(I Could Live On) Loving You

Warrior’s have no heart…no sympathy…no regrets…no meaning to life…

There was one man who stood alone among the worn soldiers trotting forward. He alone stood fiercely and proudly. He was the vanity of her eyes…the agony of her heart…the being that made her aware of her feminine needs…wants…and desires. They all pooled into one at his gentle touch…his commanding voice…his overpowering presence.

A warrior that stood among the people, destined to rule and conquer. Astride on a black stallion, Darius Brant held his head high like a statue that needed to be idolize. A man with stubborn determination yet a lover’s seductive eyes to which she had fallen captive to. He was the anchor of her life, the source of her dreams.

She tipped her head down, her eyes lowered as he pulled up the banner that claimed victory. Claiming her. Returning to her and taking what belonged to him. His prize.

* * *

There was one woman who stood alone, aloof and untouchable. The forbidden fruit of his eyes. The crystal of his heart. The creature who made him aware of his prowess…his heart…his station in life.

Everyone told him that he could not have her when she was but a star in the sky. A fairy that flitted through the far heaven. A wind that told him of love and disappeared before he could catch it in his palms. Oriana Ethelberht stood in the turret like an angel, her hair blown by the high wind like a beacon to call him home. She was his savior, his life.

Until that moment. She was everything he had fought for. To climb back from hell and search his way out of prison in order to see her again. To feel her soft cheeks once more. To have her hands against his chest, his heart beating into her palms, etching a memory for her to always remember him.

A thin ray passed over her head telling him that she had acknowledged his presence, and he took out the banner that he fought his life to protect. Her kingdom. Her people.

* * *

A celebration was held in the large palace. The hall finally opened to the warriors and the civilians. After a long cruel year of non-stop battle against her uncle’s kingdom, Oriana now knew she was safe enough to walk freely, no longer afraid of being kidnapped to marry her uncle. The shame still painted her as the cause of the war.

Escorted by maidens and ladies-in-waiting, she glided through the crowd of people. They all bowed and gave her respect. After all, she was the last line of royalty until she married and gave an heir to the throne. And everyone knew it was high time she chose her mate, especially now that the war was over.

And she was looking at him at that very moment. He, who sat with his legs wide open, his arms resting on the brocaded throne, surrounded by an array of servant girls and scarred warriors, lost in his conversation of rebuilding the land. And then, his eyes turned up, caught in the aura she carried, preceding her to him. And him only.

Leaning forward, he rested his elbow on his knee, his eyes intent on her, hungry like a wolf, sharp like a hawk. He stared at her until she felt her blood rush, her face flush, her body heated with frustrated wants.

Oriana stopped six feet shy from him. Her eyes were glassy and dilated, unknown as to what lied behind them. Darius continued to stare, never once leaving his eyes off of her, trying to understand what hid behind her cool fa├žade. For twenty-five years under her father’s rule, he had watched her and known her, but never once felt her heart. He touched her, of course. He could never have lived his life without ever knowing what she felt like under his hands. Like a phoenix, she burned his hand and reborn in one split second when he left to war protecting her kingdom.

“My lord,” she finally spoke, curtsying from the knees, her head slightly bent. When she straightened, her head was high…so high it almost disappeared into the sky.

“Prin-cess….” Emphasizing her title with mockery, he stood up on a dais several inches higher than she before descending from her father’s throne, his cape billowing behind him. He knew that they were watched with curiosity and with anticipation. The new lord warrior…the shattered royalty. It was expected they were to join in union to preserve what was left. But he didn’t want just that. He wanted her. Her heart. Her soul. Everything he fought for, he wanted it returned with every single drop of life she had.

“My palace is your palace, my lord. My people are yours. My servants are yours. My land is yours. And my father’s title is yours…your majesty.” Every word was spoken with practice, deliberate knowledge of her own place.

“And you? What about you?” He wanted to know what she thought of herself in that position. What she thought of his position.

“I…I am…” Oriana closed her eyes and tried to remember the words she were to say. The same words she would have said if it had been her uncle who had won the war and she were to sacrifice herself. “I am your war bride, my lord. To take as you please. To kill as you desire.”

He glowered harshly at her, the fire in his heart ignited in fury. That was not what he wanted to hear. But the crowd of people were already hooraying and hollering with triumph and joy.

“To the queen!”

“To the king!”

Oriana tilted her head and slightly bent it with grace and acceptance. She took a glass given to her and raised it slightly before sipping it, the wine tickling around her lips, down her white throat. And once away from her face, he could see the tainted stain glowing on the tips of her lips, beckoning him to lick it off. But she licked it off with the slightest move only he had seen. She knew he was watching her. She knew he wanted her. But yet, she would not give herself to him.

With a curtsy, she walked backward, disappearing into the crowd before he could stop her.

* * *

The steps leading up to her turret were long and quiet. Oriana’s ladies-in-waiting had preceded her to draw a bath through a different staircase leaving her to climb alone in safety and security. In the moonlit garden, she gathered white roses for a night bath. The basket of roses exuded the staircase with an intoxicating dream weaved with moonlight and sensuality.

“Oriana!” A rasp whisper followed by unseen hands caught the hem of her long dress, halting her steps.

A gasp gave way as she turned into the arms of her lord, Darius.

“My lord!” She backed away, fear jolted momentarily in her eyes until she felt warmth racing into her back where his hands were holding her close to him. “What are you doing here? You cannot be here. Let me go.”

A low rumbling laugh came from him as he leaned towards her. “You said your palace is mine. You said you are mine. I am only being an obliging king and surveying my property before anyone else can have a chance.”

She glared at him, eyes glowing in indignation.

For several moments, they stood that way, anger and mockery between them, a tie and a threat. Until he finally gave in.

“Why the glare? Why this hatred, my princess? It has been long…so long since I have seen you, held you…kissed you. Why let the time slip away? We have lost so much in between.”

Hurt was spoken through his words and her heart soften. It had been too long. So long. “Please let me go, my lord.”

“You used to call me Darius.”

“You are no longer that knight I once knew. You are a warrior, a conqueror. The king of this land. I cannot call you by your name.”

“You can! You are my queen!”

“Your prize,” she corrected. “Whether it had been my uncle or anyone else, I would still be his bride because it is my obligation to my kingdom.”

“I would have fought heaven and earth to keep you by me. I would never have let anyone take you. You belong to me.” He tightened his hold around her waist, she gasped in the intimate feel of his body against hers.

“That is all? All I am to you? Just a belonging?”

I need you now, and tomorrow is too late
In you I’ve found, a million reasons I can’t wait anymore
And for me it’s now or never
I need to start loving you forever

“Princess…Oriana…Ana, my love,” he murmured, the words carried into the wind of the moonlit night. “When have you ever been a belonging? Have you forgotten my pledge, my vow? For you, I fought. For you, I protected. There is no one else who could have made me do what I did. No one could have made me live through hell to come back just to see her again.”

Oriana found his hands and unwound his fingers, pulling them away as she stepped out of his embrace. Her hand found his cheek. His hands quickly came up to held it there. The rough stubble braised her soft hand, entering into her heart. She could melt against him if she allowed herself. But when was the last time she allowed that?

She remembered. It was when he had kissed her viciously promising to return to her before he was taken away from her. That had been long ago. Too long.

“As I have lived this long,” she whispered, leaning towards him. “To see you again. So that I can place my hand on your heart as you vow, so to feel its every beat, in order to tell you, freely without fear and responsibility, that I love you…Darius.”

And he swallowed those words of love into his mouth. Openly, he took her into his arms, tasting her and claiming her in one bold kiss that he had not done for so long. He had to start now or there would be no time again. No time to tell her he wanted her. Needed her. And loved her.

Baby, I could live on loving you
Holding kissing touching you
You don’t know how long I’ve waited for you
Holding on so I could live on loving you

Every thrust and pull of his mouth led her from reality into dream. Every stroke and every taste she felt brought her to her own long-forgotten need. He was showing her what it was like to love a warrior. A warrior who had nothing but his sword and his word. Nothing until he won what no one else won. The princess’s heart.

Breathlessly, she pulled away but he wanted more. He pulled her back to taste more of the sweet wine that rolled off her tongue.

The basket of roses were forgotten as it tumbled out of her hand and down the stairs, scattering white petals and thorny stems. Moonlight danced around them and beckoned them to passion untold.

“Darius…”

“Ana…” he murmured into her neck, kissing the column of white skin, tracing the path of her neck to the slope of her shoulder, the clavicle of her chest and still deeper until she moaned, holding onto him tightly, afraid to lose the hot desire running through her bones.

“I’ve waited so long for you…Darius….”

“I wanted no one…nothing…but you. I had nothing…no heart…until you.” The words ate into her skin and buried into her soul as he kissed her, licked every fiber of her soul and branded her as his.

“Make love to me, my lord, my warrior…as if you love me.”

“As if I love you? Know this, Ana, I already do.” Hooking an arm around her knees, he picked her up and carried her up the stairs. He whisked her into the room, the door clicking shut behind him as he carried her to the majestic bed, waiting for them with red roses and white lilies.

In the midst of a spellbound night weaved with tales of witchery and forbidden love, a scarred warrior returned to the arms of his lovely awaiting maiden, taking all that she gave. Heart and soul.

His hands ran down her smooth body as her hand stroked every hard muscle that tightened in potent desire. Waiting until the moment was right and he would take her with him where thousand of lovers had treaded. And every gasp, every moan, every secret sigh was placed into his hands. And she took all that he gave…his heart and his soul…that he thought never existed. And she knew every word he wanted to say and she kept it in her heart for always.

You heard my voice, through my silence crying out
I am here, can you feel me reaching out
With my heart as far as I can go
I’ll go on if you let me, ’cause I’m trying to let you know

Much later in the night when only the sounds of a distant owl, the rushing stream, and the soft breeze could be heard, Oriana turned in her bed to stare into her lover’s eyes. Her only lover. He was not asleep. No warrior could ever sleep and forget the war that haunted him.

Oriana stroked the harsh strands that tumbled over his eyes and kissed the hidden fears away. She placed a hand over his bare chest and took his hand to place over hers. Their heart beat a rhythmic pattern, joined as one. Inside…outside…she was his. And not just a war bride…but his lover…and she gave everything to him because she loved him.

Tell me that the smile I see
The angel eyes looking back at me
Telling me you are the only one for me

“I could live on loving you, my warrior king…and only you,” she whispered into the palm of Darius’s hand and kissed the lines of worry and doubt away.