*Warning* As I said before, this segment and the previous one are very dark. The imagery is violent and disturbing but I think it is vital to understand how dark and terrifying Ratha and Maddie’s lives were before they became the women they are the for remainder of the story. This darkness shapes them, strengthens them, and ultimately pursues them, so I don’t want to water it down, although I admit, it is pretty much the darkest thing I’ve ever written.
The Adventures of Ratha James Part Six
Amalee was kept from Madeline during those last horrible months, though in truth she had rarely been allowed to call upon her friend since their arrival in London. While Maddie drifted further inside herself, desperate for relief, she never thought that her dearest Amalee was doing the same. And indeed Ratha was. From the first moment Derek Richard’s entered her life he seemed hell bent on controlling it. He had not smiled at her when she approached on the dock, nor did he promise her a life of comfort and joy, but ordered her into the grand carriage he had waiting with an air of haughty dissatisfaction and impatience. When she was not fast enough in arranging her voluminous skirts inside the coach, Derek climbed in, purposefully treading on her gown hard enough to rend the material. Amalee had gulped, frightened of being alone with this arrogant man who so easy and callously destroyed something that undoubtedly cost him a fortune. Tiny diamonds that had been painfully hand-sewn into the gilded skirt skittered around the floor beneath his feet. When asked if she was as incompetent as she seemed Amalee tried to reply that her nerves caused her hands to slow, she apologized about the dress and reached downward to gather the torn material, suggesting that she could sew it fine enough that no one would ever see the tear.
With her face downward she did not see the blow until it sent her reeling. Her neck snapped back painfully as her head struck the carriage wall; with an insuppressible whimper, she clutched the side of her face where his hand had marred her beautiful skin. “I did not pay for an Irish seamstress,” he sneered without so much as a care for his intended bride’s pain. And bought her he had, in every way she belonged to him. Amalee knew that her father’s wealth had been greatly depleted over his lifetime and that it was her beauty, not her heritage that had secured this marriage to such a wealthy English gentleman. He had bought and paid for her months before she arrived, even commissioning her wedding trousseau without so much as asking her opinion of color, cut or fabric. Since she had no other choice but to accept his “gifts”, Amalee had told herself that what Lord Richard’s did was only for her betterment, that perhaps he was not much in the company of women and did not know that certain things were usually handled by females. She had not known then that she lied to herself, but within moments of entering the massive black and grey coach, Ratha knew that whatever Lord Richard’s did, he did for his own enjoyment and pleasure, not out of any misguided kindness to her.
Secluded in a house filled with servants too afraid of their master to even think of helping their new mistress, Amalee prepared herself for her wedding day, taking great care to artfully conceal the black welt that covered her cheek. It was a skill she soon mastered. It seemed nothing she did was right nor could ever be good enough to deem some sort of mercy from her new husband; Derek was a demanding man, he expected perfection but changed his definition of it on a whim. To punish her for being the embarrassment of the Richard’s house, Derek took away her friends, took away any and all people who lived outside the great house. He confined her to certain rooms which he visited often to abuse her with his fists, his voice and his lusts; disgracing her by taking her violently outside the marriage bed. When his desire rose, which it did often, Derek did not care where he found Amalee; he forced himself inside her, beating her until his pleasure was spent. Her life reduced itself until she was nothing more than an ever fearful ball of shaking nerves, waiting for the next time to come and for her life to fade with it.
She miscarried twice within seven months, earning her the worst beating she had ever had in her life. A doctor was summoned to inspect her since Derek had heard that one of the other Irish sluts had been found to be unfertile. The physician poked and prodded her in places that made her blush beneath her bruises; she hated him as much as she hated Derek in that moment but yet hoped that he would take pity on her and tell someone of her abuse that they might intervene. Derek watched impatiently as the man worked over his naked wife, Amalee knew what would happen when the doctor took his leave, she could see Derek’s stirring from where she lay. When finally the man proclaimed the examination over, she held her breath, would he help her?
“She’ll never carry a child full term if you don’t ease your fists upon her,” the graying physician muttered unsympathetically. Amalee’s heart rose but fell, shattering and breaking before she could even feel a tinge of relief. “Bed her often, spent yourself that way but you must ease your punishments if you wish an heir. If she is obstinate, dose her with the opiate I have here and she will loosen up quickly enough. Women of her particular beauty inspire men’s darker, more primal urges, it’s understandable but a good long ride every few hours should help you both.”
And so Amalee Ratha Richard’s knew nothing outside the bitter taste of the opiate as it was poured down her throat at regular intervals though she had long ago given up struggling, and the feel of her insatiable husband spearing inside her with an urgency that was never absent for long. She drifted helpless and lost inside a black cloud of pain and sex and poison, too spent to even rise from her bed during the brief intervals that her husband left her alone. Once, after he was finished, Derek left the bottle containing the opium sitting atop the table beside her, it took her nearly half an hour to summon the strength to reach for it, uncork it and down the remainder of the entire glass cylinder. She hoped it would be enough to dispatch her to the land after this but when she awoke, it was not in heaven she found herself but beneath her husband’s bucking form.
There came a day when Derek was summoned to handle some business in the north that could not be put off; he would be gone for a week he told her. One week and he would leave in the morning, so tonight he would use her enough to ensure that this week did not disrupt his effort to forge an heir. She was bloody, bruised and well past screaming when Derek’s carriage pulled out of the gatehouse. She lay, unable to move for hours until she realized that perhaps this was her opportunity to escape the hell she’d been sold into. Scrubbing at her broken body with a scrape of a torn dress and some water she found still clinging to the inside of an overturned pitcher, she scrapped as much blood, sex and Derek off of her as she could before looking for something to cover herself with. Luckily the floor was littered with discarded clothing. Amalee hide her bruises under a tunic, long pants that she had to belt with a stripe of cloth torn from another tunic and boots that were far too big. She hid her hair beneath a soft cap of black velvet, and glanced around the room.
There was nothing of value here that she could take; Derek had never given her any trinkets or coin beyond the blood-ruby wedding band that she now slipped from her thin finger. Without a glance she threw it atop the bed and made for the window. It would be locked but the servants would be expecting her to try the door she was sure. Her room was on the second floor, a long drop but even death would be better than Derek’s return.
Wrapping the heavy pitcher inside one of the bed sheets, Amalee swung at the glass panes and was rewarded with the sound of shattering glass and thick porcelain. She didn’t wait to hear if an alert had been given at her attempted escape but all but threw herself out of the opening. She landed on her back with a sharp painful hiss, writhed upwards but forced herself to get to her feet, which she did. Blind of her destination other that out, Amalee ran, not bothering to wonder why she heard no footsteps behind her. It wasn’t until years later that she wondered if the servants had let her go, had given her a chance at life. When finally she slowed long enough to gather from her meager memory where she was and to think of where she thought Maddie’s house was again, she resolved to find her friend and beg for help.