Third Wife

Today is fiction Friday.
I’m sharing the beginning of a story that isn’t complete. My question: is it interesting? Should I complete it?

I would be Scion d’Marc’s third wife. My stomach balled in a knot while my brother discussed the arrangements like the business contract they were. I had escaped the chains of marriage for four years while all the unscarred women of sixteen made their way from their father’s house to their husband’s.

Because in Lokim culture, women were treasures to be taken care of. I’d been a treasure to my father’s business since my mother discovered my color magic fifteen years past. Now both of them were gone, and my brother was selling me.

I held up my hand. “Augee, why does the scion need another wife? Does he plan to use my gift to brighten his palace?”

Augee’s thin shoulders sagged as he exhaled. Everything had fallen on him two years ago when Fateer passed from this world to walk with the Provio, the God of Providence, Provision and Protection. Moveer had been gone for almost a decade now, and memories of her face had become fuzzy, but I still recalled the feeling of her hands on mine as she drew the magic to brighten the wool, hemp and linen fabric our family traded.

“He’s offering me a place in his textile merchandising business.”

Which would mean Augee could finally offer for his own bride. He’d already lost the girl he’d loved since childhood. She’d become the wife of a stone mason and now they’d moved across the arid plain to the capital.

Loving someone only brought pain.

At least a third wife would never expect to find love in her husband’s home. But if I could have children, then I could show them the love my parents had given my brother and me.

“So he’s going to keep using me to color fabrics?” It was unheard of for married women to work unless it was beside their husband. And the Scion d’Marc had men to run his businesses, so if he worked it was to oversee the other workers. His trade emporium drew peddlers and traders from everywhere in the minor region of Lokium.

Augee shook his head. “Surely you’ll find a way to use your gift in his home, but he said nothing about it.”

I narrowed my eyes. With the burn scars that disfigured the lower part of my face on one side and marred my arm, I didn’t attract male attention. It seemed unlikely that I would be desired for anything except my magic, which was rare in Lokium.

“He hopes to have a child with the gift.”

Augee sighed. “We didn’t speak of that. He wanted me to work for him and bring K’von connections into his clientele. Obviously, supporting a sister keeps me from having my own family, especially since our business is modest.”

I stared past my brother. The scion didn’t need my brother’s connections. Our clientele stayed with us to honor their contracts with Fateer, and because the cloth I colored was unique. They could weave it into remarkable cloaks, tunics, robes and skirts that would sell to the scions and bannermen of the governor.

My eyes focused on the tapestry covering the cracks and chips in the sunbaked stone walls of our single level home in the center of the trade section of the city. The colors hadn’t faded because mother and I had used our magic to keep them bright, but the wear and fraying in the pattern of the trees and animals of the oasis grandmother wove gave them a blurred, nearly surreal air.

“Will you keep this house?” If I was gone, there would be room for a wife and children. My dark violet eyes stared into his blue-black ones. Pain gripped my lungs as I refused to breathe until he answered.

“I’m not giving up the house.”

A sigh whooshed from me and my lips twitched into a tiny smile. “Why didn’t you talk to me about this before you sold me to the scion?” The heat had cooled and my tone was mild.

Augee shrank against the wall. “I didn’t want to argue about it. You’re so opinionated. I told him that, you know. He doesn’t know what he’s getting.”
I frowned. “You better mean that in a good way.”

His slender-fingered hand covered mine where they clasped together on the stone tabletop. The coolness of his touch bespoke his nervousness more than anything else. I put one hand on top of his, patting it as I used to do when he was sick as a child because he was always sicker than me. Mother said our magic kept us hale. But it hadn’t been strong enough to save her from the plague that killed her the year after a fire destroyed most of our fabric reserves.

I shuddered. Sometimes, I still dreamed of burning alive, trapped beneath a large bolt of silk I’d been imbuing with color from the rainbow of stones I’d picked out of the stream running along the outer limits of the city near our home. The silk had been a trade Fateer had made with a traveler from the shores of the Iron Sea, far to the east. He’d taken most of the linen mother and I had colored in delightful shades of spring grasses and flowers.

“I believe this will be the right move for both of us. I petitioned Provio for weeks when I first learned of the scion’s available position.” His dark eyes shimmered with moisture. “It’s not easy to let go of the business. It’s all I have left of them.”

My heart melted. How could I be angry when Augee loved me so much. Life had been a burden of constant struggle since Fateer’s passing to the next world.

“When will I be married?”

“Tomorrow. It will be a small joining ceremony held in his courtyard.”

A quiet marriage the scion wanted to keep under wraps. Because he planned to use my magic in some immoral way? I would find out soon enough.

Too soon.

**Please comment if you would like to read more about this third wife and fantastical world.

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