Chapter 1: The Beginning of an Unwanted Engagement

Claire Greenwells was not happy. She had good reasons.

Even the most sumptuous of foods lined up like a lavish parade in her family's equally pleasant plantation home and the intelligent and personable company within her home could not direct her thoughts from her present circumstances. It was much too serious.

She was about to be married. Well, forcibly married, that is…

Balancing her glass gently upon her palm, her eyes darted about the room, tension clearly etched upon her face. Relatives and friends had approached her, only to gush over her engagement. Claire's very stoic and almost cold stance had persuaded others, however, to leave her be, and now she stood alone watching with a fairly still expression at those around her, some even whispering to each other in wonder at her indifference. After all, the man she was to be wed to was indeed handsome, but he bore a hideous nickname: The Butcher. How could all these air-headed women think so superficially, when so many innocent Colonials die by his sword, or his pistol? She thought bitterly.

Celebration? She thought, Ha! A celebration of what? Her marriage to that arrogant, vile, ruthless…

He thoughts were interrupted as figure approached her. She turned, only to find that her mother had joined her side. The older woman urged a gentle smile, and held out her hand. She sighed wearily.

"It is time," she said as gently as the smile that quivered upon her face. Claire nodded solemnly.

Her mother linked arms with her and led her into their parlor, but just as they approached the entrance, she pulled her into their dim-lit stairwell, pushing her toward the highest stair. Claire whirled around with a bemused expression upon her face.

Mrs. Greenwells placed a hand on her mouth and her eyes glazed over with tears. Slowly shaking her head, Claire took her mother's hand and tried to fight back her own tears that approached her eyes.

"Mother…I can't do this…" Claire said with a strained voice. Her throat suddenly took on a strange ache as she tried to push her tears back. She knew that she needed to be as presentable as she could for her future husband.

Her mother wiped away a tear that fell and embraced her daughter, "I know, my dear, I know. I completely disagree with this. You should not have to wed such a monster." She tenderly rubbed Claire's back, and Claire noticed that her mother was trembling.

"I'm so happy to have someone agree with me for a change," Claire whispered.

"Yes…of course," her mother replied, "I can't imagine how my heart will ache when your wedding day arrives. I just…I just can't imagine it." She placed a balled fist in front of her lips as if to shove back an angry outburst.

"Mother, I should be fine, but still, the man kills the innocent so mercilessly…I can't stand it", she said finally finding the strength to control her emotions. She had had her fits of sobs numerous times in the past after her engagement was announced, "I just need to learn how to be strong. I'm not the only girl in my circumstances." She placed a hand on her mother's shaking hand, "I just need to be strong."

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As Claire and her mother entered the room, two men could be seen discussing the typical adult topics. One was her father, and the other…

"Ah, Colonel Tavington! Here she is finally! My Claire! Come, come darling, don't be shy. Hold out your graceful little hand for him!"

Colonel Tavington was just as handsome as others had described him. With his arms behind him, Claire could easily see his healthy build. He gazed at her with piercing blue eyes while his expressive, pliable mouth was curled into a smile, or was it a smirk? His rich brown hair, although tied back, gleamed and suggested a silky consistency.

Claire slowly approached him.

"Well, well," he said gently, one of his hands gliding out to meet hers, "it is quite a pleasure to meet you at last, my dear."

He leaned down, and as Claire's mind flooded with thoughts concerning his reputation, she slightly winced as his lips softly brushed her hand. She forced a small smile.

"L – likewise…" she managed to say with as much confidence as she could muster. Although he seemed charming, part of his demeanor was intimidating and hinted at a separate and more dangerous side of his personality.

Claire's father beamed at the two and placed a hand briefly on Claire's shoulder, "Well, I shall leave you two to get acquainted. The business of the party at hand must be addressed as well. Come, Margaret." Claire's mother seemed hesitant to leave the two alone. She gulped and linked arms with her husband. Claire gave her mother one last desperate look before she turned and strolled with Mr. Greenwells from the parlor.

Moments passed as Claire gazed into the face of her fiancé, and he said nothing, as if enjoying bathing in her fear of him. He cocked his head, placed his hands behind his back again and stepped forward.

"So…" he said, and Claire noticed that his voice was as silky as his hair looked, "Might there be a reason for your shyness?"

Silence blanketed the room for another moment.

"Please refrain from teasing me, sir, you know perfectly well of my undesirable circumstances," Claire suddenly said, her voice strangely cold. Her anger seemed to blind her from her action.

Tavington's eyebrows rose.

"If you don't mind, I will be heading to a different area of the house," she added just as coldly. She turned to leave, but gasped as she felt his hand clamp down upon her wrist.

"What-" she spun around and had no time to finish her sentence, for he pulled her to him.

"If you wish to speak to me so disrespectfully," he said, taking hold of her other arm to maintain her position facing him, "then at least called me by my name. I will have none of this "sir" business," he whispered through gritted teeth. The angry glint within his eyes was enough to make Claire speechless, and his snarl left such a feeling of panic within her that her last bit of confidence withered. Claire regretted trying to be rebellious, for because of it he had expressed his darker side during their first ten minutes of meeting.

Out of sheer fright and desperation to leave him, Claire forcefully yanked her arms from him and fled around the corner and up the stairs. She ran down the hall and practically leapt into her room, slamming her door behind her.

With her back against the door, she listened intently for any movement up the stairs, for Tavington to race up those stairs and find her huddled in a corner, and then…

She closed her eyes and began to sob, burying her face in her hands. And then, as one wave of her sobs subsided, she plopped onto her bed and cried, allowing her shoulders to freely shake and heave.

Whatever is to become of this marriage?

Author's Note: This is a story break……This is a story break…..This is a story break…..This is a story break

As the noises of merriment drifted up from the Greenwell's spacious yard, Claire had fetched a bucket of water and a sea sponge. There she sat on her bed, with her hands over the bucket, scrubbing them so roughly, that red streaks became as noticeable then the streaks of tears upon her face. When Tavington had kissed her hand and when he had so tightly gripped her wrists, it only reminded Claire of the evil he had done with those hands, and it deeply sickened her. Those lips, which might have caressed the bodies and lips of whores and harlots, as horrendous as it was to think…those hands, which had pulled the trigger of his pistol, those hands, which gripped swords that had pierced the bodies of so many…Claire could easily see behind his handsome appearance and it scared her to the bone.

As she thought, her mind wandered and she seemed to forget the damage she was inflicting on her hands. Suddenly, the flesh on her hands tore, and spots of blood appeared on the backs of her hands. The sharp pain caused her to cry out and she dropped the sponge into the bucket. She studied her hand and the lines of blood blurring in with the water, as if some of the most alluring secrets to life had revealed themselves upon it, and she burst into tears again. Cradling her wounded hand, she slowly sank onto her bed in tears. She lay there, squeezing her bleeding hand with her other, tucking her knees into her stomach and curling into a ball. The sounds of chatter floated up from the outside world, making her isolation even more painful.

Claire closed her eyes and sighed a very shuddery sigh.

Oh, how an unwanted marriage gnaws the heart.

So, what do you guys think? I know it's sad but don't worry. I'm also sorry if it's a little short! My other chapters should be longer. There shall be romance and more happiness in later chapters. I'm so sorry that I haven't updated Ruth's Awakening but I don't think it's going so well…I've learned a lot by writing it…I think I should've planned it more, but ya…I might continue it.