The wind howled, coursing across the hollows of the cliff face and creating an eerie moan. The sea leapt against the rocky beach below, sending up sprays of foamy white, reaching for her, welcoming her. She gazed out over the endless horizon, gray water meeting gray sky until she couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began. The bare, skeletal tree beside her was her only companion on this lip above the ocean. She knew that they would soon part ways.
Arabella’s face burned from the blazing trail of tears she cried and from the merciless wind, cold and unforgiving. It tore at her hair, loosening strands of auburn from the silver net and grasped at her gown, the emerald silk billowed out behind her. Arabella did not care. She was dead inside.
Two days ago, she had been banished to her apartments, those rooms of opulent decorations, she herself but one more. A living statue of perfection, and like a statue, so easily transferred, sold to the highest bidder. She had hoped of a different life. A life with William, a life away from the coldness of Marlowe Hall, a life on the shores of another country where she could be free to of her familial obligations, the confines of her ancestry and free to love whom she wished. Instead their plot was discovered and she was betrayed, and with much ado, her wedding day was drawn closer. William must have gone on without her after waiting for her at the grove. He must have left, and thought her heartless, to begin his venture which ended in the sea.
The Meridian Maid had sunk yesterday morn, the news given to her by Nell, her loyal traitor, a hand upon her arm, sorrowfully bleeding comfort and regret. Arabella had not believed it so, but as the day wore on, more news of the wreckage wandered to her ears and each tale was a needle in her heart.
Her parents had masked their joy with frowns of concern but still they arranged for her to marry Lord Ashford in two days’ time. Arabella had vowed to be no party to such a farce. She knew how she was esteemed in that gentleman’s eyes and it foretold a lonely, loveless future set amongst all the wealth of the two families combined. She’d be only a thing, a possession, a means to acquire more fortune. No life for her, there wasn’t a life left to live.
Arabella breathed in the brisk, briny air and sighed. She felt hollow, relieved to be so empty. If this was life without William then, she thought to herself, I do not wish to be a part of it any longer. Everything had become ridiculous and void of meaning and she was weary of it all.
She glanced back once more. Her home, no residence for it was never home, loomed above the line of trees, the dark, slate covered turrets trying to pierce the sky. A loathing rose within her. Arabella spat on the ground, cursing every soul born to a Marlowe that dared live in that house.
“May they always seek the comfort of love but never find it.” Arabella scowled. She tore at the net that bound her hair and tossed it behind her. The thing had been a present from her parents on the engagement to Lord Ashford and she had no desire for it to grace her corpse.
Arabella held the vision of William in her mind, his kind face, laughing eyes, and the open, generous heart always eager to give. She closed her eyes and rushed forward, vaulting into the air as her feet pushed against the rocky ground. The wind tore at her, clawing at her face and hands but she did not care. She felt a moment of utter freedom before she met the rocks and cold water of the ragged shore. The sea swept her away, welcoming her home.