It had a been two days of bliss, his other half seemingly content to let James have run of things while they were here in Francesca’s home. Her family seemed equally content to see the couple arm in arm in the gardens, laughing and talking. The marks left by her brothers were explained away as a riding accident, horses could be fickle creatures.
There was the hope that perhaps he could bargain with the beast, and have time with his beloved once they were married. But halfway through an afternoon together James Castile discovered it was foolish to hope when you were cursed.
He could already feel something was wrong before entering the guest chambers of the Western castle. His brow furrowed deeply for a moment before turning to Francesca, who was virtually on his heels. They had snuck away for a midday session of exploring some of the other knowledge she had… acquired… in lovemaking.
“Frannie….. Where is my chest…. Where is the armor?” he asked looking at her. James mentally begged her to say it was some prank, a ladylike joke, and that it was hidden in the next room. The cellars among grain and produce...the stables even… a feeling of dread and the expression on her lovely face told him what he already knew. It wasn’t here.
Years of sadness and desperation and fear had taken only days to cure, to most onlookers, and Francesca glowed with happiness. Her tight braids loosened back to curls, heavy fabrics traded for those she could skip about in, her polite smile traded for giggles and dirty jokes that James didn't understand yet, but would soon enough with the right tutoring…
Her skin felt warm as the ventured back into the castle, and she suspected the sun might have kissed her too much, but she didn't care, not with her hand in Jamie's and excitement building as they headed toward a comfortable bed together.
But James' bearing changed suddenly. Although the look on her face might have been telling - Francesca was not yet the practiced liar she would become - she tried anyway. "In your chamber, surely." He didn't buy it. So she made another attempt to deny any wrongdoing. "I don't know."
His hands were trembling when James grabbed her by the shoulders. “Frannie...what did you do?” he asked her in the most desperate pleading tone. “Please, Frannie, you have to tell me!”
How could she do this to him? He told her it wasn’t the key to his freedom, asked her to leave it be. How could she betray him like this? How could she betray them?!?
He knew. The realization that he knew, by whatever magic was at work, hardened her resolve. Even if she seemed happier over these few days, she had known well that she was playing a devil's game. Jamie was the hostage she was being allowed to see, to keep them both compliant - but she loved him too much to subject them both to the whims of a monster for the rest of their lives because he had been benevolent for a few days… The wedding was coming up.
She spoke quickly, knowing full well that she might not be talking to her Jamie soon. "Bargaining with a creature never works," Francesca said, quoting a book that she read exactly one page of, but it had answered her question and that was enough. "We have to defeat him. That armor is clearly fueling him, and getting rid of it will give us an advantage…"
His hands tightened on her arms, and he laughed… an almost hysterical sound. “Francesca! The armor protects me, not him! My poor beloved Frannie, you have doomed us both” James said defeated, bowing his head.
When he looked up at her again his eyes glittered green, and his mouth curled into an ugly smile. “Betrayal most foul, Francesca Rossi. We gifted you with the rabbit and you sought to injure the wolf?” Castile hissed at her in a low tone of venom. “Poor sad rabbit, he has gone to hide deep in his den”.
Shaking his head as if he felt pity for her, the beast caught her chin in ice cold fingers. “We were going to be generous to you. Let your rabbit boy spend his nights with you, keep you warm in his bed. Fuck you sweet and full of his love…” He leered at her, “...But now we’ll be wed, and you’ll be ours instead. I will rape you every night, again and again Francesca Rossi…”
He licked her face from her jaw, up over an eye to her temple. “...And we’ll breed you...Your Jamie will thank us, for putting such a traitorous creature in her place. We knew you could not keep your word…. We thank you, our Francesca”.
Francesca felt fear shivering through her, and revulsion made her muscles tense as his tongue so clearly reminded her of that night in the woods and the pain that had accompanied it. She wanted to cry out - her brothers were away, she knew, and servants wouldn't speak a word, though. His hand wrenched her chin to him and lifted frightened eyes to his as she trembled…
But as she realized that help was not coming, that she needed to deal with this threat on her own, Francesca found a sudden fire in her chest. Her blue eyes lifted to meet green in a challenge, fiery and intense. But her words were soft, a witch's curse, the power of which he had seen the likes before.
"You will," Francesca assented, nodding at his threat. Her voice had a harshness to its low tone, and it clearly pained her to speak it, although the words didn't seem to be coming from her mouth. "You will give me three daughters. The fairest in the Eastern realm. They will be beautiful and terrible, and they will serve me and hate you."
He hissed at her like a cut snake, angry and writhing with menace. “Silence, bitch! Or I’ll make sure your rabbit suffers more than shattered dreams, and a broken heart” Castile vowed because her boy was what kept her tied to them, like a chain forged from fine gold was their love. Beautiful and delicate, yet held together by some magic beyond the wolf’s own…
“You’ll bear sons, girl. Beasts who walk like men, and they’ll be the fiercest warriors of the realm. They’ll serve Eventyr… just like we do…” Castile wanted to spit on her, but even now the damn rabbit still championed for her dignity. He made some horrific sound deep in his throat, but the unsavory gesture never came forth. “Weaklings…” he snarled and pushed her out of his way.
As he pushed her away, Francesca turned back although she was curled on the floor, her words soft but intense, anger burning even moreso. Prophesy continued forth from her lips as she met his words only in counteraction. "I will have one son. I shall not bear him, but I may love him…"
The words made little sense. But as Francesca turned her vitriol on James' face, that changed. "You call yourself a wolf? Then, we shall see." Her eyes darkened as the Green Duke claimed to banish her sweet Jamie from his say at his table and she could only retaliate; she could only fight in the face of cruelty, no wars had been won with cowardice.
Her words dripped with power, as her eyes bore into his. "I curse you with the King of Wolves, in your lands, your precious forest," she sneered, "He shall make a fool of the Green Duke. His name will be scorned, but it will be mighty."
“We are already cursed with your mewling rabbit, stupid girl. If we could we would curse you to always remember that you brought this upon both of you….” Castile stepped around her calling for one of his men. “Inform the duchy we are leaving, we have regrettable business to attend”.
He looked down at Francesca and kicked her legs apart with his feet. “Would you like one last rut before our wedding, wife to be? Say goodbye to your boy?” The Duke asked with that mockery of a smile.
"I will not marry you," Francesca vowed - although this time, her voice faltered. The spell was spent, now. She was trying to force her words into fate's mouth, rather than the other way around. That knowledge scared her, then, and even the prophecies she had spoken were terrifying; she had just said she would have four children, and the last thing she wanted was to carry this monster's baby…
Could her Jamie really be gone? Forever? No, not gone, just trapped, in a horrible sunken place where he would have to watch what the beast did to her. That was worse, a thousand times worse, and because of her? She tried to tell herself no, that you could not coexist with a creature, but there was a horrifying resonance in his voice that told her that it was true. The thought tore at her heart, and in the absence of her curses, she felt tears falling down her face.
And then he was kicking her feet apart, and she realized that no one would believe her, this time, if she claimed he had attacked her. They had been happy lovers for days now; everyone had seen it. Her heart beat fast, and she pushed him back, but she may as well have been pushing a wall. "No! No, don't touch me, you fucking beast!"
His hand clamped firmly over her mouth, oh they had learned from her deviousness. There would be no marks, it would just be her word… for what it was worth. They grinned at her, pinning her down and whispered in her ear…. “He’s here, just behind my eyes. Because I want him to see you for what you really are, Francesca Rossi”.
Rucking up her skirts with his free hand he nuzzled her neck lightly biting his way to the laces of her dress. “We’ve learned so much from you in the last few days” he murmured in an appreciative tone. His fingers traced her skin as he pulled her bodice open, followed the curve of her breast to the bud.
He didn’t smile because it would break the spell he was physically casting with the tip of one finger. There was more than one way to storm a castle, and still leaving it standing unscathed. No, there would be no marks on her body. They were in her mind and soul, her heart…. It pleased him to no end that he’d make sure her own body betrayed her. No one would believe her, they would simply think she wanted to keep up her sordid lifestyle of sex and drink.
Pushing a thigh between her legs he made a soft growl, “No undergarments, my duchess? Oh, you were just waiting to get your little rabbit in bed”. Laving her bosom with his tongue he asked lazily, “Did you like his soft boyish touches? Compared to your other lovers I would think the lack of experience boring…” Oh, but he knew what she liked because she had been kind enough to whisper all those secrets into her rabbit’s long ears, and he had been listening too.
Francesca's brows rose in confusion at his tender touch and his odd threat. See her for what she was? What did he think she was...? When she heard herself groan at his light touch, felt her nipple harden and excitement rush between her legs, she realized the answer with horror. She was a whore.
The fact that she loved sex had never bothered her before. She had pleaded with Jamie to give it to her that day by the river, and even when she'd known she was supposed to be the virginal duke's daughter and the faithful fiance and felt some guilt about failing in those roles, she had never, ever been ashamed to enjoy her body… until now, knowing that her Jamie, who might now be imprisoned forever, had to watch the monster they both loathed make her wet for him. The shame was crushing, and brought with it hatred more powerful than she could ever have imagined.
She tried, again, to push him away - she knew she couldn't make him move, but at least she could make his pleasuring more difficult, disrupt the illusion. His words hurt worse than the bruises from the woods. She had wanted this, she had planned exactly what new tricks she wanted to show him...
"I hate you," Francesca cried, when her body so obviously responded that yes, she did like those touches. "I hate you, I hate you..."
“Shhhhhhh….. Is that how you want your rabbit to remember you? He’s just a boy… we are so much more, Francesca…” his tone was low and throaty. Fingers deftly seeking the junction between her thighs to touch her with a far more expert hand than James ever did, and yet they felt so familiar. It was James’ flesh after all…
“You may hate us, but you want it...and you are so beautiful when you want it” he purred rubbing her in just the right way. Sitting up between her legs, he looked down at her like a predator. “We know what you want, little Western bird. What will set your wings fluttering… Your rabbit tells us, whispers it in our ear”.
Castile pulled her by the legs against him until her head laid between his knees, and her legs were up in the air. Craning his head down the beast licked her firmly in one slow drag from stern to stem. And he wasn’t about to stop for anything until she was begging them, not her rabbit, to finish.
"I hate you," Francesca repeated, her eyes squeezed shut in loathing. While Francesca was certainly more adventurous than most, she was still barely more than a teenager herself and most of her lovers were about her own age, the rebellious children of Western nobles (plus, one brave stable boy and two squires). So she recognized the difference in a skilled hand, and that just made it worse, for just as her breath hitched and she gasped instead of carrying on with her hateful mantra, she wondered how old this creature was, and what had happened to the other girls he'd touched.
As he pulled her toward him, she turned her face away; she hated the way he was looking at her, like prey. His tongue brought forth a scream, surprise and pleasure, but that quickly turned into a frustrated growl. "Stop - no, no, stop, it's not fair…" She would have preferred to be fucked - at least then, he would be worried about his own pleasure but she was painfully aware of how closely he was watching her squirm. And Jamie, through his eyes… But that revulsion couldn't stop how she whimpered and arched, racked with sensation that she couldn't shut out.
But he didn’t stop, if anything the Green Duke intensified his efforts biting at her thighs and feasting on her core like the most ravenous animal. And when her legs started to shake, he didn’t stop. And when her protests fade, he would not stop.
Castile let the hands holding her move down to stroke her breasts, and touch her just below her ear in all those places lovers like to leave little kisses. He wasn’t going to stop until she was begging for him. The Duke would bring her right to the edge, and then he would shift to bite at her thighs again. “Say it…Francesca….” he crooned. “Or can it be that you wished to be tortured all night long?”
When his hands moved enough that Francesca could have leveraged her weight to get free, she didn't, instead arching her back so her breasts would fill his large hands. Every time she felt her climax coming, she would resist until the last moment, when he would pull away… it was maddening. But it also built a pressure against that coil in her belly that she hadn't yet experienced.
It took that verbal stimulation for Francesca to fold, and she squeezed her eyes shut so she wouldn't have to see the smug grin she knew would come with her words: "Please, fuck me…" But then, hearing the words aloud - crass and taboo - seemed only to ignite her passion more, and she went on, lost in her need for satisfaction. "Fuck me, hard… please, now…."
Letting her slide down onto her back on the floor, the Duke held both her legs together against him with one arm. His free hand unlaced his breeches while occasionally stroking his fingers up her backside, and tipping into her. Castile certainly didn’t want her coming off that razor’s edge she was on yet.
Reaching down the Duke took one of her slim hands and covered his engorged member with it. “Guide me, my Francesca” he said in a low hoarse tone, and having the wits not to remind her while she was sex drunk exactly who she was with. He kept his eyes hooded, looking at her through long lashes.
He writhed against her like a headless serpent, undulated in a way no normal man could. The Duke was sure that any servant outside the chamber had heard her request, but he was going to ensure that there would be no turning back for this marriage. Gianna Rossi was his unwitting ally in this endeavor, and he wanted her to hear her daughter all the way in her pristine gardens.
Pushing Francesca’s legs forward at an angle, Castile made sure to get the deepest penetration with his first thrust, and to go all the way to the hilt.
Francesca was reluctant to comply, her hand twitching as she gave a frustrated whimper and added another refrain of her obscene plea, but she knew she wouldn't get what she needed unless she obeyed. There was a magic whispering deep inside her, so low she couldn't hear the words, because all she could focus on was how shameful it was, to hate this monster and still want him, so desperately. So she did, giving in and pulling him toward her and rubbing the head of him against her opening, ripe and swollen and aching with desire.
The degradation was rewarded swiftly, though. As soon as he filled her, the tension in her body finally exploded, sending mind-numbing pleasure through every nerve, her core spasming around his length, and tearing that scream of release from her throat. Usually, her climax lasted only a few brief, glorious moments, but this time, it stretched on and on, completely overwhelming her and robbing her of any control of the way her body bucked against him or the volume of her cries…
The Duke churned against her, and large palm stroking her thigh. “Do you want more, Francesca?” he asked in a breathy growled against her ankles. He slid his hands forward to touch her breasts leaning his weight down in a particularly deep thrust. Grinding like a massive millstone, he arched a brow and smiled at the sounds coming from his betrothed.
Somewhere deep in the ancient, enchanted forest… a heart was breaking.
When he was done with her, when she could take no more, Francesca was so exhausted, so spent, she could barely move. Curling up to hide her face was a herculean feat. Usually, at this stage, she wanted to be embraced, kissed, and allow herself to catch her breath and slow her heartrate in her lover's arms. But she shoved at Castile instead, hoping he would leave her alone now that she had given him everything he'd demanded…
The weight of it all crushed her, as her mind cleared. How Jamie must hate her, how she would never be able to escape this wedding now, not to mention the strange prophecies where she had doomed herself to having this monster's children which was the most appalling of all - she couldn't bear it, and she started crying, again. "Please, go, leave me alone," Francesca begged. "Go look for your godforsaken armor."
The Green Duke straightened his garments, and looked down at his betrothed…so beautifully broken. He could practically taste the guilt that clung to her, the doubts. Castile was satisfied on many levels, and left without a word to retrieve his armor… his other property.