Thorn (Werewolf)

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Chapter Four

I can’t stop shaking. I can’t breathe. My mother holds me still while she forces me to look upon my wedding-ready self in the mirror but I am becoming dizzier. The dress is beautiful, not too long or hazardous and it only comes down to my ankles. It’s ivory at my chest area but falls into a lovely soft blue colour at the waist. The bottom is loose and I feel bare underneath it. The built-in bra supports my breasts and there is a little piece of material connecting the two chest parts. The design is white flowers, stitched into the chest area and also spiralling down my thighs. In the light it looks like I’m wearing crystal diamonds, that’s how good the design is.

My hair has been braided into a plait at the base of my head with a few curly strands left to float around my jawline. My eyes have been painted black and they make my eyes brighter. My lips are coated with a thin rosy pink gloss and my face is that thick with make up that I look unrecognizable.

“Beautiful,” my mother murmurs. “The dress is so simple and elegant. Blue really compliments you well.”

I clutch a hand to my stomach and I walk away from the mirror. I’m having a panic attack and I can’t stop it. One of the servant girls guides me over to a chair and I hold my head in between my legs as I take deep breaths. I hear a knock on the door and then it opens.

“Is it safe to come in?” a familiar voice says.

“She’s just having a moment,” my mother says. “Now might not be the best time.”

I’m having a panic attack. Not a moment, an actual nerve-wrenching spasm. But my mother ignores my panic and my pain, like usual.

“Can you give us a minute please?”

“Sure. We’ll wait outside. Don’t be long.”

I gather myself and I look up to see my brother Coan folding his arms against the table. He is dressed in a navy-blue tux with a tie, he looks ready for a wedding. My wedding.

“You look amazing,” he says.

“Thanks.”

“Here.” He brings me a glass of water and I almost rip it from his hand. I empty the glass in a few seconds. “I wish I could make this easier for you. I hate seeing you like this.”

“Why? I’ve been preparing for this my whole life.”

“Our parents have gone mad,” he growls. “Lyle of all people. I hated him when we were kids and I still hate him now. The King has lost his mind. Someone should stop this.”

I flick my eyes up and I narrow them with anger. “You could have stopped this.”

Coan was once chosen as the fourth potential. Being from a high-born family, he was actually the King’s first choice. Our parents pressured and pressured him into accepting but Coan somehow got away with declining. He stood up to our father which is something that I have never been brave enough to do. If he had accepted the King’s request and trained as a potential then my parents wouldn’t be marrying me off to Lyle today. I wouldn’t have to go through any of this because the only thing better than having your daughter marry a future King is having your son become one.

“You know I couldn’t do that,” he says. “I don’t know anything about being King and I don’t care to.”

“And you think I want to be the Queen?” I hiss at him. “Don’t you think that I’d like that choice too?”

“I’m sorry. If I had known that they were going to make you marry Lyle then I never would have declined. But it’s too late, the King won’t accept substitutions and his final four are official.”

I shake my head. “I can’t marry him.”

“You have to marry him.”

“Why? Because our parents say so?”

“Because the King says so. If you back out now then he will make our lives hell and you know that.”

“Why me?” I cry. “Why me, Coan?”

I collapse into his arms as he rushes over and embraces me. My brother has always been there for me, he has always told me to follow my heart even when I knew that would never be possible. He kept me sane in a world full of insanity.

“You are strong enough for this,” he whispers. “I know you are.”

I nod my head and I walk over to the mirror. My eyes are sore, my tears have washed a little bit of my foundation away. I try to correct as much as I can before my mother returns into the room and declares that it’s time.

Another panic attack comes on but I struggle through it. Coan takes my hand and it holds it tightly as we leave the room. Our wedding is taking place in a chapel a few miles across the kingdom. Lyle didn’t want it inside the palace because the wedding room gives him ‘creepy’ vibes.

Our reception, however, is being held here afterwards and all of the servants are running around trying to get it ready in time. The palace is being cleaned, tidied and there are even servants adjusting the lightbulbs in the ceiling to make them brighter.

Long lines of servants and noble families crowd the palace entrance as they anticipate my leave. They move out of the way to allow me to pass, their mouths releasing noises of adoration and appraisal as they admire my dress.

I walk down the steps with my mother, my eyes staring at the carriage door that is open and waiting for me. My breathing is shallow and pathetic. I am hoping that I faint, why is it taking so long? I can’t marry him if I’m unconscious. Hopefully.

The adrenaline won’t allow me to pass out and it’s pissing me off.

My father is waiting at the side of the carriage, dressed in a black tux with a blue tie. He looks over me and smiles. I stare back at him. He links arms with me, forcing my mother to let go, and he takes me around the other side of the carriage.

“Your mother said that you had difficulty with getting ready this morning,” my father says quietly. “She said that it was nerves. I hope that was all it was.”

I nod. “Yes.”

“Good because you are going through with this wedding one way or another. You are not going to cause any trouble today that might embarrass us. Are you?”

“No.”

“Get in the carriage,” he says, opening the door wide.

There is only room for two and I sincerely hope that it’s my brother that is riding with me but my heart drops when my father gets in beside me. I look frantically for Coan but the carriage doors close before I can see anything.

The carriage starts moving and I watch the palace and all the gleaming people fade behind me as I am taken to my fate.

We enter a long trail with woods either side. The chapel isn’t far from here. I cannot panic in front of my father. I cannot show him defiance or resistance because he’ll see it as a weakness. He will do nothing to ease my fears, he will only make them worse.

“Do you know how lucky you are?” he says. “You should spend every day of the rest of your life showing your husband gratitude. You will please him in every way that he wants to be pleased and you will support every decision he makes for the kingdom. And in return, our alliance with the King will grow.”

I stare at the trees that are passing us at a steady speed. I wonder how deep those woods are, where they lead. I am wondering many things that I have never wondered before.

“I don’t say this often but I am proud of you, Devon.” He pats his hand against my leg, smiling to himself. “Your sacrifices for our family will not go unnoticed.”

I stick my head out of the window. “Can you stop the carriage please?” I shout to the rider. “I need to fix my dress or it’s going to rip.”

“Your dress?” My father studies it closely. “Where?”

“The other side,” I say, trying to falsely adjust my position. “I just need to straighten it.”

“Okay.”

The carriage pulls over and my fingers are hanging on the handle, waiting for it to stop. “I’ll only be a moment,” I say.

“Take your time. We can’t have your dress being ripped.”

I lift my dress up as I step out of the carriage. I close the door. My mother’s carriage is right behind us and it pulls over too. I hold the bottom of my dress in my hands as she sticks her head out of the carriage door.

“What are you doing?” she shouts.

“Adjusting my dress,” I shout back.

“Hurry up!”

I wait until she goes back into the carriage and I turn around, staring into the abyss of the woods. I can’t possibly. . . could I? Could I? My throat squeezes closed and my fingers tighten against my dress. I glance down at my flat, sparkling shoes.

“Devon,” my father calls through the window. “Take your time doesn’t mean take the entire day.”

It’s strange because I can hear my father’s voice and I can understand him but I can’t open my mouth to give a response. My whole life is being played out for me.

I see the bed I will be pinned against. I feel his hands holding me down as his lips claim pieces of my skin. Not just one night or one day, but every night and every day. I see myself as broken and weak, no longer able to smile, laugh or enjoy any part of my life.

If I choose that path then I will never be the same person again. That person will die today. I will die tonight when Lyle takes the one thing that I have been fighting to protect. I cannot allow him to have it.

“Come on.” My father is getting impatient.

I look back to the woods.

Could I? Could I do it? I shake my head, turning back around to open the carriage door. Of course I can’t do it. I meet my father’s eyes through the window, a man that doesn't give a damn about what his daughter is going to endure tonight.

I am his ticket into the King's private council. I am the price to pay for unimaginable wealth, protection and honor. I loved my father once, when I was a foolish child that didn't quite understand what being afraid of him meant. I'm not a child anymore.

My hand shakes as I rest it on the door handle. I'm dead either way.

“What are you doing? Let’s go.”

“Screw you,” I say.

“Devon?” he says, confused and angered. “Devon!”

I don’t hear a single word he says after because I am running towards the woods. Through the woods. I don’t know if I’ll make it far, I don’t have a plan or any knowledge on woods-survival at all but I just keep on running and I do not stop.

I run for my life.

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