"I adamently refuse." Her voice was calm despite the fear that threatened her control as it spread to fill her entire being. There was nothing she could do if her father refused to change his mind. Even if she were to manage to run away she had no money and most recognized her from here to New Port. She would be found before she could escape fully and then she would have the wrath of not only her father but the governor as well as her future husband. Husaband. The word made her shiver within as she took a deep breath and turned to face her father once again.

"You can refuse all you like, but I recommed saving your breath for saying 'I do,' Keltsy." His dark eyes showed no signs of mercy or pity. It was not at all promising for her.

"How can you possibly do this to me? You are selling away my happines!"

"Keltsy Lynn, your happiness has never been affected by anything other than your own imagination and I am certain marriage will not cause that overabudant flower to wilt in that willful head of yours."

"I have never even met the man and yet you think forcing me to wed him will have no affect on my happiness?" She stared at him in disbelief at his strange logic.

"Why should it?"

"Because I do not love him, you old fool!" Her control was quickly slipping away and the reproacful look she recieved from her father in that moment told her that tears and pleas about love would be of little use. "What if he is cruel? What if he beats me or calls me names or is hideously scared or deformed?" Keltsy drew in a sharp breath at her father's laughter.

"I am more than certain he would not dare to beat you and if he did you are welcome to report it to me and I will have the whole thing annulled, I have never known you to be sensitive to name calling, and I was unaware you were so shallow as to judge a man by his appearance."

"Is there no way to change your mind, father? I am your daughter and yet you have no qualms with disreguarding my wishes completely simply to boost your social standings."

"You will not argue this any further, Keltsy. You are a woman and you need to learn your place. I am of the impression that Lord Delonclure will be just the man to teach you. You have had suitors all your life, Keltsy, and this one is by far the best to have ever to come me. You do not love him, but you may learn to love him. If not he will at least provide you with a comfortable life. What more can you ask from me? He is wealthy beyone your understanding, child. You are lucky he would even accept such a miniscule dowry as yours. Now, go to bed. You are to be wed in the morning."

"You are selling me, my happiness, and my innocence for your own selfishness and still have the nerve to call me family." Before she could stop them the words were ripped from her tongue by her anger and despair. A hand came around her wrist quickly and hard.

"I told you, you will learn your place, daughter! I have let you do as you chose long enough and it has ruined you. Be a proper lady and maybe your husband will have no need to harm you. And as for your innocence, you are well past marrying age. You will wed Lord Delonclure if I have to drag you down the aisle by your hair. To bed with you now before I lose my temper!" He released her arm but he was the first to leave room knowing his daughter would fight him further if he gave her the chance and his heart could not bear to see her struggle against the inevitable any longer. It was out of his hands and he had to make her walk down that aisle.

Lord Dorian Delonclure was pacing in his study, a dark scowl twisting his handsome features. It was his wedding day and he couldn't be more miserable. He could not believe Luke had forced him into marriage with this... chit. His brother's need to own the land that came as the girl's dowry was in now way Dorian's fault and yet still he had to yield his life to his elder brother's fancy. Luke being governor was only half the power he held over Dorian; being the eldest son he had claim to the entire family estate, including Dorian's own home and land. The Delonclure brothers loved each other and got along well, they were loyal to one another to the death, but they were constantly in a battle of power. Even as children the two had made a contest of everything and now it seemed Luke won more often than not. At least Dorian's newest problem would serve some purpose. She was not an ugly woman, though not quite what Dorian would consider beautiful. He was atleast ten years her elder, but that was not much of a problem. The girl had wide hips and should be capable of bearing him plenty of children thus making her youth an asset rather than disadvantage. A soft knock on his door made him almost groan.

"This is my study. When I am here I am not to be disturbed."

"My apologies, My Lord, but I have several things I need to discuss with you and you have been in here all day." She didn't sound terribly apologetic. He clenched his hands behind his back, which was facing her.

"You are my wife. I discuss things with you when they are not to my liking, not the other way around. I am also Lord of this manor and am allowed to remain in my study if I so choose. Any questions?" He turned to face her now, his wife. She looked horridly plain to him and he did wonder if bedding her would be a chore. He was certainly in no hurry. Then he saw he eyes... they blazed at him as if he were a demon come to demand the life of her first born child.

"You have neglected to appoint a maid to me, Sir, and I cannot get out of this contraption you and my father call wedding garb." She lifted the end of one overly fluffy skirt and huffed in annoyance. Blast! He had hoped to talk Luke out of the bloody ordeal and had forgotten to hire any new staff to suit the Lady's needs. Apparently that was not all that she had need to inform him. "You realize..." she paused, looking at him with a bit less ferocity and more concern. "You are stuck with me wether you like it or not, and I with you. Now, you may look at this as some terribly inconvience to you, My Lord, but might I remind you that you have not given up so nearly as much of your life as I. I will never know another's hands, never hear the pretty words of love, no genuine endearments, no courting, no adventures, no traveling. I am a prisoner in your home, I suppose. If all that is to become of me, if I have given up every dream and every freedom that as a girl I thought I was entitled to, the least you can do is be cordial." The fire was back in her eyes and he suddenly felt like a complete and utter ass. She mistook his sigh of guilt, however, and before he could realize what was coming he was on the floor of his study, his wife atop him beating his shoulders with every bit of strength, anger, and disapointment this day had given her.

"What the bloody hell?"

"How dare you! Don't you understand? I have norhing! Not even a home of my own, nothing to my name." She took a deep breath in her rage and then hit him once, hard across his cheek, whipping his head to the side. "I don't even have my own name, actually. That's yours, too. My God." Stunned at both her outburst and her surprisingly painful blow to his head he lay looking up at her a moment, starring blankly into those torches she used for eyes. Regaining his wits he shook her shoulders and pulled her harshly off of him. Then he stood and did not bother to offer to help her up.

"You're a damned animal, Christ! What have I married?"

"Married? You mean trapped, tortured, killed!"

"You seem quite alive to me, Madam." His hand rubbed his jaw from her one forceful blow. "Where on Earth were you raised to behave in such a manner?"

"I was raised by a man exactly like yourself, so if you don't like what I am you have only yourselves to blame." She glowered at him from the floor.

"And to hit like that!" He could see her anger abate a bit into pride at that.

"That is something you pick up here and there when you are a girl who acts as I do." She said coyly. His eyes narrowed.

"What do you mean?"

"Oh good heavens. I mean that men like a petite, pretty little angelic face that only smiles compliantly and does their bidding. I am sorry to be the one to inform you, Lord Delonclure, but you have just added what my father calls a 'hellion' to your royaland perfect family line." She stood and raised her hed haughtily. Hellion, eh? Yes... he could certainly see that. Was this really the same meek chit who had so softly spouted off her vows and reverantly made her way down the aisle only this morn?

"You did not seem nearly so adamant when professing your vows." She blushed.

"I... I mean..." How quickly she flashed from one emotion to another! "A girl only has one wedding, My Lord. I could at least pretend you were the man of my dreams..." Suddenly that feeling like an ass struck him again. She looked very fragile, starring down at her feet, her cheeks red with embarassment and her honest confession hanging between them. He stroked his aching jaw to remind him of her fragility. None the less, he went to her to raise her chin realizing she had seemed almost pretty when she was confident.

"If it helps in the even the smallest measurement, I am sorry. Truly." He almost fell back as if he had once again felt the strike of her hand at the look she gave him. It was shinning, a look like a damsel who had just been saved would give her knight. For some reason that look severly unsettled him. He turned away.

"But I did mean what I said, Madam. I am not to be disturbed when in my study."

"And where is my safehaven when I am in no mood to deal with the husband I have had forced upon me?"

"You haven't one."

"I thought so. Well, I am loathe to grant you one, then." She plopped down in one of the broad chairs before the hearth. His temper flared once more.

"I told you to leave."

"Will you beat me, then? I must warn you, such things only tend to make me more defiant. I don't take well to abuse."

"Abuse? Why it is a husband's right!"

"Yes, I know. It is a horseman's right to drown his steed if he so chooses; does that make it any less cruel?" Horses. Dorian adored horses. Why had she chosen that?