“If we don’t get through this next stage of the competition, I will finish you this time,” His ginormous hand slammed into my throat, pushing my whole body into the intricately carved wood wall.
My fingers dug into the smooth wall to brace myself as he tried to force me down. I would no longer grovel at his feet if I could help it. I locked my grey eyes with his matching ones. I smirked. “You weren’t able to last time, so what makes you think you will succeed this time?”
He crushed his hand around my throat. I choked. My hands latched onto his one and tried prying it from my throat. He lowly chuckled. Raising me up to his eye level, I was about a foot off the ground.
I wheezed as my vision began to blur around the edges. My legs swung blindly at his body until they connected with a weak point. He snarled as his body hunched forward. His grip loosened on my neck and I broke free.
My left side smacked into the solid, red marble floor, causing my hip to throb. I lifted myself into a sitting position. My whole torso heaved. Glancing up, I saw his leather, gold-trimmed boot flying towards my face. I rolled out of the way. His boot thudded into the ground, the sound echoing throughout the room.
Scrambling to my feet, he rushed at me. I sidestepped and he rammed into the silk curtains and sealed windows. He spun around with wild eyes. His body trembled. Several veins popped out from his red face and neck.
My lips pressed into a firm line. My heart beated erratically in my ears. The last time I had seen him this mad was when I was nine. It had been what would have been mom’s 33rd birthday. One of the new servants mentioned how grateful he should have been that I at least survived the ordeal. He cracked. With me being his sole target. Last time I hadn’t let him kill me and I wouldn’t this time.
Our eyes met. I moved a slight inch to the left and he matched me. I took two steps back and he took two forward. Seemed he calmed a bit if he was trying to be strategic. I couldn’t overpower him, but if I used my speed and got to my mace I could beat him. Only, it was behind him.
It was on one of the numerous ornate tables in the room. It was short enough for me to wield with my left hand, but the spiked head was the size of my own. If my fire orb was still on it, I would easily win.
I charged at him, keeping my body lowered. He cackled. He ran forward to meet me, his right arm swinging out. Dropping to my knees, I slid under his punch and past him. He growled. I sprung back onto my feet. Snatching my mace off the table, I whirled around to face him.
Ducking, his fist connected with the wall. It broke through the polished wood. Oh, the other nobles wouldn’t like that. I swung my mace into his left side and hit the mechanism on its handle. Crackles and sparks filled the air while he screamed. He collapsed to the ground as I released the mechanism.
Poking him with my foot, he didn’t move or respond. That was lightning. I raised an eyebrow, looking at the light yellow, glowing orb attached to my mace. I grinned. I had wanted a lightning orb. Wonder if he altered my weapons in any other ways? He probably did, after all, he ‘needed’ to win this competition to become one of the thirteen governing nobles of Carntwin.
The clanking of metal filled the room and I turned in time to see ten of my Father’s men enter. I grimaced. Well, any chance of escape was gone. I could take down all these guards. Though if I did the palace would be in a frenzy and after me. I couldn’t chance that many warriors with Lyle and Wylie still being captive.
Letting go of my mace, I stepped forward with my arms raised. The leader of the guards darted at me, his arm connecting across my shoulders. He threw me back into the decorative walls. Gasping, I collapsed onto the ground. My back ached more as the guard forced his foot into it. Twisting me around, he bound my torso and arms with a chain.
I rolled my eyes. If my father didn’t need me, he would have been thrilled if these guards had killed me. The only time he had ever seen past his hatred for me was when I proved useful, a tool. He would never love me.
I scurried away as best I could on my little legs. I cringed when I heard the pounding of feet behind me. Diving under the hand craved table, I crawled to the end along the velvet-covered wall. Pressing my body against the wall, I remained still. The footsteps eventually passed. I relaxed once I counted to three hundred after they had come.
Sitting up, I brushed my sticky hair out of my face. I gently touched the right side of my head. Still, I hissed under my breath. Inspecting my fingers, I glided my thumb over the blood. They would have to probably cut off my hair again to bandage this up.
This was already the second injury for the month and it was only the eighth day in. My eyes wander down to the bandages wrapped around my left ankle. He was angrier lately. So, hiding out in the old wings of the mansion again would be best.
I frowned while I picked at a loose string in my dress. Tears dripped onto the pink chiffon causing it to darker. If Mother was here I am sure she wouldn’t let Father hurt me like this. I bet she would be like the Mothers in the markets. The ones who held their child’s hand as they shopped. The ones who embraced them when they would stumble in the cobblestone. I bet she would be more elegant than any other noblewoman in town and far more gracious. I knew if she was around Father would be happy, he would smile. He wouldn’t hate me, he would love me. He wouldn’t be able to punish me for killing Mother.
I wiped my face with my left wrist and my eyes caught my mate scar. It didn’t bear the initials of my soulmate, so it was just two joined, curved diamonds. My fingers traced over it. My body slumped forward. The last tear slipped from my chin. The left corner of my mouth slightly turned up.
No one loved me now, but my soulmate would. Once I found him, I would never be alone. He would protect me from my Father, he would protect me as Mother would have. No, he already loved me. And that was all I needed. I would survive this pain and all the future pain because my soulmate loved me. And he was all I needed.
My right hand clutched my mate scar. How naïve and stupid I had been as a child. I blindly believed my soulmate, Fletcher, loved me though I never had met him. He had come for me though. He claimed he wanted to be with me, but who knew if that was really what he wanted. I would take the unknown with him though over being stuck in this situation. So, I would believe in him for now.