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Remember My Name
"NO!" I screamed. "Don't touch me!" He laughed darkly, pinning me against the wall. His hands were locked around my wrists, and all I could see of his face were those stone-cold black eyes. They pierced through all they saw. I struggled to break free of his grasp, tears streaming down my cheeks. "Let me go!" He responded with another dark chuckle, grinning evilly. He leaned in close, pressing his forehead against mine. I screamed again.
"It's no use, you know," he whispered, "I have you. No one else is here. You. Are. Mine." I shuddered, crying harder now. I was so frightened. He leaned in closer, his chest pressing against mine. Our lips were almost touching....I shot up in bed, tears streaking my face and sweat rolling down my spine. My breath heaved, as though I'd been running for miles. Good lord, it was only a dream.
The sun peered through my window, sending rays of light across my room. My heart was still racing from the nightmare. I looked around the room. Everything was still in place. I let out a sigh of relief and stepped out of my bed, the skirt of my nightdress falling to the floor. I looked outside and saw the gardeners tending the rosebushes. It must still be before noon then, I thought. I drew a shawl around my shoulders and went to attend to my hair and body. The warm water of the bath felt good, especially when there was a chill to the morning as there was today. After carefully combing my hair and fixing it, I dressed and walked downstairs to find my mother having breakfast. "Good morning, Mother."
"Good morning, Demeter," she responded tiredly. Her eyes seemed older today, more exhausted. I sat across from her as a servant brought in a plate for me, filled with two eggs, a slice of ham and buttered bread. He bowed and left.
"How did you sleep, Mother?" I asked, cutting a piece of the ham and putting it into my mouth.
"Not well, I'm afraid. That new tonic they've been giving me keeps me up well past high moon."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Mother." She waved her hand, dismissing the subject.
"Demeter dear, you're almost sixteen. You know what that means don't you?" I quieted, picking at my food. There was suddenly no taste in my mouth where the once sweet ham had been. "Demeter?" she inquired.
"Yes, Mother, I know what it means."
She nodded her head once and called for a servant to pick up her plate. She rose from the table, walking to my side. She placed a hand on my shoulder. "Shall we see one later this evening? There is a line of them, you know."
"If it pleases you, Mother, we will see one today."
She nodded again and walked outside, into the gardens. I finished my now tasteless food and rose, thanking the servant who took my plate. I retreated to my room, curling up on my bed. Aries, my cat, joined me and rubbed his head against my leg. I picked him up and set him on my lap, admiring his leopard-like pattern. His coat was beautiful. "Oh Aries, I envy you. To be free of these suitors and such nonsense!" I sighed and stroked him, feeling his soft fur beneath my hand. He purred gratefully. "If only I could choose when and who to marry, instead of being forced into this all so fast. So much is expected of me, Aries. 'Marry a suitor, have children, rule the kingdom!' as father would say. I've only just begun to understand love. How am I to possibly know the truth behind every thing these men will tell me? Every line they say has been rehearsed for weeks on end. They only want to marry me to rule the kingdom. Oh, to have someone love me for me, and not for my throne!" Tears of frustration rolled down my cheeks as I pet Aries. He looked up at me pitifully, as if he was trying to understand. I kissed his head gently. "I wish I could talk with you instead of only to you, Aries. I know you would understand me better than anyone else could." He purred and rubbed his head against my hand. "You are so lucky to be free of these rules. To marry at sixteen to a man I've met only recently, can you imagine?" I jumped as a knock came to my door. Aries turned his head to the sound as well.
"Milady, may I enter? It is only I, Moreno."
"You may enter."
A tall, thin man stepped into my room. He was no more than nineteen, still a boy, though with the form of a man. His body was strong from the work my father gave him. His dirty blonde hair had grown long, and it hung in his eyes. His green eyes were alert but gentle. "Milady, your mother requests your presence in the garden. She said she would be in the lilies."
"Thank you, Moreno. How has your day been?" He seemed startled at the question.
"Has your day been good?"
"I-I.... I suppose so. Good day, milady," he stuttered, backing out of the room. I sighed, rising from the bed. Aries curled on my pillow. I glared at him, jealousy filling my eyes.
"You are never summoned, are you?"
I was soon in the lilies with my mother, waiting for her to speak to me. She bent down a couple of times, smelling her beautiful flowers. After ten minutes of silence, she finally turned to me and gestured for me to sit. As I sat on the marble bench, she sighed an observed my outfit. "You shan't greet your suitor dressed as such. When we are through here, you are to go change." I nodded, and she continued. "When he comes, you will respect him as you respect your father and me. He is a Spanish lord, very regal, very handsome. I think you would like him, Demeter." No, mother, I thought. I would like the freedom to roam about the city, to go beyond the palace walls, to choose my husband. "His name is Gustavo Castanos, but you will refer to him as 'my lord' as long as he is here." I could hear her talking, but I could not pay her the attention she wanted. I didn't want to meet Lord Gustavo. I didn't want to get married by next month. I didn't want to be a princess anymore.