Jewel in the Crown - Valentine's Special - Book cover

Jewel in the Crown - Valentine's Special

Ellie Sanders

Age Rating


Part of the Jewel in the Crown-Universe: I'm not a trophy anymore. I'm married to the warlord, my love, who is now a king. I'm his wife, the mother of his child. His queen. Everyone has arrived here for my coronation. But will the world see me as a queen? Or do they still view me as a weak trophy?

Age Rating: 18+

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Chapter 1: A Meeting of Kings

The breeze blows softly around me, kicking up the leaves and sending strands of my hair across my face.

I snuggle into the thick fur lining of my cloak, and then an arm wraps around me, pulling me in, surrounding me with warmth.

I look up at those dark, dangerous eyes, and smile.

And that merciless, deadly king smiles back at me.

“I told you to wait inside,” he murmurs softly.

“And I told you it would be rude,” I state, returning my eyes to the procession making its way slowly through the city up to our castle.

“It’s more rude that my queen is out here, kept waiting in the cold,” he says.

I chuckle. “You are waiting, Kaldan. Is that not rude?”

He lets out a low breath. “I am used to waiting. I’ve learned that the longer the wait, the better the reward.”

“Is that so?” I tease.

His eyes drop to my mouth, which is curled upward in amusement. “Would you not agree? You waited five years for me?”

“I wasn’t waiting for you,” I state. “I was running from you.”

“And how worth it was it when I finally caught you?”

“Maybe for you,” I say. “I wonder sometimes if I should have kept running.”

He lets out a loud laugh that makes everyone glance at us. “I see my queen has decided to be mean today,” he murmurs.

“Maybe I like keeping you on your toes.”

He leans in, kissing me, before I can even register he’s about to do it. “And I like sweeping you off yours.”

I roll my eyes, catching Diena’s, as she watches us just like everyone else is.

You wouldn’t believe that she gave birth to two healthy boys only four months ago. She looks radiant, and in truth, I don’t think she and Samald have ever been happier.

I look back at Kaldan. He’s staring off down at the perfect view of the city below us.

“You need to be on best behavior, no losing your temper,” I say quietly because the gods know how many egos are currently making their way to us.

And what we don’t need after six months of peace is another bloody war.

“I will only promise if you promise to do the same.”

“Me?” I say, shocked. When am I not on my best behavior?

He leans in close, his lips right by my ear. “No tempting me to bed when I need to stay up late entertaining our guests.”

I open my mouth to reply, but in unison, all the trumpets positioned around the ramparts suddenly blast out, and instead, I half jump out of my skin.

“Here we go,” Kaldan mutters as the first of the carriages comes in under the portcullis, and I can see from the banners that it’s Helos.

I suppose it’s logical that the Leader of the Great Council would be the first, but a part of me wishes someone else is here, someone who could create some sort of cushion, who could make this king less formidable.

Kaldan’s arm drops from my waist to take my hand, and he squeezes it enough to be comforting.

I know it shouldn’t matter. So much time has passed, but the thought of seeing Helos, of facing him after everything is not all that appealing.

The carriage door opens. One of our footmen steps up to help, but Helos is already there, stepping out, and I’m once more overwhelmed by how huge his frame is. How big nature has allowed this man to be.

He turns, offering his hand, and to my surprise, I see a woman take it.

I bite my tongue hard to fight the gasp as his blue-haired Siren Queen steps out and smiles up at him. He murmurs something to her, and she gives him such a look that even I start to blush.

“He brought his wife,” I whisper to Kaldan.

He nods, just enough that I can see it. “He told me he would.”

“And you didn’t think to mention it?”

He shrugs. “Enough of the other kings were bringing theirs, so it didn’t make much difference.”

“Much difference?” I scoff. “She’s completely different.”

“Is she?” he says, turning to face me. “How so?”

My face heats. Even from this distance, I can feel it, the way the air is melding, the subtle traces of it permeating through. It’s incredible that one person can have such an effect without even trying.

“Look at her, she’s beautiful—”

“She is,” he concedes. “And yet my eyes only see you.”

I shake my head. He thinks he can charm me, but it won’t work. There is literally a goddess right here among us. I can taste it in the air. I can feel it seeping into my bones.

I cast my eyes about, and it feels like our entire court is already falling under her spell, that they’re all fighting to control themselves.

King Helos fixes his gaze on us, and with his queen holding his arm, they make their approach.

“King Kaldan. Queen Arbella.” He gives us a bow, and his queen curtsies low enough to be respectful.

We both return the gesture, but as I rise, I find myself staring at her. She’s mesmerizing. She’s breathtaking. I can’t believe I’m actually seeing her after everything that I’ve heard.

“This is my wife, Queen Kera,” Helos says, looking between us.

I murmur a reply, and Kaldan all but grunts. I can see all the other carriages coming up now; soon there will be enough other kings to make this exchange less awkward.

“You look well, Queen Arbella,” Helos says. “Better than the last time we met.”

My face heats as I remember that ridiculous situation I was in all those months ago.

“I am well,” I reply. “In fact, I am more than well.”

“I hear you are to be congratulated on the birth of your son,” Kera says.

Her voice is light, lyrical, as though she’s singing instead of speaking.

“Yes, our son is four months now,” Kaldan says when I don’t reply.

“I remember that age,” Kera says. “I loved mine at that age.”

I smile back, and then mercifully, other kings, other members of the Great Council, step toward us. Kaldan makes sure that I’m introduced to all of them, that they all bow to me.

I know he’s making a point, and I’ll admit I love how possessive he’s being, how he’s making sure this entire Council understands our relationship now.

“Shall we go in?” I say as the wind picks up again.

It’s autumn. Soon, it will turn to winter, and for the first time in what feels like forever, I’m excited for the snow, excited to be locked inside by a fireplace.


I watch Kaldan as he dresses. Kalad is in my arms, gurgling away. He’s so happy. He rarely seems to cry, and when he does, he’s easy to soothe. Maybe I’m biased, but he really is the perfect baby.

A knock at the door makes us pause. A maid calls out, telling us that Samald is there, and seconds later, he’s strolling in, as if he’s been given permission already.

He glances in my direction, making eye contact with me for the briefest of seconds. He no longer scowls at me, but he shows no fondness either.

But when he sees his nephew, his lips do curl. I guess I’ve made him happy in that regard, and in truth, as long as he has Kalad’s back, I don’t care what he thinks of me.

“What do you want, brother?” Kaldan asks.

“We need to be careful…”

“We already discussed this,” Kaldan says, walking out, and Samald follows after him.

“I don’t think you took my comments seriously…”

“Comments about what?” I ask.

Samald looks at me, and then at Kaldan. “There’s just some politics,” he states.

“What politics?” I reply as my nerves begin to rise.

There are so many players here that any argument really could turn into a catastrophe. This carefully planned coronation could turn to war.

Kaldan shakes his head, walking up to me. He places his hands on my shoulders. “Nothing to concern yourself with.”

“Then tell me,” I reply.

He lets out a sigh. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Really?” I scoff.

“If you must know, there is some debate about Princess Raegan,” Samald says.


I’ve never even heard of her, but then, that doesn’t say much. I didn’t exactly get much of an education in my brother’s court.

Kaldan has been taking his time to educate me, to make sure that I have the knowledge I need to help rule, but I’m nowhere near where I need to be.

I spend days poring over maps, trying to learn geographies, trying to learn all the different houses, all the different ruling families, and maybe I have a baby brain now because it feels like it doesn’t sink in.

“Princess Raegan,” Samald repeats. “She’s heir to the throne of Törin.”

Even the name means nothing. I’ve never heard of the country, so it can’t be one that makes up the Council.

“I didn’t think women could inherit a throne,” I reply.

They both smirk.

“They can’t,” Kaldan says. “At least not until now.”

“So, isn’t she Queen Raegan if she’s ruling Törin?”

“She isn’t queen yet. Her father hasn’t died,” Samald states.

“So, what, everyone wants her hand in marriage?” I reply because I know where this is going. What they always want when they discuss princesses and queens.

Kaldan shakes his head. “It doesn’t have anything to do with the Council,” he states. “Törin is not part of the Council.”

“But enough of the Council are invested…”

Kaldan shakes his head again. “It is no business of ours what a southern country does and who governs it.”

“Maybe, but that’s all the reason you shouldn’t have allowed King Gariss to attend.”

“Why?” I ask.

“He isn’t part of the Council,” Kaldan says. “And he is seeking Raegan’s hand.”

“He’s more than that,” Samald says. “He’s all but garnering allies, using his time here to ensure he has the Council’s backing—”

“No,” Kaldan cuts across him. “The only thing everyone will be focused on is Arbella’s coronation. That is why they have come.”

Samald smirks. “You know better than that brother,” he sneers.

Kalad starts to cry in my arms. I rock him for a moment before making my excuses, leaving the pair of them alone.

I don’t know who this Ragean girl is, but already, I feel sorry for her.

She sounds like me, another princess being bartered over and sold to the highest bidder. I just hope her father isn’t so old and decrepit that he can’t protect her.

As I walk back into the bedroom, I can see Kalad is hungry. I know I should call for the nursemaid, that it’s not the done thing for a queen to breastfeed her child.

And yet I’ve been doing it anyway, feeding Kalad when no one is here to see, when I know I can get away with it.

I glance behind me, seeing Kaldan and his brother still deep in conversation, and take the chance. Within moments of positioning him, he latches on, guzzling greedily, and I chuckle.

“You have your father’s appetite,” I murmur, stroking his hair.

He’s got a proper tuft of it now. And his skin, which seemed only slightly like Kaldan’s, has darkened enough now, and you can see he’s a drac.

I sing a quiet lullaby, taking the few moments of peace I now have with my child.

Soon, Kaldan and I will have to go down, to play king and queen, and Kalad will be left under the watchful gaze of the maids.

“I knew I’d catch you sooner or later.”

I gasp, spinning around, seeing not only Kaldan but also his brother staring at me.

“What does that mean?” I whisper.

He walks up to me, his eyes staring at our child. “You can’t keep secrets from me, Arbella,” he says softly.

“You knew?” I gasp.

He lets out a chuckle. “Of course, I knew. I was waiting for you to tell me.”

I wince. Maybe I should have been honest with him.

“Why didn’t you?” he asks.

“I…” My courage almost fails me, but I force myself to admit it. “I was afraid, of what you would say.”

“What did you think I would say?” he replies.

“That it’s unbecoming of a queen. That no wife of yours would—”

He puts his fingers over my mouth, silencing me. “No wife of mine should ever fear being honest with me.”

I shake my head. I know that’s true now. We’ve grown so much, our trust has, our love has.

And yet, it’s hard not to revert back, to become that shell of a person, that traumatized girl who felt like all I had to depend upon was myself.

He places a kiss on my head, being delicate in his movements so that he doesn’t disturb our boy.

“I love you, Arbella. When are you going to start realizing that you have complete control over me, that you command me.”

I let out a laugh. Me? Command the great Kaldan.

He smiles back. “I love your laugh. It took you so long to discover it.”

I don’t know what to say to that; all I can think of are cheesy lines that would cheapen this moment. But in truth, I’d never have laughed if it wasn’t for him. I’d never have known happiness either.

Samald clears his throat loudly, making it clear that he doesn’t want to be forgotten, and we both look back at him.

“What?” Kaldan says.

“I take it our conversation is over then?” Samald replies.

“We are done. I appreciate your words of wisdom, and if you wish to keep an eye on Gariss, then by all means, but I am not spending my time worrying about it. This is about Arbella, about celebrating her as my queen…”

I glance at Samald, wanting to see his reaction.

He hasn’t protested once, even raised his voice since Kaldan announced that we would rule together, with me not as a convenient figurehead in public and a babymaking machine in private like most queens are.

“…about making sure every one of the Council pays her the dues she deserves as my queen.”

“As you wish,” Samald says, bowing, and as he turns to leave, he pauses. “Diena is also feeding our boys,” he says. “So, perhaps it is a human thing.”

I smirk then. And Kaldan chuckles.

Diena has her hands full with twins, but Samald has been there, ensuring she is well taken care of, that she has plenty of maids to assist. In fact, I can’t fault him for his care and attention to her.

“We should go down,” Kaldan says.

I nod. “He’ll be a few more minutes.”

He sinks onto the end of the bed, watching me as I stand, cradling our son. “You look good like that.”

“Like what?” I ask.

He smiles. “With our child.”

I bite my lip, moving to sit beside him. “He looks more like you every day.”

“Of course, he does; that’s the demon blood in him,” he states.

Kalad pulls off me, and I cover myself before putting him onto my shoulder, making sure to burp him just as I saw the maids do.

The nursemaid appears, and she looks between us, clearly more shocked than Kaldan was, though I wonder how she hasn’t known because she must have guessed from the little feeds he has had from her.

“Shall I take him, your Highness?” she asks.

Reluctantly, I nod, handing him over, though, for a moment, I consider snatching him back, holding him to me, and declaring that I’m going to stay in bed all night instead of entertaining kings.

“I had something made for you,” Kaldan says once she leaves. “Something to celebrate your new status.”

“What is it?” I ask.

He gets up, walks to our dressing room, and comes back with a box. My eyes fix on it.

“Open it,” he orders.

I look up, already knowing what’s inside from the size of it, and as I pop the catch, it opens, revealing a deep-velvet interior. Perched in the middle, glistening in the candlelight, is a crown.

My eyes widen. “Am I not meant to wait till tomorrow to get this?”

He shakes his head. “Tomorrow, you will receive your proper crown. This one is more of a coronet; it’s lighter.”

I nod, my eyes fixed on the beautifully twisted gold and the diamonds and rubies that seem to bloom out of it like roses.

“What do you think?” he asks.

“It’s beautiful,” I say.

He lifts it out, tossing the box onto the bed, and gently, he slides it onto my head. The crown is heavy, but not nearly as heavy as I expected.

He takes my hand, leading me to the mirror, and I stand there, all but gawking at myself.

The crown fits me so perfectly. I look like a queen.

My eyes cast back to Kaldan, who stands behind me, and I smile, remembering how so long ago I would see us, like this; only, I would be his captive and never his equal.

“You are mine, Arbella,” he says gently. “You always were, and now, finally, I can show the world how we were meant to be from the start.”

“And how was that?” I ask.

He smiles, planting a kiss on my lips. “Equals,” he says as if he’s read my mind.


The feast is strange. I am surrounded by more than twenty kings and queens, but I know that all of them are here because of me.

I can feel the looks I’m getting. I can feel the glances people are stealing when they think I won’t notice.

I’m sitting beside Kaldan. The usual seats have been replaced by massive thrones.

Tonight, he wants to make a point. He wants every other ruler to see what we have, to see it and not only be envious but also fearful. To know we really are a force to be reckoned with.

King Helos sits beside me, and his wife, the beautiful siren, sits beside Kaldan. Both in places of honor.

I try not to listen to Kaldan’s conversation. I try not to eavesdrop, but I’ll admit my nerves spike because we can all feel it, the way the siren’s very presence affects us.

If Helos weren’t here, if his power weren’t influencing this entire room, I don’t doubt something would happen.

“You’ve done well, Arbella,” Helos says quietly.

I turn my head, frowning. “In what respect?”

He gives me a gentle smile.

“Last time I met you, you were a scared girl, caught in the middle of two powerful warlords, but now, now I think you’ve come into your own. You’ve finally discovered your own power.”

“No,” I reply. “I didn’t discover it. Kaldan showed me.”

He gives me a wry smile. “Perhaps,” he says before casting his eyes about the room, and as I follow him, I see so many people watching us, no doubt trying to figure out what we are saying.

“This world is changing,” he says quietly.

“In what way?” I ask.

“We men are finally starting to realize that women are not merely possessions to own.”

I frown, unsure how to reply. Would Kaldan agree with that? Months ago, I would have said no. Months ago, Kaldan was making it clear that was how he viewed me. As something to own.

He lets out a chuckle. “Oh, I agree, we have some way to go, but even you must feel it. After all, the great Kaldan spent five years hunting you.

“And when he finally won you over, instead of locking you away like some beautiful jewel, he makes sure you are recognized by everyone as his equal.”

I feel my face heat. “I am his equal,” I state.

He inclines his head. “But not every man would act as Kaldan has.”

“You have not,” I say before I can stop myself, and then immediately, I regret it.

“No,” he concedes. “But Kera and I are more complicated. Her being who she is makes it complicated. She is my queen in every way, though she is called a consort.”

“You really do love her,” I say.

His eyes seem to glow at my words. “Kera has taught me many things. She is the one who has helped drive this crusade.”

“What crusade?”

“To make this world safer. To ensure the likes of Luxley and your brother are not able to operate without consequences.”

I scoff at that. I don’t mean to, but he sounds like he doesn’t have a clue what is going on right now. He sounds like he lives in a fairy-tale world.

“You do not believe me,” he says, almost amused.

I take a sip of my wine, and then turn to face him fully. “Do you know what half the Council are discussing behind your back?”

He narrows his eyes. “Tell me.”

“Princess Raegan.”

His eyes turn dark. “Törin is not part of the Great Council—”

“And yet they all seem very concerned about this princess and whom she may or may not marry.”

I can feel it, his discontent melding in the air. “King Lux is no fool. He will not leave his daughter without protection.”

“But I thought you made this world safer?”

He sighs. “I have, Arbella, but even these things take time.”

“So, what, the Council will step in?”

He shakes his head. “We cannot. To do so would bring war.”

“You did with me.”

“That was different. You were signed over—”

I wave my hand, no longer so concerned with offending him. “I don’t want Princess Raegan to go through what I did,” I state.

Helos narrows his eyes. “I cannot do anything beyond sending envoys.”

“But you will do that?”

He leans back in his chair, as if he’s assessing me. “You do understand your part on the Council, don’t you, Arbella?”

I frown, confused. What part do I have?

“You have a seat alongside Kaldan. You have a say as well.”


“I will think on what you said.”

“What has Arbella said?” Kaldan asks, looking between us, and I wince, feeling like I’ve overstepped my place.

Helos smiles almost graciously. “Your queen is very articulate, King Kaldan,” Helos says.

Kaldan glances at me and I do my best to smile.

“Perhaps it is time for some entertainment?” Kera murmurs.

Helos nods, looking at Kaldan in a way that makes it clear he won’t say anymore.

I sink back into my throne, feeling like I might have just seriously fucked up, and the entire time the dancers are here, performing, I can feel Kaldan glancing at me, watching me.

Only I don’t say anything. I don’t dare.

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