Home > Santiago's Conquest

Santiago's Conquest
Author: V.F. Mason





A raspy breath of distress slips past my lips when my hold on the bouquet in my hands tightens, the roses’ thorns digging into my skin and probably drawing blood.

The priest’s booming voice echoes through the space of the church, his smile so bright I wonder if it hurts his face.

Or do despicable creatures have no idea about the devastating emotions of mere mortals?

“Do you, Briseis Dawson, take this man…” With each word, I zone out farther and farther from this situation while the ringing in my ears replaces his rusty voice. I barely hold myself back from spitting on him for what he’s allowing to happen inside these walls that should have been my sanctuary.

Instead, this place fed me to the wolves so they could shred my flesh to pieces, their sharp teeth sinking into me so harshly they won’t rest until I bleed out on the floor… with God as my witness.

Monsters, hideous monsters led by the devil who….

A single tear slides down my cheek, hidden behind my veil made of the finest tule. Nothing but the best for the bride of this groom, after all.

The groom, who I promised to hate till my last breath for what he has done to my family, stays oblivious to my begging, only a small smirk on his face while pleasure at his deeds radiates from him.

The King of Darkness and Deceit.

He chuckles, and I can almost imagine how his sapphire-blue eyes glisten with something wicked—the only expression that fills those orbs whenever his gaze lands on me—and I have to run far away from him… well, as much as I can in the current circumstances, in order to avoid it.

Not that he lets me do it for long; the freaking sadist enjoys my discomfort in his company, if his constant grins are anything to go by.

Madness has many forms and faces on this earth, covered in the masks of beauty and power, sneaking up on you when you least expect it, snatching you into its web of deceit and pain that follow you wherever you go.

His madness though?

Has no boundaries or control. Instead, it soaks up all the chaos around him.

The corset of my wedding dress is impossibly tight on my waist, and each gulp of air becomes a struggle, the pressure reminding me of the invisible chains the man has placed on me with no way of breaking them.

Shifting my focus from the priest, I stare at this unusual church they brought me to with its expensive colorful glass in the windows and the ceiling carved in an oval shape that almost gives a fairy-tale-like experience.

Except I’m trapped in a nightmare, which—no matter how much I pinch myself—doesn’t transform into the fairy tale I’ve pleaded for my entire life.

Despite its beauty that has the power to make one gasp in awe, the place reeks of doom and hopelessness that no amount of expensive artwork or luxurious design can hide.

A princess-cut diamond and sapphire engagement ring on my finger bumps against one of the thorns, the stone glistening in the shimmering light from above me, and I resist the urge to snatch it off and throw it at the groom, along with a few colorful word choices.

I catch Father Paul’s stare on me; conflicted emotions cross his face along with distress that he soothes with his gentle smile, as if it can reassure me.

Nothing on this earth has the power to reassure the inferno burning in my chest or the monster claiming me as his because he wishes to.

The priest’s lips stop moving, and he looks at me expectantly while my brows furrow, since I’ve no clue what he wants.

Panic shadows his face, and his lips move once again. I shake my head, hoping the ringing will go away so I can listen to him.

Still nothing though, and instead, my heartbeat speeds up in my chest, beating so fast I’m afraid it might jump out and land on the floor where the monster can stomp all over it.

Literally this time, since he has done it figuratively already.

A strong hand wraps around my waist and spins me so fast my head gets dizzy. I bump into the hard-as-brick muscles of his chest as his other hand captures my chin between his fingers, raising it so our gazes clash. “He asked you a question, mi novia.”

Rage flashes through me so violently that for a second the air gets stuck in my lungs while I want to shout in despair from not being able to unleash it on him with full force.

Maybe then he would have choked on his words, because calling me his bride is an insult to all the married couples all over the world.

The only appropriate word is captive.

His deep, husky voice sends shivers down my spine, and revulsion runs through me at his touch, the rose thorns digging sharper this time, and I wince in pain, finding no wiggle room in his hold to step back and throw away the stupid bouquet I never wanted in the first place. “Will you take me as your beloved husband and promise to cherish and love me till the day I die?” A sinister smile widens his mouth while he winks at me. “Or, in other words, till death do us part?” His thumb slides over my cheek gently, evoking fear inside me, reminding me how this hand can kill someone with just one strike.

I twist my face to the side, avoiding his caress, but he tightens his fingers on me, digging them painfully into my skin, and a whimper of distress escapes me. “The choice is yours, querida.” He prolongs the last word, as if tasting it on his tongue when he addresses me.

I wish to slap him hard, so he won’t call me his darling again, then fist the skirt of my dress and, with my high heels clicking soundly on the marble floor, run through the heavy, wooden doors at the end of the church’s hallway to hide far away from here.

“I always keep my word, darling.”

He won’t chase me, granting me my freedom he has promised from the very beginning, and with time I can forget all the events that have happened, like a bad dream that should have never even involved me.

However, all this musing has no point.

I stay silent, waves of shock rushing through me while I will myself to say the words everyone expects, yet they seem to get stuck in my throat, not wanting to be spoken for the destruction they might cause in my life.

The groom sighs, winking at me. “Querida, I’m starting to get bored. And it’s never a good sign.” Someone clears their throat, and I shift my focus to the bench on the left where a blond-haired man flips a knife between his fingers while the man next to him, bound in tight, black ropes, groans in pain, blood seeping from various wounds on his torso and head.

The blond man puts the sharp tip to his victim’s neck and nicks the skin, chuckling quietly, finding amusement in how his victim bursts into tears, his eyes pleading for mercy he will never get from the likes of them.

The victim mumbles something through the tape covering his mouth, and I don’t have to read minds to know what he thinks.

Or rather asks of me.

After everything he put me through… he still expects me to do it.

“Choose, Briseis,” the groom says, boredom lacing his tone as he snaps my head back to him so his hot breath fans my face, his lips inches away from mine. “Either become my wife or I’ll kill your father.” He waits a bit and adds, “Choose wisely. Don’t bargain with the devil if you are not ready for the consequences, mi amor.”

Yes, Santiago Cortez has given me a choice.

But no matter the outcome… my soul will be crushed like a porcelain mug hitting the floor.

Turning away from him, I focus my attention on the priest and finally find the strength to utter the words that cut me from inside out, while self-loathing fills my entire being along with hate that burns brighter with each passing second toward the man standing next to me. “I do.”

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