©This story is an original copyright. Any similarity is pure coincidental. Forgery or publishing without the permission of the author is fraudulent.
This is my second attempt. Critics are welcomed (as usual). I know that I have been receiving many critics due to my lack of judgment regarding my first submission so I try to make this story more understandable to all readers. I hope I have improved much with this story. So, please, comment! Thank you!
PROLOGUE: THE BEGINNING
May 16, 1995
"Andromeda, where are you? Come out, come out my little kitten..."
He was outside her room. Immediately, she opened the closet's doors and climbed in, pulled the doors shut and held her breath. She was shaking violently, terror raking her. Wet tears rolled down her chubby cheeks profusely as she muffled her cry with a fist in her mouth. Where was everybody? Where were mama and papa? Where were Eric and Finn?
Shadows darkened the room. She huddled herself tighter, hiding her face between her bent knees. Suddenly, the closet's doors opened and a man stood there.
"There you are! Little kitten, you play well but now the game's over."
"NO! LET ME GO! LET ME GO!"
She struggled against the man's hold, but he was big and strong, and he smelt so bad like the garbage bin and pork chop. She pulled her hands away but the man easily pulled her out of her hiding place and lifted her off the ground. He was sneering at her, and it was frightening her.
"Jamila, I got our little kitten!" He called to someone. A woman appeared, holding a gun in one hand and a rag sack in the other. Without so much a word, she held out the sack and he dropped her into the bag.
"LET ME OUT!"
Andromeda cried and sobbed her heart out. But they didn't listen. She watched as the light above her disappeared. Then she felt herself been lifted up, and her body swayed along the bag as it moved. She beat her fists furiously against the bag but to no avail. They had ignored her and there was nothing she could do.
"Mama, papa, Eric, Finn...Where are you?"
And she fainted in the darkness, her mouth murmuring words as she called out to her family who wasn't there to rescue her.
"Well, that was easier than I'd thought."
"I told you so. They have let their guards down, thinking that after three children, nobody will come after them. It's our luck that that freaking girl hadn't unleashed her uncontrollable power on us."
Jamila untied the cord and pulled out the girl. She was limp from sleep, and Jamila felt a deep satisfaction when she saw the black pendant and the intricate designs of the chains around the girl's neck. Without delay, she unchained it and settled it around her neck. No one can run away unscathed from her, especially those who had stolen the bounty that was meant for her.
"Put her in the fairy room."
John took the girl from her and went up the stairs, heading towards the room they had prepared for the girl. She could see his eyes softening as he looked at the girl and it irked her. Just because they had the girl, it didn't mean that she would rest. She still had the boys to deal with. The blonde-haired one-Eric-would be sent to the Homers while the red-haired one-Finn, or Flynn-she couldn't remember-would be sent to a regiment where their father ought to have been.
When John returned, Jamila was pissed off. She didn't know why she had an idiot, tender-hearted man for a husband. It was all Marianne's fault; if she hadn't stolen Lucas from her, it would be she who had three children and a stable husband, as well as the bounty, all to herself. Instead, she was stuck with a man who smelt so bad that she had to clean him herself or she would be sharing her bed with a man who stank like a pig.
"What are you grinning about?" Jamila snapped impatiently. Without a word, she grabbed his hand and pulled him to the bathroom. She locked the door after him and began to strip him off his clothes.
After that, John turned on the tap and tested the water. When it was mild enough, he closed the tap and climbed into the tub.
He watched as his wife grab scented liquids and powders, pour them into a bowl, stir the concoction vehemently before she turned to him with a deep scowl. His wife was always angry or impatient. He knew that a part of it was his fault. He smelt so bad-from head to toe-but he didn't know how to remedy that. He had tried to use perfumed soaps to rid off the odour but it always returned.
It was the curse, all right. And he was to be blamed for it.
"Sit up." Jamila ordered.
John sat up and let her put the scented mixture on his skin. He tried not to shiver, but it was hard. Her hands were so soft and delicate that they humbled him. He knew what she thought about him-stupid and too kind-but he loved her and he didn't care. Come next winter, he knew that the curse would be lifted, and she would love it. That was what he was waiting for-the next winter.
John waited as she rubbed his corded neck, his wide chest, his broad back, along his muscled arms, his chiselled legs and his strong feet. Her short black hair shone bright, her intense green eyes gleamed with anger, her small frame so petite beneath him-they made his heart swelled so much that he clenched his fists tightly to keep himself from grabbing her.
His eyes followed her as she sat up and grabbed his toothbrush and toothpaste. While she waited for him to brush, she grabbed a big towel and stood before him. Ritually, he placed the toothbrush and toothpaste into their container and stepped into her arms. He waited while she dried him roughly, venting her frustration at the injustice of life.
"Jamila, it will be over soon..." He reached out to cup her cheek, but she pulled back. The rejection hurt him more than he thought. It angered him. He didn't know why but he felt angry when she did that. Without a word, he pulled away from her and exited. He knew he had surprised her but he was exasperated. He wanted to touch her so much that he ached.
He reached the second floor and entered their bedroom. He put on his silk robe and climbed the bed. As he pulled up the coverlet, he wondered, was he doing the right thing? Was he right to do this to her? He waited for her to come, but silence reined the house.
When he couldn't wait any longer, he pushed down the coverlet and walked out.
Jamila stared at the frame in her hand. The woman's hair was long and wavy, so black that people had once called her Black Raven. She was laughing while flinging herself to a man a foot taller than her. He had the richest brown hair, so much so that it reminded her of chocolate and red wine. They used to be so perfect together; she didn't know what had gone wrong.
She threw the picture lightly onto the space beside her and curled up into a ball. Why had everyone hated her since young? Why did the truth disgust them so much that they would rather be with the bitch than their own daughter?
She rocked her body back and forth as tears fell down her face abundantly. She didn't want to hurt John-she loved him so-but she couldn't control herself from losing her temper whenever he was near.
A sound from her right startled her. She looked up to see John coming to her. He was so handsome, so strong and so warm that she flung herself at him and wept.
"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! I never want to hurt you, I never, but I don't know why I always do!"
He smelt so nice after the bath. How did his body become so smelly like this? It must have been the curse that bitch put.
She wasn't surprised when he lifted her off the ground, into his arms and sat down on the sofa. She buried her face in his bare chest. He smelt nicer than usual. In fact, she wished this would go on every night. But come the next day, he would smell again.
Something soft pressed onto her head. She lifted up her head and stared into his dark eyes. He was smiling softly at her, his love shining brightly in his eyes. His hand cupped her cheek gently, and this time she didn't pull away.
Looking at her, John felt her pain. She was young-just nineteen-but she had enough sufferings. Having her on his lap brought back memories that he had long buried. When they rushed back into his head he pushed them away. He only had tonight and he wanted to spend it with her making another sweet memory that he wanted to think about when they parted ways-if they did.
"I love you, Jamila," He whispered softly. "And I'll always love you till the end of my last breath."