Day 6 of 31 Days: From Enemy to Heir
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Everything Obscurity had ever believed was crumbling around her. She did not know what to feel or what to think, only that the world was spinning in her head.
Obscurity needed a rescuer, but she wasn’t convinced she wanted his kind of rescuing, especially if that meant going with the prince to that far-off kingdom.
She looked at the castle and realized she knew nothing about it. What was it like there? All she knew was that it wasn’t what she thought it was. But everything it could be was just as terrifying as what it wasn’t.
So she held on to the one thing she had: her will. She was not ready to go willingly.
Obscurity hardened her look. “What are you going to do with me?” she asked. It was a threat more than anything. Perhaps the prince wasn’t a tyrant. But what was he? She didn’t know, but she had to be stronger than the terror she felt inside until she figured it out.
The prince squinted up at the sun and then looked down at the cracked earth. He drew a long, leafy stem into the dust with his toe and answered slowly, “If you stay here, you will die,” the words sounded like agony on his lips. “But you can come with me, and I will make sure you are well cared for. Or…” he paused, making flowers bloom where his feet touched, “…or, I could take you back to your husband.”
“He’s not my husband,” she answered hotly, still remembering the feel of that man’s fists upon her crumpled body.
“No.” The prince stopped his idle drawing and looked her right in the eyes. “No, he is not.”
He looked away again and said quietly, “None of them are.”
Obscurity was stunned. She could not move and she could not open her mouth. Her only thought was that she was standing before this man naked, fully clothed but naked, and she had nothing to hide behind but her own shame.
“Is this what you want, then?” she stammered when her words found her again. “You want to judge me? Well, you are right! I have nothing to hide. I am a wretch, and everything I have done in my life has been wretched. I couldn’t even die today. So go ahead. Pile on your guilt and shame if that’s what you intend to do. I can take it.”
“Obscurity,” he said sternly, and she blinked because she did not remember telling him her name, “the guilt and shame you carry is not mine. You feel guilty and ashamed because you are.”
Wild, desperate, she screamed at him. “What do you want? What do you want with me?”
“I want to take it away. I want to take you home.”
They were the simplest words, but they stabbed the deepest because she did not deserve them.
Why would he take her when he knew who and what she was? There must be some mistake. “You have decided to give me a home in your kingdom? Me?” she whispered, half-choking on the words.
“I decided it before you ever opened your eyes.”
She turned away from him quickly because it pricked her hard and she could not stop the tears. I should just run away now, she thought. I should go back where I belong. But as soon as she thought it, she realized she did not belong there anymore.
“Will I ever be able to go back?” she asked, looking back over the same road that had brought her there the night before. Her citizenship was to a country that had done nothing but mistreat her. But it was all she knew.
“You will not want to,” the prince said with a smile, and she noticed how unlike the Enchanter’s smile it was. There was no hidden meaning, no evil intent, no eager hunger. It was only, purely, love.
Suddenly, she saw the prince for who he really was. He was love.
Obscurity felt that love washing over her wounds and eroding her will. She could not stop the trembling in her hands and she was sure she was going to vomit if she did not sit down.
“I’m asking you, ‘Come.’” He stretched out his hand one more time, reaching down into the dirt for hers.
But she could not reach for it. All the years of sorrow and pain boiled up and overflowed. Heaving and sobbing, she collapsed at his feet, completely undone.
She was his.