The carriage bounced and rattled as the horses raced up the dirt road. Outside trees rushed by in a blur of green. There were fewer buildings now, which meant they were out of the city. It was a while though, before the carriage slowed to a reasonable pace. But the carriage didn’t stop. Even if it did, the doors were locked and Diya had no way out. Diya gripped the handle and shook the door, frantic. Unable to get the door open, she tried to kick it. She tried kicking it again, harder, just to make sure. The carriage hit a bump and threw her back against the seat.
She felt heart racing and fought down her panic. She knew she had to escape before she was in Hak’kar’s custody.
As the carriage slowed to a normal pace, she could hear her kidnappers talking. She stopped rattling the door, listening. Their voices were raised loud enough so they could hear each other over the noise of the carriage. Diya moved to the front seat and leaned close to the wall, trying to hear.
“Still can’t believe our good luck. Much better than a Zayam whore,” one of the men said. “Pass me the brandy.”
“We’ll be celebratin for sure. Too bad we can’t get a taste of this little morsel,” the other man said. “What do you think we’ll get for handin her over?”
The carriage hit a bump and Diya missed what the man said.
“You think he gots the letter yet? Should we wait to hear from him, or bring her to him?”
There was a pause. “We’ll just bring her to him. He should get the letter with enough time to plan his next move.”
Diya felt her nails digging into her palms. So they were going to bring her to Hak’kar, rather than to her own family. Her family would be furious by that affront.
No doubt that Hak’kar would be thrilled to have her in his clutches. He would press forward with the marriage agreement before she could talk with her parents. Her stomach clenched. The thought of her family having worked out a solution, only for her to sign a marriage contract without knowing, terrified her.
Diya knew she had to escape before her kidnappers reached Tatak Rhe. Once she was in Hak’kar’s custody her fate would be sealed. And so would her family’s fate. Had they sorted something out? What if they had come up with a solution to their financial problems and Hak’kar forced her into signing the marriage contract before she could talk to them? Either way, Hak’kar would have entrenched himself in House Shaifen’s politics forever. With the stroke of a pen, Hak’kar would have established himself into one of Da’har Pavan’s oldest and most respected so’har lineages.