The following days passed way too quickly for Alyssa’s liking. She’d spent the remaining afternoon, after her father and Nathan had left the room, banging her fist wildly on the door and screaming herself hoarse. No one had answered, not that she was surprised.
At some point a letter had arrived with her breakfast, ordering her to get up and dressed in the clothes waiting for her on the bed. Alyssa just noticed that the maid had laid out a blue and white patterned summer dress for her to put on. Quickly donning the outfit that fell elegantly to her knees, she brushed out her long blonde hair so it fell in smooth loose ringlets down her back. It was only then that Alyssa noticed another item on the bed, it was what looked to be a bracelet or an anklet very delicately made with a swirling lattice like design and studded with precious stones.
Following her distrustful gut feeling Alyssa decided to leave the item on the bed.
She waited for a few moments and deciding that it was better to get whatever her father had planned over with she moved towards the door. Knowing that her father had a guard stationed outside she knocked and waited for him to answer.
“Yes miss?” she was partly surprised to actually receive a response instead of being ignored by the guard. The surprise silenced her long enough for the guard to get curious and utter another “miss?”. Getting over her surprise she quickly remembered her original reason for knocking on the door.
“Would you be able to let my father know that I’m ready please?” she enquired, flinching when she forced herself to use the word ‘father’ and was silently thankful that no one could see her involuntary reaction to the word.
She heard the sound of her guards footsteps retreat down the corridor before faintly talking into a radio. Approximately two minutes later there was a knock on her door that once again, without waiting for an answer was opened by the person outside.
Nathan stood in the doorway. His gaze took in Alyssa’s figure standing beside her bed before coming to rest on the anklet still lying harmlessly on her covers. He brusquely strode into the room and shut the door behind him.
“I thought you were instructed to put on everything on the bed?” he queried calmly and coldly.
“Y...you did” Alyssa’s voice gained confidence as she continued, “I didn’t want to put on the jewellery though.”
Nathan watched her face closely “You really are innocent Alyssa, to think you have a choice”.
Alyssa’s gaze dropped to her feet in defeat, it was true that Alyssa hoped she might get away without wearing the item, whatever it was. However she was also fully aware that she probably didn’t have a choice in the matter and it gave her a sense of security pretending she did.
“Alyssa, come over here please” he ordered her, Alyssa noticed how he at least made an effort at being polite and she appreciated that. It wasn’t often that someone appeared to be nice to her, even if she was aware that the kindness wasn’t genuine.
Conscious that she had no other choice, Alyssa followed through with his order.
“Please sit on the bed,” he continued and Alyssa lowered herself so that she was sitting in front of him.
Nathan lowered himself from his strong stance to one knee and quickly clasped the anklet around her ankle. He gave it a tug to ensure that it was attached firmly before rising again and giving a satisfied nod in approval. He offered his hand to her and helped her to her feet.
“You are ready.” was all he said before gesturing for her to follow him out the door.
Nathan led her through the house and for the first time since she had arrived, out the front door.
There was a black limo waiting outside the door with a smaller black sedan behind it. The sedan was already filled with her father’s, and she assumed, some of Nathan’s bodyguards.
Alyssa stopped mid-step. Her thoughts were moving rapidly. She found it difficult to comprehend, after weeks or months of being confined to the castle to finally be allowed outside of its walls and tall stone boundaries.
Nathan placed his hand on her back during her contemplation and guided her towards the limo, helping her inside before sliding in after her.
The car drove through the gates and Alyssa felt more freedom than she had since the day she had arrived, despite the ever present guard in the car following. They were driving through the French countryside and everything was so bright and colourful. Her hand pressed against the cold glass window as she watched the sights, children were playing with a ball in the streets of a small village they passed through and women were chatting brightly to each other as they crossed paths in the streets. Her attention was drawn back to Nathan as he cleared his throat to get her attention.
“Before we arrive at our destination there are a few rules I’d like you to be aware of.” he stated. Alyssa nodded her head in recognition.
“First” Nathan continued, “you are not to let anyone know of your circumstances, as far as they and you are concerned we are a happily engaged couple looking forward to our wedding.”
Alyssa wasn’t sure she could act like she loved him so didn’t give him a response.
Nathan noticed this “There will be consequences if you do not follow through with these orders Alyssa.” he warned. She didn’t like the sound of this “the band you are wearing on your ankle is not just to look pretty, it is programmed to shock you, a little like a cattle prod if you do not do as you are ordered.”
Alyssa shivered, she really hoped he was bluffing, nothing she had seen from this man earlier, though, gave her any indication that he would ever lie about something like this.
She quickly leant down and attempted to remove the device, giving it a few hard tugs and trying to find a way to pry it off, however Nathan grasped her shoulder and forced her back into her seat. He reached into his pocket to reveal a key to her. “This is the only way to remove the anklet Alyssa.”
She remained silent; slightly stunned that he would go to such lengths.
“Second, you will not attempt to run away. If you move more than 20 meters away from the remote you will be automatically shocked. The shock will increase the further away from the remote you move.”
Alyssa was beginning to get more horrified with every word he spoke.
“The third and final rule; you are not to go anywhere alone, except the changing room” This caught Alyssa’s interest.
“What do you mean changing room? Where are we going?” she questioned.
Nathan’s lips pulled into a smirk, making his already deadly attractive face look more dashing and a touch more cocky. “My dear, you are going to pick out your wedding dress.”
That new information caused the blood to drain from Alyssa’s face. “Wedding…dress,” she whispered to herself, bewildered.
She turned her attention back to Nathan, convinced more than ever to try and get out of this arrangement whilst her father wasn’t there watching her every mood. She hadn’t witnessed or received any direct violence from Nathan so her confidence was boosted slightly.
“Why do you want to marry me?” she questioned him “can’t you just take me with you without marriage, let me go?” her tone was becoming more desperate, pleading with him. When he didn’t respond straight away so she turned towards the door and reached for the handle, convinced he was ignoring her pleas, grasping the handle she pulled, determined to throw herself out and run.
A sharp, brief current suddenly flowed through her body from her ankle, causing her to loose her breath and hunch over in pain, emitting a small squeal. She slipped from the seat and to the floor of the limo, landing in a small heap.
Nathan leaned over her and lifted her back onto her seat. Whilst they were so close he placed his face beside her head, looking into her eyes whilst he spoke, his warm breath tickling her ear. “That wasn’t a very smart move honey, you need to learn to accept your situation.” She tried to pull away from him but he held her firmly in place. “And to answer your questions, I was intrigued by you the moment I saw you in the garden. You are beautiful, my dear and I’d much rather you be bound to me in marriage, that way I can legally possess you, own you.”
Alyssa shivered in response to his words, she didn’t want to be someone’s property, she was her own person! Tears were now leaking from her eyes and down her face as she turned her face away from him and back to the window, withdrawing into herself as he pulled her closer to him, placing his arms around her, holding her there despite her struggles.
Seeing her pain he spoke up “Alyssa, I don’t want to hurt you and I want to be able to give you as much freedom as I am able without having you run away or be assassinated by another family. I can be cruel; it’s necessary in my line of work. I will try however, to never turn that cruelty on you. I do care about you and I want you to be happy in your new life.”
Alyssa attempted to blink back her tears before turning towards him, scoffing. “Why did you hurt me then? I don’t understand how you can talk about restricting cruelty towards me while you have a device attached to my ankle designed to shock me! I am not some animal that needs to be trained!” Alyssa was becoming more vocal and angry “you were also amused at my pain and joking about my bullet wound with my ‘father’.” She spat the word out with disgust in her tone. “That is not the response of a man who claims to never want to harm me!”
Much to her surprise Nathan drew her further against his body and made cooing sounds in her ear, attempting to calm her down before he tried to push his reasoning on her, although her mention of using the anklet to train her did register as a good idea in his mind, it would also take away her freewill, without which she would never come to completely love him.
After a few minutes, her breathing rate was becoming more steady and he decided to answer her questions.
“The anklet wasn’t entirely my idea” he commenced “your father felt that you could not be trusted off the property, even with bodyguards due to your past escape attempts. It was a condition of your leaving the house. We can’t afford to have you run off before the wedding, it is too important to your father’s business and well being for the wedding to go ahead. I on the other hand want to ensure that nothing will stop me from marrying you. I only appeared amused at your pain in front of your father. I cannot let that man know of my weaknesses, he would use everything in his power to weaken my hold on my empire, even if it was to kill his own daughter.”
Despite her horror towards the likelihood of her father acting violently towards her without provocation Alyssa was gaining confidence, possibly due to her growing trust and understanding towards Nathan, there was also a note of truth to his claim. Again Alyssa attempted to reason with him, still desperate to stop the wedding.
“But what if that wedding is against my will? I don’t wish to be married yet and I’d rather be married to someone I choose, someone I love.”
“Alyssa, I understand that you don’t yet love me, but I hope that you will. You will be permitted more freedom once we are married and in our home in America and I begin to trust you. I will still need to know where you are at all times for your own protection but I won’t keep you a prisoner in a room. If you do not agree to marry me during the wedding there is no saying what your father’s reaction would be, especially if he had you shot simply for trying to run away, not something as large as making an attempt to stop an alliance he desperately needs with my family.” Nathan decided to end his attempt to convince her to answer ‘I do’ at their wedding. He didn’t want her slight trust in him to diminish if she was overwhelmed with the information that, even if she declines him the benefit of a large fortune can go a long way and her negative answer wouldn’t change a thing. If she consented herself, it would also force her to take some responsibility for her marriage.
Alyssa was beginning to admit defeat to herself. It seemed to her that the only way to regain any of her freedom was to marry the man, practically a stranger, although a very handsome and dangerous one, sitting next to her.
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