Author: Animel PM
A new husband awaits Natara and a new life with him. But she's not quite ready to give up on her old one or the people in it. Nor is everyone all too eager to see her go or arrive for that matter. Will they survive the transition or kill each other first?Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 18 - Words: 14,472 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-06-13 - Published: 04-23-09 - id: 2664217
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A/N: Hello my lovely readers! You are all my favorite. To clarify, as several have been confused by the setting, this story takes place in a fictional land that you can imagine much like a medieval USA or a parallel world to our own in the modern times. In other words, this functions just like the world as you and I know it, but is not necessarily constrained to the same customs or specific geography. Enjoy!
Chapter One: For the Best
Papa said it's for the best. He said it would protect us all, that it would help the family the way nothing else could, that it was a win-win situation for everybody involved.
Papa can go to hell.
Natara Williams simply does not have the same sort of ring to it as Natara Andrews if you ask me, but therein lies the problem. As the eldest of five in my family, I was chosen as the sacrificial lamb to be cast out into oblivion, or 'given a blessed opportunity' as Papa prefers to call it.
I should not be so hard on him, I know, but it is hard not to be bitter as I sit here sore after a long day's journey toward the town that is soon to be my home. Even the weather seems intent on being unfair to me, blistering hot all day as we rode beneath the brutal sun only to turn to an equally unbearable chill in time for nightfall, as though laying on the ground weren't uncomfortable enough. It wasn't practical to pack a blanket, since soon I'll be in a house with ten times as many as the one I am leaving, but I can't help but wish we had anyway. I remember Lucien making a good enough blanket when we were children, but it hardly seems appropriate to crawl over and steal a cuddle from him now, tempting as the prospect is. After all, I'm about to be a married woman.
In any case, I am not doing this for Papa, although it's easy enough to pity him. At ten, I had the strength that he did not. When Mama died I stepped up to the task and took over the job of mother as best as I knew how. He, on the other hand, has never been the same since. I first noticed the shift in him when she began to grow sick, and when she died it was his spirit that was lost. His big belly laugh became a thing of the past, his eyes always looking tired and movements stiff. It's a shame for Mara especially, who never got to know the man her father once was. Then again, she's the only one of us without the memory necessary to miss Mama. I think that makes her lucky, but I am not sure.
I'm not really sure when we started having money troubles, since that isn't the sort of thing Papa would let any of us know, whether because he was ashamed or didn't want to burden me with it I'm not sure which. But recently we hit rock bottom, so Papa, humbled by a house full of hungry bellies, leapt at the chance that presented itself when word got out that wealthy Marcus Williams was in the market for a wife. It just so happens that I am seventeen now and people tell me I'm pretty. If I could change that, believe me I would, but as of yet I've been unable to accomplish the task. Sometimes, it seems, the fates just line up, for better or for worse. We came to an obvious enough arrangement.
I shall marry him as soon as I arrive at his town sometime tomorrow, and in exchange for my hand he will send money back to my family.
It isn't so surprising, really. Like I said, I've been taking care of my family for seven years, now. It only stands to reason that I would continue to do so, only in a different way. I worry how they will get on without me, but at this juncture they need money more than my presence, simple as that.
They say it takes loss to form appreciation, and I can't argue with that. I hope to never again feel the helplessness of losing the best woman I've known, and if protecting the family I have left takes leaving them, then off I go.
Exhausted as I am, sleep won't come. I scoot cautiously closer until I can hear Lucien's breathing, and before I know it everything else falls away.