The palace staff gathered to see Sofia walk outside in her coronation gown and climb into the carriage pulled by eight chestnut geldings. Thousands had collected on the streets of Vallia for the spectacle, cheering in an unending roar as Sofia was driven to the cathedral where she was anointed before an assemblage of dignitaries from around the world.
Given her tireless ambassadorial work over the years, she enjoyed international popularity. Still, it was noted by the press as remarkable that the president of a small country like Presovia would have such a prominent seat during the ceremony. And what was the provenance of the startling aquamarine ring she wore? What was its significance?
When the heavy crown was placed on her head, Sofia looked to Laszlo, and his solemn nod of deference and pride filled her with strength.
The reception and ball took hours and would have worn her to the bone if not for Laszlo claiming a dance. He made her smile so happily, the press picked up on their chemistry. Their photo went viral before the party was over.
They didn’t see one another again until Christmas, when they reunited after months of duty to their respective roles. They anchored in a yacht near Crete and were bothered by nothing but a few seagulls and one choppy day of whitecaps.
As their idyllic time dwindled into its final hours, however, Sofia grew anxious. When they made love, her hold on him held shades of their old frantic desperation.
“My love, shhh. I’m here.” He pressed deep inside her, pinning her with his weight while he touched soft kisses to her cheekbone and brow and lips. “What’s wrong?”
“Are you sure, Laszlo?” She cradled the side of his face and held him with the clasp of her thighs. “There’s still time to change your mind.”
When he went back in January, he would make the announcement that he was leaving politics. The dominoes would begin to fall. After his term finished, he would move to Vallia. They would confirm their relationship and, in a year or so, they would announce their engagement. A wedding was two years away at least.
“This is where I want to be, Sofia.” He withdrew then pressed into her, setting her alight with pleasure. “I want to be with you like this, every night. Wake with you every morning.” He thrust again, and she curled her nails into his shoulder with sharp ecstasy.
Culmination swept over them in minutes and they held one another tight as the throes of joy gripped them.
Afterward, as he stroked his hands over her, he said, “I don’t want to put off our life together any longer than I have to.”
“I don’t know what I did to deserve you.”
“You didn’t have to do anything. You’re you. That’s all you need to be.”
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