"Why in the world did this happen to me?" Bella moaned for the thousandth time. She stared at herself in the mirror and wondered how her dad could do this to her. A beautiful girl, with long, dark mahogany hair and deep brown eyes stared back at her. Bella went back to her bed and let the swaying motion of the ocean lull her into a trance. She remembered the conversation she had with her parents that triggered this nightmare…
"Isabella! Please come down to the library! Your mother and I need to speak with you. I'm not going to ask you again!" Lord Swan warned Bella. Bella was in her room with her best friend, Alice. They were busy discussing the latest fashions coming out of France, or at least Alice was doing all the talking while Bella was feigning interest. She loved Alice to death, but she didn't really care what was in fashion and what wasn't. Bella dressed to be comfortable much to the chagrin of her mother, Lady Renee, and Alice. But she knew how much Alice loved fashion and since she loved Alice, she pretended to love fashion too.
Bella grabbed Alice's hand and started down the long staircase to the library. This was one of her favorite rooms in the house. She spent many hours in here, getting lost in the many books her father had on the shelves. Not many girls found the type of books her father had interesting, but Bella loved them. She took in the dark look on her father's face and swallowed loudly…oops!
"What took you so long, Isabella? I've been calling for you," Lord Swan asked her with an impatient look in his eye. Lady Renee placed her hand on his arm to calm him down, but it didn't work too well. She knew father and daughter were so much alike, both quick to get angry. She also knew Bella wasn't going to take her father's news very well.
"Sorry Father! Alice and I got caught up in fashions and I truly didn't hear you," Bella replied to him with her face down. She peeked at him through her eyelashes to see if her father accepted her apology. He looked at her and sighed.
"Isabella, your mother and I have some news to share with you. As you know, it is our responsibility to make sure you are taken care of. It is our duty to arrange a marriage between you and a man of proper stature…" He stopped right there to look at Bella and how she was reacting to his news. As he noticed the narrowed eyes and tight angry lips, he knew this wasn't going to be good.
"How could you do this to me? Don't I get a say in who I spend the rest of my life with? I am not, let me repeat, NOT going to marry a man I don't love just because it's your 'duty' to marry me off to someone of 'proper stature'" she spat out the words as Alice flinched. Alice noticed Bella's hands curled up in fists and knew father and daughter were never going to agree on this.
Lord Swan took a deep breath and very quietly responded, "Isabella! Do not speak to me that way! We are your parents and we know what is best for you! Lord Breighton has asked for your hand in marriage and we have agreed. He has property in the colonies and that is where you will be moving to. He has the wealth to provide a very good home for you and the children you will bear for him."
At the mention of bearing children, Bella blanched. "You cannot expect me to marry a man I don't even know, much less bear children for him! I won't do it I tell you! I'll run away first!"
Lady Renee stepped in before her husband could lose control. She looked into Bella's furious eyes and calmly replied, "Isabella dear, Lord Breighton has been to our home. He spotted you out in the garden and let his desire for your hand in marriage be known to your father. We only have your best interest at heart. Lord Breighton is a young man and promises to take very good care of you. There is nothing you can say. It is done."
Bella glared at her parents and knew nothing she could say would change their decision. She grabbed Alice's hand and ran back upstairs to her bedroom. She threw herself on her bed and cried. The feeling of betrayal overwhelmed her and she couldn't stop herself from the sobs that shook her slim body.
Alice smoothed her hair and told her, "Don't worry Bella. I'll convince both our parents that I need to come with you until you get settled in your new home. You have always been there for me when I needed you and I refuse to let you leave on your own when you need me."
Bella's tears slowed as she sat up and pulled Alice to her in a hug. "Oh Alice! I truly love you! You are the sister I always dreamed of having. I appreciate your offer, but I can't ask you to disrupt your life just because mine is coming to an end."
Alice pulled away and stared Bella right in the eyes. "Bella, you're not asking me anything! I'm telling you that I am going to come with you. Besides, who else will put up with me? Who knows…maybe you will fall in love with Lord Breighton the minute you lay eyes on him. Hopefully he'll have a brother or cousin for me! I have a feeling this adventure is going to be the best thing that ever happened to us!"
Bella smiled at her best friend and knew that with Alice by her side, she wouldn't be as frightened as she would be if she were by herself. "Ok Alice. Thank you so much for being my best friend and sister!"
End of flashback
That had been over a week ago. Lady Renee had taken over packing the things that Bella would take with her. Lord Swan took Bella's threat at running away seriously and made sure she was never alone. His trusted men, Felix and Demitri, had kept watch over her and never let her out of their sight. This only made Bella more furious with her father. The men were also going to accompany the girls to the colonies to make sure everything went according to plan.
Alice had been able to convince their parents that she needed to go with Bella until she could adapt to her new life. Although Bella dreaded the change her life was going to endure, knowing Alice would be there beside her made the trip bearable. Alice had been her best friend since they were little children. Her parents weren't part of the nobility crowd, but that never bothered Bella. She knew Alice was better than all of the other ladies of the court.
Bella was still lost in her thoughts when Alice came running in her room. "Bella! We've got to get below! There's a pirate ship headed right for us and we can't outrun them! Hurry! The captain's first mate gave me these clothes and said we had to change into them! You've got to hurry before they catch us!"
Bella stared at Alice in disbelief. "Oh this is perfect! As if uprooting me to another country to marry a man I don't even know wasn't bad enough, now we've got a pirate ship coming at us? Perfect!"
Bella and Alice changed into the pants and shirts that the first mate had gave them and Bella piled her hair up under a hat. Alice's hair was short enough so all she had to do was put her hat on. They grabbed each other's hand and ran out the door. They headed for the stairs leading below when they felt the ship shudder.
"Perfect," Bella mumbled.