My swim home was too quick. I was lost in the elation of Brendan’s promise and thinking about what I could take with me when I left my home. Maybe one suitcase and my iPod; we could always replace what we couldn’t carry. Would we fly or drive? Where would we go? Brendan had promised to make all of the necessary arrangements soon, but I didn’t know if I could wait to hear his plan.
Night was nearly here and the silhouette of my house looked bleak and menacing. When I reached our backyard stretch of beach, someone was waiting for me. I sighed and picked up my scattered clothing without acknowledging my guest.
“You are in so much trouble this time,” a whiney, nasally voice taunted.
“Shut up, Marisol and mind your own business.” I began walking briskly back to the stairs, trying to ignore my sister, but she followed closely at my heels.
“I don’t understand what’s wrong with you. This is what we were born to do and Kain is super rich and totally gorgeous.” She tripped on one of the steps and stumbled into me. I turned with a glare so evil that she stepped away. “He doesn’t deserve you.”
The words were sharp but I knew that they rang true. Kain didn’t deserve someone who couldn’t love him. He was too good and too nice. My sister was right, but that didn’t mean I had to let her know it.
“You don’t even know what you’re talking about Mars,” I snapped at her, using the childhood nickname she loathed. “Just mind your own business for once and leave me alone!”
Stomping up the stairs was probably a mistake. Although I managed to lose one nagging voice, two more were waiting for me at the top. I looked into my parents eyes and could see their growing disappointment. The dark wood deck wrapped entirely around the raised first floor of our house, and was large enough to hold a hundred people. But there were only two of them standing there now. They were leaning against the railing on the far side with my father holding my mother in front of him in a show of support and unity. I rolled my eyes.
“Told you,” chirped Marisol as she dodged out of the way of my swinging hand.
“Eviana Anne Dumahl. Do not strike your sister.” My father’s harsh command sent chills through my body. I really hated it when he was this mad at me. “And put some clothes on.”
I was standing before them completely naked and soaking wet. Succumbing to the grueling glares, I reluctantly pulled on my blouse using my arms to secure it to my body rather than button it up.
“Where did you go?” my father asked in a lighter tone.
Before I could answer, my mother cut in, “You were with him weren’t you?” She pulled away from father’s arms and walked towards me with determination. Her long dark hair flowed around her perfectly smooth face. The grace and confidence with which she moved still astounded me. Without looking into her eyes, I threw back my shoulders and stood my ground. Anything to defy her.
She literally sniffed me. Her nose moved around my neck, my hair, and even my hands. There was no way that I could deny who I’d spent the last few hours with, and I wouldn’t try to anyway.
“I want to be with him. Not Kain.”
My mother tsked at me in disgust and grabbed my face with her hands. She was slightly shorter than me, but her domineering personality was still intimidating. Plus she was squeezing my cheeks pretty hard.
“You will not see that boy again, do you understand? The Matthews have finally agreed to conduct this marriage and you will respect your duties and your family. This is very important to our survival. Can you even begin to comprehend what type of message your behavior is sending them?”
I could see the frustration building in her eyes, and before I even realized what was happening, my tears were spilling over. I pushed her hands away and turned to my father.
“Please, dad. Please! Don’t make me do this!” I waved my arm back towards the house. “Marisol would kill to have the chance to marry Kain and provide him children. Why can’t she just do it?” I was hysterical now.
“Oh Eviana, please don’t upset yourself like this.” He glided over to me and wrapped me in an embrace. His warm body and soothing voice kept offering me false hope.
“Stop babying her, Charles,” my mother snapped. “She is almost eighteen now. It’s about time she started acting like it.”
Marguerite, my mother and the Dumahl Clan leader, didn’t stop there. “You and I had to endure our arranged marriage when we were much younger than this.” Turning towards me, she continued, “I became a leader when I was your age. I survived. Charles and I survived. And so will you. Stop acting like a spoiled brat and accept your responsibility!”
My mother walked away towards the deck’s edge to regain her composure and my father sighed. I knew what was coming next.
“Eviana, you must do as you are told. Kain is a nice young man with a good family. And from what I can see, he is already quite taken with you.”
The sobs were out of control at this point. I really did hate to disappoint my father and even my mother sometimes. But this is not the life I wanted. I suddenly realized that I wasn’t crying because I’d have to marry Kain, I was crying because I knew that I had to run away. There was no other choice at this point. Feigning total defeat, I pulled away and looked up at him. His middle-aged face could pass for someone ten years younger, but the wrinkles around his eyes did little to hide his distress. I’d probably been the cause of most of those lines.
“When is it?” I asked.
Both of my parents looked at me in shock. They shared a glance between them, no doubt trying to figure out if this was a trick. My mother replied hesitantly, “The first of the month.”