The Bride of Chase Young

"Stupid parents, Stupid China, Stupid husband-to-be!" grumbled Marie as she looked out onto the fluffy clouds. She was on a plane headed for China and the end of her freedom as she knew it.

"Excuse me." said a voice. Marie looked around and saw a pretty Chinese girl about her age sitting next to her. "My name is Jun-li. Are you alright? One dressed like a princess should not wear such an unhappy face." Marie looked at herself. She was wearing the silk robes her parents had bought her before she left. They were rather pretty and did look befitting of royalty.

"Sorry." Said Marie "I'm just a little upset because I'm being forced into an arranged marriage with some guy I don't even know." Jun-li nodded understandingly.

"Would you like to talk about it? It's a seven hour flight, and you look like you could use a friend." Marie smiled warmly, deciding that she liked this girl. So for two hours Marie told Jun-li about the warlord named Chase Young she had been promised to as an infant. Her parents had been on a trip to china and had been walking in the woods when a man had stopped them for trespassing on his land. Fearing for their lives, they had offered their infant daughter as a future bride for the man once she was 17. The man had agreed and ever since that day Marie's life had been nothing but Lady lessons and not knowing why.

"Then, two weeks ago, they told me that now that I'm 17, I have to go to China and marry this guy. And I'll bet he's a creep too! I mean, what kind of guy agrees to marry a baby? He'll probably turn me into some sort of sex slave to fulfill his sick fantasies." she finished with a shudder. "I'm sorry Jun-li. I didn't mean to dump my problems on you." Jun-li merely smiled and said

"It's all right Marie. I don't mind, and I understand your fear. My grandmother went through an arranged marriage too. But do you know what? They've been married for over 60 years and are still deeply in love. Maybe your husband won't be as cruel as you think." Marie shrugged.

"So what are you going to China for?" she asked.

"I'm going to visit grandma and grandpa. I visit every summer, and I love going, but the village where they live is so lonely. There are no girls my age there to talk to."

"Well, how about I be your friend until we land and I'll stay with you until your grandparents pick you up? Besides, I'd like to have one last taste of normalcy before I'm forced to produce an heir for this guy." said Marie. Jun-li laughed.

"Okay then." she said. They spent the next three hours talking about small things such as customs, food, and Marie's clothes and hair accessories.

"That one ornament is so beautiful." sighed Jun-li. She was referring to a golden hairpin Marie was wearing that was in the shape of a butterfly studded with sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. "I wish I owned something that fine. All I have is this comb." she pulled a lacquered box out of her coat pocket and opened it to reveal a gorgeous wooden comb with a dragon painted on it.

"Trade you."

"What?" Jun-li asked in shock.

"I'll trade you my hairpin if you give me the comb. That way even after we part, we can still be friends. You're the first friend I've made since starting out on my new life and I want to remember it. So what do you say?" Jun-li looked thoughtful, then grinned.

"Turn around and I'll fix your hair." she said. After taking out the pin and putting in the comb, she turned around so Marie could fix her hair with the new pin. After dinner, they continued to chat until an air hostess announced that they would be landing in Beijing in ten minutes.

Normally after such a long trip, Marie would have been thrilled to get off the plane, but now she had a sick feeling in her stomach that had nothing to do with the planes landing. Jun-li squeezed her hand and smiled.

"Don't worry about it."she said "China isn't like it used to be. Women aren't slaves anymore. And who knows? That husband of yours may turn out to be a real looker." Marie looked at her in shock for a minute before bursting out in giggles.

Later, once they had their luggage and were waiting in the terminal for Jun-li's grandparents, they started to talk again.

"Jun-li, do you think I'll ever come to like him? My husband I mean. He's supposed to be a martial arts master, and he could kill me if I tick him off. What do I do?" said Marie.

"Well, you're a strong, independent girl. Just tell him you aren't going to be a slave to his whims. Let him know the rules." Jun-li replied.

They were interrupted by a voice calling out in Chinese.

"Jun-li! There you are child! Oh, what a lovely ornament. Is it from your auntie?" an elderly woman was hobbling quickly towards them with an older man in tow. Jun-li hugged her grandmother tightly and explained about Marie giving her the hairpin. Marie was quite fluent in Chinese, but these two spoke with such native flair that Marie found it hard to keep up. She just stood to one side until the old woman looked at her.

"Thank you for befriending our little Jun-li my dear. It's hard for her to make friends here even thought she visits every year. What brings you to China?" Marie frowned and felt the sick feeling come back. Jun-li hurriedly explained about Marie's engagement. Jun-li's Grandmother gave Marie a warm smile.

"It will be alright." she said. "Would you like us to wait with you until your husband arrives?" Marie declined as politely as possible, saying she could handle herself. Before she left, Jun-li gave Marie one last hug and told her to take care. And then, Marie was alone.

"Are you Marie Jones?" asked a voice behind her. Marie looked behind her to find herself staring into the most beautiful amber eyes she had ever seen. They belonged to a young man who was barely into his twenties with armor and wild black hair.

"Y-yeah. Who wants to know?" Marie stammered, still shocked over this man's sudden appearance. The man motioned for her to follow him and they walked into a back room.

"Take my arm, close your eyes and hold on tight." he said. Marie obeyed and found the breath knocked out of her as they were suddenly transported from one place to another. When she opened her eyes, Marie found herself standing in a glittering throne room. The man snapped his fingers and a large panther appeared and picked up Marie's suitcase.

"Hey!" she yelped. "Give that back!"

"Don't worry. They're taking it to our room. This is your new home after all." Marie froze.

"Does t-that mean y-you're--" she stammered. The Man nodded.

"That's right." he said with a devilish smirk. " I'm your new husband. Chase Young"