Prologue

The girl awoke with a scream. A strong pain in her chest made her suddenly place her hand to her heart. When she looked down, she found her nightgown - covered in bright blood. The girl remained calm, even though she did not know what to do. The pain was excruciating. She opened the buttons of her nightgown to find stitches neatly placed where her heart is.

Thunder boomed from the outside and lightning lit the room. She caught the eye of a man preparing to jump from her window. With a box in his hand, he glared back at her. His green eyes were piercing through her, his expression unreadable. He was gone by the next strike of lightning.

She sat up in her bed, waiting for something to happen; nothing did. Instead, silence took place. There was not a sound; the storm went with the man. It was in that minute she realized what the man had done. It was impossible; in the box was her heart. The pain terrified her more and more - so much that she could not even call for her parents. The man had stolen something; he stole her heart, he had taken it from her. But how? No one can live without a heart.

That is, unless you are me; Milena Rose.

One

The stories spread quickly of me; the girl without a heart. My parents never caught the man who took it; it would be hard to catch him with just my father looking. We decided not to tell anyone about my heart or, rather, my lack of it. How the story got out, you may ask, was because of a servant that had overheard my parents at dinner. He told the village several stories; not of all of which were true. He lost his job immediately after we found out what he had done.

In many ways, I am angry at that servant. After the stories were told, I could never set foot out of doors; for madmen might want to use me for tests. This is not the only reason why I have never stepped foot out of doors. My parents believe that if I were to be out in the breeze, the cool air might trigger something to make me stop breathing. This is what you get for living a life without a heart. Thanks, green-eyed man.

When I turned sixteen, things changed for our family- things changed for me.

The farm work my father had to do aged him faster than normal, so he could no longer work our farm. He set out to the village looking for young man that could do the work, but no one came forward for weeks. We all feared what would happen if we had no one to tend to the farm. There would be no produce, so in turn there would be no money.

One day in early Spring, my family and I were eating a meal when we heard a knock at the door. My father got up and opened the door to find a young man with wonderful - really wonderful - brown eyes.

"Sir, I heard that you are looking for a worker. I am young and fit for the job, I assure you. I work for low pay," the man stated bluntly.

I liked the way he said it; it was courageous, and since nothing in my life has been courageous at all, I had a great deal of respect for this man, if that's what you want to call what I felt towards him.

"I would be willing to pay any amount you offer. There is no need to explain more on the matter; you have the job. What is your name so that I may thank you?" My father inquired.

"Ace. Do I begin in the morning, Sir?"

Ace. Is this not the name that means "the best"?

"If you are willing," My father said.

"I am willing to do whatever you ask of me within reason." Ace talked as though he were talking to a King, and not a farmer. I admired that.

"Will you do what I ask of you now, then?" My father asked. "Promise me that you will keep secret whatever you hear from this house."

"I assure you, I will keep it secret."

Aww - a gentleman at last!

I walked behind my father, wanting a closer look at Ace. "Very good. This is my daughter, Milena," My father introduced us, moving aside so I was face to face with the young man.

"You are more beautiful than stories could ever describe," Ace said.

I felt myself blush. "I suppose you have heard them then," I said.

"Many of which I do not believe," Ace replied. He was too good to be true.

"And which do you not believe?" I asked, eager to know if he was as good as he seemed.

"I do not believe that you are cruel. I believe just from meeting you that you are kind hearted." A little off; I didn't literally have a heart then, but I liked being spoken of as if I did.

I took a deep breath. "You must remember your promise; Ace, I do not have a heart." I let the news seep in for a couple of seconds. He took it like a man, the whole I-don't-have-a-heart thing. "And I am glad you don't think I am cruel. I do try to be kind." I smiled shyly.

"Good."

Good? Okay well at least I know I am not the only one who's nervous.

My father cleared his throat.

So this is what it's like to have your father completely embarrass you!

He looked back and forth between Ace and I with a stern expression, but I swear I saw a hint of a smile behind that awful look.

"I will see you tomorrow young man," My father said.

"Good night sir," Ace replied, regaining his composure. "Good night Milena."

"And to you as well," I said, closing the door and smiling to myself.