Lights from the half dozen chandeliers above had given an almost otherworldly, ethereal feel to the gigantic room.
The night was abuzz, as people drank, danced and devoured the food set on the buffet tables placed in every corner.
No costs had been spared for this occasion, and why would they be? One of the ten marquesses of acheron empire was getting married in nearly a week.
Every invitation had been checked twice, three times, maybe more, before being sent out. Only the upper echelon of society was invited.
Merchants, traders, businessmen, dealers, bureaucrats, even magicians from the tower had been invited. Like i said, only the upper echelon.
The man standing by my side had a grin so huge on his face, i was surprised it did not split into two.
Of course, he'd be happy. This celebration was in his honor, after all. In the honor of his engagement.
If an outsider were to look upon this scene, they'd see the flawless opulence. They'd see perfection. They'd see something right out of a fairytale.
It was anything but.
'Smile, ansetta. Do not forget this is our celebration.' Victor whispered into my ear.
I wanted to flinch away, but he had his hand curled around my hip.
His breath at my ear disgusted me.
My stomach curled, and my skin was prickling in abhorrence.
'Also, how long are you going to keep up this stupid charade of yours?' He whispered, ' you do realize you'll have to put out sooner or later. Most you can do is stop me till our wedding night.'
A chill ran down my spine at the thought.
I wanted to bolt right then.
However, i couldn't.
My parents had sold me to victor mikhael, the day i had turned sixteen.
For two years he had pursued me relentlessly, and despite my rejection, he had not given up.
It wasn't that he was not attractive. As far as appearances went, he was an acceptable specimen with his straight nose, full lips, smiling eyes, and sparkling brown hair.
In a nutshell, he had the looks of an innocent angel.
He was anything but.
He was as cruel as they came. I was willing to acknowledge that the role he'd soon assume required him to be stoic, sometimes cruel, too. I understood.
But being cruel because it was required of someone, and being inherently cruel, to the point where people couldn't breathe too loudly around you for the fear of punishment, were two different things.
I had come to know well, since i had been on the receiving end of this cruelty many times, first hand.
A sweet melody bleeded into my conscience, breaking my reverie, pulling me to the present.
'Let us dance, sweetie.' He cooed into my ear. I felt my insides curl up.
Victor did not seem to notice my discomfort as he dragged me to the centre of the hall and put his arms around me. My skin burned at the places of contact. I wanted to throw up.
As we slowly moved to the music i felt an emotion that had become all too familiar to me.
I couldn't bear the slightest of his touches, how was i supposed to perform my duties as his wife.
I was fairly certain that whatsoever they were, they involved touching one another which i didn't want him to do. In fact, if i were to listen to myself, I'd be in a train by this point, fleeing to the savaron kingdom, the only other country on the bentham continent.
However, that was not an option, either. The contract that my parents had signed with victor was magical, and bound me to him. If i were to leave, I'd die a gruesome death.
...and what difference would it make if i were dead?
As the music took a turn, victor's hand slid from the small of my back to my butt.
My throat choked with apprehension.
I somehow managed to rein in my expression.
However, panic had me in a tight grip.
I begged for the moments to pass by quickly, when he'd have to pass me to the next person and have no other option but to let me go.
The waltz came to an end, and he twirled me forcefully, hurting my wrist in the process.
I could feel myself losing balance, i could feel my foot slipping. My eyes closed shut, anticipating a fall that never came.
When i opened them, however, a pair of stormy golden gray ones welcomed me.
They were the most striking eyes i had witnessed.
And they belonged to the most handsome man i had ever seen in my entire life.