“You should get into bed, Your Majesty.”
Alarick groaned as he valiantly fought sleep, his eyelids lowering. “Not yet.”
I held back a smile and continued to run my fingers through his hair. This had become a nightly ritual of ours, one initiated by him, I might add. After a long day, I would sit on the couch in his royal chambers, and he would lie down, stretching his long body and resting his head on my lap.
“Just a few more minutes,” he mumbled, his words laced with sleep.
Alarick fell asleep on my lap so often, I could count the heartbeats it took for him to go under. His head was tilted slightly back, dark stubble growing on his handsome face. He wasn’t traditionally beautiful. His features were rugged—a square jaw, little creases at the corners of his eyes from thousands of years of smiling. His hair had grown to around his ears again, and soon it would be time for a trim. It warmed me, knowing I was the only one he allowed to cut his hair. His full lips were slightly parted, his features softened in sleep. With a feathery touch, I brushed my fingers down his cheek to his jaw, smiling at the sigh he released. He turned onto his side toward me and snuggled close.