Despite herself, Teela couldn't help the feeling of overwhelming mixed emotions regarding Adam's return. She couldn't hide the apprehension and excitement that was so evident in her eyes as she scrutinize herself in front of her vanity mirror. You look like you're about to be hanged, Teela, she scolded herself. All eyes will be on you so you must look your best with a big smile on your face.

She twirled her index finger around one unruly curl that seemed out of place. It took her ladies-in-waiting hours with the curling iron just to get the precise large twisted curls that Queen Marie Antoinette often wore. She smiled at herself, it's not you but it's perfect- queenly and ravishing.

If only she didn't make her ladies tie her corset so tight. She coughed as she grasped her diaphragm, trying to adjust the intricate knots but to no avail. She tried to stand straight in front of the mirror, smiling, practicing the look that didn't reveal her discomfort.

She hadn't been training for two months and she was afraid it had made her fat and unattractive. She didn't want Adam to say she gained a pound or two while he was away. Why in heavens name did she care about what he thought was beyond her, and now she had to suffer.

She held on to the edge of the vanity table, steadying herself as she gasped for more air when the sight of Adam graced the room after a few short knocks on the door, making her lose the little air left she had in her lungs.

"Hello, Teela," he greeted with a warm smile as he approached her.

She looked even more beautiful than he remembered.

She felt herself gasped for more air. Was it his intimidating presence or the damn corset?

"I thought we'll be meeting at the throne room? You didn't have to come…"

Teela coughed, unable to finish her sentence.

A note of worry crossed Adam's face as he closed the distance between them with his manly stride. Teela's heart thundered rapidly. She tried to improve her stance, looking as confident and commanding as the Officer Teela she used to be, who these past months had been gradually vanishing into oblivion.

Teela's devastated stare met Adam's soft calming blue eyes filled with tenderness and affection. Perhaps he isn't as cold and chilling as I believed he had become, thought Teela.

Adam gently reached out to caress her cheek and ensure she was alright. She looked rather pale for his comfort. Teela wanted to give him a genuine congenial smile and utter a vibrant welcome to return his apparent affection but in a heart beat, just as Adam touched her back, she lost consciousness, unable to tell him the insurmountable love that have always rested within her soul.

"Teela! Teela?" called out Adam as he caught her in his arms.

He could feel her shallow breathing against his neck that slowly seemed to be fainter and fainter by the minute.

The panic stricken king laid her on the bed as he repeatedly yelled her name on top of his voice in sheer terror. He groped for her pulse in alarming haste and before realizing her corset was exceedingly tight.

With absolute force and his supreme masculine strength, he tore the laces of Teela's gown, reaching for the intricate bow strings of her corset in desperate attempt to loosen the culprit impeding her oxygen.

Suddenly Man-At-Arms and several ladies-in-waiting burst into the room.

"Teela!" he cried.

Man-at-Arms caught the unconscious half-dressed form of his daughter and the uncompromising way Adam hovered over her. His brows furrowed, trying to control his anger. Had Adam turned into a monster? No wonder Teela's affection turned to spite.

Adam caught the fury in his eyes that he tried to conceal and immediately appeased his concern.

"Her corset was tied too tight it restrained her breathing," Adam calmly explained.

Teela uttered a low groan as she slowly regained consciousness. Despite everyone's eyes on them, he tenderly caressed Teela's forehead.

"Darling, are you alright?" he asked.

Teela opened her eyes to a blurry vision of her surroundings. She blinked several times to focus her vision and gradually the vision of Adam's handsome face so close to her own began to clear.

"What happened?" she asked in disorientation.

And before anyone can reply, she found herself instinctively throwing herself in Adam's strong arms. Despite of the dislike and anger her heart had been harboring against Adam for months, she realized that when she felt afraid which was rarely, and confused Adam would always be her haven of safety.

Her action surprised both Adam and Man-at-Arms but Adam reciprocated by running his hand through her tousled auburn hair as his other arm tightened around her.

"Someone foolishly attempted to kill herself by tying a bow too tightly on her torso," replied Adam wryly.

"Well, I'm glad you're alright, Teela," said her father in a deep sigh.

"You had me worried," he continued.

"I'm sorry father. I thought I looked fat…"

"Women and their vanity," laughed Adam.

"Well, vanity was something I thought my daughter never had," smiled Man-at Arms before leaving the room with all the ladies-in-waiting.

"Thank you, Adam," she whispered.

She became aware of how intimately she was pressed against Adam, snuggled between his hard torso and the soft cushion of pillows where she lay.

Suddenly Teela felt the shift in Adam's touch. His clear blue eyes suddenly looked dark and cloudy it seemed to bore a tingling sensation down her spine and to her very bones. The atmosphere became smoldering, even Adam's skin seemed to burn against hers, she could hardly breathe but she knew this time it wasn't her corset.

"You look lovelier than I remembered, Teela," Adam whispered against her ear, touching the tip of his tongue on her earlobe before nibbling tiny kisses at the back of her ear as his lips sensually moved down to the base of her throat.

Teela was lost as she drowned into the intoxicating kisses of Adam. She seemed to crave more and more of the burning touch of his large hands caressing her arms and back but her senses jolted back into reality as she suddenly felt his hands on her tender breasts beneath her torn dress.

The burning heat building inside her and the unexplainable sensation between her legs was too overwhelmingly frightening. She tore her soft lips from Adam's and cried.


It took Adam a moment to realize the terror in Teela's voice. His hands were slowly moving down to her flat stomach.

"Adam, please stop," she repeated.

Will he stop? What if he doesn't, she asked herself in dread. Can her strength match his?

Adam cursed beneath his breath. He hated himself for wanting Teela too much. He felt like a cad trying to posses her before the wedding. It was highly improper and totally unbecoming of a king. He felt ashamed of himself and somehow angry with Teela for making him feel so vulnerable. Just the sight of her makes him forget all sensibilities.

Why the heck did she have to say no, he sighed in exasperation as he hastily threw himself away from her quivering body.

Had he terribly frightened her? He wanted to pacify her and appease her with gentle words of love but he was afraid that if he stayed a minute longer beside her, not even an earthquake could stop him from making love to her.

He turned his back to her and started towards the bedroom door.

"I'm sorry. It was wrong of me not to wait another night. I should have waited…after all, tomorrow we'll be man and wife," he said in a cold and detach manner before leaving her room.

Tears started to brim in Teela's eyes. She couldn't bear his indifference. How could he sound so cold when minutes ago she was certain she didn't imagine his love and concern, or did she?

Perhaps she shouldn't have stopped him, she loves him after all.