The walk home was silent. It wasn't until we got home that Grace turned to me. "What were you thinking? You insulted Travis. He was proposing to me and you acted like he was trying to kidnap me or something."
"Are you serious? Grace, he grabbed your arm, he was yelling at you."
"He was just upset when I told him I wouldn't marry him until I loved him. He just needs to give me a little more time."
"I don't like him, and you shouldn't either. There's just something about him that rubs me the wrong way."
"He's very kind to me, and would make a fine husband. I'm just not sure if I could ever marry him without love."
"He's kind to you now," my voice was rising steadily, "but what will he be like when you're married? He's kind to you, because he doesn't own you yet."
"Own me? Cat, that's a horrible thing to say. Marriage isn't about owning another person, it's a bond made of love."
"To you, but to him it's merely an ownership. I've seen the way he looks at you; like, you're cattle at auction. He's wooing you now, to get you to marry him before he shows his real side. I know it. I know you can find love, just not in him."
"We're not going to discuss this anymore. When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it. Until then, you would do well to mind your tongue."
The following Saturday was a beautiful for a ride. I smiled into the warm sunlight as my horse galloped through the soft grass. The wind blew my hair out behind me and I smiled for the first time in what seemed like forever. If only all days could be like this.
I had been out riding for most of the morning, and really needed to get back. The later I came home, the more Grace would chastise me. I slowed as I neared our little house noticing a strange horse tied to our hitching post. I climbed down and tied my mare to the post before making my way to the front door.
I walked in and was momentarily blinded by the sudden darkness of the room. "Shit!" A man's voice cut through the silence before I felt something knock me in the back of my head as I fell to the floor. I groaned as I tried to pull myself back to full consciousness, but my head was having none of that. String hand grabbed my arms and dragged me across the room. I heard the sound of muffled screams from the bed. Before I could register what was happening, I blacked out completely.
I couldn't have been out for more than a few minutes, when I groggily opened my eyes. I was in a chair with my hand tied to the arms. My head was pounding and my vision a little blurry.
I heard a low sobbing coming from the bed accompanied with a deep grunting. As my vision cleared I focused my eyes on the horrifying sight taking place before me. I tried to scream, but something was wrapped around my mouth, all I could do was look on in terror and try to keep down my lunch.
Grace was on her stomach, lying on the bed with her wrists tied together above her head. Her beautiful dress was torn nearly in half and strewn across the floor. Her petticoat was ripped, dirty, and hiked up to her tiny waist. Her once satin skin was riddled with cuts, bruises, and what looked like burn marks.
Travis had his trousers pulled down to his thighs and was riding her so ferociously that the bed was rocking beneath them. I could see blood was smeared down Grace's thighs and onto the white quilt beneath her. Her mouth was open in a silent sob as a steady stream of tears rolled down her face. It was then that my stomach heaving as my mouth filled with bile. It soaked into my gag and ran down my chin. My chest heaved with sobs as I cried.
He thrust a few more times before pulling out and releasing himself onto her back. Travis leaned back onto his haunches before pulling his trousers back up. He just sat there smiling to himself. Grace wasn't moving, she just lay there staring at the wall. After what seemed like an eternity, he rolled off the bed onto the wooden floor.
"How you doing Grace?" He slapped her already bruised rear. "See, I told you we were going to have fun. I knew you'd love it, the little whore that you are." Grace's eyes shut tight, like she was trying to block out the world around her. "If you'd just agreed to marry me, we could have done this every day, but that's your loss, my dear. What a waste." Stetson reached down and pulled a dagger from his boot. He watched the blade glimmer for a moment before slowly running it up the back of my sister's legs, then her thighs, bottom, and back. He grabbed her by her hair and fit the knife under her chin. He seemed to smile almost kindly down on her before slitting her throat. A gush of crimson blood soaked through the bed and dripped slowly onto the floor. He body twitched a few times before growing still.
My vision swam as another wave of nausea hit me. A nightmare, this had to be a nightmare. I looked down at my lap as I will the floor to stop rocking back and forth. I glanced up as Travis cleaned his knife on Grace's tattered dress before putting it back in his boot. He glanced up at me before slowly making his was my direction. "Awww, Catherine, I had almost forgotten you were there." He placed his hands on my thighs before squatting down in front of me. "Now, I wasn't going to even bother with you, but you barging in like that left me with no other choice. That's a bit of bad luck for you. But on the bright side, fucking two Carsons is better than fucking one." He slid his hands up my thighs, tugging my dress with them.
"Well, now this dress won't due." Stetson reached forward and ripped down the front of my dress exposing my petticoat and corset. I shut my eyes tight as I heard more ripping sounds before the side of the remnants of my gown hitting the floor. He reached over and untied my left wrist. "Oh, Catherine, I'm so hard for you, already." He grabbed my hand and forced it over his crotch. I felt the growing bulge there and quickly yanked my hand back. Travis laughed deep in his throat. "If you only knew what I'm going to do to you, you'd have to go to confession just for thinking it."
After untying my other wrist he grabbed my hair and threw my face-first to the floor. I began to pull myself up and felt blood trickle from my nose. He came around to stand in front of me. When I tried to stand, he pushed me back to my knees.
"No, whore. I want you to suck me." I tried to protest through the gag, but nothing more than a muffled groan came out. When he had one hand on the top of my head and the other reaching for the opening of his trousers, I took my only chance. I reached forward and snatched the blade from his boot and thrust it into his stomach. I felt warm blood flow over my hand and splatter onto my face. His hand was released from my hair as he fell to the ground with a loud thud.
I leaped to my feet, the floor swaying beneath me. I pulled the gag from my face and spit the rest of my vomit onto Travis Stetson's unmoving body before running out the front door.