Casanova Redux Ch. 16byvelvetpie©
We were safe. When I showed Shakey the coin from Prince Brenton, he shouted so loudly that birds left the surrounding trees. I didn't offer any explanation; I simply walked over to where Withers knelt, steeling myself against the tears in his eyes and sliced through his rope bonds with a knife I found nearby. Shakey tried to protest losing his prisoners but a sharp bark from the Prince and we were on our way, putting one foot in front of the other until we'd reached the main road. Only then did we feel safe and only then did we run.
My parents were beside themselves with fear and anger when we arrived at the estate. Cook wailed as she hugged me and Jacobi led Withers away, no doubt to have his wounds cared for. I did not have a chance to speak to him after we left Shakey's encampment and it looked as if I would not ever have a chance to. Arthur was so angry at Withers that he had him sent away the next day, upset that he would even consider taking his daughter's virginity without marriage. He took the coin that Brenton gave me and sent me to my room.
When would I ever be an adult?
* * * * *
Cassia watched the sun come up for the sixth day in a row, her heart in tatters. She hadn't eaten or slept much and her mother was so upset that she'd taken to her bed, refusing to come out. Her father, Arthur, stomped around the house, his emotions on the surface and his temper quick to rise. She had grown tired of hearing his harangues and temper tantrums and even more tired of staring at these same four walls and this same window. It also brought tears to her eyes every day, when she looked down at the barn and did not see Withers coming out to wash at the central pump.
What started out as a simple journey of sexual exploration had turned into an experience that Cassia would not want to look back on with any particular fondness. She had lost her focus; the task of finding out if a man was right for her blossomed into love with a man who would not have her now. She thought that she'd go crazy if she stayed in the room any longer. She tried the door and found it locked. Cassia glanced at the chair in the corner and picked it up.
"What the hell is going on?" Arthur shouted, taking the stairs at a run when he heard the loud bangs coming from the second floor. Laurie Marie opened the door to her room and looked out, her handsome features wan from lack of sunlight and drawn from lack of sleep. "Cassia! Stop it!"
"Let me out!"
"No!" The banging began again and Arthur growled, fishing a key from his pocket and pushing the door open. "What is wrong with you?"
"What do you mean, what's wrong with me? I've been locked in my room for six days! What do you think is wrong with me?"
"It was done for your own good."
"My own good? Was sending Peter away for my own good as well?"
Arthur stared at his daughter in confusion. "Peter?"
"Withers. Peter Withers, our blacksmith."
"Oh." Her father looked away, striding over to the window. "That was necessary."
"Necessary? Necessary to whom?" Cassia moved next to her father, taking a deep breath to hold her anger in check. "Father, I'm eighteen years old. I have a right to make decision concerning my life."
"And giving the most precious gift you have to a blacksmith is making a decision?" Arthur looked over at her. "What about marriage?"
"I told Mother long ago that I would never marry without love. I am not going to give my virginity to someone who doesn't give a damn about me."
"What, Father? Did you look at Mother and pass the same judgment on her? When she was dirty and hungry and pregnant with another man's child, did you think about love? Or were you more concerned with taking care of her?"
Arthur stared at Cassia, his mind thick with memories of Laurie Marie. He wanted to speak but the emotions stuck in his throat. "No, he wasn't worried about my pedigree." Laurie Marie entered the room, touching her daughter's cheek before moving to her husband's side. "He was worried about my baby, worried that we might not survive." Laurie Marie stroked Arthur's cheek. "Withers is a good man. I don't think he would harm our daughter ... "
"But her virginity, Laurie. We just allow her to give it away?"
Laurie Marie smiled into her husband's face. "It belongs to her, Arthur. Do you want her to be completely miserable or ecstatically happy?"
When Arthur opened his arms, Cassia ran into them, crying as he hugged her tightly. "I'll get him back tomorrow." She nodded, still sobbing. "But promise me that you'll come to us if you want to do anything like this again."