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Mandy Claudy Conn 2022/7/22 14:05:58

Her mother shot her daughter a meaningful look and said with the link that was theirs alone, don’t speak.

“Of course,” her mother responded. “What happens if our daughter refuses to be married?”

“For now, I only ask that she allow Galen to court her,” her father said sounding reasonable. Exerilla had heard him very clearly say that she actually had no choice. He was willing to bide his time, but only for a short while. She loved her father; though he had changed. He was no longer putting her needs first. She knew he was allowing her to think that he was reasonable by condoning a brief courtship. He wanted her eased into the situation, but in the end she could see that he meant this to go forward at all costs.

“Of course, but today Exerilla and I have plans,” her mother said with a tentative smile. “Galen is welcome to come for cocktails with you tomorrow evening. Perhaps he can take X to dinner sometime after that.” She eyed her husband flirtatiously and Exerilla wondered what her mother was doing.

Two things were off here.

Her mother despised Galen Debbin. She would never let her go anywhere alone with him. He was not only a Dark Warlock, but ugly rumors abounded around him. Rumors called him a vicious murderer, who killed for the thrill of it.

She wondered why her mother was so ready to accept the union.

The second thing was the sorrow she saw in her mother’s eyes when she looked at her father. Her feelings toward him might have changed.

Exerilla felt a wave of loss because she saw a dark force ever hovering about him. His stance was more aloof, even when he looked at her. His love for her and her mother was unshakeable. It was a viable separate entity and yet, she knew in that moment beyond a shadow of a doubt, that her father would not allow his affection to deter his purpose.

This time, her mother meant to take her father on.

Obviously, her mother was stalling for time. For what possible reason, she hadn’t a clue. She looked from mother to father and kept quiet. She would keep still now because there was no way in hell she was going to go to dinner or anything else with Galen Debbin, let alone marry him.

“That is more than fair. I had expected our little X to put up a fight. She never liked being dictated to.” He smiled and Exerilla saw pride light up his handsome face. He had always called her X, just like her friends. He would tease her and tell her that she would always be his X-factor. She had never really known just what he meant by that, but she was now beginning to see. She was an answer to his need for power. That sudden realization hurt.

She shrugged but gave him a half smile. “Yup, you’re so right; I don’t like being dictated to. I have known Galen a very long time, and I won’t insult him by refusing to have a few dinner engagements with him to see how we feel about each other,” she said, hoping her father would not see through her lie.

Her father was all too pleased with the outcome of this initial meeting. He merely bowed in his old world style. He murmured that he adored her. With a sudden flick of his wrist, the dark cloud that delivered them into Exerilla’s home enveloped the two warlocks and took them away.

Her mother grabbed Exerilla’s shoulders and said in a desperate tone, “Hur

ry, there is no time to waste!”

All at once she realized what her mother was talking about. She had heard all about this earlier that week and had laughed it off. Now it was looking as though it might turn into a reality, but she wasn’t ready to accept it.

She knew that her mother was only trying to protect her, but she just couldn’t comply with her wishes.

She had her summer planned. She had a summer job lined up, and then Columbia in the fall. This wasn’t fair. There had to be another way.

What her mother was asking seemed extremely drastic. It wasn’t as though she wanted her to go off on some summer vacation. She wanted to send her two hundred years into the past.

She couldn’t give up all her future plans. She didn’t believe that her father would force her to marry Galen. She was sure she could get through to him. He loved her, she told herself. She would find the right moment to talk to him.

“Yes, but…” she started to object.

“Exerilla, listen to me. I prepared everything for you last year when I first discovered what your father was planning. It will only be a few months…”

“No, I can’t. I won’t!” Exerilla frowned. “You are asking too much, Mom. I don’t think papa can force me to marry against my will. I am twenty-one and have reached my majority. I too have a few tricks up my sleeve.”

“You have not reached your majority. Not until Samhain. It is then that you will reach your witch’s majority. Until then, your father can compel you to do whatever he wants you to do.”

She couldn’t believe her father would use a compulsion spell to make her marry El Creepo.

She couldn’t believe he would force her to do anything. He had never done so before.

She had made up her mind that she would not go to England and she would definitely not be sent into the past.

“No, Mom. I’m not going. I’m not doing this. I will handle papa,” she answered. None of this made sense to her.

Her mother frowned, and suddenly surprised her as she ‘poofed’ off in a cloud of white mist.