Authors: A. A. Dark,Alaska Angelini
“What the hell is taking so long?”
I stormed into my room, seeing Eli hesitate as he handed Bram’s book to Everleigh. She was sitting up in bed, her eyes still swollen from all the crying. I only paused for a moment before I surged forward. I half expected her to cower at my nearing presence, but she didn’t. She grabbed the book, drawing it closer to her chest. She stayed silent as I stepped past Eli and ripped it from her hands.
“This is mine, now. It’s part of your punishment from your outburst at the funeral. When I feel you’ve learned your lesson, maybe I’ll give it back.”
She stayed quiet, moving her stare to her now clasped hands that rested in her lap.
“What, no argument?”
Eli retreated, heading to stand at the threshold of the door I’d come through. I didn’t pay him much attention as I turned back to Everleigh. Back and forth my mind went. The man I was, battled the man who had schemed to get as far as he’d come. I wanted my slave’s love, but the true me wanted to hurt her for knowing she’d never give it. There was no going back now. What I had done couldn’t be erased. And she wouldn’t forget.
I tossed the book down on top of the end table, sitting next to her. She didn’t try to move away from me, when again, I assumed she would.
“I won’t apologize for what I did. Your allegation, your behavior … I was trying so hard to be a good husband to you and you ruined it. Rape? Did I not take my time to make you feel good? Did you not enjoy it? If I recall, you were begging me for more. We both know you were.”
Shaking rocked her shoulders and she sniffled, lifting her head high as she looked at me. Still, she stayed silent. And still the tears came.
“You think I’m making excuses. That I raped you because I used the oil. Put that aside for a moment. I already told you why I did it. Ask yourself this. Did you enjoy it? Are you casting your anger towards me because you feel as though you’ve betrayed the man you love?” I paused as her brow creased through her thoughts. “Bram is dead. If he were alive and this had happened, maybe your anger would be warranted. But you don’t have to feel guilty for feeling something for me. Let him go. Stop putting up these walls toward me and see the opportunity you have before you. It all rides on you. All I asked was that you were a good slave. Are you incapable? Is it so hard to put aside your pride, or these feelings you think are love, and give me a fucking chance? Everleigh, I’m trying with you. Why can’t you attempt to try for me?”
Eli shifted, breaking my focus. Annoyance sank in, but I brought my attention back to my slave—my wife, within the hour.
“Fine, don’t talk. How’s this going to play out? Are you going to fight me when the judge and lawyer get here? Should I be expecting you to make a scene?”
Her head shook. “No, Master.”
“Are you sure?”
I grew quiet as thoughts took me. Mindlessly, I looked around, reaching and grabbing the damn book she kept holding to like a life-line. I opened it, seeing Bram’s name scribbled on the first page. I turned more pages, coming to the first poem. I cleared my throat, glancing over at my slave before beginning to read aloud.
The Devil and his keeper
Walls cannot buffer this hell we call home.
Embedded amongst all that pulsates of perversion,
Is a place made of stone.
He and I sing the true melody of love.
Can you hear the beautiful tune
as we whisper from above?
I hum it so sweetly,
a harmonic little tune
You grasp to it, desperately,
like you long for the moon.
He hears my song,
he whispers to death
the alluring lyrics flows
while I take my last breath.
You sway amid the words,
drawing us closer
We fight for your love,
I want her, I chose her.
I’ll save you, he sings.
Enslave you, I whisper.
And around we go.
Battling for love,
killing for you ...
I slammed the book closed, flipping it around in a complete circle so I could look for the title or author. Nothing. I glanced over to Everleigh’s engrossed, yet shocked expression.
Again, I opened the book. I wasn’t sure why I wanted to continue. Although I read the words, all I could hear was Bram’s voice in my head … and see how it related to
. I didn’t want to hear more, but there he was, worming his way into my life once again. And me, I kept taking it.
Amongst a throne, behind stone walls,
the emptiness will not evade me.
But there is one,
One girl, one sun.
If only she could save me.
Broken bones bend to the beat of my heart, falling.
Love is death.
Can you hear the drums calling?
Louder it projects,
luring you in.
Close your eyes and see me, I say,
tugging and shredding at your heart as I grin.
I am the shadow over your shoulder.
There I am.
Do you feel yourself grow colder?
Let the devil love you,
the shadow projects delusions.
Imagine what that sort of love is capable of.
I’m the macabre
Master of illusions.
“What the hell is this shit?” I turned to the very first page, flipping through them. Did Bram write this? No … he couldn’t have. Bram couldn’t write.
“I think it’s beautiful.”
I pursed my lips, glancing at Everleigh.
“It’s depressing and morbid. Why would you ever want to read this?”
“I like it,” she said, quietly.
“You and Bram, both, obviously. I don’t see the appeal.”
I placed the book down, still not able to shake the way my skin was tightening in goosebumps. It was too close. Too similar to his mindset.
“Thank you for reading to me. You didn’t have to, but you did.”
Her attitude has me looking over confused. “How are you feeling?”
Her gaze jerked down and all softness from her face disappeared into nothingness. “I’m fine.”
“I don’t think you are. I …” My hand settled next to her as I turned more in her direction. “I think I hurt you badly. Not just your body, but here,” I said, placing my finger against her temple. “And here,” I said, moving my touch over her heart. “You either hate me, or you’re going to. I never wanted that. I never wanted it to be this way. Yet, I did. I want both. I can’t help the way I am.”
“It’s my fault. You’re right. The way I acted was … inexcusable. Forgive me.”
“Spoken like a true slave. I bet in your mind, you’re wishing you had that envelope opener, again.”
Her head quickly shook. “I should be dead right now. What you did … That was letting me off lightly. I’m grateful to be alive—for your mercy.”
The speck of guilt eased and she was right. I could have had her killed for attacking me. Maybe in her mind, she truly believed what I had done was just. After all, she’d been a slave long enough to know the difference in right or wrong.
“Master, may I ask you something?”
Everleigh shifted, wincing as she managed to inch a little closer. “I’m sorry if my question upsets you, but I have to ask. You plan to marry me tonight. Me, a disobedient, horrible slave. You’ve been trying to have me since my old master was killed. You’re very handsome. You could probably have any woman in this outside world, or any slave at Whitlock bowing to worship you. Why, me?”
“Wife …” The question stirred my true self just as much as the man I pretended to be. “You have no idea how the outside world works. Sure, there are women I could have, but they would never satisfy me. Even if they could, they’re not you. You’re beautiful. Unlike any women I’ve ever seen. As for your disobedience, you will learn.”
“Will you rape me like you did, again?”
The fear in her blue depths called to me. I licked my lips, not being able to help lean in to brush my lips over hers. “I can only hope. If you’re a good slave, then you’ll have nothing to fear.”
It took everything I had to hold in my hate for the man before me. Letter opener? No. The new emotions boiling inside me wouldn’t have let him off so easily. I wanted to make him suffer. To make him pay for the pain he’d put me in. Someday, I would. But not yet. Right now, I had bigger things on my mind.
“Lift your arms.”
I obeyed West, leaning forward as I slipped my hands through the thin straps of the white, silk dress. It was plain. But in its simplicity, it was beautiful. The top was moderately high, but the back was completely bare. It was a trend I was beginning to see with West.
“Stunning. More than stunning.”
His head shook and he stepped back, reaching to the dresser for a black box. The necklace that appeared as he lifted the lid was dripping with diamonds. I couldn’t stop the gasp that left me as my eyes shot up to his.
And I did. Pain shot through my body and I tensed at the soreness. Every move was a reminder of my rape, and every reminder grounded me even more. It fed my innermost thoughts and desires. I’d always known what I would do if I were put in this situation and I had no plan to back out of it now.
“We may not have an actual wedding, but I will have fond memories of this night. The significance means more to me than you know.” The necklace was put around my neck and I couldn’t stop my hand from reaching up to place against the weight that was suddenly there. When he turned me to face him, he took a step back, smiling. “Perfect.” He turned his head, looking at the door. “What do you think, Eli?”
The guard nodded, but didn’t smile.
“You’re a lucky man. Damn lucky. Prettiest bride I’ve ever seen, and that’s the truth.”
“Thank you. You’re both too kind.”
West grabbed my hand, leading me to the large mirror.
“We’re not being kind. We’re being honest. Look at you.” He stepped in behind me, reaching around to trail his fingers down my necklace. They made a path over the diamonds, traveling between my cleavage. When he flattened his palm on my stomach and drew my body into his, I breathed through the need to attack. “Do you see,” he said, lowly, next to my ear. “You are what men’s dreams are made of. And now I have you, and no one else ever will.”
“Thank you, Master.”
A knock had Eli heading past us through the glass French doors of our room. He kept his hand by his weapon, looking through the peephole before grabbing the knob to open it.
“It’s time.” West turned me to face him, studying my face as he continued. “Don’t ruin our night. Sign the papers, no matter what you see on there that may anger you. Sign everything.”
“You’re my master. I will sign.”
“Not for long. Soon I will be your husband.” Again he smiled, leading me at a slow pace toward the living area where Eli had escorted a man a woman. The moment I took in the man’s face, my entire body trembled through the fury. I knew him. He was a master at Whitlock. He’d touched and groped all over my body during the auction.
“Judge Vickery. Thank you for coming.”
“Pleasure is mine. So married, huh?”
West drew me in closer, laughing as brought us a step forward. “Look at her. Do you blame me?”
Slowly, the judged raked his stare down my body. It made me sick. Harder, I breathed, trying to push away the violence that was brewing within. Is this what I had become? Bram once said I’d been hidden from the horrors of Whitlock for too long. I knew he had been telling the truth, but never once did I see myself turning into one of them. And wasn’t I? I craved to spill their blood. To massacre their bodies and end their lives for what they’d done to me.
“I don’t blame you at all.”
He looked over to the woman. She had to have been the lawyer that was mentioned. I didn’t recognize her as a slave, but she wouldn’t be if she were here.
“We’ll do the paperwork, first. Then, I’ll give a short ceremony. If the two of you will come over here.”
The judge took a file from the woman, pulling out a stack of papers. My heart was pounding, but I cared not about what was in there. It didn’t matter the slightest. Fighting wouldn’t save me. The money I knew West wanted wasn’t going to save me. I’d never be accepted as a Mistress in Whitlock. I’d never stand a chance alone.
“Mr. Harper, you can look over these and see if they’re satisfactory.”
For minutes West scanned over the pages. When he grabbed the pen and started signing, there was the biggest smile on his face. What I wouldn’t have done to sew his mouth shut so he could never smile again.
I took the pen, not even looking at the content. Signature after signature, I scribbled the name printed below the line. It wasn’t mine—Everleigh Davenport. But Everleigh Vicolette. My former name.
West’s eyes burned into me and I didn’t miss as he began stroking up and down my back as I leaned forward, scribbling a signature I wished I never held.
“Excellent.” The master’s voice was deep with happiness as I stood. “If the two of you will hold hands and face each other, we’ll begin.”
I glanced toward Eli as he watched on. Even though my body was twitchy with the need to run. To be sick, right here between West and our light hold on each other; I looked up into his eyes, keeping my true emotions hidden within me.
“Dearly beloved, we gather here today to join West Harper and Everleigh Vicolette in holy matrimony. Although their relationship brief, their love is apparently strong.”
The words faded out as stared up in a daze. I wouldn’t be a part of this. Of these lies that that consisted of things I didn’t want.
“Do you West, take Everleigh, to be your wedded wife? To live together in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love, comfort, and honor her, for better or worse? Richer or poorer? In sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to only her, until death?”
West’s features drew in and he paused, seeming to take in the vows. “I do.”
“And do you, Everleigh, take West, to be your wedded husband? To live together in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love, comfort, and honor him, for better or worse? Richer or poorer? In sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to only him, until death?”
West smiled, not even waiting for the judge as he wrapped his hand around the back of my neck, pulling me in until his lips pressed into mine.
“Ok, then,” the judge laughed. “I now pronounce you man and wife.”
“Wife,” he breathed out, breaking away. “
wife. Thank you, Judge. I won’t forget this.”
“It was an honor. I’ll leave the two of you now to enjoy your wedding night. I’ll see you soon.”
The men’s eyes met and West was still smiling as he nodded. I knew what silently went back and forth between them. They meant at Whitlock, and I dreaded the thought of seeing the judge again. No, I wouldn’t. I’d avoid any and all masters as much as I could. I may have been married to West, but I had plans of my own. If he wanted a wife, a compliant and loving slave, I’d give him one. I’d make him believe I was the best thing to happen to him. And in the process, my hold on him would grow. I’d do what I told Bram, and I’d flip the roles as much as I could.
The moment West shut the door behind them, he turned to me, his smile dropping.
“You didn’t like him.”
It wasn’t a question, but a statement as he stared into my depths.
“I recall him being one of the masters who was particularly rough the night of the auction.”
Recognition seemed to sink in and he nodded. “As my wedding present to you, two nights from now, he will be no more. Just let him take care of the paperwork first.” His lips pressed into mine, loving, coaxing, as if he’d never held me down and raped me in the most brutal way.
“I won’t forget this,” I breathed out, meeting his lips again as he pulled me into his body.
Despite my need to draw back, I forced myself to kiss him back. To
kiss him back. In our moment, I could still hear Bram’s poems humming through my mind. When I got the chance, I’d try to read more. I’d try to see what the high leader felt was so important for me to know.”