• “Marna, Marna. Wake up; it’s time to wake up!” My mother yelled to me. s**t, It’s time to wake up already, I thought to myself.
    “Coming, Momma!” I replied with the least bit of happiness in my voice. One second of sleep and she’s already is yelling for me. Does she think that I sleep all night?
    “Marna, your father wants to see you when you are dressed.” My mother harped.
    “Ok.” What the hell does dad want? I got dressed with the least bit of taste I could find: An indigo silk gown, bright yellow pumps, and this god awful pin that my great-great grandmother had gotten me. I walked down the stairs of our castle, into a huge parlor, and into my fathers living quarters. I don’t understand why the hell we live here. It’s the twentieth century and we live like we are from the sixteenth century.
    “Father, Momma told me you wanted to see me?”
    “Ah, yes, dear.” My father said with his deep voice. He was pulling his long dark hair into a ponytail. “My dear, we have a very young and handsome guest coming to meet you tonight for dinner, Prince Walander of Marigold. He wishes to meet you and perhaps even, that is if you like him, marry you.”
    “Father! You always said that I got to pick whom I went on dates with and whom I didn’t. You said that you would never pick anyone for me.” I said, the anger radiating off my fair skin.
    “Well, everyone you have brought home is common, and unmannerly. Now go upstairs and change your clothes. I don’t want our guest to see you in such an un-orderly fashion.”
    “Yes Papa.” I left my fathers neat office and went upstairs to my room. I un-knotted my long ebony hair and let it fall loose. My father is setting up an arranged marriage. He is an evil martyr! I removed my clothes and sat at my dressing table. Why me? Is it because I am not pretty enough or because I’m not interested in marring a rich man? Why? My body shivered at my thoughts. My green eyes were moist now. I wanted to cry. No Marna! Keep your composer! Maybe he’s a nice guy. I went to my closet and pulled out my formal wear (only to be worn with company). A bright rose color with lace on the trim of the gown. It was probably the best dress that I owned.
    I dusted the dirt off of my dress and slipped it on. I pulled out my panty hose, and rose pink colored shoes. Then I went over to my jewelry box and got out my mothers pearl necklace. I braided my hair and put it up into a high bun then grabbed a cloak and headed toward my bedroom door. I felt beautiful again.
    “Marna, my dear, our guest has arrived.” My mother called for me.
    “Coming, ma.”

    The guest was different in a sense. He was everything but young and gentlemanly. He had a gray beard, wrinkles, and a gruesome boil on the top of his head. He ate like a pig, snorting and slurping his soup. What kind of a marriage have they gotten me into?
    “Your daughter is very beautiful Sivil,” the guest, Prince Walander of Marigold, told my mother. “She has beautiful green eyes. It’s not often that you see someone with green eyes that is as beautiful as she.”
    “Why thank you, Prince Walander. She got her eyes from her grandmother,” she replied.
    “And no dubitably got her looks from her mother.”
    “You flatter me sir.”
    “Prince Walander. Do you wish to marry my…”
    I cut my father off, “Papa.”
    “Marna, don’t interrupt me please. Anyway, do you wish to marry my daughter before the end of the month?”
    “I would like to but I would like Marna to decide whether or not she would like to marry me.” He turned his head and looked at me. My father instantly squeezed my hand telling me that if I say no then he will hurt me. “Marna, would you like to marry me?”
    I squeaked, “It would be an honor to marry you, Prince Walander.” I HATE IT HERE. I am going to run away. “What date would like to marry sir?”
    “How is the thirty-first of this month?”
    Before I could even say yes or no my father said, “That would a marvelous date. The thirty-first of May.”
    “It is set then. On the last day of May I will have a bride. I have waited many years to marry.”
    “I look forward to it,” I choked. I wanted to go up to my room and die. So much hatred was running through my veins.
    There was a few moments of silence until I asked, “Father, may I go for a walk? I need a little time to think.”
    “Yes, of course, dear. You have made me a very happy man.”
    I stood up, “Thank you very much for coming Prince Walander, curtsied and walked swiftly out the door. Once I was out of sight and sound I began to run to the door. I grabbed my cloak and my outdoor dress and ran to the barn.
    At the barn I went inside to change my dress. I put on my white dress I wear when gardening and set my other dress on the hay. I left the barn and headed towards the path that led away from my home. I should run away. I really should. They are trying to destroy my life. Young and handsome, they say? Try, unmannerly and rude. Why me… The path was becoming dark as the sun set in the horizon. I had never walked it in the dark but felt that I knew it well enough. The sun was almost half was down. The forest was eerie but peaceful. It’s so beautiful at sunset. I don’t understand why I haven’t walked it at night till now. The sun was almost all the way down. Just a small crack of the sun was left, leaving little light to see.
    The forest was becoming very dark and peculiar. Before, the birds were chirping and chipmunks were scattering among the leaves. Now, there was nothing. No birds, no chipmunks. It was silent; too silent. Almost like I was being watched.
    I kept walking, slowly making my way to the end of the path. I heard a crunch from behind a bush as I walked. What the hell? “Hello?” I called out. Nobody answered. Hmm, it must have been an animal. I was slowly coming to the end of the path when I heard another crunch of leaves.
    I went to call out again when huge hands were put over my mouth and eyes. I struggled under the strength of the person who had a hold of me. Then I felt a jabbing pain in my neck and then everything went black.


    When I woke up, everything was dark. There was no noise at all, just the quiet echoes of footsteps coming toward me. Where the hell am I? I want to go home. “There is no need to be worried. I’m not going to hurt you,” The mysterious man said. His voice was low and romantic.
    “Who are you?” I asked him.
    “I am Trei, I work for your father; I’m the stable hand. I suppose I shouldn’t have surprised you like that and brought you here,” he replied.
    “Well Trei. Can I please go home? I have a wedding I need to get ready for.” Not that I really want to marry that pig.
    “No you can’t leave. The man that you are supposed to marry you isn’t who he says he is. He is not Prince Walander of Marigold; he is John Swanson of Winthal.”
    “Do you mean the man who tried to kill the royal family of Wintra?”
    “Ah, so you do pay attention to our world’s news. There was a threat sent to your home awhile back. It said that if you don’t get married to Prince Walander of Marigold then your entire family would end up dead. The reason that this was sent is because Swanson was to be killed unless he was married. He saw that your parent were looking for a husband for you and signed up and that the threat would work perfectly.”
    “Oh My God, What am I going to do? I have to tell my parents!”
    “No! You can’t leave. He wants to hurt you.”
    “Are you just gonna keep me here while my family is being hurt then?”
    “No. I’m going to go and kill Swanson and you are going to stay here until he is dead.”
    “So I’m supposed to sit here in this cave until you get back. Well that’s not happening. I’m going to go with you,” I yelled at him.
    “You are quite difficult, you know that. Fine, you can go but don’t do anything stupid. I’m going to go get some food. You stay here. Is there anything that you want Marna?”
    I didn’t know if I could really trust him. “Whatever works,” I told him. With a click of his heels he turned around and walked into the darkness. There is something that makes me feel safe and then another part that makes me feel uncomfortable. I will just have to go along with everything that is going to happen. I was tired. I lay on the floor trying to find a comfortable position. No matter which way I twisted and turned I was in pain. I don’t know what he did to knock me out but it really hurts now. I should probably try and get some sleep. I found the most comfortable position I could find and closed my eyes. I hadn’t realized how tired I actually was. I fell asleep instantly. When I awoke Trei was sitting next to me reading a book. He had untied me, given me a pillow, and had put a pillow under my head. Wow, he must be nicer than I thought that he was.
    “Marna,” he whispered, “are you hungry?”
    “Very,” I replied trying to stay quiet. Trei stood up and walked into the darkness, just as he had done earlier. Moments later he was back with a plate full of sandwiches. They looked delicious. He set the on the ground next to me and I grabbed one. It was filled with turkey, tomato, lettuce, and cheese. I took one bite and thought that I was in heaven. The sandwich was so delicious. “Thank you for making me this Trei.”
    “You’re welcome Marna. Do you like it?”
    “Love it!”
    “I’m glad. How did you sleep?”
    “Well I was a little uncomfortable but it got better as the night went on.”
    “That good, tomorrow I will take you somewhere else. This place is very stuffy and uncomfortable.”
    “Where are we going?”
    “My family has a cottage a few miles away from here. Tonight we are going to sneak to your house and pick up a few of your things and then we will be on our way.”
    “I thought you said that you didn’t want me to be going home?”
    “Well, you don’t want me going through your things, now do you?”
    “True. What if I get caught?
    “You won’t.”
    “Okay, if you say so.”
    We spent the rest of the time just chatting. It was nothing important. We got to know each other. Trei had two siblings, Mary and Jose, both younger. He was 17 just like me. He came to work for my father when he was 15. We were so much alike.
    “Its time to go Marna,” he told me. I landed though I had landed on something that wasn’t the floor. It was Trei. We just lay there for a few moments until we realized what had happened.
    “Um, sorry,” I told him. I stood up and pulled him up from the ground.
    “It’s alright. I don’t mind,” he replied. I didn’t either. Oh my goodness. Did I really just think that? I think I like him. Oh my. What would daddy think? What do I care what he thinks. I brushed the dust of him when he stood up.
    We ran through the twists and turns of the cave until I saw the last bit of light of the day. “I thought I would never see day again,” I said to Trei.
    “I agree. It is kind of depressing in to be in the dark all of the time?” There was something in his words that made me smile. He smiled too. I had never seen his smile till now. It was amazing; I couldn’t help but stare at it. I stared a little bit too long.
    “What are you starring at, Marna?” he asked.
    “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean too. I was just looking at your smile. I hadn’t seen it till now. Sorry.” Oh my. Did I say too much? Is he going to think that I’m a total nut now?
    “It’s ok. I used to stare at yours all the time. It made me happy when I would see you riding your horse and smiling like there was no turmoil. Sorry if I seem a little stalkerish,” he giggled. I laughed as well. I was so happy to be with him, even though we had only known each other for a few hours. “Let’s get going. We want to get to your house before day break.”
    We ran for half the night before we reached my house. It seemed so different. There was no life to it. All the lights were out, and there were no sounds at all. My eyes were beginning to tear up. No Marna. Don’t cry, you know better. I pulled my tears back and ran to the door. Trei stood behind a tree so that he wouldn’t be seen.
    I walked into my house and up the stairs. Everything was exactly how I had left it. My bed was made with my blue dress was at the end of it. I pulled a bag out of my closet and put old dresses that I didn’t usually wear. I then put a fresh pair of bloomers and undergarments into the front pocket. I then went to my dressing table and pulled out a pen and a journal. I was all set to go. I ran quickly and silently down the stairs. As I walked through my house I began to loose my nerve. I began to feel tears coming. I ran as quickly as I could out of that place. It was no longer my home. I got what I wanted. I was running away.
    “Are you okay Marna?” Trei inquired. I couldn’t answer. I was way too sad to answer. “Marna… Marna. What’s the matter?” I couldn’t hold the tears in anymore. I burst into sobbing tears. I went to fall on my knees but was caught by two strong and loving arms. We sat at the base of the tree for a few moments quiet. He didn’t say a word. He just brushed my hair with is fingers. He then began to say, “It will be ok Marna. Nothing is going to happen. Everything will be alright.”
    I stood up pulling him with me. “Well then we are going to have to get going then aren’t we?” He smiled and I smiled back. We ran to the barn and took to horses from the stable, a gray one with a black mien and tail (my horse), and a brown one with white spots. We cantered into the dark night, knowing that we could not turn back now.
    When we got Trei’s home we were tired and sore. We got of off our horses and tied them up to a post and walked towards the small cottage. It was a simple cottage with shutters and flowers all around it. The cottage was absolutely beautiful.
    “Marna, I think I should tell you something,” he spoke softly. I could barely hear it.
    “What is it Trei?” I asked him.
    “My family is not the same as yours. We don’t eat fine food and beautiful clothes. Everyone helps out around the house. We work the land. Just don’t be surprised when you’re asked to help cook or clean.”
    “I won’t. It will probably be good for me anyway.” We both laughed and headed the rest of the way to the cottage.
    Trei opened up the door and I stepped inside. Everything was neat and in place.
    A few children were sitting on the floor and two adults, probably his parents, were sitting the two of the three rocking chairs. The woman in the chair was absolutely beautiful. When the floor squeaked from me stepping on it she lifted her head and starred at me for a moment. Then Trei stepped inside and she looked at him.
    “Trei! Your back! Who’s this?” She asked him. She brushed her long gold hair out of her face. You could see in her pale blue eyes that she was curious. Everyone else looked up and stared at me. I became really nervous.
    “Mom, this is Marta. She works with me at the Solstin place. She needed somewhere to stay so I thought she could stay with us and help around the house,” he explained.
    “Hello, everybody.” I squeaked out.
    “Hello dear. My name is Lucy. You are welcome to stay with us. This is James, my husband, Sherri, John, and Michael, Trei’s siblings,” she introduced everybody.
    The little girl stood up and looked at me with the most adorable blue eyes I had ever seen. “I’m really glad to meet you mam'. It wiell is nice to have another girly in the hoose.” She hadn’t quite gotten all of her speaking down yet. It was so cute!
    “It’s nice to meet you too Sherri,” I spoke softly to the little girl. The two boys came over and looked at me with a huge glare. They were obviously twins. They had the same brown hair and blue eyes that Trei had.
    “Nice to meet you,” one boy said. “My name is John and this is my brother Michael.”
    “Hello boys,” Trei said before I could say anything. “Here Marta come with me. I’ll show you your room.”
    “Nice meeting you everybody. OK let’s go,” I said as I waved to everybody and walked out to the room. We walked down a long hallway to the last room. Trei pushed the door open slowly causing it to squeak. We stepped into his dark room and the moon’s light was shining through the glass window on the opposite side of the room. “Trei, this is great,” I said to his nervous face. “I love it.” I smiled and emptied my bag onto the bed. The soft white sheets slid on the mattress and my fingers touched it, the heavenly cloth singing on my skin.
    “Well, we don’t usually have guests.” He smiled, lighting a lamp on the wooden dresser. I took my clothing and set them, folded, into the empty drawers. He helped me set my dresses in the last drawer and our fingers skimmed each others. I stopped and I looked up, my cheeks burning with embarrassment.
    “Sorry,” I said quietly, pulling my fingers from his. He reached up and took my hand, looking at my palm curiously. “What?” I said, tugging my hand away. His grip tightened slightly and I stopped pulling. He looked into my eyes slowly, the corner of his lips twitched, hinting that he was holding back one of those perfect smiled that made my chest jump with delight.
    “Nothing, I just...” He said, his voice getting quiet. His other hand slid up my arm and around my neck, pulling me closer. I looked at him, sending him a silent message that I understood. His eyes sparkled and I knew he saw it. I smiled as he leaned in and I fantasized what his soft, red lips would feel like on mine, that hidden smile vanishing. Just as his lips touched mine, he stopped, looking at me for permission. I nodded and leaned in, pressing my mouth against his. His grip on my neck loosened, pulling me closer, tangling his hand in my long hair. I pulled away and smiled at his begging eyes.
    “Thank you,” I whispered, stepping closer to wrap my arms around his waist, hugging him gently, taking his warmth and passion.

    I had fallen asleep in his lap. When I had woken up......