CH 52 - Come On Eileen

Laken has a word with the Queen herself...

CH 52 - Come On Eileen
Photo by Shirly Niv Marton / Unsplash

Eileen led them far away from the Throne Room, to private quarters only frequented by the Royal couple and their dutiful servants, including Laken.

Poor Charlotte sucked in a shaky breath as the decor grew increasingly decadent, gold on teak and a plush couch at every corner.

“I can’t,” the dear girl gasped outside a luxurious tapestry. Just on the other side came the coquettish laughter of young women, punctuated by soft hands patting flesh.

Laken caught themself grinning like a wolf and corrected their expression before Eileen took notice. They gave Charlotte a comforting pat on the back.

“You should stay out here. I’ll only be a moment.”

“But who will keep you in line?”

“Me,” Eileen said, turning abruptly. She poked her head behind the tapestry, no doubt giving the Queen a head’s up.

“I’ll behave,” they mouthed to a quaking Char, bypassing Eileen and stepping into the room—

“Oh my, Ser Laken. Tis rather rude to approach a lady at her most vulnerable.”

—into quite the sight.

Laken chuckled and averted their eyes. Behind them, Eileen clucked her tongue in disapproval.

Queen Illora laid on her belly, a towel covering her lower back. Servants dressed in loose transparent silken garb surrounded her, disregarding Laken as they rubbed oil onto the Queen’s tawny skin.

One servant spared Laken a glance, her fingers never pausing as she teased Illora’s chestnut brown hair with a comb.

“I take full responsibility. Eileen here was kind enough to warn me, but I assumed I was welcomed, all the same.”

“Oh, begone with you! All of you!” Illora waved her servants off, but bade Eileen to stay. “At the request of my beloved,” she said stiffly.

Eileen bowed and took her place at Illora’s side, who was now seated on the couch, resting an ankle on her knee.

“Lady Alys doesn’t trust me?” Laken kept their eyes trained on Illora’s collarbone, ignoring the temptation that laid just below.

“Ha! More like she doesn’t trust me. Come. Sit.” She placed a delicate hand on the cushion beside her, a hair’s breadth away from her bare thigh. 

Laken politely coughed and did as instructed, maintaining a respectful distance from the royal flesh. This close, the heady aroma of honeysuckle and peaches threatened to pull them under, but they remembered the frightful girl behind the curtain, and their complicated feelings for a certain woman.

“You didn’t have to come so heavily dressed,” Illora pouted, running her fingers along the shoulder of Laken’s armor. They were glad to have her touch dampened; as beautiful and protective as it was, armor such as this made spontaneity damn near impossible.

“I have to keep up appearances, your highness. It wouldn’t do to have a knight run amok in their small clothes.”

“Prudent as ever, but you take the fun out of it! Alas, the hunt will have to do for now.”

Laken’s tongue traced a steady path across their lower lip. Fresh from the bath and lovingly coated in oil, Illora’s skin glistened in the soft lamplight. One could almost mistake the fifty-six year old for a woman half her age.

Rumor had it that she’d found the elixir of life, but those close to her knew money and an excellent skin care routine was her secret.

“You beat me to it.”


“The stag will have to wait, your highness.”

Illora’s rich brown eyes glowed, but her smile remained as graceful as ever. “And why, darling, is that?”

“There are more pressing matters at hand, my Queen.” They dared to place a hand on her thigh. “I mentioned it to Lady Alys in passing, but there is a party attending to the Silverstone Mines.”

“Silverstone! That old thing? No, it’s been cleaned out ages ago.”

Laken tentatively petted her, like one would a cat. “That was the popular opinion for a time, but I have proof that there’s more to it than that.”

“Well, get on with it!” She brought her foot to the ground and crossed her arms. “Delay the hunt!”

“You’re free to start it without me, but I won’t be gone for longer than three days. I promised to personally oversee matters, and will take a small group to assist me.”

“Set your mind on this, have you?” She twirled a curl around her finger, making a point to avoid eye contact.

“Yes, your highness. The trolls and their servants have been cleared out, and treasures uncovered. I intend to retrieve the lot as a gift for your beloved wife, if you’ll allow it.”

Illora hummed to herself, fingers nimbly twirling the strand of hair. “I cannot be won over by bribery, my dear knight. It’ll take more than that to sway me.”

“Your highness,” Eileen warned. “Remember, you are a married woman.”

“Quiet, damn you! I’m allowed fun, aren’t I?”

“Gems. Cut and uncut, but can be made finer still by human hands. Five days is all I ask.”

“Five! Why not ask for a lifetime? The hunt can’t wait that long, Lae.”

“Three, then.” Their hand slid higher up her thigh, inching dangerously close to the hidden corners of her towel. “Two, if I leave now and move like the wind!”

Illora cut her eyes to Eileen, who watched in silent fury. “Three will do. No use in running yourself ragged. I want you in good health for the after party.” Her eyes twinkled as Eileen audibly groaned. “And bring a friend, if you’re so inclined. You’re quite popular with the ladies.”

There was only one woman they wanted to introduce to the Queen, but Anniken didn’t seem like the sort to enjoy the royal festivities.

Continue reading here:

CH 53 - Don’t Be Light
Meike and Vivica try bonding in new ways.