Well, it has come to this, Ladies and Gentlemen. The last part of the Product of Love: Last Chance. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and let me know if you wish for more short stories in the future. If you missed other parts of the story, you can find them here: https://www.victoriamayburybooks.ca/2020/04/27/product-of-love-part-6-the-arbor-meeting/ https://www.victoriamayburybooks.ca/2020/03/22/product-of-love-part-5-derecks-decision/ https://www.victoriamayburybooks.ca/2020/03/22/product-of-love-part-4-the-choice-set-before-her/ https://www.victoriamayburybooks.ca/2020/03/01/product-of-love-part-3-the-marketplace/ https://www.victoriamayburybooks.ca/2020/02/23/product-of-love-part-2-adrianna-and-dereck/ https://www.victoriamayburybooks.ca/2020/02/15/the-product-of-love-gills-backstory/
Product of Love: Last Chance
Adrianna inhaled deeply as she stopped for a breath in front of her front door. She’d made it in time for dinner, she’d had to run but at least she was there in time. Opening the door, she went to the dining room after a quick wash up. Her parents were already seated by the time she got there.
“Sorry for being late.” Adrianna quickly took a seat as the fragerant food was brought out. Her mouth watered at the sight of it even as her gut told her something was off. “What is the occasion?” She looked questioningly at her mother. The older mage’s amber eyes drooped in a sad fashion.
“Toshi came by.”
Adrianna’s hands clenched around the silverware as she served herself some lamb. “Oh?” She willed the tremble in her voice to be nonexistant as she glanced at her parents.
Her mother continued. “Yes, he said that he wishes to have a ball here in two days time where he will announce your engagement.” She turned her amber eyes to her daughter. “Are you sure this is the path you want to take, mija?”
Adrianna clasped her hands in her lap to keep them from trembling. “I still haven’t decided my path, mother. I believe Toshi misunderstood my meaning when I talked with him this afternoon.”
Adrianna’s father looked as if he was about to speak when a beep sounded from all their identification necklaces. Adrianna wondered who would be sending an announcement to all of them at such at late hour.
“I’ll grab it.” Adrianna’s father placed his identification necklace in a hidden slot in the table. The holographic image of the head of the council of mages appeared on their table. Adrianna worried her bottom lip as she waited for Toshi’s father to begin.
The holographic image smiled brightly at them as he began. “Citizens of Delgart, I am proud to announce the engagement of my son, Toshi Dai, to the lovely daughter of the Teruos, Adrianna Teruo. The Teruo household has been gracious enough to have a ball in honour of this engagement in two days time. All will be invited to the ball; rich and poor and mages or others. With that I bid you all a good night.” The holographic image smiled once more and disappeared into thin air.
Adrianna looked at her parents in a shellshocked state. Her mother spoke first.
“I guess the decision has been made for you, mija. I wish you the best happiness as you settle into your new home.” Without a glance in her daughter’s direction, she rose and walked towards her office, silence reigning in her wake.
Adrianna turned towards her father. His amber eyes glistened as he gave her a firm nod as if to say, “Be strong.” He then rose and followed in his wife’s footsteps, leaving Adrianna in silence.
She sat there, processing the last five minutes that had shattered any hope of a marriage filled with love and happiness. Her eyes began to fill with tears and for once, Adrianna let them flow freely.
She left the house, no longer feeling hungry, no longer feeling anything. She passed through the gate barely hearing the guard’s congratulations on her upcoming engagement.
Adrianna ran down the hill, past the market where she’d met Dereck to the place where she’d spent most of her life training for her dream job. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed on the steps of the mage academy.
“Why?” She whispered to herself. “Why must it be me?” Her childhood flashed through her mind, the conversations with her parents about music being only ever a hobby, the extra lessons in politics, even her friendship with Mei. “Grooming,” She realized out loud. “I was always ever only being groomed for this position.”
“What position?” A voice whom she’d come to love queried above her.
She looked into Dereck’s green eyes as the tears rolled down her face. “To be his wife.”
Dereck’s eyes widened at the news. “They are forcing you now?”
Adrianna nodded as she wiped her eyes. “It was announced by his father this evening. I’m surprised you missed it.”
“I was finishing packing up uncle’s shop.” He replied. “We leave in an hour.”
“I thought you were going to stay for a little while longer.” Adrianna looked sadly at the human in front of her as a small spark of hope shone through her once again.
“We were, but there seemed to be a rise in taxes. The longer we stay here, the more money we’ll lose. We just packed the essentials so it’ll be an easy trip for the horses.” Dereck stroked her chin. “I wish I could’ve gotten to know you more, highness.”
Adrianna held his hand to her face as she looked him in the eye. “What if I disappear? It is hard to have an engagement when one person is missing.”
Dereck grinned as he pushed back his blond locks. “I suppose the horses will have to work a bit to get home.
An hour later, Adrianna huddled under a blanket in the wagon as it bumped towards the gate leading out of town. Soon, the wagon halted at the checkpoint. Adrianna strained to hear what Dereck said but all sound was drowned out by her heartbeat. The seconds ticked by and a line of cool sweat trickled down her spine. If she was found. . . . She mentally shook herself, they wouldn’t find her and if they did, she wouldn’t let them hurt Dereck or his family.
The wagon finally moved towards the second and last checkpoint between Adrianna and her freedom. Her stomach turned to knots as the wagon slowed again. This checkpoint was more relaxed than the first one but she still worried. The time ticked by as she strained to hear what the guard was saying.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” Dereck’s tone worried Adrianna as she waited for the response.
“He said to unlock the wagon’s tailgate, human!” The authority and arrogance in the voice shook Adrianna to the core. What was Yoshi doing here? She clutched her identification necklace in fright and realized her mistake. All identification necklaces had a tracking program in them, by wearing it, she had blatenly left a breadcrumb trail to anyone looking for her. “Not you, I want the old man to do it.” Yoshi’s voice boomed through the wagon.
Adrianna felt the grape seller slowly rise from his seat. There was a brief jolt before Dereck cried out, “Uncle! Are you alright?” The sound of footsteps came to her ears as she peaked over the luggage in the back. Dereck helped his ailing uncle up but froze for a second before patting the old man on the shoulder.
“Get back in the wagon, human!” Ordered Yoshi and Dereck did as commanded.
Adrianna steeled herself as she took off her necklace. The shuffling footsteps of the grape seller came around to the back of the wagon.
“Open it,” Yoshi’s voice sent chills crawling down her spine as Adrianna prepared to throw her necklace at the man.
The wagon creaked as the old man wrestled with the bolts on either side of the tailgate. Soon, the tailgate fell open. Adrianna held her breath as she felt Yoshi climb on board. There was a chuckle before the blanket was yanked from Adrianna.
“If you wanted to hide, you should’ve left your necklace at home. Come with me, and I’ll let the man from the arbor off lightly. Oh yes, Adrianna, I saw him and you down there. Be a smart girl and choose the only logical option.”
Before she could answer, the old man jumped on Yoshi’s back. “Go now!” He shouted to Dereck as he pulled the mage back causing the mage to become unsteady as the wagon moved forward.
“The only logical option I see is to be a far away from you as possible. I would die before becoming yours!” Adrianna spat at the mage before as she swiped at him with her necklace. Yoshi cried out in pain as the sharp tip of the necklace got his eye. The mage stumble backwards, reeling from the pain and fell off the moving wagon with Dereck’s uncle still on his back. “Dereck! Your uncle!” Adrianna moved towards the front as she pointed behind her. “He is still in there!”
“I know,” Dereck replied through gritted teeth as tears streamed down his face. “I know. Uncle G knew the risk of us getting caught and so planned a diversion.” He looked at Adrianna with a mixture of grief and warmth in his gaze. “He also knew that you were worth it even if he didn’t make it.” Adrianna held Dereck as he led them safely away past the Dasicain boarder.
Yoshi looked at the old man on the ground. The fall had broken his neck and yet his face held a smile as if he had gone to a better place. Yoshi turned his good eye towards the trail the human had taken his mage, his Adrianna. He remembered her words to him. “I’d die before becoming yours!” “Well, Adrianna,” he murmered to himself. “You’ll get your wish.
Two years later.
Adrianna smiled as she heard the cries of her newborn son. She rested her head in exhaustion, the pregnancy had been hard and the healers had been worried she wouldn’t survive but she had.
“Your son.” The healer placed the bundled up baby into Adrianna’s arms as her husband rounded the bed.
“He has your blond hair.” Adrianna chuckled as she looked at their child.
“But he has your eyes.” Whispered Dereck giving his wife a loving kiss.
Adrianna looked at baby’s eyes. They were green as emeralds with shards of silver and amber in them.
“He has both of our eyes.” She pointed out to him. “What should we name him?”
“Your choice, Mrs. Preslar.”
Adrianna’s mind flashed back to the night Dereck had helped her escape Delgart and the loss of his uncle. “How about Gillith? Like your uncle.” She said looking into her husband’s eyes.
He smiled. “I like that, we could call him Gil for short.”
Adrianna bent to give their child a kiss. “Welcome to the family, Gillith Ichirou Preslar.”
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