Bruised and broken, Paradise, a slave in the 1800's, tries to keep her faith strong. Her husband dead, a baby on the way, and cruel master's all around, she strives to find a safe place for when her baby is born. After making a negotiation with her current master to keep her baby alive once birthed, she was sent to an auction. Catching the eye of compassionate Wil, he buys Paradise at the slave auction; wanting to give her to a wealthy master whom he wants to court - the beautiful Maryssa. But, as Paradise and Wil become close, will Wil be able to let her go? Will Paradise be able to forget about her deceased husband, find a place for a baby, and understand the feelings for her master?
My bare calloused feet padded across the cold, stone floor as one of my hands trailed along the rough rock wall. My other hand was holding a burning torch,lighting the path in front of me. The air was musty and stale, making it harder to breathe.
I have walked down this same tunnel many times during my three years of working here. Just thinking about the events that happen every time I walk this path made my knees wobble in unbearable fear.
As I got closer to my destination, my feet gradually started to go slower. My breath was caught in my throat as a rusted old door came into view.
The other side of the door was filled with high-pitched screams that portrayed pain, fear, misery…
It even reminded me of death; which will soon happen to me if I didn’t force my feet forward and into that room. As I walked closer, I felt that fear rise within me again. What if this time, they beat me until I was completely gone from this world?
The thought didn’t help my emotions as a knot formed in my dry throat. Swallowing it down, I finally met the door, inches from my trembling body. With a shaking hand, I reached out and grabbed the knob. My stomach churned in new kinds of fear that I’ve never experienced before.
“Lord, please help me…”
I whispered, though I doubt He’d take time to hear a revolting insignificant woman like me.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the devil himself were down here; ready to show me new kinds of pain.
I heard a chuckle behind me.
“No little god of yours will be helping you this time, wench.”
It was then that I remembered the guards behind me. One was scrawny and pale white; shaking with the sword he had in his hand. I guessed he was new to this.
The other guard was much more built, with a bull dog face and hard set jaw that always made my body quiver. He was the one that usually kept his eyes on me, though there wasn’t much to watch. I never broke the rules. My mind was so cloudy with different sensations that I hadn’t realized the two.
They were surprisingly patient. How long had I been walking so slowly?
“C’mon, tramp. We don’t have all day now.”
The bull dog faced guard said with a low gravelly voice.
It was then that I realized that I haven’t moved from the position, of holding the door knob. Swallowing anything I might heave up later on, I twisted the knob and pushed the door open. Opening to a room best described as hell on earth.
Poor guy. He didn’t deserve such a horrible ending.
Wil frowned, staring at the casket before him. The man that helped him get as successful as he was right now was lying there. Lifeless. It seemed like Wil was the only one actually mourning for the man; even his wife was too busy socializing with the rest of the people here. They were all smiling, laughing; drinking wine like this was a celebration. Probably half drunk…
Wil heard his voice said in a low tone from behind him, disturbing him from his thoughts. He turned around to see a woman he didn’t recognize; this happened usually. Her blonde hair ended at the middle of her forearm, parted to the side. Her wavy locks fit perfectly for the oval shape of her face. Her complexion was smooth and perfectly toned; flawless. Behind endearing full pink lips hid perfectly straight, white teeth. The woman’s strapless dress was a silky black that tightened her in all the right places, presenting her slim waist and fine curves.
This woman was what you would call a goddess.
“I’ve heard so much about you.”
The women that Wil didn’t recognize came toward him from the other end of the funeral hall.
“Oh really? Well I hope they were good things?”
He asked with a playfully suspicious voice. The woman was looking at him in an endearing way, and he found myself wondering why he has never met such a women before.
“No, some were not so good. But, I liked everything I heard.”
The women said with her blue eyes never pulling away from his brown ones. Before Wil could respond – before he could find the words to respond – she stuck out her glamorous hand toward him and said,
“My name is Marysa Cantwell.”
Wil tried to hide the hesitance in his hand as he reached out and embraced her own. With a kind smile and a small shake, he let go. She seemed reluctant to do the same.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Cantwell.”
Wil replied, hoping Marysa would finally leave him alone. The last thing he needed was too become captivated in those blue eyes.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too, Mr. Mordalle.”
The way she said his name sent shivers up his spine, and sadly they were pleasurable. He ignored the feeling and tried changing the subject.
“I’m very sorry about your loss, by the way. Kevin Cantwell was a very good man.”
There was a glimmer of remorse in her eyes before it was hidden by a breathtaking smile.
“He was, wasn’t he? Sadly, I didn’t see him much. He was successful. But that didn’t mean he didn’t have a lot of time on his hands to visit.”
This was true. Kevin Cantwell had triple times the wealth Wil had. But with that came a lot of responsibility. Kevin was the one that helped Wil become so successful. The man’s life was all about traveling, though. Kevin would always tell him, when Wil asked him why he traveled so much, that ‘God wants me to do this. No matter how much I miss my family, I’ll keep going.’
Sadly, his family wasn’t as strong in Christianity as he was, so Kevin had to do mission trips all on his own. Wil wasn’t much of a religion fan, but he had so much respect for Kevin before he died, that Wil was so close to cracking through his own walls.
But, trusting something or someone you can’t see is impossible. I still can’t believe Kevin could do all of the things he did, just by trusting in who he called God, though could never see him.
Great, lost in his thoughts for too long again.
“We always realize those kinds of things, once the loved one is gone.”
Wil said before Marysa’s mother – Kevin’s wife – came to the two. The widow’s eyes portrayed that she was a bit tipsy. She didn’t seem mournful in the least. Wil stole a glance at Marysa, who was frowning at her mother.
Embarrassment? Or something deeper?
“Mother, this is Wil Mordalle. The one Kevin always spoke of.”
Kevin? So Marysa wasn’t a big fan of calling him ‘Dad’, Wil presumed.
The women said uninterestedly before taking another gulp of wine. Wil guessed he wasn’t entertaining her to her liking, for she walked away before he could answer. He looked back at Marysa, who was watching her mother with that glare in her eyes, again.
Wil couldn’t blame her. The woman was acting like she was Marysa’s age. She looked back at Wil, that smile that he was starting to guess was fake, before something dawned on him.
How could he forget about Helga?
Wil checked the time on the grandfather clock on the other side of the room before doing an apologetic smile towards Marysa.
“I must go now. I’m truly sorry about your loss and I hope the grieving is only for a season.”
Before Marysa could respond, Wil did a small tip of his hat and walked out of the funeral home, hurriedly to his home.