Susi was six months pregnant, Vihreä could feel their child kicking as he rested his hand on her abdomen. He was nervous because they were going to see his father and mother. Neither of them had made it to the wedding, but very much wanted to get to know Susi. He had not wanted to go, but Susi had insisted. He was terrified of becoming the way he was before, of being like his father who had always been cold and calculating, who had pushed Vihreä himself into blocking out all positive emotions. Love was for the weak, kindness would get you killed, never trust anyone. He had said these words every day, had expected Vihreä to live by them without question and he had until he met Susi.
He knew his father was going to question his relationship and because of this Vihreä had warned Susi that he may become cold and uncaring again, that he may revert back to the way he was when they met. She had reassured him time and time again that he would be fine and that she would understand, that she would not be angry or hold it against him. Still he feared for his relationship with her, feared he would stress her and their child. The carriage was still half a day away, half a day to close. He had wanted to turn around many times, but forced himself to keep going. He wanted to face all of his demons and his father was the biggest of them all.
“Are you doing okay my love?” Susi asked and he rubbed her stomach.
“No, I feel terrible, scared.” He replied honestly. He never wanted to hide anything from her, not even his worst fear.
“Everything is going to be okay. We are going to go straight to bed when we get there anyway.”
“Yes, but we are spending a week with them. My mother I’m not worried about, she is very quiet and submissive. It is my father that worries me. He knows you are the princess and he will try to use that to his advantage. He thinks it will give him a bigger standing in high society. I know you believe that we are all equal whether we be king, queen, exorcist, or knight, but he does not. He believes people born into families like you and I are better. He believes the man should always be in control hence the reason he chose a submissive wife. He does not love my mother, she is simply there for his pleasure and because she looks good on his arm. He expects me to be the same, to treat you like you are nothing but a piece of eye candy that I can use as for what I wish.”
“I have to say you already use me pretty well.” She winked and he couldn’t help but crack a smile.
“Maybe I’ll use you once we get settled in our room.” She laughed and he leaned in and kissed her softly. “Thank for making me strong.” He whispered and she smiled warmly.
The carriage slowed a bit and Susi giggled “Vihreä, don’t slow down to make it take us longer to get there”
“Dang, I was hoping you wouldn’t catch me” Susi laughed again and they returned to the pace they had before. Vihreäs heart rate only increased as they drew closer until they were finally in the town where his parents lived. Susi rubbed his back “Calm down, I wont leave you” Vihreä just hoped that was true as he stopped the carriage and unhinged the horses and guided them into the stable. Before he could get back he saw his mother and father approaching Susi. Rhea hugged Susi then Alexander offered his hand for Susi to shake it. She shook it with a smile as Vihreä quickly came to her side.
Vihreä wanted Susi alone with his father as little as possible. Rhea hugged her son then to Susis shock Vihreä shook his fathers hand. Vihreä had said he wasn’t loving but she atleast expected the two men to hug. Alexander and Vihreä grabbed the bags and carried them inside. Once the bags were in the guest bedroom Alexander told Susi and Vihreä to come into the kitchen. Rhea was cooking dinner so Susi stood “I’ll help you”
“she doesn’t need help” Alexander quickly said. “she may not need it but I want to help her” Vihreä looked afraid as Alexander said “but you’re a princess” Susi acted as if she didn’t hear that and helped Rhea anyway.Rheawanted to say thank you but was afraid to.
“She’s certainly willful.” Alexander said as he and Vihrea sat down in the living room.
“Yes she is.” Vihrea replied flatly.
“You should remedy that or has she turned you soft?”
He glared at his father angrily. “I humor her since she is the princess.”
“Humor her to much and she will find a way to control you.” Vihrea waved it off, hating playing this game with his father. It sickened him to talk about Susi as if she were a piece of property.
“How is my son these days?” Rhea asked so softly that Susi almost didn’t hear her.
“He’s doing great, happy.” Susi answered with a smile.
“Does he ever hurt you?”
“No ma’am he doesn’t.”
Rhea gave a small smile. “That’s good to hear.” Susi made a salad while Rhea put food on plates then carried them to the dining room. She couldn’t help but feel sad for her mother in law. She wondered what the woman had been like before meeting Alexander.
“I’ll go get the men.” She said and hurried out of the dining room as Rhea placed silverware next to the plates. She slowed when she came to the living room, listening closely to the conversation. Alexander was talking about what it took to be the head of a household and how women should know their place in all things. Vihrea talked back, assuring his father that she did know her place and that she did as she was told. She took a deep, calming breath and tapped lightly on the door frame as she entered. “Forgive my intrusion, but dinner is ready.”
Vihreä and Alexander followed Susi into the kitchen where they all sat down. As they ate Susi couldn’t help but notice Rhea flinch if Alexander moved too fast. When she didn’t look afraid she looked like she had absolutely no spirit in her. With how emotional Susi had become during her pregnancy she was having to force back tears. Vihreä noticed and frowned. He was too cowardly to stand up for his mother, was even too cowardly to tell his father that he treated his wife as an equal rather than as a sex toy. He wondered if Susi would have any respect for him after they left, if she was even still his wife at that point.
Susi wanted to either slug Alexander or run to their room and sleep so she wouldn’t have to see Rhea any longer. She ignored her wants and stayed, she wanted to help Rhea clean up after the meal. The men just stood and left. Once they were both in the living room Susi and Rhea cleaned. Rhea spoke in her mouse like voice again “you don’t have to help me. I do this alone every day.”
“Well, you have two more people in this house. I don’t mind helping”
“Don’t thank me Rhea.” Susi got closer and whispered “If you ever want to leave that man you just tell me. I’ll get you somwhere where he cant find you” Rheas eyes widened and she looked behind her to see if Alexander was there and ready to beat her for Susis words. When she saw they were still alone she said “don’t talk like that. He’ll beat us”
“Vihrea would not allow him to lay a single hand on me.”
“My son would never admit it, but he fears his father most of all. He only stood up to him once and he was beat until he couldn’t move.”
Susi hugged Rhea and she felt the woman shaking. “It’s okay Rhea, it’s not your fault.”
“Please just take care of my son.”
“I will.” Susi made sure there wasn’t a speck of food left to be cleaned up before heading up to Vihrea’s old room. He wasn’t there so she just pulled her boots off and climbed into bed. She rubbed her belly and talked softly to the baby. She wondered what Alexander was talking to Vihrea about now.
“Why don’t you tell me more about Susi.” Alexander said.
“What’s there to tell. She’s a princess.”
“Isn’t she the oldest? Why isn’t she ruling?”
“Because she’s a woman. Could you imagine a woman in control of the kingdom? It would go straight to hell.” Vihrea could tell these words pleased his father and he felt like throwing up. He didn’t want to be here anymore. He wanted to take Susi and go home.
“You know if she ever stops pleasing you, Gretchen still comes by from time to time. She always did what she was told and was very upset when you wouldn’t marry her.” He came to his feet and cleared his throat.
“Excuse me sir, I’m afraid I’m a bit tired. We can talk to tomorrow.” His father allowed him to leave and he hurried upstairs.
He couldn’t get to Susi fast enough. Just as she sat up he had her in his arms “lets go home” Vihreä whispered fervently. Susi kissed his cheek “don’t let that monster scare you Vihreä. You aren’t a child any longer, you’re a full grown man. He is getting into his older years. I know in a fight you would win.” Vihreä clung to Susi tighter “I’m just so scared being here” he said ina quieter tone to make sure his father didn’t hear. “lay with me” Susi insisted softly. Vihreä got in bed with her and he grabbed her hands in his. “Let this be our last visit here. I don’t want my children getting to know him”
“what of your mother? Don’t you wish to see her? She’ll be so sad without you in her life” Vihreä frowned “yeah, I would miss her too. I love her so much”
“and she loves you” Vihreäs heart pounded with the same fear he had as a child. He didn’t feel like a man in this house. He was that same little boy doing everything he was told out of fear his father would hurt him or his mother. When Susis eyes shut he kissed her head. “I love you” was the last thing Vihreä said before forcing his eyes closed.
Vihreä woke to his father yelling at his mother. He held tightly to Susi which woke her. Susi sat up quickly “what’s going on”
“I don’t know” Susi went to get out of bed but Vihreä wouldn’t let her. He knew if she interfeared Alexander would hit her. Susi didn’t try again. Vihreä wouldn’t be stopping her if Alexander hit her though. She wouldn’t abide by that while she was here.
Susi soothed him, kissed his lips. The yelling stopped, but she stayed with him, running her fingers through his hair. He was so scared he was shaking, his face pressed into her chest, eyes squeezed closed. She had never seen him like this. He looked utterly helpless. “It’s okay love, I won’t let him hurt you.” She whispered and kissed the top of his head.
“Me? What about you?”
“I’ll be fine, I’m not scared of him.”
He looked up at her and she smiled sweetly. He felt so strong with her close by. He wouldn’t be able to show this kind of affection in front of his father. He hated that he couldn’t even hold her hand for fear of being berrated by Alexander. He kissed her softly, savoring the contact, drawing her warmth and love into himself. “We should go down for breakfast or he’ll be up here pounding on the door.” He said quietly. “Something else I need to tell you. If you meet a woman named Gretchen, don’t befriend her. We were lovers and she can be very jealous of other women. She wanted to marry me, told me she’d be as submissive as I wanted, but I didn’t love her. She may try to hurt me by hurting you, so please don’t go anywhere alone with her or my father for that matter.”
“It’s okay, I don’t plan on taking any risks, not while I’m pregnant with our child.”
“I’m sorry I am puttng restrictions on what you do, but it would kill me if anything happened to you and this baby.”
“It’s okay, I’ll be good.”
“Thank you.” They got out of bed and took a quick bath before getting dressed and heading downstairs. She put her hand in the crook of his elbow like she had seen many ladies do and allowed him to lead her to the dining room.
Alexander seemed pleased to see them enter this way.Rhea was still cooking but Vihreä lead her to the table. This morning she obeyed. Rhea was almost done anyways so there wasn’t any point in rocking the boat. Once Rhea was doen cooking she filled everybodies plate then poured everyone a glass of orange juice. When everybody had a cup she meekly asked “does anyone need anything else?”
“No, sit” Alexander said sternly and she sat down. Susi found herself once again having to hold her tongue. Susi hoped that Rhea considered her proposal but she doubted it. The woman had put up with this mans treatment of her for so many years she was probably only leaving this relationship in death, as sad as that was to think about. Breakfast was eaten in a strained silence. Susi could feel how afraid Vihreä was and hated how much more beaten down Rhea looked today.
When the food was gone the men left again, expecting the women to clear the mess. Susi was actually amazed Vihreä was as good as he is coming from this man. It gave her a much deeper understanding for how Vihreä would be an ass and not even realize it. After this she would be a lot more patient with him. How kind Vihreä was to her was nothing short of a miracle.
“Are you okay Rhea?” She asked as they cleared the table and washed the dishes.
“Yes, please don’t worry about me.” She looked around. “Is Vihrea okay? I know us arguing scares him.”
“Yes, he’s fine.” Rhea gave a very small smile.
“Would you like to come out to the garden with me?”
“Sure.” They finished in the kitchen and Susi followed Rhea out back. There was a well manicured flower garden with bees buzzing happily around. “This is very beautiful.”
“Don’t touch the flowers, Alexander would be very angry if any of them were damaged.” She said and they took a seat at the round wooden table. Susi took her hands, wishing there was something she could say. Instead they sat in silence, just enjoying each others company.
“Come son, lets go for a ride. You do still know your way around a horse right?” Alexander asked.
“Yes sir, I do. Beat the beast and it will never disobey. I remember perfectly.” That lesson had been a terrible one to learn. If Vihrea did not hit a horse hard enough his father would take the riding crop to him, explaining the whole time that that was how you hit an animal. He had been covered in bruises and welts, no one helped him. He had not even cried that day, just went and stared blankly at his bedroom wall, feeling nothing.
They went out to the stables and his father had the young teenage boy working there bring two of the horses out and saddle them. Vihrea forced the sadness out of his eyes at the sight of the whip marks marring the skin of the beautiful animals. Susi loved animals. They had even decided to name their child Lintu. It wasn’t a detail he had shared with his father.
“The men can’t hear us so I wanted to ask you, why do you stay with Alexander?”
“I married him, I said vows”
“Did he hit you before those vows?”
“he was always demanding but he never beat me until we were married. Then I had said my vows and I will see them through. Hopefully..well..sorry dear”
“It was a nasty thing I was going to say, don’t mind it”
“Please tell me”
‘I..I was going to say, hopefully he’ll beat me to death soon. I’m getting older and it’s harder to withstand his attacks on me. I’m hoping that I’m getting too weak all together and will slip away. It’s better than the shame of divorce. My family would disown me.”
“Nobody cares, Vihreä and I would love you, we’d protect you”
“I do love him, I’d miss Alexander if I left”
“What is there to miss, really think about it. What on earth would there really be to miss about that monster”
“you’re raising your tone Susi, please talk quietly”
“It’s fine but I would like to not talk about that.” Susi sighed but gave up on her pursuit. “so my son treats you well?”
“very well, he has his jerky moments but he’s nothing like Alexander. He’s a very good man”
“I’m so happy to hear that” Rhea actually seemed happy for a brief moment but that small flicker of light quickly left. Susi was just glad she could ignite a light in her eyes for even a moment. “what will you be naming the baby?”
“That’s a cute name”
“Thank you” They went back to sitting in silence. When lunch came around Vihreä and Alexander returned home to Susi and Rhea cooking lunch. The two men went ahead and sat at the table, just staring at Susi and Rhea while they finished preparing the meal. Susi noticed Vihreä looked upset and wondered what happened. It didn’t look as if Alexander had hit him so she wasn’t sure.
“This is delicious.” Alexander said after taking a bite of the food. “What is this?”
“It’s a Dubh traditional meal sir. I hope you don’t mind that I made it.” Susi answered.
“Rhea, I want you to start making this. Perhaps you could learn a thing or two from the princess.”
“Yes sir.” Rhea said, keeping her eyes downcast. Susi felt guilty. She had not wanted to put more of a burden on this woman. Making dinner had been a way of giving her mother in law a break. She wanted to stab Alexander with her fork, but only smiled demurely and continued eating.
“So Susi what do you do all day while my son is off killing necromancers and saving people’s lives?” Alexander asked and Vihrea grew pale.
“Not much, this and that.”
“That’s very vague. What does this and that entail?”
She looked him straight in the eye and said, “I hunt down and kill bandits and on occassion help your son capture necromancers.” She could see the fires of anger in his eyes and she laughed. “I’m just kidding, I’m not strong enough to lift a sword. Could you even imagine someone like me hunting down criminals. It’s far below my station.” She took another bite of food. “I stay home with my brother.”
Vihrea found himself getting more nervous by the second. Susi’s first answer had been the truth and even worse she had said it while staring his father in the eye. She had never been intimmidated by men and being a knight had earned her a lot of respect. “I think I will be taking my wife to bed now sir. Please excuse us.” Alexander thought that meant Vihrea was going to punish Susi. She came obediently to her feet and followed him up to his room. He slammed the door and then turned to her, pulling her into his arms. “That was foolish.” He said softly.
“How can I not? I’m so scared he will try and hurt you along with our baby. He wont show mercy even though you’re pregnant” Susi could hear the fear in his voice. “shh, I’m sorry. It’s just hard to take his childish and mean ways.” It had only made it harder that Rhea wished for death. Susi couldn’t imagine how miserable a person must be to actually wish to be beaten to death. It wasn’t very surprising due to the look always present on Rheas face but it was still a saddening thing to hear put into words.
“Want to take a nap?” Susi asked quietly and Vihreä nodded. They crawled into bed and laid down. “I’ll tell him that you were crying and that I didn’t want you to come out looking so unseemly.”
“Yeah, wouldn’t want to embarrass you” Vihreä was happy to have a reason to hide out in his old room. It was hard for him to tolerate how his father was. Especially now that Susi had warmed his heart and shown him just how truly aweful his father was. He wanted Susi safe from his wrath, far away from here. He had already decided on the way that if his father did try and lay a hand on Susi he would throw himself in front of her. Vihreä didn’t care how badly he was beaten, he wasn’t going to let Alexander hurt his wife.
They relaxed to sleep until Alexander pounded on the door causing Vihreä to jump. “Gretchens here” he said loudly. Vihreä sighed “I’m coming” with that Alexander stomped back down the stairs. “why does she have to come and make it worse” Vihreä moaned. Susi kissed him “it will be alright”
He took a deep breath then kissed Susi. He would need her strength to deal with Gretchen. Susi grabbed his arm again and they made their way downstairs. Gretchen started toward him, but stopped when she saw Susi next to him. Susi could see her eyes go from excited to angry in a millisecond. Being a knight and the princess had helped her in learning to read people. Even when Gretchen put on a smile, she could still see malicious intent.
“Vihrea how nice to see you again and who is this?” She asked.
“I’m sure you heard I got married. This is my wife Susi.” He answered, his tone betraying his love for his wife.
“Oh so this is the princess. How lovely she is. You always did like your women pretty.” Susi felt him tense and she gave his arm a reassuring squeeze. She would deal with this one if she had to, but until then she chose to smile sweetly.
“Vihrea, come here boy. Leave the women to themselves.” Alexander said from his study. Vihrea didn’t want to leave Susi alone with Gretchen, but he had no choice.
“I will be back momentarily.” He said and kissed Susi, hoping she felt how much he loved her. He walked away, going into his father’s study.
“So the little princess has captivated the cold exorcist. How sweet.” Gretchen said, her smile fading. “You know I have heard a few things about you Susi Dubh.”
“My last name is Tumma, I took Vihrea’s name when we married.” She shot back cooly.
“Well whatever you wish to call yourself. I’ve heard rumors that you like to ride with men, that you kill bandits and necromancers. This dress you are wearing is a lie, you only look like a lady to please Alexander. I wonder what he would think if he found out about this little play you and Vihrea are putting on.”
“You do realize that he would take a beating and that Alexander would come after me next right? That he could very well cause the death of our child?”
“Then if I were you I would consider leaving Vihrea to a woman who understands the working of this household.” Susi smiled sweetly then reached out and gripped Gretchen by the wrist, twisting it so she fell to her knees.
“You listen to me bitch. Don’t think you are safe from danger just because you are in the Tumma household. I have had it up tp here with the bull shit so I’m ready to take out my frustration. If you happen to be the punching bag I choose then so be it.” She let her go and straightened her dress. “Now, if you will excuse me I must help Rhea with the housework.”
Gretchen looked at Susi in shook and anger as she stood there holding her wrist. Susi ignored it while Rhea was actually fighting off a smile. Susi could tell and was glad she could cause this woman a moment of happiness. They took to taking care of the chores until the whole house was spotless. “Now would you like me to teach you how to prepare that meal step by step?”
“Yes, Alexander will be cery cross if I can’t make it when you leave” Gretchen, who was still there glaring snorted saying “what would a spoiled princess know how to cook that would please Alexander. I’ve tried cooking for him and he hates it. He’s even thrown it away”
“I’m not spoiled as you claim to know Gretchen. Shut your mouth”
“why don’t you talk like that louder so Alexander can hear?”
“I’m serious Gretchen.” Gretchen glared, her mind obviously at work deciding if she would continue on this course. Gretchen ended up huffing then silently sat there stewing about the situation. Susi could easily ignore the glares but Rhea was really worried that Gretchen would cause Alexander to hurt Vihreä out of spite since she was jealous of Susi being with him. Rhea had a hard time concentrating on what Susi told her about the dish because she was so worried. Her sons blood or the death of her first grandchild wasn’t somthing she wanted to endure. She wasn’t even sure if her spirit could take another crack like that. It had been hard enough watching Alexander abuse Vihreä while he grew up.
Susi noticed that Gretchen was distracting Rhea and wished the nuisance would leave. In any case Susi would be happy to show her mother in law again if she needed to be taught how a second time. Vihreä loved everything she cooked and would happily eat it however many times it took to teach Rhea properly. Alexander seemed to enjoy it so much that Susi didn’t think he would mind either.
“So you brought Gretchen here because you wanted to give me options?” Vihrea asked flatly even though he was furious.
“Sometimes our wives are not enough.” Alexander said and Vihrea blinked at him. “Some men tend to forgo sex when their wives are pregnant. Since Susi is six months along, I thought you might need a new play thing.”
“Our sex life is just fine father.”
“Well, just in case.”
“Thank you sir. May I go now?”
Alexander waved him off and he left the study as calmly as he could. He waited until he was away from his father and punched the wall. He was so angry and frustrated. He hated how scared he was of a man twice his age. He ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath. He didn’t want to be angry in front of Susi. He followed the sounds of cahtter into the library where Susi and his mother were reorganizing books while Gretchen watched. They all turned and smiled at him, the look on Gretchen’s face was lustful. He ignored her and went to his wife, pulling her into his arms and kissing her. He was making it a point to show Gretchen that Susi was the only woman he needed.
Gretchen looked away but stayed. There wasn’t any way that the man she knew when he lived at home could be faithful to one woman. Especially one fat and ugly from pregnancy. She would have him again and she couldn’t wait for her opportunity. Susi smiled at Vihreä making him smile in return. He was planning on asking her again tonight if they could just leave early. He didn’t want to be in his fathers house any longer. Vihreä knew if Alexander said one more thing to suggest him cheating on Susi he would flip and unleash the beast that lurked only just below the surface in his father.
Vihreä didn’t want Lintus life at risk and it was every second they spent in this house. Vihreä sat on a chair opposite from Gretchen. He wanted to help his wife and mother but knew it would only piss off his father if he happened to see. Gretchen whined “why sit over there when there’s plenty of room where I’m sitting”
“Because I don’t wish to sit near you”
“You sure didn’t feel that way when you left. In fact you used to love to be all over me. We should tell Susi about some of our fun”
“Shut up” he snapped more loudly than he had intended to. Gretchen wasn’t shocked at the raise in tone, in fact him like that was more like the Vihreä she remembered. “That’s more like you. Mean and nasty, I especially like the nasty side to you. Why don’t you have me right here in front of your fat pregnant wife. I bet she isn’t pleasing you the way she should any longer.”
“I told you to be quiet” Vihreä said unable to stop himself from coming to his feet. Susi and Rhea both froze, wondering what Vihreä was going to do. Susi didn’t like this woman but also didn’t want her husband to hit her without good reason. If he wasn’t in his old house Susi knew he would ignore her obvious antagonism. Gretchen was obviously trying to set him off.
Gretchen just grinned and Vihrea gave a frustrated growl before leaving the library. He went upstairs and slammed his door shut. He had almost hit Gretchen right in front of his wife and mother. Hitting a woman was something he had never done and he wouldn’t start now no matter how angry he was. Susi went back to helping Rhea, ignoring the eyes biting into her back. She was proud of Vihrea for being the bigger person and walking away. As soon as she and Rhea were finished she was going to go check on him. They finially finished as dinner time rolled around and Rhea excused herself to go cook.
“Please come and get me if you need help.” Susi said warmly. She dusted her dress off and smiled at Gretchen. “Something I can help you with Gretchen dear?”
“You could go away.”
“I was planning on it, thank you for giving me you permission.” She walked away, heading upstairs and opening Vihrea’s bedroom door. He was just staring out the bedroom window, back stiff and eyes empty. She walked up and wrapped her arms around him from behind. He instantly relaxed and turned to hug her.
“I’m so glad you are here.” He said, his eyes warming.
“I will always be by your side, no matter what.” He tangled his fingers in her hair and kissed her gently. She gave a soft moan and he lifted her then carried her to his bed.
“We have to be fast.” He said against her lips as he pushed her dress up then pushed his pants down. He thrust into her and she clung tightly to him as he made love to her hard and fast, his kisses muffling her cries. He didn’t want anyone hearing her and making rude comments. He brought her over the edge then found his own release. They lay there catching their breath and he gave her another kiss before getting off of her and helping her to her feet. He hugged her tightly, not wanting to go down for dinner.
They stayed upstairs intertwined until Alexander yelled for them to come eat. “It can’t be dinner already”
“Come on, your mother worked hard”
“Yeah, he might take us not coming for us not liking her food and he’ll punish her” Vihreä said grimly. Susi kissed his cheek and he pulled her in for one more kiss before he went to deal with his father again. He really hoped he could get Susi to cut the trip short tonight. Vihreä had to refrain and eye roll when he saw Gretchen at the table. Alexanders words earlier making him sick, he wondered how many times he had cheated on his mother. Not that he ever held any notion he stayed faithful but it was sickening all the same.
Susi sat beside Gretchen so Vihreä wouldn’t have to. Gretchen instantly looked displeased. Rhea, Susi could understand. Alexander hadn’t abused her before their marriage even though there were signs that he might. Gretchen knew how she would be treated, wanted to be treated that way by Vihreä. It was somthing she couldn’t wrap her mind around. She wasn’t about to attempt it though. Mainly because she didn’t fear this woman atall. Susi had absolute faith that Vihreä would stay faithful to her.
Gretchen would just have to find some other man to use and abuse her. Susi ate dinner, pleased with how well Rhea mimicked the meal she made. She thought Rhea didn’t retain that much but apparently she had. She was probably used to learning things under stress. Susi was growing tired of sitting straight in her chair as Alexander thought a lady should. Her back was killing her from carrying Vihreä’s baby. She was tempted to lean back or forward but didn’t know if it was worth starting another fight
“How is my grandchild coming along?” Alexander asked.
“Perfect sir. Would you like to feel?” She replied.
“Move gretchen.” Alexander ordered and she got up, standing there obediently so Alexandr could rub Susi’s belly. She took that moment to tip back a little and relieve the pressure on her back. The baby kicked. “I hope you plan on giving my son boys.”
“Of course sir, I would have nothing else.” Vihrea wanted to tell his father to get his hands off of Susi. It sickened him to see Alexander rubbing her stomach where their beautiful little girl slept peacefully.
Alexander pulled back to finish his meal, giving Gretchen permission to take her seat. Susi straightened up again and finished her meal. Afterwards Alexander said he had business to take care of and Vihrea followed Susi and his mother into the kitchen. He wasn’t going to help, but he Susi’s presence made this trip bearable. The minute the dishes were dried and put away he grabbed Susi’s arm and pulled her out of the kitchen and upstairs. Neither of them spared Gretchen a glance. He wanted to bathe and sleep. He pulled their clothes off, making a warm bath and helping Susi in before taking a seat behind her. They washed each other then got out and dried, Susi pulling on her night gown, then climbed into bed. Vihrea was so exhausted that he fell asleep instantly and Susi soon followed. About an hour later she woke up thirsty and decided to get a glass of water. She slipped out of bed and headed downstairs. Gretchen heard her and decided this was her chance to get with Vihrea. She snuck into their room and climbed in their bed. She started kissing Vihrea and he jerked awake. Even in the dark he knew it wasn’t Susi and shoved Gretchen off, yelling for his wife. She came running, switching on the lights. She walked over and punched Gretchen in the face. Alexander and Rhea heard the commotion and came in.
“What is going on here?” Alexander asked.
“This bitch was in our bed.” Susi replied.
“Mind your tongue.”
“Screw you.” He crossed the room and Vihrea started to get up. Susi held up her hand and he froze as his father slapped her. She looked up at him, her lip busted and eyes triumphant. “In the name of King Aurelius Dubh I put you under arrest for the assault of a knight.”
“Pft, a woman could never be a knight. Be quiet or I’ll strike you again”
“don’t you dare” Vihreä said coldly as he stood between them. He was actually glaring at his father which had Rheas heart pounding. Vihreä continued “she really is a knight and a damn good one. She’s very helpful when I’m after horrible people and is highly respected among men who aren’t so full of themselves that they can’t recognize a womans worth further than sex and babies.” Alexander growled and bawled his fists. “I’ll go willingly to the fucking castle so I can call your bluff. You’ll regret this display Susi” Alexander said as he stomped out of the room to pack for a journey to the castle to have a audience with the king.
Gretchen got up and ran out. Neither Vihreä or Susi paid her any mind. Rhea just slowly followed her husband. Vihreä wrapped his wife in a tight hug. Susi could feel his heart poundng and was still shocked that the very same husband that had seemed afraid of his dad had been so daring just now. Vihreä didn’t want to travel with his father but was happy this trip would end with him being jailed. While he was put away Vihreä knew between him, Susi and the queen, his mother could be convinced that she didn’t need to and shouldn’t live the way she lived.
“Why did you stop me?” He asked as he grabbed one of his shirts and wiped the blood from her face.
“Because I wanted him out of your life and your mother’s life. I knew if he struck me, my brother would punish him. It is against the law to strike a knight, especially the first knight of the king. It is an even greater offense to strike royalty, but I don’t want him dead, just jailed.” She grabbed his hand and kissed him softly.
“I feel so useless Susi.”
“Hush now love, you are far from useless. You are the most amazing man in the world.” They lay down and he pillowed his head on her chest. He was to wound up to fall asleep so just help tightly to her. She drifted off and he lay there listening for any approaching footsteps until morning. He woke Susi with a kiss and she smiled warmly up at him. They packed their things and headed downstairs where Alexander, Rhea and even Gretchen were already waiting.
“We will be taking our own carriage father. You can ride with that whore. Mother please join us.” Vihrea said, his tone cold.
Rhea just shook her head and looked apologetically at her son. He didn’t ask again, he just followed Susi outside, ignoring his father and Gretchen. They climbed into their carriage and waited while the others got in theirs. He clicked his tongue and the horses took off. He was glad this trip would be short lived and his father would pay for his crimes. “I want to ask a favor of you Susi.” Vihrea said as they crested a hill.
“What is it my love?”
“Talk to your brother and have it made illegal for husbands to beat their wives and children. I hate seeing what he did to my mother and no child should be as terrified as I am. Can you please do that for me?”
“Absolutely. You are already the most wonderful father and you are a great husband. I love you so much Vihrea Tumma.”
“I love you too Susi Tumma.” He leaned down and kissed her belly. “And you Lintu, so much.” He would do anything for his girls. He would rather die than hurt them and if he ever did he would ask to be jailed and whipped, he would beg for forgiveness and if it was not given to him he would gladly live in exile. He wanted nothing but good memories for his wife and child.
They made this trip faster, pushing the horses as much as they could without making them suffer. When they were finally back at the castle Vihreä couldn’t get down fast enough. A servant took over the horses and would put them with the other horses and the carriage where it belonged. Rhea hung her head as she walked behind her husband. Gretchen just looked pompus and strode as if she was a princess herseld despite the fact Susi had slugged her in the face and the bruise still showed. The two guards infront of the throne room bowed to Susi and Vihreä as they approached. Vihreä and Susi walked right past but the guards made Alexander, Rhea and Gretchen stay.
“You don’t pass unless our king or princess says so, is it ok Susi?” The guards asked, sensing Gretchen and Alexander weren’t friendly. “Hold them for now while I talk with my brother”
“You take orders from a woman!” Alexander asked in outrage. “we take orders from the head knight and princess who has earned our respect through many triumphs in her life. You shut your mouth you ignorant fool” The guards said, not caring of Alexanders station. They worked for the royal bloods. Compared to Susi and Aurelius, this man was nothing. Rhea still kept her eyes to the ground, ashamed to be seen with Alexander.
“what is it?” Aurelius said as he quickly came over to her. “who has busted your lip?” He asked in a more serious tone. ” Alexander is a monster. He beats his wife and beat my husband when he was a child. He saw it fit to hit me while I was there since I was born female. I want him arrested and I’d like to ask you to make it illegal for men to hit their wives and children”
“Where is that bastard. I will have him hanged for his crime.”
“No brother dear, I do not want him killed. I just want him punished and jailed.”
“Very well, I shall have him publicly whipped and strip him of his title.” He snapped his fingers and the guards allowed Alexander, Rhea, and Gretchen to pass.
“My lord.” Alexander said and bowed. Rhea and Gretchen did the same.
“Do not presume you can sweet talk me Alexander, striking my First Knight and sister is an act punishable by death.” For the first time Alexander looked scared. “But my sister has been gracious enough to ask me to be merciful. Therefore you will be stripped of your title and publicly whipped. You will be made to feel the humiliation you forced upon your wife and your child.”
“Sir please.” Alexander said, sounding panicked.
“There is no please. Beg all you want, but it will not sway me in the least. Take him away.” The guards grabbed Alexander and drug him away, cursing and spitting. “As for this law sister, consider it done. Mary, please come here.” A young woman about Susi’s age came running. “I want letters sent out to all village elders that it is now illegal for a man or woman to abuse their children or spouse.”
“Yes sir.” She curtsied and left quickly to get it done. She would bring them all back for Aurelius’s signature later.
“As for you Lady Tumma. You are now the head of your household. I am gifting everything of your husband’s to you. You are free to do with the place what you wish.” He said, his voice warm as he regarded the older woman. He then turned his gaze to Gretchen. “Who is this?”
“This is Gretchen, she tried to have sex with Vihrea. Of course her plan was thwarted.” Susi answered.
“Of course it was. Vihrea would never sleep with such a loathsome creature. Leave my home at once Gretchen and never return.”
Rhea looked like she was in shock and very near tears. Vihreä quickly pulled his mother into a tight hug as Gretchen nearly ran out of the castle. She didn’t want to stick around long enough for the queen to change his mind and punish her too. “Lets eat, it’s dinner time” Aurelius said softly. Rhea wiped her face and let go of her son. They all walked to the dining hall where they were soon served dinner. Looking at Rhea you could tell a great burden was lifted off of her but there was still a small hint of sadness. “Rhea, you don’t have to live alone now. Why don’t you live in the castle?” Rhea looked at Aurelius who said “I would love the company and getting to know you” Rhea smiled, obviously near tears again.
“Susi and I will return with you to fetch your things in the morning if you want mom.”
“I would like that, I doubt my husbands friends will be happy with me so I don’t want to live there.”
“Then we leave after breakfast”
“We only did what was right” Susi interjected. After dinner Mary was waiting “they are ready for you to sign”
“Thank you, are they in my study?”
“good, you’re done for the day” Mary gave a bow and walked off. “goodnight” Aurelius said as he gave Rhea, Susi and Vihreä a hug. “night” they all said in return. “Let me show you to a nice room” Vihreä said, taking his mothers hand. They walked her up to a room they gave to nobles and told her that could be her room. She hugged Susi and Vihreä again then told them she would like to go ahead and rest. ” I understand mom, I’m sure it hasn’t been an easy day. I love you” Vihreä said then left with Susi to go to their own room.
Vihrea pulled Susi into his arms and buried his face in her hair once their bedroom door was closed. He cried and she rubbed his back. “I’m sorry, but the nightmare is finally over. My mother and I are finally free from his torment. Thank you so much.”
“You don’t need to thank me. I did what I did because I love you and you mean everything to me. Your mother also deserved a new life. She is such a sweet woman.”
“I don’t blame her for my abuse. She was an amazing mother, doing what she could here and there to make my life bearable. Her work almost went to waste. If I had not met you, I would have been just like him.”
“That’s not true. You had a heart even though you wanted people to think you didn’t. Ig knew and chastised you often. We both have grown a lot since we’ve known each other. Both emotionally and physically.” She rested her hand on her stomach and he gave a light hearted laugh.
“I like how you’ve grown.” He carried her to their bed and took off her boots and then his. He was so tired from the whole trip. His body and brain both needed a rest. He snuggled up to his wife, getting as close as he could. Her warmth made him feel secure. “I think when we go back to that place with my mother, I’m going to burn it to the ground. There are so many terrible memories there. I want them gone for good.”
“Then I will help you build the fire.”
“Thank you so much Susi” They both were out cold until the new days sun crossed over the horizon and filled the sky. They sleepily went downstairs to breakfast and saw Rhea already sitting there. She was accustomed to getting up early and cooking for Alexander. Vihreä hugged his mother “Morning mom, you ready for the trip?”
“After we get what you want out of that house can I burn it down, I just want to burn all those horrible memories.” Rhea smiled “I think that’s an amazing idea. The only good memories I have there are of you and I can make plenty of those here in the castle.” Vihreä hugged her again then took his seat next to Susi. They ate then waited patiently for horses and a carriage to be made ready for the journey. They were taking horses they weren’t used to since their normal horses had worked so hard bringing them back yesterday. Susi didn’t want to make them travel again so soon after how hard they drove them home.
A servant informed them the horses were ready and they quickly went out to begin their journey. Vihreä, Susi and Rhea took very little with them since they were making this as short of a trip as possible. Susi sat in the carriage with Rhea and held her hand. “Thank you Susi” Rhea said softly. “You’re welcome mom”
“I can’t wait to meet my grandbaby”
“It’s going to be nice having you right in the castle to play with Lintu. She’ll be lucky to have 24/7 access to her grandma” They made small talk until Vihreä needed a break. Susi took over and let her husband ride and talk with his mother. When they were finally there they packed up what Rhea wanted quickly then started the fire. A couple of the other people in town gathered to watch and murmured to eachother in confusion. Susi cleared her throat and explained to them all what was going on and what had been happening in that house.
None of them dared question the princess and she ordered a few of the men to make sure the fire was completely extinguished as she took her place at the reigns and clicked her tongue to set the horses in motion. They decided to stop at an inn for the night and eat dinner. They were given the best rooms and the best food since Susi was the princess. she didn’t complain since she was both starving and aching. They ate quickly then headed to bed.
“Rub me please.” Susi said as she curled up next to Vihrea.
“Turn over.” She face away from him and he massaged her back, loosening the cramped muscles. He then wrapped his arm around her and pulled her tightly against him. He kissed the back of her neck and they soon fell asleep. The next morning they ate a quick breakfast and headed out. They all wanted to be home and give Rhea time to really process everything that had happened. Aurelius was waiting for them as they pulled up and let them know that Alexander had been punished and jailed. He had wanted to spare them the sight of watching a man being beaten, especially Vihrea and Rhea. They had suffered enough.
Since they had missed lunch they had dinner with Aurelius who was happy that everything went as planned and no one interfered. He had been worried about them the whole time. He knew Alexander had many friends who shared his views and would not hesitate to attack Susi, Vihrea and Rhea on sight. He knew the first two could easily defend themselves, but he didn’t want them doing that with Susi pregnant.
“I think we’re going to go to bed brother dearest. Thank you for everything.” Susi said with a warm smile.
“Good night sister.” He kissed her cheek and they headed upstairs.
“do you like your room? If you’ll be living here I want you to be comfortable. Don’t hesitate to come to me, Susi or Vihreä if you are unhappy with anything here or need somthing.”
“I’m very comfortable in there. Thanks for asking”
“You’re my brother in laws mother, you will be treated with respect in my castle. If any of Alexanders old friends try and hastle you go to any of my guards. You will never be bullied again”
“I’m so glad my son married into such a nice family. I look forward to the rest of my days here. I’m tired aswell, I hope you don’t mind me also leaving”
“Goodnight Rhea” Aurelius said with a smile. When Rhea was out of sight he also retired to his room for the evening. Rhea was happy to get to go to bed and sleep comfortably and in whatever position she wanted. It was so nice not having to think carefully about every movement and have to always be in fear of being struck. She sat on her bed and cried from the relief she was feeling. Once she was done Rhea got under the covers and relaxed into a peaceful, secure sleep. Susi and Vihreä were also sleeping soundly until Lintu decided to dance around in Susis belly. Susi woke with a smile and Vihreä woke rubbing his eyes “you ok?”
“Lintu isn’t sleepy” Vihreä smiled and set his hand on Susis belly “calm down little one, your mommy needs sleep” They just sat up in blissful silence until Lintu settled down. They both relaxed back into sleep with huge grins on their faces. They couldn’t wait to meet the beautiful little girl growing in Susis stomach and introduce her to her grandmother who would be able to really play with her and they wouldn’t have to worry about Alexander ever laying a hand on their little girl. Vihreä was now happy they went to visit his parents since it lead to his mothers freedom from the chains she had been in since she said I do to Alexander. Everything was right now and that monster would never be leaving prison.
~ The End ~