When it was her turn to walk up on the balcony to proclaim her choice to the community, her shaking was purely from nerves. Whatever the healer had put in these bandages the last time around, it worked wonders.
She felt all eyes on her. “My name is...” she began, looking at her feet. “What?” someone called from the audience. Kerrana closed her eyes and took a deep breath. For once in her life, she needed to do this properly. Her voice needed to be heard. She cleared her throat. Her eyes skimmed over her family and she found her stomach twist till she found Sanjeer in the crowd.
“I am Kerrana of the Maleigh family. My choice is to become...” she braced herself, “a pillar of society.”
The murmur ensued instantly but she only smiled at the confused faces of the dignitaries and made her way down. As soon as she’d descended the last step her father was upon her.
“What is the meaning of this?” he grabbed her shoulder. “Go back up there and correct what you said!” he hissed.
“I said exactly what I meant to say.” Kerrana said more boldly than she felt. Her mother arrived and softly touched her father’s shoulder.
“Let’s discuss this outside. People are watching.” That did it. Her father grabbed them and dragged them out of the hall. Once out of earshot he let go her arm.
“What was that? Are you trying to embarrass us? Pillar of society? Who would want you? Go back in and tell them you will be a temple maiden. If you tell them you were confused because of the people watching, they’ll accept it surely.” He was already trying to push her back inside to pull off his manoeuvre when her mother stopped him.
“No.” Kerrana said at the same time.
“What no?” His eyes narrowed at his useless daughter.
“No, I will not correct it. And as to who will take me – someone already did.” Kerrana said quietly but without embellishments. She was not good with words.
“What?” he looked from her to her mother. “You know of this?”
“So it seems.” Her mother said.
“What! Behind my back?” he grabbed Kerrana’s shoulders and started shaking her.
“Excuse me, Sir? This is my wife you are manhandling.”
Her father let her go so abruptly she tumbled to the floor. Her mother looked worried, almost as if she wanted to help her up.
Kerrana’s father reeled around to look at Sanjeer. He took him in, foreigner that he was, with his strange garb.
“You? You dare marry my daughter?” He took a swing at Sanjeer who dodged. The momentum let her father bang his face on a pillar.
The whispers in the background told them there was an audience.
“Maybe we can talk this over like civilized people.” Lady Gular's authorative voice rang over the din. She clearly revelled in calling to order a dishevelled Sir Maleigh. Kerrana had never seen her father so infuriated and out-of-control. She was glad of the interference.
People’s faces clearly showed their delight. They loved a good scandal. Only her cousin threw her a really nasty look.