“Fleeing the Party”

She felt trapped. The people were closing in on her, she couldn’t breathe, her heart was pounding. She dropped her champagne glass and, when it shattered on the flagstone path, everyone turned to stare at her, their faces fading in and out of focus. She could think of nothing but escape. She slipped out of the garden, skirted around the edge of the house hoping no one would notice her disappearance, and practically ran to the edge of the woods.

In the trees, she took slow, deep breaths, calming herself. From here, the music could still be heard, but it was a gentle whisper on the wind. The voices settled into a low drone.

It had been a long afternoon, tiring. It was too hard to keep her smile in place, to accept all the congratulations and well-wishes, to hold Jacob’s hand through it all. Jacob. He would be wondering where she was, and she had no doubt that he would make her pay for her little getaway.  Not even married yet, he knew he owned her. Her father had practically sold her off to the highest bidder. Jacob’s wealth and position made him an ideal catch for any young woman. Her parents hoped that he would gain them entrance to the higher levels of the court, perhaps even elevating her father to a position in the castle itself. And they all, family, friends, acquaintances, expected her to be thrilled with her good luck, to be overjoyed appearing on Jacob’s arm. He had chosen her after all, among so many pretty girls. But they never saw that gleam in his eye, felt the solid lock of his hand on her wrist. He scared her and excited her.

Lost in her thoughts, she did not hear the man coming up behind her until a branch cracked. She turned quickly, not surprised he had followed her. He stood there, so handsome and so dangerous. He reached out to take her hand.

“Come back to the party,” he urged. He could see the fear in her face, but didn’t know how to dispel it. She was heartbreakingly beautiful and delicate. All he wanted to do was protect her, keep her safe, insulate her from all those people who wanted something from her, who saw her as a commodity, not an individual to cherish. The question was, though, could he change the way she saw the world, the way she saw him.

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Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take. I know today’s is more of a scene than an actual story, but it’s what I’ve got.