✧Tasted Like Heaven✧
*Click For Audio Drama*
Eventually, Matthias returned once more to the chained room. And once he did, he noted that Leyla was still by the window, looking more tired than before.
The room around her had also grown dark as the sun had finally begun to set for the day. The fire in the room remained unlit.
He locked the door behind him, stalking slowly towards her as he flicked on the lights in the room. Unexpectedly, she was the one to break the silence before.
“I ate.” She muttered towards him in a defeated manner, just in time for him to finally draw the curtains to a close. He then turned to face her once more.
“A soldier,” she continued, “Brown hair, brought me a sandwich. So I ate that.” She supplied helpfully. And he hummed, nodding along in disinterest towards her.
“And what of it?”
Leyla made a small affronted noise, before sighing out.
“So, give Ky-him some food too.” Leyla huffed out, the name almost slipping back from her lips. Matthias stared down at her before chuckling and leaning back against the windows.
She had expected him to see her attempt at something ridiculous, but she still couldn’t help but feel insulted by his nonchalant demeanor.
“I’m not making this up.” She insisted to him, “If you want then you can go and check-”
“I believe you.” Matthias told her, eyes crinkled in delight towards her before sighing out, “Unfortunately, just because you ate something doesn’t mean I’d give him any food.” He hummed out in slight satisfaction.
Leyla’s mouth dropped open in disbelief before she hit her fist on the table.
“You promised me!”
“I did, but eating wasn’t my only condition,” he reiterated, smiling smugly at her, “Don’t you remember?”
“ – if I don’t see you eat, or drink anything then… neither does Kyle Etman.”
Finally, he dropped his smug smile upon seeing Leyla turn speechless and pale at his reminder. Unless he’d seen her eat anything, Kyle won’t be getting any food, even if she did eat without him.
Her body shook once more, as her eyes darkened, trailed solely on the messy floor around them.
“How do you even live with yourself?” she couldn’t help but ask incredulously, “How can you keep being so… so… cold-hearted and cruel!? What does that benefit you!?”
Matthias only kept staring at her blankly.
“Where did the once honorable Duke Herhardt go?” She asked him in a mix of disappointment and disbelief.
Finally, she managed to convince herself to approach him. With shaky steps, she grew bolder, wanting her words to pierce him where she wanted it to hurt.
“Look at you, abandoning your pride in upholding your empire, running away because you grow tired of them,” she scoffed, looking up at him in pure disappointment, “And now here you are, abandoning your newly married wife to play hero in the battlefield.”
Matthias’ lips curled up in a minuscule smile.
“Oh, I don’t know. But is that what you think?” he hummed curiously towards her. He reached up to remove his hat, placing it gently on the swiped clean table.
He couldn’t find it in himself to even be angry at her. Far from it, he found it difficult not to feel so relaxed and amused with her nearby.
Leyla looked at him as though he was crazy, and maybe he was.
Their time apart had made her forget how he truly was to her. He was someone whom she hated with every fiber of he being, and will continue to keep on hating and hating and hating until—
“What are you thinking of doing to me?” She asked him instead, “What are you planning to do? Are you just going to keep teasing me like this? Torture me as revenge for daring to escape you?!”
She stepped back, hands cradling her belly gently as she looked at him.
“You’re so eager to tie me down to you, but did you ever stop to consider whether you deserve to even have this?” She asked him hatefully, “Did you ask yourself whether you’re worthy or not to be a father?”
When Matthias remained silent, she scoffed at him, and hugged her arms around her belly.
“And that’s why this child will never be yours.” She spat at him, “You don’t even deserve to mention my child at all.”
She turned away from him as soon as she felt tears threatening to spill from her eyes.
“So I don’t care, in my life and in my child’s, you do not even exist.” She declared to him, “So don’t bother taking responsibility. I’d rather you let me go, and for you to go back home to your Duchess!”
‘Don’t cry.’ Leyla scolded herself once more, ‘He doesn’t deserve your tears.’
She knew she shouldn’t expect anything from him. And she resolved herself to never do it.
She’d long made up her mind that nothing would of that fact. This decision of hers had been long in the making, cemented firmly as soon as she’d been reunited with Matthias.
But she was also so… terrified.
Something in her heart was skipping indecipherably, that she couldn’t help but look forward to what his plans were. And she couldn’t stand it, always raising her expectations of him, just for him to trample it down so carelessly as if she mattered next to nothing!
“Think about this in a logical way then Leyla,” Matthias remarked back at her, “What can a woman of your stature even do in a time of war? How could you even raise that kid by yourself?” He asked her, the cold, amused glint in his eyes long gone, now replaced with cold seriousness.
“We’ll do just fine, no thanks to you!” she retorted back at him, “A war’s compared to nothing next to living with you!”
His hands shot out to grip her tightly by the shoulders, making Leyla gasp half in surprise and the rest in complete fright!
“Leyla Lewellin.” Matthias growled at her.
“Keep your dirty hands off me!” She screamed, slapping his hands away before bodily freeing herself from him.
Matthias stared at her, then to his hands, and then back. He then laughed at her.
“My hand, you think,” he chuckled in disbelief, “You think my hand is dirty?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed, “There’s no way it isn’t!”
She wrapped her hands around herself, rubbing her arms furiously as though to physically rub his scorching touch off of her.
“I hate it! I hate it! I hate you!”
Leyla’s muffled screams of hate for him could be heard out in the empty hallway. Shouting with all her might how it’s always made her body crawl whenever he touched her, and it will keep making her feel so disgusted with herself forever and ever.
“Are you finally satisfied with my answer?” She asked him, panting heavily, to a silent Matthias after her enormous tirade.
“Kyle! Hey, Kyle Etman!”
His name echoed in the rubble walls of his makeshift prison. As soon as he’d been dragged away from the major, he was lumped into a solitary prison, beneath the basement of the hotel, which also doubled as a warehouse.
Kyle was currently leaning against the rough, cold stone behind him. His eyes trained solely on the tips of his shoes, but did not really see anything. His mind was leagues away from his prison, but now he’d been brought back with a call of his name.
When he looked up, he saw the familiar face of his military doctor supervisor behind bars.
“L-Lieutenant!” Kyle stuttered, scrambling to get up, wincing when he realized his legs had grown numb in his immobility. He staggered closer to the bars, “Why, I don’t, here?” he huffed out tiredly.
The doctor merely looked at him somberly and sighed.
“I’m here because I grew worried about you.” The doctor sighed deeply, gesturing for Kyle to sit back down, before lowering himself as well. Off at the corner of Kyle’s prison cell, was an untouched meal.
The meal was barely substantial, but it was what was given as a standard to anyone then as prisoners.
“You should still be eating, even in prison.” He told Kyle, “It’s times like this you need to keep your strength up. You don’t want to make things worse for yourself Kyle. Think about your health.”
“The duke’s — no, the woman the major took back to his room,” Kyle asked instead, “Is she alright? Did they release her?”
The doctor blinked at him unsurely.
“I, Etman,” the doctor sighed, before shaking his head in response, “No, as far as everyone knows, she’s still with the Major.”
The doctor pursed his lips thoughtfully, before continuing.
“He’s had her locked up in his room, the door barred and locked from the outside to prevent her from leaving.”
Kyle scoffed at the information, half expecting the outcome, while the other half was still in disbelief at the audacity the Duke had in handling Leyla like a pet.
She was a person. And he kept treating her like less than one.
“He really is a crazy guy.” Kyle grumbled.
“Stop that Kyle,” the doctor chided him, “We’re in a battlefield. Whatever your personal differences are with the Major, let it go! He’s still your superior.” He reminded him, “So eat up, and then bow your head in apology to him, and then you’ll get released from this poor cell.”
The advice was well-meaning, and made out of concern for him, Kyle knew. But his heart and mind were in complete agreement that he wouldn’t ever apologize to the Major.
“No.” Kyle declared, “I won’t bow my head to apologize to that kind of man. Never.”
“I don’t understand you Kyle, you’re usually very level-headed.” The doctor sighed out in frustration, throwing his hands up in the air before looking back at the imprisoned young medic.
“Who is she even to you Kyle, huh?” he asked him, “Why are you so adamant to go against the Major for her?”
He’d heard the rumors through the grapevine. Kyle Etman had up and attacked the Major out of nowhere, demanding the release of the woman, and was ready to be killed for it. Apparently the Major had held up a gun to his head before the authorities arrived to haul him away.
But the Duke was well-known to be a respectable man back in the empire. He was the best aristocrat, second only to the members of the royal family. Kyle was the son of his family’s doctor. One would assume the two would be close but alas…
A woman stood between them.
It was a scandal sure to grab the attention of anyone who’d caught wind of it. But none of the concerned parties would budge, nor indulge in any information about the entire situation, as such, theories about the three only grew wilder with every silence they kept.
Kyle was tight-lipped as ever, much like the Major. Both refused to shed even a little light over what’s really been happening aside from what’s already been witnessed.
“Still, you should at least eat.” the doctor sighed out in resignation, “You understand me, Kyle?” he reminded, but received only further silence.
As the younger medic’s stubbornness won out, the doctor finally got up, patting the bars slightly like it was Kyle’s shoulder before eventually leaving the young man back to his thoughts.
His shadow grew with every distance growing between them on top of the cooled dinner by the corner. When the doctor looked back to see if Kyle had heeded his words…
He was still in the same spot as he had left him.
Matthias remained in his silence as he regarded Leyla. He showed no indication as to what his thoughts truly were despite Leyla repeatedly and earnestly disrespecting and insulting him right in his face.
As soon as she was done spouting filth about him, he took a step towards her.
Leyla’s hands fisted around her skirt, squeezing them tightly between her palms, but remained resolutely in place. She was done cowering.
And then her mind flashed back to Claudine.
She tried to shake the feeling and memory away, but she remained persistent in the forefront of her mind.
She could still remember, as clear as day, the humiliation and shame she felt upon her revelations. How she knew all this time, what had been happening behind her back!
It made Leyla feel more miserable and dirty, especially so when she knew she couldn’t deny a single accusation thrown at her.
She thought she’d forgotten everything that’s happened by now.
But what a fool she’d been.
She had known that when she left, the wedding of the two of them had been fast approaching. There was no doubt in her mind that they were finally married by now. It had been set to be around late Spring to early Summer after all.
It was also around the same time she began to experience sudden bouts of morning sickness, leaving her all exhausted and in pain right afterwards.
She remembered heaving whatever contents were left in her stomach over the toilet, and when finished she would sit limply on the stone, cold tiles on the bathroom floor. If she’d be at work at the time, she’d hide away in the corner of the museum’s warehouse.
She had been desperate to not be found out that she was pregnant.
As the bump grew, so did the sorrow in her heart. Nothing could erase the ache in her heart. It could be numbed temporarily, like when she’d eat what she wanted, or when she passed by a newly wedded couple cradling a baby to their breast…
But it remained persistently constant.
And then the war came, and that sorrow for her growing child took a backburner, replaced only with the terrible fear of the war right in their doorsteps. Everyday she would rub a hand over the growing bump…
‘We’d be okay.’
Words she’d whisper or think about to her child.
The Duchess, she knew, had no doubt been showered with praises and well-wishes on her wedding day. Someday soon, she too would raise her own children.
Visions of how the duchess’ children would grow to be made Leyla feel like something was squeezing out of her chest. A whisper of how her child could grow up to be, bringing sweet temptation into her thoughts…
But she shooed it away fervently.
‘I’ll love you twice as much,’ she thought. So they will be okay.
She’d endured worse days before. She can endure them again in the future.
All she knew was that she never wanted to be in the shadows of such a man once more, even more to never let the child grow in her, live through the pain and humiliation she suffered around his presence.
She was determined to not let it live like she did.
Matthias approached her, stopping only at arm’s length away from her. He still looked so calm and composed, and Leyla felt herself beginning to cower, her shoulders hunching in to make herself appear smaller.
But she kept her eyes locked on his.
“Leyla, how do you expect to raise a child of someone you accuse to disgust you?” He asked her plainly.
“Shut up!” Leyla yelled at him, arms back to wrap around her belly, “It won’t care about you!”
She grew tired of his incessant persistence to be responsible for her child. He was giving her a false sense that he was growing desperate, but she knew him to feel nothing but pleasure for himself.
Matthias appeared to be thinking deeply.
“You must love it a lot, then.” He surmised after a moment, eyes looking at her abdomen, before raising them back up to meet her glare. His lips then split into a smile, before he burst into low chuckles.
“A cruel man, and a woman who loves his child.” He kept chuckling as the words slipped out his mouth. Leyla squirmed minutely farther from him.
And then he sighed, the laughter dying down, and his eyes unnervingly blank.
“So amusing.” He murmured.
“Have you turned crazy?” Leyla asked with a scoff, and he shrugged nonchalantly.
“Why not?” he asked her with a serene smile. Unbridled joy was shown on his face, which made Leyla grit her teeth tighter in anticipation at his next actions against her.
Did it really not matter?
Was there really no escape from this man and his power?
“Do you think this is all I’ve come for here?”
The sudden question from him threw her back. What was he going on about now?
“This, seeing you like this…” he continued, a faraway look in his eyes, “It really tickles me happy to see it! It’s like I’ve grown vulnerable around you!”
He praised so melodramatically, making Leyla take a couple more steps away from him.
“Wh-what are you on-”
“Hate me all you want! Insult me, Leyla!” He dared her, his grin turning manic, before he held out his hands in a motion to grab her…
But didn’t lunge at her to do so.
“But you’re mine, Leyla.”
“No, I’m not.” Leyla denied.
“Oh but you are!” Matthias insisted, “It’s what’s happening right now after all,” he grinned at her, before his eyes dropped down to her stomach, “Because I’m going to have that kid of yours.”
A gentle wave came over him, and he was back to his own bubble of serene happiness.
Leyla could hardly believe her ears. There was no way she’d continue to listen to such a madman! And now he was smiling like a child about to be given his present!
His eyes went back up to meet hers, and she flinched back.
“I decided not to kill you, Leyla.” He told her with a smile, “So I will let you go, and you can run wherever you want to. I won’t stop or find you again.”
Leyla frowned, feeling a cold dread settle in her bones once again.
“But you’ll need to leave your child behind, before I’ll give you your freedom.”
Matthias had finally given her his stipulation, and Leyla began to frantically shake her head, unwilling to give in to his conditions!
“No! No!” She screamed, “Let me go! Let me go! You won’t take it from me!”
With every scream, Leyla grew frantic, she threw her hands up flailing and hitting whatever she could grab her hands on towards him. At one point she found herself pressed up against him, and she doubled her efforts.
She kicked, and screamed and scratched at his shoulders, arms, and whatever part of his pressed up against her…
But Matthias had a clear hold on her, and she couldn’t break free.
“Shh, calm down Leyla, shh,” he kept muttering softly, arms caging her against his chest as she flailed and wailed. “Think of our child, you don’t want any harm to come to it, don’t you?”
Eventually the struggling in his arms died down, and silent sobbing could be heard. Satisfied enough that she’d been weakened after her tantrum, Matthias finally allowed himself to pull away, before cupping a hand onto her wet cheeks.
He repositioned themselves into a hug, Leyla leaning limply in his arms and rocking them both back and forth in a slow dance. His hands drew lower, finally able to rest his palm against the swell of her stomach.
Leyla hiccuped, and began to sag against him. She’d grown exhausted.
He looked down at her red-rimmed eyes and flushed face and smiled affectionately on her while soothingly rubbing her belly. He hadn’t smiled as wide as this since she disappeared from him last spring.
They still fit perfectly against each other, just as he expected them to be.
He gently steered her towards the bed, tucking her in all nice and cozy. His hand still caressing her belly in soothing motions.
He’ll have Leyla, one way or another.
Even if she’d never forgive him. He will have her.
As soon as her head hit the soft pillow, Leyla found an odd sense of comfort and relief, her breath eventually evening out. She licked her dry lips, as big drops of tears rolled seamlessly down her cheeks from her eyes endlessly.
Matthias plucked out her glasses gently, setting them aside on the table, before returning.
He hovered above her, planting sweet, gentle kisses on her wet eyelids.
She squeezed her eyes shut tighter, feeling as though her tears were being consumed by a monster.
‘I’ve truly gone crazy,’ Matthias thought to himself as he licked off Leyla’s tears from his lips and smiled down on her.
Her tears still tasted like heaven.