“My fucking goddess.”

His thrusts slow down, his hand in my hair slowly letting go, releasing the pressure from my head. He’s breathing hard, his hulking body hovering over me. Drops of sweat fall onto my neck, making me shudder.

Then, as the orgasm starts to slide away into the background, the reality of what we’ve just done hits me, like the wind from behind.

This is King Aksel of Denmark.

My boss who just fucked me on my bedroom rug.

From behind.

He fucked me like I’d never been fucked before.

And I have the rug burn to prove it.

Meanwhile, as my brain starts to come to grips with everything, Aksel is still breathing heavily and his hand slowly trails down my head, over my neck, and down my spine.

“Aurora,” he whispers, grabbing my waist.

“Yeah,” I say.

He slowly pulls out, cum dripping onto my thighs, onto the rug, and exhales loudly. “You’re...”

I can’t help but smile. “Amazing?”

“Something like that.” He sighs and runs his hand back up my spine. “I hope I didn’t hurt you.”

I grin happily and turn around to look at him, his eyes glazed and sated, cheeks flushed. I’ve never seen him like this before. He looks vulnerable.

My cold, lost King.

Raw and open and vulnerable.

He’s the rare and beautiful creature here.

He nods at my knees and I look down to see them all red and torn up. “Whoops.”

“Guess you’ll have to wear tights tomorrow,” he says, getting to his feet. He pulls his pants back on and then reaches down and hauls me up.

“And the skirt.”

He smirks. “Right.”

But he can’t act that annoyed, not when his face is pink, his pupils dilated, his hair messed up.

God, he looks good like this.

He reaches over and kisses me softly on the lips. He kisses me like it is second nature now.

Despite the total pounding I just took, his kiss makes butterflies emerge in my stomach.

“I better go back to my room,” he says.

“I better go put some lotion on my knees.”

He winces. “Sorry about that.”

“I’m not.”

I wink at him and then he leaves, giving me one last glance over his shoulder.

I exhale heavily, like I hadn’t breathed at all.

But, fuck, who needs breathing when you have him?

Chapter 16

Aksel

I used to have nightmares frequently.

They started right after the crash, when I was still being treated in the hospital for lacerations on my legs from crawling over broken glass, for a concussion that kept teasing me. The whole country held its breath, not knowing if I would die as Helena had, while my sister was reluctantly ready to be made heir.

The nightmares broke through the morphine and became infused with the darkness that was always lurking just out of my vision, blurring the edges and perpetually luring me back in.

Helena was always in them. I feel she found a way into my brain, found a space and carved it out for herself and made it her home. She would only come out at night, when I was dead asleep, and then she’d make my world the hell that was hers.

I had nightmares nearly every day for a year.

During the next year they came at me once every few weeks.

Ever since Aurora showed up, I haven’t had a single one.

I thought, maybe, because the children were happy, that she was letting me go in peace. There was no need to terrorize me, no need to remind me that she was dead, and I wasn’t.

But now, tonight, the nightmare has come back.

I’m lying in bed in my usual suite at Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm, having spent the day with King Arvid of Sweden, and I’m nearly drenched with sweat.

The nightmare had come in swift, and it stayed for what felt like forever, combining with reality.

Helena had been here, in this very room. It’s like she’d been afraid to visit me at home and decided to haunt me in Sweden instead.

I was awake and then I was asleep and then there she was, slowly opening the creaking doors of the armoire at the end of the room and stepping out.

She walked toward me in bare feet, wearing the dress she died in, blood covering her face so that there was no bare inch of skin.

Her eyes remained fixed on mine, green and relentless as they were in real life.

I had to remind myself to not be afraid and to not hate her either.

But the former was hard.

She stopped at the foot of the bed and stared at me. It could have been minutes or hours, time has no part of dreams, it doesn’t exist in them. But it was long enough for every hair on my body to stand at attention, for my chest to have this immense pressure on it, like a pile of bricks had been placed there.

I knew I was dreaming, I was lucid. But that didn’t stop the fear that I could be having a heart attack in my sleep.

Finally, she said something.

“You don’t deserve this.”

Her voice had a hollow, metallic ring to it, like a speaker was lodged in her throat and the words were coming out that way.

What don’t I deserve? I tried to say, but I can never talk or scream in my dreams.

But she didn’t answer. She started pacing back and forth at the foot of the bed, her eyes never leaving mine. Eyes full of anguish and torment and pain.

I’m sorry.

But she can’t hear me.

She’s not even real.

It felt like ages before she finally stopped her pacing, stopped her staring.

She turned around and walked back to the closet.

Stepped inside.

Shut the door.

Then I woke up.

Thank fucking god I woke up.

My eyes flew open, and I was gasping, and my pajama shirt was sticking to me and that shift back to reality let me know that it hadn’t really happened, that it wasn’t real, that it was all in my head.

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I still think you can be haunted. By your past. By your mistakes.

By your lies.

I’m staring at the closet now, just willing for it to open again, for this ghost to prove me wrong.

But the room is empty and dark, and it feels different. There’s no malice here, no terror. There’s snow swirling outside the windows, casting in a cold, hazy light even though it’s probably the middle of the night now.

I lay my head back against the pillow and take in a deep breath, trying to pacify my racing heart.

I didn’t even want to come here.

After I slept with Aurora, after we had finally given in to each other, the last thing I wanted to do was leave her. But duty calls, often at rotten times, and I had to go early the next morning to Stockholm. I wanted to bring her. If she was anyone else in the world, I could have brought her. She could have been my date for my dinners here with the royal family, first with King Arvid, then with Prince Viktor.

It’s a stark reminder of who she is.

She’s not my date.

Not a girlfriend.

Not just a lover.

But the nanny.

I had sex with my fucking nanny.

To anyone looking in, I would look like a disgrace. I would look lecherous and bullying and a slave to desire. She would look like a victim, perhaps even the opposite. She’s fourteen years younger than me, my help, and I’m a widowed old man.

No one would understand the truth.

That she’s not just a nanny.

She’s Aurora.

She’s my reckoning and savior all at once.

She’s her namesake, those northern lights that brighten the darkest winter skies.

She’s my homecoming.

And I’m in love with her.

It’s pointless now to deny it, especially after last night, when I buried myself deep inside her and found everything I’d ever been looking for.

That woman walked into my life like the blazing sun, burning away the cobwebs and illuminating all those dark and hollow points inside me. She made me realize what it is to be happy and to have someone that makes you happy. She gave me life again when I’d stopped living mine long ago.

She’s all those things to me, she’s everything to me.

And that’s why I’m choosing to ignore reality for now.

Because I have something rare and beautiful in my hands, a precious bird, and I don’t ever want to let her go. If I did, Aurora would fly away, and I’d spend the rest of my days searching the sky.

So I’m going to do what I do best and revel in denial. I’m going to pretend that what we have is good enough for now. That we can continue being together in secret, in private. That I can hide what we are from everyone else.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want to share it anyway. It’s no one’s business but ours.

I might be a bit presumptuous, too, thinking that Aurora wants to continue this, whatever this is. Perhaps she just wanted to get it out of her system. Perhaps last night was all there was between us.

I thought the same at first. I thought maybe, if I finally gave in to this raw, powerful storm that had been building between us for months, I could get her out of my system. An exorcism.

I couldn’t be more wrong.

I sigh and try to fall back asleep, but sleep is elusive now.

My hand pushes down my briefs and wraps around the base of my cock and I’m already hard, just thinking of her. I wonder if I should call her but decide it’s too risky. Not only could someone hear us, but I don’t want to come on any stronger than I already have. She’s no wallflower and she knows exactly what she wants in bed, what makes her feel good. But jumping from sex to phone sex doesn’t seem right.

So I stroke my dick, feeling the hot, rigid length under my palm, and think of last night.

I think of her eyes, soulful and deep, right before I kissed her.

I think of the way she moaned when I pushed deep inside her, the small gasp of pain and pleasure that fell from her mouth.

And I think of how I wanted to give her more, just like that, every single day into eternity.

Though I always enjoy my time in Sweden, getting out of the palace and being around friends, people who understand what it’s like to be a person in my position, to be a royal, I couldn’t get back to Copenhagen fast enough.

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