One Night to Wedding Vows (Wedlocked!)(75)

By: Kim Lawrence

‘Come with me, Mamma—’

Violet’s expression hardened. ‘I can’t.’

‘Because you love him?’ The hurt spilled from her like a handful of broken glass, sharp and jagged with pain. ‘How can you love him, after everything...?’

‘Do not question my choices, Sierra.’ Violet’s face was pale, her mouth pinched tight. ‘But make your own.’

Her own choice. Freedom at last. Overwhelming, frightening freedom, more than she’d ever had before, more than she’d even know what to do with. Instead of shackling herself to a man, even a good man, she would be her own person. Free to choose, to live.

The realisation made her feel sick with fear, dizzy with hope. Sierra closed her eyes. ‘I don’t know, Mamma...’

‘I cannot choose for you, Sierra.’ Her mother brushed her cheek lightly with her fingertips. ‘Only you can decide your own destiny. But a marriage without love...’ Her mother swallowed hard. ‘I would not wish that on anyone.’

Not every man is like Arturo Rocci. Not every man is cruel, controlling, hard. Sierra swallowed down the words. Marco Ferranti might not be like her father, but he might very well be. After what she’d heard and realised tonight, she knew she couldn’t take the risk.

Her hand clenched on the envelope of euros. Violet nodded, seeing the decision made in Sierra’s face. ‘God go with you, Sierra.’

Sierra hugged her mother tightly, tears stinging her eyes. ‘Quickly now,’ Violet said, and Sierra hurried from the room. Down the hall to her own bedroom, the wedding dress hanging from the wardrobe like a ghost. She dressed quickly and then grabbed a bag and stuffed some clothes into it. Her hands shook.

The house was quiet, the night air still and silent. Sierra glanced at the violin case under her bed and hesitated. It would be difficult to bring, and yet...

Music had been her only solace for much of her life. Leaving her violin would be akin to leaving a piece of her soul. She grabbed the case and swung the holdall of clothes over her shoulder. And then she tiptoed downstairs, holding her breath, her heart pounding so hard her chest hurt. The front door was locked for the night, but Sierra slid the bolt from its hinges without so much as a squeak. From the study she heard her father shift in his chair, rustle some papers. For a terrible moment her heart stilled, suspended in her chest as she froze in terror.

Then he let out a sigh and she eased the door open slowly, so slowly, every second seeming to last an hour. She slipped through and closed it carefully behind her before glancing at the dark, empty street. She looked back at the house with its lit windows one last time before hurrying into the night.

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