Ascend / Page 14

Page 14


Matt and Duncan stood up, both a bit dazed by the immediacy of my response. Sara, Oren’s wife, stood a bit to his side and behind him. She lowered her eyes and kept still. Both she and Oren wore all black, which was a bit of an odd choice for a wedding.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“What do I want?” Oren laughed and held his arms out to the side. “It’s my only daughter’s wedding.” He took a step forward, and I let the guards go, so they fell to the ground. I wanted to be able to focus all my energy on Oren if need be.

“Stop,” I commanded, holding my hand palm out to him. “If you take another a step, I will send you soaring through the ceiling.”

The ceiling of the ballroom was made entirely of glass, so that wasn’t as remarkable as it sounded, especially since I wasn’t even sure I could do it. I could feel Tove standing a few feet behind me though, and that gave me more confidence.

“Now, Princess.” Oren made a tsk sound. “Is that any way to greet your father?”

“Considering you’ve kidnapped me and tried to kill me, yes, I think this is the only appropriate greeting,” I said.

“I never did anything.” Oren put his hands to chest. “But look at me now. I’ve come without an army. Just my wife and two guards to help me travel. Nothing else. I assure you, Princess, I plan to hold to our treaty as long as you do. I will not attack you or any of your people on the Förening grounds. Provided, of course, that you do the same.”

His eyes sparkled at that. He was taunting me. He wanted me to launch an attack, to hurt him, so they could fight back. If I did this, I would start an all-out war between the Vittra and Trylle, and we weren’t ready.

I might be able to defend myself and a few of the people, but all our guards and trackers were gone. If Oren had any other Vittra waiting in the wings outside of Förening, the Trylle would be slaughtered. My wedding would turn into a bloodbath.

“In standing by our treaty, I ask that you leave the grounds,” I said. “This is a private affair, and you were not invited.”

“But I came to give you away,” Oren said, pretending to be hurt. “I travelled all this way just for you.”

“You’re too late,” I said. “And I was never yours in the first place, so you have no right to give me away.”

“So who here has possessed you so much that they have a right to give you away?” Oren asked.

“Oren!” Elora shouted, and everyone in the room turned to look at her. “Leave her alone.” She stood at the other end of the aisle, near the altar, and Garrett stood behind her. I’m sure it was to catch her in case she collapsed, but it looked like he was merely being supportive.

“Ah, my Queen,” Oren smiled wickedly at her. “There you are.”

“You’ve had your fun,” Elora said. “Now be on your way. We’ve tolerated you enough.”

“Look at you,” he chuckled to himself. “You really let yourself go, didn’t you? Now you look like the old hag I always knew you were.”

“Enough!” I snapped at him. “I’ve asked you kindly to leave. I will not ask you again.”

He eyed me up, gauging my sincerity, and I kept my expression as hard as I could. Finally, he shrugged, as if it were nothing to him.

“Suit yourself, Princess,” he said. “But by the looks of your mother, it won’t be much longer until you’re Queen. So I will be seeing you soon.”

He turned to leave, and I lowered my hand, then he stopped.

“One more thing, Princess.” Oren looked back at me. “I believe a piece of my trash has washed up here. He’s been a horrible pain, but he does belong to me, so I would like him returned.”

“I’m certain I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, knowing that I would never turn Loki over to him. I’d seen what he’d done to Loki, and I wouldn’t let that happen again.

“If he should turn up,” Oren said, and I couldn’t tell if he believed me or not, “send him my way.”

“Of course,” I lied.

Oren turned and stalked out, not even waiting for Sara. She gave me an ashamed smile before chasing after him. His guards finally picked themselves up off the floor and hurried to catch up. I heard him say something as they disappeared, but I couldn’t understand him.

Duncan stayed in the doorway, and using my mindspeak I told him to make sure that Oren and Sara were really gone.

Everyone else was looking to me, waiting to see my reaction. I wanted to wilt, to let out a sigh of relief, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t let them know how rattled I was, that I’d been terrified that my father would kill us, and I would be unable to do anything to stop him.

“Sorry about the interruption,” I said, my voice astonishingly even, and I gave all my guests my most polite smile. “But with that over, I believe we have a wedding to get on with.” I turned to Tove, still smiling. “Assuming you’ll still have me.”

“Of course,” he returned my smile.

He held out his arm, and I took it. As we walked back down the aisle, the orchestra began playing “Moonlight Sonata” again.

“How are you holding up?” Tove asked quietly when we climbed the altar stairs.

“Good,” I whispered. “Getting married doesn’t seem all that scary anymore.”

We stood in front of Markis Bain, and I glanced back over my shoulder. Duncan stood in the doorway, and he mouthed the words all clear. I smiled appreciatively at him and turned back to the Markis.

“Shall we start with the vows then?” Markis Bain asked. “Princess, Markis, turn and face each other.”

I turned to Tove, forcing a smile to cover up the pounding of my heart. With a few simple words and exchange of rings, I vowed to take him as my husband until death. We sealed it with a quick kiss, and the guests erupted in applause.

7. Interlude

Thankfully, between the wedding and the reception, we had a brief interlude while they cleared out the chairs and set up the tables and the dance floor. I’m not sure where new brides were supposed to spend that time, but I spent mine locked in the nearest bathroom with Willa.

I splashed cold water on my face, and that helped clear my head, even if it did drive Willa nuts. I dried off my face with paper towel once I felt better, and she frantically reapplied my makeup.

We left the bathroom in time for Tove and me to make our grand entrance as husband and wife. When we walked in, Garrett stood up and introduced us as Prince Tove and Princess Wendy Kroner, and everyone applauded again.

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