“What is a betrothing ceremony?” I asked innocently enough assuming is was just another court ritual for joining up.
Behind me Ian cleared his throat. I glanced back at him never seeing him get there. He seemed even more uneasy than just seconds ago so I turned back to the queen to be sure she wasn’t throwing out evil vibes. The queen wasn’t bothered by anything I’d said the whole morning, so when she said this next tidbit of information, she had the same semi-bored look she’d held superiorly well.
“You will promise to become his bride.”
She said what? Bride? What? This is not happening. I closed my eyes. I’d just promised myself to keep my composure, but this is not the fairy tale proposal for marriage I’d envisioned when I watched Cinderella as a little girl. Another stolen moment in front of the parental had me screaming in my head for Ian to control his mother.
Ian touched my shoulder and cleared his throat. “For all time.”
“I don’t know what to say.” Married? I couldn’t wrap my head around that one. I pictured myself getting married at twenty-something, not now, living in a suburb, but later, and carpooling to work. That was reality. In my dreams, I pictured Ian taking me far away to some distant land and living like a fairy tale with happily ever after. But this wasn’t the plan. Did my mom know about this part?
Queen Lazyra pointed to Ian, “You didn’t give her much information to start with my son.”
“Yes, my queen. This girl has, well, a way of freezing my tongue. I tried.” He blushed.
That was his attempt at hidden meanings without having to say something too personal in front of me or his mother. No wonder he worried over his mother for years, she’s the devil’s twin.
Working with the Devil’s daughter might just be the end of both of them. Read about Hayes and Kali’s story.
I stood planted to the spot I’d landed on upon entering. One of the two men noticed me and coughed. Hayes looked up at me and simply stared with an unreadable expression, unchanging.
After a breath of time passed he held one hand in the air and the two men left the table walking my direction. For one fearful second I thought they were going to grab me under my arms and drag me away like they did in the movies, but instead stopped like soldiers, saluted me, and circumvented the door.
When my eyes moved back to Hayes, he’d left the end of the table and now stood right beside me, his gaze intent. “Is there something you need?”
I had a sudden panicked feeling to turn and run like a screaming girl who felt the term “manning up” once meant gaining muscles. Here, now, it meant lying and hiding the way sweaty palms give away nervousness. Instead, I told the truth. The devil in me was hiding in the dummy waiter to go back up to earth. “No, I just didn’t want to be alone.” I let him watch me and took the time to scan the amazing selection of books that went all around the room in a circle. This was heaven. Oh, the irony.
“Would you like a book?” he asked me.
I nodded unable to find my voice, drool pooling in my mouth at the thought of this many books.
His smile was genuine when he offered, “Anything you like.”
I looked at his handsome face. He was definitely good looking in a resplendent, sad way. Any girl would fall over and stumble to be noticed by him. A year ago, I would have sighed and broke out in hives to be asked out by so gorgeous a man. And yet, I was engaged to him.
I walked away towards a shelf to busy myself, rubbing my chapped lips together again dying for a little lip balm. The books were dusty and the walls with it. He worked as my father’s partner for the Underworld. How did no one know about this at school? “So, you are like a captain or something, yes?”
“Yes.” A plausible answer was given before he moved back to the table by the direction his voice came from.
“And that’s like in an army, yes?”
“And yet you are in a library?” I turned to see his face.
Having watched me the whole time, I quickly looked away and grabbed a book from the shelf pretending to look through it.
“I meet with my two lead men most nights to regroup,” he paused, “and I like to read.”
I looked at him placated by the idea that he would read for enjoyment and have to acknowledge that he wasn’t this angry boy who taunted me all the time…at the moment. Okay, so he wasn’t all evil all the time. “What do you read?” I challenged him a little, curiosity getting the best of me thinking maybe he’ll talk if softened him up.
“If I tell, will you think less of me?” He was asking? I didn’t answer him. He didn’t deserve it yet. “Frost. Tennyson. Shakespeare.”
Wow! “Got to admit Under, I didn’t think you had anything in you but sexist comments and all out anguish.”
“Kate,” he put the rolled up paper that resembled a map back down on the table, “I didn’t chose this life either. I have spent my entire childhood being told to wait for you and prepare for you and be a husband to you and be at your beck and call, remember?”
Yes! “No! I don’t recall that you were penciled into my life. But it seems that others had those plans for us and I detect a certain amount of rebellion in your voice at the present moment my dear husband to be. Perhaps you didn’t choose it either, but you don’t seem to be fighting it just the same.” I inched closer meaning to demean and break his hold over being in charge. I’m in charge of me, I reminded myself. But something else inside of me took flight. Something repressed and a promise I chose to ignore while being here.
He backed up till he was against the table. When his hands fly to the top and held on tighter than I would have thought, I stood a little taller.
“I will not be made to do anything I don’t want to do, Under. Let’s get that all on the table. NO ONE will make me do anything.” My ireful nature flared up. I felt my body light on fire.
“Say it. You’re a demon, Kate.”