Althea finally decided what she was going to do. She knew how much she was risking by the plan she had formed, but knew if the outcome came right the reward would be worth it. She slipped out of her and Arles’s room and crept outside. Howls came from the distance, but they did not stop her. She went directly to the second small cabin like home on the second row of them. They sat behind the castle and were home to all the royal guards. Because Epirus was such high rank he had one of these small homes to himself. Althea quickly crept through the back door and went to the room she knew he was probably sleeping in. She had only been to Epirus’s house once before and that had marked the day they started dating. She gently knocked on the door and a startled Epirus in only briefs opened the door, but calmed when he saw her face. “May I come in?” She whispered and he nodded. He moved out of the way and as she came in he turned on a small lamp in the corner of the dark room. Althea went and sat on his bed and he came to her side quickly. He looked at her curiously.
“What are you doing here so late?”
Althea felt her face burning but ignored it. This is what she wanted. “There is something I wanted to tell you and it could not wait till tomorrow.”
“Oh? What is it?”
She seductively traced the right side of his jaw and then caressed the side of his face. She leaned all of her small weight onto him and kissed him whole-heartedly. He was surprised by the gesture, “Epirus, I love you.” She whispered and he froze. She sighed and sat regularly, “I have loved you for a long time, but tonight I could not stop thinking about it. I then realized that I may be forced to marry soon and wanted to tell you that before I left. And…” she felt her face on fire, “and I want you to have all of me, Epirus.” She turned to him, “I am a virgin, but before I leave I want to give you this precious gift to show you haw much I really feel for you.”
Althea sat there and waited for a response. After an awkward silence she thought he would never speak and stood, but when she got only a step from him she was pulled so that she was lying on her back on the bed with him on top of her. He caressed her breasts as he kissed her, which he had never done before. She was slightly terrified, but trusted this man, “Althea, I love you more than anything and for you to give me such a beautiful gift makes me almost mad with pleasure!” He said and she smiled back to him. He started kissing her again and was caressing her to his full content. Althea knew there was a crack in the side of the window of Epirus’s room and she also knew that there listened Prince Elius who had followed her here. Just for the Princes’ entertainment she let out a moan of pleasure when Epirus slid off her gown and kissed her tattoo. They went on and Epirus led Althea through the steps she had never known before. Althea was shocked, but did not back away when the pain came to her. She squeezed the sheets around her in her hands as the pain kept on. “Are you alright?” Epirus asked as he stopped his movements and brushed her black curls from her face. She pulled herself up and kissed him again, “Should we stop?” He asked with regret and sadness in the back of his throat, but without too much of a pause Althea knew just what to say to please both of them and to irritate the one listening in on them.
“Please,” She whispered in a gasp, “Don’t stop.” She said seductively and Epirus smiled to her. He started moving again and she let out a moan of pleasure every time just for the man outside of the window. Truly this was not for the Prince, she wanted this, but she had decided to give the man outside the window a good show just to show how seductive she could be. He was not going to win this battle and she was going to make sure of it. He was going to fall for her weather he planned to or not.
“Althea,” Epirus whispered as he got off of her. He lay on his side next to her and played with her hair. He pulled the covers over both of them and held her in his arms, “we need to stop. You are in too much pain.”
“Alright,” She whispered, but then turned to him in a sexy way. She kissed him and he enjoyed it, “we will finish this at another date.” There was a silence and Althea waited for his words because of the changed in his facial expression.
“When will you be leaving me to be married?” He asked her in a sad way. She caressed his cheek to sooth him.
“I will try to delay my leave as long as I can, but I have a feeling I will have to leave in the next few months. But there is something you need to know, my love,” She said and he propped his head on his elbow as he looked down to her. She gently brushed his hair from his face, “There is a battle for my hand in marriage.”
“But I thought just Prince Danarius asked for your hand. Has someone else?”
She shook her head but sighed, “No one else has asked, but I found out from my brother that Prince Elius has not been fully truthful with his reasoning for being here.”
She nodded sadly, “He and Prince Danarius are the only two princes without a wife blessed to them by Hera and I am the only pure blooded woman left to marry. I believe Prince Elius is here to try to ask for my hand also, but he has not yet,” She had to keep herself from smiling because of her beautiful plan, “If he does not at least tell me the truth by tomorrow night then I will be accepting Prince Danarius’s proposal.”
“Don’t you think the prince will be angry to find out you are not like goddess Artemis?”
“If my virginity is such a problem for him then he can find another wife. I am the only one left for him so he must get over it,” She said and then looked to Epirus and spoke from her heart, “I’m glad I could finally show you how much I feel for you, my dear Epirus. I love you so much.” She whispered in a way that it seemed like she was trying to keep the words from the Prince outside, but enough so that he did hear her.
“I love you more than anything, Althea,” He whispered and then used his index finger to trace her tattoo, “I’m glad you were finally blessed. I know that bothered you.”
She nodded in agreement, but then slowly stood. She felt weaker than she had in a long time and was thankful when Epirus came behind her. He hugged her tightly to show he was supporting her and she kissed him once more, “I need to go. If Arles wakes up to find I am gone for the second time he will have a fit. I don’t want to make him worry again.” She whispered and he slowly let go of her. She slipped on her clothes and then left him. She went out the back door and knew that the Peeping Prince was hidden behind a bush to her right. She pulled her fingers through her hair and thought of how the end her show. She finally decided and then walked away from Epirus’s home. She turned back and knew the Prince could hear her as she set her hand over her tattoo, “Goodbye, my love.” She whispered and then smiled slightly. She did not move her gaze from the home as she spoke again, “Prince Elius, you should head back to the castle soon,” She said and knew he had gasped, “We wouldn’t want the King to worry about you since the sun is soon to rise.” She then stood in silence and walked away gracefully. She went right back to her room and carefully crawled back into her brother’s arms. She fell asleep at his side and woke to his stirring about two hours later. She rose and so did he. They got dress, but Althea tapped her brother’s shoulder after she had pulled on her skirt and corset. He turned and she noticed he only had on pants, “Could you help me?” She asked quietly and he nodded. She turned around and he tightened her corset strings like he used to do before he left three years ago. When he knotted the strings he turned her to him and set his hand over her tattoo.
“Althea, the gift of Gaia,” He said and then smiled to something that did not exist before turning back to her, “That has a beautiful ring to it.” He said and then let her go back to her suitcase. She slipped on a violet dress that was held up by her breasts, had a tie at her waist, and flowed to the ground from there. She slipped on a pair of silver shoes and turned to Arles. He was sitting on the bed, waiting for her to finish. He smiled to her, “you look radiant.” He said kindly and she walked over to him. She kissed him on the cheek like she used to when they were younger.
“Do you realize what today is?” She asked and he slowly stood with a nod, “Happy 18th birthday, Arles!” She said and hugged him. He hugged her back and kissed her cheek.
“Happy 18th birthday, dear Althea.” He replied and they let go of each other. They left the room but held each other’s hand as they went to the breakfast room. Althea opened the door and walked in with Arles following her. She noticed that there was three seats open as everyone stopped eating and looked to them. Prince Elius is not here? That is odd. Was he scared to approach me because of earlier? Althea thought.
Althea ignored the thoughts and went with her brother. They sat next to each other and kept their hands together. Cilia looked around from the other side of Arles with question. “You two seem very happy today,” Cilia commented and ignored the entrance of Prince Elius who sat across from Althea, “Any reason why you two are so giddy?”
Althea smiled to Cilia, “Today is June 26th.” She said plainly and no one understood, including Cilia. Cilia sat and stared at Althea with confusion but after a minute or so her eyes widened towards Althea.
“Oh!” Cilia laughed and then stood. She quickly ran over and hugged Althea, “Happy birthday!” She congratulated her friend and then turned towards Arles, “Happy 18th birthday to both of you!”
The king smiled as Cilia sat back in her seat, “Today is the 18th birthday of the twins?” He asked his daughter who nodded, “Then happy birthday Arles and Althea.” He said and both of them nodded a thank you to him. Althea felt someone watching her, other than the prince, so she looked in front of her. To the right of the Prince Elius, Epirus looked at her with shock. She slightly blushed towards him and nodded to his nonverbal question. He had been given her gift the day of her birth. She had planed it as so. Last night, as far as Epirus knew, what he was doing was not legal since he was 20 and she was under age. But in truth, last night at midnight, when she went to him, she was legally 18 and it was legal for them to have sex. She could feel his body loosen slightly and they smiled to each other, with the thought on Althea’s mind that only three people understood the true power of that smile. She kept her eyes from the prince who watched her and just ate her food while her brother spoke of their past three birthdays they had spent apart. She felt power coursing through her veins for the first time and she was confused why. Was it because she was now the most powerful human on earth or was it because she had control of her life for the first time? She decided it was both.
Cilia pounced on Althea when they left the breakfast room. Althea turned to the smiling princess who stared at the tattoo on her. “Can I touch it?” Cilia asked in a polite way and Althea nodded. Her friend’s finger traced the tattoo and Althea’s gaze went to Epirus who knew exactly what she was thinking. Last night flooded into his mind and he felt strong. Even if another man won Althea’s hand in Hera’ s blessing, Epirus still held her most precious gift and the key to Althea’s heart. Althea quickly looked back to her friend as Cilia finally had traced the whole tattoo. Cilia smiled to Althea and held their hands together, “I guess this explains why you are so good at archery.” She giggled and Althea smiled back to her.
“Yea. I guess it does.” Althea replied and they both laughed quietly. This is going to work, Althea thought.