Lyra tried to calm her breathing as she stood in the massive shower. The jets sprayed her body and hair, washing away the dust and dirt of her adventure. If only they could wash away her deception and guilt as easily.
What had Astor meant that she would thrive on discipline? She thought she knew, but she didn’t want to let herself believe it. Cassian men still firmly believed in a patriarchal society. It wasn’t the way they did things back on Earth, she had told him this and he seemed to respect her wishes, but now—
What if she refused? Would he send her back? Or would they just keep living the way they had been living like two tenants of the same building who could barely stand to look at one another? She didn’t want to live this way. The look in his eyes when she fought him in the pod, he had looked positively feral and dammit if it didn’t turn her on.
The shower finished its rinsing cycle and she stepped out and onto the drying platform. Closing her eyes, she let the warm air envelope her body. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to let down her defenses a bit. She appreciated that he was giving her space, but the result was that she felt entirely alone. If she accepted this—his need to take control of the situation, his need to discipline her—it would be an olive branch of sorts. She agreed, her decisions today had been rash and the consequences could have been dire. Coming to terms with her actions today might assuage her guilt a little. Right, she was doing this for her own reasons and not because some man was forcing her into it.
She gave herself a little nod feeling better with her decision. Wrapping a silky robe around her that did nothing for warmth but gave her a sense of modesty, she went back to the bedroom. She came up short when she realized Astor wasn’t alone anymore. Two members of the palace’s extensive staff had her closet open, pulling clothes out, sifting through drawers.
“What’s going on?”
Astor turned to her from where he stood supervising, his arms folded across his chest. He quirked an eyebrow at her, “You have no need for these garments anymore. Why are you holding on to them?”
Violated. She felt violated. How dare he invade her personal space, shuffle through her private things and decide what she should be allowed to have in her possession. Suddenly, the decision she came to while bathing fled from her mind, she could not stand one second under this man’s authority.
“Get out!” she shrieked. The two staff members turned abruptly, looking to Astor for further instruction. They only left when he gave a nod, further infuriating her that no one around here would listen to her.
The door shut quietly as they exited and she looked from the pile of discarded clothes—everything that looked decidedly un-Royal, everything she could have worn to blend in like a normal citizen—back to the infuriating man who refused to move. “You too, get out,” she hissed.
“I don’t take orders from you,” he replied.
His calm tone in the face of her temper made her want to stomp her feet. “You had no right,” she started as she bent down to scoop up the clothes that had been thrown to the floor.
“I have every right,” he said, grasping her wrist, startling her, she hadn’t heard him come up behind her. “Why do you need these things? So you can take more illegal time traveling trips? So you can blend in while you take unapproved forays into town?”
She straightened up and tried to pull away from him, but he only caught her other arm and hauled her forward. Searching for a response, she came up short, what could she say? She wanted these things for the reasons he had listed, but he made them sound so wrong when they had seemed perfectly acceptable in her head.
“You aren’t going out anymore without my permission anyway, correct?” He gave her a slight shake, his hands wrapped around her forearms.
She twisted and tried to shrug away from him. “Let go of me,” she insisted but found herself hoisted up.
Astor had propped his foot on the bench at the end of her bed and then as if she weighed nothing, thrown her over his knee. She kicked, her feet dangling above the floor as she tried to balance herself with a hand on the bench. His hand cracked down against her backside and she cursed, her thin robe did nothing to protect against his hard hand. “Settle down, I told you we’d be having a discussion.”
Was this his idea of a discussion? She was under the assumption they spoke the same language, but maybe she should be clear on what they both meant in regards to some words. His hand rested on her ass, holding her in place. She glanced over her shoulder at him and he looked down at her as if he were waiting to see what her response would be. “Please, put me down?” she asked, hoping that saying please and asking nicely would get her somewhere.
“Not yet,” he said, smirking at her. “Mind your hands, I promise not to drop you.”
Taming His Queen Blurb:
Time traveling is outlawed on the planet of Dendera. Even though Lyra is a queen, she is finding it hard to live within the confines of the law. She takes one last trip—to rescue her sister. A noble cause, one she hopes her new husband, Astor, will understand.
When Astor finds his wife arriving back from a time traveling mission he is equal parts relieved and livid. Time traveling has become riskier than ever, and it is never a guarantee that the traveler will make it back alive. He decides he needs to put his foot down and let Lyra know that there are certain rules that cannot be broken.
The characters from Casey McKay’s new sci fi novel His Rebellious Queen are featured in this short story.