tagRomanceA Betrothal Turned Sweet

A Betrothal Turned Sweet

bycelestialbeing©

This is my first submission, based loosely on a dream I had awhile ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Feedback is welcome, as long as it's polite :) A special thanks to KD for inspiring me to publish it, and to TitianaPeaks for help with editing.

Mina ran through the woods, tears streaming down her cheeks after her parents told her what her fate was to be. Since she had recently turned nineteen, Mina was now considered a woman and was to be wed immediately. And to someone her parents chose for her. The thought of being wed to someone she didn't even know enraged her, but not as much as the fact that she had no say in the matter.

An hour after she had received the news, Mina was too shocked to show any emotion. Instead, she fled to her sleeping quarters and sat down on her bed, tears dripping down her cheeks, trying to keep from panicking. The apartment seemed huge and empty without her sisters Phoenix and Jade. They too, had gotten married when they turned nineteen, which left Mina alone. She didn't mind really; she was quiet, reserved, and enjoyed her solitude. But now her parents had dropped this milestone on her, turning her life upside down, and Mina wished she had someone close to confide her fears in.

After unsuccessfully trying to hold her sobs in, Mina jumped up from her bed and tore out into the woods. Running without looking, she could hear the twigs cracking beneath her feet, tree branches smacking into her body as she ran past. Crying harder now, Mina continued running blindly until her long dress tangled beneath her feet, causing her to twist her ankle and collapse to the floor of the deserted woods.

"Oh god!" Mina sobbed, her chest tight and burning from running so hard, she thought she would die right then and there. She then attempted to stand up, only to fall back down as her ankle wouldn't allow it. Looking around at the unfamiliar woods, Mina could tell that she had run quite a bit and was a distance from her home. Realizing that no one would find her, much less realize that she had gone, Mina began to panic.

Crying hysterically and hyperventilating, Mina grew dizzy with fear as she clung to the ground, her tears dripping onto the dirt beneath her. The pain in her ankle was unbearable, and she knew that she wouldn't be able to move at all. Fighting to calm down, Mina began praying to the gods that someone would find her.

After crying until her tears ran dry, the sky grew darker, and the wind had grown cool. Staring up at the stars, Mina eventually grew drowsy and fell asleep.

Cael had been out hunting, and was now walking through the woods to return home. On the way back to his cabin, he was surprised to see a young woman lying unconscious on the ground. Putting down his slaughtered animal and weapons, he cautiously walked over to the woman. Stooping down next to her, her turned her over and examined her. Cael looked her up and down thoroughly, trying to make sure she wasn't the victim of any attack. He then noticed her dirty dress and her tear streaked face, but didn't overlook her waist length wavy brown hair and her delicate features. Even with the long dress on, Cael could tell that she had a slender yet nubile body.

Putting his hand to Mina's face and then her neck, Cael found that she was alive. He could feel her pulse, but her body had grown cold from lying on the ground for so many hours. Taking off his heavy sheepskin coat and wrapping it around the young woman, Cael easily hoisted her petite frame up into his arms. Then, managing to collect the rest of his belongings, he proceeded to walk towards his cabin.

After walking a short distance, Cael dropped the meat and his rifle once he got through his front door. He then carried Mina to his bedroom, and after tucking her underneath his blankets thoroughly, proceeded to light the fireplace in his bedroom.

After what seemed like several hours, Mina's eyes fluttered open. She felt warm and heard a crackling fire nearby. Feeling soft blankets and pillows beneath her body, she opened her eyes wider to find that she wasn't in her room. Completely disoriented, Mina sat upright in the bed so she could take in her surroundings. There was indeed a fireplace across from the bed, and at the foot of the bed was a chair, which was occupied by what appeared to be men's hunting attire. Beginning to panic again, Mina looked frantically to see if she saw anyone. Fear kicking in, Mina didn't wait to find out where she was; she was just concerned with finding her way back home. Flinging back the blankets, she attempted to climb down from the huge bed, but the shooting pain in her ankle made her think otherwise. Crying out in pain, she lay back among the pillows and began to cry softly, thinking she'd been kidnapped.

"I should've stayed home," she thought bitterly to herself. "Then I wouldn't be in this mess!" Just then, a man appeared at the door. Mina almost forgot her fear for a second, he was so handsome. He looked to be in his early thirties, and had the smooth, walnut-reddish colored skin of a Native American, along with long, long silky jet black hair, piercing dark eyes and high cheekbones. Her mouth suddenly gone dry, Mina found herself only able to stare back at him.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you, I'm Cael," he told her gently, still standing in the doorway.

"How did I get here?" Mina blurted out.

Cael just smiled at her. "I found you in the woods," he continued. "Apparently you'd hurt yourself," he replied, gesturing towards her ankle. "I can fix that."

Slowly walking over towards the bed, Cael sat down next to Mina. "What's your name?" he asked her gently. "Mina..." she practically whispered, lowering her head. Cael then put his finger under Mina's chin and tilted her face up towards him, so he could see her clearly.

Mina was truly a beauty. Even with her dirty, tear streaked face and rumpled dress, she conveyed an angelic pureness. Even though she averted her eyes from Cael, he could tell that something was troubling her. Focusing on the dried tears on her face, Cael moved his hand down to touch Mina's lightly. "What's wrong love?" he asked her.

Shaking her head, Mina turned her face away from Cael's, biting down hard on her bottom lip, refusing to cry in front of a man she barely knew. "Come on love, you can tell me," he continued to coax, trying to turn Mina towards him. Seeing her body trembling as she unsuccessfully tried to keep from crying, the dam inside of her burst when Cael gently pulled her against his chest. Running his hand through her hair gently, Cael could feel her tears wetting his shirt as Mina sobbed viciously.

Between sobs, Mina managed to tell Cael about the marriage being forced upon her and how she'd run from her home. Feeling remorseful about Mina being so upset, Cael promised that he would see what he could do. "But I'm sure your family is worried about you having gone off without warning," he told her.

Sniffling, Mina shook her head. "They won't notice that I'm gone. I have my own sleeping quarters that I used to share with my sisters, but they're off with their own family now so it's just me. As long as I'm back by morning, no one will notice anything."

Seeing how distressed Mina was, Cael had no intentions of forcing her to go back home at that moment. He figured they could deal with that in a few hours. For now, he just wanted to take her mind off of her worries. Suddenly producing a handkerchief, Cael proceeded to wipe the tears off of Mina's cheeks, and allowed her to blow her nose.

"That's better love. Are you hungry?" he then asked her.

Still sniffling, Mina pondered for a second. "Yes, a bit now that I'm thinking about it," she admitted.

"Okay, stay here and rest, I'll bring you something," Cael told her, getting up from the bed. Giving him a weak smile, she nodded and sat back among the pillows.

Not long after, Cael returned with a bowl of hot stew that had chunks of beef and thick, hearty vegetables in it. Her mouth practically watering from inhaling the aroma, Mina graciously accepted the bowl. "Thank you," she told him gratefully.

Cael sat with Mina while she ate. He expertly wrapped her injured ankle with steady hands as he told her about his life, and in return Mina told Cael about hers. She had almost forgotten her worries when she remembered that she had to leave in the morning.

"What should I do?" she asked Cael fearfully.

Mulling over her question, he replied, "Mina, listen, if I were you I wouldn't worry so much. Things work out better than you realize sometimes. Besides, do you really think your parents would choose someone for you that they didn't think would take care of you?"

Still seeing a cloud of doubt on Mina's face, Cael gave her something to think about. "Let me ask you this; are both of your sisters happy?" Pausing to think for a second, Mina slowly nodded her head. "And your parents chose their mate for them, right? And they turned out to be happy. And so will you, you'll see."

"You know, I didn't think of that," Mina admitted, feeling a bit relieved. "But I'm still scared..." she continued, her voice trailing off.

"That's to be expected, but I promise you'll be okay," Cael finished convincingly.

Cael then got up to take Mina's empty bowl. Seeing that Mina was still tense and nervous, he decided to bring her some mulled wine to help calm her nerves. "Here, drink this," he said, handing Mina a cup. "This will help you relax." Trustingly, she took the cup from Cael and slowly began sipping, enjoying the sweet, mild berry flavor.

"You haven't eaten," she realized, pausing to look up at Cael.

"Oh, I'm fine love, I'm just worried about you right now," Cael replied, shaking his head. "Come, finish your wine and then I want you to lay down and get some rest."

Mina did as she was told, and after draining the cup she handed it to Cael. He set it on the table near the bed and then moved next to Mina and sat back among the pillows. Opening his arms to her, Mina moved closer to Cael and let him wrap an arm around her. The wine had surely done its job; she felt more relaxed than she had a few hours ago. Resting her head on Cael's shoulder, he began stroking her hair, gently working the tangles out with his fingertips. Growing more relaxed and drowsy, Mina closed her eyes and buried her face in his shoulder. Inhaling his sweet, musky scent, Mina could feel herself growing slightly dizzy, as well as a new sensation that excited yet frightened her a bit at the same time.

"Are you okay?" Cael asked Mina, as if he was able to read her mind.

"Yes..." she murmured, unconsciously curling her body closer towards Cael. He looked down at Mina and brought his hand up to tenderly stroke away the tendrils of hair that had fallen in her face. Her eyes then fluttered open to see him gazing softly at her. Cael then gently raised Mina's face towards his and hesitantly placed a soft kiss on her lips.

Feeling nervous for a reason Mina couldn't put her finger on, Cael pulled back after seeing her expression. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "I shouldn't have done that." Blushing and smiling, Mina hastily tried to explain thinking that she'd done something wrong.

"No, it's okay," she told Cael. "It's just that... I've never done that before. I've never even been alone with a man, and I'm not sure how to behave, as this is all new to me. My parents would kill me if they knew I was here..."

"Well, don't worry Mina, no one will find out. Okay? Trust me." Smiling again, Mina nodded and closed her eyes again, burying her face back into Cael's shoulder. "I wouldn't do anything to harm your purity."

"Thank you," Mina whispered, tracing her fingertips up his arm.

Cael meant it with the utmost sincerity. He knew how the people of their village could be, if they thought a woman had been touched before she was wed. He wouldn't put her in that situation. "Come love, I want you to sleep, get under the blankets. I'll stay on top." Cael then shifted his body over and pulling the blankets back, ushered Mina underneath.

"Don't leave me," she said softly grabbing his forearm, before resting her head on the pillow. Cael looked down at her.

"I'm not going anywhere, don't worry," he promised. Cael then planted a kiss on Mina's forehead and lay next to her. Mina's eyes finally closed and she instantly fell into a relaxed sleep.

***************************

"Mina, Mina," a voice said in her ear, gently coaxing her out of her sleep. "Ssh," Cael whispered, putting a finger to her lips. "I've brought you home, but I have to go. It's almost dawn."

Dazedly, Mina turned her head to look around and saw that she was indeed back in her sleeping quarters.

"Will I see you again?" she asked Cael in a wavering voice, sitting up slightly.

"Yes you will," Cael replied, planting a gentle kiss on her forehead. "Now get some rest love, I promise you'll see me again." Smiling to herself, Mina could feel her body surrender to sleep once more as Cael ran his hand through her hair before leaving quietly.

The next day, Mina's mother told her that in a weeks' time she would meet the man she was to marry. Remembering what Cael had told her, she was able to receive the news better than she had when her mother first told her she was betrothed, but she still couldn't help feeling nervous about marrying someone she didn't know, much less hadn't met before. All Mina could think about was Cael; how gentle his soul was and how kindly he had treated her when he found her in the woods. It might have been too soon to say, but Mina truly thought that Cael was someone she could love, and now she wasn't sure that she would ever see him again.

The entire week, Mina's nerves were so wracked she could barely eat or sleep. She'd become moody and withdrawn, barely coming out of her apartment. The only thing that gave her any peace was at night, when she was content to lay in her bed and think of Cael, and the gentle kiss that they shared. Afterwards, Mina would end up sobbing softly into her pillow, refusing to let anyone hear her anguish.

The day of the ceremony, all of Mina's family came to celebrate. Her mother, sisters, and older female relatives came to her apartment to help her dress and fix her hair. As beautiful as Mina looked, she still couldn't help but feeling that her life was coming to an end. Constantly throughout the day, she kept biting down hard on her lip to keep from crying, fighting to keep the panic down that was rising inside of her.

"He's here!" her sister Phoenix squealed, running into the room. Feeling a wave of dizziness, Mina stood up and followed her family out to her parent's apartment, her legs feeling heavier with each step. Once they were inside, Mina's heart stopped in her throat when she saw a handsome man in front of her, clad in formal attire and his hair bound, hanging down his back in a long ponytail.

"Cael, this is my youngest daughter Mina" her mother interjected stepping forward. Cael looked Mina in the eye briefly, signaling for her not to say anything. Mina, on the other hand, was finding it hard to contain her joy.

Feeling a mixture of happiness and relief bubbling inside of her, she managed a small, "Hello, Cael."

Mina desperately wanted to be alone with Cael, even if for a moment, to let him know how miserable she'd been that past week, but she knew that was going to be impossible.

After everyone had left the room and only Mina, Cael, and her parents remained, her mother then told Cael that the doctor would be summoned to perform an examination to ensure him of her purity.

"I don't think that will be necessary," he replied politely. Raising her eyebrows, Mina's mother gave a small smile and nodded her head. It was against custom, and she was slightly surprised, but if it was what he wished then so be it. However, Cael had seen the look of terror on Mina's face when she'd heard her mother, and he didn't want to make her suffer anymore because of their families' customs. He knew what he needed to know already, and that was enough for his standards. Cael knew that Mina was pure in every way conceivable; he didn't need physical proof to confirm it.

Everyone enjoyed the ceremony, as well as the reception afterwards. Mina was able to enjoy it even more because of her lifted spirits. The day seemed to fly by, and before everyone realized it was sunset, and time for Mina to leave her home to go live with her new husband.

Once Mina was in her new home, and finally alone with Cael, she clung to him. "You have no idea how happy I am right now," she told him, fighting back the urge to break down. Between her nerves getting the best of her all week, and then the day being rushed and crazy in general, Mina didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"Love, I have something to tell you," Cael said, gently drawing her away and kissing her hands.

"What?" she asked, looking at him inquisitively.

"I've known who you were for years," Cael continued. "It was just a coincidence that I found you in the woods that night. I hope you aren't too upset with me."

Mina paused to digest what he'd just told her. "You know...I'm not, really. I'm actually relieved," she confessed, still holding his hands.

"I didn't want to tell you who I was because I didn't want to frighten you," Cael continued.

Laughing to herself, she replied, "None of that matters now, I love you. But everything makes sense now! I wondered how you brought me back home that night; I didn't remember telling you where I lived."

Chuckling, Cael gently pulled Mina back towards him. "And I love you," he replied, amusement coloring his voice. "Now can I have a proper kiss since we're married?"

Practically blushing, Mina nodded yes as Cael wrapped his arms around her back and bent down to softly kiss her. Brushing his lips against hers, slowly and delicately, Cael tried to coax Mina out of her obvious nervousness. Trembling in his embrace as he ran his tongue over her bottom lip, she pulled back, those butterflies returning to flutter in her stomach.

"Are you okay?" he asked, pausing to look at Mina.

"Yes," she answered shyly, lowering her eyes.

"You don't have to be scared love," Cael reassured her. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to."

Biting her lip nervously, Mina glanced up at Cael for a second. "No, I do..." she trailed off, her voice barely audible. "I just don't know how to..."

"Listen, let's just go to our room, I know you've had a trying past few days and you could use the rest. Okay?" Mina agreed, and smiled as Cael scooped her up into his arms and carried her into their bedroom.

Placing Mina down on the bed, dress and all, he asked her if she wanted him to undo the laces in the back. "O-okay," she stammered, still slightly unsure.

"Don't worry, I won't push you to do anything you don't want to," Cael said reassuringly. "Your dress is lovely; it just doesn't look comfortable to lie down in."

Smiling and looking down at the ornate cream dress, Mina looked back up at Cael. "It isn't," she confessed, pushing herself up on her knees and turning her back to Cael so he could loosen the laces. After he was done, he slipped the dress up and over her head. Keeping true to his word, he didn't try to take off her thin chemise. Mina then watched as Cael took off his trousers and shirt. He then unbound his ponytail and let his hair fall freely down his back. Mina's mouth went dry, seeing Cael's smooth, dark skin and muscular upper body. Realizing that Cael was about to take his place next to her on the bed, she moved over.

"Come darling," he said, pulling Mina to rest against him. They both lay down, Mina's head on his shoulder.

"Hmmm," she moaned, feeling the tension seep from her body when Cael moved his hand up and across to begin massaging her scalp with his fingertips. After a few seconds, he shifted onto his side to give himself better access. Mina had gorgeous, silky hair, one thing Cael had always found attractive on a woman. He enjoyed the feeling of her strands slipping between his fingers, almost as much as Mina enjoyed him doing so. "That feels so good," she murmured drowsily, her face half buried into the pillow.

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bycelestialbeing© 11 comments/ 32466 views/ 16 favorites

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