He was here. The queen’s heart pounded as she changed out of her heavy robes into lighter clothes. Perhaps a stroll through the gardens would calm her nerves. She would preside over the evening meal with her guests. It was important to remain unruffled in his presence.
Mahishasura. Sixteen years had passed since the last time Sunayna had laid eyes on him. Mahish was no longer a prince or a king. But that didn’t matter to Sunayna. It never had.
Two royal guards followed Sunayna out of her chambers. They stopped when she ordered them to stand alert at the garden entrance. She needed solitude to collect her thoughts. Sunayna found her favorite spot in the garden and sat on the ground under a tree. She leaned against the trunk and closed her eyes. All she could see was him.
“Suni?” A deep voice startled her out of her reverie. Shaken, Sunayna stood up and turned around. Mahish stood in front of her. The surprise on his face changed into obvious pleasure.
For one moment, time stood still. Nothing existed but the two of them. Looking into his golden eyes elicited the same thrilling shiver down her spine from her youth. With a sinking feeling, Sunayna realized that neither time nor marriage had changed her feelings. “Your Majesty,” Sunayana managed after a few moments.
Mahish’s eyes widened in surprise. “Are we going to be formal with each other?” he said, laughing slightly. His eyes still crinkled at the he corners when he smiled. Maya had been right. He was too handsome for his own good. “I am no king. Such formalities are unnecessary. Especially between old friends.” Mahish reached out to take her hands. “It’s good to see you again, Suni.”
Her slim, delicate hands were dwarfed by his. Sunayna could feel his heat wrapping itself around her fingers. A treacherous flush stained her cheeks. She snatched her hands out of his. “Oh, forgive me,” she pressed her hands against her cheeks, feigning discomfort. She couldn’t let him know his effect on her. “The heat is making me dizzy.”
“Oh, Suni,” he said, with obvious concern. Mahish bent down to study her face. “You do look flushed. Where are your quarters?” Before Sunayna could protest, Mahish swept her up into his arms.
“Why are you alone like this? Where are your guards?” Mahish strode towards the palace. He scowled when he saw the two guards standing at the garden entrance. “You two. Why are you just standing there?” He barked at the guards. “Your queen is unwell. Please show me to her chambers.”
The two guards didn’t question the Asura. They scurried to do his bidding. Shocked at the complete departure from protocol, Sunayna remained speechless. Mahish carried her as if she weighed little more than a child’s play thing.