That night, after Papa was asleep, I picked up Elwin's arrow and changed into the old clothes. I walked into the forest, not really thinking about much. My papa was conflicted. He wanted me to tell someone but I kept reminding him that we needed the money.
Elwin was already at the tree and smiling until he saw the arrow in my hands. I held it out to him.
"Are you angry with me?" he asked finally.
"No," I said. "But it doesn't change anything, Elwin."
Elwin looked at me angrily. "But why Camila? He harmed you!"
"Sit down, Elwin," I sighed and he did. "I don't have a choice. We are poor. We can barely afford food. We're running out of chickens because we have to keep eating them. My papa's back is going out because of his age and I am not fit for manual labor. Theodore is... wealthy. He can provide for me and, in turn, provide for my papa."
"It's all about money?" he demanded and I nodded. "Grow your own crops, Camila. Go and-"
I frowned. "Do you not have seasons there?"
He blinked. "What are seasons?"
We continued to meet for another few nights but I refused to speak about Theodore. I knew Elwin was still angry with me though I couldn't imagine why.
Theodore was coming to call a lot. Each time it ended with him kissing me and groping my breasts or my more precious area. When I would rebuff him, he would get angry and threaten to hurt me again. I knew they were empty threats, though. I didn't do enough work to blame visible bruises on something natural.
The more I met with Elwin, the more drawn I was to him and it wasn't just his elven nature. He was sweet. On one clear night, we lay back to watch the stars. He pointed out different constellations I had never even heard of. Yesterday night, it was raining and I had gone to tell him we should just wait until tonight but he had brought a blanket with him. He put it over us and it reminded me of the nights my papa would comfort me during the storms.
I remembered how Elwin and I hadn't talk much. We just sat and watched the rain fall. He briefly told me about how he grew up and, when he came out to hunt, he believed it was the goddesses weeping and how it made him sad. Now he saw it as the world being cleansed and given a second chance to bring beauty.
He had held my hand.
Tonight, before going to bed, my papa sighed.
"I spoke with Theodore Jensen," he said in an even voice and I looked up from the book I was pretending to read. "He is eager to speak of wedding plans." He sighed. "He wants to marry in three days."
I dropped the book. Three days!?
Before I could say anything, my papa went into his room and I heard the door lock. I looked around frantically. I threw on a cloak and ran out of the house. It was much too early for me to meet with Elwin but I ran to our tree, crying quietly into my hands.
I looked up. Elwin was standing there, looking worried. I ran to him and buried my face into his tunic. He held me as I cried.
"Did he hurt you again?" he asked softly.
"I can't see you anymore," I whispered and he stepped back.
His voice was hurt and, though I didn't want to, he made me look at him. Tears were still falling and he wiped them away.
"Th-Theodore is making me- I mean, we are-are to be married in three days," I whispered and his face fell.
"You're still going through with it, Camila?" he asked, his eyes full of pain.
I looked down. "No one else will want me, Elwin," I whispered. "I am too-"
He silenced me by pressing his lips to mine. I gasped, my eyes wide.
"That's not true," he whispered, looking into my eyes.
I stared at him for a second longer before throwing my arms around his neck and kissing him. He kissed me back enthusiastically, holding me as close as he could. I continued to cry, my tears mixing in our mouths.
"Come back with me," he said suddenly and I frowned.
"What?" I breathed.
He touched my cheek, his other arm around my waist. "Come back with me, Camila. To my realm."
"But-But I can't," I said. "You said we shouldn't even be meeting, let alone be together."
He sighed and ran his finger from the middle of my eyes down to the tip of my nose. I closed my eyes. That action alone was enough to calm me down.
"We'll talk with my elder, Camila," he said quietly and I looked at him again. "Please. Now that I know, I can't let you go."
"Know what?" I whispered.
He smiled a little. "I know who was made for me."
I shut my eyes tightly and gulped. He didn't speak as I thought it over. Go live with Elwin? With the elves? Away from this nightmare of a life? But what about Papa? I could leave a note.... Surely he wouldn't get in trouble. After all, he didn't even know about me meeting with Elwin all this time.
I took a deep breath and nodded. Elwin's face broke into a large grin.
"Tomorrow," he said. "Tomorrow night, meet me here."
"I will," I said, grinning back and he pulled me close for another passionate kiss.
When we parted ways, we didn't realize we had been seen.
I gripped the sword on my hip, glaring at the scene in front of me. She was kissing that creature! No wonder she kept refusing my advances! She was getting them from this-this demon!
Anger pulsed through my veins. I watched as they shared one last embrace before departing. The elf disappeared into the trees. I knew I wouldn't be able to follow. Instead, I debated grabbing her and making her see that this is the way things would be.
I stopped myself, though. I knew that, somehow, Gerald had found out about the bruise I left on her. At first I thought she told him. Not that I knew this disgusting elf was spending the evenings with her, I suspected that's who it was.
I tramped through the woods, a plan brewing in my mind.
I hummed while I did my chores. I kept thinking about my night with Elwin; the way his lips felt against mine, how safe I felt wrapped in his arms. What we were doing was risky but I couldn't resist what I felt. Perhaps I had found a happily ever after....
Someone knocked on the front door and I opened it. My smile disappeared.
"I am not fit for visiting today," I said, trying to shut the door on Theodore. He stopped me, though, his eyes glinting. "My father is not home, either."
"I know," he said. He forced his way inside and closed the door behind him. I backed away, feeling uneasy. "Have you been enjoying the forest?" he whispered.
"I don't know what you mean," I lied. "Leave now. It is not proper for a man to be in a lady's home without an escort."
He smiled nastily at me and grabbed my upper arm roughly.
"That's true," he snapped. "But I am not in a lady's home." I blanched. "How long have you been seeing him?"
He pushed me against the wall and I winced in pain.
"The elf," he snarled.
My stomach dropped and I stared in horror.
"I-I don't know what you're-"
"Spare me," he snapped, squeezing my arm more and I whimpered in pain. "I could have you both killed, you know," he said quietly.
I began to shake. "Please," I whispered. "Just leave him alone."
"On one condition," he said darkly.
"I will marry you," I said immediately.
He smirked and, to my horror, pushed me into my room. He slammed the door shut and locked it. I backed up into the corner, hugging myself. As he advanced, he took his shirt off.
"Oh, my dear," he said in a silky voice. "You will marry me regardless." Before I could run, he pressed his body to mine. "I need a son and I will have one."
He forced his lips on mine and I fought against him. He was too strong, though, and soon my dress was ripped off me.
"Please don't," I cried as he dropped his trousers.
"The bed," he growled. "Now!"
"No," I said, shaking and trying to cover my naked body. "This isn't right."
"Do it or I'll kill your beloved elf."
I took a few steps towards my bed, crying. He groaned and pushed me onto it. I landed on my stomach and he flipped me over roughly. He mounted me, grinning wickedly.
"Beg," he said.
"Beg me not to," he breathed in my ear. I knew what he was doing and remained silent. He slapped my breast and I whimpered in pain. "Do it!"
"Please don't do this."
He bit down roughly on my shoulder.
"Too late," he snarled and pushed himself into me.
I cried out in pain and he laughed in my ear. Both of his hands held my hips tightly as I tried to get out from underneath him. The more I fought, the more pain he sent through me. It also seemed to give him added stamina. His thrusts became harder. I tried to scream for help but he clamped his hand over my mouth.
"Your father won't be back for a long time," he panted in my ear as he continued to ravage my body. "I made sure of that."
I screamed into his hand as the pain ripped through me, both inside my body and outside.
"Stop it," he snarled. When I couldn't stop crying, he slapped my stomach once again. "I said stop."
So it went for at least two hours until he had worn himself out. He climbed off of me, looking triumphant.
"You better pray you're pregnant," he snapped, getting dressed. "And if you tell anyone, you can expect worse than that." He chuckled before leaving. "Not that they'd believe you anyway."