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Chapter 23

I managed to sleep until late morning somehow without anymore nightmares. But when I woke up, reality was nightmare- I was going to be forced to marry some traitor, Kayden was being held hostage, and Tristan was out there somewhere free and unpunished. I paced the room plotting and planning but none of it helped, I couldn't think of a plan that would do any good. Only one of us could go free and I wouldn't let the King have Kayden, no that was impossible. Besides if Kayden got free I know he would hunt down Tristan and kill him, and maybe he would even find a way to rescue me from the Duke of Chander, this Armond.

I was roused from my musings by a burly guard declaring in a deep voice that he was to lead me to the garden for breakfast with the king. I sighed, not nearly ready to see him- I had no plan whatsoever but I knew I would be out of mind with impatience if I didn't see the king now.

"I trust you slept well?" Asked the King as I took my seat. I smiled sweetly even though my mind rushed back to last night's screams.

"Oh yes, my bed is quite heavenly." He smirked at me and took a sip of his coffee.

"So, you will be measured today."

"For what, your majesty?" I asked.

"You're wedding dress of course, along with a few other dresses that you will be taking to your new home. We can't have you looking like a beggar now, can we?" He smiled.

Your majesty, I have failed to remember I never gave my consent." I hoped I looked strong and confident.

"Consent?" He growled, "Do you think I need the consent of some little whore?"

"Need it no, but I can and will make a scene if you don't listen to my conditions." I continued, figuring if he was going to kill me I mine as well give him plenty reason to.

"Listen you-"

"No! You listen!" I said as harshly as I could manage, "You need me, you might be able to force me to marry him, you may kill me, but you can not force me to spy and dig into his life to find out what you wish to know. But like I said, I'm willing to help you if you agree to my conditions."

"And what conditions do you have? Money? A title?" He said quietly but it was more frightening then if he had shouted.

"Kayden, he must go free." I watched his face, hoping to some reaction but I saw none. He was silent for some time.

"He will be released the moment you say 'I do' and not a minute before."

"And he must be treated well until then, good food, a good bed, clothes, and no one is to torture him or hurt him in any way." I pushed, hoping it wouldn't hurt to ask.

"Fine." The king sighed, "But in exchange you have to behave yourself while you're here, you will do all that I ask. You will learn what I tell you to learn, act as I tell you, and speak to anyone I wish. If you don't Kayden will pay for your disobedience and believe me- it won't be pretty." He stared my stare in the eye with a glance like a dagger, it was all I could do not to look away.

"I agree." I said after a moment, I mean what choice did I really have? He smiled and sipped noisily from his coffee.

"Well, not that that's settled would you like a muffin, dear?" I signed and nodded. This man was ridiculous.

"Can I see him?" I asked after I had eaten a few bites.

"You're groom? Of course not! Not until your wedding day." The King said cheerily. I glared.

"Not him! Kayden."

"Oh! No, I don't anyone changing you mind."

"He won't! Please!" I cried, but no. Of course the cruel bastard wouldn't let me see him, not today or tomorrow…

The new three weeks sped by like lightning. I was only alone when I slept, the rest of the time I was surrounded my seamtresses, teachers, shoemakers, and all types of nobles. The King seemed to take special pleasure in showing me off to anyone who came near, he would brag about how was the betrothed to the Duke of Chander and everyone was properly impressed but I really didn't understand who he was. Who was this Duke that everyone was so impressed? Was he in politics? Or was he from an old honorable family? Or maybe he was just obnoxiously rich…I had no idea. I mean I was taught everything from clothing styles and which to wear for each occasion but history of the country- most I knew already. They taught me court etiquette and dancing, until they realized I more then proficient in that. They taught me everything imaginable except anything about my future husband. I was left completely in the dark, everyone I asked just pretended I hadn't said a thing, the King was the only one who acknowledged my questions but he refused to answer them saying 'you'll find out soon enough'. It drove me crazy.

Finally it was only two days until my wedding and pretty much everything was in order. I still hadn't gotten to see kayden, I asked every day and every day the king said no. But I always asked again hoping he would have a change of heart.

"Can I please see Kayden today," I begging at lunch, "I have done everything you've asked. I've been good and charming like you wanted. All I want to do is see him and speak with him before I get married and lose him for good."

"Oh my sugar plum," Said the King in his sickly sweet voice, "You aren't losing him forever, that's what will happen though if you don't get married."

"I will! I swear it! I told you I would just let me see him."

"If you change your mind, I will kill your precious Kayden in the most slow, painful way imaginable." He threatened with a smile. I shivered.

"I know. I won't change my mind. Please…" I asked trying to look pitiful and puppy dog-like. But then again I'm sure the King wasn't swayed by cute puppy dogs like normal people.

"Go." He answered quietly. I just stared, not believing he had just agreed, "Well don't sit there looking stupid! Go see your stupid boy!" So I went, going as fast and propriety and my long dress would lie. I kept thinking the King would appear out of nowhere to tell me he had been joking but he didn't. I followed one the guards deep into the palace to where they were holding Kayden.

I was surprised when they let me in the room, it was neat and spacious. It was lavishly furnished just like my room, the only difference was the color and the fact that all the windows were barred and there four guards outside his door.

"Go away!" He groaned as I walked in, he was laying on his bed on his stomach with his head buried in the pillows. I stifled a giggle and walked silently towards him. Then as I got to his bedside I leaped on him.

"What the hell!" He growled and grabbed me by the arms pinning me to the bed, I started to laugh at his angry expression.

"Deirdre!" He cried, looking completely shocked, "What? How-where?" I laughed and kissed him gently.

"The King finally let me come see you." I whispered.

"Oh," He said as he began to piece it all together, then it all came out in a rush, "You can't marry him, Deirdre! You can't! The king tricked you, you understand who he is! He's-"

"Hush," I said as I put my hand over his mouth, "I didn't come here to discuss my marriage" He opened his mouth and started speaking again but I pushed my hand over his mouth again, "Kayden, I don't want to talk about it and if you say another word I'll leave." He sighed and nodded. I let him go. He kissed my hand and put his arms around me. I snuggled close to him and we just lay there looking up at the ceiling in silence. Then he leaned over and kissed my lips.

A few hours later we started saying our goodbyes, I knew I should have left a lot soon but I didn't care. This could be the last time I ever saw him and I would enjoy it! I kissed him one last time and turned to the door, trying to keep the tears from falling but I was helpless to stop them.

"Deirdre, please…" He moaned as he took me in his arms, "You don't have to do this." I shook my head and tried to talk but I couldn't.

"We can escape together, we can run away! Go live in another country! Please don't do this!" He cried, looking frantic.

"I have to!" I sobbed, " I swore I would and I need to keep you safe."

"No! Darling no!" He said angrily, "You don't need to do this for me. I'm not important."

"You are to me," I kissed him, "I love you. I promise I'll be alright."

"Deirdre, you don't understand-" He stopped and we both turned to the door, it had burst open and the King strode in surrounded by guards.

"What's the matter?" I asked, wiping my tear stained face on my handkerchief.

"The matter! You have kept my friends and I waiting while you whore arounds and do god knows what!" He yelled. Kayden moved like he was going to attack him but I wrapped my arms around him.

"It's okay, just let it go!" I whispered to Kayden and kissed him lightly on the lips. He looked down at me, then up to the King.

"Listen to me, love, you've got to get away-" The King reached out and grabbed me out of Kayden's arms before he could finish. The King then pushed me into the hard, painful hands of one of his guards. He turned and started hauling me away.

"I love you!" I cried out to Kayden. HE tried to come after me but the guards stopped him. Hitting him repeatedly.

"STOP! Make them stop hurting him!" I screamed at the king. He just laughed,

"I told you what would happen if you misbehaved." He said then strode ahead. I looked back at Kayden and tried to get to him but the guard held me tight.

"It's Tristan!" Yelled Kayden before a guard punched him in the mouth, "You're got to get away, It's Tristan!" Then he was down again getting beaten. I screamed for him but soon I was out of sight and just broke down crying.

Somehow I managed to get through the next two days without any incident but Kayden's words haunted me, what could he have meant by saying it was Tristan? It made no sense. What or who was Tristan? I couldn't make sense of it and I knew better than to ask the King. I was stupid but not that stupid, and it's not like he would take it out on me either- he would take out on Kayden.

I had been up at dawn and ever since then I had been surrounded by an army of women bathing, brushing, comb, and dressing me. Making my look perfect for my 'special day' meaning the end of all my freedom and everything I loved. I think I managed it well though- I didn't cry, I managed to keep a blank face. I even made my face smile a few times. But then again I had a few hours until the ceremony started and I just prayed for Kayden's sake I could pull it off.

At noon then King came to get me and speak with me before he gave me away, for according to my new identity my father had died years ago and the King had been my guardian for most of my life. One things for sure though, it was easier to be strong with him there because of all the people in the world I wanted him to see me cry the least. I didn't want him to know how hard this was for me.

I don't know what happened but as the music started and the King took my arm leading me down the isle I felt my veins hum with energy and my mind cleared and my hands stopped shaking. I stood tall and proud, sweeping my eyes over the huge crowd gathered in the church. There were thousands of people but I was only looking for one- Kayden. I knew the King would have made him come, and after looking for a few steps I saw him in the back with two guards on each side. His face was swollen and bruised but other than that he didn't look too bad. I kept my eyes on him until the King pinched me, we were at the stairs and my groom was standing in front of me. I looked up, mostly out of habit- I had hardly given him a thought, he was just some obstacle between me and happiness. When I looked at him everything froze. 'It's Tristan!' I heard Kayden scream in my head and suddenly it made sense. The groom reached out and I place my hand into his, it fit perfectly like it always had. I shook my head to try to clear it as I climbed to the altar to be married to Tristan.

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