The Holly and the Ivy
Chapter Thirteen – The Trial
I clutch the overloaded breakfast tray with both hands so as not to spill the juice -Man. Keith really overdid it this time.- while pressing down the door handle with my elbow. The red bed curtains are still closed, but I know the one facing the window will be open.
Rounding the corner, I look directly into Diarmad's dark blue eyes. Is that a hue of silver? What did I do now?
And here it comes. "Do not tell me you went to the kitchen like that."
Holding the tray away from me, I look down at myself. Bare toes partly visible under the frayed hems of my favorite pair of jeans. I can almost hear my mom, "Noël, put some shoes on, or at least warm socks! It's too cold to run around the house in your bare feet." It can't be that, can it? I mean the entire place has under-the-floor heating.
He makes an all-encompassing gesture with his hand. "You haven't even got a shirt on."
"And why should I do that? It's not exactly cold in here. I do have some jeans on, so what's the big deal?"
"Well, the big deal is that I do not want you running around the house half naked," he growls.
This could be fun. "Please. Nobody in this household cares about that. Landyn only has eyes for Simon, Ronan for Becca, Keith for Lionel and vice versa. I don't think they would notice if I walked around stark naked."
"That may be so, but I would care, very much so, and you never know who else is in the house." He glares at me. It's hard not to grin.
"At eight on a Sunday morning?" I can't stop myself now. He's really cute when he gets all possessive.
"Landyn's men are here all the time."
"Yeah and they would hit on the King's mate, because they're famous for their suicidal tendencies, right? Come on, D, lighten up."
I put the tray on the nightstand and climb back onto the bed. After making myself comfortable on top of the duvet, I take the 'King' mug and hold it out for Diarmad. "Coffee?"
He accepts it, but I can tell he's still upset. Getting the second mug, I ignore him, close my eyes, and inhale the heavenly scent of freshly brewed coffee. "Mmmm… nice."
All the warning I have is a low growling, then the mug in my hand is gone and I find myself caged in between Diarmad's arms. How did he do this? His mouth brushes my ear. "I do not want you outside the bedroom like this ever again, at least not when I am not with you."
I wink at him. "Possessive much?"
Wrong question. His lips briefly touch my neck before sharp fangs pierce through the skin. Fuck!
But the sting is instantly replaced by surges of pleasure running through my body. Moaning, I can't help but tilt my head further to the side to give him better access.
It's sensuous and oddly satisfying to feel my mate sucking at my neck, hearing him swallow my blood. I'm nurturing him, him much needed sustenance. Only I can do this.
I have to hold on to his shoulders. Arching my body up, I need touch, I need…more. As if he heard my silent pleading, he lowers his naked body between my spread legs. Just a bit further…it isn't enough. I want to feel him rubbing against me. God, just a little more.
And it's over. He lifts his head, laps at the bite, gives me a quick kiss on my forehead, before he takes his coffee from the nightstand as if nothing had happened.
Still panting, I try to calm myself. "What was that?"
He shrugs. "Just showing you who is in control here."
"What? Are you fucking kidding me? You cannot be serious!" Seeing him leaning comfortably against the headboard, sipping his coffee, I realize he is serious. Just you wait! Two can play this game.
"Okay, well, good morning to you too." I push myself up beside him, wiggle around making sure my slightly too big jeans descend just a bit more, so that my mark is showing. He won't be able to resist that. He never could since he gave it to me, even when we were talking to Cieran O'Connor the other day. He had his arm wrapped around my waist, unconsciously stroking it, eventually even slipping one finger under the waistband of my pants Poor Cieran didn't know where to look.
Just as I thought he would, he leans over to my side and starts to run a finger along the ivy vine. "So, Andra told me you already manage the power of telekinesis just fine…"
I snort while picking a bagel from the tray beside me. "If you mean by just fine that I'm able to knock an entire lab cabinet over, then yes. I think Andra would have preferred a more sophisticated approach though, like getting out a bottle of inflammable liquid instead of busting the whole thing."
He absentmindedly follows the outlines of the mark. "I still think it was remarkable. We were not fully mated then, still, you could consciously access your powers without training."
I peer at the bagel in my hand from all sides to determine the best spot to bite into it without making a mess. "So now that we are fully mated you think I can do better? Like if I wanted to have that napkin over there," I nod in the direction of the nightstand, "I just reach out with my mind, will it to me, and woops it flies into my hand?" Doing as I said, I almost drop my bagel when the napkin lands in my hand. "Wow."
"Just like that." He grins, by now rubbing his finger over the part of the mark that still lies under the waistband of my jeans. So predictable.
Putting the napkin on my left thigh, I take the bagel in both hands and sink my teeth into the delicious goodness. "Ahh…hmm…," I moan. "This is so great. Keith really knows how I like them."
After lapping up some tomato juice running down the bagel, I know I have his full attention. Taking a leaf of rocket salad between my teeth, I pull it slowly out from between the two halves. Using my tongue to finally suck it completely into my mouth, I hum, "Hmmm… perfect." I'm totally aware that his eyes are now riveted on my lips and let the tip of my tongue dart out, getting some residual cream cheese, before I ask conversationally, "Am I a telekinetic because you are also?"
He stares blankly at me, obviously needing a moment to comprehend my question.
Ha, it's working…
"Yes, usually the former human will adopt at least one of his mate's powers." He frowns. "Uncharacteristically, you started to have this power long before we were mated. The only explanation we came up with so far was that Tristan was bonded to me. He ingested my blood. So maybe…. No, I still think it makes no sense, because you are not his descendant." His frown deepens. "Fact is your abilities are highly unusual. I believe your precognition could become even stronger than mine. You are made for me."
This is so not going where I want it to. Time to up my ante. "Hmmm, I can taste the freshly ground pepper and this cream cheese…awwwesome." I swoop some up and clean my finger with lots of tongue, making sure it looks like I'm thinking of something entirely different while doing this. "God, this is perfect…"
When I hear a sharp hissing noise beside me, I make sure to look as if I just came out of a cream cheese induced high. Shaking my head slightly, I ask, "So which other powers will I have?"
Knowing that his gaze is still fixed on my lips, I make sure to lick them one more time, only because I don't want to look like I couldn't eat properly of course.
"We will have to wait and see which other powers you will gain. Seeing you're high precog we conjectured it could be telepathy, which is a very rare and sought after combination. Even if you will not be a full telepath but only an empath it is still very rare."
"What about you? Which powers do you have beside telekinesis?"
"I can manipulate energy, give and take it from almost every source including living beings. I can then use it as a weapon and form lightning bolts and such." Hearing his monotonous voice, I know it won't take much longer now until his control snaps. He stops drinking his coffee and is now staring at me with an almost feral expression on his face. Uh…oh…
I'm still not prepared when he leaps off the bed, grabs my ankles, and pulls me down until I am flat on my back. I'm lucky I don't hit my head on the headboard. He takes my jeans off with one quick tug. Hearing the tearing of fabric, I shout, "Hey these are my favorite!"
"You should learn not to challenge me then." With that, he crawls back to me on his hands and knees. Hovering, he eyes me up as if I were prey. Then his lips are on mine, possessing my mouth, all I feel is an invading tongue, teeth clashing against teeth, hands tugging at my hair. I press my palms against his shoulders, try to push him away, but then he starts to rub his naked body against mine. Fuck… Spreading my legs wider, I move my hips up to meet him halfway instead.
Finally, he breaks the kiss, his lips move down my throat, his fangs graze over my pulse; and I hear myself moaning, "Bite me!"
But he doesn't hear my pleading. Or he doesn't want to. I can't think anymore. Shuddering with need, everything is reduced to sense when his hands never stop touching me. His fingers dance over the skin of my stomach until they find my mark again. All I want is to touch, smell, taste, and feel him…inside me. Now.
A sharp pain brings me out of my daze, sends jolts of pleasure directly to my cock. Shit… He bit my nipple. Lapping at it soothingly before switching to the other, he does it again. "Fuck! Damn! D!"
I can feel him slowly sliding down my body, suckling and nipping at my skin. He licks at the spot right over my navel, pulls at the hair below it with his lips, and finds my mark again, nuzzles it with his nose… Oh Fuck!
He runs his tongue from the base of my cock to its tip, swirling it around the crown for a few times before he takes just the head into his mouth, sucking on it while rolling my balls in his hand. Oh my God!
He pushes his mouth down and has my entire cock in his mouth and throat, forcing every other sensation out of my awareness except his hot mouth on me... Pulling my balls gently down, he swallows around my cock, sending waves of pleasure through me. I can't help but start to thrust into his mouth and he lets me. Almost there…almost there…. I need. I'm…
Trembling, I gasp, "I…" and he takes it away from me. The hot, wet warmth…gone.
Through the fog surrounding my brain I can hear a needy whining. "No! Don't stop! Need…to come." When nothing happens, my hand goes south only to be slapped away.
"Yes amatan, but not until I say you can." And I find myself with my wrists pinned to the mattress above my head, in a move so fast I didn't see it coming.
Squirming under him, I try to free my hands, but he just shifts his body onto me, using his weight to press me on the bed. Now being able to hold both of my wrists in one hand, he takes my cock in the other and starts to stroke me. Bringing his head down to my ear he whispers, "I am in control…"
Something in the back of my head rebels at that and I pant, "Dream on!"
"Yes, I dreamt of that. You at my mercy, writhing under my hands."
And I thrust into his stroking palm. I don't want to, but I need… Yes. "I'm going to come…" Shit, idiot!
Halting his hand, I hear his stern voice. "Not yet."
Taking in deep breaths I try to calm down, and it goes away, the urgent need, it goes away.
"That's it baby." He caresses my thigh soothingly, but when he touches my mark, I hiss and buck in his hand.
"Ah ah ah, none of that. Leave your hands where they are, grab the headboard when you must." He lets go of my wrists.
And then a lubed finger slips inside me, thrusting gently, seeking the one spot I remember so well.
"Ahhhh," I scream, instinctively lifting my hips, "Faster!" but his pace doesn't change. And I know there is nothing I can do, he won't go faster until he decides to do so. Damn.
He finds it again and I cry out, shuddering beneath him. He chuckles.
"Fuck you," I pant.
"All in good time. Right now it is my turn. Soon."
Leaning over me, he thrusts his tongue deeply into my mouth, and removes his fingers. Hot breath against my ear he whispers, "Open your eyes, my amatan. Look at me. See me."
I do as he says and he gasps, "Your eyes are silver… my mate..." Kneeling between my legs, he lifts me up until my ass rests on his thighs, and then he pushes into me with one slow single thrust.
"Finally… took you long enough."
He pulls out only to push back in. "I. Take. As. Long. As. I. Want." Emphasizing each word with a powerful yet gentle thrust, he whispers, "… as this is only your second time, love."
And I suddenly understand that he will never intentionally hurt me. He is in control… for now.
"You can let go. Lose yourself. I will catch you, protect you. Come for me."
It is all too much, and trembling I obey. With a sob I let go, because I can, it's safe. I'm safe.
Seeing this, watching me give myself over makes him thrust harder and faster, then his body goes rigid and he shudders before he finally collapses on top of me.
How I love this man… my amatan.
I don't know how long we lie like this before he gets up, and I can hear the water running in the bathroom. Then he comes back with a washcloth and a towel. After cleaning me, he throws them on the floor and wraps me in his arms; nuzzling his face into my hair, he pulls the blankets up until it covers our bodies.
Burying my face in the warmth of his chest, I let my hand brush over the mark I gave him, tracing the outline of the cat with my finger I whisper, "Diarmad…" Unable to form any other word, realizing I love to feel that I can let go with him, knowing he'll be there to protect me, catch me. Not that I'd ever tell him. Not yet.
"You have to be by my side at the council meeting, so please try to be ready in half an hour, love. I will call you."
Standing in front of the large mirror in our walk-in-closet, I pluck at my hair to no avail. What can you do with too long, wavy hair, needing a haircut? I don't use straighteners, and I doubt I could find any in this men's household. Wait, maybe Becca… ah shit, I don't do straighteners. Turning away from the mirror, I pick some lint from my black slacks, pull at the cuffs of the white button-down shirt - with a high collar because I won't wear a tie. I think I'll do. My phone starts ringing and I know it's Diarmad, calling me to his study for the trial.
When I cross the living room, I find Andra sitting on a couch with her father on the opposite love chair, flanked by two of Landyn's men. Keelan McGill looks pale and oddly apathetic. Did they sedate him? I can't think of any other reason for him being like that. I'd expected him to be yelling and raving, not acting like this when I thought of him again. Otherwise, with all that happened to him…
Nodding briefly at Andra, I enter the study and find myself confronted by all eleven council members. They get up and bow when they see me. Slightly embarrassed I give a short bow back. This is so not my crowd.
Taking the place beside Diarmad, I notice that I'm sitting on one of the two oddly decorated, uncomfortable looking armchairs, which normally stand in some corner of this room, buried under stacks of books. Seeing that Diarmad is sitting on the other one, it dawns on me that they have a purpose other than being temporarily shelves. I always wondered why Diarmad had these things in his study; obviously, they are reserved for the king and his mate to sit on during a meeting, some kind of throne thing.
When the council members are finally sitting again, Landyn and Ronan come into the room to stand slightly behind us. Landyn on my side, and Ronan on Diarmad's. What now? Do they fear some of them might attack us?
Looking around to make sure he has everyone's attention, Cieran O'Connor gets up, and bows again, and I have to control myself not to grown. "Before we begin, I've been asked to officially welcome the King's final mate Noël, in the name of all council members. We are more than happy and relieved to see you by our King's side."
And he bows again.
I feel a short jab at my side. Turning to Diarmad, I realize he is looking at me as if he wants to say… No, no. I hate speeches. I can't do this.
Slowly getting up anyway, I'm aware that the eyes of every single council member are on me, and I take the opportunity to look back and memorize them. The woman with the curly red hair beside Cieran O'Connor, who doesn't look me in the eyes. The man beside her with the friendly blue eyes. The tall, lanky guy with the shoulder-length black hair —HE IS TOO YOUNG— Wait, what was that? I look back at him, but I'm sure he didn't say anything, did he? Then there is the blonde, who fidgets with the sheets of paper in front of her. The elderly man with the wire framed glasses, who stares at a spot behind me. The big guy with the white blond buzz cut —CUTE— Fuck, he didn't just say that out loud, did he? I look back at him and I know I'm blushing and he's grinning knowingly back at me. At least until he, like everyone else in the room, hears the light growling coming from the chair beside me. Quickly skimming over the rest of them, the little brunette, wrapped up in colorful shawls, another redhead with amazing green eyes and a diamond stud in his ear, a guy in a gray suit looking somehow familiar, and another one in a green cashmere sweater with a scar over his left eye, I clear my throat. "I'm more than happy to be by his side myself." Sitting down again Landyn mutters behind me, "Nice and short." Shut up! —HEY GET OUT OF MY HEAD! — What? I turn my head finding him scowling at me. When he sees my puzzled expression, he seems to understand something I don't and nods, smiling again. What? I'm failing to get something important here. Wait! It can't be telepathy, no. "No!"
Fortunately, Diarmad addresses the council, getting everyone's attention back on him before anyone starts to wonder why I just shouted 'No.'
"We are here today to decide about Keelan McGill. Depending on how serious this council will evaluate his crimes, the outcome will be either his death or exile. My mate and I will abstain from voting in this case, as we are directly affected by his deeds. We will not be able to vote unbiased."
Who would be?
And the discussion begins. The slightly familiar looking guy in the gray suit, who now that I think about it, must be a member of the McGill clan. Oddly, he adamantly demands the death of his former leader. The little brunette disagrees. "Exile is enough punishment. Think of what he's lost already."
Then the shouting and yelling starts and Diarmad has to admonish them to calm down more and more often.
As far as I can see, there won't be a decision anytime soon. I don't know how I feel about killing the man. And sending him into exile? What would he do somewhere else, away from his family, his clan, alone? Probably seek revenge. I mean, one part of me wants him dead; wants him to suffer for what he did to me, to us, but another part of me thinks he has suffered enough. He lost his favorite child. As bad as it may be to even have a favorite child, Moira was his only hope for grandchildren, as she liked men. His plan on becoming the next king backfired on him dramatically. On top of that, being disposed by your clan, your family? Maybe showing mercy will persuade some undecided McGills, who are afraid they would be punished also, that Diarmad is not holding any grudges? It would also support Andra as their new leader; showing them that she made the right decision by siding with Diarmad.
Interrupting a heated fight between suit guy and diamond stud, I blurt out, "What about a third alternative?"
"A third alternative?" Cieran O'Connor asks hopefully.
"Yes, can't he be stripped of his powers as punishment? Permanently I mean? Wouldn't it be better to have him here under our control than somewhere else, planning his revenge? Wouldn't this be a signal that we are willing to live together, to bury our differences? It will take time to get there, but it could be a signal in the right direction. He has lost so much already." Suddenly aware that everybody is looking at me again, I can barely refrain from fidgeting with the hem of my shirt.
Not sure what he thinks about my idea, I look at Diarmad, who in return watches me as if he's never seen me before. Then he smiles. "This is what I hoped for; a third alternative. Thank you, Noël. Tristan would have wanted Keelan's death. Seeing how he already suffered, Luis would have wanted to forgive him. You found the third alternative by combining all of it and adding some more. Now to answer your question: Yes, he can be stripped of his powers permanently. I can do this." And to the others, "I think we should hear Andra McGill now. She should be heard before we make the final decision. As his daughter and the new leader of the McGill clan, she will be the one to take care of him."
The council agrees and I get up and call Andra in.
Diarmad explains the situation to her and after briefly closing her eyes, she declares, "I will personally take care of him. He is my father and our former leader. I know he must be punished, but I can't tell you how relieved and thankful I am that you found another way besides killing him or putting him in exile. That may seem egotistical and selfish, driven by the thought that I do not want to lose the last one of my direct family. Stripping him of his powers, losing my sister, this might be too much for him though. I have the hope that he will understand, but if he prefers death over this, I ask you to show one last act of mercy and grant him his wish." She bows and leaves the room.
After a brief discussion, the council agrees to her wish and I get up again, this time to call Keelan McGill in.
When he stands in front of us, Andra puts her hand on his shoulder and he seems to realize for the first time where he is.
Asked if he prefers death over being stripped of his powers and living under house arrest for the rest of his life, he looks at his daughter, then at us. "I have lost everything that I thought has value in my life; my child, possible grandchildren, my rank, my goal. And I can't blame anyone else except myself for that, I know that now. I infected Moira with my ideas. I never valued my second child enough. I underestimated my King and his determination to be with his mate. And finally, I see the wisdom of fate as well as its irony; learning that my chance to stay alive and with my daughter and my clan has been given to me by the man I ordered to be tortured and killed. I know this is unpardonable, but I will try anyway." And he kneels down; he actually kneels down.
Seeing the man kneeling in front of us, looking as if he's doing this with a contrite and humiliated heart, has me swallowing around a lump suddenly formed in my throat. I think I'm not the only one. And still, at the back of my mind I do not trust him. I guess this needs time.
Sitting on the piano bench I ask Diarmad, "What do you want me to play?"
After giving it some thought Diarmad says, "Something quiet, introspective. Schumann's Träumerei maybe. I especially like the part at the end, where the dreamer awakens and comes back to reality."
The end of part I
Schumann's Träumerei watch?v=fHlfNYY1YIY