Hostage Bride

The Genre Stretch for the month is Gothic fiction.  I think I did a pretty good job of getting this story into that genre, but Erin’s world lends itself well to that genre.  I’m going to do the same thing with this story as I did with my previous one: the Genre stretch for next month and the month after will be used to work on this story.  My goal is to finish it in the next couple thousand words.  I think that’s doable.

**

To say that Erin was angry would have been an understatement.  She was so much more than angry.  She wanted nothing less than to kill Heinrich Adler.  The problem was, with her wrists shackled in heavy chains, she was having trouble lifting them.  That made strangling the life from her captor rather impossible.

He smirked as he made a slow, lazy circle around her.  He stopped behind her and Erin fought to keep her expression neutral.  She closed her eyes as he leaned in close enough for her to feel his breath on her ear.  “It’s so very nice to see you again, Erin,” he said, his voice low.  He set a hand around her waist.  “How is our little one?”

Erin favored him with a glare.  “What do you want, Adler?” she asked, her voice low.  “I’m not interested in playing games with you.”

He chuckled softly and moved around to stand in front of her.  “My dear, Miss Von Brenner,” he said, catching the chain between her wrists in one hand.  He used it to draw her close to him and smiled.  “We have a child together.  Don’t you think it’s only right that we be wed?”

“I’d sooner marry a toad,” Erin snapped.  Then she smirked.  “Oh, I forgot, it I married you, then I would be marrying a toad.  Wouldn’t I?”  He raised his hand and, for a moment, Erin thought he meant to slap her.  She raised her brows, but she didn’t flinch as the hand descended to lightly pat her cheek.

“Feisty, as expected,” Adler said.  Then he turned on his heel and drew her along behind him by the shackles on her wrists.  “I think it’s time for you to get settled in your quarters, my dear,” he said, his tone light and teasing.  “I’m sure you’d like to freshen up – change into something more appropriate for an evening dining with your fiancé.”

He brought Erin up several flights of stairs, to a tower room.  The entire building felt old – like it was decaying around them.  Her room, however, was probably the worst one in the house.  It was just large enough for the bed and the vanity.  The wallpaper was faded and peeling.  Everything, in fact, had a sort of faded appearance that gave it a rather gray color.

Adler loosened the shackles on her wrists as he pushed her into the room.  “Your dress for dinner is laid out on the bed,” he said, his tone firm.  “The bath is through the door at the far side of the room.”

Erin growled as he tugged the door closed behind him.  She heard the lock click and crossed her arms over her chest.  She would find some way to get out of that room and, when she did, the first thing she’d do after reuniting with Richard would be to come back there, so that she could wring Adler’s neck for him.

“I wouldn’t marry you, if we were the only people left in the world, Heinrich Adler,” Erin called through the door, not knowing or even caring if he could hear her.  Then, she spun on her heel and stalked into the bath.

She wasn’t surprised to find it in shape that was just a poor as the bedroom.  Tiles were cracked and broken.  She debated with herself for a moment over whether or not to actually bathe.  Ultimately, she decided to fill a pitcher with water and use a basin and sponge.  After preparing the water, she returned to the bedroom and poured it into a basin on the vanity.  She shed her torn and mud-stained gown and washed up quickly and carefully.  Then, she drew on the gown that was laid out on the bed.

Erin regarded her reflection in the mirror.  She was clean and wearing a new gown.  However, her hair was still a tangled mess from when she’d been kidnapped.  She began tugging out pins until it fell around her shoulders in a mass of curls.  Not finding a brush, she used her fingers to smooth out the worst of the tangles.  Then, she plaited the mess into a low braid at the back of her neck.

She had just finished tying off the braid when the door opened.  Adler smiled at her as he carried a tray into the room.  “Leave the food and get out,” Erin snapped.

“Now, don’t be like that, my dear,” Adler said, his voice soft.  He stepped over to the bed and set the tray down.  “We’re going to eat together, after all.  Isn’t that what I said?”

Erin heaved a sigh and sat down on the stool in front of the vanity.  “What is this place, Adler?” she asked, watching as he dished out some sort of rich stew into a bowl.  “It looks as though no one has lived here in about a century.”

“My ancestral home,” Adler said.  He held out the bowl of stew and smiled when Erin took it and the spoon.  As he dished out his own, he said, “There’s a story that says one of my ancestors haunts the place.  You have expertise with hauntings, do you not?”

“Some,” Erin said, frowning.  She waited until Adler began to eat, before she followed his example.  The stew was actually rather tasty.  “Is that why I’m here?” she asked.  “Do you need the place exorcized?”

Adler smiled.  “I know how to exorcize the estate,” he said, his voice low and mysterious.  “Tonight, you’ll find out how as well.”  He caught the bowl from her hands as Erin’s vision darkened and she crumpled to the floor.  “Once my ancestor knows their estate is secure, he will move on, Erin,” he said.  He stooped and lifted her off the floor, settling her on the bed.

Erin moaned and forced her eyes opened.  Adler was smiling down at her.  He caressed her cheek and chuckled softly.  “He will marry us, my love,” Adler whispered.  “Then, no one will be able to take you away from me.”

“Richard will… kill you,” Erin said, as her eyes slipped closed again.  Her final thought before she slipped into unconsciousness was that Heinrich Adler was clearly mad.  However, that was a common enough affliction in those who summoned demons.

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