My Lovely Moonlight Bride: Episode 11
Lucy wasn’t comfortable with Beauregard’s presence in the castle. What did he want? She remembered him clearly from the night before. He had been trying to flirt with her, but she had rebuffed him with a lie.
“Do you know him?” Lucy asked her brother.
“I met him at the show. He must have a good reason for wanting to see me.”
The marquees and Ariana were together at the table. Ariana had been thinking deeply about the conversation that she had with her best friend. Lucy as the first person she had opened up to about Heif; the man that she loved. She picked at the berries in her plate without eating them. Her thoughts were far away.
“You don’t look too happy, what bothers you?” The Marquees noticed the gloomy expression of her daughter. Not that she cared; all she wanted was to be relevant in the society again. She would do anything possible to gain back the power that she had lost.
Ariana dropped her fork and fetched a glass of water close to her lips. She couldn’t face her mother with the truth. The Marquees would have her head.
“I just have a little headache,” Ariana lied.
“Maybe I should call the doctor then?” The woman’s eyes were fixed on her daughter.
Ariana quickly shook her head.
“No, it will wear off after sleep.”
The Marquees smiled and shrugged, “very well then. I know I haven’t addressed you officially on this matter. But you must prepare yourself. Soon, you shall become duchess of Wandsworth. My very own daughter would be wife to the most powerful man after the King.”
The woman paused when she noticed that Ariana was not thrilled by this news.
Ariana shifted uncomfortably in her chair, how could her mother be this self centred? Didn’t she care about her happiness? Why was she more interested in her place in the society than her daughter’s joy?
“What is it? You should be happy with my offer. Many ladies your age would kill to have a man like the Duke.” The Marquees voice rose. She had expected a warmer reception.
Ariana sucked in some air and closed her eyes. She had just two options here. She had to be strong and face whatever consequences would follow, if she stood up against her mother. Or she could be a weakling and accept to marry Aldrich. Such a union would never work. Already, Aldrich had eyes on Lucy and this made her very happy.
She envied her friend in no way; and she genuinely yearned for Lucy’s happiness and fulfilment.
“Mother…”Ariana called in a weak voice.
“Yes?” The Marquees sensed that her daughter was about to say something stupid.
“I do not want to marry the Duke of Wandsworth. He is a good man. He is responsible, but he isn’t the man for me. I do not love him. Perhaps you should give me the chance to find my own husband.” While she spoke, she dared not look at the Marquees’ face. For her mother’s eyes was a sea of flames.
The woman couldn’t believe her ears.
“I shall pretend I didn’t hear that. Get yourself ready child. We ride for Wandsworth in two days. You need to get acquainted with the duke. His mother and I have discussed; we think that it is best you both marry before next spring.” These were her last words to her daughter, before she pulled the chair back and rose to her feet.
Ariana knew that this was the only chance that she had. If she didn’t stand up to her mother now, she would regret it later.
“I shall not come to Wandsworth!” Ariana jumped to her feet.
For a moment, the Marquees was stunned. Her daughter had never spoken to her this way. Ariana had never had this boldness and confidence. What had changed?
“Why?” She asked calmly.
“I do not want to marry Aldrich Clairborne! I have my own life to live. I don’t want to be an unhappy woman. I don’t want a marriage like that of you and father; a marriage of interests and convenience.” Ariana’s lips rushed for words.
The Marquees pressed a shaky hand against her chest. Ariana had insulted her, far more than she could ever imagine.
“All these years, I have raised you like an eagle. I have desired the best for you as my only child and heir, but you remind me of your miserable father, every single day. If not for his weakness, I would’ve been the most powerful woman in London. I do not want us to fight about this…” she hadn’t finished, when Ariana cut in.
Ariana scoffed, “Or what? Will you lock me up in your dungeon, like you do your servants? I accept that my father was a weak man, but his weakness dwelt in the place of your aversion. You never loved him. You emasculated him. You never showed him honour. I want to love. I want to desire. I want to feel hurt. I want to heal. I don’t want to be anything like you.” Tears stung Ariana’s eyes, and she couldn’t control them. They flowed down her supple cheeks gently, like a stream of water on baby rocks.
The Marquees clenched her teeth. The pain that her daughter’s confession had brought upon her was unimaginable. Ariana was a little ingrate.
“Do you think I am a stone? I have blood running through my veins. I never loved your father. There was one before him, but he died! Your father isn’t as good as you have imagined him to be. I have learned the most important lesson in this world; it is the lesson of survival and power. This world that we live in thrives on those two things. Without power and the will to survive, you are nothing. Love is just an empty word.”
Ariana wiped her face, “No it isn’t. If you had fought hard enough, you would have had the chance to love another before my father. I will not let you rule over me. I shall not marry Aldrich Clairborne. I am prepared to face any consequences there must be.”
The Marquees had made up her mind to regain the importance that’s she had lost, even if it meant sacrificing her only daughter.
“I didn’t abandon you when your father died. I raised and loved you. It is time for you to serve your purpose in my life…” she snapped her fingers twice. And it didn’t take long before the guards that stood by the entrance of the dining hall rushed in.
“In two days, we ride for Wandsworth. You must marry Aldrich Clairborne, even if it means being chained to the altar.”
“You are despicable!” Ariana screamed as the guards moved towards her. How could her mother force her to marry a man that knew nothing about her?
“I agree, you will thank me for this later.”
The Marquees quickly turned to the guards, “Make sure she doesn’t leave her room. Her servants shall bathe and feed her even in those chains.”
Ariana’s scream filled the castlette, but there was no one to save her. Nobody could hear her, except the woman that had ordered for her arrest.