Authors: Cristina Rayne
CLAIMED BY THE ELVEN KING
The characters and
events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons,
living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Copyright © 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book
may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without express written permission of the author.
As my sleeping mind drifted towards full consciousness, I slowly became
aware of an unfamiliar firmness and warmth at my back. For a long, confusing
moment, I couldn’t figure out what it could be. I pressed back against it then
stiffened when I immediately felt an answering kiss to the back of my neck and
an arm tighten around my waist. I panicked for ten whole seconds, struggling to
remember why someone was in bed with me, before snippets of last night finally
began to surface within my frantic thoughts.
After Sethian’s cryptic remark, he had urged me to sleep, and I must
have nodded right off because I could remember little after that. I never
expected to wake up still intertwined within his arms—and I had no idea how to
act in this kind of situation. Should I say “good morning”? Turn around and
give him a good morning kiss instead?
I felt Sethian’s hand start to slowly caress my belly, and I sucked in
a startled breath. Wait! Did he want to…?
“Another three to four moon-cycles or so and this will be rounded
enough to present you to the court,” Sethian murmured into my ear, and I was
suddenly glad he couldn’t see my face because it was probably as red as a
Had this last month changed me so much that my mind automatically ended
up in the gutter with every little thing he did, no matter how innocent?
“What—does that mean exactly?” I asked, deciding that the time for
greetings had long passed.
“For you, it is a change in status,” Sethian replied. “It signifies
your official entry into the elven court as the Royal Wife. For the court, it
is an official announcement and proof about the forthcoming birth of a
My ladies-in-waiting had already given me a rudimentary idea of the
political and social structure of the elven court, a system of titled nobles
that all claimed relation to at least one of the ten noble founding families of
the realm. Lariel had claimed that the founding of the realm was quite an
exciting origin story, but had insisted that I needed to learn much more about
present-day elven society before I could fully understand everything the
history would entail.
To someone like me who always had the need to know and understand every
tiny detail about everything, having something as potentially earth-shattering
as that dangled before me was practically torture. To think that I would now
actually become a part of the amazing elven history I had already learned. It
was a bit…overwhelming…
“I hope you don’t expect me to give a speech or address the court or
something,” I said in a small voice.
I still had nightmares about the speech class I had been forced to take
as an undergraduate. Having to stand before a class of five hundred of my peers
and deliver a speech without stuttering had been bad enough, but having to do
so in front of a room full of hundreds of elven nobles—which would probably
include the queen—would be agony. My fear of public speaking was the one
weakness my PhD advisor had constantly badgered me about fixing that I had
placed in the “I’ll do it later” category. Now my procrastination may have just
come back to bite me in the ass.
“No, nothing like that,” Sethian said, and had I been standing, I would
have probably collapsed in relief. “Once you are announced, you will merely
have to cross the length of the throne room to first present yourself before me
as I sit on the throne, and I shall address you before the eyes and ears of the
entirety of the court as my ‘Royal Wife who now carries the potential heir to
the throne.’ Then you will take the seat a step below and to the right of me in
order to accept words from each courtier in turn. I’m afraid it’s a rather long
and tedious affair, but one that tradition mandates.”
As far as I was concerned, I would sit there all week like a curiosity
to be gawked at without one word of complaint as long as it meant I didn’t have
to say anything—especially in Elvish.
“I’ve sat through worse,” I assured him.
He shifted behind me, then I felt his hand leave my belly and grasp my
chin, turning my face back towards him. He brushed his lips against mine
briefly for that good morning kiss I had wanted to give him earlier before
pulling away from me altogether and sitting up. I couldn’t help but feel
disappointed at losing the warmth and comfort of his body, but he was the king.
I couldn’t expect him to lounge around in bed with me all day.
I sat up as well, pulling the sheets up with me to hide my nudity. It
would probably be a long time before I would ever feel comfortable enough to
just lay it all bare in front of him when we weren’t having sex or about to
“Let me see you.”
I could feel my traitorous cheeks start to heat up as the memory of
Sethian’s commanding words from last night echoed throughout my mind, but I
ruthlessly stopped those thoughts in their track before the blush could get any
worse. The last thing I wanted right now was Sethian asking embarrassing
Sethian leaned towards me, for a kiss I thought, but he merely cupped
my cheek and said, “Your coloring is looking better this morning, but I want
you to rest for the rest of the morning, all the same. Once I remove myself
from your presence, your sickness may very well return. I will send for a
healer, as well as your ladies, to attend you while the servants fetch your
things from your rooms.”
“My things?” I echoed in confusion.
He nodded. “From now on, you will remain here with me in the royal
It was all perfectly logical, but his words still stunned me. With the
way he had initially explained the living arrangements between the queen, me
and him, I had thought that I would continue to live separately from him
indefinitely, or more correctly, I had never actually allowed myself to hope
that things could ever be different.
This was exactly what I had wanted, but I still had to ask, “Won’t the
queen be upset?”
“Our child is now second in rank only to me unless the birth proves
otherwise. She will voice no protest,” he replied firmly.
His answer was less than reassuring. “The baby outranks the queen?”
“For now, yes. It will remain so only if you give me a son, an heir to
the throne. If it is a daughter, then the newly born princess will rank just
beneath the queen.”
The intricacies of a monarchy really were just one big headache. I
could already see the various problems that would spring up if I gave birth to
“Can you tell?” I asked. “The sex of the baby before it’s born, I mean?
You said you could ‘hear’ the baby’s soul, so…”
Sethian shook his head. “Whether male or female, a child’s soul feels
the same.” He smiled and bent down to kiss me briefly on the forehead. “You
must not fret over it. I suspect we will have many children over the years, so
this first child need not be an heir. That a
child will be born at
all is joyous enough.”
My brain stuttered to a stop at the word “children.” The reality of having
soon was scary enough. That he talked about having multiple children
like it was just par for the course was something I wasn’t prepared to deal
with yet, especially when I really hadn’t come to terms with
“Do I need to keep my pregnancy to myself until you announce it
publically?” I asked.
“You may tell your ladies, but I believe for now, the news should go no
farther. Until my people can see with their own eyes the truth of your
pregnancy, spreading the news now will only cause unrest. The last Plague of
Infertility was several thousand years ago, and thus there are few alive today
who remember a time when human brides walked among us. You, as well as they,
will need time to adjust to this coming change. As I said before, I never
expected a child would come so soon no matter how much I wished for it.”
Hearing all of that, I suddenly wondered if his recent trip across the
realm had involved more than just checking up on the state of his lands as he
had told me earlier. I suspected he was purposely being vague in his
explanations in order not to worry me, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling
that his bringing me here had caused a lot more strife within the elven court
than just a little voiced unease.
After all, the queen had looked at me as if I literally was the mongrel
she had named me. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all to say that there were likely
others, and not just those in the nobility, who wouldn’t hesitate to call me
the same. Then there was the unavoidable fact that my baby would be a
half-breed. Knowing how sensitive these types of caste-minded societies could
be about the mixing of blood, would they even accept the son of a human as heir?
Suddenly the locks on the door and the armed guards weren’t so
irritating anymore. At that moment, I realized exactly how incredibly stupid I
had been. All this time, I had been agonizing over the wrong thing. I had let
Sethian and my friends’ complete acceptance of my humanity blind me to the fact
that there were always those who railed against a change in the status quo.
More than my husband would have to accept me if I ever expected to find
I started, and focused once again on Sethian’s now frowning face. Crap!
How long had I zoned out?
“Sorry, I was just—thinking about what you just said,” I said
sheepishly, deciding that some of the truth was needed here.
“You mean ‘worrying,” he chided, and it took a humongous effort to keep
from squirming beneath his gaze.
,” I said a bit more forcefully, hoping that
my insistence would make him drop it.
I half-expected to see his frown deepen, but his expression changed
into something I couldn’t quite understand. The intensity and seriousness of
his stare remained the same, and although he was no longer frowning, his lips
were set in a fairly neutral line. Nevertheless, for some reason, he gave the
impression that he was really laughing at me even though there wasn’t an ounce
of amusement present physically in his demeanor. It was really unnerving.
After staring at me for a few more nerve-wracking seconds, his lips
finally twitched up into a half-smile, and I was thankfully able to breathe
normally again. He took one of my hands that had been unknowingly clutching the
sheets around my waist tightly and gave it a squeeze.
“I shall send the healer to see you after the midday meal, so make
certain to rest well before then,” Sethian
Because the healer will no doubt report immediately back to you
I thought wryly. I really hoped that he didn’t expect me to spend the next
eight months “resting” in bed. I would die of boredom.
I nodded anyway, content to follow his instructions, if only for today.
I was still blissfully free from yesterday’s terrible nausea, and without
Sethian here to remedy me, I wasn’t about to do anything that may cause it to
Sethian smiled and squeezed my hand one last time before he slid off
the bed and strode across the room to his closet, offering a nice, long parting
shot of his nude backside that had my face heating up with arousal rather than
embarrassment. It definitely made up for the slight disappointment of not
receiving a parting kiss.
I took advantage of his absence to snatch my discarded nightgown from
the ground and quickly slipped it on. In a few minutes I would be telling
Lariel, Saeria, and Rinwen about the baby, and the last thing I wanted to be
was nude when all the inevitable hugging occurred.
“I knew it,” Lariel said in lieu of a greeting as she hurried into the
bedroom, Saeria and Rinwen, carrying what was probably my breakfast tray, on
I winced inside at her accusative tone. I had thought the plan was for
me to spill the beans on my pregnancy, but…