Chapter 1

SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Fiona sat in front of her vanity slowly brushing her long, lustrous black hair. Her father had once again told her she needed to get married, but it was different this time. He'd set a time limit. A thing she had been dreading for the past years. As it was, she was almost too old to be of marriageable age. At 19 she was almost an old maid. There weren't too many lords around who would take a bride that old, especially one her. It was the reason why she had been able to stall her father for the last three years. She'd convinced him to put it off for as long as she could, but she could anymore. He would make her marry whether she wanted to or not and a man not of her choice. True she had a time limit to find a husband that she found tolerable, but she did not know any men. She had never spoken to one outside her family in three years. She'd learned her lesson.

She could escape. Run away from everything and everybody she knew, but was she willing to live in utter poverty? She wasn't particularly fond of riches and clothes but she didn't know how to do anything, and she knew that if she left this place she would have to work. Fiona sighed and put the brush down. If you saw her face, with its finely arched eyebrows and her sea green eyes, you would not be able to tell that she was bothered by anything. She'd become a master at hiding her emotions; especially from her family.

She scoffed and stared at her reflection in the mirror. A family that couldn't care less what happened to her, as they had shown three years ago. They had only cared about the scandal, not about her. They didn't care about her broken heart, about the pain she was going through. They didn't care that she trusted every single one of them only as far as she could throw them, which wasn't far. A tear leaked from her eye and she wiped it away, never taking her eyes from her reflection in the mirror.

Nobody cared. She might as well leave. The tears that had formed in her eyes turned into a full blown rain as they fell freely from her eyes onto her pale cheeks. She would die out there. She knew that. She did not want to be taken advantage of in the real world but she would be taken advantage of here, at home. Either way she looked there was a certain doom awaiting her.

"Why me?" she whispered. "What did I ever do? I've never even been outside this castle! I've never done anything. I've never hurt anybody!"

As the tears kept pouring from her eyes she made her decision because to her nothing mattered anymore. There was only what the world wanted. She would to do as it commanded then. She would wait out the time her father had given her then she would marry someone of his choosing.

What did she care anyway? The world would keep turning no matter what she did or didn't do.

Two weeks later...

Fiona's time was over. She new it the minute the girl-slave had come to her door saying her father wanted to see her. She wished she could disappear right then. She wanted nothing more than to turn tail and run. But she didn't, and she wouldn't. She would never run. She had stood up for herself three years ago and she would do so now. Her father hadn't killed her then, he wouldn't do so now. All he would do is tell her the name of the person she would spend the rest of her life with. But why did it feel like she was marching into battle never to return? Like she was making her way up to the platform where the man in the black mask would cut off her head with one swing of his axe?

Her hands were cold and they shook as she made her way to her father's study. She absently wondered if her brothers would be there. Her heart beat fast in her chest and it made her wonder if it would suddenly give out. Now that would be interesting. Her dying before she reached her father's study. As she approached the door her mouth went dry and her heart beat twice as fast as it had before. Her breathing was shallow and she fell faint. Every girl's dream was for her father to find a nice man for her to marry and have a nice family with, but that dream had gone out the window for Fiona three years ago. After that, she never wanted to marry, she never wanted to see another man ever again. Hell, she never wanted to see anyone ever again. Her heart constricted painfully in her chest at the memory. She felt like crying, but then she always did when she thought about that.

With a shake of her head and a mental slap she opened to the door to her father's study slowly and carefully. As she'd imagined, all three of her brothers were there. Their tall frames seeming to take over the whole room. With them was their father, a full head shorter then they were and next to him was another man, close to his age.

Fiona visibly paled thinking that this might be her future husband. A tiny little voice in the back of her mind, which sounded strangely like her father, told her that she should be grateful and take what she could get. She steeled her nerves and forced her hands to stop shaking. She curtsied and lowered her eyes demurely, knowing exactly what her father wanted her to be like when she was in the presence of his friends. Through her lashes, she saw her father's friend smile and it took all her will power not to retch. She wanted to scream. She wanted to let her mind drift and let it be anywhere else but there at that moment. She didn't move from her spot as her father gestured form the man and her brothers to sit down. She was too well trained to assume she was being asked to sit down also. No man would ever ask a woman to sit down when he was accompanied by other men. It was one of the things she hated in this world and this life. The fact that women had no rights and, according to men, were only good for two things.

"So, Alistair, what do you think about Fiona?" her father, Robert, asked. Fiona could tell that he really wanted this match. He'd wanted to get rid of her for a long time; Fiona didn't know how she'd lasted for so long. She kept her gaze lowered and didn't say anything. She had a quick temper but she'd learned to curb it from years of punishment.

Alistair stood and walked over to Fiona, lifting her chin with his thumb and index finger. She allowed for her fact to be lifted but kept her eyes down out of "respect" and out of dread. How could any father do this to his daughter? How could they take their own flesh and blood and give her out to a stranger? Why? Why did this so society deem women so unworthy of love and anything else? They were not just puppets or assets. They were only seen as pawns in a big game of chess.

"She's a beautiful thing," Alistair finally said. He'd been inspecting her face for a few minutes now and he liked what he saw. "Although I wish I could see her eyes. She has them lowered and I cannot see them." Alistair chuckled. He could feel her temper. He could feel the anger radiating from her body and he liked it.

"Fiona," her father said. He was irritated at her. All he wanted was to close this deal and for Fiona to be gone.

Recognizing this as an order, Fiona raised her eyes to the man's chin, not daring to go any higher and knowing that if she did he would take it as a sign of defiance. She heard Alistair's tiny sigh of appreciation and wanted to retch. This convinced her further that her father had chosen this man, Alistair, to be her husband. But beggars couldn't be choosers, she guessed, or so the tiny little voice in her head told her. She lowered her eyes once more as Alistair let go of her chin. She fought a wave of nausea and disgust as she felt him run his hands through her long, black strands of hair. She would have recoiled if she had not known that his would have dire consequences for her.

"She's got beautiful eyes, Robert. And the hair, she's so exotic. Where have you kept her all of these years? She's perfect!"

Fiona just stood there dejectedly. If only–

"My son will be most pleased." She heard Alistair say.

Fiona did a double take. This man was not to be her husband but his son? Things were starting to look a little bit better. She still did not want to marry but she wanted to marry an old man even less. She waited to see if they would mention his name but they did not. She stood there while her brothers, her father and Alistair "talked business" like a statue, her legs growing tired of standing and being in one position for a long period of time. She wanted to ask if she could be excused but knew she could not. Her father would have a fit and hit her or some other violent act. She folded her hands in front of her hoping her father would remember that she was still in fact in the room and dismiss her. She couldn't have been more pleased when he finally did ten minutes later.

"You may leave, Fiona. But don't stray far, I may need you again."

"Yes, I'll be in my chamber, Father," she said in a demure voice and walked out of the room. She tried to think of the good things that getting married meant but no matter from what aspect she looked at the situation it was not a pleasant thought.

AN: This is just something old that I don't know if I'll continue. Hasn't been edited I don't even remember when I wrote it but since I'm posting and everything. Yeah.