For the first time ever fans of Slumber can read exactly what Wolfe was thinking when Rogan was so standoffish with him :)
Check it out... Stocking Filler #4 - Wolfe's POV
Wolfe’s P.O.V from ‘The Market’ Scene in Slumber
I watched the three of them together, attempting to fool even myself with my indifference. It was an impossible task. I was envious of their camaraderie, of their friendship.
My eyes flickered from watching Lord Matai, one of my guard and a man I trusted with my life and the Princezna’s, as he lifted Haydyn from her horse and settled her gently on the ground. I didn’t bother rushing to help Rogan down from hers. While she’d act like a purring kitten for those she liked, for me trying to help her would be like trying to pet one of those extinct viperous snakes my father loved to tell me about.
Yes, that was my childhood. Treated to tales of deadly creatures for a bedtime story.
Just as quickly as the thought of that man came to mind, I knocked it out, my scrutiny reluctantly shifting from Rogan to the Princezna. I was still frustrated that we were in the marketplace only hours after Haydyn had collapsed from exhaustion in her room. It seemed like pure stupidity but the Princezna wanted to shop.
So we were shopping.
I doubted I would ever understand the illogical complexities of the female psyche.
My eyes scanned the busy marketplace, searching quickly over the peddlers and patrons for anything untoward. The rumors of approaching violence had me concerned but so far there had been no evidence of it in Silvera. Still, one couldn’t be too careful when it came to the Princezna’s life. I glanced back at her to see her conversing with Matai and Rogan. From the looks of things she was being teased. I watched the way her eyes washed over Matai’s face adoringly and the proprietary way he regarded her in return.
They may have the rest of the palace fooled but not me. I knew they were in love and I was aware of their affair, and although I knew there was a time limit on their affair, I envied them it.
I envied Matai. I envied that the woman he loved, loved him back.
If I was honest I envied so many of my men. I envied the men who returned home each night to a wife who loved them, and I envied my men who could jump from one willing and warm female body to the next without hesitation. I’d had affairs with some of the most beautiful women in our land. My men thought me the lucky one. Instead I felt trapped, choked, frustrated; angry at myself and at her.
Speaking of her… I bit out a curse under my breath when I realized she had disappeared into the crowds away from the Princezna and Matai.
Catching a glimpse of dark hair bobbing through the throngs of people, I hurried forward, hand on the hilt of my sword. I gave a curt command to Matai to take care of the Princezna and I flicked a hand behind me to my best soldier and friend, Lieutenant Chaeron, knowing he would follow and pan out from me, keeping an eye on our movements.
It was just as important that Rogan be protected as it was that Haydyn be kept safe.
My eyes drank Rogan in as I caught sight of her standing at a market stall of fine fabrics. Heat stirred in my blood, as it always did when she was near. She maddened me with her ability to enflame my senses. She infuriated my pride to no end.
The hard grip of the market seller’s hand around her wrist drew my lustful thoughts from the generous curve of her hips. A different heat flared quickly at the sight of him touching her and I poured speed into my feet.
I ripped his hand from hers and stared into the older man’s ruddy face, enjoying the shock and the hint of fear in his eyes. “You dare to lay your hands on the Princezna’s Handmaiden?” I growled, trying to temper my mood, to act professionally, but failing. Something else to blame the bewitching little brat for.
The seller blanched at the title I’d given her, turning to peruse Rogan more closely. “Oh my lady, I meant no disrespect.”
As if that would suffice for almost bruising her with his greedy eagerness to entice more money out of her? “Lady or servant, I see you trying to forcefully coerce a woman again and you and I will have words.”
His pallor grew chalky. Good. “Apologies, my Lord. I was over excited. It won’t happen again. Apologies, my lady.”
“I’m not a lady,” Rogan suddenly snapped and I glanced down at her to find her glaring at me. Although I’d give anything for a soft, come-hither smile from that lush mouth of hers, I was so used to her glare I was almost inured to it.
Sometimes I provoked her —alright, more than sometimes—just to rattle her cage a little the way she rattled mine, but today I’d actually been acting the gentleman. I had no idea what I’d done to deserve her attitude now.
Oh yes. Right. I was a Stovia.
I hope you’re burning in some fiery pit somewhere, father, I really bloody do.
“You, sir, are a bully.”
I was a bully? I was? Dear God, the girl needed a mental examination. This man had been accosting her, but I was the bully. I glowered back at her, antagonized and in the mood to bedevil her. She hated to be called ‘The Handmaiden’— I knew it as surely as I knew the rhythm of my own heartbeat. I also knew she feared forgetting her roots. I could coddle those feelings or I could irritate her.
I irritated her. I called her the Handmaiden every chance I got. And I reminded her of her new station in life. Not just to annoy her though. To re-emphasize a point that needed re-emphasizing:
Rogan was a lady. She belonged in my world now.
Frowning, I replied with enough hauteur and condescension to vex her, “And you, girl, are the Handmaiden of Phaedra and as such a lady. You are not to allow strange men to touch you.”
You are not to allow any man to touch you.
I shook out the troubling thought of this morning and her preening to that oaf of a stable boy, Jarek.
Disdain was clear in the curl of her lip as she tilted her head back to look at me. “I’ll allow a mountain man of Alvernia to touch me before I take advice from you, Stovia.”
The emphasis on my name caused a cold wash of fury to pour through my veins. I clenched my jaw and turned away as she ordered fabric from the seller. Taking a few deep breaths, I tried to recover an ounce of professionalism.
It would be so much easier to hate her as she hated me.
Instead I’d been captivated by her as a boy. I’d loved the way she moved with such abandon compared to the faux air of ‘gliding’ that all the well-polished young girls of the court had adopted. I loved her huge dark eyes that hid nothing of what she was feeling. I’d felt lost for her when she arrived at the palace with such grief in them, and I’d grown easier as months passed and I’d gotten to see her smile.
I’d thought it mere enchantment, a sort of distant affection for her. But as the years passed, as I watched her closely, as I grew to know through her actions towards others how strong and fierce and loyal and kind she was, I began to realize there was no one else like her in this world.
I’d been standing in the main courtyard of the palace when I was seventeen, talking to a friend and fellow soldier while we took a break from training, when a commotion drew our gazes. One of the young lords, Niall Tromskin had just pushed Valena, the young healer my father had abducted years before, over in the courtyard for some reason. Some boys were laughing, others admonishing him, and I’d just been about to stride across there and teach the little shit a lesson when Rogan had appeared out of nowhere. My breath had caught at the sight of her. At fourteen she was already developing the figure of a woman, her tall strides causing gently curved hips to sway under the light fabric of her dress. Her eyes blazed with retribution, her long dark hair billowing behind her like a banner in battle. With not one word, without any hesitation, she reached Niall, drew back her fist and slammed it into his face. The bully had howled in pain, falling to his knees in utter agony. Amazed, I’d watched as Rogan calmly knelt down to Valena and picked the little girl up, her arms curling around her in maternal protection. She’d shot the remaining boys a look that warned of dire consequences if any of them tried to hurt Valena again, and led the girl away, smiling brightly down at her, trying to replace the tears with laughter.
I’d known then as a boy on the cusp of manhood that I’d just witnessed something magical. She was a fierce girl and she’d grow to be a beautiful warrior woman, the kind of wife who would stand by your side in times of struggle and offer support. She would be a partner. An equal. And with all that raging passion, I knew that if Rogan fell in love she would throw herself into that love with an utter abandon that would bring pure ecstasy and contentment to the man she offered her love to.
For years I’d been trying to escape the stigma of my father’s legacy. To prove myself I’d worked harder than anyone else and I’d risen to the rank of Captain of the Guard at the impressive age of twenty years old. Now I was twenty-two and my men followed my orders without hesitation. No one saw me as Syracen Stovia’s son. They saw me as Wolfe Stovia, Captain of the Royal Guard.
All except Rogan.
To her, I was my father’s son and she was just waiting for me to prove her right.
While she waited, I moved seamlessly from one relationship to the next, gazing into my lover’s eyes and always wishing they were Rogan’s. Wishing for that pure ecstasy and contentment she would give me.
I think part of me hated her for that. For making me… hopeless.
Yanking myself out of my maudlin thoughts I followed Rogan as she began to move swiftly away from the market stall. I looked down at her profile as I caught up to her, wondering what was going on behind those intelligent eyes of hers.
I saw the moment she realized I was beside her—her shoulders tensed and her footing faltered. She slanted a look at me out of the corner of her eye. “What are you doing?”
Bristling inwardly at the waspishness of the question (wouldn’t it be nice if just for once she spoke to me with a semblance of civility?), I shrugged and gazed lazily around as if I was suffering from a severe case of ennui. In truth I was never so alive as I was when I was in Rogan’s presence. “Just one of the more unpleasant jobs of being Captain of the Guard. Protecting you.”
She made a face at me and I found my lips twitching at how adorably childish she could be. I think part of me enjoyed that I at least incited some kind of passion in her, even if it wasn’t the passion I hoped for. “We are droll aren’t we?”
“Some people think I’m charming.” To underline the point I caught the eye of a pretty tavern maid and grinned flirtatiously at her. I was rewarded with an eyelash flutter as she smiled back at me over her shoulder. Very nice.
“Some people don’t know any better.”
I thought of her flirting with Jarek and tried to batten down against the tidal wave of jealousy. I’d wanted to put a fist through that boy’s face this morning. I wasn’t a violent person but the thought that Rogan might have gifted her body to him drove me insane.
Rogan, however, didn’t need to know that. I kept my tone teasing as I replied, “Ooh is that judgment I hear in the voice of the lady who was flirting with a mere stable boy this morning?”
“As if that makes it any more palatable. You know he’s bedded every girl in the palace, you’re not special.” The truth was she was special. She was extraordinary. So how could she be foolish enough to give herself to a boy who didn’t see or understand that?
I shook thoughts of them writhing together in the stable stall out of my head before I lost my temper and irrationally decide to pay the little bastard a visit later.
It’s not your business, Wolfe. She’s not your business.
Apparently Rogan agreed with my conscience. “Who I choose to converse with is of no consequence to you, Captain Stovia. And may I remind you to whom you are speaking?”
There was that haughty condescension she reserved only for me. “So there is a snob buried under all that ‘I’m not a lady, I’m not a lady, I’m just like everyone else,’ piffle?”
“For one, I don’t talk like that. And two… I am just like everyone else. Except when it comes to you. You will talk to me like I’m royalty, Captain. As in don’t speak to me at all.”
Truly angry now, burned, resentful of my love for her, I lost sight of my goal to have her see me and instead, in a bid to feel superior after being made to feel inferior, I reminded her only of who she thought I was. “If you want to get snooty, Rogan may I remind you that I’m the one with Lord before my name. Don’t speak to me like I’m dirt beneath your shoe.”
In reply to my idiotic response, Rogan laughed— a cold, brittle thing of a laugh so unlike the husky warmth of her normal one. I winced against its harshness. “You don’t need to remind me who you are, Vikomt Stovia.” Without another word she strode away from me, the lines of her body taut with tension.
That familiar ache gnawed away at my chest. I couldn’t follow her. I couldn’t take any more of it today. Weary, I looked over at Lieutenant Chaeron and nodded in Rogan’s direction, silently asking him to resume guard for me.
I needed time to lick my latest wounds.