Another Tuesday, another Tale. This week's prompt is 'Dress'. To check out other brilliant stories from other authors: Tuesday Tales
Here is an excerpt from my WIP: Working Title name: Ties Unbound
If anyone would have told me that I’d be getting married on the eve of my twentieth birthday, I’d have scoffed at them. But here I was in my room, getting ready for just that. My wedding to one of the most feared men in the world. And the most loathed. I wiped my balmy palm over my forehead.
“I don’t understand why I have to put on this dress!” I scowled, unable to shift my eyes from the dress lying on my bed. Not only did it look heavy, it had a plunging back and the fabric so sheer I was sure no one would need to squint their eyes to see through it. Only one word sprang in mind: Scandalous. I shuddered at the thought of everyone gawking at my back all the way to my butt, while I walked down the aisle.
My mother sighed, and wrapped her arms around me. “You must. He chose it. He chose you. It’s the custom for the groom to choose his bride’s dress.”
I pressed my face on my mother’s shoulder, and fisted my hands on my her chest, caring less that my make up would be smudged.
Why me? Why now? And most of all, why marry him? I had seen him around the court a few times. According to mother, he’d been evaluating his future wife.
More like shopping for a wife!
Unable to hold back any longer, I sniffled. Mother held me at arm’s length, her brown eyes filling with tears, as well as what I recognised as sadness.
“You’ll do fine, Cynthia. Of all my five daughters, he choose you. He saw something special in you. And you are special. You are my daughter.” She brushed a thumb along my cheek, my eyes slipped shut, savouring the feel of her comfort. For all I know, it was the last time, and I had no idea what lay ahead.
“Mother, I can’t – I can’t get married to him. I don’t know him. I don’t love him.”
Mother grabbed my shoulders and pulled me fiercely to her.“Oh my poor baby. You will love him. Andricalle is a good man. And a well, loved king.”
I blinked rapidly, finally let the tears fall and focused on the pain on my palms where my fingernails bit.
How could they let this happen? Weren’t the older girls supposed to get married first, and not the third down the line?
What my mother wasn’t saying was, I was the glue that would seal the compact between two groups. Last night I eavesdropped on a conversation between my father and mother. They spoke about compacts and agreements, and marriage. If I had known the marriage involved me, I wouldn’t be here at this moment.
This was my fate. Already sealed, and I couldn’t say a word. Everything seemed to be hanging on my marriage.
Taking a deep, trembling breath, I lifted my head and pulled myself away from my mother’s shoulder. I slipped the dress on, and as soon it’s weight settled around me, I breathed out. The back wasn’t as dipping as I had initially thought. From the mirror, I saw my mother brush her hand at her eyes discreetly. I averted my eyes quickly as she raised her head and came to stand behind me.
After piling my hair up and pining the tight curls with pins, I took a deep breath and turned to face my mother. Her lashes were still wet, and as much as she was trying to look happy, her lips were clamped together. They quivered slightly.
I lifted my dress and stepped forward, embracing her. “You always told us every one is born for purpose. Perhaps this is mine.” I wanted to swallow my tongue after the words passed through my lips. But I continued. “I’ll be fine.”
She sniffled and pulled back, dabbing her eyes with a white cloth handkerchief. “If you ever feel you need to come home, for any particular reason, you are always welcome.” And embarrass my family? Besides, from what I heard, The Leonians never gave up easily on what they considered theirs.
I nodded, forcing my lips to lift in a smile.
The Ochestra struck the traditional wedding tune, As I stepped through the door’s threshold, heads turned towards me, and I froze. My fingers clutched on my father’s arm.
“Relax, Cynthia sweetheart. It’s only a wedding.”
It wasn’t only a wedding. This was an event that was going to change my life. I'd be a wife, with responsibilities. Man, I had never been kissed on the lips yet! My current boyfriend, soon to be ex-boyfriend, Bren, seemed to think if he kissed me, I’d become pregnant. We made-do with chaste kisses on the cheek or on the forehead. Even our youngest sister Gilde had already been kissed hundred times - or so she bragged.
Glancing through my veil, I searched for Bren. He was sitting next to the aisle. His usually smooth, cheerful expression was like a dark storm waiting to happen, his full lips a thin line on his mouth. He held my gaze for a moment, then shifted and turned around to face in front of the chapel. It was enough for me to see the hurt, pain and betrayal in his hazel eyes.
At the front, my sisters and mother stared at us as we walked down the aisle. Pity, uncertainty and envy on their faces. Magda, our eldest sister dropped her gaze. We had often joked about the kind of men we’d like to get married to when we grew up. She had hopped to be the first. My eyes burned and I blinked back tears. I was glad for the veil.
Swinging my eyes forward, I saw him. Andricalle. My future husband. He stood straight with held his head high, unsmiling and his face unreadable. Dark hair was meticulously swept back. Intense hazel/green eyes focussed on me. I stumbled.
Today he’d done away with his customary black shirt and trousers, and honoured the occasion with a black suit, a white button up shirt and a silver grey tie. As my eyes lifted to meet his, something flashed in his expression. Interest? Irritation? Contempt?Before I could process its meaning, it vanished. I swallowed trying to dislodge the lump stuck in my throat. Possibly my heart. Since the beginning of this wedding affair, my heart seemed to be displaced, alternating between racing in my chest, and rising high in my throat.
My father must have seen my face through the veil, or sensed my need to flee, because his hand tightened around my arm, urging me on towards the front of the church to meet my husband.
Thanks for taking time to stop by and reading. As always, comments/feedback on what to improve are welcome. (The story is still WIP. There are bound to be grammar, typos. :) )
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