I stare in the mirror as my maid, Ann, fixes my petticoat and hoop of my periwinkle and gold trimmed dress. “You look lovely, yes you do Lady Adeline,” came Ann’s soft voice as she kneels down to straighten my dress.
I look at myself, my red wig poofed out and curls hanging on my neck, feathers as decoration. My blue eyes glare as I look at myself. I bite my cheek to keep from speaking and give a short nod before giving a flick of my wrist to send her away.
As she scuttled away I glare down at my reflection my blue eyes more like steel. Anger bubbles up at me and I have to push it down and my smile turns to broken glass. Today it will happen, today was finally the day. With that in mind, I picked up the hem of my dress, grabbed the fan on the table beside the door and headed out.
I head down the halls, ignoring the servants compliments as I pass, “You look lovely today Lady Adeline.” “That color suits you my Lady,” “Do have a lovely dinner, Lady.” I walk as fast as was possible toward the dining room. I have to bite down the vicious grin that is wanting to come out. I just keep my stern face as I head for the dining hall.
I am halfway to the west wing when I slow down a touch. “Little Adeline.” His voice was a whisper, low and only I seemed to hear it. I let the small smile drift onto my lips. “Archeron,” I whisper under my breath, but I know that he can hear me. Out of the corner of my eye I can see his head tilt.
I didn’t have to look to know that his chin length hair had fallen onto his face. I didn’t have to look to know that he was wearing black pants with a gray shirt and a black cloak covering it. ‘Just as always,’ I thought. He was a mass of black, his hair being darker than the blackest of nights, and his eyes such a dark gray that they could almost be black. Even the ribbon around his neck was a midnight blue.
I was drawn out of my thoughts as a hand ghosted on my cheek bone. ‘I always thought he would have felt cold.’ I kept walking, my face not changing as his face came close to my ear. “Be careful Adeline, love.” I pushed myself not to stop, not to smile. The servants around us milled past. As I turned the corner he was gone, like he was never there. From the point of others it might have been true.
I entered the dining room right at six. The doors opened for me and my father looked up with a smile on his face. “Adeline, right on time.” He looked to his right, down the table at the guest, “just like her mother she is.” I bit my cheek and kept my smile small and polite, as the sweet Earl’s unmarried daughter should. ‘You don’t know how right you are,’ a vindictive voice whispered in my head.
Nodding my head I sat on his left. The right side of him was empty since the death of his wife, and my mother, Lady Pandora Kently nee’ Lenner. I pushed the thoughts of my mother away as I looked down the table to the three guests. Father followed my gaze, “Ah, apologies, these fine men are some of the King’s men.” I gave a small nod having to stop myself from grimacing at the way their gaze roamed over me hungrily.
Father nodded his head, smiling at the one sitting closest to him on his left. His powdered wig wobbling with him. “And this fine gent is Sir Edward.” He gave him a wide smile, not looking at me yet. “The King wants stronger ties with our family, so Edward has come for your hand in marriage. This is such an honour, is it not Adeline?” He gave me not a glance and continued to smile at Edward.
Edward in turn gave me a sharp gaze with hidden cruelty his smirk that of a hidden viper. “Lady Adeline, it’s nice to meet my future wife.” He spoke the soft yet stern voice of one of the Kings best attack dogs.
I wanted nothing more than to rip that smile off his face. I felt like I might have. A caw broke me out of it and I peeked out the window from the corner of my eye. A crow sitting on a branch just outside the dining room window staring at me, which shook me out of it. ‘NO, I need to be calm, tonight it shall be done. A few more added is all the better.’
I smiled a polite smile, not showing my thoughts as I whispered a soft greeting. I held it all the same up until the time that dinner was served. “Dinner and wine,” came the voice of Archeron, and it took all the practice strength I had not to jerk my head to look at him.
He set the dinner in front of us along with the wine, ah yes the wine. It was a deep red in a crystal glass, with my gaze on it I spoke softly, “we should have a toast.” I looked up at them with a kind smile on my face. “To my engagement.” The, nodded their heads and raised their glasses.
They clinked their glasses and I raised my glass to my lips but held it there as they drank. It took naught more than a few seconds before the glasses fell from their grasps smashing on the polished marble floor, their bodies hitting the table.
I felt Archeron behind me as he gazed at me. I let my own glass fall to the floor smashing as I gazed up at him from my seat. “It’s done love, deals over.” He spoke soft, yet it seemed to vibrate through the room.
I nod as I gaze at their prone bodies. ‘It’s done’ came the soft voice through my head.
I sat in my room on my bed tears streaming down my face, my body shaking from anger and pain. Dead they said, killed they said. Killed by the King for protecting her French half-brother, given up by her own husband. “I hate him.” My whispered voice filled with anger.
“Hate who, dear?” A voice whispered in my ear, my head snapped to the side to find nothing there. “Now, now no need to be scared.” It came from the chair in the corner across from me. A tall decidedly male figure sat in the shadows. He leaned forward so that I could see his black hair and handsome face. “You know what I am; you know what I can do,” he gave a sharp smirk.
And I did know, I had never met one but every part of my being knew. “Demon.” I whispered under my breath. His smirk widened and he nodded “All you have to do is say it, say what you want.”
I knew that if I did this it would come at a price; I knew that it would most likely be my soul, but I wanted it so badly. “I. . .” my voice faltered slightly and he just motioned for me to go on and face the expected. “I. . . I want my father dead for what he did!” I yelled out harshly and his smirk softened slightly. “And it shall be done,” he whispered sealing the deal.
“Two years,” I murmured softly and he nodded in agreement. I had gotten up, coming around my chair and now faced him. “The deal is done,” I tilted my head up waiting eyes closed for him to end me now.
Instead I felt soft lips on my own, I opened my eyes surprised. “Now who said I wanted your soul Adeline love?” My eyes widened slightly, filled with hope, for I had loved him. Sucking in a shaky breath, “stupid demon.” My words carried no real anger, and kissed him.
– Anastasia Curtis