feel happy and even though that was something that he could never admit to any of his friends, lest he wanted to be beaten up for being such a weakling, he couldn't deny his own feelings. His other hand lowered and he felt her jump at the contact.

She wanted to tell him to stop but she seemed to be like jelly under his touch. He could do anything to her at this point, and she wouldn't have minded, but at the jump, Salar lifted his head, his eyes opaque against the light.

"Do you want me to go on?" She heard him say with a hint of teasing in his voice, but she knew how much effort he had had to put in to stop himself just so he could ask her that question. Impatiently, she only forced his head back down, muttering, "Yes!"

His hand slid down in a jerk and she emitted a sharp gasp as his fingers ran a bit aggressively over her sex. She felt invaded, but in a good way as Salar slowly massaged her most secret spot and felt herself convulse as his rather rough hands rubbed against her. She heard a rustle of clothes and opened her eyes to see his trousers being thrown away. With no idea why, Mirage burst out laughing. And loud.

Her hands retreated from his hair and she clasped her mouth, trying to muffle her own laughter. Bewildered, Salar hitched himself up so he could look her in the face. She turned away as she felt the tears stream out of her eyes and her gut ached as she kept on laughing. With her puffed-up red nose, very pink lips, and slightly shaking hands, she imagined what she must look like and laughed even more.

Salar allowed Mirage to calm down, waiting patiently. He noticed her legs pulled up against her chest and even though she was pulling on her stitches, he figured she must be feeling nervous. Reaching for the comforter, he pulled it on top of both of them. Finally, she sighed as she finally felt her laughter abate and guiltily smiled at Salar.

"I'm sorry, I just saw your pants flying, and I just couldn't help it." She covered her face with her hands, feeling embarrassed as her laughter started again. Her heart was in her throat right now. She had felt Salar pull the comforter on her and was grateful. The weak moment when she had felt herself yield to his touch had instantly pulled her guard up, although the fact that she had started laughing would have meant the death of her had she done so in a fight.

Salar felt weirdly relieved. "That's a good thing. Although I can imagine all of Behroz's puns tomorrow. He would think you were laughing at me."

Mirage giggled underneath her fingers and he kissed the back of her hand. "I'm sorry. Maybe you should tell him to leave. I don't think he'll like listening to us all night." She bit her tongue as the last words escaped her mouth, and peeked through her fingers. Salar had a big grin on his face.

Rolling her eyes, she slid her hands roughly off her face and looked at Salar. He just shook his head. "It's all right, he's here for security. And he's not standing just outside the door. He's parked himself at the table a little further away with his set of guns. He'll be fine. He'll keep people away from this room so that this time, we won't have any interruptions at all. Although…" He lifted the comforter off her and peeked inside. She whacked his hand away and it dropped. "He'll be expecting to hear you scream, you know."

Mirage cocked her head to one side. "In what? Ecstasy?"

Salar smirked wickedly. "Exactly." Embracing her, he rolled over so that they were side-by-side. His hand trailed down her length, she felt him thrust her leg up around his own waist. Her hair fanned and he fumbled between his fingers, gently tugging on them.

"You know we can stop if you want?" He teased.

Mirage quivered. "No…" She whispered huskily as his hands circled around her waist and he jerked her into him by the bum.

"Are you sure?" He whispered, mentally beating himself over the head for prolonging the moment.

"I trust you." She whispered back and jolted as she felt him against her. She didn't feel like laughing now. His manhood felt huge against her thigh, which was something she should have probably counted on. And the truth was, she really did feel like she could trust him enough. She felt like he couldn't hurt her, even if he wanted to.

Salar leaned into her ear, "I love you." Mirage's eyes flew open in shock. And although her brain immediately went into a rampage, screaming that he was lying, he didn't love her, it was a trap; she took a deep breath and instantly felt the voice shut up. She loved him too.

Salar didn't ask for an answer. He knew from the look on her face how she felt about him. His words, "I won't hurt you, I promise" jolted her from the inside. She knew he wouldn't.

Naturally, what followed next pained Mirage physically only due to her own anticipation of the pain, but one second later, Salar's mouth was on hers and as she groaned in protest at the pain, he brought his hands up to her face and held her lovingly, protecting her. She twisted her arms around his neck tightly, keeping her mouth tight against his as the pain slowly gave way to pleasure. They made love slowly and leisurely, both wanting the most from each other.

~0~

Mirage rolled into Salar's arms, basking in the warm comfort of her husband's strong muscles. She stretched her legs and winced. Her insides felt raw but she didn't mind. Last night had definitely opened up her mind to this activity which was only confined to married people. Now, she knew why. It was absolutely sinful. Never having felt this way, she had yearned for him more, but her body couldn't take it, and she had collapsed into an exhausted state before falling asleep.

Her hand drifted downwards on Salar's body towards his manhood and she smiled in her sleep as Salar fidgeted before settling down and drifted away again.All mine, she thought gleefully.

When she woke up again, she snuggled her back into him. He really sleeps like a log, Mirage thought as she pulled on his hand and encircled her waist with it. She rubbed her bum against his pelvis and settled. She was wide awake now. Perhaps being thoroughly made love to was all she had needed because she definitely felt energized now, or maybe it was because she had been asleep for almost five days. Well, whatever it was, she was done with sleep for now.

She brought Salar's hand up in her line of vision and studied it. Short nails and long fingers, she placed her hand against his and studied it. She suddenly felt vulnerable and she hastened it away back to her waist. Even her stitches didn't hurt anymore.

She thought faintly about what she'd do the whole day. She hadn't met her father yet, and she hadn't met any of the boys either or her ladies, whom she suspected wanted to come in and see her but maybe Salar had shooed them away.

She arched her neck and looked up at him. Even sleeping, he had a serious look on his face. Eyebrows furrowed, nostrils slightly flaring, and deep breaths, like he was concentrating on his sleep. It was true. The moment of her climax, she had seen stars and when she had looked into his eyes when he had erupted inside her, calling her name, his emerald eyes had really done her in. If only she hadn't fallen asleep. She didn't even remember him slipping out of her otherwise she would have told him to move away slowly. The pain wasn't as bad as she had remembered. It reminded her of the first time she had cut herself with a dagger. She had been so scared, but the first nick she had gotten wasn't as bad as she had thought. After that, cuts and gashes seemed to be a part of life. Dimly, she remembered about her sword fight with Salar. That incident felt like it had happened years ago. Raising her hand, she studied the gash. The doctor had told her that the cut had been superficial, although how she could have stopped the sword with her hand without entirely cutting it off had left him dumbstruck.

Mirage had dismissed the mean lady doctor who had visited before. She didn't like the woman glaring at her and Salar like they had done something wrong. Perhaps she thought they weren't married. Wait, technically, no one knows that Salar and I are married, this revelation cleared her head up and explained why many people had given her the dirty look. Salar had chosen to let everyone know about their marriage, so that he could get in to see her. It wasn't his fault that many of them didn't believe her, but the lady doctor had come in from the mainland, so she obviously didn't know Mirage like the rest of the islanders did. The doctor just knew Salar as a big-headed worthless playboy.

Feeling her anger over this thought, Mirage gently turned and stated shaking Salar. He woke up with a jerk and his eyes adjusted.

"Good, you're up." She beamed happily and Salar tightened his grip around her instinctively. His right arm felt numb and he figured that Mirage had fallen asleep on it, judging from the mottled impression embedded in his skin from her hair. Still, he hadn't been out for the count like Mirage had, and grumbling, he dropped his head back into his pillow and promptly fell asleep.

Mirage pouted as Salar started snoring. Oh well, maybe I should let him sleep. Not being one of those who woke up their husbands by calling them ridiculous names such and darling or sweetheart; she simply slid out of his grip and blindly searching for something to cover her nakedness, she felt Salar's shirt near her feet and pulled it on. It smelled strongly of him. Musky, yet fresh; like a forest.

She swung her legs off the side of the bed and pulled the drapes away. The moon shone dully and the first rays of the sun seemed due any minute. The wind blew at the curtains and they fluttered against the candelabras which were too heavy to fall just by the push of some light curtains or the wind. She went over to the corner where the lever hung for the curtains and pulled on it after making sure that the alcove drapes were properly closed so as not to wake Salar.

The curtains parted and the wind blew in with a flourish. Mirage made her way over to the windows and glanced outside. The island really was beautiful. She hadn't noticed the slight noise coming from outside but now as she observed, it was probably because the villa they royal family was staying in was situated on top of a tall hill. A little farther, she saw the little glimpses of light come up as she figured that people were probably getting up for the morning prayer.

She looked back as the drapes fluttered and Salar threw back the comforter. Her usual giggle escaped and she looked away from him. Her heart panged as she remembered Salar's words. He loved her. The shock of it still hadn't settled in. He loved her and what scared her more was that in the short time she had known him; she had started to love him back too. Probably had from the moment she had seen his portrait at Saulta. He was everything she had wanted and more. Why; even she could figure out that any other man would never have dealt with her laughing during their lovemaking like he had. She had felt his smile when she had giggled.

Apart from that, he seemed like the only person who understood her, and even though they had no interests in common, she felt like he was the perfect match for her. That moment when she had been so near death, she had only looked at him, and felt like she didn't need anything else. And even when she was getting tortured, all she could think about were his injuries and how she didn't want him to suffer. She had even tried to distract him, but her torture had begun too soon. One thing was clear for her now. She had to be strong. His every expression at her every lash felt tattooed to the back of her head. She felt as if he could actually feel her pain on his skin too and that had become the real torture for her.

She looked down at the grounds as the guards and ladies strolled about. The people were awake, she knew as much. She knew Behroz was still outside, along with someone else. She recognized the hushed laughter as Sepehr's. How embarrassing! Good thing she hadn't screamed. Or had she? All she remembered was that she had called out Salar's name. In any way, she knew Sepehr would never let her know and for that she was grateful.

Her eyes trailed back to Salar and she saw his burns shine. He had pushed her out of the way of the cannonball, and he hadn't even rubbed it in her face. It was like his own injuries didn't even matter to him. And his hourly visits after their arrival at the villa had only made her adore him more.

And their romp in the bed; it had been heaven. His every thrust had been gentle, until she had herself grabbed onto his bum and pushed him further in, her legs locked around his waist as every wave of pleasure finally begun washed over her with every push. It was primal instinct; this need to feel satisfied and pleasured, it was the only thing that could explain her actions, since she hadn't so much as discussed it with anyone, not even Tatiana. Although now, she felt a bit proud. Maybe she did know a thing or two about her way in the bed after all. Those times when she had tuned Tatiana out when she had shyly hinted Mirage about her and Sepehr's romantic nights must have been seeped their way into Mirage's brain subconsciously.

Mirage bit her lip. If only Tatiana was here, she would have given Mirage some advice, or would have just gleefully giggled and snickered with Mirage on every detail. Guiltily, Mirage admitted that ever since she had gotten board the Mirage, apart from the beginning of her trip, she hadn't thought of Tatiana much afterwards and Sepehr had just kept himself busy with the ship, she hadn't even caught him crying. And Salar had distracted her so much that she had simply forgotten to grieve for her best friend. And now, it was too late. Time had moved on. Sadly, Mirage had to too. She looked down at the beautiful garden. They were in the room on the top floor of the villa and it provided a spectacular view of the grounds below along with the rest of the village. Mirage felt like she was sitting in the clouds and looking down at the little people on land.

A few women strolled leisurely through the garden. A couple of guards sat smoking what Mirage made out to be cigarettes in a corner, off duty. Suddenly, her eye caught a figure and she squinted. The woman had very short hair, quite unique for a female. Her white robes seemed ghostly as she floated. Mirage stared. It was Tatiana. But no, it couldn't be. The woman drifted away by her lonesome before disappearing into the villa below Mirage. Mirage felt her breath wheeze. Who was it? Was it really Tatiana? Or her ghost? Had this been a sign? She looked back out. It was like no one had even noticed Tatiana. Mirage nodded slowly as she tried to make sense. Perhaps it was a sign. Perhaps this was Allah's way of telling her that at this moment, Tatiana was floating in heaven, sporting a smashing new haircut and feeling very content with herself, telling all the angels how they could keep their halos and wings shiny, perhaps. Mirage relaxed. Yes, that had to be it.

She looked back at Salar and went over to him. Wanting to take the shirt off gently as to not stretch her back, she pulled on the strings and they eventually unraveled down the front. She let it fall down to the floor before climbing into bed beside Salar. His even breathing comforted her as she relaxed into him. Lifting her hand, she stroked his frown lines on his forehead, watching them instantly disappear under her touch and she smiled. She scooted up until her face was in front of his and she whispered, "I love you too… you big lug" and kissed him on the nose. He only snored in answer.

She heard the first sounds of the prayer call and smiled crookedly. All right, I admit. I love him. And you've given me permission to do so, so thank you.She thought, as she heard the prayer call mention Allah's name and she sighed.

Mirage thought about the challenges that lay ahead for her. She had to go back on board a ship so that she could go to Sahilibur. She hadn't met her father yet, and for the people; she had to get married again. After which, her coronation was going to take place. She had to take care of the revolt that had started in a few cities in the occupied lands; she had heard the guards talk about it before. She'd have tho nip those problems in the bud.

Mirage sighed. Well, if Salar is up to spending each night in exactly the way he had done so last night, than perhaps I'll pull through without a scratch. Mirage smiled languidly at the merry thought.Although, I can't say the same for him.





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