Gwin and her siblings waved by to their father as he left to visit one of his friends. Unbeknownst to Gwin he was going to discuss her hand in marriage with his friend who was twenty years her senior and a man she found disgusting. William thought she was getting too old to be unwed and his friend had beseeched William to visit with him so they could discuss what he could do for the king and his kingdom if William would give his daughter to him in marriage. William thought this was a grand idea and couldn’t wait to see what he could get in exchange for his daughter. William knew how much Chad had lusted after his daughter sinse her blooming so he would give the kingdom many goods for her. William was going to milk this for all it was worth.
The second her father was out of sight Gwin ran to the library where she knew Vesuvio was dusting. Lorena giggled and her brother put af finger over his mouth to remind his baby sister she couldn’t breath a word. He smiled as he saw her coming and opened his arms for a hug. They embraced tightly then kissed right there since her father wasn’t in the castle any longer. “I’ve set up somthing romantic in your room. Lets go” Vesuvio said as he brushed hair lovingly out of her face.
He covered her eyes when they came to her room and had her open the door. He walked her inside, closing the door with his foot then stopped and uncovered her eyes. “Chocolate covered strawberries and red roses for my princess.” She turned and kissed him, her arms going around his neck.
“You are truly the sweetest man in the world.”
“I’m glad you think so my love.” He reached out and grabbed one of the strawberries, holding it up to her lips. She took a bite, moaning in delight.
“I made them myself.”
“You’re always thinking of me Vesuvio, however am I going to pay you back.”
“I’ve already told you, I don’t need payment, I just need you to love me.”
They sat down at the small table in her room, enjoying the strawberries and each others company. Vesuvio hated sneaking around like this and wished they could just tell everyone they were in love. Some of the staff already knew, but had been more than willing to keep their secret and Vesuvio himself would not say anything that might get him beheaded. He would rather spend his time in secrecy than never see Gwin again.
“You look troubled, my dad just left. We’re supposed to be happy my love”
“I know, I just hate this has to be secret”
“I cant lose you and you know my father doesnt care atall about what I want. He’s always been a selfish man. I’m surprised he hadn’t traded me to someone yet. If he hears one hint I’m dating you you’ll be dead. I mean, he killed Rosa for spilling his wine” Vesuvio frowned “yeah, poor thing. I’m glad your brother is going to be a nicer ruler”
“me too, I’m also glad he pretends to be an ass so dad will give him the throne”
‘it’s crazy how well he does it when I’ve seen the real him when your father isn’t home”
“It is but I cant wait. When he’s king we can be public because my dad wont have the authority to kill you. He’d have to get permission from Buck”
“I can’t wait to see your dad under Bucks rule”
“it’ll be hilarious. He’ll look like a cherry with his anger”
‘the subjects of the land are happy his reign is nearly over aswell”
“They know my brother is kind?”
“Its spread but they all know to keep it from your father”
Vesuvio took her hand and brought her fingers to his lips. “How I love you Gwin, I’ll never let you go.”
“What if my father tries to give me away?”
“Then we’ll ask your brother to help us run away. I’ll take up work on a pirate ship and you can be my wench.” She giggled and his smile widened.
“Or maybe I’ll be the captain and you’ll be the wench.”
“I don’t think I’d look that good in a dress.” She leaned across the table and kissed him.
“Okay, how about we become co-captains.”
He sighed. “Sounds good to me my love.” They ate and talked until all the strawberries were gone then they crawled onto her bed and she read to him. It was one of her favorite things to do and it made the story so much better when he was there to enjoy it with her.
“So you’re saying I’ll still be king?” William asked.
“Well sort of. I would be the one wearing the crown, but you would be free to do as you wish.” Chad replied. “I’ll also merge my riches and land with yours so you’ll have an even larger supply of money. You’ll be able to get whatever you wish.”
“Retirement but still in control, your land and money for my Gwin? I seem to have actually under estimated how much you’ve wanted her.”
“I’ve already shown my cards with how great of an offer you know this is. I couldn’t possibly offer you any more so yes you have. She was such a beautiful little girl and once she blossomed she became irresistible. I need her in my room and by my side. As it stands your daughter is repulsed by my every advance. She can’t stand me which is why I’ve beseeched you so long to let me trade for her so she will have no choice but to be mine.” Chad pulled out the official documents he had written up. “No other man in the world would offer you this much and honestly you’d be a fool not to take it William. All I want is a daughter you care nothing for”
William grinned “fine my friend” he signed with a greedy smile. He was receiving even more than he thought he would get out of Chad. William knew the man had been obsessed with Gwin for most of her life but he had greatly underestimated his level of obsession. Chad became elated the moment they both had the document signed and sealed with their rings. “when can I have her?” Chad asked and William chuckled “I don’t feel like traveling tonight. We will head back to my home in the morning”
“what will your son say of this?’
“Who cares, throw him and his family out if he gives you trouble. His wife was once pleasant to look at but with that baby bump she’s little more than an eye sore. His presence isn’t needed since I don’t need him to take my place and I have no more fantasys of his wife. Nothing ruins a woman like pregnancy”
“I didn’t realize she was pregnant”
“You’re too busy staring at Gwin when you are in the my castle, well your castle now”
“I wonder when your father is coming home?” Vesuvio said as he lay in bed cuddling with Gwin.
“One of the maids or my brother will come and tell us when he shows up so don’t worry.” She played with the buttons on his shirt.
“I hate I must be driven from you every time he returns. I want to stay like this forever.”
“Me too, we just have to be patient.”
He sighed and kissed the top of her head. He wanted to take her away from this place to somewhere no one had ever heard of her. He had saved up enough to get them on a ship and get them started somewhere new. “Maybe we should just run away like we were talking about.”
“Vesuvio, you know he would come after us and he would kill you. I would be devastated if I lost you, I wouldn’t want to go on living.”
“Don’t say that.”
“It’s the truth, you’re everything to me, my heart and soul so you have to stay alive.”
“we have Ziven and his family, they could get us somwhere beyond your fathers reach. Ziven and I have talked many times. Though we talk more of overthrowing the bastard”
“You know thats not possible Vesuvio”
“How is it not? Nobody likes your father and pray for illness to befall him every night. He’s cruel to everyone he meets”
“They fear him, fear going against him. In an overthrowal we might not have many allies due to the people fear. We don’t have long until his rule is over Vesuvio. Just be patient a little longer. I know it’s hard. I hate leaving you as much as you hate leaving me”
“Will you consider running with me? As I said, Ziven and his family would help us. I have saved up a great sum of money so I can afford to get us away and to take care of us until I can find work in a place untouchable by your father”
“I’ll talk to my brother about it”
“Why must you talk to him?”
“To see his opinion and to let him know it may happen. I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to my siblings. You know they wouldn’t alert anybody”
“Okay, if that’s what you need to do, I understand.”
“I do love you Vesuvio, it’s just running away together is a choice that cannot be made lightly. So much could go wrong.”
“I know, I love you too and I’m sorry for my selfishness.”
Gwin smiled and snuggled closer, sinking into the security of his arms and falling asleep. Vesuvio could not rest even if he wanted to. He was always prepared to jump out of Gwin’s bed and run from her room if her father came home. He just laid there staring out her bedroom window, hoping her brother would take his side. Buck knew better than anyone how cruel William could be. He stayed like this all night, his eyes fixed on the moon as he formulated a plan in case Gwin decided to run with him. He was good at many things, could work on a ship or even on a farm. Being a servant had given him many skills. He was strong and fast, his father had been a laborer before and his grandfather before that so he had been raised knowing what hard work was.
When morning came he slipped out of her bed, needing to get to work. He kissed her cheek and took the plate they had used out of her room and down to the kitchen where he washed and dried it. “Good morning Vesuvio.” The cook, Lorena, said.
“Morning, need help with anything today?”
“Could you clean out the chimney, I wouldn’t want to start any unwanted fires.”
“Of course, just let be grab my broom. You should probably move the cooking pot though so I don’t fill it up with dust.”
“Alright, thank you.”
Gwins eyes slowly opened about an hour after Vesuvio left her. She was used to him being gone when she woke if he spent the night. Even when her father was absent he still had to do his work around the castle. Typically the staff let him slip out of most things but he still had to work a little bit. This morning she needed to talk to Buck anyway. Gwin changed into one of her brown dresses since Vesuvio thought that color was particularly flattering on her. She couldn’t tie the back herself so after slipping it on she found the nearest maid to help tie her “Thanks Lilana”
“No problem sweetheart. Vesuvio is going to be alight when he sees you. You should wear that brown butterfly clip with the purple and yellow jewels”
“That is a good idea”
“Let me fetch it” Gwin laughed, Lilana was always treating her like a doll and making suggestions on what she should wear. In fact she would purposefully stay near Gwins room in the mornings so she would be the one called to tie her dresses. Once they had decided on a necklace she was ready for the day. “Do you and Vesuvio get another full day together?”
“I don’t know, dad didn’t say how long he’d be gone”
“I hope so. We need vesuvio for a few things today but after that we’ll let him loose. He’s the only man strong enough for a few chores”
“I know, I wish dad didn’t work you all so hard. Some of the things you do daily is so pointless”
“Buck will be ruling soon and it’ll all be over”
“Speaking of which I need to go talk to him. I’ll see you later”
“See you later, I’ll just get to tidying your bedroom” Gwin walked hurriedly to her brothers room and knocked. Just as she knocked she heard Nancy hurling and regretted bothering them. It took a minute but her brother answered ‘sorry, we can talk later”
“Nonsense, come in Gwin” Nancy called from the bathroom. Gwin stepped in and Buck went back to his wife “I’m fine, it’s just morning sickness. We do this most mornings. Talk to your sister” Buck kissed his wifes cheek then left the bathroom “what is it?”
“Last night Vesuvio asked me to run away with him. He hates having to hide our relationship and even though he believes you will make an amazing king, he’s impatient. I thought I’d ask you what you think since you’re the best at giving advice.”
“I say go for it.” Nancy said as she exited the bathroom.
Buck took Gwin’s hands in his. “If it’s truly what you both want then you have my full support. I will miss you of course, as will the others, but you know we only want your happiness.”
“Really, you’d help us run?”
“Yes and I’d give you as much money and jewelry as I could so you’d have plenty of money. I trust Vesuvio to protect you.” She hugged her brother and then Nancy.
“Thank you so much. I need to tell Vesuvio so we can decide when to leave. I’m sure it’ll take some planning.”
Vesuvio was pouring sweat by the time he climbed down from the roof and went into the kitchen to clean out the oven. He had knocked quite a bit of soot back down the chimney and wasn’t going to make Lorena clean it up. He pulled the big metal door open then pulled the racks out and swept out the soot and chunks of food that had fallen into the bottom. He scrubbed the inside of it until it was clean enough to eat off of then cleaned the racks and put them back in. Arms wrapped around his waist and he jumped in surprise. He smiled when he realized it was Gwin.
“You’ll get dirty if you don’t let go. I’m a mess.”
“I’m too excited, I needed a hug” she let him go and he turned to face her, a look of appeared on his face that was enough to tell Gwin how beautiful he thought she was. “Now i especially don’t want you covered in my mess” Gwin smiled “Buck thinks it’s a good idea. I’m nervous but I’m excited at the same time. He and Nancy are going to give us what money they can so money definitely wont be a problem since you’ve been saving”
“So you’ll run with me?’
“yes” Vesuvio lowered to a whispering tone “we need to cross an ocean if we want to insure we’ll be far enough away for your father not to get us. Let me clean up and I’ll run to Zevins house and tell him we do want to run. He’ll help get a boat sorted for us and everything, I’m sure of it. I’ve been mulling over plans in my head so deciding a good one with him wont be that difficult. I wish you could come with me to talk but you need to be here if your father returns home and your father doesn’t like elves in the castle or you speaking to them.”
“what should I tell my father if he gets here and you aren’t working?”
“he doesn’t pay that much mind. If so, tell him you wanted me to fetch you some fruit from town. I’ll bring somthing nice back”
“Ok” Vesuvio told a few of the other servants he was cleaning up and leaving before hurrying to his room. Gwins heart fluttered at the thought of running with Vesuvio and finally getting to be his all the time. It was so rare her father left the castle that somtimes they had to go months not being able to cuddle and talk. Soon, with the help of the people who loved them they would be free of her menacing father.
Gwin was sitting in the library reading when her father arrived. One of the maids let her know he was home and that he had brought Chad with him. Gwin cringed, but knew she, along with her siblings, had to greet them. She noticed both her father and Chad looked overly pleased and suddenly had a very bad feeling. “My beautiful Gwin, it’s so nice to see you again.” Chad said, taking her hand kissing her knuckles.
“You presume much my lord.” She replied and pulled her hand away.
“Oh no, you are most definitely mine.”
She looked to her father. “What does he mean?”
“Don’t play stupid girl, I sold you to him.”
Her eyes grew wide and her siblings gasped with the exception of Buck who just stood there with clenched fists. “What, why?”
“Because you’re old enough to be married and Chad is the perfect match. Once you are wed he will be crowned king and you his queen.”
“But I don’t want to marry him.”
“Well too bad.”
Gwin felt her heart slam against her chest, her father’s cruelty angering and saddening her. She ran upstairs, tears falling down her face. She slammed her door and locked it, hating her father. She feared Chad would follow her and insist on sleeping in her room at night. She didn’t want him touching her and even worse now it would be harder to run away. She would get her brother to talk to Vesuvio and tell him they had to leave tonight or they would never be together.
William made an irritated noise “I’m sorry Chad. She’s such a brat.”
“Don’t worry, I knew she wouldn’t take it well. She’ll grow to love me and once we’re married she’ll have to accept my affection no matter what.”
“why don’t you go after her now? She’s already yours”
“I’ll give her a night to herself. I know you do not care but I want her to somewhere down the road get used to being with me and accept it.”
“You will be king, why does it matter what she feels? You can make her do anything”
“I don’t think you’re understanding me. I care how she feels about me. If I don’t overwhelm her she will come around”
‘what of your wedding night? Whats a kings crowning without passion with his queen?”
“I said I would be slow, not abstinent.”
“Father” Buck interrupted angrily “don’t you start boy. Chad can kick you out of this castle” Chad then in a more cold tone than before added ‘and i will, you ruined many times I was trying to win Gwin over. You are partially to blame I’m having to take the forced path with her” Buck scoffed “Nobodies making you force yourself on my sister. You’re such a pig. It makes me sick you are even pretending to care how she feels. She’ll never want or love you!”
“get out of my castle!” Chad commanded “I’ll gather our things”
“Hurry, you have thirty minuets to be gone” when they were in their bedroom Nancy hugged him “I’m sorry’ he said sadly. “don’t be sorry. We’ll get a hotel. Gather the money and goods we have in the room first so we have somthing to start. We’ll be ok”
“Just don’t stress. I’ll take care of us”
“I know Buck. We need to hurry and pack. Somthing tells me they’ll be strict on our time limit”
Vesuvio walked excitedly through town after his friend Ziven had managed to get them passage on a cargo ship leaving that night for a port far from William’s reach. He was all smiles until he got closer to home and he saw Buck and Nancy carrying bags out the front door. “What happened?” He asked.
“I don’t have much time to talk, but father has sold Gwin to Chad, they are to be married. Whatever your plan it must be tonight.” Buck said under his breath.
“That was the plan, I have us passage on a ship. Maybe you two could come with us.”
“No, I can’t. Father has declared war and I will retaliate. I have the voice and the ties to start a rebellion and once Gwin is gone that pig Chad will have no way of claiming the throne, especially since it is only Gwin he wants. So get her out of here, ruin their night.”
Vesuvio nodded and hurried inside, not wanting to be seen talking to Buck for fear of being thrown out himself. He went nervously back to work, his mind on Gwin and what she must be going through. He pulled one of the maids aside and said, “I need you to give Gwin a message, tell her it happens tonight and that I will be waiting outside her window and to pack light.” The maid nodded and he went back to work, needing to keep himself busy so he wouldn’t wring Chad’s neck.
The maid prepared some soothing tea for Gwin. It would give her an excuse to be in Gwins room and she was sure the princess needed it. When it was ready she pulled out a fine china tea cup and poured some in before setting it on a small china plate that rested on a wooden tray. She grabbed an apple and grapes out the fridge too and set it on the tray for her. “Princess” she said quietly before Gwins door. “yes?”
“May i enter? I have tea”
“Please” Gwin wiped her face as Willa sat “I have a message from Vesuvio” she whispered only just loud enough so she could be heard “what is it? Does he know what’s happened?”
“with how angry he looked I’m sure he does. He told me to tell you it happens tonight, pack light. He’ll be waiting outside your window” Gwin hugged Willa, spilling the tea a bit. “thanks”
“Run far and fast. Don’t look back. My heart cant handle another beheading, especially not yours or Vesuvios”
“Like my father would allow me that out. He’d give me right back to Chad”
“All the more reason to not get caught.” Willa left and Gwin drank her tea before quietly grabbing her smallest bag from her closet and throwing a few changes of clothes in it. She took only her most expensive jewelry so they’d have it to sell if they were put in that situation. If she brought all of it her bag might make a lot of noise when she jumped out her window. Gwin hastily slid the bag under her bed, not wanting to be caught holding one.
She changed into a shorter dress, one fit to run in if needed. It startled Gwin when an unfamiliar knock sounded at her door. She knew almost everyones knock. “yes?” the door opened without an invitation, it was Chad. “what’re you doing in here?”
“I just wanted to check on you.” He walked over and sat on the bed with her, taking her hand causing Gwin to have to resist the urge to jerk away. He smiled “good, I worried you’d snatch that beautiful little hand again. i see you’ve changed dresses. Stand and model it for me my love” Gwin made herself get up and stand before him. “you aren’t going to twirl?” She did, knowing she only had to deal with him a few more hours. Chad stood, approaching until she was backed into the wall. He stroked her cheek and she couldn’t help but push him back. “Gwin”
“Please…can’t you atleast leave me until we’re married”
“I guess I did tell myself I’d let you alone today and tonight to sort yourself. You will be happy with me if you let yourself. I am very good at pleasing a woman and there is no woman I want to please more in my bedroom than you” His words and the look in his eyes upset her stomach. She didn’t answer, she didn’t know how.
She just stood there silently staring up at him, hoping he could see her true feeling in her eyes. “Please leave.” She finally said and he frowned.
He reached up and ran his finger from her cheek to the neck line of her dress. “I’ll give you until tomorrow my sweet.” He leaned in and she flinched away. “I would like a kiss Gwin.” She didn’t know what he would do if she refused again so she turned her head toward him and allowed him to kiss her. She shoved him away when he stuck his tongue in her mouth and wiped her lips with a trembling hand. “See you in the morning angel.” He left her alone and she went quickly into the bathroom and rinsed her mouth out.
Vesuvio looked up at the sky as he helped gather tomatoes from the garden out back. He willed it to travel faster so he could take Gwin from this place and give her a normal life. He wanted her away from William’s cruelty and Chad’s obsession. He worried constantly at that man having free access to Gwin and prayed he would leave her be. She was far too sweet and innocent and did not deserve his constant unwanted advances. “It’ll be alright Vesuvio, just a few more hours.” The gardener said under his breath.
“I know, I just worry.”
“we all worry with Chad owning her. I’ve never liked our king but somhow my opinion of him just dropped further. Mind your temper about this Vesuvio. You and she only have to endure this until night”
“Thats why i want to work hard for the remainder of the time. I’m afraid of what i might do or say if I’m idle” At dinner Gwin was ordered by her father to sit beside Chad instead if between Lorena and Buck as normal. Just as she sat down Chad let his hand rest high on her thigh. She frowned and looked away, not daring to jerk and cause trouble when they were so close to leaving. Vesuvio came out to pour drinks as an excuse to check on her. The maids told him it would be foolish but he did anyway.
Vesuvio could tell Gwin was much more distressed about Chads hand resting where it was than her face said and he nearly lost it. “Vesuvio! Wipe that look off your face” William said angrily as Vesuvio poured his drink ‘sorry my king”
“My servants are never to look unpleasant, you know that. You only keep your life because of how hard a laborer you are but I wont tolerate that face again”
“He’s a stupid boy who doesn’t know any better, isn’t that right uh Vesuvio was it.” Chad chimed in.
“Yes sir, that’s right.” Vesuvio answered.
“See William, just forget it. Stupid people often do stupid things.”
William waved him off and Gwin felt her heart wrench in sadness. She hated when anyone would talk down to Vesuvio. He was an incredibly kind and intelligent young man. She looked at her hands so as not to betray her true feelings. Soon she would be free and living a new life with her love. She ate slowly, doing her best to ignore the way Chad’s fingers stroked her leg. When they were finished eating he made her give him another kiss in front of everyone and insisted on walking her upstairs.
“Goodnight.” She said when they came to her door. She grabbed the handle and he wrapped his arms around her from behind, his nose pressing into her hair. She stiffened and swallowed nervously. “Please let me go so I may get to bed.”
“Let me stay with you tonight.” He kissed her neck and she jerked away from him, putting her back to the door.
“Don’t, just let me be alone tonight to gather my thoughts. If you can do that, if you can show you have some self control then maybe I’ll let you in here tomorrow night without arguing.” She lied. “I’ll do anything you like as long as you leave me alone.”
He grabbed her chin and her heart slammed against her chest. “Sleep well then my love, you’ll need it.” He walked away and she shakily opened her door, closing and locking it behind her. She then pushed her chest of drawers in front of it. It took her a few minutes since they were so heavy, but having wood floors helped. She grabbed her bag out from under her bed then sat down on her bed and waited.
Her nervous heart leapt for joy when she heard the tiniest tap of a small pebble hit her window. She walked over and saw Vesuvio, holding his own bag and smiling. Gwin opened her window and he came forward to catch her since it was a little high “I coudl hurt you” she whispered “I can catch you and if not I really want to break the fall” he whispered back. There wasn’t time to argue. The longer they talked the better chance there was for them to be caught. She jumped down and he caught her with ease then set her on her feet. They held hands and began running.
In town they slowed and met Ziven by a large fountain “hey” Gwin said and he hugged her “hey, i just wanted to tell you guys buy and give you this” he pulled out two small bags “My people make excellent healing potions. I wanted you two to have plenty since you don’t know what lies ahead of you. The men on the ship are good men and will help Vesuvio find work if he doesn’t decide on the way to stay on the ship with you. I just care for you both very much, even though it’s been a rarity to get to talk to you Gwin”
“I know, I’m sorry”
“It wasn’t your fault. You had no say” They put the bag of vials in their bags then hugged Ziven before walking with him down to the dock. They were greeted by a mixture of men, some white, some tan, some girls, some short, some tall and some looking extremely intimidating. They loaded up in a hurry, not wanting to linger and have anybody that passed by recognize the princess. As the ship set off Ziven waved sadly at his best friend and Gwin. He was happy for him though. He often wondered if Gwin had any idea of just how deeply Vesuvio cherished her.
Ziven stayed there until he couldn’t see the ships lights any longer before going to tell Buck that his sister was safely out. He asked as a personal favor to let him know so he and his wife didn’t have to worry. They were shown a room by Karren. She was tall for woman with short red hair and brown eyes. “You two just relax and get your sea legs for tonight. Sleep if you can but if not you’re welcome on deck”
“Thank you” Gwin said meekly “Your father is a rotten bastard. I’m sorry you were born to him. I’ve heard nothing but good about you and any friend of Zivens is a friend of ours”
“Thank you for helping us even when you know he could have you beheaded if he found out. I never thought I’d have so many willing to risk themselves.”
Karren gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. “No one deserves to live with a man like your father and everyone should be able to love who they see fit. We’ll watch over you here on the open sea and we won’t breathe a word of your whereabouts to anyone unless you wish it.”
Gwin felt herself tear up even as she smiled and Karren left them to get settled. She turned to Vesuvio and he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. “I’m so glad that went as planned. I would have hated to drag you the long way to lose anyone chasing us.”
“I’m going to miss my siblings and the other workers. I love them all so much.” She pressed her face into his chest and he rubbed his hand soothingly up and down her back.
“I know baby and we’ll go back as soon as your father steps down from the throne, I promise.” He kissed the top of her head. “Lets try and get some sleep.”
“I’m still wired from fear and adrenaline, there’s no way I’m getting any sleep tonight. I mean look at me, I’m shaking.” She replied as she held up her hand.
He took her hand and kissed it. She frowned and pulled it away “whats wrong? You always love my kisses?”
“I just should tell you somthing and now is better than later.”
“What is it?”
“I…I had to kiss Chad twice. I really didn’t want to…i’m so sorry baby” Vesuvios pulled her close “You had to do what you had to do so we wouldn’t be found out. You would never cheat on me and I know that”
“It was so gross and on top of that I had to feel guilty since I’m yours”
“You shouldn’t have I’m sorry he did that to you and your asshole father put you in that position. I love you with all my heart Gwin. We’re finally free. Lets be happy and not worry about what that perverted old man was doing”
“would you kiss me? I rinsed my mouth” he smiled then leaned in, giving her a sweet and gentle kiss. “I would kiss you if you were covered in bile” Gwin made a face and he laughed again, his heart beating happily. “since you don’t feel tired would you like to look out at the sea with me?”
“yes” They laced hands and went out on deck. A few of the men waved at them and they waved back. “wow, how large the ocean is never stops amazing me” Gwin said softly and Vesuvio answered “I know” They stayed out there for a few hours before Gwin began yawning “lets get back to our room sweetheart” he said with an adoring smile and happy eyes. They went back and laid down together, Vesuvio happy that this night he could truly sleep with her instead on needing to listen for William. She fell asleep quickly, the stress from dealing with Chad wearing on her. Vesuvio kissed Gwins head “goodnight my precious Gwin. No man will ever touch you again if you don’t want him to. I promise you’ll never deal with that a second time.I will protect you from anything or anyone. My heart could never bare the loss of you.” With the end of his sweet words he kissed her again then faded into rest.
Gwin jerked awake the next morning, her heart hammering in her chest. She was relieved to find them still on the ever swaying boat and relaxed back into Vesuvio’s warm embrace. She studied his face, finding him more and more handsome with each passing second. Her heart gave this tight squeeze when she looked at him that always dissolved into light flutters. She smiled and pressed her lips into his, needing to kiss him even if it meant waking him. He opened his eyes and she felt him smile against her lips as he tangled his fingers in her hair and rolled her beneath him. She blushed, her fingers gripping tightly to his shirt as his lips moved slowly against hers.
“Good morning.” He said when he finally parted their lips.
“Good morning.” She responded breathlessly. She swallowed at the look in his eyes, the mix of love and lust was scary and exciting all at once and she wasn’t sure what to do.
“Are you uncomfortable?” He asked in a loving tone.
“No, just nervous.” He brushed his knuckles over her cheek.
“Don’t be my love, I would never do anything without your permission.” He kissed her nose, making a smile tug at her lips. “Let’s go see what’s for breakfast and then I’ll see if the men and women of this fine vessel need any help.”
“Okay, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
They stepped out and were given a loud good morning by the few on deck “morning” Vesuvio answered “you two looking for breakfast?” One of the more intimidating men asked. “yes”
“it’ll be ready in a bit and it will be good too. Karrens cooking. Head down with us” They all walked down and Gwin went into the kitchen to see if Karren wanted her help. “Morning princess” Karren said as soon as she entered. “You didn’t even turn around and look”
“I know the footsteps of my crew.”
“Ashka and I are nearly done but you can help serve and take out plates”
“ok” As breakfast began at the castle Chad grew impatient to see Gwin and got up “I’ll go make sure your daughter is awake”
“Going to have a morning roll in the sack?” William asked and Chad smiled “that’s certainly a good idea and while I may not get that far this morning she has given me her word on tonight” Chad walked away and up to Gwins door. He tried to open it, wanting to go in with her still sleeping so he could slide in bed and hold her but the door didn’t budge. He tried harder and realized she had put somthing in front of the door. He sighed in annoyance and he banged on her door loudly “Gwin!” he yelled.
When he finally got the door open the first thing he noticed was that the window was open. He glanced around the room then ran into her bathroom. “Gwin!” he yelled angrily then ran to alert her father she had run. He growled angrily and Lorena sank in her seat. He turned his angry gaze at her “where is your sister?”
“I don’t know daddy” He looked at her under scrutiny before saying “go to your room. You’ve never given me trouble so I doubt you’re stupid enough to lie but I want you in your room”
“Yes sir” she said though she had barely gotten to eat her breakfast. “I’ll send all of my knights to look and have the whole kingdom on alert. Worst comes to worst I’ll give you Lorena instead. She’ll be old enough in eight years but you can still have her now. We just wont tell anybody she’s yours until shes old enough”
“I do not want Lorena, I do not want any other woman the lands have to offer! I’ve been hungering for Gwin since she was Lorenas age and I will have her! You traded her to me! Her windows should have been locked!”
“She couldn’t have escaped if you weren’t being such a weakling. She should have been in your bed or you in hers!”
“Go alert everyone now!” In an angry stride William went to get everyone looking. Lorena sat sadly in her room, wishing her sister would have told her bye. After breakfast on the ship Vesuvio and Gwin got to work, helping where they could then enjoyed the ship when they weren’t needed. Just from what work they did do Gwin was sore from not being accustomed to hard labor but she didn’t let it show or whine about it. She wanted to get used to working.
Around three thirty Cha entered Lorenas room, causing her wolf to come to its feet and growl “Now is not the time mutt!” His words only making the wolf growl deeper, it was as if it spoke english with how it reacted “Alonzo, it’s ok. He wont hurt me” Alonzo didn’t seem sure about that. He jumped on the bed and seemed to glare at Chad. “Look here you brat. You better not be lieing about your sister”
“I swear I don’t know” Chad walked over to Lorena and raised his hand to slap her. He had come in planning to beat the little girl to be sure she wasn’t lieing. His arm had barely raised when Alonzo jumped up and bit into his arm. Chad yelled and was soon on the floor with the large wolf. Lorena covered her eyes crying at the horrible sight. Alonzo heard and stopped, going back to Lorena and yipping as he did when he was asking her to get on his back. She was scared to stay here and now had no kind people left in the castle so she got on and allowed Alonzo to run.
He ran her out of the castle, across the lands and soon into the woods. Lorena didn’t know where they were going but she didn’t care. Anywhere was better than being stuck in a castle alone with her father, chad and her fathers other friends. Eventually Alonzo grew tired and stopped. Lorena got off and sat so he could put his head in her lap “thank you” Alonzo whined his apology she had to see him attack Chad. “it’s alright, you just didn’t want him to hurt me”
Alonzo wasn’t planning on taking her back, he knew without her sister or brother in the castle William would focus his cruelty on her. He was actually a werewolf, an immortal half dog half man. When Lorena had found him he had lost his entire pack to hunters who hunted wolves for fun. He had been the only one to live and had been alone until Lorena found him two years ago. She was crying and bruised from her fathers beating and he was repulsed such a man ruled their kingdom. He decided since he was alone anyway he would go home with her and keep her from harm. William turned out to not be a brave man in the slightest so all it had ever taken was a showing of teeth to keep his hand at bay. Now that he had run with her, he knew he needed to show her he wasn’t just a wolf but he wanted to let her recoup from the trauma of what just happened first.
Gwin and Vesuvio sat at the bow of the ship enjoying their orange juice and the cool ocean breeze. They still had a couple of days until they made port then Vesuvio would help the crew unload their cargo. “So what job do you think you’ll do?” Gwin asked.
He shrugged. “Maybe I’ll get work on a fishing vessel or as a mill worker.” He frowned and she cupped his cheek.
“What thought just ran through your head?”
“I’m worried we might not get a lot of time together once I start working.”
“Then we’ll have to spend as much time together as we can and this time we won’t even have to sneak around. We get to fall asleep and wake up together.”
He smiled and kissed her. “Among other things.” She blushed and he chuckled, taking her hand and stroking his thumb over her soft skin. “There’s no rush my love. We have all the time in the world.”
“You’ve waited five years”
“and I can wait five more if thats what it takes for you to be comfortable. I especially don’t want to rush you after you dealt with a forced engagement with Chad.” Gwin looked Vesuvio in the eyes “that has done nothing my love. You and him are far from one in the same. I love when you touch me. I guess sex never crossed my mind since we had so little time together”
“I know, I felt the same. With not much time I’d rather enjoy our talks and playing around rather than having sex. You have been my dream since I was fourteen and I felt like the luckiest man alive when I confessed my feelings and you felt the same”
“You’re smart, handsome and a very good man Vesuvio. I could barely stand the way Chad spoke to you and about you that last night”
“Nobody cares what that bastard thinks anyway. He’s a stupid pig and I wish I could strangle him for touching you”
“You wouldn’t harm a fly and you know it” she said with her beautifully innocent smile. In their homeland Chad got to his feet. He felt light headed from loss of blood and his arm was mangled but he was still alive. Chads face stung aswell from the wolfs claws to his face. “that little bitch is going to feel my wrath” he seethed to himself as he walked to find a maid. When one passed him he demanded treatment quickly and she got to it.
About two hours later Lorenas stomach growled. She ran her hand across Alonzos fur and asked “what’re we going to do about food? I know nothing about tending to myself” Alonzo made a noise and decided it was now he had to show her. He moved his head to tell her to come so she followed him, her trusted wolf companion. He took her to where his pack once was. He had been living there even after his pack was lost to the humans. He found a cave with clothes in it, not wanting to flash young Lorena. He put his paw over his eyes to signal Lorena to close hers.
“why?’ she asked and he just did it again “Oh alright” she obeyed and he shifted. In human form he grabbed the clothes then said in a hoarse voice from lack of use “Lorena, please don’t be afraid and listen” Lorena gasped and opened her eyes, afraid at the mans voice “but…wheres” he could tell she was afraid “It’s me. Look into my eyes. I’m Alonzo”
She had pushed herself against the cave wall and he crouched down in front of her. He smiled warmly, holding out a hand to her. Her lip quivered and she launched herself into his arms. “It’s okay Lorena, I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
“It really is you.” She clung to him, weeping uncontrollably into his chest. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m a werewolf Lorena, a shapeshifter.”
“Are you going to eat me or anything?”
He laughed, not meaning too, but unable to help the amusement that rose up in him. “No my sweet little Lorena, I am not going to eat you. I’m the same wolf as I was just moments ago and I promise to always protect you.”
She pulled back to look at him and ran her fingers over his face. “I can see the wolf in your eyes, it’s so strange.”
“Would you like me to change back?”
“No, please it’s fine. Either way it fine.” She protested. Her stomach growled again, this time louder as if yelling at her to find food. A look of embarrassment filled her face and he smiled.
“How does fish sound?”
“But we don’t have a pole.”
He smiled. “I’m a wolf Lorena, I don’t need a pole. You just relax here and I’ll be right back. If you need anything, just call me and I’ll come running.”
“Ok, but can I ask you a question?”
“Anything that pops into your head”
“why have you been my friend these past two years?” His happy face turned a little sad. “When I was nearly fifteen I lost my pack to a large group of men that took us by surprise in the night. They killed my entire family. I wasn’t related to them all but a pack is like a family. When you stumbled upon me you were hiding from your father who had just given you a severe beating. it broke my heart and I wanted to protect you. Since I was alone anyway i just followed you home and have stayed by your side. You are the greatest friend I’ve ever had and we’ve never been able to really talk before”
“why didn’t you show yourself as a man?”
“Your father wouldn’t have been so afraid of me and I wouldn’t have been allowed to accompany you everywhere you went.”
“Thank you for making my dad stop beating me”
“You never have any need to thank me Lorena. From that first meeting I have had this need to keep you safe and close. I will always keep you safe. I’m sorry I hurt that man so badly in front of you though. It hurt my heart you cried because of me”
“It was ok, he was going to beat me like daddy used to. So, how old are you?”
“Seventeen, let me run get you food and you can continue asking me whatever you want” Lorena sat down as he ran off. When Vesuvio and Gwin docked it felt odd to stand on land again. Karren walked them to a mans house who was good at fining people jobs when they needed one. After talking to the man awhile Vesuvio ended up a metalsmiths assistant because the towns current one was getting up in years and had never married nor had children outside of marriage to take on his craft. They needed a new one and Vesuvio was happy to learn the trade.
After that was taken care of they bought a decent house in town. It was small but small was all they needed right now with just the two of them. They wanted a house that they could pay for right then and this houses cost fit into that budget. Karren left them, sure they could handle it from there and told them to come to the docks in search for them if they ever decided to become permanent members of the crew. She also told them she would tell Ziven where their house was so he could visit.
Vesuvio hugged Gwin as soon as Karren shut their front door “do you like this, really Gwin? You’re used to such luxury”
“I like anywhere i can be with you. I promise I’m happy and this place is cute. We need to go buy some food before it gets too late. We’ll also need stuff to cook in.”
“I’ve got enough for that. We just have to be a little careful” Gwin opened her bag and showed him she had brought her most expensive jewelry “we can sell these if it comes down to it”
“Gwin, you don’t need to”
“Vesuvio, I don’t want to wear such things any longer. I’ve always liked simpler jewelry anyway but my father insisted I look my class. Just this tiara is worth double the house we stand in if I sell it.” Vesuvio kissed her “only if you’re sure”
“Very sure, I want to buy more basic dresses and clothes too. I always look as if I’m headed to a fancy party” he smiled “yes and you’re always stunning. You’ll look stunning in more regular clothes aswell” They went out and bought the basic needs of a house and a few regular outfits for Gwin so people would stop staring and treating her as royalty. At home they prepared dinner together and enjoyed it more than any meal before. Everything around them was better since it was theirs and they were free. They could love, marry, have children and anything else they wanted without William in power to dictate their lives. Gwin could only hope for the sake of her kingdom across the sea that Buck could take the throne from their father and save the land from the misery William had set on it. That night they cuddled close together and drifted into the blissful sleep true freedom gave them.
~ The End ~